CHILDREN, parenting, preschool, school, Uncategorized

TEACHING CONSENT TO PRESCHOOLERS

photograph of happy children

Some of you might wonder as to how the topic of this article holds valid for Preschoolers.

Fair enough. Allow me to explain how the very thought of discussing ‘consent for Kindergartners ‘ cropped up.

Many a times, young parents walk up to me and ask, “My child is asking me questions about the # Me Too movement . They see it on television / newspapers and want to know what ‘Me Too’ is all about . Aren’t they too young to be talking about this? What do we answer them?”

It is such questions that led me to discuss the matter at length.

To nurture the 21st century learners, one thing which doesn’t work at all, is to brush things under the carpet. So let’s discuss this clearly and openly. Adult guardians need to discuss this with each other and when needed, with their children too.

Is it too early to talk about ‘consent’ to Preschoolers?

Firstly, we need to disengage the word ‘consent’ from ‘sexual consent’.

With early childhood learners, we need to deal with consent as a vital life skill.

So once we deal with ‘consent’ as a life skill, then the answer is – “No, it is not too early to discuss this with your child”.

Just as we teach them about tying their shoelaces , buttoning their shirts , cleaning themselves , courtesy and good manners , so also we must teach them to learn to read body language and nonverbal clues. (Their own as well as those of their peers/ family etc).

Such as, a frown means – I may be confused.  A smile means – I am feeling happy. A high five means – I agree with you.

How Can you Teach children to recognize  Non Verbal clues?

The best way is by talking to them.  While reading a story about Grizzly Bear, you may casually remark, “Ah, look at Ishaan. I don’t think he would like to be in the forest “.

If grandmother is sitting reading her prayer book, you may say, “I don’t think she would prefer to be disturbed at this time”

If your pet is taking a nap, you could say, “This is definitely not the time to play with Zorro”.

If the elder sibling is doing some Project work, you may say, “Didi needs to work by herself. Let’s check with her an hour later if she is ready to play with you “.

Remember, children need to be taught how to read body language and how to respond to that as well.

“See, Grandma is thankful that you let her complete her prayers “.

“Didi is thrilled because she completed a wonderful project. She looks so excited “.

“Zorro is ready to play now. You can see him wagging his tail and that’s a happy signal “.

Do not confuse ‘privacy and space’ with lack of empathy or feeling of togetherness. Treat it as an expression of their sexuality. Each child has his / her own unique sexuality and we need to teach our children to respect their own sexuality and those of others as well .

I remember my childhood days when a particular look on my father’s face would make me disappear from his line of vision for hours ! Teach your children to read your body signals and clues . They are as important as the spoken word.

Why do the stage and the mirror form an important part of our Preschool set up?

Well, it is to teach children to see what emotions look like. To learn to read a happy/ sad / confused face. It is as important for children to learn to read their emotions as well as those of others. (There are umpteen researches which reveal that children with relationship issues in adulthood were never taught to recognise and read emotions during childhood. They never learnt how to express emotions either)

Do children know when to say Yes / No?

The honest answer is that children at this age are on their way to a number of discoveries! Just as they are beginning to realise whether they have a sweet tooth or not, whether they prefer an orange candy or vanilla Ice cream, similarly they are beginning to discover some body urges / moods and preferences. This is the building up of their sexuality -the way they like to eat, walk, talk, sit, dress etc. So they need help in defining what a no or yes mean.

There is nothing wrong in setting up a home rule which says that “Dad likes to rest for half an hour after lunch, so no noise!”.

“Mom likes to read a book in silence on a Sunday afternoon, so no noise “.

Rahul loves the colour pink , so yes – he can have a pink bag .

Validate their body signals

Allow your children to shape up their preferences and express them too. Most children need help in recognising body signals. When your young one is rolling on the floor in an interesting display of tantrum, you may say, “I can see that you are upset. But rolling won’t get you anywhere. Talking to mummy could help”.

Some teachers use a good welcome practice. While ushering the children into the class, they give them multiple choices as to how would they like to be welcomed – with a hug, a high five, a jig or a verbal welcome. When this exercise is repeated a couple of times, children gradually learn to recognise what they like. They learn to recognize their body signals. Encourage them and respect the same .

Encourage children to read emotions – If a child is visibly uncomfortable at being hugged, tell the child that its okay with you.

If a child is not comfortable holding hands, tell the child that this is okay too. Let them be for a while.

Give due attention and regard to their body signals.

If a child wants to use the washroom in the middle of an Activity/ Homework, do not shush them down. Help them believe that they are beginning to read their body urges well. Yes, there will be some false signals and alarms out here, but most children will gradually wean off from giving false alarms.

If you shush them at this point of time, they lose faith in their ability to read their body signals & urges. From bladder control to building of anger / excitement to natural sexual curiosity – children need to be able to read them.

If the teacher /parent disregards or disclaims their urges and brushes them away often, children stop trusting their natural instincts. Such children are not likely to talk to their adult guardians years later when they undergo hormonal changes, menstrual discomfort and matters of sexual exploration

Because they have no faith in their own body urges, they apply the same principle to their peers, friends and companions. They are unable to recognise a nonverbal clue or physical discomfort of people around them.

They are unable to take a ‘no ‘ for a no.

So teaching consent and respecting consent needs to be brought in from an early age.

And again, the trick is to keep things natural, conversational and as free flowing as possible.

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LET’S MAKE RESOLUTIONS A TOPSY TURVY AFFAIR

scrabble resolutions
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Every New Year witnesses a deluge of resolutions, steely resolves, promises and silent vows.

Then follows a flood of Whatsapp and Facebook posts , taking  snide potshot at all those burly resolutions.

And poof ! a lot of them start spiralling out of the window.

Lets turn the game around.

No resolutions.

Lets just break some rules instead.

I don’t mean to sound like a renegade or a rebel at all.

All that I am saying is that let’s make the resoultions a bit fun. Lets put them in a ‘new box’ altogether.

You have always enjoyed a late morning in bed. Break the rule . For once or twice, get up to see the sunrise and do nothing perhaps – just gaze at the sky with a cuppa coffee.

You are the diligent variety who goes to work diligently and reserves all leaves for sickness or family weddings or emergencies.

Break the rule – take a leave on a healthy day. No rhyme or reason at all. Just a ‘me’ day. Chill out the whole day with no To-Do-List. I guarantee, that you will love this outbreak.

You are a parent who wants to be the perfect role model for your child. Great. You are so mindful of the way you walk and talk. Awesome. Just reverse it for a day. Go drop your child to school in your pyjamas, pick up some candy floss on the way, ditch the car or bike, take a rickshaw perhaps . Enjoy the freedom you get when you break away from your routine.  Pick up your kid from school with a balloon wala by your side or perhaps an ice cream cart in tow. Treat the whole lot of kids to a simple ice candy. Your child will get to see the fun Mom or Dad in you . And all that happened because you broke a rule !

If you are a teacher and a disciplarian to the core (rightfully so ) , at least one day present before your class a ‘different‘ you.

Mix around the desks, ditch the black board, hang a placard on the back of each child and and ask the kids to scribble on those hanging behind the child in front. Get the desks out, spread out a few rugs and cushions and  voila the class is on the floor.

Wow ! ma’m broke a rule ! (albeit a harmless one) . Now  sit down on the floor and get the kids undivided attention!

Whoever heard of learning new stuff while breaking a rule ?

You take the elevator to your flat every day. Just for today , don’t ditch the elevator, just get down halfway. Admire the floor you got down at. Bet, you had never seen it before !. Now keep climbing up casually , soaking in each floor and neighbour, one at a time.  Look at the richness you gained by just breaking one routine.

The list is endless…….

Don’t just whatsap your family a god morning on one Wednesday. Call them instead.

While crossing a traffic signal , wave and mouth a big thank -you to the traffic cop standing there. You didn’t really break a rule , yet you will see a jawdrop ever so pleasantly.

Each of us enjoys a mid day coffee / tea with our colleagues. Break the rule – have this mid morning coffee on one Tuesday ,with your support staff – whether at home or at work. Get to know their world too . You broke a routine but I am sure you will get admiration in plenty.

TGIF – Thank God Its Friday . Turn it to TGIM – Thank God its Monday . Because Monday means work / office / routine. And this is what gets us our bread and butter. So why not be thankful for a Monday too ? Change your attitude towards Monday. The whole week will fly by in a jiffy.

Instead of finishing all your grocery on a Saturday , do it mid week. Break the routine. Squeeze out some time mid week.  Fridays will then have extra time for some more fun stuff.

Weekends are for mall hopping and shopping. Break the rule . Do go to a mall. Go hit the Café Coffee day . Buy a coffee  and sit in a corner with a book. All by yourself perhaps. Get to know ‘yourself’, right in the middle of a hectic weekend.

And pray , why do we reserve just the morning or the evening for our prayers ? Our conversations with God can be anytime , no ? Break the rule . Give a call to God at peak noon. He just might be more free in these off- hours and you may have a better conversation too:)

So, my friends resolve to break the mould. Resolve to make your life fun and easy and only regimented and compartmentalised.  There are some rules that are to be followed in letter and some in spirit.

Likewise , there are some rules that cannot be broken in letter ….but breaking them in the right spirit ?

Well, its all up your sleeve and entirely your choice !

 

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LADY CRUSH

silhouette of four people against sun background
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The RJ on the radio is talking to the cine actress , Neena Gupta , basking in critical acclaim after the recent success of her newly released Hindi movie , “Badhai Ho”. The female RJ claims to have had a ‘Lady crush’ on Neena Gupta ever since the RJ  was a young child, sitting besides her mother and watching the actress storm the daily soap scene on Television.

The word ‘lady crush’ has stayed in my mind ever since and gave birth to a whirlwind of thoughts and sorts .

Having a ‘lady crush’ simply means to admire a member of the fairer sex, to look up to a female of the species , nurture a wish to emulate a lady idol or to simply  adore a girl /woman for a hundred reasons !

The choice lies solely in the eyes or heart of the admirer.

Why confine the word crush to the opposite sex or rather,why limit it to the opposite sex alone. Is ‘same gender’ appreciation  a taboo ? Or a rare phenomenon ?

Absolutely not .

An honest confession of a ‘lady crush’ breaks the commonly held myth that women can seldom admire each other.

Women can and actually do idolise  each other pretty much. It’s just that they get caught in the quagmire of ‘stereotyped boundaries ‘ and don’t break out into an ode or a song or a couplet for the same gender.  At the most ,we dare to hero worship our mothers or sisters , but seldom our contemporay female friends / co workers / partners.

We over think in this regard, perhaps. Apprehensions seize our thoughts before they dare to be expressed.

Let me confess openly that I have had more lady crushes than a so called boy crush

I have a lady crush on the young and vibrant actress Alia Bhatt for her sheer star presence on screen.

I have a huge lady crush on Sushmita Sen for daring to be a young single mother of two girls .

I have a strong lady crush on my middle aged school Principal who conducts herself with such elan and grace .

And I have a huge lady crush on my very own young daughter who is such a tigress and faces life with an attitude akin to what Simba had in the movie , The Lion King .

Admiration and adoration are not gender bound or age bound .

I would say they are ‘charisma ‘ bound !

Let’s get some admiration out of our Pandora boxes …..

Time for all my  friends to share their thoughts.

Who do you have a lady crush on ?

You may leave your comments  in the Comment box below

Remember , appreciation works wonders !

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TEACHER – BALLOONS ?

balloons calm clouds colorful
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Balloons fascinate children as much as stories do .

Have you seen a child run after a balloon ? Her face is a pure vision of joy , focus, excitement and fascination .

Is there anyone who has not played with balloons in their childhood ?

Undeniably  balloons have been a part of every childhood – be it ours or even our parents and grandparents.

Air filled balloons may have slowly given in to helium filled ones but no birthday or celebration is complete without balloons .

If a party is festooned with balloons , the child will forever be looking wistfully at them.

The best take aways after every children’s party are the hand me down balloons . Even with the most expensive return gift in hand , the child will say , “Can I take that balloon as well ?”  .

Strangely , as we grow up , balloons form less and less, a part of our life .
Isn’t that strange ?  Why should that be so ?

Let us introspect ….

Balloons and children are so similar .

Balloons are vibrant and always wanting to fly . So do children.

Balloons  always want to bounce higher and higher . So do children.

Balloons are simple to manipulate – no folds , no layers, no gadgetry  . Children are just as easy to understand .

Balloons know no excuses .Big or small, green or yellow – all of them want to bounce higher. Just  like children.

Balloons form ‘play’ wherever they are placed. For children too , life is a playground, no matter where they are .

Balloons never tire , they are always ready for a bounce. So are children

Balloons inspire children to chase , bounce and jump. Such valuable life lessons . Isn’t life meant to be like that ?

Nothing can keep a balloon down for very long. Balloons teach us to rise after every fall. They are as resilient as a child .

If a red balloon bursts, children shift to the blue one or the next. “Oh ! that’s down and out, never mind, let me go for the next one”. Balloon play teaches our children such positive self talk .

Balloons carry no burden , they are as light as ‘today’ . There is no baggage of ‘yesterday’ or ‘tomorrow’. Children are as light in spirit as the balloon, isn’t it ?

Would it be right to say that children live life balloon style ?

So what happens when children begin to grow up and get infected by all adult worries , concerns and fears.

Our worries and concerns slow them down. Bouncing up requires an effort.

Life is no longer a playground, it begins to map out into a survival ground .

Getting up after fall is difficult as we begin to carry so much weight .
Weight of yesterday and weight of tomorrow .

With passing years , our energy begins to deflate .

Perhaps that is why the balloons slip away from our world………….

Time to change that.

Come, let us go back to being like a balloon aka a child.

And not let the balloon slip away from our child’s hands either.

Let us model to our kids that the air in the balloon is equal to the good that we do . The more the good, the more we bounce, because  good that we do keeps us happy and afloat .

The minute we  lose out on the joy of present  and lose faith in ourselves , we begin to lose air .

A simple inexpensive balloon teaches us what the most expensive possessions cannot.

Go, grab the balloon , you and your child, and never let it go .

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY

adult-baby-beautiful-1115786Call me old fashioned or nostalgic, there is something about celebrating your child’s birthday at home that tugs at your heart.

Maybe its the month of October and festivities, maybe it’s the anticipation of festivities that ushers in such feelings.

The Millennial parents these days spend considerable energy, effort, planning and of course a great deal of money in hosting their toddlers / Preschoolers birthdays at all kinds of fancy joints. Themed Adventure Parks, Water Sports Arenas, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and the likes of it make a decent killing by opening their doors for such celebrations.

By no means do I stand on any judgement here and nor am I questioning such preferences. I quite understand the challenges faced by the millennial parents due to nuclear family structures and the hectic work schedules, which leave the young parents with less time and even lesser energy to plan such events at home.

I am simply trying to paint the canvas with some birthday celebration hues. The choice of frame is entirely yours.

Let’s begin with the child’s third Birthday celebration, as the first two are more for the parent than for the child, isn’t it?

By age 3, children are stepping out of the ‘ego’ stage (My Mummy! My Papa!) and begin learning how to make friends, jump the trampoline , know the meaning of a ‘gift’ and the word ‘party’. They want to contribute in household chores and want to listen to more and more stories.

They begin to understand that Birthdays mean cake, friends, fun and lots of people around.

In this state, if you announce that their Birthday party is going to be hosted at home, you will see a whole new  face of your child cropping up .

You are likely to be bombarded with such questions:

Will I get lots of presents?

Can I have gems on my cake?

Please show me picture of my last birthday?

Can I not invite my younger brother / sister? 🙂

Will I have to share my presents?

Will you make pizza?

You mean all my friends can come over to my home?

Post the announcement, think like a budding entrepreneur – this  is the perfect time  to tap the excitement and allocate age appropriate responsibilities for the party , like :

  • Your room has to be super clean , dear
  • Let’s pick up 5 toys that you are willing to share
  • Let’s pick up 10 books that you are willing to share
  • You get to choose what colour icing to put on your cake.
  • You get a chance to help mummy & papa bake the cake
  • Let’s make triangle sandwiches!
  • You will be the host standing at the door receiving all your friends!

And that’s the day your child can learn real life lessons.

The excitement will build up days before the party. Take your child shopping with you, be it groceries or return gifts.

Let you child stretch with you when you bend or step up the ladder to bring out the extra cutlery.

” Ah! that’s where she keeps the extra spoons!  “(Your child will make many such ‘Columbus’ discoveries)

If papa has to contribute for creating the fun game – Tailing the donkey – he will receive willful help and attention from the child.

“Go, get some of your crayons “, says the parent. And off the young one dashes.

“Get me some more chart paper”. Your child runs like a budding athlete and you didn’t know that!

“Let’s clean up the mess as your room has to be looking the best for the party “. Action follows and you can almost beat the ‘Housekeeping team ‘ of the best hotel in town.

“Will you lay the table for your friends “. Likely reply, ” oh yes, but the cake has to kept where no one but me can reach it! ”

And then arrives the big day. Your home will be the epicenter of so much of vibrant energy.

Curious kids, excited kids, naughty kids and hurricane kids 🙂

There will perhaps be some orange stains on your carpets, a few fingerprints on your sofa and the dining room may resemble a battle field at the end of the day.

But the memories you will create, the energy you will generate, the life skills that you will help build and the adrenaline that will flow, will be unmatchable.

Your young prodigy will have a secret hint of admiration, joy and pride in his/ her eyes that you may perhaps find difficult to read and the young one may find no words to express the same.

Your child will begin to nurture a strong sense of pride in his home and parents hereafter.

Big or small, yellow or white – that’s his home and his fortress.

Years later while clicking through the family album, your child too will wonder – “How did they do they do this all?”

Your child may just turn around and give you a quiet little hug and a loaded look.

You may wonder then, would it have been the same had we not made the home as the core of all his/ her  childhood celebrations ?