Thursday, 31 January 2019

My Child does not Study

How much should the children study and at what age should they be becoming
serious about studies is a frequent question? Interestingly the age at which parents
are becoming concerned about children’s attitude towards studies is decreasing day
by day. So what should we be concerned about is, children’s disinterest in studies or
parents’ over concern?

A concerned mother sent me similar query about her children aged 10 and 13.
First of all I would not like to take them in the same group and discuss them
together. A 10 year old is merely in class 5 while a 13 year old has already entered
the high school and there needs to be a lot of difference in our concern about
their studies.

As a generation of over anxious parents we need to understand that studies,
the way they are presented to the children, are inherently boring. Our education
system insists on adding volumes every year while not doing anything to ensure
the clarity of concepts or relevance to the real life. Most teachers are not
‘born to teach’ kind of so they focus on completion of the syllabus rather than
helping the children develop interest in a particular subject or the studies.
Eventually what studies mean to most students is a means to pass some
painful exams. And that certainly is not interesting even for an adult.

If we take the above fact into consideration, we as parents may understand,
at least to some extent, why the children avoid studies and postpone them to
the last minute. This awareness would also give us some motivation to be
innovative about how we present the concept of studies to our children.

Some of the few basic factors to remember here are:

untouched if they are left to play with them. Hence, try to give study partners
to the children wherever you find them lacking in interest. These can be home
tutors. The advantage is that there is the interaction that makes the whole process
less boring. Also children develop a habit of sitting down for studies regularly and
at the same time, which is a very good habit for the future. Remember the role of
home tutors is not just of teaching. So if you hire a tutor for writing practice or
regularity or concept clearing, you need to let the tutor know so right at the
beginning and also need to monitor it from time to time.

  • Children need consistency. Busy parents do not always sit with children the same time
every day for studies and they want to go by their availability which eventually makes 
the children loose the importance of the process. So, if you are too busy or if the child 
is not responding to you positively, getting a home tutor can make a big difference.

  • Have a casual discussion about studies with children asking them which subjects they 
like and which ones they hate particularly and why. An educated parent can teach any 
child up to class 7 in the least. If you see that your child is struggling with something in 
particular try to find some important facts about that particular topic using the internet 
and present it to the child in an interesting format. This is particularly helpful for 
subjects that children find boring like history, Geography, physics, chemistry.

  • For math, especially with high school students, if they have not developed clear concepts 
during middle school, they end up fearing the subject. It is best to test the child with few 
basic calculations of fractions and equations and if not satisfactory at least one hour a day 
should be spent in making them practice basic calculations. I have personally observed 
a shift in their interest towards the positive just in a month’s time.

The most important factor here to be remembered by the parents is that just because
the children are going to the school does not mean all of them should be interested in
studies. Each child is different. Their understanding and logic about the importance of
studies is different. Forcing them is going to work less and less with every new generation.
They do not respond to compulsions and to your all-time statement “because I told you so”.

Also know that each of your child is different. What works for one may not work for the other.
Schools have a mass training system. Children usually are not given individual attention.
So it is up to the parents to understand the unique learning style, challenges and
motivation of their child and help accordingly.

Of course if you are not able to help them, please get in touch with a counselor rather
than getting angry with your children.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Brand Craze among Teens

Dealing with the craze of brands among kids is a major worry of many parents.
I received many queries in response to my previous article on the same subject.
Let us consider one fairly common concern, see how many of us can connect
with it and try to see a way around it.

“My worry is that youth around 17-18 years have problems like if you wear
something exclusive then only friends acknowledge you or they get closer to you...
We try to explain, that it is all temporary... Your inner things help you a lot, but ,
difficult for him to swallow it... He got lot of acknowledgement being a sportsperson,
good behaved person and equally higher side bright student (not 90, but we r fine)
in the school... We try to explain.. the same.. but.. still not succeed.. we will keep
trying.... But need more light on it”

Well that is what 17 years of age is. It wants to confirm and be accepted and
applauded. Is it bad? No. It just is. That is the age around which we start to
explore ourselves. Before that the sense of self had not developed much.
Individuality is not always appreciated as our education system is all about
conformity - in uniform dress code and behavioral patterns. Now when they
can move around in casual wear they see a chance to see and exhibit
their individuality. Wanting to be different and the best seems to obvious.

So,,, no, they are not wrong. Most youngsters at that age have not been able
to make their mark so again clothes seem to be an easier way to impress.
But even in cases like the one example above, we need to understand that
we have different facets to our personality and even if we are doing good
in some, that doesn’t take away the need to excel or at least be special in
other ways too.  

Your argument as an adult is also right that “It is what is inside that really
matters”, but please consider their age. Think of ourselves at that age.
Most of us did not have access to money and brands while growing up so
we could not indulge, but didn’t we indulge in whatever way was possible?
We wanted to be special too. We would borrow sarees and shirts from friends
and family to look our best wherever possible. The only difference is that
they are surrounded by options from across the globe on just one click.
If we have expressed our ability to pay for expensive things around
them then they cannot understand why not to indulge in the best.

So firstly, we need to understand that they are just teenagers
and it is not their age to understand philosophy. Then what should be
our approach?

I believe moderation is the way. According to your affordability indulge
them sometimes and refuse the other. Especially if the children are internally
motivated and responsible towards their duty and students, we can definitely
indulge them once in a while. But what if they want it every time?

Children develop the habit of pressurizing and emotionally blackmailing the
parents when they learn that parents always say ‘no’ to everything to begin
with but turn around after they throw some tantrums. Also when there is
a lot of display of money around them they believe that they can and should easily have
what they demand. Here is when the role of parenting comes in.
1. Husband and wife should always decide what they are going to agree on and what not.
Once one parent has said ‘no’ the other should not overrule it.
2. Once you have said a reasonable ‘no’, stick to it.
3. If later you feel that you wish to change your ‘no’ to a ‘yes’ don’t do it immediately.
Wait for an opportunity where the child can be told that as a reward for his hard work in
studies or anything else, they can have the branded ware they were asking for.
4. If there are financial problems in the family, share them with children occasionally.
They need to know. Many parents do not want to share such details with the children
because they don’t want to ‘burden’ them. Eventually when the unsuspecting children
put forth their demands these same parents blame the child for not being understanding.
5. Also get in to the habit of offering genuine praise whenever your children are dressed to
go out, especially when they wear something non- branded but elegant and fitting. Occasionally
when they wear the brand also let them know that they make the brands look better because
of their personality. Of course all this has to be genuine and not obvious or frequent enough for
the child to suspect foul play.
6. Let them know they are unique at every possible occasion.

Remember, children are not ready for philosophy of life. They may actually detest it.
We have to do it their way. Understand that a lot of branded high end stuff is really good.
Our aim is not to stop our children from dreaming of and wanting to be seen in brands only,
the aim is that they can value money and value brands for their quality and not just the
brand logo.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Children & their Demands for Branded Things

Recently on one of my videos on parenting, I received question from a mother that said,
“Children know more about brand than parents.... because of the influence of the outside
world parents do not to teach them as many a times parents wear simple things through
out their lives but children need branded wares.... That is also other side of the coin...
Suggest how parents can deal with this situation.”

I think almost all the parents today are facing the same situation so wanted to share this
with you.

I believe children are attracted to what the world shows them, There is nothing wrong
with asking for the brands, the problem is when they do not value the money that is spent
for the same and when they are seeking the particular brand not for its inherent value or
goodness but for competing with their peers. A few things if followed in the house hold
right from beginning can bring some monetary discipline in children:
1. Never try to show that we can buy anything they ask for even when they are 2 years
old cute and they ask for not so expensive things. The awareness among parents has to
be right from the birth of the child. The child does not understand the cost or value, for
him it is just a fact that my parents can get me anything that i ask for. 
2. If children ask for something specific let them know that it will be given to them against
their next good results (Unless it is too expensive for you). This is to let them know that they
have to earn their luxuries just like the rest of us and for them the responsibility is studying
3. Ensure that whenever the children get money as gifts it is to be deposited with the parent
till at least they finish class 10th. The parents have to be accountable to gain the children's
trust by putting away the money in a separate envelope marked with the child's name and not
using it for any other purpose. Occasionally when the parents feel right the children can be
allowed to use the money out of their savings after discussing the need. 
4. Let children take up odd jobs around the house so that they can earn. This teaches them the
hard work that goes into earning each penny. Also if it is a regular job that the child takes up
like dusting every day etc, ensure that you deduct the day’s pay from their salary if they miss
out even one day. (Except when sick or out on school project )
5. After around the age of 10 take them with you for grocery and vegetable shopping and make
them calculate and pay for what is bought so they know how expensive it is to run a normal
household which they normally take for granted.
6. In this series then let them know the difference between necessities and luxuries. Tell them
your responsibility is to ensure that their needs are taken care of .For their wants, like the
brands. They have to earn and save.

So many other ways can be added to this depending upon the household members, income and the personality of the child. However it is very important that ONCE YOU SAY NO TO SOMETHING- STICK TO IT, even if they throw bad tantrums.  Remember children will demand, that is their nature, but if you keep giving them just to free yourself of their tantrums, they will never learn the value. Rather what they will learn is, the price of everything is a good tantrum.

Whatever you do, the keyword is CONSISTENCY. Eventually they learn.