Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Speaking to Parents

Jasmin Kalsi

Staying in Mumbai with her husband and three year daughter, Jasmin Kalsi was quite excited to share her views on the days when her daughter started with school. After nearly fifteen minutes of conversation I learnt several new behavioral aspects.

Meher, her daughter has been a very enthusiastic child. She loves to do things in her own way. It took her nearly two months to settle down in the school which was also a troubling period for the mother. Initial days were manageable because she was happy to go to the new place but after a week when she realized that it is continuing and that she has to stay away from her parents and her home she became uncomfortable. The first two months she had to be persuaded and taken forcefully to school. Also she was very possessive about her belongings. When guests came home, she would try to attract them by doing some gimmicks. Being the first child, even grandparents used to pamper her a lot as well as the neighbors.  As a result she started demanding more attention even while the mother had work. Once she returned from school, mother had to look after her all the time. When this happened Jasmin felt really tied up  and to such an extent that for once she felt the need of undergoing counseling for herself and for her daughter. Meher became very demanding and clingy but soon a workshop was held in school. Issues regarding parent's role to bring up the child and children's television viewing habits were discussed.

When she learnt that tv can ruin a child's ability to imagine she was quite shocked. The workshop helped her cope up with the day to day issues she faced with Meher. Every semester two workshops were held, one was for both the parents and one was for only fathers. The school stresses on the fact that the involvement of fathers is also very essential in educating and upbringing children which is why they specially hold workshops for them.

As earlier thought that children start troubling parents the moment  they come to school is not always the case. Many children take a while to first realize the situation and then react. The children need attention and in today's nuclear household scenario, their only source of communication is their parents. Parents should be patient enough to listen to their children. Moreover television has become a threat to the child' s development. So for many parents who often turn on the tv for kids just because the kid has been troubling them, they should check on that. Moreover "playgroup has emerged as a substitute for Dada-Dadi" with the kind of interaction they have started having. If parents cant shell out time playgroup could be considered as an option.


Children are smarter than we think. Three year old Pranay understood in the first few days the route to his school and was scared to even go through that road even when he was not taken to school. Yes that’s the kind of scare, children have towards school. So the challenge for Pranay's mom didn’t start when they reached school but it started soon when they left home. The whole journey became a troublesome period. He used to keep howling and crying while his mom made desperate attempts to divert his attention. After five months she eventually succeeded.

The question is how she did that?
The school is a ten minute walking distance, so carrying a baby is tough and carrying a crying one is worse! Her mom being an artist decided to teach him to explore new things as they went.  She taught him to feel the furry cat which lazily sunbathed, pat the dog as he wagged his tail on seeing his new friend, wish the trees that passed by "Goodmorning!" while coming home they brought back snails and often twigs and leaves with which she taught him to create new things. She took the whole school going journey as a challenge and decided to make it a learning experience from him. But all this after a period of five months. When I asked her about her experience in sending Pranay to school initially, she admitted having cried the first day of his school. She herself didn’t realise that leaving her son could be so painful and scary. The teachers were very supportive and spoke to her and asked her to sit for a few days and watch her son from outside the class. This calmed her down and after a few days she didn’t stayed after Pranay.

She feels that children need a lot of time. For themselves and for their parents to know them. Parents should be patient enough and let their children behave freely. They shouldn't be stopped from doing something by creating a fear such- " Don't go there, somebody will come and kidnap you"..all these not only prevent the child from going there but also restrict his chances of exploring anywhere further. The notion of kidnapping will persist wherever they go. Like adults who need reason for every action, children too need to know why they are told to do this and not to do that. They may not claim to know yet they should be told. Otherwise their ability to question and reason also suffers. Of late parents easily get irritated with the children and this does not help the parent and certainly not the child. The value of school is realized much later but the joy of learning something can be made memorable if parents become more participative in their child's activities. This will eradicate a lot of problems the children unknowingly face.  

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