The important dozen- Why routines are important for children

18th June 2017

Whether you are a parent to a baby /a toddler or a kid any other age,the most generously given advise to you has to be – “You know ,you must get the kids on to a routine if you don’t want trouble later on ”

Setting children into routines? Easier said than done! The daily rigmarole, your work pressure, health issues, family ideas, beliefs and pressures are all as if conniving together to give you excuses to give up. They all seem to be bent upon making you loosen up your disciplined ,schooled self.While I completely empathise and sympathise with you -having gone through the entire  work vs house duties vs child duties and affection vs tiredness vs relaxed discipline cycle myself- fact remains – ROUTINES are very important for children for their balanced growth into healthy, sound teenagers and later on adults.

The entire process of growing up right from the baby’s birth is marked with CHANGE in every aspect of his life.Physical, mental, social and emotional growth all have CHANGE associated with them on almost daily basis. From giving up bottles to their standing as babies of the house to new skills learnt to accepting new people in their lives -read friends, teachers – to coming to terms with their wide range of emotions,childhood is not easy for children.

Routines, while setting children onto the path of RIGHT growth also provide just the right amount of prompting to catch the RIGHT path to growth.

Why are Routines important for Children

  1. Children are scared of change. Routines make them aware of what to expect, thus making themcomfortable and secure in their worlds.
  2. When children know what is expected of them, they are able to live up to those expectations. So Routines work towards makingchildren self confident and foster independence.
  3. Routines help kids totake charge of their own activities, thus helping them develop self discipline. If followed regularly, kids learn to brush teeth, wash, get ready for bed, pack bags in whatever order you prefer without constant reminders. Kids love to be in-charge!

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4. Thus, Routines eliminate unnecessary nagging.You are not Ms No all the time. Activities like napping, TV watching, doing homework, playing go on as casually as possible. Parents stop being the BAD guys.

5.  Routines reduce stress and anxiety for everyone. Kids cooperate and all know what comes next. So no one feels pushed.

6.   Routines help Parents maintain consistency in their expectations.

7.  Success in performing small tasks in Routines strengthen children and lay the foundation for rising to bigger challenges when required .Tasks  like going to school alone etc  come in gradual progression.

8. Routines also help parents incorporate in them special connecting moments like-a hug on meeting for the first time in the morning or/and touching feet of elders or a naming body parts ritual as you dry them after bath(let’s dry your toes…) …

9.   Routines make kids learn the concept of looking forward to things they enjoy.

10.  Routines help your children and their body clocks settle. Ability to nap, eat healthy etc are all linked to routines.

11. Routines help children get onto a schedule – Note : schedules and routines are two different entities.

12.  Last but not the least Routines bond families together – Children build life long associations to routines like entire family having dinner together.
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Having listed and maybe imbibed the above,  it is also a must to realize that too much structure dulls our and children’s sense of spontaneity .So set in routines but with sensitivity, don’t be oppressive be flexible too. Enjoy the bumps and mishaps. Setting routines takes time, effort and consistency .Start now, even babies and toddlers can be set to routines.  Be patient, praise effort not result, focus on what is going well and thus see your children thrive on routines.

 

 

5 family activities/games to celebrate the festive season and improve your child’s vocabulary and communication skills!

The rains have set in the fun mood and the ensuing festive season has ushered in a lot of cheer. Just the time for some great family fun.

Well, rains and the accompanying uplift in spirit brought back my playful spirit too and one fine day I posted the following picture (a casual early morning click when on my morning walk) with an accompanying note on my social media account.

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Camouflage at its best .Seems as if the lovely parrots are teasing us. Spot us if you can! Find at least three parrots in the picture.

I was astonished to see the number of people who joined in the spirit and set to work finding the parrots and exclaiming to my delight Yay found em!’, ‘found!’ …the list keeps on growing longer.

This set me thinking, ‘when people, right from those in their thirties to near sixties and maybe more can’t resist a challenge, how much more fun it must be for children!’

What better way would there be for children to add on new vocabulary and enhance their communication skills than fun family activities and games. So here we are with some of my prefferred ideas and games for the on-going monsoon and the ensuing festive seasons. My list of 5 such ideas includes:

  1. The Great Monsoon Trail
  2. Cook your words or Word your way to cook!
  3. The hunt for treasure –Treasure hunt while playing with language!
  4. The big shopping expedition!
  5.  Party Fun

In today’s blog I would like to talk about the first one :

The Great Monsoon Trail

The monsoon ushers in lot of greenery in some form or the other and there is a lot of colour to look at around you .So walks and following trails when the time and wheather permits is the thing to do. These days most parents are health conscious and regular walkers /gymers. .The problem is that, while doing so  we take our surroundings for granted and don’t involve children  in the activities or don’t think it is important to keep up the chatter. So talk away, keep introducing words/names for things on the go without stressing on the learning -so that you don’t lose the fun quotient!

Go out to your garden/balcony/parks as a family at least once a week (maybe mornings or whenever you have time). Have a blast clicking away with your kids. You will be surprised, how different some scenarios can look and how many more things you are able to observe when seen minutely in focus!

Some activities /games which can be carried out /played while on the  monsoon walk:

  • Fun picture puzzle: The picture shown above and the words used as a caption are example enough for the kind of talk and vocabulary you have to use while talking to children and the scope of things which can be taught while having fun  .The vocabulary to be used can be toned down or up according to your child’s age –ex words like camouflage, adaptation(Also words like camouflage can be used to play lots of interesting family games. Tell children to camouflage themselves from fictional enemies and play the game .Camouflage can also be definitely used to talk about things like why Indian army has the uniform it has ).
  • Here are a few more of my favourite pics :

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Other than the obvious ones like roots, short, tall,colours …words like  a natural arch can be deliberately introduced in your conversation.

You can also ask -to find particular shaped/coloured leaves, look for chameleons /birds/flowers/other.

  • Tell children to take pictures too and make scrap books where each picture can have a question or a puzzle to unravel as shown in the pic above. Then all can sit together at a family sit together and have fun playing the game.
  • Collect unusual objects when following your trail (by the way trail is another word to be taught!) and design some artifact as a family .
  • Activities which involve lots of physical movement can also be an attraction and give a sense of achievement. Example-Following a pattern in a park, running around trees (not the bollywood kind!),trying to hang a bit from strong branches of a tree, trying to climb a tree if it is safe.

 

Will be back to share some great cooking fun with children in my next post .Till then, don’t wait for games like Pokemon Go in augmented reality to drag you and your child out of your home or be more active! The monsoon has brought precious natural treasures! So, move out have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Festivals- an excellent opportunity of developing social attitudes and open mindedness in children

 

Wishing all parents  a very happy Janamashtami and ensuing festive season!!!

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Amongst all the festivity, good cheer and all round gaiety brought about by the celebrations,what struck my mind and gripped my heart were some of the answers I have received  from children over the years when asked the simple questions:

What are you celebrating today?
Which festival is it today?

The answer is of course  always correct! It is Gudi Padwa or diwali. or …

No problems there. Problem lies after that .The next few answers are :

  • It is our festival.
  • We wear new clothes.
  • We have fun.
  • We eat …

Seemingly all is fine .We have aware NORMAL children enjoying festivals.

Causes for worry:

  1. Many children don’t know WHY a certain festival is being celebrated.
  2. Most do not have any idea that there are similar festivals being celebrated by people from other parts of their country at the same time and for similar reasons but in diverse ways.
  3. This causes much more than a healthy importance being associated with only the fun ,eating and merrymaking part of a festival.This, in later life, many a time manifests in developing of selfish attitudes and closed minds (OUR FESTIVAL/WE EAT…) in children.

The first place a child learns and forms social ideas and attitudes affecting his open mindedness or lack of it, is – home. Definitely, what we as parents do or even how we phrase our sentences is very important.

What every SMART parent CAN do to help, without worrying about time constraints ?

  • Days before the actual date of a festival make the bed time story ritual, one, which is full of diverse stories/myths/tales associated with the festival. Be involved in the .process as a family.
  • Provide children with animated/other videos narrating festival stories.(Available across the net too!)
  • While going about your work at home, give age appropriate activities related to the festival-colouring/mask making/making greetings for people in the neighbourhood specially the old ones.

For once do tolerate the mess or better you can use the opportunity to have a joint clean up session with the children thus  giving you the opportunity to spend healthy conversation family time at the same time teaching children to be humane!

  • Brush up your knowledge of the festival .Surf the net whenever you get a spare time slot even if 10 minutes, for diverse info on the festival-The HOWs and WHYs associated with it.This will keep you well armed with the info for transferring it to the child and of course build up your enthusiasm for the festival too!
  • Go in for festival family cooking sessions on weekends before the festival .Cook festive food not only from your part of the world but try festive recipes  from other places too.

All parents have to choose their battles, so put up with messiness if you must, but teach your child consideration for others and to have an open attitude. Model it for her early on, praise it.

Having interacted with children in diverse geographical places I have found that those children who have grown up in an environment adept at  universal acceptance in all aspects and one that has a healthy respect for people and their social associations are more likely to :

  • Lead happy creative lives
  • Make informed out of the box choices
  • Exhibit an open attitude- that of  tolerance.

So do teach your child that people ARE important and knowing them IS important.

Remember what Robert Fulghum -author (All I Really Needed to Learn in Kindergarten) said :

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

So here’s wishing more aware ,informed festivities to all you  SMART parents a very happy New Year and Navratri and….Happy celebrating!