Does punishing really help?

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Punishment only breaks the spirit, does not heal it”

Does punishment really work? Why do we punish our children and what message are we giving them with punishment? And most importantly, how do they perceive it?

This post is neither to glorify punishment nor to dismiss it. It is just an attempt to think before we act;whether an act of violence and not necessarily a physical one, would fetch the desired result.

Very often, punishment is synonymous with discipline. But this is far from the truth. When we punish a child, it is just a reaction, an instinct in answer to their defiance –TIT FOR TAT. Before this we react with punishment, if we stop to think if years of punishment have their fitting effect, the answer more often would be NO. By punishing a child, we teach the children that it is alright to overreact, teaches him/her that it is ok to disrespect fellow citizens and paves way for total insecurity and lack of self-confidence. This may manifest as either an overly submissive child or a violent bully. The message we assume we are giving and the message perceived by the child are completely different. Children learn by observation than by advice and by punishing the children who are vulnerable and weaker than us, we give the message that it is perfectly alright to show our might to weaker beings.

Just because we were spanked, snapped at or verbally abused as a child, does it justify following the same master plan for our children too? “We turned out just fine” – is this an acceptable statement to rationalize the scar we are stamping on our innocent kids’ souls?

So what is the right way to discipline? Discipline is not a situation based attribute but has to come from within. It is the parents’ core responsibility to inculcate discipline by imbibing self-realization in the child; to make the child understand that parents will only be guides and it is the child himself who has to reap the results of his actions. Making children responsible for their own actions is a long term and far healthier alternative to punishing. To become a guide, we need to resist the temptation to control every aspect of their life and grow out of the mindset that children cannot handle life without our constant intervention. Hold the string when they soar and just give a mild tug when they turn in the wrong direction.

Punishing only creates fear and destroys the child’s innocence and compassion – qualities children are naturally born with. Are we seeking a fear-based relationship with our kids or a loving one? Do we want our children to remember us as kind and loving parents or as fearsome ones? More importantly do we want them to understand the values of discipline and taking responsibility for their actions? If the answer is yes, then impulsive punishment is not the solution.

On the same lines as this article, consider using this only as a guideline and not as a Gospel. After all, parenting uses only guidelines and not rulebooks. End of the day, we choose our parenting strategies based on our faiths and beliefs. And there is no right or wrong in parenting. We only reap the fruits of our actions.

Leadership skills

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“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails”

The immediate visual that pops up at the mention of the world ‘leader’ is a person with a group of followers. But a leader is not just about power or control. Any person who can inspire, motivate and bring about a positive change in people’s minds is a leader. And a leader leads by example and not by force. A leader does not necessarily feature in CNN interviews and appear on the cover of Forbes magazine to qualify as one. Your next door neighbor who funds her maid’s children’s education is also a leader. A leader does not do great things but does small things in a great way.

What are the leadership qualities that we come across in such people in everyday life and how do we inculcate those in our children?

  1. The primary and most common characteristic of all leaders is confidence and faith in his ideologies and practices. Going that extra mile to make things happen with the broader goals in mind is true leadership quality. A leader makes things happen because the focus is on making the RIGHT things happen and not the EASY things. Children start observing the world around them very early in life and it is important to help them distinguish between right and wrong and stand up for the right values by exposing them rather than just give them tips on scoring high in Moral Education exams.
  2. The ultimate goal should be of prime focus and a true leader does not deviate from this come what may. The path to glory will certainly not be a bed of roses but true leadership quality comes from teaching them how to develop strategies to overcome hurdles and not get worn out by the challenges. As parents, motivation and inspiration are the only support we can lend by sidestepping and cheering our offspring. The taste of success is sweet and achieving the little goals by itself is an encouragement to aim for the next and bigger step towards success. Our role is very small compared to their efforts, but a very significant and mandatory one in their lives.
  3. Values: No person in this world is infallible and a leader is no exception to this. But what make him worthy of looking up to for inspiration are his beliefs and ethics; and the readiness to accept his faults and shortcomings with sincere apologies. A leader is a brand by himself irrespective of the organization he represents. By exposing children to situations that involve team work, we hone their cooperation and communication skills and enhance their decision making skills. Inculcating proper humility in dignity of labor, sharing and empathy make them better human beings.

Some are born leaders while some are made. While not every parent can be a leader, they can certainly be a mentor to their children to become one. It’s the training and education that makes all the difference.

A small word of caution though; while leadership skills and qualities are most sought after, it becomes imperative here to emphasize that a leader also can be someone’s follower whom he derives his influence from. While I write this article, I realize all thoughts being penned are a result of years of learning from various sources; hence, no one is ever born great; it takes a society to make one a great person and a true leader aims to give back a portion of what he has attained.

Humility

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“Pride is concerned with WHO is right and humility is concerned with WHAT is right”

Before learning how to be it is important to know how not to be. Though poles apart, there is a very thin line that divides arrogance and humility. That line is called confidence. While arrogance is a result of deep rooted insecurity and fears, humility is the mind to accept one’s faults.

If we could stop for a moment and make a list of people whom we like, the ones most likely to top the list would be those who make us feel important, feel good and create a feeling of comfort with their approach – they are the humble people. Not just our near and dear ones, even the leaders we emulate and look for inspiration are those with a humble disposition. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to take it a step further to say that it is this attribute which made them leaders in the first place. So what makes humility so important for a leadership position, or rather a leadership quality?

  • Self-realization: A humble leader knows his strengths and weaknesses and has the courage to accept and agree publicly. This makes him more human and approachable as people immediately tend to have an instant connect.
  • Humane leader or just a human? : No one in their right sense would want to work under an egomaniac who achieves success with threats, shaming and intimidation. Power is not an authority to abuse but to encourage, motivate and bring out the best in his employees. An employee should perform out of his self-will and motivation and not out of fear. A humble leader acknowledges the skills and hard work and creates an environment of collaboration and not of competition among his employees.

The first step towards instilling this leadership quality in our own children is of course by being a role model ourselves. But beyond this, there are certain attributes we need to develop in us parents to ensure they learn it right.

Appreciation and motivation for well-deserved achievements is certainly vital, but at the same time, let us also soak up this feeling in them that while their feats are certainly cherished and valued, our love does not stem from these. Our love is a result of what they are and not for what they have. This would sink into them the conviction that love and compassion is for humanity and not for our skills, materialistic possessions or looks.

Humans always have this inherent quality to desire what we lack. While it’s all good to be able to afford, let us realize and make our children also understand that there are many out there who are deprived of the basic necessities of human survival. Exposing children to such realities and making them experience the joy of giving instills compassion alongside.

Words have the power to make or break and the choice of words also creates associated attributes. Teaching them the basics of courtesy like Thank You and Sorry imbibes humility with practice; because there is nothing better than gratitude for our gifts from God and accepting our faults with apologies that makes one a better person and consequently a better leader.

Humility is NOT humiliation. Humility comes from practice and observation and humiliating a child only makes them meek; not modest.

Give your child enough confidence to hold the head up and enough humility to not look down upon others. But remember, the moment you acknowledge your humility, it ceases to exist.

Five things to do this summer holidays

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It’s that time of the year again when kids have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. Parents, on the other hand, worry about how to keep the kids quiet and make best use of the break.

While parents accept that the children deserve the well-earned break, they are unsure about how to manage it. Their primary concern is to keep the kids away from the TV and also restrict kids’ online activity--a task, all parents agree, easier said than done.

Summer holidays are, by definition, meant to be spent outdoors. Spending a good amount of time outside of the house can benefit the children in more ways than one. There are also activities like reading which give the kids a chance to discover the wonderful world of books.

To help you in this important mission, we have put together a list of activities suitable for children of all ages, after considering the need to maintain the delicate balance between the necessity to be practical and the necessity to enforce discipline:

  • Tidy study desk: Now that exams are over, kids have a substantial collection of old notebooks and textbooks they won't be needing. Get them to de-clutter their desk by selling it to the neighbourhood old paper mart. This can serve as a good lesson to your children about how recycling paper can help the environment.
  • Learn Swimming : Get your kids to take up swimming lessons which is not only a life-saving skill but also a good, all round physical exercise. Make sure to find a swimming pool that is well maintained and does not compromise on safety. Buying quality swimming accessories like goggles and earplugs is also very important.
  • Join a library: It is very important to restrict your children’s video game-playing and TV watching to a bare minimum. Joining a library is the best way to reduce dependence on electronic gadgets and the internet. Reading books also boosts brain activity and promotes creativity and critical thinking in children.
  • Take up a hobby: Our greatest adversary in modern times is technology, which, while being a useful thing can also increase our dependence on gadgets and equipments. Taking up a hobby like gardening makes the children spend time outdoors which can help them to de-stress and get them interested in environmental issues.
  • Visit family: Invite your friends and cousins home or plan a visit to kids’ grandparents. Spending quality time with them can benefit your children a great deal. The interactions are also a great opportunity to teach the kids about the importance of family as a support system they can rely upon at all times.

Mount Litera Zee School (MLZS) urges everyone to have a good time and make the best use of summer holidays-- but be safe and alert while you are at it!

 

How Antioxidants Can Keep You Healthy

What is the secret to a long and healthy life? Medical science believes that leading an active lifestyle with plenty of outdoor activities and exercise, and eating responsibly can substantially increase our life expectancy. There are other factors, of course, like genetics, that also play a role.

 

Food is essential for our survival and eating right is important to keep away diseases. Eating in moderation is one way of ensuring good health, and eating the right kind of food is another.

 

We know deep-fried items, canned food and fizzy drinks, collectively known as junk food, are ‘bad’ food if consumed frequently. Is there anything good to counteract the bad food?

 

Our body molecules are made up of one or more atoms joined by chemical bonds. When a weak bond splits, molecules known as free radicals, which have lost an electron and become unstable, are produced. These free radicals attack other body cells in their bid to become stable again by stealing an electron, but end up damaging healthy cells of the body.

 

Free radicals are also formed from use of tobacco and through exposure to radiation, and are believed to cause heart disease and cancer.

 

So how do antioxidants protect us against free radicals? By contributing their own electron to the free radicals to make them stable and thus help prevent tissue damage caused by free radicals. Remember, this theory is yet to be proved through clinical trials and other scientific tests. But consuming food with antioxidant properties is good for our immune system and if it can also protect us against free radicals which can only benefit our overall health.

 

There is a category of food items known as antioxidants which scientists believe may be termed as ‘superfoods’ for their ability to protect our cells from free radicals.

 

Let us see which food are good sources of antioxidants and food items containing them (Source: www.verywell.com/)

 

  • Vitamin A: Milk and eggs.
  • Vitamin C: Citrus fruits and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin E: Almonds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, and broccoli.
  • Beta-Carotene: Carrots, spinach, kale, cantaloupe, apricots, papaya, mango, and peas.
  • Lutein: Green leafy vegetables and oranges.
  • Lycopene: Red Tomatoes and watermelon.
  • Selenium:  Chicken, garlic, and brown rice.

 

These food items are not to be taken as vitamin supplements but to be made a part of your daily diet. For best results, though, physical exercise such as aerobics, brisk walk and Yoga for at least 30 minutes a day and 5-6 times a week is recommended.

 

Disclaimer: This is an overview of antioxidants and free radicals. Consult a dietician or a doctor for expert advice.

 

Father's Day Activities to show your affection for your father

He is addressed as Babba (Arabic), pai (Brazilian Portuguese), táta (Czech), pappie (Dutch), isa (Estonian), abba (Hebrew), apa(Hungarian), otec(Slovak), tata (Spanish), tad (Welsh) and also using a host of other names in other parts of the world.

 

In India, pitaji (Hindi), appa (Tamil), tandri (Telugu), pitav (Malayalam), appa/anna (Kannada) and aanu/bappa in Konkani are used. Regardless of the word used, he is the single most important man in our lives. He is loved, respected, and sometimes even feared.

 

We hero worship our father. Haven’t most of us fought with other boys in our childhood to settle the issue as to whose father is the strongest one?

 

We look up to the man for practically every single thing in our life. But we also fear him as he is often an enforcer of discipline, or at least his name is regularly invoked by mothers as a last resort to calm things down when things get unruly at home.

 

Here is an attempt to describe the man:

 

A father is someone who comforts you when you are in distress, disciplines you when you get unruly, beams with pride when you succeed, and never loses faith in you even when you fail.

 

Do we ever take time to appreciate what he does for us? We all do, in our own way. But should we do more?

 

Probably not, considering our parents do not expect anything in return from their offspring except respect and good behaviour. On the other hand, any celebration or activity involving the entire family is a good thing. We just need a good pretext or an excuse and here is a good one.

 

Father’s day is celebrated on the 19th of June. Let us see how kids can make their fathers feel special:

 

    • Spend time with dad: Dads are busy people who are always on the move, working hard to make sure their family is well looked after. Show your appreciation by spending time with your dad - bring him up-to-date about your school, your friends, and bring to his notice any important issues.

 

  • Come up with an amusing slogan: Show your creativity by coining a slogan about how special your dad is. Here is a sample: “Some people don’t believe in Superheroes. I say, they’ve not met my dad.” Be creative and be bold.

 

    • Help cook your dad’s favourite food: Taking a leaf out of the old saying ‘the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,’ you can help your mother to cook his favourite food. But make sure you do not try to do things on your own in the kitchen without your mother’s knowledge.

 

  • Buy dad something special: Our parents always put off buying things for themselves so that children’s needs are met first. If your dad has been wanting to buy something, say, a belt or a pair of jogging shoes, but keeps postponing it, you can help your mother to buy it for him with a part of your own savings.

 

  • Take up a small project: There is nothing like having your dad to guide you in a project. He has done it all and he has the expertise.

 

You can also solve a puzzle, play board games, go to beach, go hiking, go for a long walk, go to the movies, go through the family album together or do things which you know he likes doing.

 

You can even give him the choice of deciding what he would like to do!

 

Finally, make a pledge to yourself on Father’s Day that you will always do things that will make him proud of you. That’s probably the greatest gift children can give to their parents.

Engaging Parents with Social Media

Education in 21st century is a whole new ball game, a fact accepted by students and educators as inevitable. Both have risen to face the challenge in their own way and are making all out efforts to adapt to the demands of the new developments.

 

Technology helped convert the world into a global village a few years ago, breaking down barriers and helping to connect people and cultures, as physical distances became irrelevant.

 

New opportunities became available and new markets opened up. There was a free exchange of ideas and thoughts, benefiting even the hitherto neglected sections of society. The ball had been set in motion which would only gain greater momentum with time.

 

Following in the footsteps of the concept of global village, the world is fast headed towards a digital revolution, affecting the way in which we think, learn, and communicate.

 

Technology is becoming more prevalent, resulting in a great churning. The outcome this time may have more far-reaching consequences, especially in the employment sector. Employment opportunities are likely to shrink further as more processes are automated.

 

So what needs to be done? Quick adoption of technology and evolutionary learning methodology is essential to survive in this new world order.

 

However, for schools who are in the forefront of overseeing the transition, it is imperative to keep the parents informed about the need to introduce newer methods and how these methods are important for their children to keep pace with technology and improve their chances at employment and entrepreneurship in the 21st century.

 

Schools must engage with parents in order to get them on board to make the transition painless and effective.

 

Adjusting to the changes is a collective effort involving students, teachers and parents. This is where Social Media (SM) tools come in handy.

 

School website, discussion forums, blogs, facebook, and twitter are some of the tools which can be effectively leveraged to:

 

  • Encourage parents and teachers to adopt Social Media as a productivity tool.
  • Create an interactive communication platform - complete with school’s user policy which defines standards, protocols, and net etiquettes - to address concerns and answer queries in a timely manner.
  • Highlight students’ activities and achievements.
  • Highlight the reach and influence of social media in creating favourable impressions and opinions.

 

Finally, Social Media is not to be feared, but to be adopted judiciously. Something parents need to learn in order to monitor their children’s online activity. When they understand the medium, they can take effective measures to keep their children safe on the internet.

 

There are other benefits too. Social Media is the way forward and it provides us with the means to communicate effectively and unambiguously, share ideas, approach influential people, build networks - the very qualities needed to be successful in the 21st century.

The Biggest Contribution of Children to Humanity

Most of us have noticed infants smiling - apparently to themselves - in their sleep and wondered about it. Finally, my grandmother, a pious and upright lady solved the mystery for me.

 

“They are in conversation with God,” my granny said softly. Now, I respected the dear old lady enormously. She was known to be traditional in her ways, but completely free of prejudice and totally modern in her outlook. She was our family matriarch and our guiding spirit.

 

I waited for her to burst out laughing for having pulled out a fast one on me. I looked her in the eye for a twinkle that might give away her real intentions. There was none.

 

For some reason, she fell silent without attempting to shed more light on the matter nor did I press her for further explanations.

 

I never stopped thinking about what she said, and it was years later it struck me what she meant - we are born godlike, and it is external influences that corrupt us and convert us into individuals with our share of faults and imperfections.

 

Children’s contribution to humanity is a masterclass in hope, tolerance, sharing and loving that needs to be emulated by others.

 

  • Seeing hope: Life depends on hope for it sustenance, Without hope, there is no life. In children, we find hope that spurs us to do good things.

 

  • Being tolerant: Tolerance is key to our progress. Let us learn it from our children.

 

  • Ignoring differences: Children neither notice nor care for the colour of skin or something as trivial, until it is pointed out to them by adults.

 

  • Sharing with others: Haven’t we seen little children going around and offering to share their chocolate with others?

 

  • Loving unconditionally: Unconditional service, love, and commitment are the need of the hour for humanity. Our children show us the way.

 

There is plenty adults can learn from children - the closest one can come to experiencing divinity on this earth. The future of humanity depends on inculcating these values to lead a peaceful life full of harmony, spirit of coexistence and respect and concern for others.

 

Children lead the way for the better future of humanity. It is time for the rest of us to follow their path. Therein lies the hope for humanity.

 

Teaching Entrepreneurship To Children: Should We Do It?

According to Wikipedia, entrepreneurship is the process of designing, launching and running a new business, often a small business, popularly known as a ‘startup.’  It typically involves development of a product or a process or even offering of a certain service. Entrepreneurship requires capacity and willingness to develop, organize, and manage a business venture with the associated risks, with the eventual goal being the generation of healthy profits.

 

Not all startups are destined to be successes. In fact the rate of failure in this field is very high, owing to a number of factors. Inadequate funding, lack of market demand, bad business decisions, and economic crisis can all play a part, either individually or collectively, and make the venture a non-productive enterprise.

 

Not a viable career option for an aspiring young hopeful then? Not really. The rate of failure in this field is not radically different from any other activity.

 

Risks are realities that cannot be wished away but need to be dealt with effectively. However, we can certainly reduce the impact of those risks by taking some prudent decisions.

 

There is an ongoing debate about introducing children to entrepreneurship. But opinion is equally divided with one school of thought fearing for the impact of failure on young minds, while the other is of the opinion that there is a lot more to be learnt from one’s failures than successes.

 

However, one can learn from both - one’s successes and failures. We can use the context of a startup venture to help us learn some valuable lessons.

 

Let us look at what failure can teach us:

 

  • Lack of or inadequate funding: The lesson on offer here is to have respect for money. Money management is an important skill that can help kids to understand and appreciate what it takes to earn money and how hard their parents are working to provide for them.

 

  • Lack of market demand: Do your research thoroughly, study the current trends and patterns and make allowances for future contingencies.

 

  • Economic crises: Be disciplined in your approach to spending money. Do not spend your money before you have earned it. Strong emphasis on savings helped India to tide over the crises of global economic recession, financial meltdowns and economic downturns.

 

  • Bad business decisions: Teaches children to base their decisions on facts, research and common sense as opposed to taking chances, depending on hearsay and having unrealistic expectations.

 

Nothing succeeds like success, they say. Success can teach the children the virtues of being resilient, patient, and organized, the very qualities required for effective management of resources, people and business.

 

Teaching children about entrepreneurship is a win-win situation. There are lessons to be learnt in both our failures and successes. And that is a valuable lesson to learn.