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QUESTION 1: During holidays my daughter of 11 years just sits and watches TV. When I tell her to do something she gets angry. What can I do?
ANSWER: It’s not unusual for children to be glued to the TV once the holidays start. For them ‘’no school=we can do what we want’’. The important thing to remember is children will always be game for something fun and new. The way you put it across to them also is important. Show and motivate her, rather than ‘telling’ her what to do. Another important aspect to keep in mind is your child’s low and high energy time in a day.
You can start by sitting down with your child to make a fun and productive holiday routine based on her energy levels. For example, if she has more energy in the morning you could try to include age appropriate chores or hobby/creative activities or sports in the routine and for low energy phases she can watch TV or read.
You can also enrol her for workshops of her choice.Children need to be motivated and inspired, they learn by watching. And in all of this please make sure you spend undivided quality time with your child. You could try implementing activities which the both of you could do together. A chid that does not get the parents attention will try different ways to get them, and most times the repercussions are not desirable.
Once your child starts listening to you, following the routine as planned, learning and having fun, please make sure you acknowledge her behaviour by rewarding her for her efforts. When she makes mistakes encourage her to try again and assure her that it is ok to falter at times. All this will help your child develop a positive self-esteem and self-confidence.
Holidays is a time you can help your child hone in on all kinds of life skills, as well as creative skills. Please do not limit activities only indoors. Include fun activities for the outdoors as well. Organise play dates so that she learns to interact with her peers which will help her develop confidence and healthy social skills. Holidays are also a good time to implement what she has learnt in school. For example, take her for shopping and let her to the cost adding and product weighing, or take her to a botanical garden and show her the types of tress and plants she has studied about. Therefore, making the holidays ‘Edutaining’(educational and entertaining). Hope this helps. Happy Holidays!
QUESTION 2: My brother of 17 years has his final exams coming in March. He is not serious about his future. When we tell him to study he will study for 2-3 days and then he will not be serious again. He also has a bad temper and has failed once in boards.
ANSWER: I am glad that you are looking out for your brother and you have reached out for help at the right time. The fact that your brother failed his board exams in the past shows that he desperately needs help. There is the academic side of things and then there is the personal aspect to consider. We have to help him with both simultaneously.
When it comes to academics one needs to start by reviewing his academic history, work backwards leading upto where he is now. You will definitely find a pattern, especially when looking at his report cards. There will be subjects he is weak in. Start with those. Get or give him the help he needs immediately because time is of the essence here.
Please keep in mind that weak subjects tend to weaken a child’s overall self-esteem and confidence. The better he gets or improves in those subjects the better he will feel, about himself especially. Children who are weak in certain subjects or fail in exams or tests tend to develop a fear, and that fear can lead to all kinds of things. They tend to fall sick, they avoid studying, they become frustrated and hence angry or edgy all the time, they become depressed etc. The scolding, the ridicule, the pressure they sometimes face is like adding insult to injury. All this can also lead to risky coping behaviours such as drinking or smoking.
Time management and setting life goals are very important in order to give your brother a good head start and direction in life. Sit with him and work out his routine and goals. Motivate him so that he becomes determined to power through.
Children your brother’s age are very sensitive because they are going through the pubescent phase of their lives and to top it all the added pressure of peers, image, relationships, studies, tuitions etc. It is definitely very over whelming for them. Hence, one needs patience and empathy when one deals with such issues. Once you reach out to him, motivate him and help him academically as well as personally he will begin to progress. Hope this helps. All the best.
QUESTION 3: I have 2 daughters, age 10 and 4. My older ones temper is getting out of hand. She fights and gets violent with her younger sister and does not listen to me. I am very upset about all of this….
ANSWER: It’s natural for siblings to have a squabble once in a while. But one should be careful not to let it escalate or get out of hand. They should be taught to love, respect one another regardless of the age difference, be empathetic, and know how to manage their anger and feelings. Sibling fights or bullying can have a scarring impact till they grow up, if not controlled.
Children at this age are very sensitive, even small altercation can be extremely overwhelming and confusing for them because they do not know why or what is happening. Hence they act out their emotions because that is the only thing they know how to do.
I do not know the reasons for the fights between your children, but please try to prevent them, and reason with them from now on. It is not healthy, especially when there is physical violence involved. You can start by assessing what triggers your older ones anger, you will also need to consider the age factor; maybe she is starting or going through puberty and hence the edginess or being overly sensitive about things. Start talking to her about what is puberty so that she is aware and prepared.
You can also explain to her the importance of her role as a big sister and why is it important to love and respect each other. Once she is made to realise the sense of responsibility she has towards her younger sister she will start seeing things in a different light. Please avoid giving too much or too little attention to either of them. It has to be equal. Maybe the anger is related to jealousy or attention seeking. There have been times I have come across instances where the younger sibling is the ‘enabler’ of their older siblings anger. Hence, please see to this as well and deal with it accordingly.
Try to spend quality, undivided time with your children. They need you right now. Reassure them that you are always there for them. Giving them positive affirmations and appreciation for their efforts always goes a long way.
Here are a few ways you can help calm her and as well as help her cope:
- Tell her that you are there to help her and she can share her feelings with you. Help her understand and deal with her emotions.
- Give her a nice long reassuring hug.
- Take deep breaths. Close eyes, count to 5 breathing in and count to 5 breathing out.
- She can go to her ‘calm corner’ to relax and reboot.
- She can write in her journal or diary