Hug and Kiss ‘em & Hold ‘em close to you!

From the moment I conceived, it was my fantasy to have a super tactile bond with my child after he/she would be born (for the longest possible time, I felt it would be a girl!). After my son was born, things became different and the first three months were extremely painful feeding him or holding him thanks to my C-section stitches. So all maternal feelings vanished into thin air and all I could think was sleep or having “me-time”. There was hardly a chance to cuddle up with him! Post partum depression had hit me big time and me not being able to calm down a screaming infant had dipped my morale too. Motherhood was nothing like I had imagined it would be! Besides I was terrified that my son would not accept me if I didn’t develop a bond early on. Of course, that did not happen. It was a mom’s fear that had spoken.

After he entered the infamous toddler phase, I became the quintessential “villain” for my son – the usual don’t do this and that. Yet again, my dreams of becoming my son’s best buddy were vanishing into thin air! I used to look at my calm and cool friends and envy their tactile bond with their children. I often wondered what it would take to bond like that with my baby.

The toddler phase, trust me, isn’t an easy one, especially when it becomes a power struggle between you and your child. I traversed this phase of feeling triumphant when I managed to make my son do exactly what I wanted, to him feeling triumphant after he threw a tantrum and got what he wanted. One day, I broke down in front of my best friends. After speaking to them, I recognized the vicious cycle that I had entered. They made me realize that using force isn’t going to help my cause. I simply failed to communicate to my son that harmony was what I wanted. He was getting more distanced from me.

Finally I changed my approach and touch was the first thing I started focusing on. I realized I needed to assure him that I will be with him no matter what! Another major change I brought in my outlook is to calm down and take three deep breaths the moment I knew I was going to lose my cool. The next was to go hug him tight and hold him close to me when he was screaming his lungs out.

Exactly at this time, I had purchased Carlos Gonzales’ book “Kiss Me”. This book completely transformed my approach with my son. I began to look at him like another adult who has feelings, emotions and thoughts of his own vis a vis a stubborn, angry and disobedient toddler. It was rather fascinating to see how hugging him, holding him close to me helped connect with him better. Of course, constantly talking to him became a cherry on the cake.

Very few understand the importance of touch.  According to the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, School of Medicine, positive touch stimulates pressure receptors under the skin, lowering the heart rate, slowing the breath, decreasing stress hormones and boosts the immune system.

I also started following the gentle parenting principles where I decided to put the “ball in his court” for everything; putting him in charge of everything important to him – his toys, books and rest of his paraphernalia. Slowly, I extended this approach to eating too — asking him what he wanted to eat or even where he wanted to go or what game he wanted to play. Today at 4.5 years, he feels a lot more responsible for the tasks assigned to him.  Our power struggles have reduced a lot too!

I also keep sharing my thoughts and feelings with my son daily. It is extremely important to let your child know that you are in perfect sync with his thoughts and feelings too. Over a period of time, he will also feel the onus to express himself in normal tones (sans yelling) to you. He will cease to look at you as an “authoritarian” figure in his life and make you his buddy too.

It is important to let go at some points of time, to ignore some things that he or she does. Most importantly, your child must know you are trying to correct his behaviour and not him; you are not going to judge him or label him for life for his behaviour. For this, the more you hug him, hold him close to you, the more he will be emotionally assured that you will be there with him!

So what are you waiting for? Go cuddle your angry baby now!!

Early Reader becomes a Bookworm

I have borrowed the above statement from a famous adage: “The early bird gets the worm”. We all learned this proverb in school. It applies to every walk of life. In case of children, this adage gains more significance as they cross various milestones in life. There are some habits or values which we want our kids to imbibe early. They are called modeled habits.

This is the main reason why we introduce certain habits early. For instance, right from brushing teeth twice a day to three meals a day (differs in every culture and community), we do this in front of our kids so that they imbibe it.

Similarly, book reading is also a modeled habit. If we read books or newspapers in front of our kids or set a routine of reading out newspapers or story books aloud (depending on the age), then it will ensure they will enjoy reading a lot more than we imagined.

Books are great to enhance imagination and also engage a child constructively. Most of the time kids these days would prefer the screen. But what a visual medium does, is to kill the imagination of a child. Whilst reading a book, the same child will be forced to imagine the scene, the plot, characters, seasons and sometimes even a piece of music mentioned by the author.

Reading helps in writing and developing other fine arts at a later stage. As you read each word, it gets embedded in the memory and helps in word-picture association at a later stage. The child will be able to do his projects effectively and without help. He will use these early associations (from his or her early reading sessions) during his learning sessions at home/or school. In effect, it helps in enriching vocabulary – pictorial, verbal and wriitten.

The earlier you take to reading, the more it will help during your early learning years as well as professional life. You cannot develop love for books overnight especially after you have become adults. If you notice some people around you say that they do not like books, one of the main reasons is that they were never encouraged to read when they were small or they were pushed into academics by parents saying reading books is a waste of time! I am sure most of you reading this will be able to relate to this.

So begin as early as possible – as early as when your child is curious to explore coloured flyers/newspapers/books or magazines. Do not kill that curiosity with your concern that they will tear the book to pieces. Slowly inculcate the habit by showing pictures, sitting with your children and eventually they will understand why books are lovely and they should not damage them.

Reading is a life-long gift that you can gift your child!

Book Review | Mera Parivaar (Hindi)

Author(s): Arshi Naaz, Kuldeep Sandhu and Susheela
Illustrator: Rajeev Verma ‘Banjara’

A Level 1 book in Hindi by Pratham Publications, Mera Parivaar or my family is about the various members of a family in India. As a level 1 book, it is a perfect book for children to begin reading books with the help of elders – more importantly to improve listening and comprehension skills.

Mera Parivaar is about a small girl called Tuktuk who introduces her not-so-small, yet big family. Her family comprises of her mother, father, brother, sister, maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, younger cousins and a small pet dog Bujo.

Authors Arshi Naaz, Kuldeep Sandhu and Susheela have kept up the narration alive through the main character Tuktuk. Illustrator Rajeev Verma has sketched all the members of a typical joint family in India quite well.

All of us have at some point grown up in a joint family at some point of time. Annual family reunions used to be a ritual every summer vacation for most growing up in the 80s and 90s, and even until recent. This book is great for tiny tots to understand each relationship quite well.

Apt for kids aged 3+.

Book Review | I Want My Mum

Author: Tony Ross

The story is about a Little Princess who loves her mother and cannot let her out of sight even for a few hours.

The various situations that the Princess gets stuck in and asks for her mother, is both comical as well as heart-warming. It is nice to see how even the smallest things can bring a smile to children’s faces, for instance, in this case, it is her mother coming and reassuring that everything will be fine or praising her spoiled painting. She looks up to her mother for everything to solve all her problems. She is her role model. The Little Princess wants her mother all the time – whether it is playing games with her or meal times. The Little Princess is like any other toddler who gets scared of monsters and hates applying medicine when hurt. Another book by Tony Ross in the popular Little Princess series, this one is sure to steal your heart.

The Little Princess is part of a popular series written by Tony Ross especially for toddlers who also face problems like the princess, even though she is a royal. Tony Ross has managed to strike a chord with children as well as parents by narrating stories at a very micro level, without trivializing their problems and at the same time, giving the toddlers importance just like an adult.

Beautiful illustrations capture the toddlers’ moods – happy, sad, angry, upset, jealous and all facets of toddlers.

Perfect book to read aloud to toddlers aged 3+.