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How do parents unknowingly add to Teen stress?

Exams are on the brink and teen stress is becoming a reality. Parents add to their stress with commands such as 

  • “You must..” 
  • “Rohit got 80/80 on Math, you have the potential to get it as well..” 
  • “Focus more..” 
  • “How long have you been gaming/on Pinterest/watching tik-tok videos? etc.” 
  • “Board exams are around the corner..”, the list goes on. 

We don’t realise how such spontaneous statements can have a devastating impact on your teens. Nobody likes not to succeed. I have coached brilliant students who land up with exam anxiety insinuated by their parent’s conversations. There are many ways you can lower your teen’s stress.

Myths Debunked: 

Making occasional comparisons between your Teen and his or her friend or sibling will create a competitive advantage for your teen. – False 

Your Teen may not be able to cope with the risk of failure when compared to someone he believes is better than him. In his mind, he perceives the task as being difficult leading to a sense of inadequacy. This feeling then begins to overcome the Teen and he begins to believe that he can’t do that task leading to a brain freeze. This impacts not just knowledge or tasks he doesn’t know, but also that which he knows. 

Instead of setting such benchmarks, what can you as a parent do? Help your teen gain confidence by recalling events where he has succeeded. Every success is anchored to joy, happiness, and motivation. Assist him in identifying skills that got him his earlier success will build his capabilities to take on newer challenges. 

Every teen is mature enough to associate with his win and derives a sense of well-being and accomplishment. This reduces his stress and energises him to steer himself in the right direction. 

The only way to succeed in school is just by working hard. – False

While hard work cannot be compensated, however, that is not the only way your teen can raise his performance at school. Set SMART goals; (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-oriented, and Time-Bound) through Individualised Development Plans (IDP). 

Benjamin Franklin had once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” 

Good IDP demands SMART goals. Effectivity of your goals will arise from your Teen’s innate nature. You may wish to let your teen take the Clifton StrengthsFinder Assessment to analyse the innate talents that drive him. (https://store.gallup.com/p/en-sg/10108/top-5-cliftonstrengths) These talents define how your teen thinks, feels, and behaves. While you design a plan for him, it would help create the winning plan for him. 

How will the results of Clifton StrengthsFinder help design the plan for your Teen? If your teen is innately adaptable then instead of long-term goals you may wish to make short term goals. If your teen is disciplined along with being focused, then long-term goals will be effective. Different talents that define your teen will demand different kinds of plans. What works for one will not work for another. Don’t forget to add a reward at the end of a week’s plan. 

The school and home environment don’t matter to your teen’s output. – False 

How your teen perceives his immediate environment every day can also leave its impact. Constant conflicts at home can dwindle his energy and reduce his creativity to tackle his academic challenges. Conflicts at home create a negative ripple. Avoid it. 

Discipline is the only way to achieve. – False

To achieve the desired outcome, it is important to allow your Teen to have some flexibility so that he may integrate his social life and or hobbies along with his studies. 

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Words spoken matter-of-factly is significant for your Teen

Every one of us has a hero inside of us, we believed this as a child, then adults in the guise of parents, teachers, relatives, friends of our parents came along and crushed this belief, limited our capabilities, shackled the genius that lay within us. 

As kids, did you run after kites, watch stars letting your minds wonder if there are others like you residing in them? Have you run after butterflies to catch them, look at their beauty as they fluttered in your hands, and then let them fly off? Did you watch the ants move in a line from one point to another and wonder what could they possibly be telling each other as they met with their antennae? Curiosity is innate in us as is imagination. As we grow older, we forget to be bold, enthusiastic, to love, and to dream. 

Harsh experiences of broken promises, dirty politics, fake people, large egos bring us to “our reality” and we then throw that at our kids as their reality.

Let’s not undermine how stressed and anxious adolescents are these days, most of this has been contributed by well-intentioned parents. You speak to these young teens in a matter of fact way, but how they receive those words and create their own world is very different. A young extra-ordinarily bright 14-year old was suffering from exam anxiety. Most of you would say, it’s no big deal, most kids do anyway, but are you conscious of how such anxiety saps the performance capability out of your teen? Their percentage score can drop by as much as 7 to 8 percentage. So, someone who’s scoring 85 to 87% can actually raise their score to 93% just simply by reducing their anxiety during exams, along with some parental support. 

As parents, you may believe that you know better, seen more, experienced more, and understand more than your teen, however, the sheer lack of compassion and desire to keep adding value to their lives damage them much more than you could ever imagine. 

Teen: “I am going for group study today at Arshya’s”. 

You: “How many of you are going to be there? Are you sure you will study and not watch a movie or something? 

You probably wanted your teen to understand that you are aware of alternate possibilities in this situation, what you’ve successfully done is reduce her trust factor with you. You have subtly encouraged her to tell you a story when she really goes to watch a movie. 

You: “The next few years are very critical for you. Make sure your marks are good”

Possible responses from your teen:

Should your Teen be highly responsible, she will take full ownership of what you said, and this will create a huge amount of anxiety in her as the pressure mounts of living up to your expectation. 

Should your Teen be competitive then too, she will delve into the need to live up to your expectation. 

If you Teen is a happy go lucky kid and doesn’t heed what you say, then in all possibility your rising anxiety at her constantly not-up-to-the-mark grade would blind you to explore other possibilities to motivate her. 

Parenting is not easy, but what we say to your kids matters a great deal, know your Teen’s uniqueness to be her true mentor.  

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Girl-hood – remove the complexities

Today is International Girl Child Day. The day I was born, my mother says, many of my dad’s colleagues had expressed their sorrow. I have an elder sister, and according to my mother, most of these people looked at my birth as a bane in the family. My parents, however, were elated. They had no qualms of having a second daughter in the family. I grew up, but then just like millions of girls born in this world, was victimised at the tender age of four. The man was no other than a close relative. Even before I was aware of the uses of my genitals, a man who my family trusted used it as his toy. Unfortunately, I never even understood what was happening, and when I did, it was too late. I was then trapped in my own world, victimising myself, “I should not and could not speak to anyone about it”. What followed was avoidance, confusion between right and wrong. As a young lady, I registered the importance of dignity and respect for myself first, and others later. 

According to Wikipedia, in nature, males evolve aggressive mating behaviours as that helps them acquire mates, this happens because there are more males available to mate at a given time, making females a limited resource. Harassment and aggression are used by males of many species including mammals, birds, insects and fish – the objective is to herd females and keep them away from other males. Primates, however, such as the Bornean orangutans exhibit aggressive behaviours, even when the females do no resist, probably to train females to be afraid of them and be more likely to surrender to future sexual advances. – The objective is to procreate, not to entertain. 

Males of certain water striders species intimidate females into mating by signalling predators to attack the females. In order to seek protection from the predators, the females give in to copulation by the males. – The objective is again to procreate, not to entertain. 

In certain beetles species, the males resort to grasping and grappling the female. It is a form of mate guarding technique and to force copulation for procreation. 

We are humans, supposedly, higher-order animals, the reason we are higher-order is that we have what is known as the mind. One of the most powerful tools in this universe. Yet like the lower-order animals, our males harass, use aggression, intimidation, grasping and grappling to overpower, our girls – not because our species would be endangered but because the human male seeks entertainment in their females. 

How often have you restricted your girls from wearing what they choose to wear, from going where they choose to go, to use their time as they would choose to use it? Do you give them a choice to decide how they should lead their lives? Isn’t the right to make choices an inherent right of every animal on this earth? According to BBC, free-will doesn’t exist in the animal kingdom. Every animal chooses what to do, how to do, when to do. For the majority, this is out of survival instinct, not so for our girls.

Whilst I am a coach, I am also the mother of an 18-year old boy and a 14-year old girl. When my son turned 13, I sat him down and we chatted. One of the most important and probably awkward conversations we had, was when I told him, that whilst he will go ahead and have maybe one maybe more girl-friends, he must first respect their choices. He must have dignity for the human that she is first, for every girl is first a human being just like him – with emotions and dreams just as he has. He remembers this chat even today and often talks about how that has shaped his approach towards the girls in his class.

Similarly, a few months back, I told my daughter that she must first respect herself, her choices, her dreams, her body was important. She has the first and only right on all of that. 

When we train our children to think right, we train them to feel right and to act right. It’s about time we celebrate our girls and their potential

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Picking up when your teen’s dreams shatter…

Personal stories are always more challenging to put in words for the audience to read. Probably because there is so much of association along with it. It’s not just the situation but more the emotions and memories that go along with it. As a student coach, I pride myself for being able to handle both parents and teens, from a compassionate yet subjective perspective. Now was the time, I had to apply it to my own life. 

It took me six weeks to get my son out of anxiety and disappointment from his IB result and I am still working with my husband to help him tide over the shock. 

Parents, always have a default parenting style, and I have mentioned in my book, A Parent’s Handbook To Help Kids Set Up Goals 

My husband and I are also parents, so while I consciously implement what I preach, it is not so with my husband. An extremely successful leader in his own right, he strongly believed, in Marshall Goldsmith’s “I have succeeded” syndrome. Hence, when we began with the college applications to the UK last year, it was game that was already won, similar to, a batsman hitting off balls from his favourite bowler, reflecting an air of confidence that would be implicit of “I own this guy”. Goldsmith says, “That’s not surprising because to successful people past is always prologue and the past is always rose-coloured.” The game to college admission was strategized for an almost sure-shot win. 

Then, with countries around the world getting hit by COVID, the most rigorous board, International Baccalaureate cancelled their grade 12 graduation exam. Based on Artificial Intelligence and course work that IB evaluated, student’s result across the world collapsed. Those who had conditional admission to global universities in the UK witnessed their dreams coming down like a pack of cards. My son was part of that hara-kiri by IB. My husband had a huge stake in his dreams, he had been a great dad, always supportive of what our son desired as his goals. Last year when we had visited London he had even promised our son a shoe from Barker when he would have gone there to drop him this year. Years of hard work, dreams and hope all came tumbling down on July 4th 8 pm. 

Through April and May, whenever I would speak to either of them of a “What if” scenario, not so much out of fear as much out of pragmatism, and being open-minded to Plan B, in case it needed to be implemented, it was met with a “Please don’t talk about that! Not yet, anyway”. 

This led to the last six weeks being very difficult for my son and husband. From disbelief to there’s nothing more to work for, there have been all kinds of thoughts and emotions that my 18-year-old and my husband have gone through. My voice of “Control what you can control and let go what you can’t” was heard, but not registered. The pain that the father and son were going through was very intense. I keep coaching my students and parents and telling them that what defines success is resilience and a pinch of positivity. But the two continued to remain morose. While my son still had offers from colleges that stand strong on the global top tier universities ranking, he hadn’t visualised going there. Then one day, I sat him down. We needed to take a call, mourning over spilt milk, that too, milk that he hadn’t spilt, won’t help. The larger goal was more important. 

We worked together to draw a Mind-map, with his ultimate goals in mind, this revealed much more than what he had thought it would. Small but important details unfolded that he hadn’t thought of earlier. I drew him into each scenario asking his feedback for feelings, opinions, facts, finally narrowing down to where he wanted to study. 

He hadn’t been himself for almost six weeks now, and the day after this, I finally saw him, with his usual spring in his walk, smile on his lips and laughter on his face. My husband is still dealing with the blow, and I have been working with him to reduce his anxiety on this matter, as I do with many parents. He would be tougher to work with, not just because the pain is deep but also because of his belief “I can succeed”, making failures very difficult to take. I have been sharing a philosophy I strongly believe in with him, 

as they say in Nicheren Budhism, 

Wining and Losing

are both 

part of life, 

but I pray to the Budha 

for final victory.  

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Why would you keep judging your teen?

As a student’s coach, I work with parents every day, after all, they are partners in their child’s journey so they can’t be exempted from it. 

Parents are the greatest boon and the biggest bane in a child’s life. Now, if you are a parent, you’d probably be thinking that I know nothing of raising kids. I have two teenagers of my own and the past 28 years of my career I have worked very closely with the youth. Parents profess they know everything there is to know about their children, my view is that’s a delusion. Submissive kids succumb to parent’s choice of career and lifestyle, often to break every rule they have lived by when they get an opportunity to do so, or live with a sense of unfulfilled desire, “if only I too could …, and kids who are assertive in their viewpoint are termed as rebellious. Parents are so strongly opinionated about their children they take seconds to pass judgment or stereotype them. This is extremely disappointing, for the child is never given a chance to express her innermost thoughts or her emotions. 

Teenagers are more often not considered in decision-making processes. Why do parents believe they are the best guides that the child can have? In my experience, parents believe they “own” the child, pretty much like they own their car or the house they live in. Hence, they can treat their child however they wish to. Negative experiences of your life are like sticky notes in your minds. They stand out, reminding you again and again, how you have failed, how you have suffered, how you have pained, and since you don’t want your child to go through the same failures, sufferings, and pains you are quick to pin them down and box them. And of course your success leaves you with the belief, you know best. 

“You are lazy, this laziness won’t get you anywhere.” “Your attitude won’t be accepted by the world when you go for a job” “Your bosses won’t be like your parents, they won’t care for your sentiments, only we will.” “I am fed-up of telling you the same thing again and again”. “Look at Yateen, he’s smart and knows how to manage his studies”. Every statement is indicative of you adding more value to your child’s life. But are you? Read these statements that you as parents make, ever so often, to your kids, each one is pregnant with words that discredit your child. You believe you can influence your child to become successful with words that leave negative connotations. And that’s the paradox of great parenting. You have all the right intentions but your processes are all wrong. 

In your drive to lead your child are you a serious liability? You will confuse her into believing that she has nothing that’s praiseworthy. She may begin to believe that this preconceived shortcoming is actually accurate and demonstrate it even more acutely than before, and even if what you say is correct, she may get into denial and argue with you. You may justify your actions by saying, “I praise her, I really do, but there is still scope of improvement if I don’t show that to her who will?” However, when she criticises you in return, you will vehemently oppose it, for, in your mind, the criticism doesn’t apply to you, you are after all the successful professional, you know the ways of the world. Then when all else fails, you attack with aggression or resign muttering, “You will remain like this always! You are a hopeless case!” 

If you do any of this then think again, happy children are resilient and creative. Work on giving them that chance to live a happy life. 

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I know best for my kid – fact or fiction?

There was an interesting post I saw on LinkedIn today. A gentleman had asked for career counsellor for his child who was in grade 9. I noticed a whole lot of parents immediately respond back saying, parents are the best counsellors, don’t go to any counsellor just yet, one even went on to say that the education policy has changed and so this was a bad time to go to counsellors. I am not a counsellor, for I am a career coach. I help students develop better study habits, work on their strengths, identify what they are passionate about, evaluate how their values define what they do and work with parents to become coaches to better their kid’s lives. I couldn’t help but begin keying my story.

While I am sure, each of these parents had their own logic for their comments, I couldn’t help but smile. After years of working with teens and parents, I have realised that it is the parents who in their endeavour to do the best for their kids “mess it up”. “We know better than you – we meaning parents, you meaning kids” is the general mindset. The reason is clear, they have lived longer, given birth to these kids and hence surely have more wisdom and complete control on what the kid should or should not do. It is this idea of ‘absolute’ that often leads to emotional turmoil, conflicts, rebellions and anxieties in children. 

Parents suffer from what is known, in psychological terms, as generalisation, projection and negative bias.  I have dedicated one chapter on this in my book, A Parent’s handbook for helping kids set goals available on Amazon Kindle. 

Generalisation – STEM is the only study stream that will lead you to success. Teenagers are rebellious, they are not mature enough. I am your father/mother, so I know best. You can only be a teacher or lecturer if you study languages or history. We must focus on your weaknesses. 

Projection is when we behave with the child with a certain preconception. You may have had a sister or brother who’s been very disorganised. The experience may not have been pleasant for you, so when you see your child throwing her things all over the place, you begin screaming at your child. If you have had a close brush with disloyalty and your child has been untruthful to you, you would react/ respond far more aggressively than the situation may demand. 

Negative bias – is the tendency for us to pay more attention, or give more weight to negative experiences over neutral or positive experiences. Branding your child as someone who’s not serious about studies. Voicing your dissent on certain friends who you believe are “bad company” for them. Bad memories from your childhood can impact how you behave with your children. 

Each of these three aspects can impact the way we think and treat our children, thereby impacting the choices they make in their lives and how they, in turn, look at the world. 

I realised as a young mother, that I spent so much time with my son, I was inhibiting his social development. My intent was noble, as is every parent’s, however, my approach was wrong. We must as parents sit back and get someone to tell us what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong as parents. A third-person perspective is what works. As parents we are emotionally entangled in our project – our kids life, this makes us very closely associated with everything they do or don’t do.

When I work with teens, I work with their parents, helping them know their generalisations, projections and biases, because unless I work with them I won’t be able to get the teen to be happy and successful. 

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‘Life’s not fair’ – let your teen own this!

I am a mother of two teenagers. This year when the IB results bombed on July 5th, I had a tough time dealing with my 18year old son. Predicted at 42, he landed with a 38 and couldn’t make it to his dream college. He did, however, make it to his second-best, another top ranking global university and got three different scholarships across the world.

My team and I have always worked towards helping NexGen understand what they need to do to attain happiness and be successful. Success is relative as they say, it is what we make of life. My son had won scholarships and international level competitions and many awards at the various Model UN sessions that he chaired and participated in during his high school years and suddenly he saw his years of intense labour evaporate in a swish. “What use is hard work, Mamma? I always helped others, done all the right things, all I wanted was to study at one of the top global universities.” All I could do then, was let him have my shoulder for comfort. This was not the time to give worldly gyan. Was I in pain? Sure I was, seeing your kid’s dreams shatter is heart wrenching.

The evening the results were declared was emotionally charged. IB results were based on an alogorithm where the child’s performance had no role to play. Like many other boards, they didn’t have an exam this year. Years of practice and coaching youngsters had taught me that the biggest mistake when we deal with teens who are emotionally hurt, was to justify the outcome with pragmatism and disregard their pain. So, I played along with him. ‘Yes, IB had been very unfair, yes, there is no justice, yes luck was not on his side, yes his life was in shambles.’ I knew this was a time when he just wanted to rant out his sorrow. He was heartbroken. It took him two days to come to terms with his result and then he came to me and asked, “What now?” It was a tough decision. Being my son, he was coached over the years to develop clarity on what he aspired to do and the path for it. Now, was the time to adapt to the changed strategy. We sat down to go through all his options, declining, with words of gratitude, offers that he knew he didn’t want to take. Then, we evaluated the subject choices, what he loved to study, his choice of location, being born and brought up in Mumbai he loved the noise, and the city. We lead him to deliberate on his negotiables and his non-negotiables. Finally, he made a choice. 

I believe that being able to live in ambiguity, understand that we may not always get what we want, mend that broken heart and learn to be happy again, have been critical learning for him. I know that soon a part of my heart would be flying off, but what would keep me at peace then, would be that he’d succeed no matter how big a blow he may confront in future. He’s learnt life’s not fair all the time and whining won’t get us anywhere. As a mother and a student coach, that’s my personal win.  

 

  

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Stop blowing up your teen’s self-confidence

R. Gopalakrishnan, the executive director of Tata Sons Ltd. has an interesting story where he reveals the importance of seeing through the eyes of others, its impact on our personal growth and the consequent trust that we win.

He speaks of a day in Ludhiana where he was doing a sales call with his junior, let’s call him Rajesh. Rajesh, was a junior in rank but a senior by thirty years in experience. As the story goes, R Gopalakrishnan used to carry a small diary with him in those days, where he jotted observations that he saw at the marketplace. One particular hot morning after a series of sales calls as they broke for lunch, he whipped out his diary and asked if he could give Rajesh a feedback. Rajesh agreed. Technically, Gopalakrishnan was doing his job. So he went on to share his observations with Rajesh and whipping out his diary, he said, “You’ve spent 52.67% of time in greeting the customer, hardly 20% on product presentation, hardly another 15% on closing the deal and the last bit on exit. Rajesh responded, “I have been doing this for 30 years so what’s wrong with it?” To this, Gopalakrishnan said, “Yes, but you should spend much more time on product presentation and closing the deal.”  Rajesh said, “I am quite intrigued with your jot-pad and the calculator you carry in your pocket, why don’t you do it and show me?” This ruffled Gopalakrishnan, he thought that now nemesis has stalked him. At this point he had three choices, he could tick Rajesh off for being arrogant and rude to a senior, he could do a half-hearted attempt and give up after two calls, or, the third was to do the entire haul. He knew he was incompetent but still decided to do the entire haul. It was as expected, a disaster. He wrapped up each call in 4-5 minutes. There was no inquiry with the customer and he did just the technical parts of the job and came out. 

At the end of the day, Rajesh put a hand on his shoulder and said, “You shall advance in this company.” Taken aback by this, Gopalakrishnan wondered if Rajesh was sarcastic. However, the gentleman went on to tell him, those who haven’t done the job of the subordinate won’t ever be able to feel the pains and pangs of being in his shoes. Since, Gopalakrishnan actually did the job and experienced the challenges, he would surely rise up the ladder. 

I would like to take this story to parenting. Parents complain about their teenagers, their arrogance, their high handedness, their stubbornness, rigid thoughts, idealistic opinions, and the list goes on. Adults seem to have forgotten the days when they were teens themselves. It’s important for parents to get into the shoes of their teens and understand their pangs and pains. Teens are difficult years, hormones play havoc, teens develop a sense of independence, they are at the threshold of becoming adults, it’s important for us parents not to undermine them. You may not agree with them, but be sure to take their point of view seriously. Chances could be that they have given some thought to it, you could attempt at understanding their perspective and help them develop it further. 

Parents are the first Gurus that children have. They are also the first to undermine them. If you wish to earn their trust them empathise with them first.    

Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0IHiZMsa3k

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Corporate diaries for parenting right – Think through your child’s career

Being a parent is a 24×7 job and is more difficult that being a CXO of a Fortune 500 company. There are however, plenty of experiences from the corporate world that we can use as parental guides. Here’s one such interesting story. A group of American car executives went to Japan to see a Japanese assembly line. At the end of the line, the doors were put on the hinges, the same as in US, the missing link was that in the US there was a worker who would take a rubber mallet and tap the edges of the door to ensure that it fit perfectly. In Japan, that job didn’t exist. The American executive was confused and asked, when do the Japanese check the door fit perfectly? The Japanese responded, “We make sure it fits when we design it.” The Japanese auto plants didn’t examine a problem and accumulate data to figure out the best solution, they engineered the outcome they wanted from the beginning. If they didn’t achieve their desired outcome, they understood it was because of a decision they made at the start of the process. 

Learning from the story:

  1. Do we wrongly design our children’s career and then use a mallet to fix the problem? 
  2. Does your teenager have a say in decisions taken for her or his career? 
  3. What do you do to help guide your teenager? 
  4. When do you design her/his career? Do you believe that the best career for her/him is still just medicine or engineering and thrust him/her into coaching classes? Are you aware 29% of those who qualified JEE Mains in 2019 opted out of JEE Advanced?
  5. Are you aware that many of those who pass out of leading engineering colleges opt for careers in blogging, photography and social entrepreneurships? 

Many of those who pass out “use the mallet to fix the door”, for the simple reason that they graduated with subjects that don’t excite them as a career. We see too many who pass out coming back disappointed with their career and needing to redesign their lives. 

We strongly recommend you to explore what your child enjoys. Plan their path taking their thoughts into consideration, ensure that, like the Japanese design, our children have a smooth take off. #Corporate diaries for parenting right

ARE YOU GAME?

Online Gaming – the red letter word for parents! 

What’s in it for youngsters:

Just like any sport, online gaming is an escape from school and college studies. Several online games have large teams, often up to 50 people in a team. When young players, teens and those in their early twenties, play for or against virtual individuals, who own large businesses, are entrepreneurs, from across the world, it’s wow feeling. Being part of the community that’s bigger than their own selves, where they are acknowledged and not treated differently gives them a sense of significance and recognition. The rewards keep piling up and keep them hooked on to the game for hours. 

How parents think of online gaming:

As a parent the moment you think of online gaming you probably think of 

  • Time wasters 
  • Idle
  • Obesity 
  • Lazy 
  • Violence 
  • Corrupt
  • Addiction 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you have had some nasty interactions with your child over gaming. Did you take away their phones and tabs because you caught them playing online games late into the night? You probably have heard ghastly stories about how kids have gotten hooked to online games and that’s brought their school or college results down. I am aware of youngsters in college who got so addicted to online gaming at their hostel that they hadn’t slept for several nights and ultimately had to be hospitalised for treatment. I am sure you’d have heard how the violence in many games play on young minds change their brain structure. How it releases dopamine, the hormone that reacts to reward mechanisms and wants us to go back to it again and again.

Is there anything good about gaming?

I once had a teenager who told me that some online games require tremendous amount of planning, especially if it’s a big tournament. Intense focus, and concentration is necessary to win. So just like any sport online gaming also develops certain life-skills:

  • Planning 
  • Time management 
  • Collaboration 
  • Problem solving 
  • Resource management 
  • Hand-eye coordination 
  • Creativity 
  • Quick Decision making 
  • Inductive reasoning 
  • Interpretation of visual information 
  • Concentration 
  • Risk taking 
  • Simulation of real-world skills
  • Pattern recognition 
  • Adaptability

So, why do parents worry about online gaming?

It’s not the online game, but the balance in life that goes for a toss that’s probably worrying you parents more. After all, let’s not forget violence in media has existed long before the online games came in.

Parents are often conservative in their thinking. “What’s worked for them will work for their kids too”, is the general thought. Also, our brains tend to pick up negative information and generalise that as the rule. So, you probably hear one unfortunate event and then tell yourselves that will happen to your kids as well. Sport injuries are common, but they don’t deter you from sending your kids to play them. Mainly because your brain doesn’t look at sports as a risk, sports have been around for thousands of years, so the brain has evaluated that the gains in sports outweigh the risks. For online gaming that’s not yet the case. Even though simulations are being used aggressively in several industries for skill development. 

Why parenting needs to change?

The forbidden apple is always more enticing, don’t we know that? Banning your child with severe consequences and stripping things away while stamping your rules won’t help. 

Have you ever considered sitting next to them and asking them, “Why is it so interesting for you to play this game?” “How do you play?” “Can I watch?” “Can I play with you?” 

Be a part of your child’s world. Transparency in communication will not just bring in honesty, but your child will feel that they have a certain autonomy over their actions, their lives are not controlled by you. This will also result in responsible behaviour. Human tendency is to be free, and the moment your child begins to feel they are being controlled, they will look at ways to hide information from you. Nothing is good or bad, what’s important is you help your child draw a balance. 

Are you guilty of creating addicted kids?

A 15year old young girl was going to visit her friend, Smita for a sleep-over. Before she went to Smita’s place, she asked if the two girls could “Omegle”. Omegle by the way, for those of you who aren’t aware, is a video chat platform where one can video chat with strangers. Thankfully, Smita vehemently opposed the idea, saying she didn’t want to be “catfished.” Essentially a word that means she wasn’t keen on developing relationships with fictional, online people.

For how long do you think you can be watchdogs over your kids? They spend more time on the Internet than they do with real people, be it friends or family. Their adrenaline-rush comes in from the relationship they have with their phones.

A 16-year old committed suicide in my child’s school, the girl was well-liked by her friends and teachers, was a good student, yet nobody knows what drove her to it. In their desperation for FOMO (fear of missing out), kids these days put on a mask and make the world believe they are happy while delving deeper and deeper into low mood swings and a lonely world.

28.4% of social media conversations are from Gen Z, according to Internet data (https://www.talkwalker.com/blog/social-media-statistics-in-india) Their habits of sticking to technology stops them from seeking out help from real friends, family and or experts. You make your children’s lives easier by providing them these gadgets. You forget, that just like drugs, alcohol, and gambling, phones incite the same trigger within their brains. The brain releases dopamine and help these kids relieve themselves from “reality that they wish to avoid.” 10-year-olds have smartphones; parents believe they need to be “in touch” with their kids at all times. Parents give phones to even 1-year-olds in their endeavour to keep the kids blissfully occupied and proudly showcase the photos on social media.

When you are a permissive parent your desire to keep your child happy through technology obstructs you from viewing its long-term repercussions. You don’t put your foot down and say, “This is not happening.” If you, yourself, break the no phone rule at the dining table then how do you expect your child to be following it?

Compassionate parents would be supportive to their child’s mental and emotional being. It may seem that you need to go that extra mile and share your day with your child in order to get them to share their’s and perhaps you would need to try a little harder to get them beyond their monosyllabic response, but then find their sweet spot, speak to them on topics they enjoy. Be patient, develop trust.

Let’s act so we don’t create a generation of addicts, thrown into the dungeons of low mood swings and loneliness. Our kids need us now more than ever.

How coaches help you develop resilience

You’d be aware of how in 2013, Roger Federer, the tennis maestro, took on Stefan Edberg as his coach to overcome his mid-career slump and change his game. While Federer was a name in tennis, he knew everything there was to know in tennis there were insights that his Coach Edberg brought on that he couldn’t have realised had he worked on himself alone.

I am often asked, “Why should brilliant leaders, bright young minds, and entrepreneurs need a coach?” They need it to develop mental conditioning during stressful times, to overcome the fear of failures, handle growing pressure along with expectations, and move to the next level of leadership. 

These individuals are extremely talented, all that’s required for them to develop mental conditioning that would hold a non-defeatist attitude. I have seen many leaders who’ve gone with the flow when the tide ran high but collapsed during downtime. Winning often becomes a habit with such individuals, so when failure strikes, they are unable to navigate the emotional and mental challenges that follow. 

Whether you’re a business leader, a school or college student, an entrepreneur, the ultimate goal is victory, assessing potential bumps, preparing for them, strategizing to overcome them is an absolute need, however, overthinking about them results in deep anxiety. Every individual requires to build a huge amount of mental fitness that draws power from their innate strengths, such as those assessed by Clifton StrengthsFinder (https://www.gallup.com/cliftonstrengths/en/252137/home.aspx). They all live with anxiety as their partner in bed, and this aggravates over time. For you to execute effectively you’d need short-term mental skills, such as confidence, focus, concentration, developing a sharp memory, but also long-term factors such as development of self-esteem, sense of purpose, developing yourself for the next level. 

You can overcome the fear of losing through carefully designed mental conditioning. There is no perfect human being and we are all flawed. Exploring and delving into our collective intelligence, sharing inputs, and evaluating them helps to over-ride these hurdles. Irrespective of age, everyone needs a coach. 

Why don’t your kids listen to you?

Have you ever faced a googly while talking to your kid?

Child: Mamma, Nirmala Ma’am has given us more assignments, I am fed up!

Mom: Oh, that’s awful! Why’s she doing that? 

Child: I don’t know Ma!

End of conversation.

You may have presumed that agreeing to that conversation would have settled your child, but clearly it hasn’t, it has just left her/him at status quo. 

How else could you have had that conversation?

Child: Mamma, Nirmala Ma’am has given us more math assignments, I am fed up!

Mom: That must be taking up a significant part of your time. 

Child: Yes, it most definitely is. I was planning to finish my Bio portion today, but clearly I will need push that. 

Mom: Would you like my help in rescheduling your Bio?

Child: I will let you know, let me go and handle my math assignments first. 

Mom: Alright, go ahead and do that first. 

Children don’t always need you to agree to what they are saying. Questioning them when they don’t have any control (in this case the assignment) won’t help the cause. What will help simply letting them know, you understand their pain/angst, happiness/disappointments/sadness/anger etc. 

Rev up and become a Parent in Action. Join the group to understand how important your words are in moulding your child, learn how to help your child learn better and stay motivated to learn, workshops for parents and much more. 

You Need To Know How Parents Are Responsible For Sibling Rivalry

“Siblings are the people we practise on, the people who teach us about fairness and co-operation and kindness and caring- quite often the hard way” – Pamela Dugdale

Does this ring a bell? Is it true about you and your sibling? I am sure we all fought with our siblings but did those fights have an undertone of Sibling Rivalry?

Well, let me talk about myself. We are 3 sisters, the eldest being 12 years elder to me. The age difference between my middle sister and me is 9 years. So my eldest sister is more like a mother figure to me. I  vaguely remember having a few disagreements with my middle sister over her shoes and clothes … that’s it. But there was never any sibling rivalry because she spent most of her college years in the hostel, and the age difference was huge.

But sibling rivalry is for real and I have seen it brewing in so many families.

I have two daughters who are in their teens now. While there is the usual shouting, screaming, slamming doors that are natural between any two siblings, we as parents need to be very conscious of how these so-called “Normal behaviours” get manifested in their young minds.

Does Healthy Sibling Rivalry Exist?

Honestly, healthy sibling rivalry may be the desired behaviour. Are you surprised? Even I was when I read this interesting analogy in Psychology Today. It says sibling rivalry is not a sign of siblings not getting along. It is how they get along, using conflict to test their power, establish differences, and vent emotions with a familiar family adversary. It’s how they manage their love-hate relationship, each side of which is compelling in its own way. In healthy sibling rivalries, they can be both good companions and good opponents with each other.

Therefore with a sibling around, you kids learn how to

  • Face & Handle conflict
  • Deal with different opinions
  • Compromise and negotiate

However, if this sibling rivalry turns into an unhealthy interaction, it can have a huge impact on your child’s mindset & confidence level. And the after-effects may be life-long influencing his/her choices in future.

My husband and I strongly believe in the “Reverse Parenting” Approach & hold ourselves completely responsible for how our teens behave, act and perceive life.

Hence it was important for us to ensure that their sibling love does not have shades of unhealthy sibling rivalry.

Unfortunately, this is easier said than done because so many times as parents, we tend to act or react in a way that fuels sibling tension.  It starts when the 2nd child comes into the family, and the comparison with the first one begins.

This habit if not identified and addressed at the right time can lead to some deep scars in our children’s mind which become more pronounced as they enter the teenage years.

Here I list down a few parental behaviours that may instigate Unhealthy Sibling Rivalry. And surprisingly we are completely ignorant of these.

Causes for Sibling Rivalry

1. Comparison Between Siblings

Let’s accept this. Parents are the first ones who start comparing their kids. This starts with looks, moves onto behaviours & habits. It finally translates to their personality types.

However, every kid is different & processes information differently. Have you ever wondered why?

I strongly believe that the way we bring up our child during initial years influences his/her behaviour; hence it is not right to expect siblings to act or react in similar ways. Our frame of mind during their infancy years does have an impact on some of their personality traits.

My first daughter was born after 8 years of marriage & the second one was born 2.5 years later. The first one got all the attention & pampering since she came after 8 years. This was further pronounced when the second one came in as we did not want our elder girl to feel threatened by her sibling.

Just to clarify it did not mean the younger one got less love, but my prime focus even during the infant years of 2nd one was my elder daughter. And you can clearly make out how it influenced the personality of both of them.

Therefore it is unfair to comment & compare sibling behaviour. Parental mindset  & the growing up environment plays a significant role in shaping the personality of your child. And these become more pronounced as they approach teenage years.

2. Giving importance to one over another

I know as parents, we will always have noble intentions & have to decide our priorities. Sometimes, it may mean giving attention to one child more than the other at a point of time. 

E.g. your elder child may be at a stage of choosing her high school subjects, and the younger one may be in a lower class. Therefore you will spend more time discussing the elder one’s plan and what she wants to do eventually.

At that time, the younger sibling may feel that as parents you are not giving her as much attention as the elder one and this may create some friction. I have also come across a situation when the elder one may just brush aside the younger one’s grades saying ..”oh that’s so easy to get at your age”. Sounds familiar?

How do I tackle this ?

Firstly its important to let the elder one know that she was also at this stage a few years back and at that point of time, it was a BIG thing for her too. Therefore she should not underestimate the efforts being put in.

Secondly, as parents, we should not ignore or have isolated discussions with the elder one. It’s always better to involve both the kids in the discussions, especially if the age difference is not much. The younger one will feel involved in the discussion even if she can’t contribute significantly. She will also understand why, as parents, we are giving more importance to a particular situation then.

3. Labelling Your Kids

This is always the case, and I still can’t figure out why. There will always be one who will be better at one thing between siblings, while the other has some other talents.

While one may be very good at sports, the other may be extremely good in the creative field. One may be good in arts & literature while other has an analytical bend of mind.

The problem comes when we as parents, we start compartmentalizing them as Arty or Sporty or any other. We also like to introduce our kids that way. I know I am guilty of that.

While these fields may be your teen’s preference it does not mean that he or she will not or cannot do well in other fields.

Imagine if your creative kid wants to get into sports, he or she will always feel that I don’t have that capability while my sibling has. And this may even deter him from trying.

My learning, its good to know your teen’s bent of mind, but let’s encourage them to experiment with other fields. This is especially true during the teen years when they are willing to experiment.

4. Sibling Jealousy

Since our kids have different talents and likes/dislikes, it is also possible that one may be doing exceedingly well in her/his field and getting a lot of appreciation. Or she/he may be getting more attention from friends and family for her work

Maybe one of your teens has more followers than the sibling, and you know how important social media gratification is for today’s generation.

You have to be extremely sensitive to these feelings and these need to be addressed before they lead to any major consequences.

Sometimes its always better to underplay the success of one sibling in front of the other. It does not mean that you undermine the efforts of the other sibling. You can always have a separate chat with her & let her know how proud you are of her. But it would be best if you are careful with your words in gatherings where both siblings are there.

5. Targeting Specific Kid

In most cases, we can identify which of the siblings is responsible for the conflict or the issue under discussion. But its always better to address the siblings jointly rather than target one of them.

Only if one of them is behaving in a non desired way repeatedly, you need to understand the reason behind this behaviour. And it may be any of the following:

1. Seeking more attention from you

2. Feeling Insecure in presence of other siblings

3. Dictating his/her supremacy through the behaviour in question

And then this needs to be addressed from the core rather than treat the symptoms. You may need to have a constant dialogue with the concerned sibling to address the above issues.

I think all siblings at some stage of their lives experience sibling rivalry. As I mentioned earlier, this may turn out to be a learning for life for them or a scar for life. It all depends on how we handle the situation as parents.

So let us ensure we do the right things to create a bond between the siblings for a lifetime because we will not be there with them for life.

This Is Why Parents Are Responsible For Sibling Rivalry.

Author’s Profile – Rippy Gauba 

I am a working professional and a mom of 2 teen daughters. After having worked in the corporate world for 22 years, I am now a free-lance consultant specialising in project management. I am very passionate about spending quality time with my family, my pet CoCo, painting and blogging. 

I write on Mindset, Motivation & Management. These are every day, practical tips I picked up from my personal & professional life. These learnings have impacted my life as an individual, as a parent and as a working professional. I am sure these will be useful for you too and help create Ripples of change in your lives & that’s my intention.

Read more interesting Posts on My-Ripple-Effect

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Words matter

Father: “If you don’t buckle up, all your friends will be ahead of you!”

14 year old Daughter: Silent, dwelling on what she just heard her father say.

These are common statements that we often speak to our children without giving it much thought. But how does it affect them? Every word we say, consciously or otherwise impacts the inner worlds of our children.

If the child is one who gets anxious fast, a statement like the one above can have a serious implication and raise her stress level. She may not be able to concentrate because stress will gnaw at her.

As a parent who’s supposed to encourage her and believe in her, you would have gotten her to feel inferior to the rest. Instead of being pepped up to take on the world, she’d feel the others are better than her. Remember she’s got her inner world taking over as soon as you as a parent have spoken those words to her. Comparisons don’t help. She can also begin feeling sad that her potential is not encouraged.

If you’ve been saying this to her often, she may get angry and become stubborn. She may get indifferent and tell herself,

“They don’t believe in me anyway, so why bother?”

Give yourself a moment before you speak. While you may give yourself plenty of reasons for your actions, don’t forget it all stems from our thoughts.

Had President Truman not ordered the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the horrifying deaths wouldn’t have happened. Some may argue, it brought an end to the world war, but was it the right price to pay?

All words have consequences. Mind it. Instead of making judgements, what if the dad had said this;

Father: Which assignments are you concerned about?

Daughter: Dad, I am having problems with some Physics concepts.

This probably will give way to a dialogue, where you would come across as a concerned, yet compassionate parent.

Your daughter would have thought, “My dad is concerned about my challenges”.

As the Buddhist Monk, Nicheren Daishonin said, “It is the heart that is important.” If your child loses heart, she loses faith. Speak to empower her, don’t disseminate her.

Build to Excel

“Awareness, or more to the point, a lack of self-awareness, is a primary issue anyExecutive Coach focuses on to help a leader get better. When a person holds a position of power and authority without clear, candid information about how their actions or behaviors affect their teams, it’s a recipe for disaster.  Unfortunately, this describes too many leaders.” This is how John Eades Newsletter on “Building the Best” begins on LinkedIn.

This is so true! We, the Gallup Performance Coaches, describe Senior leaders with such words as, Responsible, achiever, relator, communicator, intellection, woo (win others over), and twenty-eight other words, shown below. When they come to us with their Clifton StrengthsFinder Report and we begin our coaching with them, the first response is “I never knew these words described me.” When you as leaders don’t know who you are; why you feel the way you do, why you think the way you do and why you behave the way you do, then how can you understand your team? It would but be natural for you or your team to engage in quick judgments and fast retorts consequently resulting in ego tussles, biases, groupism, and then manipulations leading to conflicts along with a vicious work environment. 

Let’s not forget the old brain that had protected you in the past, the tiny amygdala that controls your fight or flight or freeze impulse, whenever you faced a life and death situation. Today, you don’t face life and death like situations, however, the amygdala construes every action that’s a potential danger to you through the same lens. Also since your pre-frontal cortex has developed extensively, it forces you to think.  You now begin to think about the events as more dangerous and a threat to your existence in the organization than it really is. This may then forces you to manipulate and politick, gradually leading employees to get disengaged and often performance dropping. 

How can we disengage from this and actually work unhindered towards common goals? It’s not too difficult actually. There are many organizations who prefer to focus on employee productivity not through psychological force, but through the will of their employees. The primary step to this is self-awareness. When we understand that being eg. Responsible (one of the 34 Clifton Strengths) can lead to poor delegation, you may not focus on your team’s development, because you would believe you alone need to take ownership for tasks given to you. You will focus on micromanagement. When your team sees you are extremely reliable, they may become complacent themselves. When you undergo coaching you will realize that it is this innate tendency to feel responsible for every task given to you that is leading your team to become underproductive and for you to be overstressed. 

Learn more on #Cliftonstrengths and how organizations like #Elzixfoundation supports you to become a strong leader building teams that excel.

Build your teen’s character

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<p class="has-drop-cap" id="Empower-or-overpower" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Power like respect has the greatest impact when it is not commanded but earned. Let your teen trust you enough to reach out to you and seek your guidance. This can happen when you give your teen an environment of respect and “I hear you” approach. Let your power inspire and not force. Focus on your inner strength and the inner strength of your teen. Power will have the greatest impact when you understand and value why your teen thinks, feels and behaves the way she does.  Abraham Lincoln had said, if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Develop your teen’s character and give her the right to make choices. She may err, allow it to happen for that is how she will learn best and develop herself the most. Power like respect has the greatest impact when it is not commanded but earned. Let your teen trust you enough to reach out to you and seek your guidance. This can happen when you give your teen an environment of respect and “I hear you” approach. Let your power inspire and not force. Focus on your inner strength and the inner strength of your teen. Power will have the greatest impact when you understand and value why your teen thinks, feels and behaves the way she does.  Abraham Lincoln had said, if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Develop your teen’s character and give her the right to make choices. She may err, allow it to happen for that is how she will learn best and develop herself the most. 

You probably have gotten used to taking decisions on her behalf and asking her to implement it. As children there are many decisions one is incapable of taking on her own, so you took the decision for her – which doctor to take them to, the school they will study in, the clothes they will wear and probably the initial years you controlled who they played with and befriended and so on. 

These are all essentials. In your mind you began believing that this was the way to go, after all even as your child grew to become a teen, she continues to remain immature and cannot make the right choices. “How can she decide which college she wants to study, what she wants to study, why she wants to study it?” Your say would be the last. You are after all the individual who’s going to bear the cost of all her decisions – good or bad, and you must minimise the risks, – surely such thoughts continue to hammer most parent’s minds.  

There’s probably nothing wrong in your thinking, however, are you permitting your own biases to ruin your teen’s choices? We all are run by our innate characteristics or talents, (the 34 talents as defined by the Gallup organisation is shown in the picture, they exist in every individual across all strata, race and country) and they define 

  • how we are and thereby how would want our kids to be?
  • what are our characteristics and what aspects of their characters would we enjoy most and which aspects we will dislike?
  • what kind of thinkers/executors are we and what kind of thinkers/executors would we want them to be (would we want them to be logical, data driven or sensitive and ruled by their hearts)?
  • how are our trust patterns, hence what kind of trust patterns would we encourage them to have? Some of us trust fast, some of us don’t. 

If you are unaware of it, your talents and values systems could begin overriding you, both as leaders and as parents. Often jockeying for control and authority you land up arguing with your teen. You like to win, and win you shall, even if it is at the cost of your child’s career. 

I met a gentleman, Nikhil Mani (name changed) who’s a senior executive in the food industry. Used to expressing his thoughts at work,  invariably adding the “but” to the main thought, “I like your ideas …but…if you could also …” He maintains this winning spree at home as well. His son came to him with the desire to study political science and history, he invariably added his bit as well, “There’s no harm in wanting to study pol-science and history, but it won’t lead you to a lucrative career. You’ve grown up using high end gizmos, how will you finance yourself with an arts degree?” Once the conversation took that turn his son got defensive and the conversation took a complete turn to accusations and how his son “wastes” time on the Internet and so on. 

Have you as a parent thought through the conversations you will have with your teen? Political science graduates can pursue careers in international relations and work in global organisations, they can make a career in public policies, and the list can be endless. What Nikhil effectively did was put down his son’s ideas, create a rift in the father-relationship, show who’s in control and reduce trust. 

Know what your teen wants, why he wants it, understand how his innate strengths (Clifton Strengths) will drive him to excel. 

You see things; and you say, ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say, ‘Why not?’”
– George Bernard Shaw

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