Saturday, July 6, 2013

Elementary Education in India: Need For Enrichment

Imperatives in Primary & Elementary education in India: Timeless principles 

As a self-righteous and patriotic Indian, I used to take enormous pride in our country's tremendous ability to live harmoniously and happily. However, has this moment of pride lived through over six decades of independence. The answer is no !

Post 1991, per capita income levels have risen, multitude of brands from Gucci, Armani to BMW, IBM, Apple are ubiquitous in Metros, Mini-metros and smaller cities. 
Smaller towns are also seeing  development with modern retail proliferation, better roads etc. However, I am troubled to see that the Indian civic society is gradually losing all the traditional values and sheen, which one used to see even in large cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and others.

Whether it is any consideration and respect for  ladies or senior citizens while commuting or to allow a pedestrian to cross the road on zebra crossing and not scare him or her by forcing your car through; these virtues are simply missing today. Hygiene & sanitation / avoiding littering in public places have become pure theories in life.
Some of you may attribute this to the fast and difficult life that citizens lead or some of you may be exception to these examples !

But I would ask you to pause and think for a while, because the majority are not ideal citizens ! Have we thought for a moment what kind of horrendous lifestyle our kids will have to endure after a decade or two?

My hypothesis is that if every school in India were to imbibe certain values and teachings in children, then our country will be more progressive on both economic and social front in couple of decades. This is no rocket science; any child tends to imbibe and emulate the learning he or she gathers earlier in life. 

If the child is taught or keeps on seeing disrespectful behavior  disregard for hygiene and sanitation, unethical exchanges then it will be difficult to unlearn those habits !

Japanese children are well known for being well-behaved and polite. Japanese schools play a significant role in encouraging good manners and an attitude of respect for others. 
A sense of obligation to help others is encouraged by getting the pupils to work in groups with particular responsibilities, including serving each other lunch, and cleaning the school buildings. Schools in Japan are putting increased emphasis on Moral Education lessons, and there's great pressure on teachers to cultivate a sense of morality and citizenship.

In the US, since the last two decades, parents and teachers in pioneering schools such as A.B.Combs in North Carolina have initiated 'leadership' as the theme for the children.
No one is advocating removing core subjects such as math, science, reading writing and , history, geography, arts and language etc. But the objective has been to promote not only relevant topics for 21st century such as Global awareness, Civic awareness etc but also teaching leadership, ethics, accountability, team work, adaptability, social responsibility, people skills and initiative

Over the last decade, the leadership program has been introduced in several elementary schools in the US. Parents and teachers have found that the academic performance has not deteriorated but improved and the children have changed for the better, with a significant sense of responsibility and ethics and giving respect to others. All these benefits have been attributed to this program !!

Several so called international curriculum schools in India claim to provide the techniques and skills required for excelling in 21st century. My question is are they teaching Leadership, Traffic discipline, Sense of public duty, Ethical behavior, Hygiene & sanitation, Initiative. I hope so ! 

The larger problem is the thousands of public, private and municipal schools in the country.  Are they emulating best practices on the non-academic curriculum. 
The timeless principles outlined above need to be a mandatory subject in every primary and secondary school in India.

I see a larger challenge in disseminating these principles to students. There is a need to 'teach the teacher' at the outset, so that the imperative nature of these principles in our life is well-appreciated !


Friday, March 29, 2013

How well do your know your child ?

Spend some time with your child discussing the questions below; you may get lucky and learn something about your child that you didn't know!

What do you look for in a friend?
What is your favorite thing to do?
What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
What is your favorite thing about school? Least favorite?
Who do you consider to be your hero? Why?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What three things do you think you are good at?
What is your best memory? Worst memory?
What is your favorite movie?
What are you most afraid of?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
What is the best thing about being young? What is the worst thing?
What is your favorite class? Who is your favorite teacher?
Who is your best friend? Why?
What are your favorite foods?
What makes you the most angry?
What makes you the most happy?
If you were the parent for a day, which rule would you get rid of?
If you could have a magical power, what would you choose?
What would you do if you had the magical power you chose?
What do you see in your future?
Describe yourself using five words or less.
If you could spend one day doing anything you wanted, what would you do?
How would you act if there were NO rules for the day?
What is your biggest problem at school?
What is your biggest problem at home?
What is the best thing about being YOU?

A study by the University of Rochester last year screened the parents of more than 10,000, 9-month-old babies, asking such questions as “Should a 1-year-old child be able to tell right from wrong?” and “Should a 1-year-old child be ready to begin toilet-training?” A third of parents got fewer than five of the 11 questions correct, meaning they had what researchers labeled a “low level knowledge of typical infant development.” (The answer to both those questions is no, by the way.)
Another reason we don’t see what is in front of us, is that we don’t want it to be true. (Which is one reason why doctors and therapists are not supposed to treat their own children.) We’re in denial, pure and simple. And a more complicated corollary to that is “it can’t be true, because if it were, as his parent, I would know.”

We are blinded by the emotional connection that makes us want so much in the first place. We, who know our children best, are sometimes too close for a focused view. Even while we think we are paying meticulous attention (and heaven knows, we have all seen parents who are smothering with their attention) we still miss what is right in front of us !

Friday, March 8, 2013

Obsessive Parenting as against Concerned parenting !

The mothers are obsessed to the point of brainwashing their children to be the winner, no matter the cost. It is close to child abuse. When a child does not win, her mother clearly displays disgust and disappointment. Children frequently burst into tears- Anonymous

Over-parenting is sometimes also called hyper-parenting. Both the terms signify the same thing — a wrong parenting style. It refers to a parenting style in which parents are overly-involved with their children. Such parents are often seen fighting at the school games or arguing with the school-coach because they felt that their kid was undermined in some way

It is not uncommon to find parents who are very concerned about their child. The increasing stress in our daily lives and the ever-growing ambitions and frustrations of the parents often leads to a tendency of being preoccupied with the achievements and performance of one’s child. Many such parents feel that succeeding in every subject and every sphere of activity at school is an absolute necessity. They begin to associate the child’s success as their own. Concerned parenting is essential for being good parents, but when the concern of a parent turns into a fixation, it turns into something ugly — hyper parenting

Such obsessive parents don’t allow the child to take any independent decision. Thus, the children develop little self-confidence. The 24x7 scheduling and analysis done by the
parents makes the child vulnerable to be acutely self-critical. Such children grow into over-
dependent, hypercritical and untrusting individuals

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Child attention span

How long can your child pay attention to one activity? This usually depends on their developmental age.
If you have unrealistic expectations of your child's attention span, it can often lead to temper tantrums and other upsetting behavior. Seriously, being able to concentrate and having a long attention span will serve your kid well in school—and in life. Your help in providing the right atmosphere and motivation can greatly improve your child's attention span. 
What "sit-down" activities does your child enjoy? That's where you'll begin. If your child likes puzzles, take time to do puzzles with him every day. If your child likes you to read out loud, try to read more often. If your child enjoys imaginary play, get down on the floor and play with dolls or action figures along with him. Whatever the activity, try to spend 15 minutes every day with your child without interruptions. You will probably notice that your child is better able to continue playing if he knows that you won't get up and leave just because he's not asking for interaction
Another important thing is to set a study routine. Instead of forcing it let children choose their own time. Fixed sleep time are good for discipline but remember that some kids find it easier to concentrate in early mornings and others a bit late in the evening.
Remember there is a limit to your child's attention span. An hour at a time should be enough for the child to concentrate on studying after the initial five to ten minutes of clearing out other distractions. Once the child settles down, make sure there are no disturbances. External disturbances are one of the major factors that divert attention.
Distractions like video games can also prevent the mind from engaging in concentration. Help your child in organizing study material well before he sits down to study. Give him a goal that he should try to achieve within the hour.
Heavy meals are liable to make the child lethargic and lazy. Feed your child with nutritious but light meals like juices, milk, fruits, and cheese at regular intervals rather than at one go.
Sometimes you need to sacrifice your own leisure to convey to your child that you are with him/her in the effort to excel.
The greatest motivator is you and the quality time that you spend with children. Never let self doubt or worries creep in his/her mind. Teach them what interests them the most. 
A child who is allowed to peruse his/her interests is more prone to enjoy studies as well.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Teach your child to focus

The ability to focus on a goal is probably one of the most important lessons you can teach your child. 

Luckily, there are many things you can do at home to improve your child's ability to focus. 

Whether your child suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder or simply has trouble with inattention 

at school, not being able to focus can cause problems with your child's grades and 

comprehension. Instead of becoming frustrated by your child's lack of focus at school, seek to 

understand and remedy the problem. 

With the help of a committed teacher, coping mechanisms and exercises at home, you can help your child 

focus in school and become more successful in learning.

Step 1: Meet the teacher face to face. If your child's teacher has sent home a report card or note about your 

child's inattention, talk to her about it so that you can better understand the problem. 

Step 2Make sure your child has enough physical activities throughout the day. Studies by leading 

universities show that children who participated in physical activities throughout the day exhibited better focus 

in the classroom.

Step 3Assess changes that may have occurred in your family that could cause inattention. Sometimes, big 

changes like a new house, a change in the family or a new baby occupy your child's mind so that he has 

difficulty focusing. If you find that changes are the cause for the lack of focus, take time to talk about them 

with your child. This may help stop any anxiety about the changes in your home

Step 4:

Play focus-related games at home with your child as practice. You can make your own games, but traditional 

board games that require focus, like "Monopoly," "Battleship" and "Operation," can all help your child learn 

the right way to focus


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What are your kid’s talents and natural inclinations

Remember that what your child enjoys doing is a good indicator of what he’s good at doing

One of the great things about having kids is you get to experience things (good things) that you didn’t get to experience in your own childhood. You get to see the world through your child’s eyes. And this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

So it’s important to stay open to whatever your child chooses for her hobbies, school courses, college major and career goals. Not every happy, successful adult is a prestigious physician or attorney. In fact, neither satisfaction in life nor financial success are related to being the top student in high school. Most millionaires in America run Mom-and-Pop businesses like gas stations and mini-marts. A lot of millionaires were high school dropouts.

One of your jobs as a parent, then, is to figure out what your kid’s talents and natural inclinations are. You can then provide extra-curricular experiences to develop those talents. Extra-curricular experiences can be classes or organized activities, but also they can be just your interest and support.

Kids whose natural talents lie in other areas, like art, athletics, or music, for example, might have more trouble in school or might feel that school isn’t right for them.
Obviously, every child needs to learn to read, write and do math. It’s hard to function without these skills. But clearly not every school child is going to be an A student. This doesn’t mean the C students are hopelessly mediocre. It just means that school’s focus doesn’t match the C student’s talents.
So, while of course you want your kid to stay in school, you also want him to follow his own path to success. Try not to steer him too forcefully into the way you’d like him to go. Your dreams may not be his dreams. 

In addition, remember that people these days have serial careers. Most adults do not work in fields directly related to their college majors. Many adults wind up in careers that no one could’ve predicted from what they did for their first jobs.
As you help your child figure out how to spend the coming summer months, keep in mind what talents she’d like to develop. As you consider with your teenager what courses to take next year or what college major to focus on, remember that what your child enjoys doing is a good indicator of what he’s good at doing. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Effects of Praise on Children

When it comes to praise, quality over quantity may be the answer to building kids' self-esteem

In many cultures—-like China-—praise is rare. People worry about the effects of praise. That too much praise will inflate the ego...This seems to be an ancient concern. But today things are different. Parents praise their kids all the time.

Why? Because we think that praise is going to make our kids better—more motivated, more confident, more inclined to tackle challenges. But does it really work that way?

Well, yes. Praise can be a powerful form of encouragement. For instance, research in the US indicates that mothers who praise their preschoolers for their good manners have kids with better social skills.

Jennifer Henderlong Corpus and Mark Lepper, psychologists who have analyzed over 30 years of studies on the effects of praise:

They determined that praise can be a powerful motivating force if you follow these guidelines:

Be sincere and specific with your praise

Insincere praise may harm self-esteem and damage relationships 

Praise kids only for traits they have the power to change

While praising kids could motivate and improve self-esteem of child, the flip side is that there is a risk that kids become more cautious. They may avoid challenges. It’s as if they may afraid to do anything that might make them fail and lose your high appraisal. For these reasons, it’s better to avoid praising kids for ability. Instead, praise them for things that they can clearly change—like their level of effort or the strategies they use

Use descriptive praise that conveys realistic, attainable standards

Some praise is merely about making a judgment “Good job!” Other praise provides information about what the recipient did right: “I like the way you begin your essay by describing the problem and explaining why it’s important.” The latter is called descriptive praise, and it is thought to be more helpful than general praise

Be careful about praising kids for achievements that come easily

If you praise kids for easy tasks, kids may conclude there is something wrong: Either you’re too dumb to realize how easy the task is, or you think the kids are dumb. Such interpretations are unlikely to occur to younger children. But as kids mature, they become more sophisticated about the social meaning of praise

Be careful about praising kids for doing what they already love to do

It’s okay to praise kids for doing what they like to do. But be careful not to go overboard—particularly with older kids. When you praise kids every time they do something they enjoy, it might actually reduce their motivation

Encourage kids to focus on mastering skills—not on comparing themselves to others

Social-comparison praise is only motivating as long as kids continue to finish first. If their competitive edge slips, kids are likely to lose motivation. In essence, kids who are accustomed to social-comparison praise become poor losers. Also social-comparison praise teaches kids that competitive standing, not mastery, is the goal.



Sunday, February 10, 2013

Activities to improve your child's thinking skills

  • Encourage pretend play:  Let your child be the “director.” This helps her develop her own ideas. It also strengthens her thinking skills as she uses logic in her play: The dog has to go back in his house because it’s raining. You can help her develop her ideas by asking questions: What is the doggy feeling? Why? What might happen next?
  • Offer materials that help your child act out the stories he’s creating —hats, dress-up clothing, toy dishes, child-sized brooms, pads of paper, blocks, play food and household objects like big cardboard boxes, blankets, pillows, etc.

  •  Ask questions during your everyday play and routines. As you go through your day together, ask your child questions about what the two of you are seeing: Why do you think the leaves fall from the trees? Where do you think the butterfly is going? This gets your child’s mind working and lets her know that you are interested in her ideas.
  • Offer lots of chances to explore in creative ways. Take nature walks. Play with sand and water. Give your child objects he can take apart and investigate. By exploring objects during play, children figure out how things work and develop problem-solving skills.
  • Use everyday routines to notice patterns. Using language to explain these patterns helps your child become a logical thinker and increases her vocabulary “When the buzzer rings, the clothes are dry.” “You wear mittens to keep your hands warm when it’s cold.”
  • Sort and categorize through the day. Your child can separate laundry into piles of socks, shirts, and pants. He can help set the table and organize the forks, plates and spoons. At clean-up time, have him put the cars on one shelf and books on another.
  • Talk about feelings. Help your child develop a feelings vocabulary. Put words to what you think she might be feeling. You are so mad that we have to leave the park. This helps your child understand and cope with her emotions. Talk about what others might be feeling: That little girl is jumping up and down and smiling. How do you think she feels?
  • Encourage your child to test out different solutions to problems, rather than doing it for him: You might suggest he try the square block in another hole in his shape-sorter, or add some blocks to the bottom of his tower to keep it from collapsing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Improve memory power in kids

Memory is the mental capacity or faculty of retaining and reviving facts, events, and impressions. Some people seem to possess a better memory than others do. 

Parents often wonder what goes wrong when it comes to developing the memory of their kids. They provide kids with everything that the kids need and yet kids aren’t functioning up to their mark. In fact every kid has his own reasons for poor memory development.  

There are various factors that hamper the  memory skills in a child such as medical conditions, lack of concentration, lack of interest, improper eating habits, irregular sleeping habits, excessive TV watching and excessive stress.

These are few tips which a parent could try out for enhancing memory skills for the child:

1. Destress: Establish enjoyable rituals (favorite songs, card games etc.) or surprises (a fun picture downloaded and printed from the internet) before study time to destress the study experience and open up the brain networks that lead to memory storage

2. Use Color as tool to improve learning and memory:
Have your children use colored pens color code notes or words to emphasize high importance. You can have a picture of a traffic light on the wall and he can use green, orange, and red in order of importance - like the traffic light

3. Novelty: If you add novelty to a study experience it will be more memorable. Use video clips from the internet, put on a funny hat, put a scarf on the dog, light a candle) right before your child begins to study. His alerting system will be more open to processing and remember information that comes in after a novel experience

4. Use connections: Use your child's interests to connect her to the material. Make stories together using the information. Stories are great ways to remember new things because you child's brain grew up hearing stories and the pattern for remembering stories is strong in her brain.  Activate your child's prior knowledge by reminding him of things you've done as a family or that he's learned in other subjects that relates to the new information. When your children recognize relationships between new and prior knowledge their brains can link the new information with a category of existing knowledge for long-term storage

5. Syn-naps: Neurotransmitters, brain transport proteins, needed for memory construction and attention are depleted after as little as ten minutes of doing the same activity. Syn-naps are brain-breaks where you help your child change the learning activity to let her brain chemicals replenish. The Syn-naps can be stretching, singing, or acting out vocabulary words


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Managing the fear quotient of a Child

One has to understand that your child’s early fearlessness stems from the fact that ignorance is bliss. What they don’t know can’t hurt them. This is why the same child that cheerfully put her hand between the jaws of a dog, will later run away screaming at the sight of a barking dog.
It has been observed that these fears develop more often in children for whom feeding and toilet training have been contentious issues, or in those who have overprotective parents or who have been regularly warned or cautioned against doing certain things. On the other hand, some children are just born sensitive.

Fear of the dark

Fear of the dark is one of the most common childhood fears. This is also a fear that adults can most easily identify with.. If your child is scared of the dark you can indulge her by leaving her bedroom door open or leaving a night light on. Keep her well occupied with games and other activities throughout the day so that she has no time to brood on her fears. In time, she will realize that there is nothing to fear

Tangible fears

Sometimes children develop fears of tangible things like dogs, cockroaches, the water, men in uniforms, etc. It will certainly not help to coerce them to overcome their fear by forcing them to confront the objects of their fears. There is a good chance that dragging your screaming child towards a dog or throwing her into a swimming pool is going to backfire. Children most often outgrow these fears themselves.

Fear of death

Some children are scared of death and dying. They cannot understand what happens to their pets or people who die. This is not surprising as adults themselves are confused by death.  Some parents choose to explain death in religious terms. They tell their child that the deceased has gone up to God in heaven. On the other hand, parents can just deal with death by saying that the person was old, weak and too tired to go on living. It is important that parents maintain a casual air and reassure their child that they will be around for years and years to come. 

A positive approach

Always keep in mind that while you may not understand the child’s fear, it is very real to her. Ridiculing the fear or chastising your child for being a coward is not going to make the situation any better. Encourage her to talk about her fear. You must instill confidence in her by assuring her that nothing bad is going to happen and that you are right by her side. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Positive Ways to Talk and Listen to Children

As parents we spend so much of our time talking to our kids — and then wonder why they don't seem to hear us. In heated moments, we find ourselves stuck in power struggles, but can't figure out what to say to stop the fighting. Sometimes we just don't know how to answer a tough question.
Why can talking with kids be so hard? The basic challenge is that parents very often speak without understanding how their children receive the message," says Michael Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain. "We often make an assumption that our kids understand. But then we wonder, 'Why didn't they do what I said?'"
While many parent-child conversations can lead to misunderstandings, becoming an effective communicator is not only possible - it can even be fun!
Remember: There is no script to memorize or order you have to follow. Think of these easy-to-employ ideas as tools you can pull out when you need them to help you and your child understand each other. And keep in mind that there are important times when NOT talking at all may be your best option
1. Spend Time Listening:
Take a break and listen to your child. Specific actions — like making eye contact, kneeling down to your child's level and even tilting your head-show your child you are listening. They also help YOU stop and really listen
Repeat what you heard. It's often useful to restate what you heard and put your child's feelings into words. You might say, "You wanted a turn on the swing right now, didn't you?" or, "You seem sad about going to day care today." These reflective statements acknowledge and give words to your child's feelings
Ask specific questions to gather more information. You might say, "Can you tell me exactly what happened?" If it makes sense to talk some more, you might ask, "What upset you the most?" Follow-up questions both acknowledge your child's feelings and get her talking about them
2. Consider Your Child's Opinion
See the situation through your child's eyes. You know how you feel when your boss or partner says, "That's ridiculous," or insists you really like something you know you hate? Kids feel the same way when parents say, "You don't really mean that," or "I can't believe you said that!"
Acknowledge your child's feelings. In response to your child's statement, you might simply say, "I'm glad to know that," or "I understand." At times, this acknowledgement is all your child needs to hear
Try not to contradict your child's statement immediately, even if you think he's wrong. Hear him out before saying no
Listen to your child's request without judging or correcting it. Good teachers give a child a chance to explain himself first, even if he's wrong. The same technique works at home
3. Pause and Think Out Loud (Before You Say No)
Give yourself a moment to think about what your child is asking.Even if your final answer will still be "No," you might say, "Let me think about what you're saying for a minute and get back to you."
Pause to consider your child's question. This forces you to slow down and helps you not to make a snap judgment, even if the answer is, "No, we are not getting a bunny." Pausing makes your child feel heard, because you have stopped to consider her opinion; it also diminishes the chances of a power struggle.
Share your thinking out loud. Your children will enjoy being included in your thought processes. If your child asks for a sleep over, you might say, "I know you want a sleep over, but your grandmother may want to see you this weekend when she visits. Let me talk to her." In this way your child knows how you arrive at your decision

4. Don't Discuss Everything
Don't turn a statement into a question. Instead of saying, "It's time to leave the playground in five minutes, OK?" simply say, "We're leaving in five minutes." Don't ask for your child's permission. However, you might want to briefly explain your logic, remembering that an explanation is not the same as a negotiation.
Offer choices only when there really is a choice. Be clear about negotiable and non-negotiable situations
Don't let discussions go on too long. If there really is no choice about the outcome, too much talking just postpones the inevitable. If need be, walk away from your child or get involved in some other activity


Monday, January 14, 2013

Read to Succeed: Children and teens

Reading skill is essential to learning all other subjects taught in school. 
The better the reading skills children have and the earlier they have them determines how rapidly and how well they will achieve in school. There is no reason why a child with average intelligence cannot achieve this goal with early and appropriate reading instruction.

Parents are the first and best teacher

The first teacher any child has is his or her parent. Children develop language skills by listening to and mimicking their parents. When children are born they have the capability of producing any sound made in any language spoken in the world. During the early years, they hear the sounds and make the sounds that make-up the language spoken in their culture. The more time parents spend talking with their child the richer the language development of that child. They gradually learn how to speak and listen with fluency and understanding.

The process of reading and writing is simply “talking on paper.” The only difference is that written symbols are used rather than sounds. The child must learn the sounds letters and combination of letters make and how they string together to form words. That is what is called decoding. Once a child learns to decode they can understand communication through written language based on the skills developed through their development of oral language.

Reading to younger children

Just as parents should spend time each day talking to and with their young child, they should also spend some time each day reading to their young child. This spurs interest in books and as children become toddlers and preschoolers who want to imitate their parents doing all kinds of things, reading will become one of them. Parents need to read in a manner that generates enthusiasm and curiosity

Reading with older children

Once your child can read, reading time shifts to listening to the child read and taking turns reading with them. Parents should continue to talk with the child about what is being read.

Once children are readers, get a library card or join a book club to increase the reading material available. 


New Study Underscores Importance of Family Alliance for Child Development

Children are shaped by their environments. The family into which a child is born has a significant impact on the child’s emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral development. Numerous studies have shown the effect of maternal mental health on children, and many have focused on the relationship of the parents as a contributing factor to child developmental outcomes.
 In a recent study, Nicolas Favez of the University of Geneva in Switzerland took it one step further. Favez conducted a follow-up to a previous study that examined how family alliance, beginning during pregnancy, affected childhood development at age 5. 
Favez assessed 38 families from the fifth month of pregnancy and then followed them until the child reached 18 months old. Factors such as child temperament and marital interaction, conflict and satisfaction were evaluated. When the children reached age 5, Favez evaluated them again, this time for cognitive, behavioral, and emotional development.
The participants were categorized into three groups: high-stable, high-low, and low-stable. 
The high-stable group demonstrated positive alliance in the first phase of the study and at follow-up, the children in this group scored highest on all the measures. 
The high-low group included parents who had high alliance during the pregnancy, but saw declines in relationship satisfaction after birth. The children in this group had mixed temperaments, and scored lower on all measures than high-stable children. 
In fact, these children had poorer developmental outcomes than even those in the low-stable group. This suggests that the increase in conflict and breakdown of family alliance can do more harm than a weak, but stable, family alliance.
Child temperament was directly linked to poorer outcomes, as well. Favez believes that children with difficult temperaments may engage with others less than easy-going, secure children. If so, the temperament of the child is a contributing factor to the child’s own development. This is a finding that should be examined more closely in future work. Regardless, this study shows that having a child will not fix relationship tensions. In fact, it may add to the stress and problems within the relationship and may negatively affect the developmental outcome of the child. 
Favez added, “These results highlight the importance of both family-level and individual-level variables for understanding individual differences in the social and cognitive development of children.”

Saturday, January 5, 2013

How to enhance your child's emotional intelligence

When it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). 

As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence or IQ isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. IQ can help you get into college but it’s EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions of sitting your final exams.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others

Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:

Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence
Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances
Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict

Emotional intelligence affects:
  • Your performance at work. Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring
  • Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
  • Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
  • Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life

How can you help raise your child's emotional IQ? 

Emotion coaching are steps  you can use to teach your child to analyse feelings and handle conflict. 
Here's how it works:

1. Listen with empathy.

Pay close attention to your child when he says how he feels, then mirror what he's shared back to him.Use examples from your own life to show him you understand what he's said. Tell him about how you felt when your own sibling got to go to the amusement park with your father and you didn't, and how your own mom or dad made you feel better. This tells your child that everyone has these feelings, and that they will pass.

2. Help your child name his feelings.
 You can encourage your child to build an emotional vocabulary by giving him labels for his feelings. If he's acting disappointed about not being able to go to the park, you might say, "You feel sad about that, don't you?"
You can also let him know that it's normal to have conflicting emotions about something — for instance, he may be both excited and scared during his first week at school.If your child seems sad or upset for no immediate reason, try looking at the big picture and thinking about what might be troubling him. Have you moved recently? Did you and your spouse have an argument in his presence?

3. Validate your child's emotions
Instead of saying, "There's no reason to get so upset" when your child throws a tantrum  because he's unable to put together a puzzle, acknowledge how natural his reaction is. Say, "It's really frustrating when you can't finish a puzzle, isn't it?" Telling him his reactions are inappropriate or excessive will make him feel as if he should muzzle them.

4. Turn tantrums into teaching tools.
If your child gets upset when he hears that he has an appointment with the dentist, help him feel in control by preparing for the visit. Talk with him about why he's afraid, what he can expect during the visit, and why he needs to go. Tell him about a time you were scared to start a new job and one of your friends made you feel better. Talking through emotions works the same way for children as it does for most adults.

5. Set an example by staying calm.
You'll also want to check how you react to your child's display of emotions. It's important not to be verbally harsh when you're angry. Try saying, "It upsets me when you do that," rather than "You make me crazy," so your child understands that the problem is his behavior, not him. Be careful to avoid excessive criticism, which tends to chip away at a child's self-confidence.
And above all else, stay in touch with your own feelings. Some parents ignore their own negative emotions, hoping to spare their children discomfort or difficulty. But hiding your real feelings will only confuse your child. By acknowledging that you're displeased without acting upset, for instance, you show your child that even difficult feelings can be managed.