So you might not be overdoing the mojitos this year, but there are lots of clever ways to have a good time, with no hangover either
When a child feels valued, there’s a good chance that he’s going to want to be the best version of himself. This is precisely why you should help your child feel encouraged, capable and confident says Richa Shukla, content expert, Sesame Workshop, India
Rahul desperately tried to get the ball through the hoop. He kept missing and finally cried out in frustration, his face damp with sweat and tears. He threw away the ball and looked around despondently. His mother ran towards him and embraced him. She told him to keep trying because eventually, he would be able to sink the ball through the hoop. She reminded him of the days when he was unable to write his name. Rahul recalled that even though it was tiring, he was persistent in his efforts and he was eventually able to write his name.
Such encouragement and positivity are essential building blocks for a child’s confidence. Children’s perceptions of themselves and the world are formulated at a young age. How a child thinks, what they see, what they hear, and how they respond to their surroundings, are all components of what ultimately constitutes their selfimage. If a child begins to imbibe feelings of anxiousness, stress, discontentment and fear, they tend to become jittery, hesitent, shy and unsure of themselves. A growing body of research shows that more and more children, in their early years, are in the grips of toxic stress and anxiety. Adverse childhood experiences lead to an increase in negative health outcomes that can be carried into adulthood.
There could be multiple factors that could lead to the child being stressed and anxious, whether it’s from facing adversity or finding any task difficult to complete. Children tend to develop multiple stressors when they are unable to comprehend or complete their school and tuition work. They stumble through the work and get scared at times as they are not able to perform and excel at something that their peers are finding easy. This makes them lose their confidence.
A child’s low morale can be easily misunderstood as shyness or quietness. Parents need to identify the signs and act upon through strategies which can help the child deal with the problem at hand and boost his morale. The role of the parent is also essential in ensuring that the house has a friendly atmosphere so that the child feels secure, and allows him to express himself freely without any fear of being reprimanded.
There are several techniques that can be adopted to boost a child’s morale and empower them to work hard towards achieving their goals. They are:
Establishing a communication channel
Children begin to develop social skills in infancy with their earliest bonds and interactions with family members. Establish an effective communication path with the child. Be supportive, spontaneous and affectionate. It will help build the relationship and make him more confident about opening up.
Allow them to make choices
It is extremely crucial for parents to help children makes choices; parents can present them with options and situations, but let the choice rest with them. This is a great way to build confidence as they become more capable of making decisions and understanding what choices may lead to pleasure or discomfort.
Praise and reward
Let your children know you love him for who he is and for what he does. Let him know that he is special. Parents should tell their children that every person is unique and blessed with distinguished abilities and talents. Create positive memories for your child and praise his successes through small gestures. Reward him with a little treat— a sticker, a cookie or a trinket— for motivation once in a while. Avoid talking down when he fails to meet expectations. Try to encourage him to perform better the next time.
Comparing a child’s abilities with other children is the worst thing to do. All children have very intense emotions and the act of comparison between the child and his peer group, creates a sense of inferiority. Comparing your child with an apparent paragon of virtue can trigger pangs of extreme jealousy, and it can become unhealthy for him.
Children feel confident when they accomplish a task that has been given to them. They also get a boost when they start doing their routine jobs themselves. Take, for example, when Elmo on Sesame Street attempted to tie his shoelaces. He kept failing inspite of repeated trials. He began to feel restless and hopeless. His parents encouraged him to keep trying and not give up because eventually, he would be able to do it. Such examples need to be given or shown to children. This will motivate them to be determined towards achieving their goal.
Talk to the teachers
It is crucial for parents to understand their child’s attitude towards his peers and teachers and gain an insight into the social life of their child. It is also necessary to be aware of how their child is behaving in the external environment. For example, if they are exuding confidence at home, are they also being able to do so in school? It helps parents understand if their child is facing any learning or attention issues. Talking to the child’s teachers and friends also help identify his interests.
Use of imaginative play
Through imaginative play, children transform into people, objects, and situations around them. They envision imaginative situations and construct and act out their roles and functions. Such play allows them to dream big and be whatever they want to be; they paint the world the way they see it. By participating in such play, parents get a sneak peek into the child’s imaginations and an opportunity to motivate them to dream confidently.
Remember, trust is key in
establishing a healthy and strong relationship with your child. It’s also the driving force behind that much-needed boost to a child’s confidence. Love your child, build and nurture a strong connect; let the child know that you are there to help whenever his morale is low. This open and honest communication will motivate him to openly seek your help when he’s faced with a tough situation and isn’t confident enough to handle all on his own. This will also make him listen and respect your advice. Your support will help broaden his understanding of what it means to be confident. It is your guidance that will help him develop his opinions based on evidence, help him to speak up around his peers and enable him to listen and respect another’s opinion while still putting his point across.
It is important for children to find an identity and voice in the midst of stronger influences. There will be setbacks and failures, criticism and pain in life. Your support will help your child handle situations constructively, and take this critical learning into adulthood.|MB
For Namrata Aswani-Setty, life at 30 looks exciting, especially when it comes to balancing her role as a mother to her 21-month-old boy, Pavit, and being head of the Public Relations division at her firm
BY CHARLENE FLANAGAN
PHOTOGRAPHS BY AKSHAY KULKARNI
HAIR & MAKEUP BY SACHIN GATHE
It’s true what they say: the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability. For Namrata, life was nothing but an unpredictable chain of events, each with a wonderful surprise in store. Having grown up in Mumbai, and being the only child to her Sindhi parents, Namrata enjoyed a life filled with abundant joys and laughter. “I am the only daughter, and understandably, have been totally pampered. My parents and close family members have always stood by me to ensure all my wishes are fulfi lled,” she says.
Tying the knot
Their support certainly didn’t waver when it came to Namrata choosing the man she wanted to marry, despite their initial reluctance. Namrata met her now husband, Santosh, back in 2009 when he joined the organisation she worked at “Me being me, a fun-loving and notorious girl, I was eager to speak to the ‘new boy’, but more with an intent to tease him a little, make friends and, off course, make him feel comfortable. But somehow, we just clicked and we haven’t looked back ever since. Looking back now, I truly realise the meaning of ‘love at fi rst sight’,” she says.
In 2010, Santosh left for New Zealand to pursue a higher education, but the couple stayed together and worked on their relationship. After his return in 2011, it was as if nothing had changed. In fact, the distance only served as a way to cement their bond. A year after his return, Namrata’s mother and maasi paid a visit to Santosh’s parents, and before they knew it, the couple were engaged in a small ceremony amidst close family and friends. “Valentine’s Day 2013, Santosh and I were married in a typical Sindhi way because my in-laws had been to and been a part of many South Indian weddings, and were really excited at the prospect of a Sindhi wedding in the family,” says an excited Namrata. “Our wedding was a four-day grand affair with DJ cum sangeet ceremony on the 11th of Feb, Mehendi party, haldi and oil ceremony and, finally, the pheras in the morning and reception in the evening,” she recalls.
Bun in the oven
The couple enjoyed two wonderful years of marriage before deciding that it was time to add a new member to their family. “While neither of us were really under any pressure from our parents to have a child, we just felt we were ready—emotionally and fi nancially—to start a family,” says Namrata. After returning from their trip to Hong Kong in May 2015, the couple decided to start trying and were successful almost immediately. “I was super happy to see my home pregnancy test turn positive and immediately called Santosh to the washroom to tell him the news. However, before we made any pregnancy announcement to our parents and family, we visited the clinic to confirm the pregnancy. After we were sure it was positive, we broke the news to all at home. My in-laws and parents were on top of the world!” says Namrata, excitedly.
There after, everything was smooth sailing for the happy couple, especially when it came to her pregnancy. Namrata is thankful that she didn’t experience any morning sickness, nor pregnancy cravings. She was even glad that she didn’t experience any swelling in her feet or any of tha pregnancy stress she’d heard about. “I am a big foodie and I’m someone who’d crave junk food any time. My pregnancy was no different. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I never really had a hankering for anything in particular. During my pregnancy, I continued to eat all my favourite foods. My family always tried to give me more healthy food and did reprimand me for eating my fair share of junk. But, coconut water was one routine which I would never break. My mom-inlaw would say, ‘The baby will have good hair’. She was right!” The fact that the couple had an absolutely easy pregnancy also allowed them to make a few trip to enjoy some time alone before the baby came. “We did few local trips to Lavassa,
Karjat, Lonavala, Shridi,” she says. However, while Namrata did not really stress about her pregnancy and took each day as it came, her parents and her in-laws ensured she ate a well-balanced diet, drank plenty of fluids, and made sure she was well-taken care of for those none months. After all, she was living for two. The couple had a wonderful time bonding with their unborn baby. “I listened to some soothing music, read a book which gave me week by week pregnancy update of the growth of the child. My checkups and sonography sessions were always exciting. I got to see my baby’s developing body parts. During my pregnancy, I even attended a workshop on how to deal with pregnancy, the various preventions and preautions I needed to take, how to effectively manage my labour pains, etc. It really helped me a lot. Santosh would always tell me to talk to the baby. He would join in when we were in our room at night, and it was always exciting to feeling his kicks in response to our voices,” she says. The couple were excited to welcome a baby and didn’t really mind if it was a boy or girl. They just prayed for a healthy baby to be born. Their baby shower, a traditional godh bharai with a twist of the modern, was even centered around that belief. It was ‘Pink or Blue —Wear what you will’. The guests were treated to a western affair, complete with a cute invite, a photo cake, super fun props, dance, games, but a a traditional ceremony to bestow their wishes on the couple and their baby. The evening also included a fantastic photo shoot.
Welcome to the world
Namrata was told that she would be full term by the last week of January, 2016. “The doctor told me that my due date was January 30, 2016. But it could also be any time before that. So after consulting my gynaecologist, Santosh and I decided to have the baby on due date itself. Since ours was a scheduled delivery, Santosh and I enjoyed a scrumptious meal at our favourite restaurant the night before. On the morning of January 30th, we got ourselves admitted into Bombay Hospital, Marine Lines, after which, they induced labour. I didn’t feel any contractions even after fi ve hours post inducing, and that’s even the doctor further induced labour. That defi nitely took effect almost immediately, and I was in pain for four hours. There came a point when I just couldn’t take it anymore. And since I was nowhere near dilated enough, I begged for them to do a C-section. It took my doctor some bit of convincing but fi nally, my C-section was scheduled by 7.30 that evening. At 8.01 p.m, our little boy was born, and our wait was finally over!” says Namrata.
“Celebrations began outside in the waiting room, while I was still in the OT. For my parents, their joy was endless as a boy was born after 60 long years!” The next few days were a blur as her C-section didn’t quite allow her the freedom to move about. It was Santosh who stepped up and wore his ‘Daddy’ hat with pride. “He had sleepless nights more than me. Each time baby woke up, he woke up even before me,” she recalls.
My baby and me
Namrata owes a lot to her mum-in-law and mother, particularly during the initial months after delivery. “In the initial days, it was still unbelievable, with numerous sleepless nights. My mom-in-law was a nurse and my mom had worked with a hospital all her life. These two women played such an important role when we brought our little angel home from the hospital. Fortunately for me, Santosh always loved kids. Growing up, he always had all his cousins visit him when they were born so taking care of a baby came naturally to him. He even took a three-week long paternity leave and was with me all the time. He took care of the baby more than I did, and I still maintain that he played the role of a mother for initial months. He knew what to do when and kept telling me the right way of doing things. Santosh is a real blessing,” she says.
On the sixth day after his birth, the couple held a small puja where in the maharaj gave them the letter ‘P’ for his name. Obviously, when it comes to naming a baby, a great deal of discussion goes into the matter and the couple wanted a unique name, and even took four long months to choose the perfect one for him. “My sister-in-law told me that since we were taking a while to settle on a name, he needed a pet name. That’s when she picked Richie. We loved it and started calling him that, Honestly, the name stuck and we still do. We had an offi cial naming ceremony on 28th May, 2016 with a rather grand function, complete with a small dance performed by my parents, in-laws, Santosh and myself. The dance was what we used to reveal his name as Pavit Santosh Setty. Pavit means love, pure and pious,” she says. Once Namrata settled into her role as a newbie mother, she soon started gaining a bit of confidence and before long, she was managing splendidly all on her own. “After the sleepless nights, things finally started to settle into a routine, sort-of easing things out a bit,” she says. “After Pavit completed three months, things only kept getting better. When he began responding and recognising us, that’s when the fun really began. As parents, we made it a point to always talk to him. He’d listen intently, and even coo back in response. The experience was magical,” says Namrata, excitedly. “As parents, we decided to put our phones completely on silent for three months. I started to put a curfew in place at home whenever he would sleep, but over time I realised that kids could sleep in the noisiest of places,” she recalls.
“In the fi rst week after delivery, I noticed that Pavit was a carbon copy of his father,” says Namrata. “But that’s not where the resemblance ends. He loves copying everything his dad does —whether it’s driving around in his toy care, walking around and talking on the phone, or even dressing like him! His first word, even, was ‘Pa’. I’m really not surprised because santosh and Pavit shar an indescribable bond, and it warms my heart completely. Naturally, since he’s the only child, we do tend to go overboard with the pampering, but Santosh ensures that Pavit knows when it’s too much, and Pavit accepts our final say without any tantrums.”
Namrata is perhaps a little sad that her little angel is growing up too fast. “I remember when he was this tiny little thing in my arms. Now, it’s getting diffi cult just trying to keep up with how much and how fast he’s learning and growing,” she says. As a toddler, Namrata believes that Pavit can speak a great deal of words. “He’s recently started attending PlayGroup, and just listening to him talk about his school, friends or what he’s learnt is an absolute joy. I love it when he tries singing songs. ‘Love you Zindagi’ is his favourite. But more than anything, what I absolutely love is the fact that he waits to greet us with open arms, every evening. After a long day at work, getting a tight hug from tiny arms is a feeling that just cannot be compared to anything else in the world. Puvit is just an absolute joy, and sometimes, I can’t believe I gave birth to such an angel,” she says.
Life after Puvit
The couple has definitely had to make a few sacrifices when it came to their social life, but when compared to spending quality time with their son, they wouldn’t have it any other way. “Santosh and I loved to party and go out on the weekends. That cut down after Puvit was born. Now, if we do have to party, we put him to bed under the watchful eyes of our parents, and then enjoy some quality bonding, just us two. But, our parties are few and far between. After all, Puvit is our priority. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy family outings to our favourite restaurants. Watching him discover new foods and cuisines is always entertaining. We love going on short trips and watch him discover something new each time! He’s definitely the light of our lives.” As for what the furture brings, Namrata says, “As parents, we can only hope and pray that we meet all his needs, give him a quality education, teach him what’s right and wrong, and hope that he grows up to be an upstanding global citizen. We just want to ensure that all his dreams are fulfi lled and he becomes a respectful and loving human being.” |MB
The fact that the couple had an absolutely easy pregnancy also allowed them to make a few trip to enjoy some time alone before the baby came
When it comes to naming a baby, a great deal of discussion goes into the matter and the couple wanted a unique name, and even took four long months to choose the perfect one for him
From physical attributes to personality traits, you don’t have to wait to see how your baby will turn out. Get a glimpse into her future right now!
ZERO TO SIX MONTHS
● From the moment she’s born, your gorgeous baby’s main form of communication is crying. She’ll have a different cry to match each specific need, whether she’s hungry, cold, bored, or just wants a cuddle. Distinguishing which cry means what is a skill every new mum has to learn, so don’t worry if takes you a little while to catch on.
● By six months, your baby will be making her first attempts at talking to you. She’ll start by making cooing sounds, and ‘ooooos’ and ‘aaaaahs’, even ‘babababa’. You can help with her speech development by constantly chatting to her, even if it’s just a running commentary on what you’re doing. She’ll love to hear your voice, although she won’t have a clue what you’re talking about!
SIX TO 12 MONTHS
● Even though it’s still too early for her to be saying words, the sounds she makes now become much more tuneful as she tries to imitate your voice. She’ll increasingly start to ‘answer’ you back when you talk to her.
● Encourage her to make even more sounds by copying her babbling replies. This teaches her about two-way communication and could make for some interesting conversations!
● Another way to help her understand the meanings of words is by using gestures and actions, such as waving when you say ‘bye-bye’, or pointing to her cup as you say ‘drink’.
● Around now she’ll also gain more control over her muscles and will start reaching out with both arms to tell you she wants to be picked up for a cuddle. She’ll also start to laugh around now, a sound you’re guaranteed to want to bottle so you can keep forever!
12 TO 18 MONTHS
● Expect to hear her first meaningful word as she hits her first birthday. Most babies first words tend to be ‘Dada’, as this is easier for her to pronounce, so don’t take offence. Or it may even be a random word like ‘shoe’! Whatever it is, it’s an important milestone for her, so be sure to give her lots of praise.
● Once she’s a year old, she’ll also begin to understand what you’re saying to her. Some babies even start to use two or three words with their own meaning now. Even if the word doesn’t match the object she’s referring to, if she uses it consistently for that object, it shows she understands the meaning.
● By 18 months, most little ones are able to use around 20 different words (although they may be completely unintelligible to anyone but immediate family!), but she won’t yet be forming a sentence.
● Girls tend to be more chatty than little lads (that shouldn’t come as a shock—it lasts until adulthood!), so don’t be surprised if she even starts singing along to nursery rhymes now. (Little Peter Rabbit is a great rhyme to sing as it involves actions, which connect to the language and helps build her understanding and memory). Some babies with older siblings can be a little slower to talk, so don’t worry if that’s the case. They often find it hard to get a word in with older brothers and sisters pitching in.
● Expect her to start putting two or three words together to make a constructive sentence now, such as ‘Daddy come home’.
● Help her expand single words into short sentences by adding words, so if she asks for ‘juice’, you can add, ‘juice, please’ or ‘more juice’.
● Use objects and gestures to help her understand instructions and questions. It’s also good to offer her alternatives, such as ‘Do you want teddy or the car?’
● By the age of two, your child should have a collection of about 200 different words. If she still hasn’t started speaking by now, it’s worth visiting your paediatrician to check there are no physical problems, such as deafness, or glue ear.
● It’s important to remember that no two babies are the same, and your tot will develop at a different rate from the next one, so don’t stress out comparing her to others |MB
Financial planning for your child’s future can seem like rocket science. It is, in fact, easy, if you have certain basic thoughts in place
BY RUTH DSOUZA PRABHU
Once we were over the initial euphoria of having our daughter—which took a sizable while—we realised that we had a long journey in front of us. Here was a little soul completely dependent on us to find a footing in the world and live life to the fullest. It was up to us now, her parents, to ensure that we equipped her well to face the world.
Financial planning, is, of course, the cornerstone to a secure future – as the sole beneficiary to our own life insurance policies and with adequate medical insurance cover, we were sorted on that front. But one of the largest expenses that we were going to undertake as parents is that of a quality education. Besides basic education, we also had to factor in higher studies abroad.
Now, planning for something that big is no small task. So we did the first thing we could think of—ask the elders what they did. What came from that line of inquiry was a conservative form of investment, where liquid money in hand was placed in a secure medium like a fixed deposit (FD) for a long period of time and on maturity was used as seen fit. But, what we realised at the end of this assimilation of information, times had changed and inflation was not slowing down at all.
This is when I spoke to Priya Sunder, director, PeakAlpha Investment Services, Bengaluru, and she explained, quite succinctly, the way to go about planning things for your child’s education. Let me break it down for you.
UNDERSTAND THIS WHEN STARTING OUT: Children’s education is one of the primary goals that money is set aside for, after one pays off existing debts and is ready to invest. The money accumulates in small amounts every month and year and then you see the returns.
The longer tenure you have for any investments, the better it is for your child in terms of returns. So if your child is one or two years old, you have 16 to 17 years ahead of you to put aside money. Not everybody has upfront money to invest, on hand today, to set aside and wait for it to grow, and so a monthly installment is generally the safest option.
Start building a relationship with your growing baby, and enjoy this amazing journey together
MEET THE EXPERT
Dr Nadja Reissland
is an associate professor of psychology at Durham University, specialising in foetal development.
With all those antenatal appointments to attend and books to read before you make your birthplan
it’s easy to get so busy that you forget what a life-changing journey you’re on right now: bit by bit, day by day, you’re growing a tiny human being. And as your baby grows, he increasingly shares your experiences and reacts to what is going on in your life. “Babies can be very expressive in the womb,” says Dr Nadja Reissland, who studies prenatal mother-infant interaction from 12 weeks of pregnancy. “Though you can’t see through your tummy to your baby, you can be sure that he can interact with many things that you do. And once you are aware of just what he might be up to, you can start to connect with, and get to know, the person who is on his way.”
Using 4D scans to capture babies’ reactions in the womb, Nadja has witnessed some incredible sights. “I have observed babies between 32 and 36 weeks moving their hands towards their ears when white noise has been played for them,” she says. “This is really exciting as it suggests that the baby is already learning about his body and is possibly making the connection between hearing a sound and his ears. At 36 weeks, we found that a growing baby makes very definite mouth movements in reaction to different frequency levels of sound played, and these movements appear to specifi cally relate to the sounds he hears.”
So while you’re already responding to your baby’s actions —your sleepy smile that follows a kick in the middle of the night —you might not yet have realised just how much your baby reacts to what you’re up to. There’s a little person travelling on this trip with you – and it’s high time you said a big hello!
Practise being aware
To build a bond with your baby, your fi rst step is to discover what your baby responds to, and learn about his reactions. “To connect with your unborn baby, simply be aware of how he reacts to your daily activities,” explains Nadja. “What happens when you exercise, for example? Does he seem to go to sleep when you do your yoga, perhaps, or does he become very active? What happens when you’re stressed, and how does he behave when you truly relax? Being sensitive to what both you and he are feeling will mean you begin to relate to your baby as a real, living person, rather than a slightly abstract concept that you cannot see. Just as you would at the beginning of any other new relationship you want to nurture, this is all about finding out what makes your little person tick.”
Stimulate his taste buds
Your baby’s digestive system is separate to yours, but he can taste what you do. Particles of food are transmitted to your amniotic fluid, which your baby starts swallowing early in the second rimester. “Sweet foods and drinks can often wake a baby up and get him moving around. But what does your baby do when you eat something spicy?” asks Nadja. “And what about when you eat something that’s not on your normal menu? Does he have a little dance around if you have a sip of cola? Be aware, and you will get a little window on his likes and dislikes!” The scent as well as the taste of food is carried in your amniotic fluid, so he might enjoy the smell of bacon too. So have a taste-testing session tonight with your baby: “It’s fun and it might help you learn something about him,” says Nadja.