Shut up! Moms and Dads

Yesterday, we were going through our yearly ritual of arranging the pictures and videos of our family on my laptop. I had asked my family photographer (they existed a decade ago!) to send me all the videos he had recorded over the last two decades so that I could store them in my laptop. I received many videos of my daughter from the time she learnt to talk, walk or hold a ball.

One video caught my attention where she must be around three years and she was trying to play badminton with me and my mother.

She tries to hit the shuttle cock with the racket. She sits down and puts the cock in the centre of the oval racket. She stands up balancing the racket and tries to bounce the shuttle by moving the racket.

I move towards her and show her the right way of doing it. I give verbal instructions also to the three year old who was trying to figure out the shuttle cock and the racket.

After two-three minutes, she is able to hit the cock with her racket a bit – she shrieks and jumps with joy. She is thrilled “It happened, it happened”, is what she repeats as she jumps.

“Don’t shout so much!” I tell her.

Not only this, I tell her to try more.

As the video ended, I was so angry with myself. I felt like giving a mouthful to myself.

How callous of me to try to teach stuff to a three year old, spoiling her exploratory journey and putting her down.

How brutal of me to tell her not to shout when she genuinely wanted to.

I was a young, unexperienced foolish Mom like many of us here who sadly believe that they know how to raise kids. Some of us like to advice and admonish, like me, all the time.

Some of us like to scare and scrutinise them.

As parents, we have all the right and some capability to encourage & guide them but we need to learn how and when to do it.

How many times do we try to bend down to the level of a child? We speak the same adult language to them to make them understand our viewpoint. The hurried tone, the eagerness to teach, the repetitive scanning of habits is full of words, normal for adults but scathing for toddlers.

For children below three, can we shut up and observe?

Can we spend more relaxed time noticing their actions, their reactions? Can we lovingly show rather than tell?

I wish I had someone who could tell my immature self to be less verbal and more loving with my three year old.

We need to reach to their level and talk only as much as they understand. Do the actions and they will follow.

As our children grow up, we tend to advise them every now and then. There is nothing wrong in guiding them but most of us actually try to instil fear in them through our advices.

“If you do not study well, then you do not get your cycle.”

“If you don’t get selected, you will not be successful.”

“If you do not make it to the top schools, you will disappoint us.”

We keep sprinkling such sentences in our conversations from the early childhood and the damaging outcomes are seen much later.

Can we observe our child and notice his skills.

Academic Skills – What does he enjoy reading? Does he ask questions? Which subjects is he/she repulsive to?

Social Skills – Does he feel comfortable in groups? How does he/she handle peer pressure? Do they try to fit in or hold their ground? Do they like to lead or get led?

Creative Skills – Check their disposition towards design thinking, exploring products or ideas. Do they get fascinated by automobiles or computers or cooking?

Artistic Skills – Observe them closely to see if they like to sing or dance or draw or paint or play. Do they take to sun or water or exercising?

Spiritual Skills – Notice if they like to pray or stay silent? Observe their moments of complete focus.

Physical Skills – Notice their physiological strengths and their agility. Expose them to various sports to see if they take to any of them.

Emotional Skills – Observe your children to see what makes them happy, irritated, sad, scared, frustrated, playful or angry.

Our observing skills are more important than our oral skills in the first decade of our child’s development.

Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself

During the teenage, our over confidence with respect to our children can be fatal.

“I know you very well”.

“You are not trying enough”.

“We have sacrificed so much for you”

These are some sentiments of parents which are largely untrue.

We hardly know what is going on inside the minds and hearts of our children unless we give them complete confidence that they can come back to us come what may.

Since they are scared of our responses to their choices, they hide the wishes of their heart from us. In the process, they drift away slowly but our over confident selves continue in denial, firmly believing that we know our children well.

Try to remember all the things, all the statements of parents that hurt you as a teenager. Ascertain that you are not hurting your children in the same way.

We need not have rigid career expectations from them because they can make a career out of so many avenues available in different fields.

I saw the amazing photography by a young wedding photographer who left his MNC job to start his photography start up. He is happy to be known as a celebration photo shoot expert which was unheard of two decades ago.

Shut up and listen to your children’s songs which they might be nurturing secretly. Don’t sing for them or handover the lyrics to them. Give them the courage to write their own songs and compose their own music from their heart.

Shut up and learn their language. Speak your mind without being judgemental. We expect our children to listen to us and obey us. But we are their companions, their well-wishers, not their bosses. “Don’t talk back”, “Don’t argue” are our favourite comments once they grow up. Parents equate disagreement with disrespect which becomes painful.

We can surely disagree without disrespecting the other person. Our children are not our clones. We must celebrate their uniqueness and let them be.

Love them, limit them but let them be.

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

 I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

 Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

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3 Life Long Gifts From Parents To Children

3 Life Long Gifts From Parents To Children.jpg

Though children are the pivots of parents’ lives for good, it would be really meaningful and valuable if parents did these three things for their children – love, limit and let them be.

Love: Children need our love the most when they deserve it the least. We are the only people who could love them unconditionally. It is hard not to judge, it is difficult not to compare, it is tough not to lose cool but it is imperative to love without judging, comparing and fuming.

When we love them unconditionally, they learn to value life unconditionally. When they have the confidence that they can come to you anytime with a broken nose, a broken heart, a broken bank balance or a broken life, they will have the courage to bounce back every time they get knocked down. Love them, show them that you will love them come what may, forever.

I always tell my fellow parents that Parenting is an emotion. One should become a Parent only when they are sure of having this emotional energy which keeps them patient, sane and hopeful as a parent for the longest of time. The emotion called Parenting keeps us awake for nights when they have a cold or an exam or a late night party. This emotion keeps us calm when they defy or fail an exam or mess up with a senior. This emotion keeps us concerned, even when our kids turn fifty. This emotion keeps us content, even when we miss them in our empty nests.

Limit: All the cool, friendly parents of today need to remind themselves that their children need parents, not friends which they have many. When parents are disciplined, children adapt their ways. We must gift emotional discipline, health discipline, time discipline, learning discipline and moral discipline to our children. Our children need to learn to face rejection and disappointment as an integral part of life so that they don’t get unusually angry or depressed. Ensuring development of healthy habits for eating, exercising, sexual activeness is our prime responsibility.

Showing them by example to organise and prioritize goes a long way in making them self reliant. A strong value system coupled with habits like reading and researching helps them decide between right and not so right choices. Limiting them is a skill we all need. I always tell my parent colleagues that kids don’t learn when we teach them something, they learn when they are ready. We should keep showing them the right behaviors and they will pick it someday which could be today or years later.

Let them be: Having expectations is natural for Indian Parents as we are used to parents owning lives of children. We are to our children what a gardener is to plants and trees in a garden. He looks after the plants’ well being every day, adding manure, required fertilizers, cutting, mowing, pruning, but he doesn’t own the plants, the flowers and the fruits.

Despite all the care, some plants get uprooted or wilt due to weather conditions. A gardener observes and tries to control the damage by being caring as well as vigilant. Parents do the same by observing silently, encouraging from the sidelines, guiding casually without being pushy or authoritative.

We can show them the path, but we can’t walk for them.
We can teach them the words, but we can’t talk for them.
Let them bloom into their own persons with their unique fragrances. Let’s not try to make them a version of our dreams and expectations.

About the Author

swatilodha

3 Social Innovations today that will benefit us two decades later:

Social InnovationProduct innovation, incremental or disruptive changes our lives for better. The impact of such innovations is felt by consumers. To succeed holistically we need some social innovations far more urgently than these product/service innovations.

  1. Gender Egalitarianism: Though gender equality as a concept has found some support in this century, still women do more than three fourth of the work related to home and child rearing. A household cannot start practicing this equality suddenly. If we practice it each day with our spouse and our children (boy/girl), we can expect to reap benefits when our children grow up. Men are not tuned to help around as a responsibility. Women are not comfortable if men take an equal share of the housework. If we raise our children by letting them do their share of housework irrespective of being a boy / girl, they might be comfortable practicing gender equality after two decades.

Neither my husband does laundry or washes dishes or makes the bed (it has never occurred to him), nor I will be comfortable if he moves from the theatre room to store room to help me. We are both guilty of stalling a revolution if we don’t let our kids enter the kitchen, washroom, bedroom and do all the chores. A boy should be told to make bed,   arrange the dining table and clean the toilet as often as a girl does such stuff.

  1. Curiosity celebration: Do you remember the last time your kid/your superior/subordinate asked a question out of nowhere and you dived deep with him/her into realms of learning to find an answer.

We admire standardized tests, we crave for degrees, we appreciate A+ students, we love zero risk stability and security for our children and our jobs- we are again guilty of stalling a revolution that curiosity celebration can create in our lives.

A phenomenal social revolution can be started if we start admiring curiosity as the way of learning. Kids of today, if allowed to ask questions every day will enter into deep learning crevices. Exploration and experimentation without being graded/marked will lead to newer developments and creative thinking.

Before the fear of performing well at high school catches on, we can expose our children to calculated risk taking through outdoor adventures, decision making freedom and welcoming failure.

Allowing our children to feel unique, empowering them to solve real life problems everyday will be real social innovation.

I remember  Prof. Anil Gupta’s appreciation for the little girl who observed the taps placed at the same height in every school and suggested a placement of three taps at different heights to allow children of different heights to drink water conveniently.

She not only found this solution but also got it executed in her school. Such kids, more in numbers will revolutionize our society.

  1. Collaboration: My ambition, my job, my children, my problems, my achievement – is the way we think about our lives.

Three years ago, I conducted a survey among 1000 children from 6 cities – Jodhpur, Ludhiana, Coimbatore, Baroda, Indore and Kanpur. These kids, between the age of 10 to 16 discussed their top ten priorities. Around eighty per cent of the tweens mentioned family and friendship amongst the top three. Studies figured in the top three slots for around fifty-five per cent of the children, while sixty-three per cent gave money a place in the top three slots. Games, books, entertainment, good clothes, good food, self-respect were other priorities. Only one child mentioned prayer in the top ten priorities. Not a single child mentioned the country.

Collaborating with people, devices, artificial intelligence is the future. The parochial mindset of ‘I, me, myself’ needs to be erased from the lives of younger ones whom we generally tell that world is full of cut throat competition. How about replacing competition with collaboration?

We can create an environment where problems and solutions are shared, where failures and successes are transparently discussed, where differences are accepted.

Open floor offices rather than cubicles, discussions rather than debates, employee shareholding rather than founder’s ownership is the future. Let us encourage our children to share and to think about family, community, country and the world.

These social innovations can disrupt the way we measure our achievements and life.

References:

  1. https://gendertruce.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/wilcox-bradford-feminism-and-marital-happiness.pdf
  2. http://etale.org/main/2016/01/14/10-things-uninvent-education/

 

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read her best articles here!

 

RPV Framework of an organisation and a family.

ValuesThree classes of factors affect what an organisation can and cannot do. Same goes with the family.

  1. Resources: These are the most visible of the factors that tell us what an organisation or a family can and cannot do.

According to Clayton M Christensen, Kim .B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at HBS, resources for an organisation include people, equipment, technology, product designs, brands, information, capital, relationships with suppliers, distributors and customers.

Resources for a family include people- parents, friends, extended family, education, finance, career, professional and social networks.

Resources are visible, tangible and can be hired and fired, bought and sold, depreciated and enhanced. Still, same resources given to the organisation or families cannot provide same results because what will transport these inputs into an outstanding output depends largely on the other two factors – processes and values.

  1. Processes: Organisation and families use the resources at their disposal to create products or services or to raise the new generation (children) of greater worth.

According to Christensen, the patterns of interaction, coordination, communication and decision making through which they accomplish these transformations are called processes.

Organisations use formal, informal or cultural processes to perform specific tasks eg: an organisation uses research based processes to explore the consumer behavior and to gauge consumption insights. They would have structured questionnaires, interview techniques to do the same. For investment related decisions, processes to be followed will be different.

In a family, there are traditional processes which have been around for generations while there are processes which children imbibe from their parents. Some processes are new and family specific which depend on the dynamic of that particular family.

Organisations need to let go of inflexible processes which restricts their ability to grow and change.

Families need to balance their need for new processes with the tested old processes.

Eg: A family can use automated fitness bands to track their exercise regime everyday but they need to follow the old processes of healthy eating.

 3. Values: Values are broad criteria about what a company can do and cannot do. Values for organisations have an ethical bent. At the same time, firms had to ascertain what is acceptable gross margin for them, how and where do they want to be after 5-10 years.

Families emphasise on moral values more than in organisation and values form an integral part of growth of a family. Values of a family give its members a reference about what is acceptable and what is not.

As families and organisations grow big, their values change.

Technology is changing core values within organisations and families. Innovations in different fields are leading to major lifestyle changes.

We have entreployees in organisations who work for organisations while they are allowed to invest 20 -30% of their time into some personal project of their choice.

Career choices have changed the way a family would think about a secure, stable career.

If we can figure out RPV framework for our organisation as well as our family, our scenario planning is done for next decade.

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Dr. Swati Lodha is an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Come on get set go  &  Why Women are What they are, her book on Parenting will be published soon. Currently, she is running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with Dr. Swati Lodha on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook 

Also read her best articles here!

5 Signs that you are failing as a Parent #Big Idea2016

photo-parent-child-riding-bikesIt is very important for me to keep a tab on my ability and competence as a parent. Just as I cannot take credit for success of my organisation, I would never desire credit for raising a happy, confident, value centric child.

Nevertheless, I would always keep assessing my parentability.

You are failing as a Parent:

  1. If you cannot disambiguate your childhood memories:

“When I was a child, I always polished my shoes.

When I was your age, I never asked for pocket money.

When I was in 10th grade, I got my first watch on topping my class.”

You are telling the truth to your children but what about the remaining truths like when you bunked your school, when your father found out about the love letter you wrote to a classmate or when you cried whole night to go for a friend’s wedding.

After becoming parents, we tend to have biased and selective childhood memories. We only remember our achievements, our niceties and our obedience as kids. We conveniently erase all the memories of heartache we gave to our parents.

If you hide your shortcomings, your defiance and misdeeds, you are hiding your true self.

  1. If you live under an “I know everything” umbrella: Though we prepare for every small test, every interview, we never prepare for playing the parent role. We just feel like gaining all the parental wisdom by ourselves. It is important for us to admit that we need to reinvent ourselves after we become parents. We need a potion of discipline – balance – patience to start the journey. It is prudent to learn and upgrade our knowledge consistently on the way.

If we fail to curate our technology use, if we fail to appreciate their web content and music downloads, we will not be able to observe the evolving of our children into the personalities that they want to become.

  1. If you tell and not show: If you tell your children not to use mobile phones on dinner table but you keep checking your messages between meals (urgent office work!), if you tell your kids to exercise while you create new excuses to avoid Yoga or Gym sessions every day, your instructions will have no impact. It is very difficult to be a 24X7role model but then whosoever told you that Parenting is a joyride was genuinely kidding.
  1. If comparison bug has stung you:

”How many marks did the topper get?

Who got the highest package?

Why don’t you be punctual like me?”

If you use such questions, you must be comparing yourself too with your friends, colleagues and anyone worthy of your attention.

It undermines your confidence and self esteem. It makes you feel inadequate and it robs you off of your uniqueness.

To future proof your kids, tell them to benchmark themselves against themselves resulting in gradual and steady improvement.

Winners are trend setters who focus on breaking their own records. They are winners not because they win but because they focus on self improvement.

It is a norm in my household that we never discuss grades / performance of any other child. “I am interested in your performance only” is my standard response to my daughter. Love yourself the way you are. Love your children the way they are.

  1. If you are not grateful enough: When people feel entitled to get the services of a servant, a driver, a waiter as they are paying for it, they will never be grateful for all that they have got.

An ungrateful parent can never raise a grateful child. If you fail to develop the attitude of gratitude for everything from a day well spent to luxuries of life, you fail as a human being.

ENTER 2016 WITH THESE POINTS TO PONDER. THIS IS A BIG IDEA NOT FOR A YEAR BUT FOR LIFE”.

 

Do good Storytellers make good leaders?

Storytelling

My daughter and my husband had a night routine where they would weave a new story overnight with their characters – an old man (named Khammam), a dog (named Khatkhat) and a parrot (named totey). They would go on picnics, long drives, fly kites with these characters every night. As an actor, my husband would call all the characters in different tones and my daughter learnt to speak with kindness, with pity, with anger, with happiness. Some days, they would help a person on their ride, some day they would sing songs and some days they would get late and miss their flight.

Fifteen years later, they still talk about those stories and it is something that only they two share and understand.

We read my pictorial stories together and she learnt to recite couplets from Madhushala at the age of five.

Storytelling helps parents to bond with their children, to encourage them and to make memories. Each family has a treasure trove of stories which they repeat to laugh and cry together.

Stories create magic, stories bring joy, and stories bind us and convey valuable lessons.

Can leaders tell stories to become effective?

Paul Smith, author of Lead with A Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince and Inspire, says that leaders can use storytelling to inspire the organisation, set a vision, teach important lessons, define culture and values and explain who you are and what you believe.

There are organisations like Nike where all the senior executives are designated Corporate Storytellers.

Storytelling brings heart in the task called Leadership and makes it humane.

Just as family stories inculcate values and shower love, leadership stories give a sense of belonging and inspire the whole team.

In my first Leadership session, I teach my students to “Try again, Fail again, Fail better”.

My personal story strikes a chord instantly. I failed my class X Board exam in Hindi subject.

I was always a meritorious student and everyone expected me to top the class as always. When the results were declared, I had secured and eighteen out of hundred in Hindi, while the aggregate was 70%. A failure in the first board exam was traumatic, more so because I had no explanation for it.

Family members, friends of my parents, class-mates showed sympathy on my face and made fun on my back.

I was devastated and depressed. I felt helpless and cheated but I had no control over the situation. The only thing I could do was to apply for revaluation which I did. I had to appear for supplementary exam as the revaluation result didn’t come out in time. After four grueling months, I received an envelope which carried a revaluation marksheet with a merit certificate. My original marks were 91 out of 100 and I had scored among the top 0.01% of the CBSE Board students.

Those four months taught me the biggest lessons of my life.

  • I learnt to fail, fail again and fail better.
  • I learnt to laugh at adversity and take it in my stride.
  • I learnt to take myself less seriously.
  • I learnt to try, to hope for the best, yet be prepared for the worst.
  • I learnt to be fearless – as a human being.
  • I learnt to be cool – as a parent.
  • I learnt to be encouraging – as a leader.

Can reverse mentoring at home and work improve our parenting and leadership skills?

Reverse Mentoring

Mentoring is generally defined as a one – on – one relationship where a senior professional (mentor) will guide or share his/her specialised wisdom with a junior (mentee/protégé)

By definition and convention, we believe that the senior or older people have all the necessary competencies to guide the junior folk. Mentoring shapes the right attitude among them. With internet of things (IOT) barging into our personal and professional lives, it seems practical and logical that we start learning from our children and younger team members. Our technological immersion requires us to be innovative in the way we decide to update ourselves. Learning from children at home brings fun, better connect and a healthy communication style in parent – child relationship.

When my daughter teaches me to change the settings of my phone to download videos or helps me to make a you tube channel, I swallow my parental pride and listen to her attentively. “Pay attention” echoes in the same way as it emits from my mouth when I solve a quadratic equation for her. The role reversal balances our bond and strengthens it.

One of my students manages my social media pages and keeps suggesting me ways to improve my digital presence. His mentoring is valuable and we as seniors must admit that we need to be trained by these young netizens for whom IOT is a part of lifestyle.

Technology wants leaders to be more open to the idea of learning from the younger executives as this will save time and lead to better learning on the job.

When parents learn a new skill from their children, they learn to appreciate their children better. Children learn to empathise with their parents and understand how the parents feel when they teach something to them.

When senior leaders get mentored by the juniors, the communication flows easily and the environment relaxes to some extent. Though it requires maturity at both ends, the results of such mentoring in the dynamic world of today could be enriching and lasting.