are your kids your zen masters?

Life, Parenting

This pandemic seems to be in no mood to stop but we still wake up with hope everyday , to hear the good news that death didn’t knock on any doors last night. But Alas! The virus is taking it’s time and with it, in it’s stride trying hard to crush our spirits and mental health.

Amidst all this chaos, I am  sitting and reminiscing my children’s childhood today and writing this to make you parents see what simplifying childhood means and how we all need to do it to protect our children’s Mental Health. Now more than ever in these pandemic times.

My kids were my tiny, two-feet-tall Zen Masters when they were young. And I am convinced they were sent to slow me down. To make me appreciate the bugs, the butterflies, look for dinosaur tracks in our garden, counting and observing the fallen leaves and fibonacci patterns in nature, celebrating each festival with vigour with stories and dress ups and performances that came with such celebrations.

My kids used to let me in their imaginary worlds where they sometimes became Thomas the engine, other times little superman and super girl had capes which were towels tied on their backs. Then there were times when they took me to Hogwarts and did many magic tricks on me. AND What a privilege it was to be included in their imaginary world. 

AND NOW YET AGAIN, I seem to have got this privilege back as my college going , living in faraway lands – kids are back here with us having the same sibling squabbles, filling my house with cheer and laughter , they are sitting in nothingness, feeling rested in their souls and my eyes are full of tears & heart full of gratitude!

In a culture that glorifies busyness, it is a radical act to choose less over more, to prioritise slowness over productivity, to surrender to being present for life’s small inconsequential ordinary moments. Slowing down feeds our souls and nurtures our families and no matter what parenting style we choose , this pandemic has brought some huge gains. Its’ connected us more deeply with our kids and family. Protect your children’s Mental Health by taking each day as it is, let their imaginations soar and un busy their minds and let them be your Zen masters who will take into imaginary worlds. Let them take in their stride this new life.

And put your intention in thinking if you are practicing enough gratitude daily and teaching them to do so same . If not do it like me , journal gratitude you feel during this lockdown time. Take pictures, catch the uncut version of this slow life , a life which is happy to be un busy, that isn’t running and is making us revel in human connection, look at our family’s rested spirits….. all the things that matter most in our lives!

Saakshi Singla

Do you have anxiety virus living in your home?

Education, Life, Parenting
Throw the virus of anxiety out of your homes Moms & dads ! Kids can pick up on our moods .
The anxiety in our tones .
We need to for their sake stop feeling anxiously in front of our kids .
They need reassurances from us during these troubled times ,
so let’s try and throw the virus of anxiety out of our homes for their sake !

let’s not lockdown our minds – corona times

Education, Life, Parenting

I believe we should raise kids with big caring hearts and strong minds. Corona virus times will be testament of how so many lives changed from running after things, being busy and locking our minds in mindless race to succeed , to be the best , to judge others , to find faults in others and being in a perpetual state of lockdown of things that really don’t matter in the long run. Corana virus has in one jolt made the entire human race to think of their survival something which we have been taking for granted. Mental health is being hit all over the world. To stay in a lockdown can play games with our minds and hence it is important to keep the focus on things that matter – family , love and caring for our mother earth. Below given in the slide show are some ways we can all keep our sanity intact.

Saakshi Kapoor Singla

Scared I am too , but I won’t let that make me let it get me!

I plan make this time count too !

I believe we should raise kids with big caring hearts and strong minds.

What about you?

do you have strong- willed kids?

Life, Parenting

I have been writing and talking to parents , teachers and children for a long time now. One of the topics I have surprisingly not written about here is about strong- willed children… and this too when I have given brith to two spirited kids myself and when this topic has been really close to my heart. One of the reasons is because I struggled with this one inspite all my knowledge of child development and experience.

Read the following to understand my struggle-

” It’s my life , MY LIFE, you can’t make me eat vegetables because I want to live my life my way”, that’s my son when I think he was 5-6 year old

” Mom, why did you give birth to me, you should have let me be where I was” my son’s answer to my making him do what he didn’t want to when he was 7-8 year old.

“I won’t go for the art class because I have fought with my teacher. She is bossy and doesn’t let me draw what I want and wants me to do a scenery with two trees and clouds and hills. I am quitting” my daughter when she was I think 10 years old.

“I want to wear my favourite pyjama or else I am not going”, my crying three year old daughter while getting ready for her big school interview.

Call them difficult, stubborn, tough, strong- willed or spirited my kids made me revisit all my theoretical knowledge and made a lot of it redundant. I learnt to not get into a power struggle with my kids eventually but I won’t lie as I did try hard to break their will sometimes. Fast forward to many years now…. they managed to keep me from breaking their feisty spirit. And am I proud? Yes Very , because they aren’t followers… they lead, they aren’t meek …..they are strong headed, they aren’t “yes sir yes mam variety ” .. .they question everything, they are cooperative but they don’t compromise their values . They both seem to be leaders of their destiny and are intrinsically motivated to do well for themselves and are on the way to become their best versions.

Strong- willed kids aren’t bad, rather are courageous people of integrity who aren’t easily swayed from their own viewpoints. They want to always learn on their own and feel in charge of their lives …irrespective to their petite little, tween or teenage selves. They live life on their own terms and according to their own time table. They are just more prone to power struggles with their parents. It is very challenging to parent a strong willed child no doubt.

My Take :

Please don’t over hype the value we put on obedience as a must for our kids all the time instead let them build their own inner compass of good or bad -right and wrong. Sharing here some tricks and tips I used to parent my two amazing strong-willed kids. See which ones work for you .

  1. Let your strong- willed be incharge of things. She wants mastery more than anything else. Instead of nagging and ordering her to brush her teeth, tell her to check the list of things she can do herself. Keep guiding for her to remember all that she should do before she goes to bed. DON’T ORDER, DON’T YELL, DON’T EXPECT HER TO DO IT EXACTLY WHEN YOU WANT HER TO.
  2. Give him choices, don’t push him to obey. If you offer a choice, he feels like the master of his own destiny. JUST BE SMART to only offer choices you can live with and don’t let yourself get resentful by handing away your power. 
  3. Use routines and rules.This way you won’t be the bad guy who is bossing her around.
  4. Don’t use force , it always creates a push back irrespective to whatever age your child is. Don’t try and win the power struggle as if you do , you might lose connection. Just stop, take a breath, and remind yourself that winning a battle with your child always sets you up to lose and what’s most important is the relationship.
  5. Alway remember that strong-willed kids like to learn from their own experiences. So unless you’re worried about serious injury, it’s more effective to let them learn through experience, instead of trying to control them.
  6. Expect the constant testing of your limits …….that’s how she learns. If you know that, it is easier for you to remain calm and that will help in avoiding wear and tear on your relationship and also your nerves.
  7. Don’t let the connection break , strong willed kids will get into fights with you for both wrong and right reasons. They will see the light and the right way you are showing irrespective to those fights if they feel the connect and they will do it to save their relationship .
  8. Respect is a big thing for strong-willed children. If you offer it to them, they don’t need to fight to protect their position. If you see her point of view and think it is wrong — for example if she wants to wear the pyjama to a school interview, you can still offer her empathy and meet her half way by telling her she can wear it on her way back home.
  9. Don’t break promises. Own up when you do, apologise.
  10. Learning can’t happen in a fight , it shuts off when the adrenaline is pumping. So instead of trying to correct at those emotional moments, take a deep breath, connect and touch her tenderly or give a hug. Wait for her to cool down to deliver your life lesson.

Strong- Willed Kids aren’t bad, they are originals, they live passionate lives, they when parented sensitively learn to keep the fire in their belly burning and go ahead to change the world wherever and however they can.

I am lucky to have two fire balls who have grown and flown to find their passions and live life on their own terms.

You are lucky too … if you have strong-willed kids.

Australia 🇦🇺 😢😢

Life, Parenting

The world isn’t in a good shape right now. Everyday we wake up to problems which are ready to explode. Problems we didn’t bother to solve in time and now it seems disasters have no stopping signs anywhere. Such times of adversity bring anxiety for the future of our children. The new generation has to inherit a world which seems to be going towards the so called doomsday faster than ever before.

Australia is burning and to wake up to the pictures of growing number of animals dying and so much destruction is heartbreaking. The internet is full news of infernos, forests, homes and animals burning , pictures of koalas and kangaroos( who me a wild life enthusiast has been forever dreaming of meeting in real life someday ), running for their lives. As fires continue to rip through Australia, some devastating numbers are emerging: At least 24 people killed. More than 15 millions hectares torched. Over 1400 homes destroyed and around billion animals killed .

The news has shocking images of destruction which our kids are also consuming. We don’t want them to see adversity or lose hope at such young age, The life has just begin for them, hasn’t it?

What do you think, should we keep such news and images away from kids?

My take : I think we should talk about adversity and global issues, problems and destruction that our world is facing. Tell our kids that it’s the climate change that is making it worse and each one of us are to be blamed somewhere too.Our children need to understand how we and them are stakeholders. The destruction in Australia have also brought in stories of courage, compassion , love and spirit of giving. So when we talk to kids about adversity, when we talk about destruction, we should also to talk about all those stories of hope. Keeping either from our children is not okay as they need to know of the world they will be inheriting. And this is our chance for them to stop making the environmental mistakes our generation and the ones before us have made. The stories of love and hope can be told to young kids and inspire them to be more compassionate.

Let’s tell our kids how their world is changing.

Let’s show them what’s wrong about living selfishly without caring enough for our environment.

Let’s also show how many people still care about animals dying and trying their best to extend help however they can.

Let’s show them hope isn’t all lost.Let’s show how the fire fighters and the common people endangering their own lives to save others.

Let’s give them hope but not by lying about the reality. Instead let’s equip them with a conscious and loads of courage to make things better so that doomsday story remains just a fragment of our imagination!
( The following snapshots are all from Facebook, Getty Images and various news channels reporting the Australian Nightmare )

(Google Steve Irvin to know more about his family and how committed they are to help save our wildlife), credit for the picture – Getty Images )

Are we faulting somewhere in our Parenting & building walls of stereotypes ?

Life, Parenting

Just saw the trailer of the upcoming movie “Chhapaak”, which is a true story of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. And can’t keep the tears inside any longer.

It’s been happening for sometime & I keep my positive hat on and find people around me who have a happier story to tell. Like that of new Miss Universe,a passionate activist and engaged in the fight against gender based violence who went on to say,”We should be teaching young girls leadership.It’s something that has been lacking in young girls and women for a very long time – not because we don’t want to, but because of what society has labelled women to be”. Or the story of new and youngest PM – Sanna Marin who will lead a coalition government of Finland with five women in top spots, four of whom are under 35.

But here in our country the gloom is all over and whenever we open the newspaper, scroll through our Facebook timelines or look around us ….. it’s everywhere- girls and women being beaten , burnt , raped, suppressed or discriminated against.Don’t know if the incidents seem to be growing more or it is the growing human sensitivity….to the pain of victims especially when something as violent as Unnao, Nirbhaya-Jyoti or Priyanka Reddy’s cases comes to light.

Where does it all start ?

Why, when & how did we give this kind of power to our boys and make our girls so vulnerable?
What is it that we are doing so wrong as a society?
How are we bringing up our boys and girls? – giving the former the power to kill or protect and the later meekness to be either in need of the protection or be suppressed or killed.
Are we faulting in our Parenting and building walls of stereotypes ?

I believe a lot of these problems and many others go back to the kind of home environment we give our children and gender unequal parenting.

Shaken everyday I wake up and start again to do my bit.Counseling parents, trying to reach the not so privileged, call out stereotypes where ever I can, try hard to inspire parents to parent differently , talk to youngsters to not keep quiet and call out gender inequality. But the “Chhapaak” trailer hit me really hard today. I need a lot of courage to wake up to start finding positive stories again tomorrow. Feeling extremely defeated but trying to sleep with a stronger determination to do a little bit extra to make our girls safer, inspired to do more with their lives & our boys more sensitive and caring.

Let’s change the narrative wherever we can !

Do you have a doll at home.. Boy mom?

Education, Life, Parenting

Toys have no gender🚺🚹 , they have no idea whose playing with them, a girl or a boy . Nor do the kids … they don’t think of their own gender before they start playing with a toy …. till we adults intervene. And either joke about boys with dolls and label girls as Tom boys when they are playing with cars.Making them wonder about gender too soon.

It’s up to us parents, kids do what they see and gender discrimination in toys is an age old accepted norm. We need to commit ourselves to keep this gender conversation open. Even if we have understood how harmful it can be, we still have a world full of marketers who put gendered marketing techniques to sell their stuff and then there are neighbours, peers and older people in our children’s life. What I have done in my capacity as a child developmentalist is to constantly remind my son, his friends , cousins, grandparents, and everyone around us who would listen that there is no such thing as boy stuff and girl stuff. It is high time that we change the narrative all around and hence I have been trying to reach as many people as I can through Lilsakos, a gender neutral space I have been building for last six months. https://www.instagram.com/lilsakos/

One issue of not giving our boys dolls to play makes me especially angry. If we can love a man rocking a baby or a doting father changing diapers , why do so many squirm or bully boys with dolls. Seeing a father caring for a baby makes us miss a beat and invoke a emotion in us. So why, when we like men to be sensitive and caring ,why do we discourage small boys to cry, play with dolls and never ever think how harmful our expectations from little boys are.

See below four powerful reasons that will convince you to let your boys and girls both play with dolls:

  1. It will help raise empathetic kids irrespective of their gender. A doll can be a great way to role play situations, talk about feelings or simply learn how to care for something.
  2. Dressing up dolls is good for fine motor skills of kids. The buttoning, zipping is good practice for them to learn to dress themselves up.
  3. Caring for a doll can be used to show kids how to hold someone smaller than them or how to be gentle with them. A doll can help a kids get prepared for a new baby sibling.
  4. Many of us women grew up playing with dolls, but not too many men did. We need to give dolls to our little boys to debunk the age old idea that caring is a woman’s job. Just like dolls prepared us to be moms, dolls can prepare boys to be dads.

Are your kids intrinsically motivated?

Education, Life, Parenting

What do you think is better?

To remind kids to study , read , make their schedules and continuously be after them to follow YOUR plan.

OR

Let kids be free to make their own schedules, study , read etc on their own.

We got it right somewhat , beyond the initial years our children studied and read on their own , reminded me the timings of drop off for their activities. Some days were good , some frustrated me a lot to see them whiling away time , not sticking to their own routines but it all ended up great. As we have two intrinsically motivated young adults doing pretty well for themselves in college now. Not that any of this was easy but in hindsight making kids not dependent on praise and rewards worked. Not that they didn’t mind when their friends were rewarded by holidays, air pods, clothes and new phones. They did crib but we always told them the same thing consistently – that they are studying , doing well, making sense of their lives for their own good and not for us. We always believed in them to be their best versions and rewards were never a topic of discussion. They are grown up now and know that if they need something which is worthwhile and important for them , they just have to ask. Hence doing well in school and college,being kind and sensible are not negotiable or could ever warrant an award.

One of the things we did was to motivate them to think for themselves. We avoided praising them , instead always valued their effort. Describing what you see rather than praising helps our kids to grow, makes them autonomous, genuinely interested in things and feel intrinsically motivated. Praise like “You are so smart!” can leave a child at a loss when they don’t do well. Using “You CAN be” instead of “You ARE…” tells a child the effort and hard work can help them grow. See the following slide show to see some examples of how to use descriptions instead of praise.

What did you do for someone else today darling?

Life, Parenting

Some stories touch the deepest parts of your heart. Aditi Chaudhary’s did that to mine. I had the privilege of meeting her and hearing her talk at #imaginewithcf- Parenting with courage event. I haven’t yet seen the film ‘ The Sky Is Pink’ and wanted to write this before real Aditi Chaudhary became a reel character for me.

Aditi Chaudhary with Shailaja Sen@imaginewithcf

What does losing a child mean?Even a thought of a pain like that makes me miss a lot of beats in my heart…. i don’t think any of us can ever know exactly what dies in you to have a child like Aisha and living on an edge everyday. Aditi & Narain Chaudhary’s story of courage and looking at death in it’s face and accepting the reality, making it into a life purpose of helping others and giving back…… has changed something inside me.

Snippets of Aditi’s talk that left me awe struck:

” When Aisha asked me if she would still be alive at Christmas, I told her I don’t know if anyone of us will be alive till then”. Isn’t that true how do any of us know if we will live till Christmas.

” I have started feeling achievement is a dirty word. Do we ever ask our kid- what did you do for someone today darling”? Isn’t that true how we always want our kids to succeed , success and achievement is revered in our society. Aisha has gone but her motivational talks are still inspiring many to make stem cell donations. Aditi, her mother is now a mental health worker & activist who helps people through their emotional struggles. Narain, her father still sings in fund raisers to raise money for charitable organisations.

‘We grieved the loss of her life even before she passed away. But one day we woke up and made a resolution and we said we may not have the years but we will seize the moment…We will keep her happy” . Isn’t that true , no matter how long we live, it’s the moments we seize is what counts in our well being.

 “I don’t feel like she’s gone. I have a great sense of loss but I feel a lot of gratitude. I feel blessed that I have a child like Aisha. The strife has shaped us into the people we’ve become.” We run from adversity and yet it is always the tough times that shape us into our best versions.

AND another one from Aditi’s world, which resonates with my parenting sensibilities and what I do too is I tell my kids often ” No one can tell you which colour your sky should be. You are the one who paints your own sky.”

Hats off to you Mom..

Let’s all let our kids paint their own sky…

Let’s accept our kids as their own little persons….

Let’s parent with courage …

Let’s inlcude giving back in our achievement graphs….

Let’s inspire kids to give back…

Saakshi Kapoor Singla

(Aisha was the daughter of Aditi, a mental healthcare worker and Niren Chaudhary, the president of South Asia operations of Yum Brand. She had an elder brother named Ishan Chaudhary, a music composer. She was born with an immunodeficiency disorder. When she was 6 months old, she had to undergo a bone marrow transplant as a side effect of the medical therapy following bone marrow transplant, she developed a serious illness called pulmonary fibrosis a type of condition that causes irreversible scarring of the lungs.Aisha Chaudhary was giving inspirational talks on various platforms since she was 15. She was named an INK Fellow and spoke in the 2011 and 2013 INK Conferences.Aisha was also a speaker at TEDxPune in 2013. She wrote a book called My Little Epiphanies (2015)( that got released one day before her death) which included her thoughts about life and also wanted people to know about her journey that could help others going through such hardships in life Her book, Aditi and Narain’s story has helped in awareness for Stem Cell Donations )( credit: wikipaedia)

Ada Lovelace Who?

Education, Life, Parenting

Lilsakos was at Green Crusaders market last Sunday. Showcasing at a place where you end up meeting like minded parents, your kind of kids and see some examples of parenting done right is what makes this job I do amazingly interesting.

Green crusaders market is a sunday market in Noida that encourages green organic , meaningful companies to come out and display their passionate business ideas and products. The ambience and energy here is very different from the mall visits families are stuck with because of few available outdoor options in the city. When your work gets to you to meet the right audience it makes all the hard work worthwhile. I met some fabulous parents and kids who were thrilled to see Lilsakos products tickling their kids brains.

Lilsakos Achievers Coasters were the heros or should I say sheros of the display on Sunday. Ada Lovelace coaster was recognisable by a few kids and it became a wonderful conversation starter and we ending up discussing Charles Babbage, first computer, Ada being the first computer programmer in the world and lots more. Ada who? came from a few parents who lost out on undertanding the conversation. They also pledged to read up on her and went back appreciating the thought behind the inspiring products. Lilsakos is also proud to have a young fiesty budding designer who likes stories where girls save themselves and has designed some fabulous wall art to inspire kids that got rave reviews too.

Another hit product was the bathroom ettiquette wall art. Lots of parents engaged and discussed the perils of toilet trining, how important it is to put up signs that help in building good habits and help in educating about importance of hygiene in their kids.The continent cushions and continent coasters always find buyers who love to travel. Lilsakos has the essentials like bath, decor, accessories, mini learners products and also some not the usual kind of merchandise. These aren’t mainstream or focus on how kids look,these look beyond and* aren’t tiaras and bows,

* instead are conversation starters about the 🌎 , inspiring people & ideas,

* designed to make home environment more and more stimualting,

*made with love to motivate kids to be their unique selves &

*and inspire them to dream and work towards their dreams and read stories like that of Ada Lovelace, Emelia Earheart, Serena Willaims, Indra Nooyi etc

*there are no pink & blue brains here

*it’s a mighty little place for little strong, adventurous and kind kids and their conscious parents.

Saakshi Kapoor Singla