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Using Non-verbal Communication and Body Language in Counselling

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-am-not-a-fool-because-i-can-fool-others-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

To build better relations, it is very important to understand your own body language and the image you are projecting by it. There is a difference between “what I am” and “what I project myself to be”. The latter is due to body language. In counseling, it is very important to understand your own body language and the image you are projecting by it. Become an ardent observer of body language, since it does not lie, and gives one a much deeper insight into people you wish to understand – much more than their words can.

Start off with observing body language in public places or parties where no one knows that you are watching them, and compare the words with the gestures – you will see the discrepancies and learn the true feelings of the person. It is a continuous process, and there are no absolutes in body language. Keep in mind that it is culture-specific and what you read in Western books may not be completely applicable to people here. Just keep observing, analyzing, correcting yourself, and learning! Similarly, observe the characters of your favourite TV serial by making the sound ‘Mute’ and guessing what they said.

How to improve Body Language to aid Counselling:

a) POSTURE: Sit in a comfortable, relaxed posture, so that your client also will be comfortable with you. Be natural, but not too casual. Most important, show interest.
b) SEATING: Maintain a comfortable distance from  him.  You should neither be too close nor too far from your client.  Do not  have any unnecessary barriers between yourself and  your client. Maintain distance based on accepted Body Zones. (Normally the Zones are: Public zone > 10 ft, Social zone: 3-10 ft, Personal zone 18 inches to 3 feet, Intimate zone < 18 inches.  You should neither be too close nor too far in terms of the above zones.  Do not  have any unnecessary barriers between yourself and  person you are interacting with, and respect the other person’s desire to have barriers, specially if it is of the opposite gender, or if it is a new person. Allow the counselee to come closer, but you do not go too close.
c) FACE YOUR CLIENT: Only if you sit facing the  client,  he will  know  that you are interested in listening to  him  and that  you  are  attentive. Your face as well as your body should be turned towards him. Let your body give the impression “I am with you.”
d) EYE CONTACT: Eye contact wins client's confidence. Do not stare fixedly making him uncomfortable. Keep looking at him most of the time (at the zone between his eyes and mouth). Avoid looking towards the door, or at your watch.
e) Have an INTERESTED look. This will make him feel comfortable. Have genuine expressions, and be natural. Reflect his emotions.
f) Have an OPEN POSTURE Your body should be  expressing  to the client that you are open to receive his communication and that you care for him as a friend – and that you are not getting impatient.
g) MAKE ENCOURAGING SOUNDS helping the client  to  continue with  his narration. Saying "Hmm, hmm", or "I see" or  "Yes" is enough to carry on the conversation. Smiling at the right time is an indicator that you have understood and accepted.
h) OBSERVE the client's non-verbal behaviour. If there are discrepancies between what he says and what he expresses, he has still not opened out with his real problem.
i) ALLOW SILENCES. When the client feels overwhelmed by his emotions or when he has said something critical he is likely to become silent for sometime. Silence may mean that the client is feeling sad, guilty, scared etc. Silence is not an inactive stage. The client is thinking something important and is communicating non-verbally. Do gentle probing only when the silence becomes too long.  If silences are handled well they make communication more effective, and create warmth between Cr-Ce.
j) Use appropriate QUESTIONS, CLARIFICATIONS and SUMMARIZING to understand what is being said clearly.

Be Aware of the Following:

Feet - do  not shuffle, walk  meaninglessly,  shift  from one to another, rock to and fro, rise on your toes. Feet are the most difficult to control in body language, and they give away the true feelings of the person. Avoid crossing your legs if possible.
Lies - verbal lies are easy, but body does not lie usually. You can catch a fleeting truthful expression on the face before the person covers it up. People telling lies usually have stiff and controlled postures, and minimum arm movements.
Dressing - plays an important part in what impression you are giving others. They form judgments based on your height, complexion, suitability of your dress to the occasion. Shoes/chappals are one way of making out a person's nature.
Check out your tone when using key words- e.g. “Yes” “yesss” “ye-e- es”

Gestures and their Importance:

Most of the time we use gestures without even being aware of them. Study your own gestures and those of others:

Limply held hands convey a sense of dejection, of negativity, or lack of vitality. Hiding the thumbs is a sign of withdrawal.  The thumb held rigidly close to the palm betrays someone who is over-controlled. Perspiring of the hands is an indication of fear or discomfort. Arms and hands held close to the body are a sign of introverted nature or defensive attitude. Jerky or rigid hand or arm movements are invariably a sign of tension and anxiety. So is fiddling.

Confidence and self assurance is conveyed by easy, flowing, controlled movements. Each gesture is like a word in a language.  In order to understand completely, one must structure the gestures into sentences that express complete thoughts. The way you enter or get up to talk makes the important first impression.  First impressions are made within seconds, confirmed within minutes, and last for a long time. Always maintain eye contact -- many emotions are expressed by eyes, and the other person feels a bond of attachment.  Do not stare, and do not have shifty eyes. Have an open posture, giving a feeling of welcome to the other person. Smiling faces are always more attractive than glum or frowning faces.

About the author



Building Trust

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-am-not-a-fool-because-i-can-fool-others-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Having someone's trust is like having money in the bank. Just like a bank account, you must make deposits if you expect to make withdrawals. When you keep your word, it's like making a deposit into your trust fund. The more often you perform the way you promised, the larger your balance is. Whenever you break your word, you have made a withdrawal from your account.

You have a separate trust fund with each person that you have a relationship with. If you have been making regular deposits into your account with that individual, when the time comes that you are unable to keep your word (let's face it, nobody's perfect!), you will still have a large enough balance of trust to draw from. That person will realize that your account is still good. You are trustworthy!

Here are a few tips:

Trust is the confidence in truth of something, a faith, belief or conviction. It could be from own experience, perception, or others’ opinions.
Bhagavad Gita says “The ignorant, the faithless, the doubting self goes to destruction; there is neither this world nor the other, nor happiness for the doubter.”


Trust is implicit, it is built into humans as babies. Subsequently judgmentalism and mistrust is programmed into us in the form of taking caution or protecting oneself. Children are basically very happy because they trust everyone. The pre-teen years consist of black and white thinking i.e. the world has a clear demarcation of heroes and villains. In adolescence we lose trust and then there is turmoil & a questioning of values.


Trust begets trust & people live up to it when you trust them. Become trustworthy – keep your word, timings and commitment to duty and people. You will build up a reputation.
Basic requirement of love is also trust – you cannot build a strong relationship or have long lasting love unless there is trust. Trust can improve or spoil communication – without trust there is suspicion of intentions and thereby breakdown of the relationship.


Those who cannot trust are lonely people. Remember the proverb “When you love something, let it go. If it comes back it is yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”
Trust adds to our self esteem -- we get the feeling “I have no fear of losing because what I have is what I truly deserve”. We all have selective trust due to our programming. Some of us are in an atmosphere of mistrust, and we further reinforce it, making our own life unhappy. Trust is difficult to build, but very easy to destroy (at times we LOOK for negatives due to our suspicion). Sometimes we blindly trust and get hurt. But it is wrong to generalize. There are others who are trustworthy.
Trust is the only way to change others. If you want to bring about a positive change in others, start trusting them. Trust needs to be nurtured – test out your trust levels with each person practically.

We are all selfish emotionally, and we want others to behave the way we do. Instead, all we need to do is to give the other person the benefit of doubt. What is the worst that can happen if you trust? Try it and see.

About the author



Career Choices beyond Academics

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja
(who studied Engineering in IIT, but never used the knowledge, who practiced counselling but was not qualified in it, who was refused admission in a University to pursue his doctoral studies, and finally landed up becoming an Advisor to the same (and another) university; who believes that being a better human being is far more important than being a highly qualified person).

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-am-not-a-fool-because-i-can-fool-others-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

At school a quarter century ago, I had two class mates who inevitably competed for the last rank in every term exam. Their marks were so miserable that no one could go down to their level. They both dropped out of school. We kept in touch and found that one has become a taxi driver, and the other a Medical Sales Representative. “Poor guys” we all said as we went on to college and professional courses.

Today the first guy runs a travel agency with a dozen luxury buses, two dozen air conditioned cars, and an agency of international airlines. The second fellow is the CMD of a pharmaceutical company that is listed on the stock exchange, and has a turnover in tens of crores.

What is the moral of the story? Even though academic qualifications are very important in life, they are slowly yielding to the more important factors of skills and abilities. The education system is good for those who have a high IQ (i.e. mathe-logical and linguistic intelligence), but if you have other types of intelligences, then you perform badly and lose interest in studies.

If you do not have a super-high IQ and are struggling with your textbooks, focus on building your basic Life Skills (i.e. how to deal with different situations and challenges of life) and how to sharpen your Emotional Intelligence (EQ), your emotional Intelligence. This consists of 5 parameters:

  1. Self-awareness (of your emotions, your strengths and weaknesses).
  2. Self-regulation (of your strong feelings, your actions)
  3. Motivation ( finding out what really gets YOU going )
  4. Empathy ( being able to understand what is going on in other people’s minds, and why they behave in a particular way ).
  5. Social Skills ( ability to build interpersonal relations, team work, and eventually, leadership skills)

If you are still not convinced, think of the great Mr. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and the leader of the IT revolution in the world. One would think he holds many degrees with medals and prizes. Actually good old Bill dropped out from Harvard (and that too from the American education system, which is supposed to be much more flexible than ours). And do you know why he chose to drop out ? Because, of all the subjects, he hated Math. And maths, as you know, is the backbone of the IT industry. What Bill has to his credit is a high EQ. You too can start building your EQ now, regardless of your age and your academic qualifications (or lack of it). One day you will overtake others, like my classmates did.

Explore all possibilities in the fields that do not require too much of academic excellence, mugging up, or studying theory. Here are some:

  • If you want to get into a stable career straight away: Join the Air Force as an Airman, get a full-fledged salary, and continue your studies in any discipline at your leisure.
  • If you want to upgrade your qualifications without too much hassles: Take up correspondence courses from recognized universities (Indira Gandhi National Open University IGNOU being an excellent example) that are vocation oriented, and require very little mugging up. Some are as short as six months to one year.
  • If you are a good communicator: Take up practical short term courses in marketing, retailing , franchising, event management.
  • If you are good at tinkering with electronics: Take up practical courses in hardware, networking, mobile phone technology.
  • If you want to keep options open for future upgradation: Take up a three year diploma course in any of the engineering streams, and you are eligible for admission to second year BE without losing a year. Similarly a Diploma in Commercial Practice (DCP) entitles you to get direct admission in B. Com. Second year any time later.
  • If you like children or teaching: Diplomas in special education, Montessori training, or counselling. There are also specialized courses for handling disabled children.
  • If you have good communication skills and are willing to work hard for good money : take up basic training and join a Call Centre.
  • If you like cooking or hospitality: Join up practical and non-academic certificate and diploma courses in catering, hotel management, bakery etc.
  • If you are the artistic or creative type: You can enroll for a direct five year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) after 10 th . It is much easier academically than the traditional graduation courses. Alternatively, good practical courses are available at private institutes for Multimedia, Web page Design, Animation, Commercial Art.
  • Similarly you can opt for courses in landscaping, interior decoration, jewelry design, accessories design, leather design, etc.
  • For those who like to do office work: Secretarial and other office management courses of 6-12 months duration give skills as well as offer placements.
  • For those who like to work in the medical sector: Diploma courses are available in Medical Lab. Technology, in Pharmacy, Dental Ceramics, radiology and physiotherapy.
  • For those interested in media: Many prestigious private institutions offer one year courses in TV, video or film making.
  • If you are interested in travel, there is IATA and other internationally recognized certification courses, with tuition provided by private institutes, opening up job avenues in airlines and travel agencies.

This is only a representative list. There are many more avenues opening up every year. Keep exploring, find out what you are good at doing, and move into a satisfying career where your potential is utilized, and you forget your academic set backs as a bad dream.

The world is open out there, and hard work always pays dividends. Develop confidence in yourself, set clear goals, and put in your best efforts.

About the author




Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/how-can-we-truely-empathize-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

There is a lot of difference between sympathy and empathy – Empathy is defined as “putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.” But we cannot put ourselves in the other person’s shoes till we remove our own i.e. till we stop thinking from our point of view, and try to understand what the other person is going through.

Understanding the other person is in two parts

  1. Understanding the feelings the other person is going through right now
  2. The upbringing and indoctrination that shapes his thinking and his actions.

Only when we understand both these issues can we truly empathize.

Please remember that empathizing is NOT “trying to feel what the other person is going through”. You cannot feel either her pain or her happiness. You are an individual with your own feelings and attitudes. Empathy is “understanding” what the other person is going through, without being judgmental, without labeling or allowing your own values and attitudes to come in between.

Empathy is the strongest bridge for human relationships. We are all looking for someone who understands us and is willing to be with us unconditionally. Unconditional support only means supporting the person, not necessarily his actions.

Very often when we keep asking in frustration “why does he behave that way?” actually we are not asking a question, we are making a statement. We do not want to really know why he is behaving that way. We only want to express our own inability to concur with his behavior. The focus of that question is on ourselves, not on the person in question.

When you empathize, you only “understand” the person, you don’t necessarily have to “agree” with him. Empathizing helps you to decide how to deal with the person, because you are not just going by his actions, but also understanding his intentions, and the reason for his behavior.

The other point to keep in mind is that – it is not enough to FEEL empathetic towards a person, you should also EXPRESS it to him. He needs to be reassured that you understand him (or in the worst case, are at least TRYING to understand him). Never pretend to understand when you actually do not. If you just cannot empathize with a particular individual, just tactfully close the interaction instead of being a hypocrite.

Keep in mind that empathy helps YOU, not only the other person – it is not a charitable act, it helps you feel better with your own life.

Do the following exercises:
Exer 1: Review at least one incident each when you gave unconditional empathy to someone, and when you didn’t. Introspect WHY you could not empathize in the 2 nd case.
Exer 2: Write down two or three real empathetic statements you made to people recently, and review the intensity of the empathy in that statement (did you really show your understanding of HER feelings?) If possible, check how they felt about your statement.
Exer 3: Check incidences where you were Feeling empathy and where you were extending it to Expressing empathy. Ask yourself why in the first case you did not convert the empathetic feeling to expression.
Exer 4: list out the areas (or persons, or type of persons) when you just cannot empathize. Think how you would handle if such a situation or person seeks emotional support from you.

Keep doing these exercises periodically !

About the author



Why Do We Fool Others?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-am-not-a-fool-because-i-can-fool-others-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

If you have the guts, enjoy April Fools’ Day by fooling yourself, says

Dr. Ali Khwaja

The old proverb says “You can fool some people all the time, all the people for some time, but not all the people all the time.” Indian politicians have proven the saying wrong !

It starts with our need to gossip, talk uncharitably about others who are not present, seek security in numbers when many others are also gossiping. Gossip is used as a means to cover our own faults and short-comings. Many of us enjoy jokes at others’ expense, when we know that the same thing would not at all be funny if it happened to us. We relish pointing fingers in absentia, exaggerating, passing on from one ear to another. When this becomes an obsession, we become restless either when we know there is some gossip that has not reached us, or in the desire to quickly pass it on to someone else when we hear about it.

Thinking, and trying to convince ourselves, that the other person is a fool, is an indirect way of boosting our own self-esteem. The underlying message is that “I would never do such a thing” or “I will never put myself in such a situation.” But this feeling does not last, and we need to keep reinforcing it periodically by putting down others or cracking jokes at their expense.

Sometimes we like to fool those who we know well, at other times we do it to complete strangers. In the earlier case it is often to get even, or one-up on someone we feel is better than us, or is getting a better deal in life than us. The latter case is an indication of trying to get vicarious pleasure, hurting someone who has never done anything to us, or getting a thrill out of seeing someone embarrassed or hurt. Sometimes we fool others to gain a better position for ourselves, sometimes we do it “just for kicks”. And funnily, the dividing line between these is not very finite. But one thing I am convinced about is that it is a habit which becomes an obsession if not controlled.

Another reason why we fool each other is because most of us are gullible enough to be fooled. The day after the Japan nuclear disaster, sms were floating all over the place that radiation is hitting Bangalore, and we should not go out if it rains. Basic human logic says that it is impossible – if Bangalore is hit by radiation, then one-third of the world is gone. The funny part is that instead of verifying with knowledgeable experts, we kept forwarding the sms to others, creating panic and anxiety. An interesting fact is that we get easily fooled when we are part of big crowd, believing that “everyone cannot be a fool.” And tricksters often take advantage of it. How many “blade companies” have fooled investors only through numbers!

Sense of Humour is often measured as the capacity of a person to laugh at himself. Instead of trying to put down others, gossip, take advantage of weaknesses, if we focus on our own selves, use others to learn (even from their mistakes) we can create a wonderful world around us. If you can allow yourself to be made a fool or the butt of jokes, if you can take life lightly even when others seem to be putting you down, then you have proven to the Fools that you are definitely not one.

Perhaps the most common reason why we fool others is to prove to others (and more so to ourselves) that “I am not a fool – because I can fool others.” Isn’t that the most foolish logic? Life is good, let us laugh WITH others, not AT others

About the author



Guilt – How To Overcome It?

Author: Asha S.

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/what-does-guilt-do-to-you-by-author-asha-s

At times someone who is near and dear, creates guilt in you by using statements like “If It Weren’t for YOU (IIWFY).” The idea is to put the blame on you, whether you are at fault or not, often for their own shortcomings, or for general bad things that are happening.

Regardless of whether it is true or not, the person starts off by blaming you for your simplest of tasks (or blaming you for NOT having done something which they feel you should have done), and then being very vocal in confidently declaring that it is because of you that the problem has arisen, or is not being solved.

Many a time, you may know that you are not doing anything wrong. But a manipulative person can keep repeating the mantra of IIWFY till you actually start believing it, and then the guilt sets in. Even more shrewd are those who make you feel bad regardless of what you do or don’t do – what is referred to as “do and you are damned, don’t do and you are damned”.

Always be aware of such people in your close circles. Some are malicious and want to put you down, others have good intentions, but become very oppressive because they think that is how you will improve. Either way, you need to insulate yourself, stop taking the responsibility to anything and everything that happens to others, and believe in yourself. Keep positive company, and remind yourself that feeling guilty cannot undo what is already done – but it can definitely bring down your quality of life.

The dictionary defines the word "guilt" as a "feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

Guilt is an emotion that is combination of anger and fear hidden inside us.

We experience guilt when we

  • Feel you have not done something that ought to have been done or did something badly, or you did something that you should not have done.
  • Feel a sense of regret for your real or imagined misdeeds, both past and present.
  • Feel a sense of obligation for not pleasing, not helping someone.
  • Accept responsibility for someone else's problem because it bothers you to see that person suffer.
  • A strong moral sense of right and wrong.
  • An inbuilt critic in mind which is constantly comparing you to others and their actions, looking for reasons to put you down and picking on your deeds that make you feel bad about.

What does guilt do to you?

Make you become over-responsible, striving to make life "right." Make you over-sensitive, immobilize you and ignore your emotions and interfere in your decision making. On a positive note when you are proactive it can act as a motivator to change.

When we feel guilty you start to believe many things such as:

  • No matter what I do, I am always wrong and I do not deserve to be happy.
  • I am responsible for my family's happiness, and it’s my fault if others are unhappy.
  • There is only one "right" way to do things.
  • It's bad to feel hurt and pain and wrong to be concerned about myself.
  • People are constantly judging me, and their judgment is important to me.
  • I must always be responsible, and be giving to others.

Suggested steps to overcome guilt.

Recognize the role that guilt is playing in your life, by choosing a current problem and answering the following questions in a journal:

a. What problem is currently troubling you? Are you feeling guilty? To what extent & does it exaggerate my problem or my reactions?
b. Who is responsible for the problem? Is it interpersonal or intrapersonal?
c. Am I taking on another person’s responsibility? Am I trying to protect someone from experiencing pain, hardship or discomfort? What do I do to make this problem worse for myself?
d. Does this problem have more than one solution? Am I willing to try out a new method?

Once you have reached this far, understand your fears, irrational beliefs, and embark on the journey of forgiveness, use self-affirmations like –“I deserve to solve this problem”, “I deserve to be good to myself”, I deserve to receive others goodness, too! You could also try meditation and an creative visualization techniques like packing your guilt in a nice box, walking up to a mountain top and throw it off for good, bury your guilty thoughts., etc.




Author: Asha S.

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/how-does-one-understand-and-overcome-fear-by-author-asha-s

Fear is one of the core emotions, and is not necessarily negative, as it is an essential defence mechanism, like pain – and can actually be useful.

Fear is an emotional state in the presence of or anticipation of a dangerous stimulus. It is usually characterized by extreme agitation, fight or flight, against an object, person or event. Fear is more about the “unknown”, not always real. YET everyone has some fear or the other. Many a time we are not certain what we are afraid of. At times we may not even be aware that we are afraid of something. We just "naturally" dislike or avoid some things, (like the lizard on the wall) not realizing that actually it is Fear. Other related emotions are disgust, shame, avoidance, etc.

Fear is different from anxiety and Phobia.

Usually Anxiety is a reaction to anticipated or imagined danger and is a vague, and an unpleasant emotional state, more related to a future event or the unknown. Anxiety is the prelude to fear and anxieties not dealt with will over time slowly turn into fear.

Whereas Phobia is a feeling of dread that is specific, persistent, and is an irrational fear and can lead to phobic disorder.  It however takes a long time to develop, and can be prevented if the fears are nipped in the bud, or one to taught to systematically overcome fears.

When we are born we know no fear – it takes root slowly basing on our experiences and also the fear that is inculcated in us by family, school, friends, society etc.

Our most deep-seated fears begin in childhood.  Exercise: Introspect which are the fears that were instilled in you and you are still carrying on from your early days. This will help you rationalize, and if necessary, overcome some of them at least.

How does one understand and overcome fear?

  1. Identify and acknowledge the specific areas and situations that cause fear in you.
  2. Is it already happening? If yes, since when, and how you have dealt with it so far? If no, when is it likely to happen?
  3. What is the probability (give it a concrete quantitative measure) that it will definitely happen?
  4. What can be done to prevent it? Think of all the possibilities.
  5. What are the resources available to you to combat it? List them out and keep them ready whenever you need them at short notice.
  6. Who are the persons who you can seek help from? Inform them that you will be seeking their help, and check their availability.
  7. Discuss with other family members to share their fear factors and understand that they are natural and everybody has fears. Talk about the subject at odd hours, try to do the thing that you fear anyway, talk about it with others.
  8. What will be the consequence if & when it does happen?
  9. How will you be able to build back? What happens if you do not take precautions now? Start working on it.
  10. Give yourself positive affirmations and strengthen your overall confidence.
  11. Also give a thought on what are the consequences if you change your course of action/life what do you stand to lose in order to gain something. Thus you will be able to look at the issues holistically.

Take responsibility, give yourself positive strokes, and lots of Positive Affirmations (“I CAN do it”), and be patient in allowing the fear to reduce slowly.



“Sibling Rivalry”

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/managing-conflict-between-your-children-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Some tips on managing conflict between your children

  • If your older child starts imitating the baby, do not make  fun or punish him. Praise him when he acts "grown up" and give him  a chance to be a "big brother". It should not take long for him  to see that he gets more attention by acting his age than by  acting like a baby.
  • Do not compare your children in front of them. It is natural to notice differences between your children. Just try not to comment on  these in front of them. It is easy for a child to think  that he  is  not as good or as loved as his sibling when  you  compare them.  Remember each child is a special individual. Let each  one know that.
  • As much as possible, stay out of your children's arguments. You may have to step in and settle a spat between toddlers  or  pre-schoolers. For example, if they are arguing  over  blocks,  you might need to split the blocks into piles for each of them. Older children  will  probably settle an argument  peacefully  if  left alone. If your children try to involve you, explain that they are both  responsible for creating the problem and for ending it.  Do not take sides. Set guidelines on how your children can disagree and resolve their conflicts. Of course, you must get involved  if the situation gets violent. Make sure your children know that you will not stand for such behaviour. Praise your children when they solve their arguments and reward good behaviour.
  • Be fair. Divide the household chores fairly. Make a  "no  tattling"  rule. Give children privileges that are right  for  their ages and try to be consistent.
  • Respect your child's privacy. When it is necessary to punish or scold, do it with the child alone in a quiet, private place.
  • Use regular family meetings for all family members to  express their thoughts  and  feelings, as well as  to  plan  the  week's events. Give positive recognition and rewards.
  • Sibling relationships are very special. We form  our  earliest bonds with our brothers and sisters. No one else shares the  same family history. By helping your children learn to value, love and respect  their siblings, you are giving them a great  gift --  the gift of a life long friend.

    About the author



    “Tips on Counseling Adolescents”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/counselling-adolescents-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    Counselling adolescents is different from counseling children or adults, for the simple reason that Adolescents are neither kids nor adults, they are in transition, in between.

    When an adult walks in for counseling he is by and large, mostly decided within the mind that there exists a need to talk. He is seeking to clarify, to bring some semblance of order into life. It is just a matter of time, until a certain comfort is established and the adult is able to voice his thoughts and talk of his feelings. They are to a large extent free and independent.

    When a child is brought in for counseling, he is bought by parents, is dependant on them, not only in the physical sense, but in the emotional realm too. Might not be able to express himself clearly, and a lot of individual attention and playing goes into child counseling.

    Whereas counseling adolescents is different because AN ADOLESCENT is

    • Mostly brought by an adult, or forced to come to counselling
    • Presumes that he will get unwanted advice and sermons all the time
    • Generally does not trust adults to keep up their word or be truthful
    • Unable to express emotions, verbally, clearly
    • Feels vulnerable, and hence becomes defensive
    • Exhibits a “don’t care” attitude, which is only external
    • Uncomfortable with show of any kind of affection, comfort
    • Highly emotional, and yet can become suddenly rational
    • Wants to be treated like an adult, and might not want family involvement

    Then how do you counsel the teenager?

    • Make sure you disarm him by treating him like an adult and a friend
    • Allow his to take the lead in the initial stage
    • Learn about things that interest him
    • Talk his “language,” and go down to his level, accept his slang or arrogance
    • Allow him to ramble, digress, shift topics rapidly initially
    • Make a mental note of the emotions that you observe in him, and reflect them back
    • Give him the space to withdraw when he feels unable to voice or control emotions.
    • Don’t be shocked by his language, or when he talks about so-called unacceptable topics
    • Be genuine , they pick up disapproval very fast
    • Use praise immediately, when relevant, and be specific
    • Convey warmth and caring but don’t overdo or treat him like a baby
    • Accept and understand him. Ask for clarifications, information, express your interest in his world, and your willingness to learn something new. Be a part of his world
    • Use a bit of humour, be light-hearted and casual. Don’t appear stern , be
    • Assure confidentiality. Tell the parents in presence of the teenager that you would appreciate if he is not questioned about what he shares with you.
    • Reassure him that coming back is his choice, at his time
    • Reassure that you would help in exploring options, clear confusion
    • Be observant about general appearance, mood, behaviour, speech and language. Learn to identify when he is lying, but do not confront him directly.

    About the author



    “Child Behavior and Discipline”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/child-discipline-techniques-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    Unfortunately most discipline techniques are based on what NOT to do, and not on training the child WHAT to do.

    • Explain rules clearly – repeat periodically, when there is no issue.
    • Do brainstorming “what is discipline” and then “why is discipline needed”
    • Do a workshop on “self-discipline”, including delayed gratification
    • Take child’s opinion in framing rules, explain certain rules cannot be changed (and why)
    • Explain what punishment is given, why, how (including for repeated offences)
    • Punishment to be given without delay, but be patient, bring down your temper
    • Describe the action of the child, and how it broke the rules. Listen to his side of the story
    • Bring in the human element – your emotions – “I felt sad when you …..”
    • Do not pull down self-esteem of the child. Punish the act, not the child
    • Ask yourself truthfully whether the punishment is necessary. Be a role model
    • Think of constructive punishment. No corpora punishment under any circumstance
    • Consistency: e.g. the word “shit” is not allowed. If it is allowed/not allowed on different occasions, it confuses the child and gives the impression “It is me who is bad”.
    • Immediately after punishing, show friendliness and concern for the child
    • Develop assertiveness – calm and forceful personality
    • Keep identifying and appreciating good qualities of child. Punish the act, not the child
    • Keep an eye out for those who disrupt, and engage their minds otherwise.

    Aim for “inner transformation” rather than “forced compliance” It works !

    About the author



    “Understanding and Handling Addiction in Teenagers”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/addiction-in-teenagers-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    Realisation of The Facts

    So, you have just found out that a family member or close friend is an addict. It may come as quite a shock. It may also explain a lot of unusual observations over a long period.

    This may happen by chance or when suspicious goings on are looked into. After following some initial clues, investigations by a parent or other loved-one may reveal the evidence. This might include the actual drugs or drug-using equipment such as a smoking buds, needle, syringe etc. Alternatively, it may occur in the context of a crisis such as an overdose, serious legal charge or the discovery of medical problems.

    In some cases, the drug user may himself come out and say.

    The discovery proof of drug use may be devastating. Reactions vary from rejection and hostility to even further denial of the problem. With time, patience and understanding, most of these tensions can be overcome and previous harmonious relationships restored and even improved.

    The majority of addicts by this stage have deceived people around them and some have committed robberies or other schemes to generate income for drugs. Few of them are proud of it, but some try to justify such behavior. Society, they say, has placed them in the untenable position of being addicted to a drug which is illegal.

    What Terms to Use and Who to Tell?

    It is important not to tell too many people about someone's addiction. Number one, they may not understand, and secondly it may be none of their business. The stigma is very hard to lose with some people who have fixed ideas about addiction. One reason for this is the poor results from previous approaches to treatment with the experience of repeated relapses to drug or alcohol use. Modern enlightened therapy is more likely to result in an integrated patient much earlier than traditional approaches which often emphasize segregation for extended periods.

    Doctors use numerous names for drug addiction. One common is an intravenous drug user (IVDU) although this term may also be applied to users of other injected drugs. Other terms used in medical classification are 'nervous disorder', 'substance abuse', 'chemical dependency', and 'compulsive self medication'. The legal terms 'self administration', 'possession', 'narcotic trafficking', 'personal use', and the like all have certain definitions in different jurisdictions.

    The old term 'nervous breakdown' is not a single medical diagnosis, but is used by some to mean a temporary inability to function due to psychiatric illness. Such conditions include depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug addiction.

    Addicts should always be frank with their own doctor about what drugs they are using. Drug addiction itself is a treatable condition and its complications may also require medical intervention. The physician should know the full drug history, social circumstances and previous interventions. An examination and pathology testing will reveal important information about suitability for treatment, work or travel. It will also help with the prognosis of infectious diseases.

    What Can I Do To Help?

    The answer to this question is simpler than it may appear. One should behave exactly as one would on learning of any other serious problem involving a loved one. Just as if the person had diabetes, HIV, it is important not to panic. Try not to judge, even if you have been hurt. The addicted person probably also hurts for previous transgressions. Learn what you can about the condition. When seeking expert help, be aware that this is a field where there are a lot of self-styled 'experts'. Trained addiction specialists are attached to most large hospitals and most psychiatrists are also familiar with this area.

    It is often helpful for relatives or loved ones to attend such a specialist, counsellor or self help group together with the addicted person. This gives an important opportunity for associates to assess the nature and quality of the treatment being considered. They can ventilate any misgivings with the parties involved and ask questions. It should also give them confidence in treatment directions and how they can help to assist in these efforts.

    Help for family members is also to be had. It is best for relatives and others who are close to the addict not to offer advice, however tempting it may be. In our effort to understand, it is best to offer support and sympathy, even when these do not come readily. If circumstances are such that this is not possible at the time, it is best to be frank about one's feelings, but still to leave the way open for future reconciliation.

    Do not worsen the situation by giving money which could be used for drugs.Do not be enticed into debates about whether abstinence is the best philosophy. Each type of treatment is 'correct' for the right person at the right time. Equally unrewarding are arguments about why someone originally used drugs or what made them relapse on this occasion.

    Key areas in which we need to guide teenagers, include:

    The concept of spirituality instead of religious rituals
    Development of positive physical and mental health
    Guidance to select the right careers based on his aptitude
    Helping them to keep away from addictions or anti-social activities
    Helping them to set clear goals based on proper role models

    If a teenager feels that he is not being given his due place in family and society, and if his emotional needs are not fulfilled, he may tend to become very lonely and frustrated. There is a desperate need to seek an escape from this uncomfortable position.

    Some of the outlets of such frustrating circumstances are:

    Seeking solace in religion or religious groups
    Disruption of relations with parents
    Promiscuity, jumping from one relationship to another
    Withdrawal into a shell, losing self esteem, resigning themselves to a mundane life
    Alcohol or other forms of chemical substance abuse
    Or, a combination of the above

    As is obvious, any of the above outlets can be harmful to the child, and can have far reaching effects on his adult life. Luckily, some of them are reversible. With a change in circumstances, one can undo the desperate acts and move towards a more orderly and satisfying life.

    When a person has become habituated to drinking, it is easy to fall back upon a drink to escape from facing life. There are people who have slowly added on reasons for drinking. They drink when and because:

    They are sad
    They are angry
    They are happy
    They are frustrated
    They are in emotional or physical pain
    They are lonely
    They want to escape company
    They have nothing better to do

    Drinking or smoking are only the symptoms. Do not focus on pulling the child away from the habit. Focus in improving his quality of life and his relationships, and it will become very easy to wean him away from any form of addiction or distraction.

    The key lies in:

    1. Listen, listen, listen to him – make him talk about anything he wants to
    2. Be non-judgmental. Don’t be in a hurry to scold or point out the negative aspects
    3. Be consistent in making rules and implementing them.
    4. Be a role model. Walk your talk, stick to your word, be honest with him.

    Do not panic, take things slow and easy, and you will see him bouncing back to his normal life. Don’t hesitate to seek help, either as a group of parents, or with a counselor. Enjoy this turbulent phase of parenting. One day you can look back and laugh at it. I did

    About the author



    “Just A Housewife”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/being-housewife-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    Even the term housewife has been used since a long time to denote a person who has no value in society. We come across so many women who say "I'm just a housewife." Worse than that is when they say, "No, I don’t work, I'm at home only," as though they relax and sleep the whole day long. Many housewives work much harder than those who go to office, because at home she does all the work from the General Manager to the Assistant and Sweeper. Hence it is nice that Americans at least have spread the name "Home-maker" as a substitute to housewife. If you are a housewife, try and see if you can give yourself an impressive title. Some suggestions:

    Dr Ali Khwaja, an ardent student of human behaviour, takes you through understanding the Twenty First Century Housewife.

    Banjara Academy www.banjaraacademy.org

    • Home Maker
    • Domestic Engineer
    • Director of Home Affairs and Controller of Child Development
    • Commander of the Home Brigade
    • Architect of Souls
    • CEO of Home and Family

    Sharu Rangnekar wrote a book long ago, entitled "How to Learn Management from your Wife." Very few people appreciated the wisdom of his thoughts, wherein he explained that not even the best of B-Schools can teach the techniques and methodology that the housewife is forced to adopt when she runs the house without the help of an army of assistants, like the manager does in the office. The book is as relevant today as it was thirty years ago.

    World famous author and psychotherapist Dr. Wayne Dyer writes in his book ‘Real Magic’ the secret of finding a purpose to life. I feel that every modern housewife has unconsciously imbibed this attitude. He says “Discover the joy and peace of giving, not getting; of contributing, not acquiring; of doing, not competing or winning. Why? Because you can’t really get anything. The message of your life is in what you give.”

    Compare this with the high-profile upwardly mobile executives or businessmen who are forever striving to achieve, acquire and expand. Who is on the right track?

    About the author



    “Some Vital Factors for 21st Century Housewifery”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/some-vital-factors-for-21st-century-housewifery-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    1. Understand your own importance.
    As I explained above, until you take care of yourself you cannot possibly take care of anyone else. Making yourself a martyr is not good for you or your family.
    2. A tidy house is not as important as a happy family or a happy you.
    Do your best, and then just enjoy yourself. Your children really will not remember whether the house looked perfect, they will remember if you had time for them.
    3. If you need help, get it – and don’t let anyone make you feel guilty.
    Hiring domestic help is not a sin, nor does it mean you are lazy. Do not let anyone tell you that it is wrong to do this! Not only are you helping yourself, you are stimulating the economy by employing someone. It is not necessary for you to do everything all by yourself.
    4. Be flexible.
    You do not have to follow anyone’s rules about how a house should be run. It isn’t necessary to do things like anyone else does – or did – nor is it necessary to do things a certain way. Twenty-first century life is new and different. We all have different schedules, we all have different needs. There are so many new and different sorts of families and lifestyles. Twenty-first century living is full of challenges our parents and grandparents could not even imagine.
    5. There are a lot of things a facial can fix.
    It is important to take time out for yourself – whatever form that might take. One therapy is having a facial. It relaxes and is great for skin. You might enjoy running, going to the cinema or a gallery, or even reading the latest bestseller.
    6. Coveting is frustrating and makes you unhappy.
    What you have, where you live or what you drive does not change a thing about you, nor do things make you happy. Aspiring after greater things is empowering, coveting is devastating.
    7. If you are feeling really low, go do something nice for someone else.
    If you are having a truly awful day one sure way to turn it around is to do something nice for someone else. It can be as easy as smiling and talking to a homeless person or perhaps sorting out a few things to give to charity.
    8. Have fun!
    Life is much shorter than most of us would have it be. Stop putting off enjoying your life. Spend time with the people you love while you can, share joy and do the stuff that makes you really happy. Stop putting off smelling the roses or skipping through the daisies. It is hard to skip when you are ninety-seven and have a dodgy hip. Do it now!

    About the author



    “Nurturing Myself - Where Do I Start?”

    Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

    Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/self-nurturing-requires-a-commitment-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

    Congratulations to those of you who have decided to break free from the ranks of those who are pushing and shoving their way through commuter traffic and up the corporate ladder. Maybe your choice was based partly upon a realization that the adverse side affects of such a stress-filled life makes it too high a price to pay for so-called success.

    But is your life any less stressful? Are you driving the kids from school to tuition to basketball while balancing meal planning, grocery shopping, keeping an eye on the maid servant, and housekeeping? Do you find that the time you meant to reserve for yourself slowly gets squeezed out of each day?

    If you answered yes to these questions then you're in the same boat as those who fully intended to simplify their lives by dropping out of the rat race, only to find they're on yet another wheel in the maze. But take heart. It's not too late to jump off the treadmill and get back on the track to a simple yet fulfilling life.

    The first and most important priority in a fulfilling life is realizing that not only do you need to spend time nurturing yourself, you deserve it. If you're like most women, you put your own needs somewhere between last and never. Most Indian women were raised to put others' needs before their own, including the spouse, children, in-laws, driver, tuition teacher, and friends. However, it is exactly this line of thought that creates an inability to truly be of service to those who you love.

    Each of us has a reservoir of abundant energy from which to lovingly and creatively offer ourselves up to our community of friends and family. From that reservoir we provide an abundance of nurturing and sustenance. However, unless you are able to replenish the source, you will soon be giving from an empty tank, leaving yourself dry and vulnerable to depression and resentment.

    How can I possibly take time for myself when I don't get everything done as it is?

    Self-nurturing requires a commitment. Get out your to-do list and put "My Time" at the top. Now, block out a portion of the day in which you have reserved a block of time for a ritual of self-care. Open your planner or take down the calendar and schedule a daily appointment with yourself. Skip reading the daily newspaper or watching television and instead, make a plan to do something good for yourself.

    Your "appointment" can be as simple as taking a luxurious bath, reading a good book, going for a walk (keep your mobile at home), visiting an art gallery, or writing in a journal. Whatever you choose, make it time for self-reflection without the interruptions of the outside world. Do it alone and with the intention of enjoying the sweetness of your own company.

    Times are changing very rapidly. Just list down the activities your mother used to do when she was your age, and the way you go through your day. If you think there has been a sea change in these three decades, then be prepared for a surprise – lifestyles are going to change more in the coming ten years than they did in the last thirty. Only if you can visualize the possible changes can you prepare to face them and ride over the ups and downs.

    The possible areas you need to be ready for are:

    1. Change in behavior of children, and their getting more independent faster
    2. Inflation, recession, drastic changes in both incomes and expenditure
    3. Work style changes, including flexi-timing, work from home, etc.

    About the author


    Page 1 of 34


    FREE Online Psychological Counselling by Banjara Academy for anyone, anywhere in the world FREE online counselling for the depressed

    • Are you stressed about your child?
    • Is your marriage in trouble?
    • Are you stressed about your education?
    • Do you feel overwhelmed by anxiety and fear?

    Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

    Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

    With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

    Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja


    This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
    Copyright © 2017 www.banjaraacademy.org. Creative Commons License
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