Both mothering and fathering

The experiment started in 1960 and has continued till 2010, which meant that some of the children were 50 years of age now.

Date: 12 December 2010; Time: 9.30 a.m. To 2.30 p.m.
No of people present: 90-120 parents

The first session was for parents of children below 4 years.

below_4yrsDr. Ali Khwaja started the talk by mentioning the experiment conducted with the help of some 50 children. Some Marshmallows were kept in front of the children and they were told that only those children who wait for them patiently will be given more than one marshmallows and the ones who were impatient and wanted them immediately would get only one. It was noted that some children waited till the end of the time period given and were rewarded with more than one marshmallows but there were some children who were so impatient that they never bothered about the consequences and just took away all the marshmallows that they could. The experiment started in 1960 and has continued till 2010, which meant that some of the children were 50 years of age now. It was also observed that those children who were patient enough to wait for the marshmallows had a very peaceful life, they were well settled and had a good professional and personal life in contrary to the ones who were impatient.

This particular experiment was mentioned by Dr. Ali to tell the significance of child's upbringing at a very young age.

below_4yrs_2A power point presentation was made which contained the following:
Built castles in air: Dr. Ali mentioned the importance of allowing the child to build castles in the air, allowing the child to dream is a good indication that the child is capable to think for himself. And the parents should encourage this in children.
Make the children good adults: As the longevity of the present generation is increasing steadily it is very important that the parents make sure that the children grow up to be good adults.
The parents have to ask the following questions :
  • Does the child have a direction, is he naturally curious? Does he ask a lot of questions?
  • Is he focused?
  • Does he have dreams?
  • Is he aware of his needs and wants? (Do not deny the child's needs and wants. Make him understand and tell him the difference between needs and wants, and also make him understand that the needs are essential and the wants are not essential)
  • Is he having a appropriate learning style? (Understand how the child learns, does he learn by watching someone, or by hearing someone etc)
  • Is he aware of Value skills? (adolescent issues such as stealing or smoking have a lot of influence in the young age. A child who was neglected some basic needs during his young age can grow up to become very rebellious and unkind person. The parents should make the child understand how to respect values.)
young_girlA picture was displayed in which there was the face of a young girl and an old lady. This picture was to show how a person should have a broader prospective in looking at life.
Personality skills: Dr. Sigmund Freud had explained that a child's experience from 1-5 years will decide the rest of his life. Hence the parents have to look if the child is
  • Negative or positive minded
  • Sensitive or insensitive to others feelings
  • Introvert or Extrovert
  • Disciplined
  • Risk-taker or has to be pushed
below_4yrs_3Creativity: Parents have to allow the child to be creative. This does not mean that they have to enroll their children into some Arts or Dance or Music classes were the child should follow a set of rules laid down by the school restricting their creativity. Creativity means
  • bringing out hidden talents
  • deep thinker
  • very imaginative
  • evaluative
Relationship skills: Understanding the child's EQ (Emotional Quotient) is very important. 80% of the child's future will rely on his EQ. It is essential to observer how the child understands other people. The parents should understand the child's point of view and try to put themselves in the shoes of the child. Parents should always remember not to start a sentence with "When I was your age .....". it should also be observed that the child does not bottle up the emotions, he must be encouraged to bring out his emotions in the right way.
Equal importance: The child should know to follow rules, he should be explained the importance of following them. He should also be able to understand the difference between a win/win situation and a win/loose situation.
Encourage the child to dream: The child should be encouraged to show interest and motivation, he should be made aware of the long and short term goals. Support and appreciation should be given to him even for the efforts he has made.

Dr. Ali concluded by saying that the parents should learn to enjoy the acts and childhood of their children instead of worrying about their future as these days never return once they are gone.

Question 1: How do I make my child courageous?
Answer: The parents are the greatest role models a child can have. He would always look upon them for any kind of encouragement. So the parents should always encourage by telling them about incidences that the parents have gone through. They should always remember that they should never over do it as the role modeling could become reverse and the child would always come to take shelter from their parents. It is always better not to lecture, but to just show him the difference between both. The child should always be encouraged to come out with his fears, the parents can also share their fears with him and how they over came the fears.
Question 2: How to avoid the thought of competition and comparing two children?
Answer: Parents should always develop empathy with children, they should never judge a situation from the adult's point of view. The expectations should be cut down, instead of expecting the parents should enjoy the acts of the children. There is no right or wrong in a child's life, it is only approved and not approved.
Question 3: Should results be appreciated?
Answer: The results have to be appreciated and the child should get used to the appreciations which is given to him for his efforts.
Question 4: I have read in a book that while coloring if a child uses black or dark shades it means that the child is mentally disturbed. Is this true?
Answer: First of all, please stop reading a lot of books on Psychology and only if the child is continuously and consistently using dark shades should any serious thought be given.
Asha also answered to this by saying that the child may be conveying important messages by way of drawing or story telling.
Question 5: How should anger be let out both by the adults and children?
Answer: Awareness of emotion and management of the same should be understood well. One should review the emotions periodically and start preparing for the same. Anger management and understanding the emotion is very important. First acknowledge the child's emotion, do not make him suppress his emotion. The child should always be encouraged to come out with any kind of emotions. Once the child feels comfortable and his anger is vented out then suggest way to manage his anger.
Question 6: My child is 6½ years old and is always playing or watching T.V. he does not seem interested in education. What can be done to improve his concentration in studies?
Answer: Not showing interest in studies maybe a way or method of protest for the child. Understand why the child is not involved in studies. He could have various reasons such as he may not feel comfortable in the school environment, or the teacher. He may also have learning disabilities which can be detected in a early age.
Question 7: How to control sibling rivalry?
Answer : A sibling rivalry is good. A single child will not get this opportunity of growth and healthy competition within the family, whereas when there are siblings they can always have a good competition with each other and learn form each other too. Do not take sides, but at the same time the children should be strictly be made aware of some rules. They should not be allowed to harm each other physically or use abusive language, they should also not be allowed to say anything which could bring down the other child's self esteem.

The next session was for parents of children in the age group of 4-7 years

chithrakoot_4_7_yrs_2Dr. Ali Khwaja started the session by mentioning that one of the parents' had asked questions about her 3 years old child who would always keep enquiring about something or the other. He also said that such a character of the child is very good and the child would always want to know more about various things. Parents should encourage this in children and should not get irritated about the child asking.

He also mentioned a discussion he had with a guest lecturer from IIM. This lecturer was from America and would come to IIM for about 3 weeks in a year. When Dr. Ali asked him about the difference between the students from IIM and the students in America, he simply answered that the students from IIM never asked any questions, they would agree and take everything that been lectured to them, the lecturer also mentioned that he felt this act to be very strange.

An experiment was conducted to know about the basic IQ of children. A few of the most intellegent children were selected for this experiment. The were asked a simple question " 100 students were taken for an outing. They were seated in vans and each van could hold 12 students. So how many vans were required?" the answer given by most of the students was 8.33. this shows how the children were taught to just learn what was in the books and not understand what it actually meant. True education is one which can be applied to life.

chitrakoot_4_7yrs_1Emotional security: Emotional security is another point for consideration. Dr. Ali and Asha gave a few instances where the children felt emotionally insecure. Dr. Ali stressed on the point how the child should know if the parents were having a varied opinion on any issues or having any arguments etc. if in an instance the child over-hears the parents arguing from his room and comes out to see what it is about and seeing the child the parents abruptly stop their argument, they even go further and act that everything was normal, then the child tends to feel very awkward. He may even feel that the parents were discussing something about him, many unnecessary questions may arise in his mind. To avoid such situations the it is always better to continue such kind of arguments even if the child is around, he may not understand it in the beginning, but later when he knows what the argument is about he would continue with his own work. But again parents should keep in mind not to even by mistake say words like "Divorce" or "Separation" or "leaving the home". This can cause a very big damage for the child.

Dr. Ali gave an example where a child suddenly refused to go to school. The parents were worried about this. The was good in his studies and had no problems in school, and the parents were not able to understand why the child refused to go to school. They even decided to admit the child to a different school, even then the child was not willing to go. The child was then brought to Banjara Academy for counselling. The counsellors found out that the child was doing so because he once heard his parents having an argument and the mother had told the father that if he continues to be the same way towards her one day he would not find her at home when he comes back from work. This was only a casual statement made by her. Now the child after hearing this from the mother was completely devastated and worried if this would really happen, and he also came out with the solution that if he does not go to school he would always be at home and he would stop his mother from leaving home. After the counsellors ensured the child that nothing of this would happen he resumed going to school.

Asha gave another example where the child was not willing to go back home from school. This was because one day when he went back from school his grand mother had died, and a few weeks after that his mother was admitted in the hospital for a surgery. The child linked both the incidences and thought that if he goes home his mother would also die and so decided not to go home. The teacher later took the Hospital where the mother was admitted and ensured him that she will come home after the surgery.

The power point presentation was repeated, and the pictures were displayed. To explain more about life skills and thinking out of the box a story was narrated by Dr. Ali. Once an old lady was suffering from a severe Throat Cancer. A reputed Cancer Surgeon operated on the lady and cured her completely. A few days had passed after the Surgery, the old lady had gained complete conscious by now and was pleased to see the Surgeon who was making his daily rounds. As she was not able to speak due to the surgery she wrote on a paper, her appreciation and gratitude to the Doctor. She also wrote that she was very happy that she had overcome the cancer. She gave the paper to the Doctor, and the Doctor was pleased to read it. He decided to reply, took the pen, turned the page and wrote that it was only his duty and it was God that she actually needed to thank, etc., and gave the paper to the old lady. The old lady starred at the paper in her hand and looked into the Doctor's face and looked back at the paper. She wrote something on the paper and returned it to the Doctor. The Doctor took the paper and read it. It was written "I can hear Doctor."

IQ i.e., Intelligence quotient has been replaced by EQ i.e., Emotional Quotient. To explain more about this Dr. Ali mentioned about Bill Gates and asked the parents if they were aware about his educational qualification. Some of the parents answered that he was a graduate, some said that he was a school drop out etc. Dr. Ali then said that Bill Gates was given the Honorary graduation degree from Harvard University in the year 2008. Bill Gates was a student of the Harvard University which offered boarding and lodging for its students. Here Bill Gates started developing his own software and programming. He also had developed so much knowledge that he was not attending his classes, but had started his own business and there were many clients who visited him in his hostel. When this was brought to the knowledge of the University administration they were very furious and debarred him immediately. Eventually Bill Gates grew up to be the biggest name in the field of software and Harvard University was fired for not recognising his talents. Regretting its mistake, the University honored Bill Gates with the degree.

Dr. Ali ended the session by saying that parenting is both fathering and mothering, one cannot replace the other.

Question 1: Can children be sent to boarding school?
Answer: It is better to not enroll the children into boarding schools. If you think it is a necessity then the age of the child should be taken into consideration. Prepare the child well in advance, make him understand that this method of school would prove to be very beneficial to him. Assure him that he would be safe there and they would be constantly in touch with him. Do not make any false promises, let him think that this is a form of promotion given to him. Help him understand that he would enjoy being independent and it will make him a more responsible person.
Question 2: If the child is not able to adjust to the boarding school. Will it be very difficult to find an alternative school for him?
Answer: If in case you have decide to bring the child back from the boarding school, then too the child has to be prepared in advance. Tell him that it is time to come back, encourage him with small gifts and praises. Tell him the importance of coming back home. Once the child is back home a give him some time to settle down and then talk to him and prepare him to join the new school.
Question 3: Do you think the teenagers have to be changed?
Answer: The parents should understand and acknowledge the teenagers. This will help them to in turn understand the parents. Never give something to the teenager and then take it back, this will only de-motivate them. For example when a parent knows that a mobile phone can be easily misused by a teenager. Knowing this if the parent gives in to the demands of the teenager and then takes back the phone after an incident takes place, the teenager will be let down and will feel hurt. This kind of situations are better avoided in the beginning and he should be explained why he is been refused certain wants.
Question 4: It was in the news that an eight standard child committed suicide after watching a serial. Why is that children are becoming more sentimental now-a-days?
Answer: It is not that the children have started to become sentimental now-a-days. They were very sentimental from the beginning. The reason (serial) is also not the main reason. The person becomes suicidal over a period of time. There are a number of signals shown by the child. The child does not have right or wrong, it only has approved and not approved. Loneliness, low self esteem are some of the signs that the child may develop. One should always look for these signs and preventive steps will have to be taken to avoid such situations.
Question 5: My child is very active when he at home but falls completely silent when he comes out or meets new people.
Answer: It is very normal for the child to behave this way. Motivate the child. Encourage him to talk to new people or take him to new places. When you see that he has even made a small attempt to speak to them give him a lot of positive strokes. This will encourage him to perform in a much better way the next time he meets people.
Question 6: What is the right method of giving sex education to children?
Answer: Do not avoid the questions of the child. According to the age give the child the basic reasons. For example if the child asks 'Where does the baby come form?' tell him that 'The baby comes from the mothers stomach' now the next question the child may ask is 'How did the baby get there?' now do not lie or neglect the question. Tell him that 'I will tell you at an appropriate age, now even if I tell you you will not understand it'. Always ask what the child knows first and then explain to him in an appropriate manner and according to his age. Tell the child about a good touch and a bad touch. Encourage the child to ask questions, take him stage by stage and do not panic at any point of time.
Question 7: How should criticism and praise be given to the child?
Answer: Criticism can be given to the child depending to the circumstances. The parents should keep in mind that the criticism should not be destructive but constructive. The child should understand why he is been criticized.
Question 8: How can hyper active children be toned down?
Answer: Child who is active is much better than a child who needs to be pushed to do things. But only 2% of the children suffer from the problem of being hyper active. The parents should understand why the child is hyper active. The child can also be given various activities to keep him engaged.


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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

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