Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How to have an effective communication with a toddler

I have a 27 month (2 year +)  old daughter and she is a handful. Hence, my opinion in this post is not based on hearsay or from other parenting blogs, but from our experiences with our daughter. And like most learning, these have also majorly come from failing to communicate in the first place. 

1. Kids don't understand sarcasm
2 year old kids are at the very nascent stages of communication learning curve. They don't understand complex of figure of speech like sarcasm or rhetorical questions. I'm sure every parent is aware but this point gets missed in the heat of the moment. So when your kid has just emptied an entire glass full of juice on your couch and you should 'neat! that should make you happy. no?'. They don't know what you mean! You are only spending your intellect on something totally uncalled for.

2. They are allowed to shout; you are not.
It's not a parliament where you will win (or assume to have won) an argument by shouting on top of each other's voice. Kids will always win this. Shouting and screaming is a way of expression for the kids. They feel something and don't know how to express it. I hope that is not the case with most adults reading this. Hence, they are allowed shouting while you are not. :)

3. Create diversions
Kids easily get diverted. So keep diversions like music, books, toys, videos, pictures, crayons handy. Picking up a crying toddler and taking them to the balcony to show a street dog or a buffalo is an old trick in the book that we all tend to forget.

4. Prioritize
As a parent, your priorities will change. I'm sure you know that. But not in the long run like outings, late night parties, watching TV/ movies etc. but also at every instance. You may have to choose discipline over peace of mind, entertainment over cleanliness etc. Imagine you have invited guests over for dinner and your toddler decides that it is THE day to cling on to her favourite parent. "Why did she chose today? She does this on purpose! She wants to embarrass me" - You are bound to be irritated because you see a potential personal embarrassment! You are afraid the guests will have to face a half hearted welcome. But guess what? You haven't prioritized well. Which results in you shouting back at your kid instead of making the arrival of guests equally exciting for her.

5. Ask or walk away
When kids start crying unnecessarily (or so you think), don't tell them to stop crying as an immediate reaction. We all get irritated when a kid is crying in the vicinity. But research shows that is the intent of crying. Humans are programmed to be disturbed by a crying child so that the child's needs can be catered to. So, when your toddler begins to cry, ask her WHY she is crying? If you cannot hear her properly, tell her that you cannot make out what she wants to say because she is crying. If there is a genuine reason, address it or refer point 3 above :). If there is no reason the kid can give, it could be hunger, internal pain or discomfort that she has not experienced before etc. If it looks like a tantrum and diversion doesn't work, walk away. Just tell the kid that you are willing to talk once she has stopped crying. You may have to bear with the crying for a few minutes, but  you would have made a point.

There are many more aspects to communicating with a child. I hope as I learn from my experiences, I am able to articulate them for the readers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Consume or Create

This post is a result of a brief discussion I had with a dear friend over chai a few days ago.
At various levels of our existence, we are always consuming something. Water, food, literature, information, petrol, music and Oxygen if not doing anything else. If we choose to be, we can be consumers forever, almost parasites. But then there is a part of us that wants to be 'creative'. We want to be making something, creating something. And to be creating something, we should be well aware of the consumer. A good photographer should have seen a lot of good photographs. A good actor should have seen a lot of good performances. You get the point!
But then where do I draw the line? When does one say, 'Ok. I have seen enough, now let me do something about it!'. I am in a state right now where the social network and the Internet is showing diminishing returns. When someone shows me that '10 most beautiful photographs of 2013' post, I say to myself  "so what?". What have I done? I am not a bad or casual photographer either! Where are my 10 best images of 2013.When someone shares their travel experience, I realise I didn't go anywhere.
So, here is to less consumption and more creation. It's time to shape the proceedings and not be a passive looker!

Friday, January 03, 2014

Should water be free

Let me leave this question unanswered by telling you a tale of 2 states -

I belong to a place of abundant and free water - Goa. My village is self sustaining in terms of water ( in fact surplus) and hence water is free there. We have a well in our backyard that gives us enough water through the year. Though this is a function of geographical advantage that Goa has, we have taken extra efforts to deploy rain water harvesting to recharge our well. The government as well has a water shed development program across the state. In other words, we earn our water. 

I currently reside in a water deficit place - Hyderabad. Hyderabad is so unplanned and densely populated that it is almost impossible to make it self sustaining for water. Last summer, we ran out of water (like every other summer). Our bore-wells (that run thousands of feet deep) ran dry. The tankers took care of our water needs. These tankers were filled on government owned bore-wells in nearby villages. And one day the inevitable happened. The local farmers of these villages stopped all the tankers from filling water. The rate at which water was being pumped from these village bore-wells, lead to the water table depleting. The farmers did not get enough water for their crop. 

Tankers are merely a mode of transport. This problem would come even for piped water. The fact is urban dwellers are so arrogant and oblivious to the damage they cause. They assume they are entitled to all the resources whereas in reality, they are living off the villages. Even electricity comes from large hydro - electric power stations that are constructed by unsettling hundreds of villages. And we still want all of it free, or at half rate. We call it our basic need. I think the cities are like bakasurs (बकासुर )