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editor’s note



“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.” ~JESS LAIR


few days ago, I was horrified at the sight of a young crow being viciously attacked by a mob of six or seven crows in my backyard. I screamed and yelled. The attackers flew away, leaving behind what I presumed was a dead fledgling. Shocked, I called out to my helper who calmly explained that the young crow was probably just learning to fly and must have fallen down in the process. It was the crows’ way of ensuring that the fledgling would try to fly again. Sure enough, after several minutes of lying stunned, the baby crow slowly stood up, gathered itself together and flew away! Fortunately, as more evolved beings, we know that there are better ways to nurture and encourage our children. As parents, our role is to help our children fly on their own someday; we need to gently help them unfold their wings. We can deal with our children in a calm, positive manner only if we remain stress-free. This means maintaining a balance in all aspects of our life, be it at home or at work. Our feature,’Office and Home: Pleasure or Pressure’, talks about establishing priorities and managing time efficiently to achieve this balance. This year, the theme of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on December 3, 2013 is: ‘Break Barriers, Open Doors: for an inclusive society and development for all’. M Rama Suresh of Freedom Trust, Chennai, opens doors for children with hearing defects by training them in art. Even as we celebrate music in Chennai this December, we spotlight awardwinning musician P Unnikrishnan who is as much a proud father as he is a celebrated singer. Baking cookies and cakes is a Christmas tradition in most families. Our Parent Chef Christmas special brings you some fun recipes that you can bake together with your child. Wishing you a Merry Christmas, a season of joyous music and a Happy New Year!

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Nalina Ramalakshmi, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief Nalina Ramalakshmi EDITORIAL Managing Editor Nitya Varadarajan Assistant Editor Chitra Satyavasan Senior Editor-Copy Desk Shashwathi Sandeep Content Coordinator Asita Haq DESIGN Creative Head Rangashree Srinivas Chief Designer Thiagarajan R Graphic Designers M Ravisankar, Dhivya Gopal PRODUCTION Senior Consultant S Venkataraaman ADMINISTRATION Office Manager Sheeja Sasindran Office Assistant S Thirumalai SALES & DISTRIBUTION Vice-President M R Jayakkar ADVERTISING General Manager S Visalam Manager G Suresh Kumar CIRCULATION Manager C Ganesh SUBSCRIPTION Officer S Saravanan MARKETING Executive Dolly Preethi Martina M PUBLISHED BY Nalina Ramalakshmi, Director, Shri Harini Media Pvt. Ltd., (A Ramco Group Associate), 8/14, First Cross Street, Karpagam Gardens, Adyar, Chennai 600020 PRINTED BY Canara Traders and Printers Pvt. Ltd., Type II/33, V.S.I. Estate, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai 600 041 Parent Circle is published by Nalina Ramalakshmi, Director, Shri Harini Media Pvt. Ltd. All editorial material including editorial comments, opinions and statement of facts appearing in this publication, represent the views of its respective authors and does not necessarily carry the endorsement of the publishers. Information carried in Parent Circle is gathered from sources considered to be reliable, but the accuracy of all information cannot be guaranteed. The publication of any advertisements or listings is not to be construed as an endorsement of the product or service offered. Entire contents Copyright @ Shri Harini Media Pvt Ltd. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation in any language in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Requests for permission should be addressed in written form to Shri Harini Media.

mailbox CELEBRATING OUR CHILDREN In your November edition, the editor’s note (‘Celebrating Children’) begins with ‘We were all children once’ and ends with ‘Our future lies with our children’. Nowadays, such statements are conveniently forgotten by many elders. I hope this note will open the eyes of many such elders. A Sampath LITTLE BUDDHA’S LESSONS I really enjoyed reading ‘Learning from Little Buddha’ in your November issue. My daughter left her corporate job to become a full-time mother, and as she says, ‘It is an amazing experience to see my baby grow up!’ A committed mother’s feelings are best captured by the author’s conclusion. Sampath Kumar S

GOOD WORK! All the articles in the November issue were really nice and helpful as handling two children is, at times, very difficult for me. I found all the articles very useful, especially ‘Discipline without Tears’, ‘Spiritual Parenting’ and ‘Learning from Little Buddha’. Keertana Raja

DISCIPLINE DILEMMAS In the article ‘Discipline without Tears’ (November issue), the examples given are so authentic that I can recall countless occasions when parents say exactly the things the author tells us not to! I am thankful to your magazine and the author for showing us how to discipline a child by focusing on worthwhile issues and by providing reasonable alternatives. I hope all young parents read this article and benefit from it. PBV Parthasarathy FIRST 3 LETTERS RECEIVE A GIFT VOUCHER WORTH `500 FROM


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ONTHEWEB a reader asks I often see my friends or relatives comparing my child with theirs. I would like to ignore such comparisons, but they leave me stressed out. How should I deal with this? – SUREKA HEM Yes, I agree that even if you as a parent do not compare your child with anyone (be it a sibling or a classmate), such comparisons, however, cannot be avoided when others compare their children with yours. The solution is simple:  Be comfortable with your parenting.  Have faith in your child’s strengths and be aware of his or her weaknesses.  Accept your child as she is and build on her strengths.  Finally, do not take personal offence when such comparisons are made. Don’t think ‘I have failed as a parent’ or ‘How dare they compare my child?’ Your acceptance of yourself and your child will prevent you from reacting to unfair comparisons. DR S JAYANTI IS A PSYCHOLOGIST FROM CHENNAI.





The key to a good work-life balance, like everything else in life, is good planning. Select the ingredients we have given to brew that balance.


ne day, Naresh Purushotham, the founder of Crestcom, a company offering management and leadership training for corporates, woke up enlightened. “I was working in the advertising field, and the work life was so hectic. I realized that I had never attended a single sports day or any other function at my children’s school, and now they were in middle school. I was losing touch with my children and family. I decided to scout for other work options,” he says. Wikipedia defines work-life balance as a concept that prioritizes properly between ‘work’ (career and ambition) and ‘lifestyle’ (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). But Naresh, who has come a long way from that fateful morning, insists, “There is no such thing as

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pure work-life balance. There is only balance, and there needs to be balance in everything that is done. Maintaining that balance, whether at home or at the workplace, and in whatever role a person plays, calls for some creativity. Otherwise, homes can fall apart and the negative impact on children cannot be understated,” warns Naresh. Call it ‘balance’ or ‘work-life balance’, but there is an urgent need to discuss this today. ‘Work’ is taking greater precedence over ‘life’ thanks to the growing number of hours put in every day by employees. In the IT industry, a 12-13 hour workday has become the norm. And pressure is building up in the other sectors as well. “Corporates are under pressure to declare results every quarter and they pass this pressure on to their employees” says

Naresh. For many working parents, the home has just become a place to sleep at night, that is, if they are not doing night shifts. And this is taking a toll on their personalities.

THE ELUSIVE BALANCE “Many parents do not understand the meaning of balance, so how can they identify imbalance?” questions Arundhati Swamy, a counsellor from Chennai. For instance, workaholics may think that they are happiest when they are only working. But this takes its toll on family harmony, leading to neglect of both home and work. “A workaholic is not balanced – his life-span is affected. Usually workaholics have an unfulfilled emotional need, which they try to fulfil by overworking,” she explains. Most people, however, can feel the lack of balance.

wellness feature

De-stress YOUR CHILD by


Help your child overcome anxiety to become a balanced, confident, and independent individual


tress must be an all-too-familiar word in your dictionary. Every parent will readily confess how stressed out their lives are, compared to the carefree lives their children lead. Some may even become nostalgic – “I wish I could go back to the happy-go-lucky days of my childhood!” But talk to your child, and you’ll hear a different story. Stress has entered children’s lives too, with many admitting that they are anxious about the vast syllabus they have to wade through or the all-nighters they need to pull during exams. Moreover, they have other worries too – ‘Will Dad get me the cool car my friend has got?’ or ‘Is it okay to skip my evening music lessons often to prepare for the Math test?’ Stress or anxiety issues have become so commonplace that, according to Reid Wilson, PhD and Lynn Lyons,

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authors of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents, they are ‘the no.1 reason why parents bring a child to a mental health professional’ in the US. In fact, it is not so different here either. “When both parents work, children return to empty homes after school, and the comforting home atmosphere is absent. This leads to stress. Often, parents buy material possessions to make up for their absence, but this does not compensate for the absence,” says Dr Sameer Malhotra, Head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Healthcare, New Delhi. He has even handled cases where teens have resorted to drugs like cannabis or picked up strange habits like glue-sniffing to relieve stress. “Schools introduced projects as a way of releasing kids from the

burden of studies … to make learning fun. But sadly, even these school projects have become a cause of anxiety in children!” adds Dr Malhotra. But you can help your child beat stress by identifying and managing it before it makes things worse. We tell you how:

NOTE: Some anxiety is typical for all age groups, and indicates normal development. It also gives the positive energy that helps us to meet challenges, like sitting down to study for a test. But when the anxiety becomes so intense that it disturbs normal routine (like refusal to attend school) and is accompanied by other symptoms, you have to help your child or seek professional help.

learning feature






It can be a preschooler’s childish scribble or the distinct style of a teenager, but writing with the hand keeps your child nimble.


hese days, when children spend considerable time texting on mobile phones and typing on keyboards, it may seem that the need for writing with the hand has declined. But that is not so. The act of writing is very important in developing fine motor skills, which is the coordination of the muscles of the fingers/toes, and the nervous system, leading to manual dexterity. We also know today that the school boards (CBSE and ICSE) deduct marks for illegible handwriting. So, writing with the hand is an asset that we cannot afford not to have, even as legible writing is becoming a necessity for academics. Compulsion or no compulsion, mastering the art of handwriting is of immense value for a child.

Julie Deardorff writes in the Chicago Tribune: “The benefits of gripping and moving a pen or pencil go beyond communication. Emerging research shows that handwriting increases brain activity and can predict a child’s academic success in ways that keyboarding can’t.” Agreeing with this, Padma Srinath, a child development expert from Chennai, says,“A 2-year-old can grasp a crayon but he cannot hold and manoeuvre a mouse.” Once we grow into adulthood, do we still need to harp on handwriting? “There are an increasing number of employees who attach value to the handwriting of the people they recruit,” says Anal M Pandit, director, Institute of Graphological Research, Mumbai. 32 ParentCircle / December 2013

Then, have you ever had a bank questioning your signature on a cheque, because your hand unfortunately shook a wee bit? Or when your mutual fund investment could not be redeemed, because your genuine signature looked forged! “A steady hand is important, and a steady hand only comes with practise,” explains Padma. “Handwriting practice needs to start when a child is young. Even for older citizens, whose fingers are stiffening, handwriting is a good exercise,” she says.

WHY HANDWRITING IS AN IMPORTANT EXERCISE The fingers and toes – our body extremeties - are crucial aspects of our overall development. They need to be exercised to be made flexible. “Even babies put their fingers and toes in their mouths, which is their way of flexing and exercising,” explains Padma. They try to grasp things, or reach out to attractive hangers in the crib. As they grow older, they try to do more things with their fingers. In the past, children would learn the trade that their family was in, appropriate to their growth - like tilling the soil, planting saplings, helping in the making of yarn before weaving, and more. These forms of physical labour helped them exercise their fingers and toes. But with the coming of education, society’s structure has changed. “Today handwriting has replaced the

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