Tag Archives: parenting

Observations from my daughter’s spring break

Now that I am done with my MBA, I have weekends for myself. More than anything else, I am happy to spend time with my family and learn many things that I missed in these 2.5 years. In the last couple of weeks I observed many kids playing in my neighborhood and parks which helped me develop a perspective on their behavior.

I have observed enough kids to categorize the sample as below.

Leaders: These kids wants other kids to follow them. They don’t care what other kids think. Unconsciously they show direction, they lead and there are “some” who follow them. These kids often are very assertive and they do stuff no matter what others think.

Followers: Clear…! These kids follow the leaders. Not because they like them because they need someone to show the path. They want someone else to entertain them. So, the leaders take this opportunity and take the followers for a ride. Followers simply can’t decide or they need some assurance from others. So, they fall pray.

Observers: Observers pretty much sit beside the Leaders and Followers and jsut relax. They are not very dynamic in nature and they like watching the action from outside. They have the most fun because they do not get involved in any action directly or indirectly. If a kid falls down, they laugh; If couple of kids are fighting, they still laugh; Pretty annoying to see such kids.

Discoverers: These kids are explorers trying to understand themselves and others. They want to try, understand what they like and what they don’t like. They lead based on the situation but not necessarily a leader personality. They usually don’t get into fight, because they want to learn and experiment. They don’t care about the cool kids.

Haters: No matter how kind and gentle a kid is there is always a kid who hates him/her. These kids usually try to be a leader, fail and then start blaming the other kids for unsuccessful attempt. They induce poison to other kids and instigate some wrongdoings. The hate in the minds of these kids so sophisticated that these kids are pretty hard to identify for the first time.

Now, think about these kids and fast-forward their lives for 20 years. Do these kids remain the same with their traits? What re-shapes them when they are growing? Does parenting influence a LOT? or is it just a personal trait that does not change over time?

While it is easy to push everything that a child behavior on individual traits and parents, there seems to be lot more factors that influences what they turnout to be as an adult. Did we not hear parents saying that my son/daughter is “very intelligent” at young age and then they turn out to be real “hope less human beings” as adults? It would be pretty interesting to study some of these factors that drives a child’s future. I will write more on what i find and when i find.

My take on kids schooling in California, USA.

The motivation of the post is a discussion that me and my friends discussed over a dinner. Families moved from decent school districts to GREAT (Ranked #1 in that State or County) and pay exorbitant rents and living costs. This is a small effort to understand how the schooling system here works.

Consciously or Subconsciously we all send kids to school to gain knowledge, social network, social skills and finally get into the main stream work life or career by undergraduate and graduate degrees. Well, a school’s rank is definitely based on the Students, Parents, Teachers, Public Funds, Private Funds (in case of private schools), Infrastructure and Passout or Graduate %. As i understand these are the main criteria that we as a parent really worry about.

Looks like the US Undergraduate Universities are eying at students from all over the country who are like the TOP 5% (or even top 10%) of the Middle School and High School. This means, the top 5% of the students (in Honor role) in a school have the chances to write the tests conducted by the local universities. e.g. my niece who is 7th grade in NY got to write the John Hopkins talent test which eventually helps them to choose some good candidates. Of course, its a race between many universities to get the best students again to boost their own ratings.

This criteria makes me believe that it is OK to have kids in good/decent school district where they have the opportunity to excel. In that level, any school with a decent API give s great deal of attention to your kid. The purpose of the Academic Performance Index (API) is to measure the year-over-year growth in academic performance for California (or any other State) schools. The API summarizes a school’s standardized test scores into a single number, which ranges from 200 to 1000. The statewide API goal is 800 for all schools; higher numbers generally indicate better performance on the tests.

Now, look at the other aspect of sending our kids to a school that has TOO much of competition and TOO much of pressure. E.g. Cupertino School District.  Kids undergo too much or pressure and distress to keep up with the TOP 5% results and we (some parents) get upset as our kids are not in the TOP 5% (as some may have even moved to Cupertino from else where and are spending higher rents and mortgages). Unconsciously, parents have high expectation on kids and it becomes similar to our EAMCET or IIT coaching stuff. As per my experience, i see less of my friends (in Cupertino) who sends their kids to other extracurricular activities compared to Fremont, Pleasanton and Sunnyvale friends. The fact is the kids in Cupertino HAVE to keep up with the competition to do well.

As long as kids have decent education and overall development, i would not too much worry about the school rankings. Of course, in my view, they should definitely go to a decent school which is probably above 850 API. I am motivated by the fact that every person from IIT and IIM is not a super star while there are more chances of becoming one.

As a closing remark : A person’s success is based on variety of factors than mere Intelligence and School.

What do you think ?

Parenting Styles

Following is the summary of the thesis from the famous clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind.

  1. Authoritarian Parenting
    In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991).
  2. Authoritative Parenting
    Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be “assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991).
  3. Permissive Parenting
    Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally, “nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent”.
  4. Uninvolved Parenting
    An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

The Impact of Parenting Styles

What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind’s initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • Authoritive parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
  • Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

Lead your kids by example

Did you hear your kids saying “Come on… you dont know how hard it is” or “You dont know about it”. Very often parents want kids to do everything they did not do in the childhood. If one dreamed of becoming an Actor and did not do it, he would gently push their kids into Acting and i am sure you would have seen many such cases around you.

In short, “Parents live their dreams in their kids”.

There seems to be a general tendency that the kids become the exact replica of parents in most aspects. They have similar interests, hobbies, traits and etcetera.  However, here is the problem. Some kids are NATURALLY inclined to do something while other are FORCED to do the same. When you are trying out what your kid likes, initially there are some experiments you would do with your kids.  Most of the times parents think that the experimentation works well and dont overlook their natural talent.

Sending kids to Dancing, Singing, Karate, Swimming, Soccer, Baseball and other would only give them some physical activity and acts as a means to spend time. If this is complemented by the natural interest in the kids, that would yield the maximum result. For instance, when a kid has the natural inclination in Music, sending them to Swimming and Baseball will not help that kid. However, it may give you an instant gratification as your kid is fulfilling your dream of baseball ???

Even for great parents, sometimes they fail to lead kids by examples. If a father is interested in working out and jogging, it is natural for the kids to go along with father. If a mother has the natural talent of the Art Work and does lot of paintings and exhibitions in the local community, kids naturally find the interest in the Art. If Parents have the good values and ethics in the life, they could explain it to kids and they will follow. If Father is a good swimmer, naturally kids show interest in that. When parents are good or experts at a thing, they usually can explain, coach and train kids better than other parents who are not. Of course, there are always exceptions to any theory and so is this. I was particularly amazed when one of the kid told her mom  (who does not know swimming) that she has lot of leg pain and mother should not ask her any help. In another situation a son says to father that, “I am very tired after the swimming lesson and i need to relax”.

In the situations where you dont have a practical experience with something, it becomes very difficult to persuade or motivate your kids. I was talking to a mom who said that her daughter watches a lot of TV in the evening and they are not able to stop her. But the irony is the Mom herself watches a lot of TV and she is almost addicted to it. So now when “this mom” asks her not to watch TV, the daughter will be like…”what the heck…how come she can watch the TV and I can’t ?”. Therefore, Leading by Example has a profound effect on kids. In the end, these are the values that you want to pass on to them.

Did you get into such situations ? How did you solve them ? Do you lead your kids by example ?

Spending Quality Time with Kids

Before i talk about it, here is what i mean by Quality Time.

Quality time is a reference to time spent with loved ones such as spouse, kids, parents, or friends. This time is considered as in some way important, special, productive or profitable. It is time that is set aside for paying full and undivided attention to the person/matter at hand. It may also refer to time spent performing some favored activity (e.g., a hobby). The opportunity to experience quality time, or the actual time available to enjoy quality time is often limited. However, this is outweighed by the importance, intensity or value attached to events or interactions which occur during quality time. Quality time therefore has a degree of emotional or social “quality” which other aspects of personal life may lack.

Why should parents spend Quality Time with kids ?

This seems to be an easy and irrelevant question but it’s not. Many parents “think” and “believe” that they are doing the right things to their kids in terms of spending “Quality Time”. But in the later part of life parents pass on lot of unintended side-effects to kids. Here is what i consider as “Quality Time” events and “Pretend Quality Time” events.

Quality Time Events :

  • Parents spend time with kids explaining or teaching ABCs or Numbers.
  • Parents play with kids in the parks, take them to their favorite sport be with them during the sport and discuss with the kids what happened during the play. They encourage and motivate kids by explaining them about the strong points and areas of improvements. Kids feel cool about it as they know that parents are with them all the while and parents are watching them.
  • Parents involve kids when they are talking about the family, relatives, friends, religion, travel, etc… so that kids are aware of what parents are thinking and how they are reacting to situations.
  • Parents involve their kids (passively) when solving problems (except for some very personal problems). This makes kids think and be aware of the situations that they might be in future and how their parents solved them. They would also develop the discretion power when facing such situations in future.
  • Parents knows what their kids are eating for meals and Mother takes care of it personally.
  • Parents sit with the kids for the homework and help their kids to solve problems.
  • Regularly attend the Parents and Teachers meeting and know the progress of your child in the class and school.

Events that looks like quality time but are killers…

  • A maid servant takes care of the food and Parents hardly know about the kids food choices.
  • Parents asks kids to do their own school work thinking that the kid would grow independently.
  • Drop the kids at swimming class and pick him up later when the class finishes. No one knows what happened at class.
  • Bring expensive gifts for kids birthday but don’t have time to ask for what kids like as a gift.
  • Don’t have time to appreciate the small, cute drawings by kids. They all get stagnated and just be gone into trash one day.
  • They want to tell you little cute stories and you done have time to listen to them or their stories seems to be a total crap.
  • You take them to wonderful parties and expensive vacations but they seem to be lost with you. Any 3rd person would tell you that there is some gap between you and your kids but you hardly realize it till end.

By now, i hope and guess you know the different events that i categorize as Quality Time and not. When you spend some Quality time with your kids, you should think of it as giving the future. It’s just not the matter of spending “some” time with them but you are really giving them the whole lot of essential qualities of life. By giving the quality time, we are saying that we Love kids, we are saying that we are Always there for you, we are making kids strong and be prepared for the independent life even without us and finally we are teaching them how they should treat their own kids. Small steps in life takes you a long way. Please don’t see the time you spend with kids as just “hours of time”.

In my life, i will never ever forget how my father spent time with me teaching English and Hindi (Indian language), the way he used to play with me at home with those small toys, the way he used to make me sit in his lap and made me read story books. The way my mom treated me with dignity and pride, the way she took care of me in every small way that she could. The way my sisters, played with me, the way they used to offer me the best of food and toys.

Each hour we spend with our kids is the Love that we give them for rest of their life. Remember that these are the small little moments that our kids always remembers. You make history by remembering the most cherished moments and Not by running through events.