Friday, 20 December 2013

Is It Time To Warn Kids About Santa Claus?

Is It Time To Warn Kids About Santa Claus? Is It Time To Rein In The Santa In The Suit?


It’s that time of the year again. It’s the time when a big fat man with red chubby cheeks and white cottony beard, in red suit ho-hoes his way around with a large sack that has endless amounts of gifts. And who is this big fat man in a red suit? Well any little kid around the world can identify him. It’s Santa Claus.


He doesn’t simply leave just about anyone a gift; he leaves gifts only for those who have been good throughout the year. And how does he know that? Well, he has a gold book and a black book and he watches you all year long and makes his entry in the gold book every time you are good and you get a black book entry if you have been wicked or naughty.


But who is keeping track of whether Santa has been good? Let’s be practical, the Santa Claus that your child encounters is a hired man/boy who is just wearing a suit and trying his best to convince the kids he is Santa. How much do we know about these Santas that we so willingly ask our kids to go and hug, shake hands with, sit on their lap? In countries around the world there have been instances where ‘Santa’ has been arrested for drinking, touching kids inappropriately etc. so this means that there could be a pedophile lurking behind the beard and rosy cheeks? Isn’t it the perfect opportunity for them as  parents are urging their kids to ‘go to’ the Santa, ‘go kiss’ the Santa, ‘go sit’ on his lap.


Well, sad as it may sound, it’s time to either warn our kids about Santa or watch carefully when our kids are with Santa. But how would you be able to keep an eye on all the Santas that your kids encounter this year? There is the Santa in school, the Santa at the mall, the Santa at a child’s party, the Santa in your own housing society.


Santa Claus is considered safe by kids and their parents; well it’s time to rein in the Santa in the suit. Follow these 5 important points while bringing Santa in your child’s life-


1.     Teach your kids to only shake hands with Santa

2.     If you are clicking a photo of your child with Santa, be vigilant about Santa’s ‘hands’.

3.     Please do not ask your child to hug or kiss Santa. The suits that they hire are hardly clean so let’s not pass unnecessary germs to our kids.

4.     Teach your child about good touch bad touch and talk to your child that even Santa cannot be allowed to give bad touch

5.     Try to keep your child’s belief in Santa alive as long as possible but important that you also believe in safety of your child. Maintain a balance.


Let’s help kids have a merry and safe New Year.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

U.S school suspends boy 6,for kissing girl

I was shocked to read this news in TIMES OF INDIA 13 December 2013, ‘US school suspends boy 6, for kissing girl.’ It has raised several questions that we should address as a society-

1.     Whether a peck should be considered sexual harassment?

Young children thrive on touch, touch is one of their most important senses in the early years and naturally they show and accept love using this sense the most. In this case is it necessary to paint this child as a ‘sexual predator?’ 

2.     The child said he had a crush on the girl and the girl likes him back. During a reading class the child leaned over and kissed the girl on her hand.

It is natural for kids to hug, kiss and show affection. Do we want to take this away from the childhood years too? Teaching them about good touch-bad touch or bullying is required, but should we be saying don’t touch each other at all? Will this not have an impact on emotional development as human beings? Should we not try and control the kind of programs that we expose these kids to? Sexual content on television and movies leads to kids becoming very comfortable with words like sex, lip kissing, crush, much before they have even understood the meaning of the word or are able to read or spell them. There is a new trend among parents, of kissing their kids on their lips.  Many find it quite natural but I am against it for 2 reasons- a) when you teach your child that kissing on lips is an acceptable way to show affection then they will accept it from all adults. Better to teach them then that only mummy and daddy can kiss you here. b) At this young age they are susceptible to a lot of infections and the mouth has the most bacteria. I think adults should refrain from kissing kids on their lips, mainly for health reasons. In fact I have made a Muppet video to educate kids and parents about this as we faced a lot of problems when kids started kissing each other on the lips and some parents found it a cultural shock and complained against it. View the video on

3.     The mother of the 6 year old is shocked that a term as strong as sexual harassment is being used for what her son did.

The clarity here needs to be clear and sensible- kids in the early childhood years don’t commit sexual crimes, sexual crimes are committed against them. So let’s not make a mockery of the law and use it against them in the growing years. 

4.     Whereas the principal says he is suspended because of a policy against unwanted touching.

If we are going to define policies that take away the human element from kids in their growing years then we will be bringing up a generation that is bereft of all emotional feelings and have no emotional bonds. Schools can have clearly defined policies for bad touch or define which parts of the body cannot be touched by adults or an ant bullying policy.

5.     This is the second time the boy has been suspended.

Is suspension of kids the solution for schools to follow? In her Exchange article (May/June 2012), "Belonging”, Ruth Wilson writes, ‘While there are certainly many reasons why young children are having such severe behavioral issues as to warrant expulsion from school, one explanation is that their belonging needs are not being met.  This tends to happen when the structure of a program suggests that, in order to belong, a child must conform to a pre-determined set of rules and expectations.  These rules and expectations, in some cases, are not appropriate for young children’.

It’s time we nurture kids in school and give them schools that help them belong after all belonging is an important need of every human being. Let’s not strip away everything good from children’s lives on the pretext of keeping them safe.  I would never want touch to become trouble for any child. But having a touch less society is also not good, so let’s rethink about boundaries, barriers and get our distinction correct so that it helps kids and does not give them yet another label.

What are your thoughts on this?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Deadly Diets

Food is not just the energy for the body but for the brain too. In this new age world words like , ‘fitness’, ‘diet food’, ‘fat free’, ‘sugar free’, are actually dangerous because these words just ‘exchange the poison’. So we have fitness freaks that are constantly in an ‘air conditioned’ gym, gulping protein shakes that actually end up harming them. Sugar free foods have a very deadly chemical lurking in them and the list can go on.
We worry about our future financial safety and make investments; it’s time to worry about our family’s health safety and invest some time, effort and planning in the same. My advice to all parents- every year when you file your income tax returns, do also file your family’s health returns. Sit as a family and understand your health investment, because after all you need to be healthy and alive to enjoy the money you are saving for the future!

Here are 5 reasons why diet plays an important role in the ‘performance’ and growth of children of all ages.
1.     Maslow’s hierarchy of needs identifies food and water as the first need, it is only when this need of the body is met that we can focus, pay attention and learn.
2.     Foods impact our blood sugar levels and in turn our blood pressure. Incorrect fads like too much salt and sugar (one packet of movie theatre salted popcorn has one week’s requirement of salt!) can impact the ability to pay attention and can lead to increase in hyperactivity.
3.     Brain requires oxygen for its functioning. Food Additives, beverages like too much coffee etc can dehydrate the brain and leave it coping with every day functions.
4.     The liver can store glucose for 4 hours only. Glucose is an essential requirement of the brain. The body requires food that can be converted into glucose, junk foods sadly are just junk and do not fulfill this important need.
5.     The brain requires important chemicals for its functioning. Chemicals like- Acetylcholine, helps with frontal lobe functions and in formation of long-term memories. Dopamine assists in focus, attention, and goal setting. Norepinephrine responds to novelty and aids in memory formation. Serotonin helps control impulsivity, calms the brain, aids in reflective behaviors. And how does the brain process these chemicals? From healthy diet and sleep. 
If you notice all the functions that these chemicals govern are required by a school going child and it is incorrect diet that reduces a child’s performance and also results in negative behavior issues.  Here is a test that you can take to understand about your food choices, it is a fun test but has some message in every question. You don’t need me to give you the answers; I am sure you will get the message, loud and clear.
1.             Do you think that your children eat unhealthy food?
2.             Why do they have such unhealthy food habits?
3.             How many of you feed the child while watching TV or eat on the dining table while watching TV or on the phone?
4.             Why?
5.             What kind of food do you send in your child’s snack box?
6.             Do you know the recommended food groups and their servings to be given at each age to your child?
7.             Do you follow them every day?
8.             Does your child have fruits daily?
9.             Do you know the benefit of the fruit that you serve your child or do you give the fruit because child likes it?
10.          How many portions of vegetables does your child eat every day?
11.          How many glasses of water does your child drink in a day?
12.          What junk food does your child eat in a week?

It is important that we understand that healthy food is fresh food, food cooked at home. Anything that comes in a package certainly has deep dark secrets! The occasional visit to the restaurant, or a pizza or noodles is not being written off here. But 80% of our food intake should be healthy without the fads! Especially for children.