Is your indulgence a handicap for your child?



Love, care and protection are important but not to the extent that they throttle individuality and skills of self-reliance

The sight of overindulgent parents and superentitled children bothers me immensely. I do suspect that some parents overindulge and overprotect children in an attempt to fill their own empty hearts, and perhaps to make up for the perceived inadequacies of their own childhood. Eager to plug all gaps, they unknowingly do the greatest harm to their own progeny.

When children get unearned privileges, and are fawned upon by their parents, they develop a false sense of entitlement. They come to believe they are the centre of their universe, and expect instant gratification for every wish. Such children grow up to be self-centred individuals with no interpersonal skills. As a result they are most likely to face challenges at work as well as in social and personal relationships.

When you buy your children more toys than they need, you teach them that not all privileges need to be worked for or deserved. When you do your child’s homework rather than allow him/her to face the music, you are giving the message that carelessness and mistakes have no consequences. When you make excuses for your children’s bad behaviour, you are teaching them to be irresponsible. When you pick up fights on their behalf, you are holding them back from learning the necessary skillsets needed to face challenges. When you do not impose discipline, nor devise punishments for breaking rules, you are failing to teach them the importance of boundaries.

Sometimes, it is best to set a goal and then think backwards. In order to bring up your child, it is important to understand what kind of an adult you want him/her to be. This is what should dictate parents’ choices. If we want our children to be self-reliant, honest and upwardly mobile adults, we must allow them the space to commit their own mistakes and pay for these even as children. It is only when they face obstacles that they learn their own strengths and weaknesses, and get the opportunity to adjust their learning, and gain confidence. Experts point out that our vital brain functions and relationship skillsets are built as we deal with joy, disappointment, boredom, adjustment and compromise with those we love. Children must be allowed to go through and deal with all these experiences with some guidance.

There was a time when Mom-Pop played good cop/bad cop, leading to a desired balance. Perhaps learning from their stilted relationships with their own Dads, fathers today no longer remain the distant disciplinarians they were. They are as hands-on, and frequently, even more indulgent than mothers. Neither parent is willing to be the lesser-loved or lesser loving one. It is as if both are competing for the child’s approval – something children realise early in life and learn to use to their advantage.

Of course, we all want to see our children confident and empowered. But we should also want to see them happy and contented. The two wishes need not be contradictory if only we take care to strike the right balance between showing children love and care, and ensuring they cultivate the right skillsets and inculcate the right value system. Give them respect and your attention. Try and understand them and their individual needs rather than imposing your wishes on them. Teach them about interconnectedness and how they are part of a larger world and give them a spiritual context and a code of ethics too.

Make your children feel loved, but also teach them to be loving and caring; make them feel secure and protected, but also to be independent and selfreliant. Indulge them, but also ensure they know that the love and care they receive must translate to responsibility and humanity. Teach them the value of money not because you do not have enough, but because some day the child may bless you for that learning.

Teach children that life is a process of continuous growing and personal learning and the importance of helping make the Universe a better place. Teach them that there are certain rules that are non-negotiable, while others can be made flexible, given the right reasons. Teach the child to respect people and boundaries, but also to reach out and share.

And if it is such a child that you handhold and let out into the world, blessed are you as a parent, your child and the future of the world too.


Simple techniques to de-stress your pooch

As responsible pet parents, it is imperative that we keep our pooches stress-free. Here are ways to keep your pooch happy and calm at all times.

NON-THREATENING APPROACH
When approaching your dog, always approach sideways without looking directly at your dog’s eyes. Never use threatening postures or noise – such as arms in air, running towards the dog, leaning over the dog, high excitable or raised voice. Keep your tone calm and gentle, keep arms down, body slightly sideways and head turned to side – your dog is more likely to approach you without fear or feeling threatened. If the dog does not come to you when you crouch, do not force him/her; respect your pet’s wishes to be left alone.

NOISE LEVEL

If your dog is afraid of deafening noises, fireworks, thunderstorms, loud humans, etc do not try to comfort him while he is showing fear (or you will be rewarding the fear); ignore him and only praise him when he is not showing any signs of fear; this should help him to feel a little calmer.

VISITORS’ TIME

When visitors come, make sure they do not fuss over the dog. Tell them to ignore your pet until he calms down. Have the dog sit in the same room as you and the visitors but give him something to do. Make sure children leave the dog alone when s/he is eating or resting.

RIGHT HARNESS

Try using a harness (unless there are medical reasons not to) and a wide soft, flat collar when walking your dog. Never attach a lead to collar if your dog pulls, as this puts your dog at the risk of spinal damage, thyroid damage or blindness. Use the harness and teach your dog not to pull before using a lead on the dog’s collar. Collar should fit so as to cover two vertebrae and harness must be wide, comfortable and well-fitted.

CARING WHILE WALKING

When out walking, be careful if you see other dogs or people walking towards you. If your dog is insecure when others are approaching, you may need to help him a little. Cross the road or turn around and go in the opposite direction. This will help your dog to learn to trust you.

HAPPY AND SAFE ENVIRONMENT

Enrich your dog’s environment (indoor and outdoor) with plenty of toys and things he is allowed to play with, chew up and destroy if he wants to. Things that are safe such as old shoes, toys (hard and soft), cardboard boxes, old containers or bottles, paper, plants to smell etc.

NUTRITIOUS DIET

Make sure your dog is on a good diet. Hair or blood analysis can be performed on your dog to determine if there are any areas that need attention or a particular nutrient; it will also tell you the toxin levels in your dog’s diet.

FRESH WATER

Filtered water is preferable to tap water as most of the harmful chemicals are drained out. Dogs can develop behavioural problems if they have too much toxins in their body.

KONG DOG TOY

The Kong can be stuffed with yummy food that your dog likes. When stuffed, place in the freezer and give it to your dog in a frozen state. This will keep him occupied for hours (though some dogs don’t like it frozen); after eating it, your dog will be very tired and most likely to sleep for an hour or two.

TREAT BALLS
These are balls or cubes that you can stuff with dry treats. Your dog has to find ways to get the treats from the ball. This can be a mentally stimulating pastime for your dog and keep him busy while you are preoccupied with something else.

RESCUE REMEDIES
A few drops of Rescue remedy can be placed in the dog’s water or food if he is feeling a stressed or worried. DAP diffusers are also available from veterinarians which help to calm highly stressed dogs.

T-TOUCH
This is a gentle form of massage. Slowly stroke your dog in small circular movements, starting at the head and moving slowly down his body. This should take about 10 seconds. Do this for about 20 minutes a day for the first week, 15 minutes a day for the second week and then 10 minutes a day for the dog’s entire life. This will also build a stronger bond between you and your dog.

Free yourself from wellness anxiety


Are you always thinking about your next meal? Does a party invitation or holiday make you anxious? Do you punish yourself with extreme workouts if you have had an indulgent meal? Is your necessary family time getting compromised because of your morning fitness regimen? If the answer is yes, then you may want to go easy on your wellness programme because it is certainly causing unnecessary stress and anxiety.

STOP OBSESSING


Healthy living is not just about how clean your plate looks or how active you are. It is also about peace of mind and living a lifestyle that gives you true freedom. If it is crossing the line, then you will need to step back because anxiety can actually undo all your efforts. It wreaks havoc on your body and elevates cortisol levels, which is linked with every health issue – from fat gain to hormonal imbalance and inflammation. It isn’t true wellness if it is making you obsess over things to do.

SLOW DOWN

There are so many people who on falling sick or injuring themselves do not give enough time to recovery and rest because they don’t want to skip their workouts. That is completely wrong. Sickness is the body’s way of asking you to slow down and one must honour that. Our body cares for only one thing – survival and it will do everything to help you survive. So, a falling immunity is a survival strategy that asks you to slow down or else you will burn out.

LEARN TO UNWIND

If you are having a bad day at work or have too many meetings back to back, chances are that you may have to skip your scheduled workout. But that’s okay. Not every day is going to be the same. If it was a bad day – feel it instead of living in denial. In place of a workout, do something that truly unwinds you mentally. That would be the need of the hour for you.


  • Manage anxiety: Live in balance and never follow an extreme path.
  • Compete only with yourself.
  • Reduce time spent on social media or with people who make you feel less about yourself.
  • Set realistic goals and break them down into doable actions.
  • Don’t overcommit.
  • Perfection is overrated. Focus on progress.
  • Never chase your goals. Whatever you do, do it with faith and then just surrender yourself to the outcome.

USE YOUR BREATH


With every inhale imagine each and every cell being infused with positivity and with every exhale, try releasing all the tension. You can also exhale via mouth with a “whoosh” sound. Breath shallows when we experience anxiety, so try deep breathing exercises to bring back the balance.

BREW A CACAO TEA


Cacao is rich in magnesium – a mineral that’s known for its calming and stress-relieving properties.

Recipe: For 1 cup of raw cacao tea, take 1 cup almond milk, 2 dates, ¼ tsp ground cardamom, a pinch of ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp (heaped) cacao powder, 1 tsp organic jaggery. Blend all this until smooth and sip slowly.

SALT BATH


Indulge in an Epsom salt bath soak with a few drops of lavender essential oil.

Everyone can be an eco-warrior

if you really want to do something for your country, decide to go green – it’s simpler than you think...



American naturalist John Burroughs famously said: “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” Chennai-based Vidya Gogul, however, felt her senses were knocked out for a six on a hiking trip 10 years ago in the jungles of Valparai in Coimbatore. Gogul and her mates spotted a stream, which they previously used as a water source, clogged with chips wrappers and water bottles.

“It shocked my system into being aware in a far more conscious manner. The clock is ticking for us and Earth,” says Gogul, the founder of a sustainable brand. Since then, her only goal was a zero-waste household – and she has achieved 70 per cent of her target.


Zero-waste, shopping bans, crockery banks, composting, no-flight travels, turning vegetarian – the millennial green goals are as varied as the ways to achieve it. As the word ‘environmentalist’ goes the way of ‘feminist’ — considered a more hyper, supercharged, politicised being — the new green warriors are bringing in new terminologies and new ways of living. The biggest discovery has been that it’s quite easy to go green – for all of us.



BABY STEPS



More often than not, new-age environmentalists are finding inspiration closer home. Waste management activist and Gurugram’s crockery bank revolution-starter Sameera Satija started her bank with 30 steel glasses after seeing the wastage from bhandaras near her home last year. Within 2-3 days, the local group had saved 10,000 disposables from ending up in trash! Her Facebook group ‘Crockery Bank for Everyone’ runs 12 chapters in Gurugram, three in Delhi and is affiliated to two groups in Noida. At last count, the group calculated they had saved 2 lakh plus disposables from reaching the landfills – in just a year.

“People think trash goes away when they get it out of their house – out of sight, out of mind. But they don’t realise that it’s adding to the load of Earth by going into landfills,” Satija says. In fact, as a waste-watcher (she has been managing her trash sustainably through composting and segregating), she feels that just like we visit malls, people should go and visit their local landfill to realise how they are part of the problem. “This is the only way people can become aware about how to manage waste,” she says.

YOUR GREEN CHECKLIST

  • Do you carry cloth/reusable grocery bags to the shops or markets?
  • Do you compost in your own house i.e., separate your biodegradable garbage from non-biodegradable ones?
  • When you order in, do you save the boxes and reuse them later?
  • Have you quit smoking?
  • Do you limit the amount of clothes you buy each month?
  • Have you cut down meat/dairy or turned vegetarian yet?
  • Do you carry reusable water bottles, or carry home the mineral water bottles you order at restaurants, especially when they still have water in them?
  • If you’re a woman, have you shifted to a menstrual cup yet?
  • Do you carpool?
  • Do you engage with people on the topic of single-use plastic?


Going green, one day at a time




The growing tribe of eco warriors is gaining traction because they are talking a language we understand. For instance, recently a Twitter user @filmibaaz replied on Anand Mahindra’s tweet of a boardroom filled with plastic bottles, saying they should use steel ones. Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra Group, with 7 million followers, admitted that we could all do better. Since then he has been working towards reducing plastic waste across his company.

It could take a tweet, a hashtag or opening an Instagram account on waste management to get people to start paying attention. Instagram is what helped Bengaluru-based waste management expert Vani Murthy to reach a wider audience. Going by the handle of @wormrani, Murthy says that she was always a homemaker but has found her calling with solid waste management when she started talking about trash management, in 2009. She has achieved a zero-waste household and is a composting champion, who refers to it as ‘black gold’. “What really struck a chord with me is when I read somewhere, ‘We don’t inherit this Earth, we only borrow it from the coming generation’,” she recalls. And keeping that goal in mind, Murthy has been advocating waste management at the home level and her biggest supporters are young kids.

LET’S TALK ‘TRASH’




Climate policy researcher Padmini Gopal (runs an Instagram page @climatekarma) started her little green goals three years ago. Her first step was to turn vegetarian and adopt a more plant-based diet by gradually reducing her dairy intake as well. Her next green goal is to reduce flight travel – the biggest contributor to one’s carbon emissions. While reducing work travel is a bit difficult, she admits, she aims to offset that by funding afforestation organisations. But going forward, she plans to travel locally for her holidays and embrace slow travel by travelling via train. She says, “It’s not an all or nothing scenario.” Her practical tip: Start with one green goal – preferably the more impactful and financially feasible ones. “Take one small step at a time, as I think it can help in inculcating green habits that last. For instance, when I decided to become vegetarian three years ago, it took more than a month of slowly reducing the amount of meat and dairy I ate per week to basically eating no meat and consuming dairy maybe once every two weeks – I have maintained that habit since then,” says Gopal.

ONE STEP AT A TIME




Gopal has zeroed in on another goal: to not buy any new clothing and only limit it to buying second hand/ recycled clothing. A shopping ban for a year is what Kolkata-based model, blogger and writer Karuna Parikh is going for as her first green goal. “Though I was raised in a home that always had green practices, I understood the urgency of taking individual and collective steps after reading The Overstory. I realised I wasn’t living by my own convictions, and I couldn’t continue to be devastated about climate change or the direction the world was moving in, if I wasn’t making changes in my personal life to reflect that,” she says. This was her turning point.

Parikh adds that it’s easier these days to cut down our carbon footprint as information is readily available. She says, “I think for all the bad social media does to us psychologically and socially, it actually is a wonderful space to connect with likeminded people. And when you decide you are interested in that kind of thing, it becomes a network of goodness.”

Gogul says that anyone who wants to go green needn’t get dejected that they are not doing enough. “The fact that you are aware is a win for the movement. This will ensure that you will watch out for ways you can help,” she adds. Gopal sums up: “It is practical and in your own interest to go green in this day and age – but what it finally boils down to is how far you are willing to go to create and demand for a greener environment.”

Given that the chatter around August 15 is about ‘what you can do for your country?’, maybe we can all take tiny steps to a greener future.

MILLENNIALS ARE MORE ECO-FRIENDLY


In 2018, new data found that Americans — specifically millennials, who control the future of the consumer market — don’t want to be caught dead shopping from any company that harms the planet. The latest ‘Eco Pulse’ data reveals that 90 per cent of millennials will buy from a brand whose social and environmental practices they trust

GET SOME GREEN GYAN



Want some easy lessons in going green? Follow these accounts on Instagram
@barenecessities_zerowasteindia Run by environmentalist Sahar Mansoor this is the go-to place for all green goals – it’s India specific
@theconsciousdesi Vandana K’s Instagram account blogs her journey of zero-waste with some practical takeaways
@mallikaarya30 Eco-warrior from Delhi, fighting the waste and climate crisis\
@earthwanderess Swedish vegan climate activist who travels without ever flying
@gretathunberg The teenage climate activist who sparked climate protests around the world
@forlife_online Their website carries the sustainability starter pack
@zerowastehome Bea Johnson’s account gives you practical advice on how to achieve your green goals
@fridaysforfuture.india and @indiaextinctionrebellion

Life has a way of sorting itself out



No amount of worry or hard work can resolve a problem as smoothly as time and life eventually do


Do you worry a lot? Do you agonise over choices you make, opportunities you let go, heartbreaks, loneliness, ill health, or not finding the right person to love and live with? In short, do you find yourself worrying about every little thing? You worry because you believe that everything in life is the direct result of your efforts.

What if you were told that you have no control over life no matter what you do? Would that comfort you, because it takes you off the hook? You would then only be lucky or unlucky – a puppet in the hands of an omnipotent Fate against which you wage a futile battle, much like a character in Thomas Hardy’s novels.



But let us not subscribe to such a depressing and unlikely view. Using our own experiences as learning curves, it isn’t difficult to deduce that the truth, as always, is somewhere between the two extremes.

Humans are stubborn. We refuse to learn from the wisdom of lifetimes. The only knowledge we accept is what gets automatically ingested into our DNA. We rebel against the rest, till life teaches us the same lessons patiently, all over again. No matter how many maxims we hear, we need to live through the ups and downs to understand that ‘when one door shuts, another opens’; ‘whatever happens, happens for the best’; ‘everything happens for a reason’; ‘go with the flow’; ‘bide your time’, or ‘lean into the moment’.

Curiosity and doubt are the defining qualities of human intellect. No development — physical, mental, moral or spiritual — would be possible without questioning or doubting what exists. And yet we cannot let questions take over our lives. Sometimes you just have to bide your time. Believe it, life has a way of sorting itself out. Have not our own experiences taught us that?



There are times when you have to learn to live with your questions. In time you will get most of the answers. Sometimes you will also get answers to questions you never knew were bothering you. And, at times the questions themselves just fade away, become redundant – and you no longer need any answers.

A good friend who has been a diehard atheist all his life, arrogant in his belief that there is no God, shocked me recently when he sheepishly admitted that he now believes in the existence of God. And surprisingly it was his work that persuaded him to change his beliefs so drastically. While researching for a book he had virtually given up all else for, he came across unexpected materials that led him to something far more valuable than his original pursuit. The series of coincidences that led him to upturn his project in favour of this more exciting one led him to believe there has to be a greater power guiding his choices.

And what did this epiphany teach him? He says, “I have become more conscious of how little control we have over our lives. So even as I am driven by my convictions, I am humble enough to accept that life doesn’t necessarily follow my script and may often have in store things that I didn’t foresee.”

That is the most important lesson to be internalised. Though we must have faith in our convictions, and listen to our instinct, we must know that sometimes life takes us to places we neither intended nor expected to be in. Collective wisdom and our own experiences tell us that often this is a better place than what we set out for.

Worrying about anything never resolves problems. Sometimes we just have to do our best and let the rest resolve itself in time. And that is when life kicks in and smoothens out the wrinkles. So long as you remain firm to your principles and follow your instinct, you can confidently place your faith in life and where it takes you.

MISTAKES OF MY LIFE - NEVER DO IT - 10

In school, I had a friend - R. My father got transferred suddenly and so in the summer vacation, we had to leave the place and so we coul...