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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sex Education - Tips for Parents

Sexuality education means talking about all the factors that feed into children and young people’s sexual growth and development. Topics include bodies, privacy, sexual decisions, respectful behaviours and language, and the ‘place’ of sex in people’s lives.
Many parents find it difficult to talk to their children about sexual matters. Simple tips and a range of practical suggestions are available that may help to open the lines of communication.

How parents communicate
Research suggests that parents generally aren’t very confident about discussing sexual issues with their children. Along the way, a lot of young people miss out on valuable information. Common findings from the research include:
·         Fathers tend to avoid taking part in sex education discussions.
·         When fathers do talk to their children about sex, they limit the conversation to less intimate issues.
·         Mothers are more likely to talk about intimate, emotional and psychological aspects of sex than fathers.
·         Mothers talk more about sex to their daughters than their sons.
·         Parents tend to leave boys in the dark about female sexual issues such as menstruation.
·         Parents may assume the school system will take care of their child’s sex education, and so choose to say nothing.
·         Parents may postpone talks about sex until they see evidence of the child having a relationship; for example, if their child starts dating or comes home with a love bite on their neck. These talks can turn into arguments because it can become a discipline issue rather than an opportunity to provide advice and guidance.
·         Parents tend to show embarrassed or awkward body language when talking to their child about sex: for example, avoiding eye contact.
·         Parents confine their talks to the mechanics and biology of sex, and tend to omit the more difficult or embarrassing topics such as masturbation, homosexuality and orgasms.

How children react
Younger children may be curious and interested when parents talk about sexual issues. Older children, particularly teenagers, tend to be a less willing audience. Research findings include:
·         An older child may feel like they know it all and that their parents couldn’t possibly teach them anything.
·         An older child can be dismissive when their parents discuss sex with them, which shakes parental confidence.
·         The child can feel as embarrassed and awkward as their parents, and may prefer not to talk about sex with them at all.
·         If parents don’t ever broach the subject of sex, the child tends to assume the parents don’t want to talk about it - so the child never bothers to ask.

Successful communication
Families that talk openly about sexual issues share certain traits, which include:
·         The parents are good listeners.
·         The parents provide truthful answers to the child’s questions.
·         The child is allowed to have opinions about sexual issues and voice them without fear of getting yelled at or punished.
·         The parents don’t insist that the child stick to strict and inflexible standards of behaviour.
·         The child feels listened to, understood and supported by their parents.

Preparing yourself
Suggestions include:
·         Learn as much as you can – issues your older child or teenager is keen to hear you talk about include puberty, menstruation, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex. The more you know, the less you’ll stumble.
·         Have back-up information – get age-appropriate books, articles and videos to help you.
·         Practice – try out what you plan to say (and how) on your partner and friends. Try the words out so you feel comfortable with them.
·         Make it a regular topic – think of sex education as an ongoing process. Smaller, frequent conversations are better than a big, one-off talk.
·         Plan ahead – don’t wait for your child to bring the subject up; they may figure you’re unapproachable and not ask you. Plan to start the conversations about sex yourself.
·         Aim for a friendly chat – try to see the talks as two-way discussions, not lectures. Plan to ask what your child thinks and feels. Aim to get a lively discussion going.

Getting started
Suggestions include:
·         Keep it casual – don’t make talking about sex a special, solemn occasion. Most parents and children find it easier to discuss sex if they’re occupied doing everyday tasks such as cooking, washing the car or walking the dog.
·         Try to maintain eye contact – avoiding eye contact can suggest embarrassment or discomfort. If your child gets this message from you, they will learn that talking about sexual issues is taboo. Of course, you won’t have to worry about this so much if you’re both busy washing the dishes, for example.
·         Use the cues around you – conversation starters could include romantic scenes in movies on television or something that has happened to a person you know. You could begin by asking open-ended questions, such as ‘What would you do if you found yourself in that situation?’ A general conversation based around a hypothetical situation is an easy starting point, and gives both you and your child a chance to express your thoughts and beliefs.
·         Use your own experience – if you feel comfortable, illustrate particular points with stories from your own experience.
·         Explain your values – older children and teenagers are interested in hearing about parental values and beliefs. Share them, but don’t expect your child to feel the same way.

Avoiding the conversation stoppers
Certain reactions are likely to stop the conversation or turn it into an argument. Things to avoid include:
·         Don’t demand that your child share your beliefs and values.
·         Don’t argue that their opinions are wrong.
·         Don’t criticise, react in horror or get angry.
·         Don’t interrupt them when they’re talking.
·         Don’t stop listening to them.
·         Don’t assume they want your guidance. If you feel like giving them advice, first tell them why.
·         Don’t be stern and unapproachable; for example, avoid threatening statements like ‘If you get yourself pregnant, don’t bother coming home’.
·         Don’t assume your child is sexually active or ‘in trouble’ if they ask you a question about sex. A hysterical response will probably guarantee your child may never risk asking you anything about sex again.

Avoiding awkward moments
Embarrassment can stop the conversation. Suggestions include:
·         If you feel shy or embarrassed, say so and laugh about it. Perhaps you could have a chat about why sexual issues are so difficult to discuss. This can help ease the tension.
·         If you are uncomfortable with talking about your own sexual experiences, say so honestly. Explain that people need their privacy.
·         If you can’t bring yourself to talk about something, tell your child that you’ll find other ways to get the information to them. For example, you could get books, articles or videos on the subject.
·         If you don’t know the answer to something, say so. Ideally, you and your child could research the answer together.

When communication is too difficult
Sometimes, talking about sex seems impossible. The parent may be too embarrassed or the child may refuse to listen. Suggestions include:
·         Keep at it, from time to time. Try different approaches.
·         Talking over the phone may be easier.
·         Find out what sort of sex education topics are covered in school classes. Your child may be more inclined to talk to you about sex if you bring up topics that haven’t been already covered.
·         Get age-appropriate sex education materials, such as books and videos, and leave them in your child’s bedroom. Check out for some great book suggestions.
·         Perhaps your child is interested in talking about sex, but not with you. Consider asking a trusted relative or friend to talk to your child instead.

Where to get help
·         Your Psychologist 
·         Your child’s school
·         Bookshops and libraries
·         Psychological Help-Line India (+91) 8090- 860000 or visit

Things to remember
·         Issues your older child or teenager is keen to hear you talk about include puberty, menstruation, reproduction, sexually transmitted diseases, contraception, unplanned pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality and premarital sex.
·         Sex education is an ongoing process – short and frequent conversations are better than the big, one-off talk.
·         Parents and children find it easier to discuss sex if they’re preoccupied with another task, such as washing the car or walking the dog

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Parenting for Teenagers

When you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a war-zone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument. During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child. 
  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddler hood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 
Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense

Friday, April 12, 2013

Poor Nutrition and Mental-Emotional Health

According to the Children's Defense Fund, children who do not have access to proper nutrition are much more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, such as anxiety or learning disabilities. These children are also significantly more likely to require mental health counseling. Poor nutrition negatively impacts a child's ability to develop properly and adapt normally to certain situations. A study in the "Indian Journal of Psychiatry" in 2008 noted a link between iron deficiency and hyperactivity disorders in children. Iodine deficiency has also been linked to some developmental impairments. Certain nutritional habits that children may be prone to, such as skipping meals or overindulging in sugary foods, have also been linked to depression. Additionally, these mental and emotional health problems in children are often reinforced by obesity and low self-esteem, which may be the result of poor nutrition.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to increase writing skills in children

A rich language environment is the foundation for good writing. Encourage your child to play games and participate in activities that build vocabulary and increase the range of words your child will know to write with depth. Word games can be fun for your child and make learning playful. 

Make sure you check your child’s homework for spelling and punctuation errors which will reinforce the skills your child is learning. If your child is preparing a project report, ensure that you check the first draft before she takes it to school. Then mark the spelling, capitalization, punctuation errors for your child to correct it themselves. 

The most important thing is to encourage writing is to read good books. Make sure you buy plenty of books according to your child’s age so that he or she understands the use of words by different authors, the descriptions and humor to make a point. 

Writing is a skill to be developed, not something which you have or don’t have. Always remind your children that writing is power, he or she has things worth saying and those ideas deserve to be well expressed on paper. Once they are encouraged, they will be more open to improve. You should ask your child how they feel about writing and if they have any negative thoughts, then you should try and solve whatever problems they have. 

Ask your kids to first think about the topic they are asked to write. Gather information in their mind about it, try to structure it and then go about writing it in a systematic manner. Many kids don’t take few minutes to think over it and they just want to start writing and finish it faster. The result is a poorly structured and disorganized work. Help them develop pre writing skills. 

Practice makes a man perfect. This saying applies for kids as well. Writing skills has to be honed. Make them write as much as they can, essay writing, creative writing, journal writing, writing letters to others etc. Often kids avoid things that they don’t do well. But you need to help develop a positive attitude and encourage them to write every day, on overall assignments at school, a quick recap of school lessons. And make sure you point out the mistakes so that he develops the writing skills and also improves the area where he needs to improve. 

Mechanical pencils and gel pens are fun for kids. Make sure you have plenty of cute cards and stationery makes writing letters to friends and relatives a regular writing habit. Encourage journal keeping for special times like a family trip. You can even gift them a diary when they probably enter their teens so that it encourages them to write everyday and it is a good stress buster too. If your child has a writing streak, gifts of writing activity books will encourage their talent. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

WHO : 10 facts on mental health

10 facts on mental health

Fact 1
About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Around 20% of the world's children and adolescents are estimated to have mental disorders or problems, with similar types of disorders being reported across cultures. Yet, regions of the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources. Most low- and middle-income countries have only one child psychiatrist for every 1 to 4 million people.

Fact 2
Depression is characterized by sustained sadness and loss of interest along with psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms. It is ranked as the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Fact 3
On average about 800 000 people commit suicide every year, 86% of them in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of the people who kill themselves are aged between 15 and 44. The highest suicide rates are found among men in eastern European countries. Mental disorders are one of the most prominent and treatable causes of suicide.

Fact 4
War and other major disaster have a large impact on the mental health and psychosocial well-being. Rates of mental disorder tend to double after emergencies.

Fact 5
Mental disorders are among the risk factors for communicable and non-communicable diseases. They can also contribute to unintentional and intentional injury.

Fact 6
Stigma about mental disorders and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental health care. In South Africa, a public survey showed that most people thought mental illnesses were related to either stress or a lack of willpower rather than to medical disorders. Contrary to expectations, levels of stigma were higher in urban areas and among people with higher levels of education.

Fact 7
Human rights violations of psychiatric patients are routinely reported in most countries. These include physical restraint, seclusion and denial of basic needs and privacy. Few countries have a legal framework that adequately protects the rights of people with mental disorders.

Fact 8
There is huge inequity in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health across the world. Shortages of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists and social workers are among the main barriers to providing treatment and care in low- and middle-income countries. Low-income countries have 0.05 psychiatrists and 0.42 nurses per 100 000 people. The rate of psychiatrists in high income countries is 170 times greater and for nurses is 70 times greater.

Fact 9
In order to increase the availability of mental health services, there are five key barriers that need to be overcome: the absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding; the current organization of mental health services; lack of integration within primary care; inadequate human resources for mental health; and lack of public mental health leadership.

Fact 10
Governments, donors and groups representing mental health workers, patients and their families need to work together to increase mental health services, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The financial resources needed are relatively modest: US$ 2 per person per year in low-income countries and US$ 3-4 in lower middle-income countries.

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Most Important Factors to Improve Child Behavior

It does not take long for children to realize that they are in charge of themselves and even though you are the parent, you can’t make them do anything they don’t want to.  This is a natural stage that starts at about two years of age and never seems to end.  No doubt, you will unquestionably come to a point where you find yourself looking for a solution to improve child behavior.  Any expert will tell you that to gain the skills needed to improve child behavior you will first have to recognize your influence as the parent.  There are five key things that must be practiced to initiate your authority and the leader.

1) Learn to listen.  From day one of life your child will be seeking your attention at all times.  While this can prove to be frustrating it is crucial that you hear them out, even when they are not making any sense. 

2) Validate their feelings.  Not to be confused with praise, validation is about recognizing your children’s thoughts as legitimate concerns.  Remember that they have not been faced with many hassles in life so while their complaints may seem petty to you, they could be the hardest thing they have had to deal with. 

3) State your opinion.  Although you may hold all the authority it is important that you offer your advice to them in the form of an opinion.  To truly improve child behavior you must show them that they have the power to make the right decisions.  By always commanding you are teaching them to follow the leader rather than their own instincts.

4) Step back.  This will be the hardest thing that ever has to be done in parenting, but it must be done to teach your child independence.  Letting your child make the wrong decision will allow them to face the consequences of misbehaving.   These consequences will stick with them through life to ensure that they think before doing it again.

5) Be their soft place to land.  Children will make many mistakes as will adults, but we all need that special someone to turn to.  You can tell them that their actions were wrong and hold their hand at the same time.  Since you have been there all their life you hold a very special bond that should always take precedence over the common mistakes of your child.