Stop Saying ‘No’

A post from my wife Maya. 

Parental discussions at parks tend to focus on how kids say ‘No’ for everything. Yes, some kids are more difficult than others. Yes, kids who say ‘No’ to most things that are suggested can be frustrating.


Small child plays on the porch 2 by simpleinsomnia

The solution is not to shout back at such kids, because it might easily be reduced to a shouting match. The trick is to diffuse the situation using humor, or distract or use any other trick available in the parental arsenal to break the status quo.

Lead by example

As parents, it’s our job to lead by example, however trying it might be under certain circumstances. After a full day at work, it’s easy to let the kids to play online games to keep them occupied and say ‘No’ to most things a child suggests. When we are too tired to run behind or play with our child, there is a tendency in us to say ‘Don’t run, just sit and play here where I can keep an eye on you.’ Play is important for kids, and it’s one of the best ways to bond. This should involve activity, and running around which is good for both the physical and mental development of a child. So, however tired you are, pull out the energy from deep within to play with your child. By playing regularly, a child internalizes play and it becomes natural to want to play. Kids who play regularly, especially outdoors are generally less frustrated. There is a reason why forest bathing is being followed by so many.

Over using ‘No’ and ‘Don’t’

Parents need to stop over using these word while kids play or explore. They must be watchful and stop kids when they feel something’s risky, but they must not stop a child from trying things or regular play. Kids are meant to run around and be with other kids. By testing their boundaries, they learn to judge for themselves. This also help them go beyond what they are capable of. Such activity also helps them burn energy, leaving them calm and happy. If kids play with peers in wide open areas, they also learnt o help each other if they take a tumble. It’s also interesting to see kids team up naturally to so something which they might not be able to do on their own. It’s not uncommon to see kids push up one kid, who then bends over to pull up another.

Kids who grow up playing are generally well balanced and rarely lose their cool. As they haven’t heard people around them using ‘No’, they don’t use it extensively. Nurture curiosity in them. When the mind is alert, happy and occupied, there’s nothing they want to say ‘No’ to.

It’s our job

Parental responsibility is not just about stopping our kids from hurting themselves. It’s bigger. We have to nurture our young by equipping them with what they need to go out into the wide wide world and make it theirs. For, in a way they are not just ours. As Khalil Gibran wrote,

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.


Put Away Those Reading Games

Yes, get the kids to put away those reading games and pull out their walking shoes. Spring is officially here 20th March on. As new life blooms in nature, it’s time to get out and enjoy the outdoors.


Sakura tunnel by akaitori

Spring’s in the Air

After the miserable cold, spring is welcomed with open arms. This is celebrated across the world in many different ways. Some are new age celebrations, while others have a history of thousands of years. Vitamin-Nature is something which kids need massive doses off. As our lifestyle changes, lives are getting busy and kids as well as adults spend very little time outdoors. This is not a good sign for younger kids. Hit the park or the playground. Younger kids need to spend a lot of time in nature. This is crucial for their sensory development.

Getting a big dose of Vitamin-N

Kids need to run about with shoes and without. They need to jump, tumble, hop, skip and spin with abandon. This helps in their health and development.Movement is crucial in the developing years. Many of the problems associated with kids’ development and health, like childhood obesity and sensory processing disorders, can really be helped with large doses of nature. Interestingly in Washington DC, children are prescribed doses of spending time at the park! Yes, it’s called Park Rx and it’s a communtiy initiative.

Swinging by themselves – basic playground stuff

Many kids much beyond preschool do not know how to swing by themselves. Parents rarely give pumping on a swing any thought. It’s complicated and crucial to developing musculature and coordination. Once the child is confident to sit in a regular swing and they are ready to follow your direction to hold the chains tight, start them slow. Coach them to stretch their legs and fold it as the swing starts up. Before you know it, they’ll get into the rhythm of swinging, and you’ll see the kids jumping off in mid-air and 2-3 of them swing all at once on swing! Make sure they are careful around others swinging high.

Enormous benefits

The benefits from nature are enormous for the development of kids. This does not mean going and living in a forest with your family. It just means increasing association with natural environments. Apart from parks, families can start small gardens. Watching something grow can fascinate kids. Get a pet. Buy fresh ingredients to make a meal and involve the kids. Soon they might be involved in cooking a Thanksgiving meal!

Encourage them to enjoy the rain, wind, sun and the snow. Do some activities which involve nature – hapa zome, flower drying, planting seeds, vegetable printing or anything that interests the kids.

Winding Up

My parents have always told us stories about the simple things they played with – cartons, tins, pieces of wood, bottles, sticks, newspaper etc. With massive doses of imagination, they got really inventive with their playtime. From such open ended play to the high levels of structured play that kids get, the move has been rapid and not fully beneficial. It’s time for a prescription of Park Rx!


Good Night, Sleep Tight!

Sleep is super important for kids. Yes, sleep. That state, where kids do nothing? At least it appears that way, but it’s that state where the mind builds memories and the body repairs itself. It’s so important that if kids don’t sleep in regular cycles parents should worry. Kids get cranky and their health deteriorates. Adults need 8 hours of sleep, but kids can easily sleep 10-12 hours a day depending on their age. Kids can practically sleep anywhere and anyhow!


“L1009788 Kids, they can sleep anytime any place:)” by DaiLuo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A routine helps

Most kids who play and eat well, have no problems falling asleep. When kids do find it hard to fall asleep, a routine helps. The picture book Goodnight Moon, is a slow elaborate procedure of saying Goodnight, by the end of which a child could be asleep. Families can build their own routines. Darkening the sleeping area is a good idea. Sometimes a hot drink before going to bed helps. Other times a soft song does the trick. Watching a screen definitely does not help.

Frequently sleep disruptions could be temporary. Parents just need to talk to their kids to find out if something is preying on their minds. It could be a simple worry, which can be fixed easily. The importance of good quality sleep cannot be emphasized enough for kids – as parents we need to ensure that our kids get enough.

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas

We decided to help the kids make Valentine’s Day gifts at home. Our extended family enjoys  giving gifts and this year we decided to make them ourselves. Not all, at least a few of them. We are not very craft oriented, but we frequently get ambitious!


Crafting with Kids by Suzette –

Here are four crafts we tried:

  1. Making a Snowflake

We made this snow flake with ice cream sticks and stuck the ends together to make a snowflake which could be hung up. The kids loved this craft – simple and it involved glue!

2. Toss the Shell

We collected about a dozen eggshells before we got ready for this one. Trust me when I say, think it through before you attempt this – leaves quite a mess! Fill the empty shells with different colored paints. Now stand up your canvas at 4-5 ft distance. Throw your shells at the canvas. The patterns created by the breaking shells can be spectacular. Let the canvas dry. Trim the edges neatly and stick it onto a nice thick sheet of paper, and voila you have your art piece ready for gifting!

3. Googly Shades

This one now is a recycled craft. Maya donated an old pair of sunglasses, the kids got their glue and googly eyes out, and soon we had the googly shades ready. Now they are arguing about who gets to keep it!

4. I Spy Bottle

This was made with a recipient in mind – a young relative, who loved playing with little things. His parents were always hesitant about giving him small objects to play with, and this was a solution our kids found for him. They took many small objects and dropped it all into a transparent plastic bottle and added some free flowing uncooked rice, and sealed it tight. This could get thrown and tossed around safely.

Advantages of crafting with kids

The point about making crafts is the unadulterated fun kids have. We also like to think it gives kids a good opportunity to think independently, explore materials, combine odd materials, break open things and seal things in. They explore opposites even as they find things which go together. Kids learn how to make do with things they have – we ran out of glue and Maya’s mother rustled up this flour based glue in a jiffy.

Maya and I had some wonderful hours bonding with the kids as they spent time making these crafts. Our kids have gamed with their grandma and crafted with her. The silly laughter, chit chat, glue spills and messes are unforgettable. Even the cleaning up after helped our kids understand the importance of handling materials with care(who likes cleaning up anyway!). We make memories which come back to help us in difficult times.

Well, I’m not sure the googly shades will leave us, but the rest will be gifted away for sure. We are also very sure the young recipient of the I Spy Bottle will love it!

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!




Sharing Stories With Our Kids

A post from my wife Maya.

While I was reading this I got thinking about how our kids might never know about the pre-digital world we inhabited – about letters, land lines, rotary instruments my grandparents had, touch-tone phones, paper maps, pen pals, waiting for the mailman, telegrams etc. They might see it in movies but that’s impersonal. How do we get our kids to know of a bygone world? How do we convey?


117/366 – Retro by Ravi Shah

The simplest way is to talk about those days. To share stories. A good storyteller can transport listeners to the times she is talking about. We can pull out old pictures and talk about the times those were taken in. Ask the kids what they don’t see in our homes that are there in pictures from our young age. A simple ‘Spot the Difference’ kind of exercise. It can be fun and enlightening.

We know a lot of things about the world inhabited by our parents because they spoke of those times. Our grandparents spoke of how they grew up. This is how memories are passed on via stories and also how connectivity is brought between generations. Today we might do it, but tomorrow our kids will have to do it in the future when the current digital age morphs and becomes a thing of the past!




Christmas Gift Suggestions

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
— Oren Arnold

Oren Arnold was born in 1900, and what he said in his lifetime holds good even today. It’s simple and yet deep. When he talks about setting a good example to every child, it seems so obvious, but then in our everyday lives we forget it and live very unthinkingly.


Sharing by Nathan


Kids look forward to their gifts at Christmas and love opening them. Last year was about resolutions and virtual pet games, but this year, we want the kids to have bigger gifts. The gift of sharing and caring. There is a the millennial generation which understands sharing (of a sort), but younger children need to be reminded. Sometimes kids are naturally sharing. Other times wars break out. We need to bring up our kids who care about people and things around them. Not just sharing as it’s wiser, but to share because they wish to and it’s required, as resource sharing is a way forward. Cropmobster is an example of farming communities sharing their surplus. We can start early by asking our kids to share the gifts they get, with others less fortunate.

We could also take them to an animal shelter to help out. Alternatively, take them to a place where food is served for the less fortunate. Even as we do all this, we can encourage kids strongly not to waste food or other resources. This in itself is a huge saving. Food sharing is a growing social movement in many parts of the world. Sharing surplus food was not uncommon in earlier times, but today it has been forgotten and needs to be revived.


A few days ago, I saw a young child aged 5 or so put a card to her ear as if she were on the phone. Then she used her head and shoulder to keep it in place, continuing an imaginary conversation, and dug around in her bag, just like an adult would. In about a minute, she calmly put away her pretend phone and turned around to her grandmother letting her know that she had finished her call. Then she continued, ‘Mamma does that.’

As parents we forget that our kids watch us all the time. They follow us, learn from us and imbibe many things that we do. If we don’t answer their question when they ask, they think it’s okay to do the same!

We have tried to be good parents. Most times we are(at least that’s what we think we are!) but we need to be aware that we need to set a good example. Well, this Christmas, we are going to give that gift to our children. Along with a few other presents of course!

We’ll go spend some time volunteering. If it touches our kids, who want to come along, I would say we have given them a good gift.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Get The Kids To Cook This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving we want the kids to help with the meal. They are gung ho about it, which is always a blessing. It’s going to be a large gathering with family and friends. Playing, arguing, watching the game, singing, walking; it’s all going to be part of the day. Hopefully we’ll make some good memories for the kids. Last year, we got a little lazy, and everyone just chatted while the kids ended up teaching online games to their grandfather, who is generally bad with all things digital.


cooking by foam

Participation in Family Gatherings

Kids build a sense of participation when they are involved in family gatherings. It helps build their self esteem when they can see the fruit of their labor being enjoyed by many. While they participate in a large cooking project they also learn cooperation and team spirit. Our younger one always announces that he shredded the lettuce when we serve the salad!


A certain rhythm develops among the people as they work. Children learn to make room for the functioning of another person. It’s like a dance, people keep on taking different positions, occupying new spaces even as they vacate and make space for another. People wait their turn for some equipment. They learn about ingredients, processes and handling of things. They learn about the bounty of nature. The visual splendor of a sliced cabbage, the beautiful red tomatoes on green stems, browns on a well roasted turkey; I can go on. We look at cooking as a life skill, which will help anyone at any stage of their life.


Playing math games is always fun and entertaining. Kids and adults love them. Personally I like playing outdoor math games, but as parents we need to be creative with what we can turn into a game. Cooking’s a neat way to learn some math; proportions, volume, weights, measures, counts etc. – all these come into the picture.

Fun things kids can do in the kitchen

To give you an idea, here is a list of things which our kids have done in the past in our kitchen:

  1. Shredded lettuce
  2. Torn apart broccoli
  3. Cut out cookies
  4. Slapped dough
  5. Mashed potato
  6. Broken up cheese
  7. Scrubbed vegetables
  8. Drowned cupcakes in glaze

Reading it now makes me feel like we are bringing up hardened criminals!

There is always a way kids can help out in the kitchen. We just have to find the right thing to interest them, and make sure they are careful while handling equipment(if they do).

2 simple dishes kids can independently prepare

Vegetable salad

Give them the vegetables and dressing to be used. Let them wash, dry and prepare them. If it’s there first time, teach them, else let them manage. Give them a low work space to convenience them. Some kitchen towels, bowls to wash everything in and a plastic bowl to mix the salad. Once it’s all ready, you could transfer it to a nice glass bowl or plate.

Mashed Potatoes

Give the kids the ingredients – cooked potatoes, the dairy you want in the end dish, salt, herbs etc. The kids can peel and mash the potatoes. Then they can add the ingredients in the order you want them to. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Hope your Thanksgiving goes well!



All About Games for Kids

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