Handling children in the age group of 2-10

Excerpts from the whatsapp chat session
Question 1: My son is 6 years old and is very hyper, he cannot sit still for 5 minutes. Though he listens to me and helps me with the house hold chores I find it very difficult to handle him when he is home. He sleeps and eats very less as a result he is very thin. This lockdown is adding to my woes.
Answer 1: Hi. 6 year olds are generally very active. As a result they are thin. So, if he is healthy and doesn’t have any health related issues ignore his eating. Mothers can sometimes expect their children should eat a lot. Children eat as per their requirement. So I wouldn’t worry so much. As for his ‘hyper’ activity is concerned, please see if he is not able to hold his attention for long on anything. Does he get bored easily and wants to keep shifting from one activity to another. Does he have difficulty in understanding what others tell him. If your answer is no to these then most probably he is just a healthy and active kid. Keep him physically engaged as much as you can. Hyper active is often used loosely. Can check with pediatrician. Avoid giving food that is high on gluten, additives, preservatives etc.

Question 2: Hi. My question is how to deal with back talking in 7-8 year old kids?
Answer 2: Back talking is a common problem in children. However it needs to be corrected now so that when they enter their crucial adolescent age they are well balanced emotionally and mentally. When your child back answers chances are he is modelling this behaviour from his surroundings. Make sure you or others in the house don’t model this behaviour. Tell him very firmly and without shouting that back answering is not acceptable. Be reasonable. Children can have opinion. Take it into consideration. If they are being reasonable then accept it. If they are rude or habitually back answer then with holding certain privileges is an option. Tell him if he is going to back answer then his tv time or play time or whatever else he enjoys will be withdrawn. Don’t back out once you have decided to do it. You should make up your mind before you dole out punishment and then stick to it. Don’t expect complete obedience also. Once in a while if he back answers look the other way. Later you can point it out to him asking him did he feel good about it.

Question 3: My son is 7 years old and he has a problem of bed wetting. I keep telling him that if he does it again then I will tell his school friends. Sometimes I feel guilty of doing this but I am tired. Kindly guide me. Am I doing it right?
What could be the possible reasons for bed wetting for a 10 year old? How to prevent it?
Answer 3: Bed wetting
It’s alright if the child is bed wetting. Don’t be hard on him. It’s a more common problem among boys even though girls can also bed wet. The child wets his bed when he is in deep sleep (non REM). He is not aware of it. So scolding him or saying that you will tell his friends can lead to a more serious problem as he grows up. Usually children out grow this problem sooner or later. Wait for a couple of more years. If by 12 he doesn’t outgrow this problem then you can consult his pediatrician. There are medicines. In the mean time
1. Given them early dinner and no liquid one hour before bed time
2. Make sure they go to the bathroom before going to bed
3. Keep a spare set of clothes and sheet always near the bed.
If the child wets his bed without making a fuss just change his dress, sheet and make him sleep.
4. Tell him it’s alright. There is nothing to feel bad about it
5. You can also keep an alarm for yourself and take him to the toilet once in the night. Usually the bedwetting would happen within two hours of them going to bed.
6. Just wake up gently, guide him to the bathroom make him relieve himself and bring him back to bed.
7. Be gentle and kind. Don’t make him feel ashamed. He doesn’t even know he is bed wetting. You can use rubber sheet. If you don’t feel apologetic he won’t either. And he will outgrow it.
8. Nightmares are associated with bedwetting sometimes. So give him lot of reassurance

Question 4: Is it true that a child below 5 years can learn 5 languages?
Answer 4: Yes. They are capable of learning many languages. There is no fixed number as 5.

Question 5: Hi! How much should we emphasise on reading/writing for a 5 year old? My son seems less interested in reading/writing especially if it is a home task from school.
Many children from his class are quite apt in reading/writing skills. Also what to do with the peer pressure? I see many parents enrolling their kids in a variety of “enrichment classes” e.g mental math, English, etc. Shall we subject such young children to all these or let them learn themselves at their own pace?
Answer 5: Don’t emphasis on writing at this age. Till age 5 their motor control is not developed well. Making them write is counterproductive. Instead help them use their hand for lot of activities to develop the motor control. Free hand drawing and colouring are good. It helps them to learn to hold pencil without pressure. What you should focus on is making the child sit in one place for 20 minutes. No hard and fast rules. You can see his thresh hold and keep increasing the time. Make him focus on activities like puzzle. Writing will happen after 6. Reading is a good thing though. To create interest in reading you can begin by reading out to him. Read together. Slowly you and he read your own book but together. . Show him books with lot of colours and illustrations. See his interest. Buy books accordingly. If he likes to eat cakes for example you can show him a recipe book. Ask him to just look at the pictures, touch and feel them. Or animals or whatever else that interests him.
More than peer pressure I come across parental pressures. 😊
Don’t force him to do things that he is not enjoying. At this age they don’t need external enrichment. Make them aware of their surroundings. Gardening, looking at birds and identifying them, listening to music, helping in house hold chores and cooking like peeling etc. Enrichment classes are for parents who want to outsource child rearing. So don’t fall into that trap.

Question 6: My 10 year old loves reading… but finds writing a chore. Any suggestions to help them getting to write something by just simple thinking or practicing math or to improve handwriting would be helpful.
Answer 6: 10 years is old enough to get into organized writing. You have to give him time bound targets and make him complete them. This can otherwise become a problem once he goes to middle school as there will be lot writing to do.

Question 7: What about parents who are working full time. How do they keep their children busy?
Answer 7: It’s a good question. If both parents are working then
Spend weekends with them. Prioritize children over other activities during weekends. Involve them in house hold chores. Spending time together is important. It can also be doing house hold work together. During week days when you are back from work sit down with them and give them the attention they deserve. All other work can wait. Simply talking to them, reading together, laying out table all of these activities are time we’ll spent together.

Question 8: My 9 year old will get bore very fast in any activity. Like two years back started his drawing and craft class, after two, three months he was not interested anymore.Last year I started his English grammar classes again he was so excited but after few months he was not interested. Is this a habit or do I need to do something on that?
Answer 8: First see if the classes he is attending are as per your choice or his. A 9 year old doesn’t understand much about what a grammar class is like. So it’s more like your decision and he being a cooperative and positive child may be initially interested but soon find it boring.
Allow him to come to you asking of he can join a class. Then also see if he wants to join because his friends are doing so. Their parents may be putting them in these classes for all you know. See if it is age appropriate. At this age enroll him in classes where he is physically engaged as children have lot of energy and that should be channelised properly. If he shows talent in drawing or music then you can think of enrolling him in one of these.
In my opinion grammar class can wait

Question 9: My child is 10 years old and he gets bored very easily in most of the activities except TV and video games. So it becomes very difficult to make him finish a task/activity or to engage him again in those activities. He does not want to spend more than 15-20 minutes on it. How do I help him to get involved in it? Also suggest some physical activities/games for engaging him during lockdown.
Answer 9: I see the problem is with giving him TV and video game time. Stop it completely for some time. These days you can’t send him out but make him do something physical inside the house. Like spot jumping, skipping, spot jogging. Physical activity is very important and lock down cannot be an excuse for any parent. Make him understand that studies are a priority for you and everything else has to wait. He need not be a topper but he still has to complete his work. You can gradually start giving him some TV and video game time during weekends. Please don’t give him mobile. It needs perseverance from your side but doable. As he grows older it will get more difficult.

Question 10: My one kid is 9 years old and the other one is 3 plus. We are not able to play board game at all. If we start then he takes all the getiya and dice. Then my 9 year old gets irritated. And the 3 year old is not able to understand. What should we do?
Answer 10: Siblings learn to adjust, share and get their demands met. It’s best place to learn life skills. Ask your elder one, how should you deal with his brother? Let him give suggestions. If he is not able to then you can prompt him. Make the younger one kacchi mitthi. He will also learn to sit still gradually. You can turn these board games to your advantage.

Question 11: My friend wants you to give suggestions on handling sibling rivalry, her elder daughter is 6.5 years and the younger one is 3.5 years old. They constantly fight over everything.
Answer 11: Sibling rivalry is very very normal. What is important is to give sufficient attention to the elder one. Elder child enjoyed your sole attention for a longer time before the younger one arrived. So give her more attention than the younger one. Give her the responsibility of taking care of the younger one and make her feel proud of it. Appreciate her more often. When the younger one does something good ask the elder one to appreciate him/her. Make her feel proud of her younger sibling’s achievement. That way she won’t feel jealous.

Some tips to manage anger in your child Firstly, we need to examine our own experiences of anger. If you were taught it wasn’t okay to be angry, you may consciously or unconsciously project this belief onto your children. The best time to deal with anger is before it hits. Encourage them to use words to label different levels and incidents of anger, eg. I was annoyed because so and so took that last biscuit; I was hurt because so and so didn’t want to go to the movies with me, I was furious because my teacher didn’t believe me. Teach them to express how they are feeling using ‘I’ statements, eg. I am feeling annoyed because you are on the computer and I need to finish my homework for tomorrow. Encourage them to see the other person’s point of view. Remove them from the place of trigger. Remove the object that causes anger.
For more refer to my blog on managing anger in adolescents.

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