Lockdown Friends And Experiences For Our Children

India is in the middle of a COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020. Irrespective of the Government’s lockdown/unlock, one aspect of the response remains steadfastly constant – children remain locked up in their houses, but for entrance tests. In such a scenario, what can be lockdown friends and experiences for children?

The scientific evidence shows that coronavirus spreads predominantly in closed surroundings with poor ventilation. The outdoors has the least risk in spreading infections. The countries that have reopened have done so with outdoor lung spaces i.e. the parks as a first candidate to reopen. However, in India, the children parks remain in shut down mode, they would be the last to open.

The scientific evidence shows that children are at the least risk of COVID-19 infections. Yes, they can spread it to the adults, a risky proposition. In India, the Government lockdown has clubbed the children < 10 years with elderly > 65 years, who are at the maximum risk and have ordered them to remain at home ever since.

The Government refuses to understand that the children not getting fresh air and sunlight, a chance to play, social interaction opportunities also represent a risk in itself. In addition, kids get bombarded with online education, in a like-to-like replica of school time-table but on a screen. It is a tough time to be children these days in India.

Fortunately, for our soon-to-be six-year-old twin daughters, they are saved from the perils of online learning. The simple reason being, they are not enrolled in a school, yet. However, not being allowed to venture outside, an anchor to our lives could have played havoc to their young minds. But it is not to be. Courtesy their lockdown friends and experiences.

A stray cat and her kittens

Within a week of the starting of the lockdown, a stray cat descended on our home. The cat was not at all afraid of us. She kept demanding food, which when given to her, she graciously decided to adopt our family and home.

The girls were excited beyond limits. They suddenly found themselves to be the proud owner of a pet cat. They named her Licky; the reason being she licked the milk. The girls’ day started with Licky and ended with Licky.  They ran around her, patted her, fed her, sang songs for her; Licky basked in the attention.

The girls were over the moon when Licky gave birth to two kittens. Girls gave nonstop commentary on what the kittens were doing, how they were growing, how Licky was tending to her litter. Then, the lightning struck. Licky left the house with her kittens. The girls were crestfallen.

After 3 days, Licky resurfaced, terribly hurt and without her kittens. We got to know that the kittens were on our neighbour’s terrace. Licky had abandoned them, stopped eating food and died. We brought the kittens home, the girls were again over-joyed. We fed the kittens every 3-4 hours, stimulated to pee and poop and kept warm. The girls were learning how to tend to their young pets.

Throughout, the kittens kept looking for their mother. One of them died after a couple of weeks. We realized that a kitten should not be raised single. A kind acquaintance helped us find a foster home for the single kitten and we gave him up for his good. It broke the girls’ hearts, but they understood.

This entire episode lasted for about four months. It was an emotional roller-coaster ride for the girls, the highs of delight to the lows of sorrow. Till this date, they remember Licky and the two kittens with warm fondness. They have also come to learn that in life, nothing is forever. We lose someone close to us, but the remembrance of the time spent together is a joy in itself.

Shiva and Rakesh

Shiva was my wife’s colleague (was, because Dirty Feet has had to temporarily shut down due to COVID-19). He stays in the office. Rakesh is Shiva’s friend, who came for a day to the office on Janta Curfew and then got stuck due to the lockdown. They come to our home daily for meals. Rakesh has since left, Shiva continues to be there.

The girls have become very fond of both the guys. They have become their play-mates for the age-less games and endless talks. It is to the credit of Shiva and Rakesh that though they are in their early 20’s they play with amazing ease with the six-year-olds. They have made the girls so comfortable that they think that it is absolutely normal for kids of their age to play with 20+ year olds.

Yes, the children should play with children. But, that has almost never happened with our daughters. Whenever we go to any outdoor places/parks, children of any age are rarely present. In the neighbourhood even under normal circumstances, children hardly come out for playing. Lockdown has become a blessing that they have actually got play-mates, who have the ability to bring out their innate child when playing.

Plants, bugs and birds

Every walk with the girls is an opportunity for a nature walk. With the lockdown, that is also ruled out. My wife is extremely particular about the exposure to nature for our daughters. We have realized that plants are friends of a lifetime for children. So, she put the ample space in the front yard of the house to good use by getting pots and doing gardening.

The girls have a great time mixing soil with coco-peat, putting seeds, watering and seeing the blossoming of their sweat. The plants (a majority of them veggies) also bring with them a fair share of butterflies and bugs. A bulbul tried making a nest in the gourd creeping around but left mid-way after incessant snooping by the girls.

Hoping that the girls and we further grow our small kitchen garden even after the lockdown ends. It takes a lot of time and efforts to keep up with the gardening, but raising eco-aware children are a just reward. There is no other activity/experience with a bigger multiplier effect than nurturing nature-friendly kids. It does good to them, Mother Earth and everybody’s future.

Street Vendors

We stay on the ground floor of an independent house in the by-lanes of a busy neighbourhood (even now!). Barring the most strict phase of the lockdown (earliest 2 weeks), the area is thronged by 10-12 street vendors during the day. This turned out to be a window to social interaction for our daughters and us.

In the scorching summer of April, May and June, we taught the girls to stop each street vendor on the road and ask, if they wanted water. It might look like a poor cousin to regular social interactions, which lockdown has left no occasion for. But, it did a lot of good to build empathy and caring in our children.

The girls asked the reasons for the vendors to be on the road even during severe heat and lockdown, what happens when they get tired etc. We, of course, did not have answers to all their queries. It is a learning curve for all of us.

Lockdown friends and experiences

The above are the lockdown friends and experiences that helped maintain our sanity during the lockdown.

As I write this, I realize that irrespective of the lockdown, they could have become a part of our lives, and enriched our being. Just that, we may not have allowed it to be.

What have been your lockdown friends and experiences?

One Pot Meals: Highly Recommended For Children

A hard task for each parent is to ensure that their children eat every taste and every vegetable. Kids with fussy eating habits are a parents’ nightmare. A meal-time, at times, transform into a veritable push and pull as the parents have made a certain dish and the kids have their preferences.

We are blessed till now, that our soon-to-be six-year-old twin daughters eat everything served without a bother. I have written about my guess-work about what makes them eat all their vegetables. My wife has her hypothesis, as well. She feels that the girls have been introduced to a certain way of cooking pretty early in their culinary journey and seemingly, this has helped them develop taste buds that accept all the flavours and veggies. Enter the one pot meals.

One pot meals for children is apparently neither an appealing nor an exciting idea. On the face of it, one pot meal goes against the conventional wisdom that a child needs to be introduced to all the various tastes. One pot meal does not fulfil this criterion. Then, how can it serve the task of making children eat all the stuff?

One pot meals introduce each taste and veggies uniquely

Consider a delectable meal spread across various courses/dishes. As a parent, we feel that we have done our task to ensure that a child has options and can have a well-balanced diet. Now, this is an inadvertent pit-fall.

With so much to choose from, the kid would want to have what s/he prefers. That’s the end of the story, as it goes. The parent will keep banging her/his head and the child will also keep replying in a matching fashion. For s/he knows that asking for a dish of preference is very much an option.

More importantly, the child will keep choosing and having food, the taste of which s/he believes s/he likes. The kid would not want to experiment with other flavours on offer.  S/he will stick with the tried and tested much to the parent’s irritation.

Now, consider the one pot meals as the only dish available for serving. The kid does not have an option to choose from. S/he sees the parents eating it and knows intuitively that s/he will also have to eat the same.

More importantly, one pot meals will have a single and unique taste on offer, as per the ingredients used. When the child eats the one pot meals, s/he learns to appreciate the taste and may develop the liking over some time. Though, it is secondary; the child eats is primarily important and it is what counts.

One pot meals have an advantage over every other food dish that it is a meal in itself. And, it does so by using minimal ingredients and staying true to their taste/ flavour. When a child eats a unique flavour without any other flavour simultaneously jostling for taste buds; it helps in developing a taste/liking for the same.

One pot meals are healthy and nutritious

At times, there is a misconception that one pot meals are not healthy and nutritious. Believe me, they are. My wife ensures that without fail, there is a vegetable as a key ingredient. Apart from colour, taste and texture, it also provides vitamins, minerals and natural fiber. The grains/rice fulfils the carbohydrate requirements.  We add beans to complete the protein quota.

Seasonings add to the flavour of foods. Using spices and herbs limit the amount of salt needed in the dish. Moreover, sugar has no relevance. Oil usage is also limited. Ghee can be used as a topping as per the liking and meet the fats requirements.

What can be unhealthy in this? You have the choice to hold back on whatever you feel like; similarly, add whatever you would want to. Yet, the meal will be complete in all regards, unless you skip a complete ingredient in itself.

A child can help in the cooking, too

When a parent is making a meal spread across various dishes/courses, the bandwidth gets occupied in the process. The cooking itself becomes time-consuming and soaks up the energy. There is no way that the parent can involve a child in this process without tearing up her/his hair.

Now, look at the one pot meals. It is simple, requires minimal preparations and leaves enough room to involve the kid in the cooking. When the child gets involved in the process, s/he builds ownership to the cooked dish and makes it easier to have her/him eat the same.

A sure-shot winner

What is more? One pot meals are much more amenable to reduced wastage vis-a-vis ingredients, left-over and prodding the child to eat. It is more peaceful and enjoyable to cook and eat; leaving more calories in the body for everyone in the family at the end of cooking and eating.

One pot meals also give a subtle message to kids that the simple can be fun and enjoyable too. One need not have multiple courses/dishes to cherish the food. Similarly, one also need not have much of paraphernalia to claim a happy and fulfilling life. Life can be as uncomplicated and as undemanding as we can make it to be, ala one pot meals.

The basic reason for us to promote one pot meals for children is that it is about a unique taste and flavour. For a child to be an unfussy/adventurous/accepting eater, it is the taste and the flavour that has to matter; and not the particular dish; per se. One pot meals are not a dish at all. It is what you make it out to be.

Simply put, with one pot meals, it is not the potato curry or the paneer curry or any leafy curry or for that matter, a cheese topping that a child develops liking for, but for the potato, the paneer, the leafy vegetable, the cheese – individually.

Positive Screen Time: It Helps Children And Parents

Screen time evokes control, parental control as we talk about kids. Advice abound, online and offline, on how to manage screens for kids. No parenting discussion would ever be complete without the topic of screen time for kids. Quite a bit of parent-children communication centres on this subject.

Have you ever wondered how and why screen time brings forth friction and squabble? For an inevitable event, why should there be a push and pull for every aspect of the event? Why cannot there be a mutually acceptable common ground that makes everyone happy? Surely, nobody wants to be miserable about something that has become an integral part of life for everyone.

This leads us to the topic of positive screen time. While anyways we are at it, why not make every bit of it worth-while? Positive screen time is about children having good exposure and learning from it. It is about children having nice memories of their screen time. In short, making it a fun and enjoyable experience that children would look forward to growing up with.

So, how do we go about doing this? (Disclaimer: I am writing this as a stay-at-home father to soon-to-be six years old twin daughters. My experiences are hands-on, related to my daughters’ age and their growing up, and may not apply to higher age-groups).

Positive screen time is a family time

Look at it simply. Children are anyways going to watch, why not watch together? It has so many benefits.

A parent need not worry about the content at all. A parent knows what’s running, so will not come up with an abrupt end, a major tug-of-war point. There will be no time spent in instructing the children on what to see and what not to see and also checking the history of what the children finally saw.

Positive screen time is also about role-modelling. When the children see that all the adults in the house are busy pouring over their screens, s/he finds it obvious to do with one’s self. Indulging in screens ideally with both the parents or practically with one parent, children get the idea that doing this activity alone is not that enjoyable and not worthy enough to pursue.

With the children’s quota of screen time getting over as a collective family task, it leaves equal time for children to engage with each other as well as the parents. Imagine having everyone in the house watching screens at different intervals. Where the heck would be the time to even greet each other? Leave aside having a meaningful conversation or doing any task together.

Yes, there is a drawback. The parents do not get to act as adults in terms of having their screen time.

Screen time content as a means to foster common interest

Family viewing allows parents to introduce to children what they enjoyed in their childhood, or for that matter what they enjoy even now. There is enough variety in kids programming that can keep the adults, having varied interests, hooked up as well.

Consuming screen time together also works in shepherding children’s interests and trying to bring them on the same platform as their parents. The added benefit is that this hand-holding happens implicitly. There are no overt instructions, not even a mention of anything, children get their screen time and absorb along the way.

The only thing to keep in mind is that parents need to cross-check before-hand so that they do not end up watching what they don’t like and also, what they would not want their children to watch.

Positive screen time as a conversation tool

Simply put, positive screen time is active, and not passive. Meaning, parents pause the screen and talk to children about what’s happening on the screen. This applies to children of any age, and not just older children.

The programme is communicating to the audience – children and parents. Left on their own, it is difficult to gauge what the children are interpreting and it may show up in their behaviour and thinking in the most unexpected manner. The parents need to ensure that children get the message – explicit, implicit, intended, unintended, black, white and the many shades of grey along with.

The dialogue about what transpired during the videos can very well happen during the day. The characters of the programme can become a part of everyday household chores and keep conveying their messages, basis the parents’ imagination and application. This helps in broadening children’s perspective and imbibing learning from any source.

In nutshell

Screen time is here to stay. Whilst children are at it, let’s try and ensure that it does some good too, for the children as well as the parents.

Positive screen time for kids with the active involvement of parents has the potential to do just that. It encompasses discretion, quality, quantity and also the impact of screen time.

What would be your thoughts on the subject?

Language Games And Activities For Kids To Pick Up The Vernacular

This is a guest post by my wife, Nivedita. She runs an experiential outdoor travel enterprise for kids – Dirty Feet. She gets to interact with lots of children in an informal environment and know them from close quarters when children are chilled out and just being themselves. Basis these real-life experiences, she is penning down thoughts on how to keep children engaged and entertained whilst indoors during the coronavirus lockdown. Here goes one for the language games and activities.

The Backdrop

Dirty Feet has been impressing on the need for kids to explore nature and outdoors and to engage with communities through experiential activities and real-life interactions. As the focus shifts indoors and you explore ways to bond with your kids, we wanted to share some thoughts based on our travel insights which might be handy.

Whilst briefing our young travellers about the Dos and Dont’s on Dirty Feet trips, we always suggest that they speak in the vernacular to the extent possible. This is not just to ensure a connect with the communities who only speak the native language but more so because of our realisation that opportunities for kids to pick up vernacular language skills have been increasingly compromised in recent times.

The most alarming part is the reaction that we get from the kids time and again across all age groups – disinterest and dislike. It is not that they don’t love languages. They take great pride in sharing their foreign language skills. German, French, Spanish have many takers but Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil are frowned upon.

So we thought why not use this family time at home to kindle a love for our home-grown tongues! Sharing with you a list of simple and fun language games and activities which could get you started in vernacular/regional languages.

Ready To Go

1) The game of the ending letter or simply put word antakshari in the vernacular. The first player says a word. The next player picks up the last letter of that word and has to say a word and this goes on. Any number of players can play this game.

2) The start sound game. Say for 30 seconds or a minute, the players in the group, one after the other are required to share words all starting with that letter. Say for instance ka, ki, pa, pu, anything would work.

3) Categories, will you please name some names of………. Clapping and snapping fingers whilst sharing words of a particular category. A game that builds hand-eye coordination, a sense of rhythm, vocabulary and general awareness skills, all in one go. Begin with simple categories and move on to more interesting and whacky ones. Just remember to do all in the vernacular.

4) Multi-language word game. In the first round, the first player says a word in one language and the rest of the players should follow by stating the word in other languages that they are aware of. The second player gets to begin the next round by saying a word in his/her preferred language.

5) Challenge each other to speak for one minute in the local language.

6) Together, try translating English stories into the vernacular or suggest vernacular subtitles for English movies/cartoons; better still play-act a story in the vernacular.

7) Enjoy the rich variety and beauty of rhymes, action songs and folk songs of different languages by learning and singing together

8) Enjoy the bliss of introducing kids to the songs, books, stories, movies in vernacular that you have grown up with. Also what better time than now to encourage them to call up their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and chat with them in their mother/father tongue(s).

9) Draw out numbers and pictures and tell the names in the vernacular.

10) Roll the dice and make a sentence with that many numbers of words in the vernacular.

11) Read together vernacular storybooks at Pratham and arvindguptatoys.com.

This is just a suggested list to get you started. Trust you are all very resourceful and creative to add many more to this list of language games and activities.

Please do let us know your thoughts. We would love to hear from you.

5 Tips To Get Kids To Drink Milk

Our almost five years old twin daughters, B +ve and O +ve, eat all the vegetables. Likewise, they also drink their milk. Daily. Without a fuss. I cannot believe our luck in this context. Fingers crossed that they continue this in future also.

I was wondering what could have lead to the girls drinking milk. To be honest, the points mentioned below are what we feel as parents that have contributed. Though, it is very much possible that we can be wrong and that our daughters would have anyways had milk or they are having it for some other reasons.

Set an example as a parent

This is the fundamental step in getting kids to do anything. A parent is a role model for her/his child. The parent has to set an example by drinking milk in front of the kid. And, of course, everybody knows that children love to imitate.

I love milk myself. I suppose our daughters when they were not on animal milk, would have seen me having my daily glass of milk. Once they started on to the regular milk, it was a given that all three of us will have milk together. This continues even today.

When the child sees the parent doing a certain act, there is no doubt in her mind about doing that act herself.

No health drinks/sugar

Earlier, when our daughters initiated their milk drinking, they were having health drinks along with. Soon, I realized that almost all the health drinks are chocolate flavoured. I felt that something is wrong somewhere. Our daughters were getting used to the chocolate flavour and not milk. This was not done. We stopped health drinks immediately without any major damage done. Same for sugar.

I feel that when a flavour – chocolate or sugar is added, the child is having that flavour and taste and not the milk. As the child grows up, s/he is anyways going to be offered a lot of chocolates/sweets, why should a child have milk to get that flavour/taste?

We want the taste of the milk to stand out and have our children drink milk for the sake of milk and not for added flavours/tastes. This also means that no smoothies, no essence, no milkshakes, no cereals; no sugar, please.

Hot / Cold, Mugs / Cups

There have been times when one of the girls or both of them refused to have milk. They also happen to say at those times that the temperature of the milk was not to their liking. We realized that serving the milk at an appropriate temperature can help a lot. Both the girls like their milk at room temperature; neither hot nor cold.

The girls like to have options in mugs and cups to have their milk. They have 2 / 3 different sets in which they have their milk. They choose the cups/mugs daily to have their drink.

As long as they are having milk, I am fine with the hassle of bringing the milk to room temperature and letting them decide the crockery.

Bring on the milk products

Both the girls love all the milk products – curd, buttermilk, butter, cheese, paneer, yoghurt and their favourite – ghee.  They have malai – cream daily, as soon as the milk is cooled.

I suggest, to ensure that a child does have milk, it is better to introduce milk products first, rather than the milk. Once the child takes the liking to the milk products, introducing milk should be relatively easy.

Milk as a routine

I suppose the statements like “you have if you want to”, “it is ok if you do not like”, or a forceful statement like “you must drink milk” would make children defensive and create a doubt in their minds about what is being fed to them.

Rather, it is always a routine to have milk and a sense that it is expected of them to drink. And, they do. There is neither a reward nor a punishment for drinking milk; it is a way of life.

To repeat, we do not know for sure what has led to both the girls having their milk daily. The above-mentioned reasons are what we have come up in hindsight – may be true or completely off the mark.

I hope if any of the above points can be of help to you. Do share your experiences and views.

PS: Our paediatrician doubted that one of the girls was lactose intolerant. She was tested and the results were negative. The above-mentioned points do not apply to lactose-intolerant children.

Self-Defence: Teach Kids To Stay Safe

India is no country to raise daughters. I know about this. I am also a father of soon-to-be five-year-old twin daughters. Just like other parents, we are very protective of our children. We want to keep them safe from every danger.

At home, our daughters continue to be in their comfort place, filled with love, joy and happiness. We know that they are going to face the harsh reality of this world fairly soon. Rather, they have already started facing in several instances. There will also be occasions where they are alone out there and they have to learn to take care of themselves.

Self-defence for kids is important. It is not about hitting back. They are too young for this and this is not the purpose anyway.

Self-defence for kids is being aware of their surroundings. It is about having the confidence and the capability to grasp what is right and what is wrong. And, if it is wrong, how to deal with it at their age of 5 years.

Identify Unwanted Touch and Abuse

Some people have a habit of touching kids – mostly cheeks, sometimes back, nose, hair and at times, other body parts as well. This is completely uncalled for and unwanted all the times. This is no way to show one’s affection for a child of any age.

Our daughters are going to be five years, and even now, outright strangers feel that they can show their friendliness by touching them. We are telling our daughters to leave the company of these people. And if it gets repeated, immediately reach out to us.

Our daughters know their body parts and their functions. We are also teaching them about their private body parts and that should not be touched by anyone, even by the family members and their friends. If somebody touches, tell them not to do it and inform it to us right away.

Strangers and their offerings

Of course, not all strangers are bad. Most of them are good. Now, how to differentiate between a good stranger and a bad stranger, when many strangers have a habit of giving food items – mostly chocolates and sweets to children. I do not know.

As a result, we are teaching our daughters not to take any stuff from strangers. This looks impolite and rude to many people. But, I know that it is required in a country like ours for ensuring the safety of the children.

Bullying

Our daughters do not go to any formal environment. Their visits to parks and their playing with children in the neighbourhood have been enough to get them introduced to being bullied.

They are waiting for their turn and somebody will push them out of the queue. They are making their sandcastle and somebody will stamp and run all over it. There are few kids in the parks for whom pushing, shoving, poking, kicking are also the means of playing with other children.

We are teaching our daughters to stay away from these children as a first measure. If these acts get repeated, we have told our kids to tell the child, who is doing it, not to do it again.

We have not yet reached the third stage of provocation.

Snaps and Videos

There are utter strangers in the parks, public places, public modes of transport and they start clicking snaps of our children. Few of them even want to take a selfie with them.

I do not get this at all. What is it that leads a person to photograph a child that s/he does not know? We have politely told them not to take snaps of our daughters. Though, we have not been forceful enough to check their devices and delete our snaps.

We are telling our daughters not to allow any strangers to take their snaps and videos. It is absurd to teach such a thing, but I have seen it happen several times that it cannot be called an unusual occurrence.

Mobile Number and Address

This is the basic point to be taught to a kid in self-defence. No parent would ever want to lose a child. But, things happen, at times.

To better prepare kids for such unforeseen events, we have told our daughters to reach out to police. And if police are not there, tell the strangers around to call their parents. They have memorized our address and the mobile number.

Summing Up

The above is what has come to our minds for teaching self-defence to our soon-to-be five-year-old twin daughters. It revolves around understanding their surrounding and keeping themselves safe and protected. It is, of course, age-appropriate and the list will keep growing with their age.

What else would you suggest for teaching self-defence to children?

3 Tips To Manage Screen Time For Kids

It is a foregone conclusion that kids are going to have screen time. The only question is how much and how to control. Almost each and everyone I meet has an opinion about managing the screen time for kids. Digital space and newspaper inches abound with advice on this subject.

I have seen some of the suggestions to control screen time for kids. In my honest opinion, these would not work. These suggestions are like – creating “technology-free zones”. I feel, it has to be the other way round. Only 1 or 2 places in the house where technology can be used, rest to be devoid of it. Another input is to set aside times to unplug. Again, the advice is in reverse. The real-life advice has to be set aside times to plug. Rest all the time is to unplug.

One other gem that I have come across – let kids earn screen time. It is outrightly inane. Screen time is no carrot for which I would want to use a stick. We have no belief in rewards and punishments. Another crazy advice is to obtain your child’s passwords. What next? Put a drone behind your child?

Seeing all these experts’ advice floating around, I thought I might as well list down my hands-on tips on how I, as a stay-at-home father, am managing screen time for my five-year-old twin daughters.

Look at your screen time first

Give the children a break. We will speak about them later. The kids were not born with an idea that they will have screen time and oodles of it.

To start with, who showed them the screens? What do the kids see when they learn to turn around/sit/walk/speak? What do the kids see when they wake up / are being fed / potty is being cleaned / are asleep? Their parents glued to their respective screens.

The kids are only imitating the behaviour they see and remember, they are kids and not adults. When the adults find it difficult to control their screen time, why haggle behind the kids?

We sold off our television when our twin daughters were born. I, to date, use a feature phone. My wife uses two smartphones; I use an I-pad. We have an understanding that when we are with our children which is all the time as far as I am concerned (I am a stay-at-home father and my daughters do not go to any formal environment) and when my wife is at home, we shall NOT use the screens.

There is nothing more urgent than spending time with our children. Period.

Let the kids be the decision-makers about their screen time, Within the set limits

We know that our daughters are bound to have screen time. There is no point in squabbling with the inevitable. They know about its existence and they better have it at home, in front of their parents, than anywhere else, with anyone else.

Currently, we have told our daughters that they can have their screen time on I-pad, once a day. They are free to decide the time. They can have it in the morning/afternoon/evening/night. The girls have the screen time for 30-45 minutes. They do not have the concept of time, but we have learnt by trial and error that the short duration does not work. There are, of course, aberrations when they see I-pad twice a day, but few and far in between.

With this rule, they feel that they have the ownership of their screen time and they have to use it judiciously. We have set the boundary limits of having it once a day, we are happy. They feel that they are getting to decide on their screen time, they are happy. So far, so good.

Screen time to end with advance intimation, and not abruptly

Again, this is what we have learnt by trial and error. What would happen if somebody snatches a smartphone from an adult when s/he is in the middle of the game/binge-watching? There would be mayhem. It is similar to that. Just because they are kids, it does not mean that their screen time has to be snatched away from them.

Our daughters start their screen time at their pre-agreed time/schedule. Now, unfortunately, they do not have a sense of time (not that adults are any better when they are binge-watching). So, we have agreed with our daughters that whenever their story/rhymes are coming to an end, they will have to switch off the I-pad. If their stuff is getting extended further, they are told with a gap of 10/5 minutes that their time is nearing to shut shop and they are fine with it to continue on the next day.

We believe that if the kids are made to understand and explained with logic/rationale, there is no reason for them to throw a tantrum. They understand that if there is no electricity, there would be no internet on I-pad. They know that broad-band does not work once in a while, so they will have to let go off their screen-time, as and when it happens.

When they are showing this much of understanding, why not trust them in shutting down the device rather than snatching it away?

Summing Up

Screen time for kids is a necessary evil crept into our lives. It is bound to stay forever and better to control with practical clearly laid-down rules for children and more importantly, for own selves.

This cannot be done when the kids are growing up. It is better to discuss and agree upon between parents before the genie goes out of the bottle – the child sees the existence of the screen time when s/he opens the eyes in this world besotted with screens.

What would be your suggestions?