Toys And Games For Indian Children: A Missed Childhood

Have you ever tried buying toys or games? I tried in a shop claiming a decent assortment of toys and games. I found a Scrabble, a Pictionary, a Monopoly, a Battleship, 5-6 more games and that’s about it. For lack of options, I tried out online portals. It had a plethora of games claiming to be fun with learning, but for an exclusive game or a toy option, it was nothing more than what I saw in the store.

I walked all the aisles of the toys and games section in the store. An entire section was devoted to the assortment of Barbie dolls. One section had only the guns. One section was for blocks and one was for battery-operated toys. The last section dealt with the games mentioned above. I could not understand what were the options for children to just play?

I did a Google search on the Indian toys industry, found an article from The Hindu. It was a shocker.

3 facts about Indian toys industry

“The Indian toy market is about 0.5% of the world’s toy market,” says R Jeswant, VP Sales & Marketing, Funskool India Ltd (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

This is outrightly crazy. India has 17.7% of the world’s population (Source: Worldometers). If we talk only about children, India’s share in the world would anytime be more than 17.7%. Meaning, we have more than 18% of the world’s children in this country and they have only about 0.5% of the world’s toys to play with.

“85% of what’s sold in Indian toys market is imported. Again, 85% of the toys India imports is from China”, (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

This is another bummer. We have a pitiable share of the world market and whatever we do have comes from outside the country. China supplies 72.25% of Indian toys. If we ban China, and that we should, our children, for the time Make In India ramps up production, will have nothing to play with. A real nothing.

“India has $1.5 billion toy industry”, (Source: The Hindu, March 14, 2020).

$1.5 billion comes to 11238 Cr.  In 2019, about 26.62 % of the Indian population was in the 0-14 year category (Source: statista.com). This will come to 36.75 Cr below 14 years, though this is necessarily not the cut-off for toys and games. Combining the above 2 numbers will give us a budget of Rs. 305/- per child in India for buying toys and games for an entire year. A princely sum.

Unanswered Questions

  1. What would the children of the rest of the world be playing that Indian children are missing out on? Would the difference be limited to quantity or variety and quality of toys and games?
  2. How would this differential availability of toys and games manifest in Indian adults and adults in other parts of the world, who had access to them in their childhood?
  3. Is the limited access to toys and games for Indian children a recent phenomenon? Or has it been like this, historically?
  4. The Indian toy market is very small. What could be the reason? There is no demand because there is no supply. Or, there is no supply because there is no demand.
  5. Pictionary, Scrabble, Monopoly etc are games with a Western origin. Why aren’t these or for that matter any of the games not available in the vernacular avatar? Not even Pictionary cards?
  6. What about the Indian traditional toys and games? What are they? Where are they? Why there has never been scaling up for those 40-50 families in Channapatna, Chitrakoot, Kondapalli etc?
  7. China manufactures 72.25% of toys and games in the Indian market. How did this happen? How did we let it happen? What was the scenario earlier?
  8. India has hardly any outdoor spaces left in the urban areas for children to come out. If the toys and games are minuscule, what are the avenues for Indian children to play? Do they play at all?
  9. India has a plethora of institutional set-ups for children. If their buying of toys and games is taken out of the Indian numbers, what exactly would be left for the children at home?
  10. Lastly, what would be the thoughts of Indian parents about toys and games that it leads to such abysmal numbers?

My views

  1. Weight of school bags gets heavier by the day in India.
  2. Weight of parental expectations gets heavier by the day in India. (Why bother for anything that does not count towards JEE/NEET?)
  3. Parents who have not lived their childhood perpetuates the same with their children.
  4. As on date in India, malls are open, restaurants are open, religious places are open. But, the children parks are shut. Why? We don’t expect the children to play, only study online education. Hence, the continued lockdown for children below 10 years, 4 months over and counting.
  5. Letting children be themselves and have fun is a losing proposition in today’s world.

Above mentioned points are my guesses. Maybe, all wrong. After all, no children have ever complained; not even after becoming adults.

What would be your views about toys and games for Indian children?

PS: I consider Barbie a stereotype, not a toy. Similarly, the guns are meant for Army and Police, not for children. With all these STEM fun & learning combinations, why can’t we let children have just unbridled fun without the prerequisite of learning?

Temper Tantrums: Don’ts And Do’s

In the first part, I wrote about the temper tantrums as an inevitable element of growing up for children as well as parents. The first strategy to deal with temper tantrums is to try that they do not occur in the first place. However, they are bound to happen. So, how to deal with them?

Temper Tantrums Don’ts and Do’s

Basis first-hand experience as a hands-on and stay-at-home parent, I have a laundry list of Don’ts to deal with temper tantrums. The Do’s list consists of just one.

  1. Don’t focus on the surroundings.

The child is throwing up in public. The child is bad behaviour personified. Everybody is looking in the direction of the child and the parent. A parent is feeling ashamed, wants to run away from the scene, wants the earth to open up below the feet.

What should a parent do? Just forget about the people around. Believe me, everybody has only sympathy for the parent facing the child. Each parent in the audience has gone through this ordeal herself/himself. Why should they look down on anyone who is going through what they have endured themselves? For the others, either they do not have children or they had children so long ago that they have forgotten how it was way back then.

The child in rage deserves the sole attention from the parent, and not the notion of being a cool parent. It is fine. Simply put, everybody understands a parent’s position.

2. Don’t distract the child. If the distraction would have worked, temper tantrums would not have happened in the first place. It has failed, do not repeat it. It will make matters worse.

3. Don’t reward/punish the child to get rid of the situation. Even under normal circumstances, rewards and punishment are not the suggested parenting tools. When the storm is at the peak, they are not going to deliver. It will be further detrimental to the situation.

4. Don’t give in to the child. Once a parent does this, temper tantrums become a part of the learned behaviour of the child.

It is a split-second decision. If the parent wants to give in, do it before the explosion. Not as an afterthought.

5. Don’t reason with the child. Again, this could and would have been done earlier to avoid the situation. But, the fact that it has happened means either the reasoning has failed or the moment has gone to engage in a dialogue.

Come to think of it. When an adult is in a fury, s/he would not listen to anyone. How does one expect a child to do this? Not a worthwhile proposition.

6. Don’t leave the child alone. When the child is angry, s/he is the most vulnerable and needs emotional support. How can anyone be left alone at the moment of crisis?

Again, consider an adult in a child’s shoe of being infuriated. The adult needs a venting out, more so for a child. A child’s healing can never happen in isolation. But, only with a helping hand, body and soul of a parent.

7. Don’t trivialize and laugh out. It is a matter of life and death for the child that s/he is in a rage. Belittling and playing down his/her emotions is only going to make the hurt ingrained further.

8. Don’t remind the child of the previous temper tantrums. This will be adding fuel to the fire.

9. Don’t show and give examples of other children. How would an aggrieved adult feel when given an example of an irrelevant another adult? It is a foot in the mouth, with the additional negative of damaging the self-image of the child.

10. Don’t hit the child. A non-negotiable.

The simple way of arriving at all the don’ts is to think of what an adult would not want to be done to herself/himself when mad with anger. One cannot do with a child, what one does not want to be done to one’s self.

So, what to do with a furious and rampant child? I have only one suggestion.

Hug the child. Keep hugging the child till the moment passes through. Keep comforting the child. That’s it. Basis self-experience, this is the only mechanism I have to deal with temper tantrums of my twin daughters.

To be honest, it is easier said than done. I just keep telling myself that whatever else I do is going to worsen the situation, so keep quiet and just hug the girl throwing up.

The objective is to help the child identify, know and manage her/his emotions better. It is essential learning for children and also, the parents in growing up together.

What would be your suggestions to deal with temper tantrums?

PS: I also try and remember the trigger of the temper tantrums to avoid the history repeating itself.

A Parent’s Guide To Deal With Temper Tantrums

Parenting is bliss and fulfilment. Parenting is joy and happiness. It is, of course, much more than what words can describe. Along with all these, parenting is also frustration and anguish. Parenting is misery and distress. You do not believe me? Ask a parent who has just endured temper tantrums.

Temper tantrums come in all shapes and sizes. It can strike at any time and any place. A child is at the best behaviour possible, you are marvelling at your parenting skills, everything is so peaceful and serene, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the lightning, I mean the temper tantrum, strikes. The effects leave the parent’s world turned upside down for the foreseeable future of half an hour.

After all, what is this temper tantrum of a child? Why does this have to happen? How to deal with it? Is there an easy way out? I qualify as being a stay-at-home father to twin daughters. Basis of my fair share of the goodies, below are my views on the subject.

Temper tantrums as fait accompli

First and foremost, a parent has to admit and accept that the temper tantrums are bound to happen. It is a part and parcel of the child’s growing up process. No childhood, and hence no parenting will ever be complete without the temper tantrums. Being in denial about its existence will only lead to poor preparations to deal with it. Better to admit and train yourself for the inevitable.

Secondly, temper tantrums are not a statement about a parent or the child. The meltdown is a part of the growing up process of the child and the parent, too. An occurrence that helps to build on the emotional capabilities of the child and the parent cannot be looked down upon. Of course, it is not an event to look forward to; but an event, once it happens, to be taken learning from and move on.

Once the parent has accepted the temper tantrums as a predestined and a non-judgemental affair, it will be a tad easier to deal with it. We can focus our energies on dealing with the issue and not refute that the sun rises in the east.

Prevention is better than cure

We might feel that the temper tantrums of the kid have reared out of nowhere, for no reasons. However, there will always be an underlying cause. There will always be a trigger. There will be ominous signs of the storm. The crux is to identify these warning signals and address them before they turn into a full-fledged eruption.

A. Keep the child well-fed and well-rested. Ideally, the kid should say when s/he is hungry/thirsty/tired. But, the child, many times, will not know his/her physical state. A parent has to keep a tab on the time and quantity of the earlier meal/snacks/nap to ensure that at least for these avoidable reasons, nobody loses peace of mind.

Our daughters love to play these 5 ageless games. They can go on and on playing them, without a sense of time. We would also love to let them keep playing. However, basis past experiences, we have realized the optimal time for them to play physical games and then, to take rest. Same goes for food and water.

B. Have a time-table, avoid surprises and give advance intimation of the changes to the schedule. Even an adult has a limit to what s/he can process, absorb and execute. Here, we have kids who have just started on their exploration and learning journey. The more the predictable, the more the usual set of events will not stretch their cognitive capabilities. It will lead them to remain more in control of the narrative and not be yanked out of their comfort zone.

Having a time-table is doing activities within a broad time-limit of an hour, and not with clock-work precision. Avoiding surprises is about not to make them leave the activities, they are occupied with. Giving advance intimation is about respecting a child as an individual, let her/him have a view on the proposed change to the schedule and make the child feel a part of the decision-making process.

It is fine if I am not going to buy yoghurt for my daughters every time we visit a supermarket, as long as I tell them before leaving home. It is fine if they are not going to be bought new toys, as long as they are told, beforehand, that they already have toys to play with.

C. Let the children decide and take ownership within pre-defined boundaries. The children cannot be expected to follow instructions all the time. Period. So, what do we do? Let them choose the mode of transport, route and speed, as long as the destination does not change.

My daughters decide on the colour of the cup in which to drink milk. It makes them feel empowered to choose between white and brown cups and I am at peace that they drink milk daily. One temper tantrum root-cause addressed.

D. Communicate with the children. This is often the most under-estimated aspect of parenting. We might feel that what these young kids will understand. Believe me; they understand a lot, much more than what we think that they understand.

My daughters used to create a ruckus about having medicines. It was a pain for my wife before I became a stay-at-home father. I explained to them about the need for medicines. I do not know what was the trick, my explanation or my luck. Till this date, they take all their medications without a whimper.

Ok, fine. I have tried to prevent temper tantrums as much as possible. But, as said earlier, they are bound to happen. So, how to deal with them? Here we go.

Why Lockdown For Children Below The Age Of 10 Years Continues

India’s coronavirus lockdown has had many relaxations. Currently, in the Unlock 1.0, exemptions far outnumber the activities not allowed. The Indian Government has come up with several options to restore “normalcy”. However, all the Government orders, Central and State, are unanimous in one aspect:  The lockdown for children below the age of 10 years continues, i.e. they will stay at home.

Coronavirus is particularly lethal for the elderly. Hence, the Government advisory that persons above 65 years of age shall stay at home is logical and understandable. However, how and why the children below the age of 10 years are getting lumped together with the elderly. What is the rationale for the children to remain confined indoors?

I wrote why children parks remain shut in coronavirus lockdown when they should be the first ones to resume. As I thought more, I realized that it is not just about the parks. The issues and reasons are far more deeply entrenched, systemically and psychologically, that the Government keeps advising children below the age of 10 years to remain indoors without hardly any opposition to this hare-brained suggestion.

Infrastructure for children below the age of 10 years

Have you ever been to a public park with a children play area? Did you notice the size of the play area? Or, the number of slides, swings, see-saws, monkey bars, jungle gyms? I will tell you. We, my five-year-old twin daughters and myself, are frequent visitors to public parks. Children play area will have 2-4 slides, 2-4 swings, 1-2 see-saws, 1 monkey bar and 1 jungle gym irrespective of the catchment. These numbers are on the higher side, with a majority of them broken and non-functional.

Have you ever been to a Government Anganwadi in a city? Did you notice the size of the room and the number of children crammed into it? The same goes for Government schools. Poorly ventilated tiny rooms, dimly-lit or worse with no electricity, the unwanted saving grace being full attendance only at the time of meals; else minimal children.

Even the private schools, except for the top 10%, are plagued with limited space being jostled by a far higher number of children. This issue of apparatus not able to cope with the number of users, children, is chronically present in all the fields – zoo, museum, play-grounds etc.

Manpower for children below the age of 10 years

Children below the age of 10 years require supervision and monitoring. This requires trained and motivated manpower to be present all the time a facility is open for children. This is conspicuous by its absence in India, the numbers as well as the quality, in public as well as a private domain.

There are, of course, teachers, support staff, resource persons etc truly interested in the well-being of children. However, they are few and far in between. The institutional bandwidth devoted to their training and happiness is fairly limited and barely invested in.

Simply put, the manpower required to implement the coronavirus do’s and don’ts in public places for children below the age of 10 years is not present in India.

Mindset for children below the age of 10 years

The malaise runs far deeper. The infrastructure and the manpower can only be the manifestations. The driving factor is that children below the age of 10 years lack the consideration and attention they deserve.

For us adults, a child is seen only from the lens of school-induced existence. Rote learning and crammed lessons get accepted as education in our society. A carefree and playful childhood gets swapped with rat-race for grades and marks.

We cannot foresee children having fun and being themselves. A child has the right to be outdoors with nature is a completely neglected notion. An idea of learning for children when they interact with each other in a non-formal natural environment bereft of instructions does not appeal.

The underlying mindset: What is there to invest in children apart from preparing them for JEE/NEET?

 Summing Up

During regular times, the creaking infrastructure make did with jam-packed children. The manpower managed the show with middling results. Now, suddenly the coronavirus has laid threadbare the limitations of the Indian set-up.

India is not designed and prepared to keep the children safe and happy. The Government knows this, so the lockdown for children below the age of 10 years. The parents also know this, so no opposition to the Government.

Anyways, the coronavirus is not going to change our mindset. The Government is busy preparing for JEE/NEET. The Cabinet Minister for HRD and the private schools are busy with online education charade. Who cares if children below the age of 10 years cannot play outside? They were not supposed to, in the first place, in the Indian scenario.

#UnlockChildren.

Existential Questions Asked By Children In The Times Of Coronavirus

Children ask interesting questions. Coronavirus has ensured that their armoury increases further. Though, the areas that they venture into asking these questions are, at times, not easy to manage. Our twin daughters did ask about death and illness in their regular queries. However, in the times of the coronavirus, the existential questions raised by them have increased in frequency and intensity.

Needless to say, coronavirus has impacted our lives. Apart from us adults, it also affects young minds. We, as adults, try to comprehend and interpret what is going on around and try to be in control of the narrative. However, for children, I have no idea how their impressionable minds are trying to figure out the happenings.

Children fall ill, so do their parents and adults around. The mention of the diseases and medicines are limited to the sickness period in the house. It is not a subject that gets discussed daily for an extended duration. The coronavirus has suddenly changed this context. Even though everyone in the family is in sound health, the virus ailment gets spoken about daily.

Our soon-to-be six years old twin daughters have now been hearing about coronavirus for 4-5 months. They understand that people fall ill due to the virus and that it can be life-threatening. Out of the blue, their happy-go-lucky world has been turned upside down. No more parks, no more field visits with Dirty Feet team, no more outdoors.

Why people die because of the virus? Would people be alive if the virus was not there? Why death?

We have no idea what to answer and how to answer. We cannot shoo them away, we cannot engage in a discussion with them, we cannot bluff our way out. I keep mumbling about numbers, hygiene, masks, social distancing and they do not get any hang of it. They keep asking and then they get busy in their play leaving us with their unanswered questions.

Unexpectedly, they pop up a question if they/us are going to get affected by the virus. Either one or both of them look at us expectantly to hear that they will be fine, all of us will be fine, all the people they know will be fine, all the people in the world will be fine. It is extremely difficult to face these moments that pop up out of nowhere.

A below incident happened 4-5 weeks back and it makes me wonder about the impact of the coronavirus and the discussions thereof on the small minds.

During Lockdown 2.0, one of the girls developed a certain medical condition. We spoke to her paediatrician and sent him the videos of the child. He told us to see a super-specialist ASAP and helped us get an appointment the very next day. With the help of a family friend, we worked out the logistics to and fro.

Suddenly, the kid said that she will not come to the hospital. Going to a hospital is a routine affair for us; the girls are used to the medication as well. Why would she refuse all of a sudden? We kept asking her but she would not answer. Finally, she said that with the coronavirus around, we should not venture out during the lockdown. She was afraid that if we go out we might catch the infection, and she was scared. She was too scared.

We kept explaining to her that we will take all the precautions and hopefully, we should be fine. Also, the visit to the super-specialist cannot be postponed for her health was at stake. She just would not listen and kept on crying that she does not want to go out of the house. It was so terrifying that thinking about this incident even now brings tears to my eyes.

She did not say in as many words, but we could hear her saying that she did not want to die. It was so terrifying for us. The fear of coronavirus had crept into her thinking and would not let her go.

(PS: We did manage to convince her. The super-specialist cleared her of any serious issues that would require medical intervention).

This keeps me thinking about the impact of coronavirus on young minds. What are they thinking about it? How is it impacting their behaviour? What is going to be the future consequences in their lives? How will they be able to soak in the new normal of living with the coronavirus? And, again making a change to their routine when the vaccine/medication finally arrives.

I fear that the coronavirus has hastened the exit of childhood from children. With all the existential questions clouding their minds, the virus is fast-tracking children to sullen adulthood, much before they should.

I have no idea how to answer their existential questions and help them deal with this frightening phase of life.

Do help with your thoughts in these trying times.

5 Ageless Games Children Love To Play – Indoor/Outdoor

The games that can be played inside or outside the house.

By any number of players, from two onwards.

The games that require a minimum of props or no props altogether.

No need for teams and scores either.

Minimum of fuss with rules and extremely easy to understand. Rather, the regulations can be flexible and change as per the participants’ wishes.

There is no limit on playing time and requires set-up time of a minute, at maximum.

Teaches a whole lot of skills and competencies.

The only requirement for these games is lively children full of energy.

To top it all, these ageless games are liked by children of all the ages. For that matter, even adults like these games.

These games are an all-time favourite of O +ve and B +ve, our five and half-year-old twin daughters. They have never had it enough playing these games. Come rain and sunshine, be it the coronavirus lockdown or the outside of the house, the girls just love to play these games.

Hopscotch

Hopscotch requires just a patch of land cleared of obstacles, a chalk piece and a stone for each of the participants. Indoors qualify too.

The hopscotch course can be drawn up to any numbers. We started by drawing up to number 8 and have now extended to 12. The girls throw the stone at the number, hop till the end number and pick up the stone in their return, without putting their foot inside the number, to & fro, where they threw the stone.

The children learn to aim and throw, balancing, turning and bending down while hopping on one leg and also, falling down in the process. There is no more fun than watching children hopping non-stop.

Hide And Seek

As an adult, one might think that multiple hiding places must be present to play this game. Just that, children do not share this thinking. They are capable of playing hide and seek everywhere and anywhere. Leave it to their imagination and they will conjure up hiding places out of nowhere. Just see them play for proof.

The catcher closes the eyes, counts to a pre-determined number while the other players hide. The catcher then attempts to locate all hiding players.

The children learn to count, hide, observe, sneak up and most importantly, to remain silent. Many a time, I wonder if the two girls know how to sit still and silent; I see them playing hide and seek and my question gets answered emphatically. Just that, they do not seem to ever do it for their parents.

Four Pillars

On the face of it, this game requires five players and four pillars. We have played with even two players and two pillars and believe me; the game still retains all the charm. No pillars, even corners will suffice. No corners, no issues. The children will make do with imaginary ones in their minds.

The game has one catcher, standing in the middle, and the other players touching their pillars. They try to change their pillars and the catcher tries to get hold of them / the pillars they are running to. It can vary, as per the rules agreed before the game.

The children learn to be alert, try to see and rush in all the directions conceivable, and bang the pillars in the process.

Ice And Water Or Surface And Water

Though the name of the game involves ice and water; none of the two is required to play the game. It is all imaginary in the minds of the children. Again, just a patch of land cleared of obstacles suffices to play this game. Maybe, a piece of chalk to differentiate the ice and water, but children are fine even without the visible boundaries.

The catcher is in either the ice or the water and the other players in the vice-versa region. The players try to step into the catcher’s territory and the catcher tries to catch the infiltrator.

The children learn to observe and be alert to protect their turf, run and catch the person stepping inside without permission.

Blindfold

A prop is required to play this game – handkerchief, in addition to the obstacle-free playing area. Want to increase the fun – play the game with two catchers.

The catcher – blindfolded child counts or is turned around in the centre of the play-area and is let loose. The other children can choose to stay still or give directions to help or bluff, as per their liking and not get caught by the catcher.

The children learn to make use of senses other than eyes – ears, nose and hands to find their way when being a catcher and learn to remain silent, otherwise.

More Than Just Games

As an adult, I do not understand why and how these games are so popular with my children. That shows that I am an adult and it also shows how easy and uncomplicated childhood can be and is.

Being Children And Having Fun Is The Right Of Every Child. The above games play an undeniable part in the exercise of this right for children. The plain, simple and easy games, full of fun, enjoyment and excitement and also teach a host of life skills in the process. It is also a memory of a lifetime for the rapidly vanishing childhood in today’s fast-paced world.

What would be your addition to the above list of games?

Labeling Children – Needless Childhood Hazard

He is aggressive. She is shy. He is studious. She is mischievous. Whenever there are children around, even a single child, one is bound to hear the above statements. These statements are made by adults, at times, by parents too, in front of children themselves. This is labeling children.

Labeling is a simplistic way of expressing what a person is seeing of a child’s behaviour. A child is acting in a certain manner, the observer is making a statement basis the evidence available, that too in the presence of the parents themselves and not clandestinely. What can be wrong about it?

Well, all of it. As far as I am concerned, everything about labeling children is outrightly wrong.

How about labeling adults?

We hear all about the children. How s/he is and how s/he is not. Does anyone talk in similar words/terms about an adult? An adult, who is present and is a part of the conversation. Will anyone ever refer to an adult that s/he is stubborn, is a hypocrite, not having certain manners and all such stuff, in her/his presence?

We know as an adult that one should not talk about the other adults regarding their personality traits in their presence. In that case, why do we mete out such a treatment to children? Just because the children do not retaliate and do not describe the adults as a return favour.

This is a double standard of the perk of being an adult – getting away with labeling children but not a fellow adult and surely, not one’s self.

Adults have diverse characteristics, so do have children

One can argue that grown-ups have many facets to their personality. We may not even know about the majority of them as a part of knowing a person. If we do not know the person in entirety, how can we go about describing the person in labels?

This is a valid reason for not getting into labeling adults. In that case, what makes an adult think that s/he knows children in total, in simply one interaction, and ends up branding them?

One might say that s/he spoke about children after multiple interfaces. Again the same question. Do we speak about a fellow adult even after numerous dealings? No. Then, why do we speak about children as a know-all?

Adults have varied moods, so do have children

We know that one can have a bad day at work, freak incidents happen, or maybe, one just got out of the wrong side of the bed. In this case, it is very much possible that we may not see a side of the adult that we are used to. Face it, we behave differently basis our mood swings.

It is not exactly breaking news, but even children have mood swings and not just temper tantrums. Simply put, children are not expected to show-case the same behaviour throughout the day and to all the people, they come across.

Similar to the benefit of the doubt to adults basis their frame of mind, children also deserve respect for their disposition. And, one may not come to a conclusion basis one incident or even several.

There are no good labels, only bad labels

One may say that labeling is a well-meaning exercise if positive labels are used. I beg to differ. Any label, constructive or not so charitable, strait-jackets a child. There is no need for children to behave identically, all through-out.

A responsible child wants to have a good time but being told that s/he is responsible feels under obligation to not be an over-the-top. A studious child wants to play but being told that s/he is studious feels under stress to finish the homework first.

The worst of labeling children – Being told good girl/boy. Adults can always compliment the behaviour of children if they like and be descriptive about it. However, from where does “good” come into the picture?

Getting refered to in a certain manner, even if affirmative does not let the child develop into a multi-faceted personality. Life is all about shades of grey and not black and white; which labeling is contrary to.

An adult looking for acknowledgment of labeling

I find the labeling of my twin daughters annoying, even by well-intentioned adults. What is even more infuriating is the adult passing a remark and then looking expectantly at me for the favourable reception to what s/he has just said.

Seemingly, the adult is pleased with one’s self for making a sense of the child in front of her/him in a single word and wants an affirmation from the parent.

Suffice it to say, I find these conversations most difficult to handle. I have never dared to tell the speaker that few things can be said about her/him as well.

If the parents are right in their way, why not children

It is often said that parents know best about their children. A parent cannot go wrong in the upbringing of their children. Nobody can and should comment about a parent’s parenting.

Similarly, why cannot we contemplate that children are also fine in their way? Why cannot we consider that children should not be commented upon? Why cannot we just be with children without labeling?

Adults, take a break. Give the child a break.