Free Sanitary Products: Real Celebration Of Women’s Day For Indian Women

Another Women’s Day is upon us. Apart from being a day of repeating yearly customary paeans to Women, what could have been different? What could be the real celebration of Women’s Day for the Women of India? After all, Women’s Day has been around since 1913, and it might be around for another century. But, what could be the game-changer for Women of India? Free Sanitary Products.

Now, one might say what has got free sanitary products to do with Women’s Day? The country is busy honouring the Women and their achievements and empowerment. Why bring up a colourless topic like free sanitary products when the Women are being hailed with gusto? It is not in sync with the bigger picture of women’s emancipation and the newer heights scaled by Women in India.

Well, let’s have a dose of reality.

80% of Indian Women do NOT use sanitary products

Women’s population in India is 66 Cr. Let’s take 40 Cr as the number for the Women of menstruation age. Assume that a Woman uses 8 sanitary pads, on average, during a menstruation cycle. Let’s take a price of a sanitary pad at Rs. 5/-. So, what should be the per annum size of the Indian sanitary pad market? 40 Cr * 8 * 5 * 12 = 19200 Cr. Remember, all these are conservative estimates.

In reality, what’s the size of the Indian sanitary pad market? 4000 Cr, at best. Meaning, only 20% of Indian Women use sanitary pads. That’s about it!!! Now, if this is not shocking, what is??? Are we staying in a 21st Century India or a country stuck in medieval times? Why should 80% of Indian Women NOT use sanitary pads?

Yes, you can ask for a survey/source to back up the above truth. In India, a survey covering the entire country is not feasible and it will not see the light of the day. However, the numbers do not lie. If anybody wants to refute the veracity of 80% Indian Women not using sanitary pads, s/he is welcome to prove it with counter-data of any sorts.

Why Free Sanitary Products?

The detractors will say why free sanitary products?

  • It is not that critical an issue. Well, if menstruation hygiene of 50% of the population is not vital, what is?
  • Awareness is important. Well, the Government has been working on awareness for ages, what’s the output? We even had a movie, what’s changed?
  • It is too expensive for the Government to supply. If it is expensive for the Government, think about the buying power of the Women not using sanitary products. To whom, will it be more feasible to intervene?
  • It is a luxury item. Our women have stayed so long without sanitary products, do they really need it? In that case, we might as well bring back child marriages, sati etc. How about going back to living in the caves?
  • Why are we even discussing this topic? Good families do not discuss such issues. Yes, this is precisely why 80% of Indian Women are left out of using sanitary pads.

The Advantages of Free Sanitary Products

Sanitary pad is, of course, a simple product which for reasons endemic to Indian society has not become ubiquitous. When made free, apart from being a simple product of menstruation hygiene, it signifies a change in attitude. A change in mindset.

  • Women are free from the clutches of the typical Indian patriarchal society.
  • Women, also, have a right to a life of dignity and respect.
  • More so, Women are important for India. The country cannot claim to prosper without the efforts to ensure the well-being of 50% of the population.

From every rationale, free sanitary products are a no-brainer idea.

The Real Change

The discussion on menstruation hygiene remains a taboo subject in India. The stigma on “pads” and “periods” is difficult to be washed away. If even after 70 + years of independence, the magnitude of the issue does not reduce in intensity, it requires a drastic intervention. Piecemeal solutions won’t do.

If this is not the time for free sanitary products, when is? The discussion on approach, awareness, access, affordability can continue forever. In the meantime, let’s have free sanitary products. Come to think of it. If Women do not have periods, none of us would be born. Yet, their menstrual hygiene, a bodily function, is taboo.

India levied 12% GST on sanitary pads, as a luxury item. After a furore, the Government made it exempt from GST. The hue and cry were for a worthy cause. The worthier cause is making sanitary products freely available to the Women of India. The worthiest cause is to regard Indian Women as equal partners in Indian society. The starting point will be to take the usage of sanitary pads to 100% of the population.

On this Women’s Day or for that matter, every Women’s Day, India can continue to do lip-service to Women’s cause; it is a tried and tested option with incremental/difficult-to-notice results. Else, India can decide to make free sanitary products – the real change for Indian Women.  A game-changer making Indian Women independent of men controlling their lives and menstruation.

PS: I am not a Women’s rights activist. Rather, just a stay-at-home father to six year-old twin daughters. The above thoughts are an expression of my growing up together with my daughters and wanting a just country for my daughters that treats all citizens fairly and equitably.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent

School Without School Bags: The Only Way To Rid Students Of The Weight Of School Bags

We saw that School Bag Policy 2020 is a casual and miserable attempt to help students. The recommendations of School Bag Policy 2020 increase the weight of school bags further. So, how to deal with the issue? The solution is simple – School Without School Bags.

There are a host of recommendations that academicians/learning experts/schools/courts/activists – in short – Adults will come up with to reduce the weight of school bags. Each of these measures is a tried and tested failure. Yet, they keep going around serving no purpose whatsoever.

Let’s go through this list of failures to convince us that there is no other solution than a school without school bags.

The Failed Recommendations

The locker @ schools: If schools do have the bandwidth for additional space and infrastructure, they rather use it for play-grounds and spacious classrooms. Not a feasible concept for the majority of schools.

Replace books with tablets: Another impractical suggestion. Till the time, the students are rid of written exams, the books can’t get replaced.

Bagless Days: Well, the children face the issue of carrying the weight of school bags on all the days and not on just one day of the week. Is the objective to get rid of the burden on one day and then, pile it up on other days?

Students to be given food and water in school: Apart from mid-day meal serving Government schools and high-end private schools that last for the whole day, other schools can’t follow this dictum. Is it practically possible for 500 + students to drink water in 20-30 minutes from 5-10 taps (and they drink water in the last 5-10 minutes of the recess and not the first 10-15 minutes)?

Moreover, it is not lunch boxes and water bottles that make the weight of school bags but notebooks, textbooks, reference books and the lot. This recommendation is barking at the wrong tree.

School bags to be made of lighter material: Arre, why don’t they get it? It is not the school bag that is heavy, what is inside the bag, that is heavy. Another option shooting from the hip.

  • Notebooks will be made of 40 pages, hence it will be lighter.
  • Schools will follow the semester/trimester pattern. Books will be divided into 2/3 parts, hence they will be lighter.
  • Students will be given two sets of textbooks, one for home and one for school.
  • Schools can have block/double periods of the same subject. Hence, students need to carry lesser books.

And who will keep track of these multiple sets of books? The poor child has more than enough to lift, now he/she will have more than enough to keep count/tally of. She/he might end up carrying every set of books – home/school/finished/unfinished, increasing the weight further. It is sheer torture to keep studying the same subject for one and a half hour or more. Only the adults can come up with inane suggestions like this. Give the poor child a break.

Please bring up other options, if any and you can see for yourself that they are unworkable too. If you feel otherwise and are convinced about the feasibility of any of the suggestions above to reduce the weight of school bags, please show them in a live application in more than 5 schools.

School Without School Bags

The student spends 5-8 hours in school. After that, the poor fellow has to attend tuitions/coaching classes, now the study apps also get added to the list. Further, consider sports/dance/music/any other classes of the parent’s choice. The child has to have screen time too. Where is the time for him/her to study at home? Then, why not keep the school bag at school only?

Where to keep the school bag in school? There are no locker/shelves? But, why do you need one? There is nothing that happens in the classroom once the students leave. The school bag can very well be left on the student’s desk. What’s the worry about safety? It is a school, after all. Not a place for pick-pockets.

The student has to do homework, so he/she needs to carry books home. But, I suppose the expert group appointed by the Ministry of Education has said that there is no homework up to Class II, a maximum of two hours a week from Classes III-V, middle school (from Classes VI-VIII), a maximum of one hour a day.

For this minimal work, what is the need to carry the entire school bag? Why not keep homework books at home and send the snap-shots to the teacher for checking? This is claimed to be happening during the online learning of the COVID-19 period, why not co-opt changes during the normal period?

The student has to do project work. Well, project work requires a different set of materials and books altogether. Let’s not club it with the regular school bag.

What about tuitions/coaching classes? They give their own study-material. They have no use of what is carried in a school bag.

But, the student has to study for exams. The poor chap is being continuously taught in schools/coaching classes/tuitions/apps. Do you really feel that he/she needs to study further for exams?

Please bring up other doubts, if any and you can see for yourself that they would get resolved too.

The Nostalgia Crap

  • Banning school bags will make children lazier and they will always seek a comfortable life.
  • Without school bags, the school life of children remains incomplete.
  • For school going kids, their bag is their treasure box where they keep all their important things.
  • The school bag is also a measure of teaching children to be responsible for their belongings.

The above points and any other similar ideas are pure and unadulterated nonsense. Anybody raising them shows the uselessness of the Indian education system that they claim to have studied in.

It only means that the adults, who lifted school bags in their childhood, cannot imagine a school without school bags for today’s children. Their attitude is more like, I had to bear the burden, so should you. Can you really expect these childish adults to solve any damn issue, leave aside the weight of school bags?

In short

Did anyone ever consider that Indian students will study from home for one full year and they will be fine? Well, everyone claims to have done exactly that and doing well. Desperate times of COVID-19, desperate measures of online learning, one would say.

Similarly, the weight of school bags is a desperate problem deserving of a creative measure. All the solutions devised till now have not worked. Why not re-phrase the question? Why not question the utility of carrying a school bag from home to school and back to home? It is absolutely not serving any purpose in today’s education system. It can very well be left at school and that should be fine.

To be honest, I don’t see any wrong in the idea of school without school bags. What about you?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

5 Important Things To Speak And Do With A Child More Often

This is Part 2 of the article – 5 important things to teach a child, also the things that a parent can speak and do with a child more often. Click here for Part 1.

I don’t know. Let’s explore.

Children ask questions. They ask questions all the time. Expect them to ask unexpected questions at the most inopportune times. Till the time they indulge in their questioning, thank your stars. The innate and profound child in them is still alive. They haven’t yet started on their journey to silly and juvenile adulthood.

No sensible person would expect any adult, even an Einstein, to come up with answers to all the queries that a child comes up with. To a child’s question, the answer is, of course, important. Equally important is the process of handling and managing the question. To the child, her/his query is a matter of life and death. So, unless I know the answer, by trial and error I have ruled out the below responses.

Myself: I know the answer. The girl: So, tell me. The bluff does not work.

Myself: I will tell you later. The girl: When? When? When? Kicking the can does not work.

Myself: Ask me some other question. The girl: No, I want the answer to this question only. Diverting attention does not work.

Myself: You try and tell me. The girl: Um, um, um (thinks). Why are you asking me back (shouts)? It works once in a while, but recurring use backfires.

Myself: Behave as if I haven’t heard the question. The girl: Belittled, stomps out. The communication breaks down if done repetitively, very difficult to revive and get back the trust of the child.

Myself: Give an unconvincing answer, which in all probability is incorrect. The girl: Will keep raising queries, till I admit that I have no clue. To repeat, bluff does not work.

Myself: Shout. The girl: (unsaid) You are killing the curiosity and the child in me.

Suffice it to say, I don’t know. Let’s try doing it/read the book/search Google for the answer together.

Nothing better serves the quest for knowledge than the humility to own up and act in front of your child.

Speak Up

On the face of it, there is nothing more hazardous for a parent to teach a child than this: ‘Speak Up’. Even without teaching, the kids answer back. On top of it, when taught to ‘Speak Up’, the first victims of this newly taught and eagerly learnt skill will be parents. Who in a sane mind would want to increase her/his headache?

Believe me, if there is any learning that is going to hold the children in good stead in future when we are long dead, it is this: ‘Speak Up’. ‘Speak Up’ applies to the moral and ethical values that you would want your children to learn and hold on to. ‘Speak Up’ applies to all the discriminations, biases and injustices that the world will throw at your children and their resolve to face that head-on.

It is, of course, a matter of choice to teach this trait. The attribute to ‘Speak Up’ may not be considered a desirable quality in today’s world, wherein the ability to suck up to the powers-that-be is considered a virtue.

Given the current scenario of hatred and bigotry perpetuated by the right and the left, by the liberals and the radicals. I am convinced that without this quality taught to future generations, there won’t be a future left.

Childhood is the time to sharpen the cub’s claws, though the first blood that will get drawn will be parents’. For you would want your cub to grow up to be a fighter for the right, which may go against the might and the spite, teach them to ‘Speak Up’.

You are Unique

Right from the moment the baby is born, the parents/grandparents/relatives try to search for a bit of their selves in the baby. As the baby grows on to become a child, this search intensifies from the similarity of physical looks to the likeness of emotional and mental connect. The seeker, the adult, rejoices when s/he finds any parallel with the child, no matter how vague/made-up it might be.

As the child goes on to become a teen and an adult, the lurking world would want to co-opt her/him and bracket into already existing factions. The society would not let anyone enter the sanctum unless the norms are adhered to, the customs are followed, the rituals are respected, the rules are abided, all with staunch and unflinching allegiance.

This, again, is a matter of opinion. I get restless when anyone tells me not to raise questions but to follow. What good has ever been done by a person who accepts the status-quo, finds comfort in being a part of the herd and stays contented within the limits set by others?

Unless the boundaries are pushed, how will one ever feel the need to come out of the comfort zone/explore and determine/stand up for one’s self? Raising questions just for the sake of it is, of course, not the purpose.

The ultimate gift that a parent can give to her/his child – Individuality. Teach a kid to discover one’s self and have a unique identity.

These are the five things that we have been doing with our daughters in varying proportions. Hope to build on it further in time to come, speak and do with a child more often.

What would be your views? What would be your points that a parent can speak and do with a child more often?

5 important things to teach a child

Parenting means different things to different parents. As our twin daughters turned six years, my wife and I took stock of what parenting means to us. How we have been going about raising our daughters. Along the way, there has been un-learning and re-learning, going back and forth, sticking to the conventional, trying out the un-tested and a lot more in between.

We asked ourselves what we could have done more/less with our kids as parents. It turned out to be a never-ending list. To keep it simple and do-able, I classified the list into different sections. This article is about one such section of 5 important things to teach a child.

As parents, we want our children to do better than what we have done/are doing. We want our kids to be better human beings than us. In short, we would want our kids to be more than the sum of the parts (parents). If this is to happen, if it is to have any real chance to happen, it surely needs a conscious attempt from the parents. A lot of attempts, lot many times, and on a lot many things.

Below are the 5 important things to teach a child, that we wish we could have done/spoken about more to our twin daughters.

Take/Give No as an answer

Setting rules and indulging kids are two sides of the same coin – parenting. Doing one without the other can have disastrous results. There is absolutely nothing wrong in saying a ‘No’ to a child. Subconsciously we say ‘No’ to our kids quite often. It is just that when we have to mouth a conscious ‘No’ that leads to doubts in our minds if we are doing a correct thing/denying a child.

It is not just about preparing the kids for the external world, wherein they are going to get snubbed and slighted. Even within the four walls of the house, the kids need to get it straight that few things a strict no and few things are a maybe dependent on factors. They better learn to take ‘No’ as an acceptable answer. It is for everyone’s benefit.

Remember that the kids grow and that too, fast. S/he is going to be a teen and an adult, very soon. Imagine the situation if a teen has not been taught to take ‘No’ as an answer in her/his childhood. Of course, the ‘No’ has to be explained to children with logic, reason and clarity. Else, it will serve no purpose other than being a parent’s convenience/ego trip.

Giving and taking ‘No’ as an answer is again the two sides of the same coin – parenting. It is not a one-way wherein only the parent can have the liberty to say ‘No’. One might say that children say ‘No’ all the time, what’s to be taught in this? The real test is to teach a child the reasons and the judgement to exercise the power of ‘No’.

Taking and giving ‘No’ as an answer is what teaches children to give and take respect and also to develop and apply reasoning. An important thing to teach a child.

Get up/Do it yourself

One of my daughters has fallen/tripped. What would be my first reaction as a parent? I stay put where I am, I don’t rush to lift the girl and console her. I know, I get nasty stares from people around who doubt my capability as a parent. At times, even my family members don’t get my response. I tell them and the girl, if she comes to me at all, that she is fine and it is fine to fall, now that she is up.

I strongly believe that children are inherently resilient and brave. Time and again, my daughters have proven this to me, people around and their selves. Just that our fears and worries get the better of us. We panic and rush towards the child when s/he falls and in the process; the child learns fear from the parents and the society.

I too used to rush when my daughters were toddlers. I realized that more often than not the girls interpreted the fall basis my response and not the fall, per se. Hence, I started to hold myself back to see their reaction and it turns out that they are fine taking care of themselves. For every fall, I do take a mental note on the severity of the injury, if any, so that I can rush in future if need be.

Not the same context as above, but imagine the child trying out a new activity. For that matter, even a tried and tested pursuit. It did not work out as the child thought/planned/made it out to be. S/he starts getting fidgety, the murmurs start and a full-fledged howling follows. I again teach myself to hold back and not do the stuff on my girls’ behalf.

Falling and failing is not a chance to wail and wallow. It is an opportunity to rise by self, again get going and try not to repeat what led to the fall/failing.

The child’s learning of independence and self-belief comes at a price, at times blood and sweat of parents and child, too. Another important thing to teach a child.

 Click here, for part two.

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.

A Visit to Indira Park And Life Learnings For Children

We, five-year-old twin daughters and a stay-at-home father, visit parks often. One of our favourite destinations is Indira Park, Hyderabad. O +ve and B +ve love the place, spend 3-4 hours on each visit and they have to be dragged back home. Indira Park is one of the places for which I wrote 5 must-do activities for 4 year olds in parks.

Now, I am writing about Indira Park again. I never knew that a visit to a park can be so educational and informative for children about the country, the government and the people. It is always good to teach the children about the reality of the country that they are inheriting and going to live in. And, a visit to Indira Park ensures that this learning for children is fast-tracked, all-around and consistent in messaging.

Here go the learnings of B +ve and O +ve from the Indira Park visits.

Corruption

A ticketed entry leads to excitement for the twin girls. They love to give money, take their tickets, and proudly carry it around.  Indira Park ensures that the girls will learn even from this mundane occasion.

I give the girls Rs. 2 coins each and ask them to buy their tickets individually. They hand over their coins to the lady sitting on the chair and look expectantly at her to receive their coveted treasure. The lady nonchalantly takes their coins, shoves it in her drawer and nods at the girls, asking them to leave.

The girls are confused. They look back at me. I am also confused. I walk up to the lady and request for the tickets in return for the money that she has just taken. She coolly says that we can enter the park and need not worry about the tickets. It is all right.

I cannot believe this. I have no idea whether she is a government employee or on a contract or from a private agency. She is just taking away Rs. 4/- that should go to government coffers and expecting us to contribute to her loot.

I request for a ticket. She says that she has not been provided with Rs. 2 tickets, so she cannot give. I insist. She says that the tickets will be delivered in some time and we can collect when we leave.

We enter the park without the tickets for my daughters, though we have already paid. The girls witness the entire episode. They ask me why the aunty did not give their tickets.

The girls learn an important aspect of Indian Governance – Corruption.

Non-delivery of services

We enter the play area. The girls are looking forward to making the most of their time. They survey the surroundings. Most of the swings are broken, if not all. Most of the slides are broken, if not all. All the see-saws are broken. Merry-go-rounds give them no merry at all, they are beyond repairs.

The girls look around perplexed. They do not know what to do. And, then similar to Indian Citizens that they will grow up to become, they make use of whatever is available. They learn that they are lucky to get what is left and that they should make no fuss about it. Not that there is anyone to listen to their complaints in the first place.

The girls learn that Indian State shall not bother about the upkeep and the delivery of promised services.

Pushed out by the crowd

The girls are trying to make use of whatever is left. But even that is not possible. There are grown-ups around, half of them couples and another half of them bunking their classes. All of them wanting to enjoy their time, but nowhere to go. Hence, descending on Indira Park play area.

The girls request them for their place in the sun. They oblige but continue to their merry-making as well. I request the adults not to use the equipment that they have outgrown. They casually scorn at me and carry on. I try to find the park personnel around to raise a complaint but find nobody in sight.

I fear for the physical safety of my daughters and we leave the play area.

The girls learn that they will be shoved and jostled out of what is rightfully theirs by the fellow citizens.

Chai-Pani

I find someone – probably a supervisor of some sorts. Not sure though. I complain to him about the non-issuance of tickets. He says that maybe tickets have run out. I complain to him about non-functional play area equipment. He says that the government has raised a tender. I complain about the adults making use of children play area. He says that these adults do not listen to them when asked to leave.

I realize that I am just wasting my time. I turn my back. And, to utter amazement, he asks me money for chai-pani. The girls are awe-struck.

They learn the connotations of chai-pani and what it stands for in the Indian context.

Swachh Bharat

The girls have to use the wash-room. We approach the place. Alas, it is closed for repairs. It was closed last time too. Wonder how much time it takes to put a functional wash-room in place.

The girls relieve themselves behind a bush. And to think of it, Hyderabad has been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). My daughters and I disagree.

Indira Park – Beehive of Learnings

A visit to the park is second to none when it comes to real-life learnings. My daughters learn a lot about India, the Government and the People from their park visits.

Do take your children as well to Indira Park or for that matter, any other public park. The learnings abound.

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?