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Sometime ago, we reinterpreted the story of the tortoise and the hare and we were thrilled at your response. So we decided to try our hand at another old favourite - the Ugly Duckling. Now this is one of my all time favourites and I suspect most people would agree. It touches a chord in all of us as we have all felt like ugly ducklings in some way or the other at some time or the other. It's a very good feeling to believe that despite our shortcomings we can still emerge at the top, confounding all our ill wishers and winning the admiration and respect of all concerned! But satisfying as this may be, lets take a closer look at the message we send our children through this fable.

First of all, our triumphs and our failures are defined by other people's opinions. The poor old duckling realises that he is beautiful only after seeing the response of others. While this is not all bad because none of us live in isolation, the fact remains that public opinion is not a good indicator of the value of our lives. Overstressed, this factor leads to depression and teen suicides as well as a life lived according to external pressures rather than internal convictions.

Secondly, time and circumstance are the deciding factors in this tale - the ugly duckling becomes a swan only after a certain physical elapse of time. For us maybe this shouldn't mean that it is only when you grow up (or become whatever it is that you are going to become) that you will automatically be recognized as a swan. Instead the message seems to be that the external recognition of your inherent virtues/talents are a factor of time and circumstances and should not determine your happiness or self-worth. After all the same qualities in another time and place would be valuable - so how can those qualities be bad at this time?

Finally, the ugly duckling probably never outgrew his complexes from the early years. So as parents whenever we are too hard on our children, we should perhaps remember that it's not enough for the ugly duckling to become a swan externally - he must feel beautiful from inside as well!


"Q. How can you help a child cope with depression because of poor marks?

A. This question assumes that there will be depression if there are poor marks. Some of the following will help-

  • Examination results should not be equated with knowing things. If the child is reasonably good at learning and understanding things, relax and help the child to become more effective in remembering and handling questions rather than just advising him or her to study.
  • Exam marks should not be the end of the world for you. Communicate to the child that you love him or her no matter what happens.
  • Keep a regular discussion with your child about work at school with regard to understanding the content and strategies for studying and answering questions, rather than just nagging the child to do homework.
  • Keep in regular touch with school and the teachers for feedback.
  • Do not criticize the child; be constructive in your suggestions.
  • Do not be depressed yourself, your tension will show and transfer itself to the child.
  • Find things about your child that you can praise. All children have positive attributes.
  • Remember, children who are emotionally stronger are more likely to be a success in life than children who are just good in academics are."

Dr Nandita Chaudhary
Child Development Specialist

  • Indianmoms was created as a site for moms by moms. It was our intention to provide you with conveniences and reassurances in the form of information and peer support which is otherwise so difficult to gather in today's urban nuclear family. What do you think about the site? Which pages or sections are your favourites and which are the ones you think the site could do without? What features would you like us to add to the site so as to make it a more informative and pleasurable surf for you? Please do write in and help us to help you get more value out of your internet time. You could also post a message if you wish. We look forward to hearing from you - soon!
  • All work and no play make a child dull. This wise old saying recognizes the need for play in stimulating and enhancing a child's mental development. Play is a valuable learning tool that is often underestimated by us mothers, but one that teaches a child valuable skills right from infancy onwards. The traditional wisdom would have us believe that the mother's role during the first six months of a baby's life is just being Mother Dairy and the Nappy-changer! But the mother's most crucial rule is to aid nature's learning process by stimulating the baby. At this age, play is the best stimulus, as not only does it help the baby discover the world around him but also contributes to infant development by exposing him to socializing, vocabulary, skills. Our article on Infants Play needs will tell you more about which toys would help develop your infant mentally and physically. For an older child play is a means of enjoyment, interaction with other children and also a great learning tool. It teaches an older child social skills, artistic expression, helps in increasing vocabulary and aids finer motor coordination. Moreover the child does not even realize that she is learning and as a result she absorbs everything better. Find out about the different types of play that will help your toddler realize her potential in play needs of toddlers.
  • You have taken The Beauty Queen's advice for yourself - now Shahnaz gives you her views on body care products for your baby.
  • Did you know that there are many games you can play with your child which aid in learning? The Learning Tools Experts tell you how. Also find out how opposites can be a learning tool and how to encourage your child in music.
  • The reviewers feature a great collection of Panchtantra tales on audio tapes. Also read reviews on a new concept in eating out, a site for children and a good book.


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