The Emotions Express! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to express their emotions through words.
Tina was playing in a garden. Suddenly, a piece of melodious music fell on her ears. Curious, she moved in the direction of the music and realized that the music was coming from a colourful train. The train was named "The Emotions Express." It had four bogies with different colours having names - Glad, Sad, Mad and Scared.
She was attracted to the green bogie named Glad since the music was being played in it. She opened the door, and saw a mind-blowing sight. Characters with name plates of different words were dancing hand in hand. One of the characters welcomed Tina saying, "Hi, I am the word Happy. Please join us in our celebration." Tina felt happy to meet Happy, as he looked happy. He then introduced his siblings and said, "Most kids are not familiar with Enthusiastic, Accepted, Proud, Excited, Courageous, Loved, Confident, and so they don’t use these words much. I am the most used word." Happy explained to Tina what each word meant and Tina said, "I promise to use these words while speaking, when I experience these emotions." Tina found these words to be full of positive energy. She wanted to spend more time with them but she was also curious to know what was there in the other bogies.
Next, she went to the blue bogie named Sad. On opening the door she saw characters with name plates sitting silently with sad faces in a corner. Tina introduced herself, "Hi, I'm Tina. What are your names? Why do you look so sad?" "Hi, I am the word, Sad," said one of the characters. "When Kids feel sad, they never use the word Sad. They usually express this emotion by crying. Meet my siblings, Disappointed, Embarrassed, Lonely, Guilty, and Hurt." Tina learnt the meaning of each word and remembered that every time she was feeling down, Sad was not the right word for it. She was now clear that when she didn't get what she wanted, she had to express it as "disappointed."
She then ran towards the red bogie named Mad. She could hear heated arguments. When Tina opened the door, a name plate came flying out! She dodged quickly and managed to avoid getting hit hard on the head. "I am the word Angry", said a heated voice. "We are fighting as there was a competition among all the words used by kids to express their feelings and we got the least score. When Kids feel angry, they never use the word Angry. They usually express their feeling by harming self, others or things. My siblings too have become aliens to kids. They are Frustrated, Jealous, Irritated, Bitter and Offended." Tina realised she too was one of those kids who was not aware of Angry, and his siblings. She would express these emotions by breaking objects or hitting others. She promised herself that the next time instead of expressing these feelings through body language; she would express them through words.
Last she entered the yellow bogie marked Scared. Scared came and introduced his siblings quickly to Tina in a shivery voice, "Hi, I am the word Scared. Meet Nervous, Anxious, Worried, Tensed and Threatened." Saying this Scared ran inside.
Just then someone poured water on Tina's face. She opened her eyes to know that she was woken up from a beautiful dream by her younger sister, Ela. Her first instinct was to hit Ela, but she remembered her promise and groaned, "Ela, I am feeling Frustrated because you woke me from my beautiful dream of The Emotions Express." Tina had learnt to express her emotions through words.
Double Role! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to concentrate while studying.
"Neha, how many times I have told you not to repeat the same mistakes", yelled Neha's mom, Anjali in a frustrated tone. Anjali was feeling drained correcting the repeated spelling mistakes made by Neha every day. "Neha, it's OK to make mistakes for the first time. No one is perfect. But, when I point out your mistakes to you, I expect you to note where you have gone wrong, correct it, remember the right thing to do and not to repeat the blunders the next time," shouted Anjali.
Anjali had tried different methods - from explaining to her in a nice manner, making her write the same word ten times, teaching through phonics and finally through shouting. But nothing seemed to work as Neha would not concentrate while studying.
Anjali wanted Neha to experience what a teacher goes through when a student is uncooperative. So, Anjali came up with an idea. The next day, Anjali sat down with Neha to take her studies. Anjali wrote a few questions to prepare Neha for the next day's test at school and told Neha to answer them. Neha repeated the same spelling mistakes in her answers. Anjali handed out a red pen to Neha and said, "Neha, now correct what you have written by referring to your school note book." Neha enthusiastically circled all the spelling mistakes in red and then handed over the book to Anjali. Anjali returned it back to Neha and told her, "For one week you have to play a double role - the role of a student as well as of a teacher. You have corrected your work. Now you have to decide whether the student in you wants to ignore the mistakes pointed out or work on them. The choice is yours."
Neha always scored good marks in class and would enjoy the attention she got. But she was aware that the good marks were a result of her mom's constant efforts in forcing her to study. She knew that her mom would sit with her and ensure she completes her studies. This made Neha always feel relaxed before exams. But now, Neha was made responsible for her studies. Neha liked the experience of playing the role of the teacher. But the next part of working on her mistakes was not going to be easy for her. But what choice was she left with? Neha pondered, "If the student in me chooses not to work on my mistakes, then the teacher in me will not be satisfied with my work." So she chose to please both the teacher and the student in her by focussing on her mistakes while studying and remembering not to repeat them. Neha had played the double role well.
Checkmate your Goals! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to teach children the importance of planning in achieving goals.
Amol loved playing chess. He attended his chess coaching classes regularly and participated in all the chess tournaments. His parents had always encouraged him to play chess since the age of six. They had heard that playing chess sharpens the brain. But little did they know that there's more to it.
One rainy day, Amol's uncle Ravi visited him. As the rain pitter-pattered on the roof top, he noticed Amol sitting in the balcony with his friend, engrossed in the game of chess. Amol's friend left in a while. Uncle Ravi challenged Amol, "Amol, can I play one game of chess with you?" He immediately noticed a spark in Amol's eyes. Amol responded enthusiastically, "Sure uncle, let's play." Both tried to protect their king and attack as many rival pieces as possible.
As the game proceeded, Uncle Ravi quizzed Amol, "Amol, tell me the objectives of this game."
Amol quickly explained, "Uncle, to win you have to use each chess piece wisely to checkmate your opponents king. At the same time you have to protect your king. For this, you need to plan your each move carefully." Uncle Ravi was impressed. He grilled further, "What if the opponent makes an unexpected move?” Amol smiled and answered, "The opponent can always make an unexpected move anytime. You have to be flexible enough to make a change in your plan."
Uncle Ravi was convinced now that he could convey his message to Amol. He asked, "Amol, have you realised that achieving goals is like a game of chess?" Amol was puzzled. He had never thought about it. Uncle Ravi explained, "In chess you plan your moves carefully. Similarly, you need to make a proper plan to achieve your goals. Look at each of your chess pieces. They are just like your strengths. Each chess piece has a unique ability and can be used for a specific purpose. Similarly, you need to use each of your strengths in the right manner to overcome obstacles while moving towards your goals." Amol was stunned as till now he had seen the chess pieces only as objects used for playing the game. Uncle Ravi continued, "In chess we have to be prepared for any unexpected moves made by the opponent. Similarly, while achieving goals you may come across unexpected situations which you may not have thought of while planning. You need to be flexible and change your plans accordingly to Checkmate your goals!" Amol set a goal of winning the upcoming school chess tournament and started planning how to achieve it.
Nurture the Inner Seeds by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to work on practising their talents.
Neha was given a new class assignment. On reaching home she handed over some Moong seeds to her mom and said, "Mom, look at what the teacher gave us today. She has told us to sow them, keep them in sunlight and water them daily. We have to show the plants to her after a week." Her mom replied, "Neha since it is your assignment, it is your responsibility. I will guide you if you need any help. Neha agreed and sowed the Moong seeds in a pot and watered it. Next day, Neha forgot about the seeds.
After a week, her teacher reminded them to get their assignment to school the next day. Neha panicked for a moment, but then remembered sowing the seeds and was sure that they would have grown into plants. On reaching home, Neha went to check on the seeds. But she was shocked to see that there were no plants in the pot. She screamed, "Oh Mamma, see this! The seeds which I had planted have not grown. I must tell the teacher that the seeds were defective." Her mom asked her, "Neha, why don't you check with your classmates if their seeds too didn’t grow?" So Neha visited her friend Poonam's house in her neighbourhood to check her seeds. Poonam's seeds had grown into plants. Poonam explained to her that she had watered them daily and now they had grown into beautiful little plants. Neha realised that she had forgotten the teacher’s instructions to water the seeds daily. She returned home and told her mom, "Mom, we forgot to water the plants." Her mom smiled. She said, "Neha, I did remember, but I wanted you to learn to take responsibility for your own assignment. So what have you understood from this incident, dear?" Neha replied, "That I should take responsibility for my assignment. I also learnt that for seeds to grow into plants we need to water them daily." Her mom replied, "Yes, you are right Neha. Seeds have the potential to grow into plants, but only those which are watered daily, grow into plants. Similarly my dear child, you have the potential to excel at dancing and drawing but if you don't work on your talents regularly, they will not grow just like these seeds."
Neha could not submit her assignment the next day but learnt a valuable lesson about taking responsibility for one's assignments and the importance of nurturing one's talents. She started practising dance and drawing regularly to nurture her inner seeds of talent. She also re-planted some Moong seeds and watered them daily and this time they grew into beautiful plants.
Teaching Kids Life Skills through Stories by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Do this, don't do that and the chorus never ends... Many of us have grown up listening to this. Isn't it irritating to be continuously corrected and advised on what is to be done? On the other hand, most of us have fond memories of listening to stories in our childhood. As most of us prefer stories to lectures why not use stories to teach kids? We have heard many stories that teach us messages on moral values, like the goose that laid the golden egg that teaches us not to be greedy. However, I haven’t come across stories that can help my kids deal with the day to day challenges they come across. I decided to come up with stories for kids on these topics.
Let me share a real life incident. My 3 year daughter Reya used to not talk to people other than her family. I tried explaining to her how important it was to open up. But to no avail. My parents, Amey, Amey's parents all tried to explain why she needed to be outgoing, but Reya just smiled and did not change. Then one day I thought of telling her the same in form of a story. The story seemed to make an impression on her. This is the story... A Tale of a Tongue
Once there lived a girl named Tina. She was knowledgeable but shy. She felt comfortable to speak to only her family members and one or two friends at school. When her parents would introduce her to anyone, or even if she met someone she knew, she would neither greet that person nor speak anything. Tina's parents kept encouraging her to speak to others but she never listened. In school too, Tina would not respond to questions asked by her teacher, despite knowing the answers. Her tongue was very upset with her as she was not making good use of it.
One day, Tina had gone for a school picnic. While playing, she got lost in the forest. In the forest, she came across several people but she didn’t feel comfortable asking them for help, as she had never spoken to people other than her family before. She tried to search her way out but only got deeper into the forest. Tired, she fell asleep under a tree. When she woke up, she saw her parents and teachers who had managed to find her with the help of some locals. Out of joy, she wanted to scream "mamma" but no words came out from her mouth despite her best efforts. Her parents and teachers got worried and immediately took her to the doctor. The doctor asked her to show her tongue. But when she opened her mouth, lo and behold, Tina’s tongue was missing! Tina was very sad and started weeping silently.
Next day, Tina’s tongue came and sat on her windowsill and said hello. Tina was surprised to see this sight. Through gestures, she asked her tongue the reason for leaving her. Her tongue replied “Tina, you were blessed with a tongue but you didn’t make proper use of it. You didn’t speak to anyone other than your family. You didn’t answer questions in class. You didn’t use me even in your hour of need. So I thought I can be of use to some unfortunate child, who doesn’t have a tongue but would love to speak.” Tina realised her mistake. She promised her tongue that she would change. Her tongue agreed to forgive Tina and returned back to her mouth.
From that day onwards, Tina started greeting known people, making new friends and answering questions in class. Tina and her tongue lived happily ever after.
Reya liked the story. She identified with Tina and found that Tina's situation was similar to what she was facing. The visual image of the tongue talking to Tina made it more impactful than listening to a boring lecture. Having characters and dialogues made it interesting for Reya and she didn't switch off. Over the next few days, I continued telling her more such stories. Slowly after a few weeks, Reya started to open up. Since I found that telling stories works well while teaching kids good habits and life skills, I came up with a few more stories. In one of my stories, 'DARE to Answer!' a girl Siya shares a technique of how to answer questions in class with her shy friend Riya. This story can be used by parents to encourage kids to answer questions in class. In 'Battery Down!', Rahul's body asks him to charge it regularly by eating healthy food on time. This can be used by parents to encourage kids to eat breakfast in the morning. In 'The Third Option', Karan's Grandpa shows him three pictures to make him understand the importance of self motivation.
Instead of giving kids boring lectures and repeatedly saying do this, don't do this I found that it is more relaxing and enjoyable for both the parent and the child if the message is conveyed through stories. So, the next time you want to share some important message with your kid, try weaving a story around it and see the difference!
Strengths Based Parenting
Guest blog post by Corporate Trainer Amey Hegde
Recently, I came across a book "Strengths Based Parenting—Developing Your Child’s Innate Talents" by Dr. Mary Reckmeyer, Executive Director of Gallup’s Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center. According to this book, parents should focus on discovering and developing their children's talents and strengths instead of trying to fix their weaknesses. Reckmeyer says that while the effort spent in fixing weaknesses can only lead to marginal improvement, the same effort spent on an area of talent can make your child excel in that area.
To start out on this journey, here are some ways in which parents can identify their children's strengths:
i) Strengths spotting: This can be useful for kids under 10 years who are too young for online tests. In strengths spotting, parents observe and pay attention to areas where kids learn more quickly and gain satisfaction, and encourage them in those areas. Some examples of inborn talents are painting, writing or sporting ability. If you notice your child is interested in and good at art, you could enrol her in an art class and provide her good quality colours at home. You could then have a mini exhibition of her artwork at home to encourage her talent. On the other hand personality strengths can be strengths of character like kindness, self-control, persistence. To identify personality strengths, parents can try to figure out the strengths which are the reasons behind their child's various actions. For example a child's kindness could be the reason why he shares with his friends, another child's self-control might be why she is able to finish homework instead of watch TV, and another child's persistence could be the reason he is able to keep practising while learning a new sport.
ii) VIA Youth Survey: Kids aged 10-17 could take the VIA Youth Survey, a free online self-assessment tool that helps young individuals discover their personality strengths. On completing the assessment, one receives a free Character Strengths Profile, a ordered list of one’s strengths. One can also purchase the VIA Youth Decoder Report which provides detailed descriptions, activities and tips for the child's top strengths. This report can help the kid to recognize and exert his strengths in different ways. The VIA survey is available at http://www.viacharacter.org.
iii) Gallup StrengthsExplorer: Kids aged 10 to 14 could take the StrengthsExplorer, Gallup's online assessment for students that allows one to recognize one’s three strongest emerging talents. The assessment offers strategies and action items to help students and their parents leverage strengths in the classroom and in life. Visit http://www.strengthsbasedparenting.com
Wishing all parents a happy Strengths Based Parenting experience!
Amey Hegde is a Corporate Trainer & Motivational Speaker based in Margao, Goa. http://ameyhegde.in
Three Cheers for NEAR! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to start conversations with peers.
"Speak something, just don't smile." Tara was used to hearing this dialogue from her mom every time she was introduced to someone of her age. Poor Tara wished she could speak confidently and make friends easily. But she didn’t know what to speak!
One day after yet another scolding from her mom, she was sitting alone in the balcony. Her father approached her and asked her, "What happened Tara? Why are you so sad?" Tara burst into tears and replied, "Oh, Daddy! I know it is important to socialise and speak to new people since we make new friends, get to know other's ideas and learn new things. But my problem is I don't know how to start a conversation."
Tara's dad consoled her, "Dear, I will share with you a NEAR method which will help you to start a conversation when you meet someone for the first time." Tara breathed a sigh of relief. Her dad explained, "You can start asking any of these questions when you meet a person with whom you want to start a conversation. You can ask the person's Name and Education - which standard and school they are studying. You can ask about All their favourite things like food, sport, cartoon character, TV show. You can also ask about their Residence -where they stay. You will surely find some common interest which will take your conversation forward. But Tara, don't just keep asking questions as it will make it sound like a police interrogation. Share some of your details too before you ask information to make the other person feel comfortable." Tara was overjoyed. The NEAR method offered her a ray of hope to make new friends. Next day at the park, Tara's mom was surprised to hear Tara speak confidently to the girl sitting on the other side of the see-saw, "Hi, I am Tara. What is your name?"
Now, she not only speaks confidently with new kids but also encourages others to use NEAR to converse without fear!
The Third Option by Dr Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to be self motivated.
There was a boy named Karan. Karan's daily routine used to be like this. He had to be woken up by his mom for school, after repeated calls and shouting. Karan would then do his daily tasks like brushing his teeth, bathing, and getting ready for school very slowly. He had to be woken one hour early so that he could finish his breakfast. And finally he would walk to school like a zombie, without any life. Karan's mom had to constantly push him for studies and activities. She was worried and wanted to change his behaviour.
One day his grandfather visited them. He noticed that Karan lacked enthusiasm and self motivation. He called Karan and showed him three pictures. Each picture had three characters, a mom, a dad and their son walking on the road. In the first picture, the parents were pulling the child as he was resisting and trying to move in opposite direction. In the second picture, the child was walking along with the parents. In the third picture, the child was running ahead and pulling the parents. Grandpa asked Karan, "My dear child, imagine that at the end of the road there is an ice-cream parlour, a toy shop or a play zone, then which of these three pictures would you think is apt for the situation?" Karan grinned and quickly replied, "Of course Grandpa, the picture with the child running ahead and pulling his parents." Grandpa smiled. He said, "Now think that at the end of the road, there is growth, success, health and happiness and the child's parents want to take him there. Given these three situations, how do you think the child’s growth will get affected? First case - the child resists the parents. Second case - the child co-operates with parents. Third case - the child enthusiastically initiates and is self motivated. Karan thought for a while and said "Well Grandpa, in the first situation, if the child resists, he will be trying to go in the opposite direction of growth. In the second case, the child will be convinced and just follow parent's instructions but in the third case, his growth will be accelerated and he will reach his goal faster as he himself initiates it and is self motivated. Grandpa smiled at Karan as he had understood an important lesson about self motivation, the third option.
Battery Down! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to eat healthy meals on time.
Once there was a boy named Rahul. He had developed a bad habit. He would skip breakfast and also not eat his tiffin at school. This started affecting his health. He could not concentrate in class and also didn't feel like playing due to lack of energy. He started falling sick repeatedly and could not attend school regularly.
One day Rahul was down with a fever. As he was lying on his bed, he heard a groan, "aah." As he was alone in the room Rahul thought, "who could it be?" Again came the voice, "I'm feeling hungry, please feed me." "Who is it?" he asked. "My master doesn't provide me any good food, and expects me to work throughout the day? Is it fair?" the voice complained. Rahul replied, "Oh no, not at all. That's very mean, but, who are you and who is your master?" "I am your body and you are my master, and you don't give me nutritious food on time", groaned the voice. "My body? And how do you say I don't feed you? I do have lunch and dinner." defended Rahul. His body continued, "In the morning, when I need to use my energy the most, you don’t give me any food. I have to wait till afternoon and it’s only thanks to your mom who forces you to eat rice, rotis, vegetables, dal, eggs, chicken, fish and other healthy foods that I am able to survive. It is very strange to see that you kids don't forget to charge your tablet's battery on time, but you’ll take the battery of your body for granted. I too need to be charged frequently, with a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and a light snack like a delicious fruit in between meals, to make up for the energy that is drained from me." Rahul was shocked to hear this from his body. He had not realised that his body too needed to be charged regularly with nutritious food." He promised his body that he will have his three meals on time and also have a healthy snack in between meals.
Rahul recovered fast from his illness and became a healthy and happy kid once again. Now he remembers to keep his body charged with healthy food.
DARE to Answer! by Dr. Jyoti Hegde
Parents and teachers can use this short story to encourage children to answer questions in class.
There were two friends, Riya and Siya. Siya was a confident girl while Riya was shy. Both would study together and were sincere and hardworking.
In school, Siya would speak to her teachers and answer any question that was asked in class. Riya would not attempt to answer any questions. Due to this, she would get a scolding from her teacher. Siya was a good friend and wanted to help Riya. She asked Riya, "Riya, why don't you answer when the teacher asks questions in class? Don't you know the answer? Do you feel scared of the teacher? Do you feel all will laugh at you if your answer is wrong? Do you feel the teacher will ask you further questions and then you may not be able to answer those questions?" Riya replied, "Oh Siya! I do know the answers most of the time just like you as we study together regularly. But I get scared to stand up and speak in front of all. I feel nervous and get butterflies in my stomach. So I avoid answering. Please help me." Siya replied, "Riya, I will try to help you overcome your fear. I will share a technique which helped me speak more confidently in class. You have to just use the DARE method." Riya asked, "What is the DARE method?" Siya explained, "When the teacher asks a question, the first step is Decide that you will answer. The second step is Arrange the answer in your mind. The third step is Raise your hand and the fourth step is Express yourself clearly and loudly." Riya was very happy. She agreed to try out the DARE method the very next day for the general knowledge quiz as she had prepared thoroughly for the quiz.
The next day in class, the teacher asked in the quiz, "Which is the national bird of India?" Riya Decided she will answer. She quickly Arranged the answer in her mind and then Raised her hand. The teacher was happy to give her a chance. Riya Expressed herself clearly and loudly. "It's the Peacock!" All clapped for her correct answer. Riya felt as proud as a peacock.
From that day, there was no turning back for Riya. Now, she not only answers questions herself but also encourages others to DARE to answer questions in class!
Dr. Jyoti Hegde is a Corporate soft skills trainer and a life skills trainer for kids based in Goa, India. Her passion is to conduct sessions for kids on the values, habits, and life skills needed for health, happiness and success.