Questions people asked and the response I meant to give but I didn’t !

“Don’t worry I know what you mean .. please don’t mind what I thought .. at least I didn’t say it .. but I meant to !”- rohini

Talk Child is rich with stories. Most stories are about real problems and concerns.

They are food to Talk Child. They help us grow.

Then there are those that are sauces and pickles. They add that extra flavor to Talk Child and life in general. They make you chuckle.. distract you from the serious business of living.

These stories are short. They ping into Talk Child’s inbox each day, as questions, queries, messages and mails. There are some verbal face-to-face exchanges too, that make you wonder.
You wonder what to say.. whether to say those first thoughts that come to mind or not say them.

Those are hard moments to manage.. yet in retrospect, they are the moments that make it to the ‘happy’ memory bank.

Sharing some of those.

[The client query is listed first and my thoughts which I didn’t share are written in italics].

Here they are :
1. “How old is the counselor at Talk Child?”

      Well, as old as me!

2. “How many years of experience do you have ?”

   My career just took off (yippee) with your question; you just added to my experience of understanding people!

3. “Do you have children ..”

      Would you trust me any less if I didn’t ..?

4. “Are you South Indian .. is your second name Sethi or Shetty ?”

      Why .. you mean you wouldn’t seek my help if my second name was Shitty ?? Oh  you made me sad today!

5. “Can you read my mind by looking at my face?”

      I can read you better by reading your questions .. please go on.. litter some more .. I’ll tell you more!

6. “Hey.. hi”. Period. Background information read as: bachelor.. rich joint family..big business.

      Well, I think you need a wife and a heir to your throne..not a counselor! 

7. “Do you help with adult problems?”

      Sure .. for starters, just don’t have kids till you are sorted!

8. “Counselling sessions are expensive. Do you have a package deal?”

      Yes water and coffee is free.. and if you behave well a candy too!

9. “How can you read someone’s mind through a Skype call/ online counselling?”

     HE-HE-HA-HA 💀.. mind readers can do anything 👻💀 beware !

10. “Whats the guarantee that you will help my child to perform better ?”

        Your warranty as a parent has expired. Please refresh .. And don’t have any more kids!

11. “Can we have a trial session?”

        So who is going to try whom? Or are we going to discuss an imaginary problem ?? Or are you just going to try the food I cook ! I’m afraid the trial plea is rejected!

12. “Is online counselling free?”

        Only the air you breathe is free my dear .. excluding the pure air in homes with air purifiers!

13. “My kid refuses to eat what I cook, but eats what anyone else cooks..”

        The kid either dislikes you or your cooking ..

14. “Can you tell me in one simple line how to tackle my teenager?”

       Can you please introduce yourself, your family, your child, your existence and your problem in one simple line..

15. A friend at a party: “I just need to know one small thing quickly ..”

     Any matter pertaining to your child isn’t small. Can you bake a cake quickly..? And I don’t want to know what all you can do quickly!

16. Can you occupy my child for one hour everyday..?

        Oops I don’t function as a television set, I’m afraid.

17. “How old are your children? They must be perfect kids ..”

    Oh yes no problems at all. Our address is Heaven, we eat clouds for meals and GOD tackles our issues first in queue, hands-on, for free! Being a counselor is sure a privilege!

Well, that much for now 😊. A chuckle a day, keeps our worries away. Your thoughts keep us alive. Loosen your grip on your strangest thoughts 🙂 .. let the queries keep coming .. let the craziness continue. If you don’t mind asking, I really don’t mind responding !

Love, Your counselor.

 Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                 

Child Development Consultant

The World of Screens – social media and dual lives

Social media has created dual lives.
Dubious living operates on several levels.

Level one
You have this actual lifestyle and another fanciful creation that you showcase on social media, which doesn’t really exist in reality.
Its just like portraying a concept, that may have been, if desires matched reality!

Like the photographs you post, the opinions and forwards you share. For instance, as a counsellor I like to “be seen” sharing about children /families/conflicts/human development/psychology/ mental health and well being but definitely not about,say, fashion and films.

We like to be known in a particular way and social media provides us that glittery stage to perform like a star, at a click-and-a tap! We can create and present a new version of ourselves each day and change this to suit the moment and audience.

Level two
We have these dubious friendships.
As outrageous as it sounds,”friends” we will divide into two broad categories.

1.Those people we share information with all day over social platforms. We call them “friends” in the absence of a better way to describe them. You could call them accomplices, as you exchange pleasantries with them almost every time you are in the “social ring”. They sound encouraging with a wow, a like,a thumbs up, a well-done or an awesome!

You share information with them…lots of it, each day, which is of no real significance in your day-to-day stress or business of living!

In fact a lot of you train your mind to conceive them as real friends, in the absence of “true love” kind of friendships in your life. They tend to fill up some spaces of emotional deficit or just your time maybe.
Now, some of them do end up becoming significant for you, but most don’t.

2. Real friendships are a habit of the heart. They are not like conscious intentional choices you make, they just happen!
Its true friendship when it is not based on any single need, like most other relationships are.
If it lasts only while the social situation lasts, or fulfills needs of time and space, it isn’t true love and therefore doesn’t qualify to be the second kind of real friendship we were talking about.
Favors, parties, social meetings, peer pressure, sugary exchanges and short term gains do not define a friendship. Only true love does!

Level three
Perhaps this is the most dangerous level of dual existence. It is characterized by dubious constructs which you erect in your mind. The exclusionary world which you desire to be a part of, takes you away from your reality, mindfulness, real life and real people/friends.

So you start believing that you look like that filtered and edited photograph of yours. You believe you belong where you don’t; you portray a version of yourself, which doesn’t seem like you, to your real family and friends.

This is a consequence of severe dual existence or dubious friendships and could happen inside your mind, independent of other people or pressures. This mindlessness is risky and a threat to your sanity!

The Cyber powered world hypes fear and fakery.

You bake and sugar coat almost every bit of you – your dressing style, sweet smiles, sugar dusted words, fake laughter.

You may even fancy ‘wrap’ your spouse and kids to look the ‘part’; exaggerate your income and lifestyle, turn your house upside down to receive that person you wish to impress, hoping it will help you to “fit in”.

All of it just to match the expectations of your audience and followers in the world of screens. You remain guarded for most of the hours you remain awake. Not sure if its a hard situation to be in or a sad one.

In such craziness, its important to teach kids to choose thoughts carefully, as brain science tells that the brain believes what it sees, hears and what its fed!

Directing kids can be extremely tough when adults are finding common ground with their own self.

Duality is almost the norm.

Social media beautifully supports interactions and the need to communicate swiftly, but can work dangerously against the human connection, when used as a replacement to a real smile, those glad eyes and a warm hug; or for that matter, even a resentful voice, a jealous face and a mean sarcastic snub. Something so singular about those too!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                        

Child Development Consultant





Funny is funny for everybody .. one size fits all!

Me talking to myself..
-“Does laughing at the wrong moment get you into trouble?
-Yes it does.
-Would you still laugh/do the same..?
Yes I would.
-Why ?
-Because it works for me .. always!
It feels good and  humour helps lots more than it ruins”.

Thinking funny is a gift. Its the facility of  a well exercised head. Nonsense comes to some naturally, yet appreciating the funny isn’t hard for anyone.
Humour is about the unexpected. Its like something suddenly falling on you. How much it affects you, depends on how well you receive it, catch it, avoid it or bounce it back ! Every shot of humour needs to be enjoyed before evaluating it’s intent.
Sadly, the search for intent in humour is unending, as humour lacks intent. Its only purpose being to breathe light and easy!

Humour is cathartic. It absorbs stress.
So, speak your first thoughts, especially if they’re amusing. Share them with your opponent. Startle them. Surprise them. Shock isn’t always bad for health. Funny shocks are good. People may be offended at first.They may be angry next. Use your lines, nevertheless. Just use them courageously. Its worth a try. Funny is funny for everyone. One size fits all. Quite like tasty. Maybe like chocolates, or ice cream may hap(perhaps)! Yum is yum, no matter who or what or where !

Only caution, practice moving away a bit as you speak and run if its an emergency. Stamina is important. Stamina and courage are important assets. Build on them anyways.

The irritated are sure to ape you, at another time and place, and surprise someone else. And themselves too! And not share it with you. You’ll be lucky if you get to witness that. Its like a reward, which you may never get.

Rest assure more problems will not add on. Humour solves problems. In case it doesn’t, it dilutes conflicts. In case it doesn’t, it makes you feel sorted. Humour heals.

A sunny side to the funny side is that special moment when your funniness is received with an equal chuckle (maybe a mental hidden chuckle), and appreciated by this person you’ve been funny with. Now that is rare. But when that happens,  it’s a moment of true love. That’s the “heart-with-an-arrow going through it” moment ! You’ve pierced through the other heart .. successfully enough to make it beat a bit for you. Just a bit maybe. Or a bit more. The beginning of true love kind-of, valuable friendship.
That is because the best kind of humour is often rooted in the truth. And truth is the base of all lasting relationships.

Occasionally you need to stay still and not run away but hear the person you have upset with your nonsense. In that case, you can look down as you listen to the verbal thrashing, and adore your shoes or pedicured feet. Check the screaming person’s shoes or feet too, if the bashing lasts long enough ! Just a “meanwhile” thing to do!

Humour has the power to heal, laughing is therapeutic and if amusing someone comes to you naturally, you are truly gifted with powers to guide you, inside out!
Think funny. Be funny. There is no method to madness. Idea is to be consistently inconsistent!
The universe isn’t going anywhere with your serious righteousness. While boredom can surely kill you!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                        

Child Development Consultant


Bits and bites to set it all right!

Meals become tasks, and tasks become mountains, when they are presented in enormous forms.

Breaking tasks and instructions into small bits and mini bites helps kids achieve their goals.
Huge goals look scary to the child, totally unattainable and not worth expending upon.

Even before the kids begins to attempt the task, they feel discouraged.

So a huge heap of rice mixed with some dal/curry and curd over it; a large untidy sandwich, a thick roti/parantha with a bowl of vegetables that have lost their original form, is all too unattractive to try !

(I mean, no one can tell whether its beans,peas,cabbage or carrots .. the masalas/spices, oil and turmeric, make it all look the same!)

Likewise, a huge note about a complex project at school, worded in an even more complicated manner; a pile of books to read; or a list of home assignments to tackle, can be extremely overwhelming for kids.

Big goals do not work with children.
Lengthy dialogues and instructions are lost at the first boggy of the train. Several questions asked at the same time become an oat porridge, all mixed up and gooey with no form, beginning or end!

Something like “how was your day,any homework?; you’d better finish that project today, before tennis class because the music teacher is expected after that .. are you hungry? Did you eat at school? What was served at lunch today? Was it spicy..? Remind me to complain about the school food in the next parent teacher interaction!”

Presentation matters whether its food or instructions or assignments. The way tasks are presented is very important for everyone – young and old. Every instruction and task needs to be presented in an age appropriate manner, at the eye level of the child, in the voice and tone they understand.

Else you may just end up wasting your efforts and time. Your instructions and dialogues may sound very foreign .. almost extra terrestrial!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                 

Child Development Consultant


Counselling is not about advising in the elevator or chatting at a party ..

A strange inhibition clouds my otherwise confident self, when someone asks me what I do.  I imagine telling a parent, that I am a child development consultant/ counsellor, and the inside of the parent’s mind getting into a kind of cosmic frenzy, tangles of guilt, generating a few hundred questions that need to be answered in the next couple of seconds and a thousand not- so- happy images of their child in their head. Exhausting thought! The less talked about the better! I have begun to call my fear, a complex…  the counsellor’s complex!

I also imagine being expected to rattle out, 5 tricks to conceive a bright/smart baby; 10 techniques to de-stress children;  15 tips to keep your marriage “alive” after your child’s birth;  20 games for children’s physical-mental-cognitive-spiritual development;  25 things to look for when choosing a school for your child; 101 activities to occupy your child during summer vacations and so on. And if I were to say, “Do nothing! Just be your normal, natural, instinctive self;  go with the flow, let the kids be, let them eat well, play well, touch sand, water-play, play in a park, enjoy the swing, slide down a couple of times, fly kites, twiddle with their electronic devices, do pillow fights, gaze at the stars and sleep well” , that would mean I need a therapist and some help myself!

There are no 5,10,15,20 ways and tricks to do anything with things that breathe and grow and develop and evolve. How could there possibly be a formula to development, when we are astonishingly different from the person next to us. Each child and adult is a unique, dynamic and extremely complex unit, connected to other such complex, unique beings through varied relations. How could something that works for me, work for my neighbour! How could a list of guidelines ever suffice for the dynamism around!

So what is counselling? And what it’s not!

First what it is.

Counselling is the art of talking therapies.

It is listening; listening to a person who seeks help.

It is about coming to terms with problems you are facing (for the client), with the ultimate aim of overcoming or overpowering them.

It is about defining your own goals and arriving at your own plan of action.

It involves setting aside time in order to explore difficulties and stressful emotional feelings.

It is a two way effort.

It entails mutual respect, confidentiality, responsibility and consideration between the client and therapist.

Counselling is speaking to, and sharing your thoughts with, someone who doesn’t know your past and is not going to be a part of your future; is not judgemental and has no bearing whatsoever on your existence or attitudes. The counsellor is a complete stranger in that sense!

Counselling is about equipping people to help themselves. As cliché’ as it may sound, the ultimate objective of counselling is to help you, become your own therapist.

Getting “counselled” is about working around your own self – accepting shortfalls, recognizing weaknesses, exercising your latent and apparent strengths.

Counselling supports you, brings forth your strengths and redirects you. It does not create a new you! The goals need to come from the client, for them to work.

What it is not!

Counselling is not direct advising. It is not giving instructions either. Direct advice seldom works long term.

It is not giving ideas in the elevator, during evening walks, at a party or social gathering.

It is not about getting emotionally involved with the client, looking at clients from your perspectives, based on your value systems.

It is not about getting bogged down by other people’s stress either.

Counsellors are not magicians or mind readers and sadly so (how I wish they were). The thing about magic is that one loves seeing it over and over again, even if you know the trick.

So counselling isn’t magic, no tricks to it and no repeat performances!

Each person is a new trivia and each session a new tale!

Counselling is also not about manipulating your environment and the people in it. It is about looking within and working around your own strengths and struggles!

Counselling is definitely not for those who don’t want to be helped or don’t think they need to change. It cannot be forced. So if you haven’t been able to extract desirable behaviour from your child/teenager for instance, in all those years with the kid, despite being the biological parent and caretaker, it’s unlikely that the child will respond to a stranger (the counsellor) or oblige the professional help you seek and transform miraculously!

Counselling is about appreciating the human form and mind. It is about recognizing that every child/adult is a complete opus, an entity. Each human creation has unique thoughts, feelings, strengths and responses packed inside them, to tackle most situations. They may need a listening ear, some redirecting and a fresh perspective at times.

You just need to realize that!


Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                        

Child Development Consultant









Postpone the ‘me’
Postpone the tea
Listen to that little voice
And see,
What’s intriguing them,
What’s confusing them
what’s scaring them and
What’s amazing them!

Talk to them,
Listen to their stories,
See what brings them joy,
What excites them,
What makes them glad
And what makes them sad!

Play is the window to their world;
Peep into their make-believe,
Their fantasy and roles,
A whole new world they are creating,
And developing their souls!

When your child grows,
Things don’t change too much;
Watching them can be even more fun!
Just don’t let them know,
When you stare,
But be the one to show,
How much you care!

Age doesn’t change the relationship or equation with your child,
Only greater space is what they desire;
Space to wonder, space to blink space they can call their own,
To sit and think!

Protect and provide,
Nourish and guide
Share some of your conflicts,
And confusing thoughts,
They love to be counsels and advisers of sort!
Your endeavours and their development,
Work in sync,
When either stops, it spoils the link!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant                                                                           


Peer pressure in adults

 If you don’t control your mind, someone else will”

If a parent is apprehensive about taking the kids to the mall, and children do not allow the parent to enter the shopping space or leave it, without disturbing their peace, throwing a tantrum or insisting on buying “this” or “that” thing which some friend possesses, it could be a trap of peer influence we are witnessing!

Children’s behaviour, demands and desires often reflect the influence of their peers. We witness this more in kids nearing their teens and in teenagers. Peer influence –good or bad is a reality. Growing kids are “the influence” sometimes and “the influenced” at other times.

Unfortunately the pressure to be like that attractive person, the desire to be part of a social group or the desire to generally ‘fit in’ doesn’t end in childhood. These feelings reappear in our lives as adults. They probably grow with us.

Peer and societal pressure is a reality of adult life. And adults succumb to it as much as children do, and more!

Adult peer pressure is injurious, it’s controlling, and influences us far more than we realize. Ironically, we are expected to be more at peace with who we are, by the time we are mature adults.

Perhaps living up to these expectations creates the problems? Perhaps not..

While children have several buffers in their life, to balance them, cushion them and keep them grounded by force or by love, the struggle for adults is far greater.

The pressures to fit in or belong to a social or professional group come from within us in adult years. And we are too grown up to admit to such pressures, let alone admitting to giving in to them!

It seems normal to hear from children that they want that device or dress or hairstyle, which their friend flaunts, while hearing the same from an adult is definitely not the norm. Adults never do admit to any such desires. Sadly, a huge majority of adults are full of them!

Peer pressure in adults manifests in different ways.

  1. We may at a subconscious level be succumbing to pressures to be like a peer who seems comfortable, happy and content with the way they are; who seems sound in family, health and wealth. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?! Well, that’s the perception at least. Our perceptions create all the pressure in adult years. The reality may be far from that perceived fairy tale!
  1. Sometimes conforming to a group is important to us. Feeling different from a group can be hard. This usually happens when people move to a new city or start a new school or job. This often means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment. To avoid feeling out of place, you do things to make sure you feel like the rest of the group. When people feel unsure about themselves, they are more likely to feel the effects of peer pressure.


  1. Peer pressure in parent groups, to match up to other children’s abilities is probably the most awful kind of peer stress in adults. The stress around kids’ performance (competitive parenting) and feelings of resentment that follow, are doubly disturbing, to the parent and child!

The adult peer pressure cycle of conformity is mildly vicious. If you succumb to one pressure, another crops up! New pressures keep erupting time and again. By the time the person catches up with the crowd, the crowd moves further to newer standards, abilities, fashion etc. The target keeps getting pushed far and further ahead. Catching up becomes a stress for life; until we realize it and change course consciously or are simply too exhausted to cope!

Off course we all love to be appreciated, we all love attention and we love to be a part of a peer group that nods to what we say and how we behave. Positive peer influence is the one which works for our betterment, drives and motivates us. Peer influence is positive as  long as the pressure isn’t stress; as long as it doesn’t alter our relationships, pass on to the kids and as long as it doesn’t risk our sanity and mindfulness!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant                                                                           


“My parents fight a lot”- 9 year old child.

”How do you feel when they fight?”- I asked.

“Sad..scared sometimes!!”- said the 9 year old child.

“Did you tell them that?”- I asked

“No, they are too busy at that time” – child

“Tell them when they are free” – I said

“I forget that time, we are too busy being happy that time”- child

“Do they fight more or are they happy more often” – I asked

“Off course, happy, fights are when they have nothing to do!”- child

“So, it’s best to keep them busy then..” – I said

“Ya, I keep them busy. I have many ideas, like forcing them to take me out, buy me something”- child

“Does that work?” – I asked

“Yes, but I can’t keep them busy always, I have to do my own thing also and leave them alone..!” – child

“Hmm..I understand..” – I said

“Don’t worry, it’s all time pass…nothing really happens. They become friends and forget about it. Just like we fight with friends?! Does your family fight??”– child

“oh yes, all the time..” – I

“See, I told you its normal, just keep them busy!”- 9 year old child.

“Hmm, I guess I should try that…thank you!” – I smiled.

“Keep your family busy, so they fight less!”- Lesson of the day, learnt from my 9 year old friend.

Pretending to be that perfect couple doesn’t serve much. It just takes you away from your reality, puts your mindfulness and sanity at risk. Denying conflicts or brushing problems under the mat also doesn’t help anyone. Not even your kids. You just postpone hassles.

Perfect relationships do not exist. Pretentious ones never impress me enough to emphasize upon. Real relationships involve conflicts.

Kids learn lots from conflicts and their resolution.

Conflicts are real life learning experiences for children. So, on the one hand they may be a cause of temporary stress for the quarrelling partners and may be disturbing for children at times (depending on the age of the kids), on the other hand they teach children that,

  •  Disagreements happen;
  •  Arguments are natural in most relationships;
  •  Quarrels need not translate into break ups;
  •  Every problem has a solution;
  • Compromise is a reality and it works;
  • Resolution of conflicts is important to move on;
  •  People have moods and tempers;
  • Relationships evolve;
  • Apologies are worth it and sorry is a useful word;
  • Patience is an acquired skill – practice makes perfect;
  •  Also teaches them what is acceptable behavior and what is not.

Perhaps the greatest learning of brawls is that people are different and they think, feel, react, and respond very differently from one another; and the same people behave differently in different situations; because human beings are victims of their circumstances.

Loud argle-bargles result in anger, arguments, condemning, fierce exchange of opinions and judgments; but learning is what follows.

Real relationships teach children far more than pretentious ones. Conflicts and their resolution are important to witness, to grow up with balanced views.

Seeing two sides of the coin is better than growing up believing that the world is perfect, peaceful and incontrovertible, when, it really is not!

Sugary pretend play by mummy daddy, does not teach kids to deal with their own troubles. Spontaneous and natural interactions are all that matter. It is like understanding life on Mars and Venus, while living on the Earth!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant                                                                      


“I am honest and I speak my mind, why then, does my child lie?” asked a parent.                                 Why doesn’t this honesty pass down to the kid? Why do kids lie, when truthful is just the way we are and the way we want them to be.

Honesty is in vogue, alright. Loud opinions are fashionable. We can almost “see” each other’s thoughts and feelings thanks to the wonderful digital space available to us.

Our views on everything are very definitely stated, be it political matters, neighbourhood brashness, uncivil behaviour, road rage, garbage dumps; to kids and their upbringing, schools and teachers; relationships at home and at work. And why not, after all we are the privileged democratic lot.

“Honest” opinions are accompanied by pretentious behaviour.

Pretense happens when we wish to be that somebody we aren’t, so we derive pleasure by pretending to be them; it is a bit like an act…a performance, a very private one though! It could take on various forms…pretending to be a heart of gold with caramel flavoured words flowing out of our strangling gut; pretending to be richer (monetarily) than you are; pretending to be particular about dressing, designer labels and brands; pretending to love that wine you are sipping, whose smell you can’t stand and your mind is wondering about why on earth can you not have that coke, which costs nothing as compared to this poison! Pretense could be to do with being intellectually inclined and greatly enjoying deep inspirational conversations; it could be about pretending to be that great wife or husband, the all sacrificing mother or father, the most accommodating daughter in law/son in law, or the most hardworking person in office. You might be dying under the surface, trying to be that perfect model, suffocating under the dictates of greatness…while the world just walks past you, without giving you that prize, maybe even without acknowledging or noticing you.

So, while temporarily pretentious behaviour may be a protective shield for the ego, it has a harmful, almost ‘self- troubling/destroying’ quality to it! Pretense works like a cushioning layer over your true self. It is an adaptive response of a person to a situation, he is unable to handle, fit into or understand.

We also hear this often as we grow that harmony is better than conflict, and the more adept you are at pretending, the longer your “friendships” will last and so on. The line between pretending and lying is thus a thin one. One can’t really tell when we are lying to other people, when we are pretending and when we are lying to ourselves!

So, the truth we seek and expect out of our kids, contradicts the lie we live! Children are not born liars. They learn to lie. Lying then becomes a habit.
Our pretentious self doesn’t pass on to our kids, our reality does!

Honesty to do with our thoughts on external matters may have little to do with honesty in our everyday life and existence.

It is time to introspect. Maybe being honest in our day to day existence would be more beneficial to our children than being opinionated at social forums.
For those ‘honest’ ladies and gentlemen, it is important to focus on yourself and your inner circle. Work toward harmonizing relationships with family and friends while not disturbing your own reality.

Stop resorting to a lie, to suit a situation or get out of another one. Your kids are watching you. They are hearing you, imitating you and learning from you all the time. If it seems to be working for you, your baby perceives it as adaptive behaviour, which will work for her too.
Venting out on social forums is not the honesty we are talking about here. It is honesty in our day to day interactions, at home, in business and at work; in the reports we write, in sharing information with loved ones- friends and family.

Honesty stems from sincere completion of tasks. It also grows out of “true- to -you” kind of existence, where you are happily doing something, and not trying to “people please” for that extra brownie. That piece of cake isn’t going to be in your plate by the time the task ends. Honest behaviour has an intrinsic reward to it, one of contentment, which does affect your child’s development.
“My life is my message” (Mahatma Gandhi) holds true for each of us too. Our life is the message our kids imbibe, let’s be honest!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant                                                                      

Pleasing Your Teenager Is Important, Just As Toilet Training Your Toddler Was!

Teenagers are happy people.



Not sure

Yet to figure this out myself! This one is really my attempt to understand my teenager and respond to loads of my clients, colleagues and peers, who have a teen to tackle, or should I say, have a teen that needs to tackle them!

My understanding of adolescence has been largely biased, influenced by years of listening to parents, teachers and my peers about teenage and teenagers. This is really my first time with a teenager (hands-on, head on) at my own home, as a mother. That almost sounds like the world’s steepest, toughest, scariest alpine climb!

Lets rest assure, it isn’t!

Biology is what defines a teenager largely. You need to be going through those very specific chemical changes in your body to qualify as one. And no, the 40 plus kind of glandular changes not included, and in no way should we confuse that with teenage. Although, loads of us would love to believe that we are heading backwards! How confusing would that be, if the kids and parents were both at their peaks of “hormone-ing”, and competing for each other’s attention at the same time in the same house. Exhausting as it may sound, it does seem to exist!

Adults cannot be teens and teens are not adults. As obvious as it may sound, the phenomenon is greatly misinterpreted. The kinds of situations we get into, with these lovely young humans, are proof of that.

There is great pride attached to turning 13, great celebrations accompany. Kids are told by other kids and adults around, how different they are going to be and how special it is to be 13.That makes them wonder too, ‘how’ different and ‘what’ different, just as I wonder. I’m beginning to think, it is just as different as we make it.

None of the stages before this were simple for the parents; not the birth, not the feeding nor the teething; not the toddler tantrums, or the initiation to school. This in fact seems the simplest of them all. You have a child here who thinks and expresses, overly so at times; responds to you and your concerns, if need be; will give you suggestions and can help you around with so much, given a chance.

The tackling bit – suggest it is best to focus on the positives and begin without the myths. Myths can be mystical, without reason and untrue. Discussions around the teen years can be the result of very idiosyncratic experiences, which may not apply to your child or family situation.

So, while some teenagers may hate their parents, may detest any sort of authority and rules; slam doors; howl, shout and cry at the slightest of reasons, an overwhelming majority do not.

While we encouraged them all this while, with every step they took as toddlers and with every bite of food during preschool, why brand them as trouble now!

The trouble is actually over; mums and dads it is time to enjoy your child. They understand most of what you say. Even if they do not display it at once, they reflect upon what you’ve said and appreciate it eventually.

Teenagers are in general, happy, smart, confident kids, who love two things in abundance – friends and food. So, if you can generously provide them their two ‘Fs’ at short notice – fun with friends and favourite foods, they might just help you with some of your own storms and not create fresh ones!

Without worrying too much about waste and their waists, giving these growing bodies plentiful treats pleases them immensely.

 Pleasing your teenager is important, just as toilet training your toddler was.

The world of these junior adults is divided into two parts- themselves and those who love them (translated as, understand them, agree with them, allow them and so on). If you are not in one of these two categories, you do not exist. They can’t see you and hear you, until they need something from you.

Teenagers are in fact, little people seeking love and approval. Give it to them in plenty. Love without condition, listen whenever they want you to, hug without reason and praise that strange dress, make-up or hair style they might have attempted; however awful you think it may be. There will be enough people to tell them, what is not good about them, once they step out of their homes and forever in life here on. You be that one constant and consistent source of unconditional love and support.

The two phrases you will hear most often from them will be “I KNOW” and “WHO CARES”! They are “know it all” people. In fact, if you think about it, they have never known so much as they do now, and will only learn more and more each day until adulthood. They are serious researchers, about things that interest them. They are in training for the future battles of life. They are preparing themselves to be great men and women. If we discard their beliefs at this point, we are only thwarting their confidence.

Teenagers are awesome buddies, if they want to be; extremely sociable, if they want to be; very affectionate, if they want to be and very helpful too, if they want to be!!

”If they want” is something that characterises them most, I would say.

They have a great sense of humour. You can decide when to stop laughing, because appreciating them only encourages them to get more and more silly and funny! They love to be a part of adult discussions and feel terribly offended if their suggestions are discarded.

They hate criticism. It hurts them to no extent. Hurt brings in hate, and there-in the saga of stress. Support and appreciate their efforts, they are trying to look good, do well in school, impress peers, fit in the crowd, yet stand out. All of this exhausts them immensely. They are trying to figure out the world around, not sure of a lot of stuff. Well neither were we to begin with!

Positives work better with them than too many NO s. Yet saying no is important too. Rules and limits need to be defined and stuck too. We can keep the battles against alcohol, smoking, late night parties, responsible behaviour, safety and security alive; while save our energies when it comes to daily brawls.

Trust is the tact. Teenagers want to hear you say that you believe in them. They are all out to impress. They want you to have confidence in their abilities. If you treat them like incompetent beings, they will be. That would hold true for anybody at any age, I would think.

It is important to show interest in the lives of your teens. Ask relevant questions, not prying ones. Show up at their school events. Do not hate their friends; try not announcing it at least!

Lead by example. Create an environment conducive to discipline and learning at home, if that’s your expectation of them. Do not drink and drive yourself. Follow the rules. Do not speak to house help/staff, rudely. Do not lie. Your children are ‘uncoated’ and honest reflections of your own true self. They can actually help you better yourselves, than the other way round!

‘Rebels without a cause’ need to be handled with patience and pause! Our exaggerated responses only add to the turbulence within them, however real or imagined it may be.

I think it is for each parent to discover what works for them and how they can just about manage to make their kids, their friends for life, or miss out on that opportunity forever!

Rohini Sethi                                                                                                                                           Child Development Consultant