Hey everyone. Sara here! I am here with Rebecca Sudan, an experiential trainer and image consultant who works extensively with children and has some brilliant insights on keeping the family together, in a balanced and joyful way.
Sara: Hey. I have spoken a lot about how hard the lock-down has been for us kids. What has the lock-down been like for you, as a parent? Do you have any suggestions for other parents on connecting with their kids during this period?
Rebecca: The pandemic is an unwelcome guest into our lives and social distancing is the only way you wouldn’t bump into it. Managing the threat of the virus has added a new and significant dose of emotional and domestic drudgery to our lives, making us hyper vigilant, turning around schedules and managing the ‘hum saath saath hain’ family- all crammed together.
But on the brighter side the lock-down has also helped us, parents, rediscover the joy of KISS- Keeping It Simple,Silly. I feel connecting with your children at this time is essential but that doesn’t mean drawing worksheets for them all day or pitying them for being home. Indulging in terribly long activities together, can drain both the parent and the child by the end of the day. A grizzly bear hug or a cuddle, few minutes of story time or creating something together or baking once a week, cleaning a cupboard together are pretty good too. And let me admit, we had our meltdowns because we are real people trying to deal with a very real crisis.
Sara: You work extensively with children. How can a parent help draw a shy child out of their shell?
Rebecca: Yes I do and would like to share the following approach-
Accept your Child
The first step is acceptance that shyness is a normal part of growing up and that there is no fixed milestone age in terms of shedding it. Also that genealogy may not always matter here. So your being a public speaker or an
extrovert parent shouldn’t be the yardstick for judging your child.
Exposing your child to new people, places and experiences could work in helping them open up. Also giving them new challenges and encouraging them to learn life skills on their own could work positively in combating shyness. The magic is right outside their comfort zone.
Your word is very important to your child. Hence your using labels for them contribute to the first self-image they create for themselves. Calling a child SHY in private or public will reinforce their image of themselves as shy. Some children may go on to using it as a shield to avoid challenging situations. So keep name calling at bay !
Theatre may seem like a 180 degree response to dealing with shy children but I can say it out of experience that it is a sure shot antidote. I left behind my shyness and stammering the day I set foot on the stage. Theatre is therapeutic. It sucks in all shyness and leaving you confident like you were born- remember the first cry? So confidently unapologetic it was.
Sara : You are an advocate of mindfulness for children. Sounds like a big word. What does it mean. How does it benefit and how can a parent help their child be more mindful?
Rebecca: While we, as adults are still grappling with the hullabaloo the pandemic has created, children may not be able to decode their emotions.
In such a scenario, mindfulness is a good way to notice what’s going on outside—and inside—of us with acceptance and kindness. Parents could indulge in mindfulness activities with their children rather than just advocating it to them for example saying a prayer before meals to thank God for reaching food on our plates in these difficult times, indulging in yoga and breathing exercises, making a family gratitude jar where everyone puts one note of gratitude for something or someone during the day, inside the jar. Such mindfulness exercises definitely help both the parent and child experience a sense of soothing and meaningful connection.
I also feel strongly that, as parents we need to keep our cup of optimism, hope and emotional and physical well-being full. This way when we run into frenzied or cranky children, we wouldn’t regret the overflowing contents of our cup. And we all have different concoctions to keep our cup of being,
positively overflowing. Don’t we?
Sara : Body positivity – What is your message for pre-teens and teenagers in today’s selfie obsessed culture?
Love yourself and love yourself inside out– not the chiseled reflection of yourself that some beauty apps helped you carve or the emulated version of you that resembles a Tik Tok or movie celebrity.
And the first step towards loving yourself is knowing who you really are, accepting yourself with your pluses and flaws. While this may sound preachy to most teenagers, one sure shot way of working this out for you, is,
(a) making a list of your qualities that you are proud of (irrespective of what others think)
(b) pick one quality each day and compliment yourself in front of the mirror, first thing in the morning.
The media has been ruthless in perpetrating unrealistic images of men and women to garner profits, be it the skin care market, or the fitness industry market or diet food. As informed teenagers, you will have to look beyond and read between the lines of people you see in your phone and TV screens.
About Rebecca: Rebecca Sudan, the founder of Rebecca’s Image Station is an image consultant and enhancer, experiential trainer and educator. She has researched, designed and taught courses in communication for social change, gender sensitization, developing leadership skills at prestigious universities and institutions such as NID, OXFAM, MICA and various universities in Gujarat. TITLI a venture of Rebecca’s Image Station designs and conducts experiential theatre workshops for personality enhancement of children. She is based out of Ahmedabad.