Saturday, May 05, 2012


For a self proclaimed geek - most of the things in life are under control. There are manuals and APIs for almost everything  around me.

4 years back a toy, which we named Prithvi, got delivered that did not have a manual nor an API. Has a mind of its own and it controls me - somehow the toy has read my APIs very well. It can make me buy ice-cream, chocolate, juice or take him to a mall - he has more wins in the constant mind control battle that is going on between us.

Sometime back I stumbled on this interesting book - Nurtureshock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.  It was an eye opener of sorts. This book is a good summary of the research that is happening on Child Psychology - written in a Malcolm Gladwellish style.

Good Job, WoW, You are so Smart!

I do it all the time - thinking it builds his self-confidence. Apparently this works the opposite way. The kid does get the confidence to believe in himself and attempt tougher things. After a while he stops attempting to learn new things - as the fear of failure sets in. He does not want to disappoint himself or people around him - because they think highly of him. As kids grow things get tough and they stop trying.

I have toned down my Good Job exclamations - I reserve it only for a job well done now onwards. Also when he writes I try to show him what is good and what is not.

Should we Argue in front of kids?

Answer is yes. Kids need to know and understand conflicts and how they are resolved.

Arguments will typically start and we will notice Prithvi in the room doing his thing but listening to our heated argument and we will immediately stop.  We will later continue our arguments, and will resolve them later when Prithvi is not there. Later when he sees us smiling he might be confused - like in a poorly edited movie - how did this happen? He misses out on the best part.

Role Plays

There is a new teaching methodology called Tools method. If the kids are learning about Firemen, they re-enact the whole story. Some are firemen, some are 911 operators, some are family in distress and a whole episode is enacted. This apparently is quite effective in kids involving and learning. Nowadays when Prithvi wants to play a game of role play I actively involve. I am not sure if our schools have picked up this methodology.

Ability to Focus

This is the secret to higher scores and good grades. The kids who can sit still and concentrate more - were able to do well in the aptitude tests and also understand the difficult concepts better. The Tools method apparently makes the kids focus more and this in turn helps them learn better.

This is a challenge for us and I am not sure how to tell our man it takes 10,000 hours to become better at something and not give up after a few tries.


Kids need lot of un-interrupted sleep. When they sleep - during one of the cycles things that they learnt that day gets transferred from conscious memory to the inner deeper layers. Also routine is highly beneficial for them.

We have been pretty random with Prithvi - and still are. We work till late and when we get back home we play with him for sometime - and this upsets his sleep routine. Thankfully his new school starts early and he has to go to bed early - this will get us disciplined.

Teenage Drivers

They did an interesting study. They gave a set of questions to both adults and teenagers and measured the response time. Questions like - eating a cockroach, eating a broken glass bulb - all had immediate response from adults. Teenagers did say no - but they took more time to respond to these questions.

Teenagers are still evaluating things using their conscious brain cycles to most of the life situations. However as adults we do it unconsciously. In the school districts where they pushed the age limit of driving up to 21 had a significant drop in accidents.

[ Dear social media expert Kriba - who made his kid sit in his lap and drive the car on NH4 Highway from Chennai to Bangalore - don't do it again. ]

There are more chapters on Racial awareness, Sibling fights, The Baby einstein videos effectiveness etc. - all backed up by research.

Now for the manual and API - its like writing one on the fly and the toy keeps changing them randomly - something that worked this week will certainly not work next week.

It is tiring - really :)