PART 5: KEEPING YOUR CHILD HAPPY AND SAFE
KEEPING CHILDREN ENTERTAINED
All of us like to be entertained. Children are no
exception. A month-old child enjoys hearing some soft, recorded music
or a lullaby sung by her parents or someone else. A
2-month-old looks at her mother and waits to be entertained by a
broad smile in response to her overture.
A father and child laugh together, share a joke, fly a
kite or build sandcastles on the beach, have a bath together,
read a storybook, ‘fool’ around with each other —these
are all good examples of entertainment that does not cost much.
Spending time together in such pursuits helps the child enjoy the company of her parents, to come closer
to them, to feel more free to share her problems with them if need be, and to
grow to become a happy and healthy individual.
Hobbies provide children with a good means of selfexpression. A hobby does not interfere
with a child’s studies unless she starts spending too much time on it at the
cost of her schoolwork. Don’t force your child to take up a
particular hobby. Expose her to different possible hobbies and help
her pick according to her aptitude.
If your child shows an interest in dramatics or crafts,
help her join a summer camp that has a theatre workshop.
Hobbies provide children with a good means of self-expression
In Mumbai, Prithvi Theatre and the National Centre for Performing Arts conduct these. At the
Prithvi Theatre, children from 9 to 16 years of age can join. Nehru
Centre in Mumbai also organises the Kaleidoscope summer camps for the 5 to 15 age group. Most big cities provide
some such activity for younger children. If not, parents of a
particular school can themselves take the initiative to start
something similar in the school.
Among the hobbies which children can pursue are music, dance, gymnastics, sports,
painting, swimming, martial
arts like karate and judo, reading, nature study,
bird-watching, astronomy, yoga, photography, chess, stamp collection or growing plants in a garden or in a
Basic Principles To Be Followed While Selecting Toys
- Choose toys appropriate to your child’s age and physical development.
- Make sure that the toys are safe (see chapter on PREVENTION OF ACCIDENTS).
- Toys need not be expensive.
- Toys should not make too much noise.
Below The Age Of 3 Months:
At one month, a child enjoys watching a moving object with bright and different colours within
a distance of about 30 cms. (12 inches). So a mobile to be hung above her
crib is an investment worth making. Some of these toys also play music.
After she crosses the 3-month mark, the same mobile can be hung up elsewhere. Music—
from a tape recorder or a music box — may also be played, but make sure it is soft.
Between 3 And 6 Months:
A child likes to look into a mirror at this age. She
loves music. You can now let her handle a rattle. Light, plastic
rattles with rather big ends are preferable to expensive silver
rattles with smaller ends. Colourful posters and soft toys are added attractions.
Colourful nursery toys can be hung on baby’s crib
Between 6 And 12 Months:
While your baby will still show interest in her older
toys, now is also the time for floating toys, wooden blocks,
magazines and cardboard books with bright pictures, balls, squeezy toys, a
spoon and a cup or a saucepan, cars, buses and trucks, pushalong toys, a rubber hammer and a toy
telephone. At this age, children also love to play ‘peek-a-boo’ with older people.
Between 1 And 2 Years:
Hardbound picture books with stories, blocks, wooden animals, dolls, teddy bears, buckets and spades,
vehicles, simple jigsaw puzzles and bottles and boxes of different sizes are popular with children in this age group.
Between 2 And 3 Years:
Crayons and papers, plasticine, a handbag, a toy cooker
or a tea set, large wooden beads to string, playing with
sand, playing ball with others and riding a tricycle interest
children. At this age, they like to build castles in the sand,
dress up dolls, and pour water into containers.
Between 3 And 4 Years:
To the fleet of vehicles may now be added an ambulance,
fire engine, airplane and scooter. Model animals, garden
tools, a rope ladder, masks, a model village or a housing
colony would interest the child. An easel may be given to a
child who shows an interest in colouring.
At this age, children exhibit a vivid imagination. They will imagine the presence of people who
are not around. They may like to play at being mummy and daddy, or
doctor and patient.
Between 4 And 5 Years:
Table games with dice (ludo and snakes & ladders),
and carrom start interesting the child. Give them material
to draw and paint. Allow them to have scissors with round edges
and old newspapers to cut. Let them make models of chairs or tables with plasticine or play dough.
Between 5 And 6 Years:
Spinning toys are favourites at this age. A skipping
rope may also be introduced. A child can be given a thick needle and thread.
Between 6 And 7 Years:
A child may like to ride a bicycle or to join you or his
friends in kite flying.
Keep It Simple
Toys are increasingly becoming sophisticated and high
tech. Multinational companies are entering the market, and
your child can probably have the same toy as his cousin in
New York. Keep in mind, however, that while some of these
are engineered to stimulate your child’s skills, others
may just be trendy. In exchanging the simple toys that were once de rigueur in our lives for automatons, our children may
be losing out on the joy of constructing imaginary
surroundings with traditional toys.
Because we know that excessive noise is injurious to
health, we should remember that we add to noise pollution when
we buy our child noisy toys. Add to this the noise produced
by certain firecrackers, marriage bands and loudspeakers
during the festival seasons and jagratas.
If you can’t talk to people 2 metres away in a party, then the background noise level
is dangerous. Young people visiting a nightclub should be advised to take
regular breaks from the dance floor, and to stand away from the speakers. Choose
restaurants with tablecloths on the table and soft furnishings on the walls.
Loss of hearing due to noise is now well established.
There is also evidence to indicate that noise may endanger
overall health as well.
Should Children Be Allowed To Watch TV?
Whether we like it or not, television has come to stay.
Also, some of the programmes on sports, travel, music and
science are quite educative. Keeping this in mind, I suggest
that you stick to intelligent rationed viewing for yourself as
well as for your child.
The Ill-Effects Of Television
Shital Shethi raises the issue of television viewing in Indian Pediatrics, the
official journal of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics. Quoting experts like Zuckerman,
Suckerman, Forman, Kerschbaum and Schor, she points out that television displaces reading, outdoor play time
hobbies, increases aggressive behaviour and acceptance of
violence, results in difficulty in distinguishing between reality
and fantasy, distorts perception of reality in relation to consumerism and violence, trivialises sex and sexuality,
has a negative effect on cognitive learning, and increases
Wrote Arvind Kala in Mid-day,
“TV watching causes a communication breakdown in families. See a family of
4 before a TV set, for example. The wife wants to see a soap, the husband
wants BBC, the son wants Prime Sports, the daughter wants Channel [V], and everybody
wants the remote. How can conversation even begin in such a context?”
It is not uncommon to see young children watching television for hours, and munching junk
foods. Add to
this a life without exercise and sports and you have a fat
child with all the attendant risks of obesity.
And what about commercials? They can definitely lead to bad eating habits and undue
demands on parents.
A Balanced Approach
I recommend the following guidelines to parents:
TV viewing to 1 hour during school days and 2 hours during weekends or holidays.
should restrict their own viewing. Cooperation should be sought from others in a joint family. If it is
not forthcoming, let others have the TV set in another room.
If that is not possible, take the children out or let them
go to bed early.
all members of the family come to an agreement about which programmes should be
seen. Film actor Sunil Shetty, father of two, says, “I prefer that my kids watch
Discovery and National Geographic, not violent serials. Even
cartoons sometimes have a negative impact because of the violence and negative attitudes they often portray.”
the habit of reading, playing and exercising from an early age.
your child to develop a hobby.
expose infants to television.
firm about TV programmes which a child should not see. If she does happen to see such
a programme, find
time to discuss with her the characters, and that these are
all made up and rarely portray real life situations. With an older child, discuss a different possible
approach to handling problems that are portrayed.
The school authorities could invite experts to speak
to the students about the possible dangers of indiscriminate television viewing or misleading advertisements.
Children may even be encouraged to write to the
sponsors of programmes. If the programme is good, let them appreciate it. If it is not appropriate, let it be known
to the sponsors and the government that such programmes are not acceptable and that the government must take
stern steps to prevent such programmes being shown on
Doordarshan, the cable network, or the foreign
During holidays, see that the child’s spare time
is well occupied. She may be encouraged to join classes in
public speaking, music, drama, dance or the martial arts.
The family may plan a holiday trip. Take the
children for nature walks or to explore the city museum. Both boys
and girls should be encouraged to learn cooking. Some
parents can get together and plan to share the responsibility of keeping the children busy in groups, on
of the week.
7 March, 2016