Why listening is important!

A wise, old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw, the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why can’t we all be like that bird?
The ancient Greek philosopher Zeno said that we have been given one mouth and two ears that we may hear more and talk less.

As parents and caregivers we are often so focused on imparting knowledge and giving direction, that we forget that it is equally important to listen to our children. 

Listening is important because it affects the way children see themselves. When adults listen to children it gives their words and feelings value. 

Listening is about two-way communication between adult and child - each valuing and respecting the views of the other. 

Children who are listened to are usually well adjusted and self-confident. 

Child abuse and listening to children

Every child has the right to be loved and cared for and to feel safe both at home and away from home. Children often try to tell adults if they have experienced abuse but it is very difficult and painful for them. They often feel ashamed and frightened and find it hard to find the right words to explain.

As adults we can make things easier for children by recognizing when a child is trying to talk about a difficult subject. We should get into the habit of listening to children so that they feel comfortable talking to us about their worries.

By building a trusting relationship with a child you will make it easier if he or she needs to tell you something that is hard to talk about.

Healthy habits for Children

Getting kids to eat healthfully and establish habits that will last a lifetime doesn’t have to be as daunting as it might first seem. Sure, kids are finicky and their tastes generally run more to hot dogs and tater tots than salmon and spinach, but there is hope.

Given the right tools, kids can learn to manage their weight in a way that works for them, without feeling deprived or “different”. There are five specific tools to use:

1. Cook (and eat) together as a family. Get kids into the kitchen with you and have them cut up fruit for a salad, or clean the broccoli. Older children can slice vegetables for a stir fry or learn how to make a killer marinade. Study after study has shown that children who participate in their own food preparation are more likely to eat the food they help prepare. In that same vein, eat together as a family. Aside from the other oft-reported benefits of eating together as a family, there is one crucial weight-management benefit: children learn how to eat healthy food. Eating together also allows you to notice what your children truly like and what they honestly don’t like. Cooking and eating together at one table allows you to talk about food, try new foods (think ethnic foods and exotic vegetables, for example) and encourage healthy eating.

2. Teach kids about food. Teach your children about where food comes from and they’ll be more likely to understand the benefit of eating healthfully versus eating packaged and processed foods. Sign your child up for a cooking class, one that has an emphasis on healthy foods and a true education component where children will be educated about the food as well as cooking methods. There are many cooking classes designed just for children, often offered by parks and recreation departments as well as private cooking schools. They won’t be making macaroni and cheese out of a box, but rather learning techniques for preparing fresh and whole foods.

3. Set a good example. It’s a mixed and unfair message to stand in the kitchen restricting your child’s food intake while drinking a soda and snacking on cheese puffs. You should set a good example by eating good foods, making smart choices and showing your children that you make healthy decisions for yourself.

4. Make it fun. Don’t make healthy eating dru
dgery. Go berry picking in the spring, or make a new healthy food challenge each week. Buy cookbooks and experiment with sauces and seasonings. Do whatever you think it will take to make healthy food interesting and desirable to your children.

5. Incorporate exercise. Help your children stay active by getting them involved in sports, or by incorporating activity into your home life, even if it’s just running around in the backyard after the dog or dancing for a few minutes after dinner each night. Take your kids to the gym with you, or organize a family bike ride on the weekends.

 Finally, always consult your child’s doctor before putting him or her on a diet. If you do think your child needs to lose weight, let the doctor weigh in first.

5 ways to help frustrated child learn to solve problems

 As a father with two growing children, I often find it difficult to get them to complete their activities without a sense of frustration creeping into it. My children aged 4 and one are very active, impatient and want to get things done, before they even conceptualise their ideas.

What I've discovered is that it is often a mere push that gets them the satisfaction, rather than constrict their thoughts. I've found that the following tips help them solve their problems without frustration.

1. Don't jump in too quickly to solve problems for the child. That short-circuits the child's ability to work out solutions independently. This is especially true in their early age, and is an important point we parents must remember. The less we allow independent thoughts at this age, the less likely, the child will develop an inquisitive activity later in life.

2. Help her name her emotion. She says, "This is stupid!" You say, "You're really feeling frustrated, aren't you?". Getting them to identify their emotions goes a long way in their learning to control their emotions. Often, we let children use the same emotions for all their problems. 

3. Validate his feeling. That helps him move on instead of wallowing and getting stuck. He says, "I hate this game!" You say, "This is hard work, isn't it?"

4. Help him clarify his goal. He grunts. You say, "What were you trying to do, anyway? Build a tower?"

5. Wonder aloud with him. You become a partner in problem-solving rather than an adult who holds all knowledge. You say, "Did you notice you're building it on a rug? I wonder if it would be more steady on the floor." He says, "Yeah, and look, I can make it taller!"

Book Review: God is a Gamer

Title:  God is a Gamer
Language: English
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Genre:  Fiction/ Thriller
Publisher:  Penguin 2014 September
ISBN - 10: 0143421395
ISBN-13: 9780143421399
Binding: Paperback
Price: Rs. 299 (Buy from Flipkart for Rs.189)
Pages: 324

Synopsis: This is a page-turner and will appeal to those who love a good thriller. The ending is quite exciting and many may not see the twist in the tale. Ravi Subramanian has pulled off another masterpiece thriller in the world of finance and banking!

Detailed Review: 

The book opens with the assassination of a US Senator who is en route to meet the President of the USA. Investigations ensue and the FBI are under pressure to crack the case. The focus then shifts to India where, the prime minister is headed to the US for treatment. Swami, a top banker finds that despite his best efforts, money is being siphoned off his customers accounts and his team is helpless to do anything about it! His boss doesn't want anything to do with it and and instead tries to lay the blame for the entire fiasco at his door! With a steady stream of new characters and their backgrounds, the novel appears to be going nowhere, when boom, all the threads get connected and you are left with one awesome thriller.

There is a lot of explanation about Bitcoins and the happenings about the financial world, that are integral to the narrative and at the same time, very informative for the naive among us.

There are multiple emotions at play, a father meeting with his son after ages, a couple who tries to find love, secrets hidden from each other and the world, murders of friends and socialites and the hidden faces.

StoryAditya runs a gaming company that is struggling to break even. A banker slips off a high rise building, plunging to her death. The finance minister has made some promises that he is finding hard to keep. The LTTE has unleashed terror in America that sends the FBI on a wild goose chase, bringing them to Mumbai.Enter Varun, part time drug dealer and full time genius. He turns around the gaming company before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the investigators plunge headlong into the shady world of bitcoins and the Dark Net, websites that only exist for illegal transactions–drugs, sex and money. God Is a Gamer culminates in a stunning climax where money means nothing, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.

1. A top writer with many best sellers in the past. You can read my review of his other novel Bankster here.
2. Fast paced and informative.
3. Well researched as always.

1. Some things mentioned are just impossible these days (you can't just phish an account with only the account details and password).
 2. The ending though is very interesting and a different one from the regular thrillers, still feels a bit contrived. (I did guess the ending much before I finished the novel).
3. There were 3 or 4 places in the text where I found an out-of-place word or typo error.

Who will enjoy this? Almost anyone with a penchant for thrillers and especially those that are worried about the world of finance and the shady deals that happen therein.

Buy or Don’t Buy? Buy!  Flipkart at the moment is even giving a Rs.110  discount on the cover price. It’s a steal at Rs.189/-.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com  ... Participate now to get free books!    

Unputdownable: Private India - A Book Review

Title:- Private India 
Series:- Private 
Language: English 
Author:- Ashwin Sanghi with James Patterson 
Genre: Fiction, Thriller 
Publisher:- Arrow Books 2014 
ISBN 13:- 9780099586395 
Binding:- Paperback 
Number of pages:- 470 

The blurb goes like this :- In Mumbai, seemingly unconnected people are dying, strangled in a chilling ritual and with strange objects carefully arranged with the corpses. For Santosh wagh, head of Private India, the Mumbai branch of the world’s finest investigation agency, it’s a race against time to stop the killer striking again. In a city of over thirteen million, he’d have his work cut out at the best of times, but this case has him battling Mumbai’s biggest gang lord and a godman who isn’t all he seems. And then he discovers there may be an even greater danger facing Private India. Hidden in the shadows is someone who could destroy the whole organisation - along with thousands of innocent Mumbai citizens. 

 Quick Review: A thriller. This book is simply unputdownable. Right from the beginning of the book, you will be hooked to the simple language and fast pace of the story. The characters make it all the more interesting as none of them appear to be what they are! You’ll keep guessing till the end, what the actual story is all about. The only negatives I felt was the poor editing and too many side plots that needn’t have been there.  

Detailed Review: Ashwin Sanghi is a famous name in the Indian writing circles and I have reviewed a book by him “The Krishna Key” previously. I had called the book, a poor man’s Da Vinci Code. For this reason, i was a bit apprehensive when I began reading this book. For this novel, Mr. Sanghi has teamed up with James Patterson, who seems to be a prolific writer (Forgive me, as I’ve not read any of his books before). 

The cover page is well done as it reflects Mumbai in the backdrop with the Gateway of India and a man running away from a lurking danger with the Bandra – Worli sealink in the background. 

The story is set in modern day Mumbai and the beauty and mystery of the city has been brought to the fore in an elegant manner. Private India is shown to be the #1 private detective agency in India, and a subsidiary of “Private Worldwide”, A world-wide agency of detectives.

The book opens with a wannabe reporter at a high end party, where the attorney general of India is a guest and soon spirals into the first in a series of murders by the end of the first chapter.  The murdered women is of Thai nationality and peculiarly, the only clues left behind by the murderer are a yellow scarf with a single knot and a strand of hair, which does not belong to the victim. The resort where the murder takes place employs Private India as its in-house detective agency and Private India gets to the scene first. Santosh Wagh a retired police officer who is a rough image of Detective Spencer of True detective, is the head of Private India and his assistants take note of the scene and ask the police to be called in. The Mumbai police team arrives and is headed by Rupesh, a one time partner and friend of Mr. Wagh. The police team allows Private India to continue with the investigations provided the credit for solving the case goes to the Mumbai police.

As the storyline advances the murder turns into the first of a series of seemingly unlinked murders that take place across the city. It is for Santosh Wagh and his team to discover the links between the murders and solve the mystery of the various clues left behind by the murderer at the crime scenes. 

Private Worldwide investigator Jack Morgan comes into the picture at one of the points in the storyline and immediately is a prime suspect in the series of murders. Same goes with most of the cast, including the team members of Private India, all of whom seem to have a dual identity and multiple layers to their characters.

Add some interesting sub-plots, expose the underworld-godman-prostitution nexus and Private India makes for one of the most exhilarating thrillers you will ever put your hands on.

  1. The story is weaved well and the way it all comes together in the end is the best part of the book. 
  2.  Fast Paced – At no point of the reading did I feel that I needed a break. Keeps you hooked to each word, looking for that elusive clue, where you can piece the story together by yourself.
  3. The font is good-sized and legible. 
  4. The writing style is simple and the English used is a little on the colloquial side.
  5.  For someone who lives on thrillers and suspense novels, I could guess the ending and the identity of the murderer well before the middle of the novel. However, the storyline has enough twists and turns to keep the reader interested till the end.
  1. Grammatical and spelling errors. For a novel that boasts of two renowned authors, the number of errors is too damn high! Come on, couldn't you guys hire a good proof reader?
  2. Too many sub-plots that did not have to be included. Also, the sub-plots could have been left hanging for a possible sequel?!
  3. The characters could have been given more depth, including the protagonist. Sure, that would have increased the reading length, but would have been a nice touch for subsequent novels on this theme.
Who will enjoy this? - People who like a breezy read and a break from their hectic schedules. Almost everyone who reads books I guess :)

Buy or Don’t Buy?
Definite buy, however do understand that the grammar may put you off a bit! The story and plot will however make up for any shortcomings.
You can buy it from Flipkart (60% off cover price), or Amazon India (60% off cover price) or if you are not residing in India, from Amazon (Private 8).

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!