Children celebrating Raksha Bandhan in Patiala on Thursday. (Bharat Bhushan/HT)
Festivals are meant for celebrations. Rakshabandhan, Janmashtmi, Dusshera, Diwali, Id and Gurupurab - the fun is just beginning and we have a long way to go. New clothes, delicious treats, exchanging gifts with friends and relatives, rituals and pujas that go late into the night - there's no end to the fun and excitement. However, these very reasons can also result in a form of stress, even in children. Mrs. Meenal Arora (Executive Director, Shemrock & Shemford group of schools) has some suggestions on how to prevent and overcome stress this festive season.
Keep sugar intakelow- Festival time is synonymous with sweets and that is perhaps what children look forward to the most. But if a child is on a sugar-heavy diet for an extended period, you may see the effects of that in the form of hyperactivity followed by sluggishness and exhaustion. Proper nutrition is a very important key to overcome stress, especially for children during the festive season. The best diet to help children handle stress is one that has few additives, has the right amount of calories to maintain normal development and is balanced. Avoid overconsumption of junkfoods, beverages and sweets during the festivals.
Plan & organise- If the festivities are taking place in the middle of school days, with tests, assignments and after-school classes also needing attention, the only way out is to set schedules. A consistent schedule of meal times, homework time and bed time with adequate time for fun should be set. If needed, some after-school activities could be put on hold temporarily. Children need predictability in their lives and a schedule will help balance outstudies and celebrations and will allow children to feel secure and reduces stress. Help your children learn how to manage time and prioritize activities. If children have a tendency to take on too much responsibility, parents should help them learn to place limits on their commitments.
Sleep well- Make sure children get the age-appropriate amount of sleep. Add one-half hour of sleep each day until you wake up on your own to assess your biological need. Kids can go for a brief period of shortened nights but they cannot sustain this schedule for long periods of time and it will impact their general health.
Adaptability- Help them be flexible in their approach in all spheres of your life. In the rush of festival season, long queues at shops, traffic jams and other similar circumstances can mess up the best-laid plans in an instant. If something has not gone as per plan, children need to find the next best option and go with it. Parents have to take the lead in providing alternatives and helping kids deal with the unpredictable.
Study time fun time- Group study sessions may be more fun during the festive season. Kids can organize a quiz contest of their own related to their lessons, with some surprise prizes thrown in. Let the fun and party spirit go hand in hand with studies.
Break it up- Breaking up study sessions is a great idea when you want your child to study as well as enjoy the festivities. You could make him study for a few hours every day and then allow him to play or watch TV for the next few hours. You give him a set target of lessons to learn before he gets to play. You will see that his speed of learning or doing homework would increase. Moreover, the breaks that the child gets would help in rejuvenating him and energize him.
Morning masti- During holidays children tend to get up late. This results in the loss of time and also keeps them dull and tired throughout the day. Parents should devise a routine in which you and the kids get up early in the morning and go for a walk in the park. This would just brighten up the kids' day. Encourage them to play sports such as cricket, football etc. at the park. You could also invite his friends with you to the morning stroll. This would surely keep them interested. Getting up early would also provide them with a few extra hours to study in an already packed day.
Have fun- Remember to have fun in the festival season. Don't make it all about rigid schedules and studies. Children must enjoy every aspect of the festivities - the excitement of a mela, mehendi sessions, street food, fireworks and everything else.