Reach out . Now.

Adolescents are reckless and so they need supervision and guidance. They need boundaries within which they can explore their freedom. Is it because they’re not adults? Well, that would mean that adults are always right and don’t need any help with making decisions. We know that’s not true. We know how difficult it is to make decisions.

It’s true that their brains are not fully developed and they will make silly mistakes but the fact is that adolescents and adults both do that. The only difference is that adolescents take more risks due to raging hormones and so they need to be managed. They are going through a sensitive phase of their lives.

No matter how old people are, they take their own time to learn. Everyone has a different learning style and what works for one may not work for another. It may take years for one to learn something that another has mastered at a young age. A number of factors are responsible for these differences: genes, education, exposure, opportunities and will.

There are just too many things that one can’t change. One can’t change their parents, the way they were treated in their early years and the kind of education and opportunities they were provided. All these are a given in life. One has to learn to accept and embrace all that is beyond their control.

What remains in one’s control is how they make the best of what’s available. The awareness of what’s holding them back and the availability of help required to make the right changes should fill one with immense hope and gratitude. There’s so much that can be done. One must try everything they can to make peace with the past.

Mental Health Professionals help people gain the confidence and courage to rebuild their lives. They provide them with a safe environment to explore and confront their fears and limitations. Approaching a mental health professional can prove to be one of the best decisions for people who want to overcome obstacles of the past and face life boldly.

Help is available. Reach out. Now.

Kushal Pahuja, a mental health professional

Educating Indian Parents and Politicians

In our country, two of the most important jobs require no qualification or training, one of parents and the other of politicians.

It’s widely believed that to become a politician, you need influence, vast amounts of money, manpower, and a lot of greed or passion. We can only have two types of politicians; those driven by greed and those driven by passion. Here, passion is the desire to bring about a positive change in society.

And you need public speaking skills to convince the people you’re working for them.

Most of the people enter politics to make money and serve their own family, their people and have their personal agendas. They don’t do it for the country.

The general perception about politicians is that they are mostly uneducated, corrupt, power-hungry and don’t do their jobs properly. They are cursed and criticized everywhere.

That’s not without a reason. The gain in the wealth of people who become ministers is the proof. 

But to bring about a positive and lasting change, we need politicians who are both skilled and passionate. Anything less than that and the country suffers.

In a diverse and huge country like ours, we need political leaders with a mature outlook, people who are evolved, people who have a scientific temper. We need politicians with critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

We need people who can challenge their own mindset and old belief patterns. People who are compassionate. They need to have a heart too.

How about a mandatory course that educates and trains them in each of these skills or an internship for those who wish to enter the political system? 

Don’t we deserve to know whether the people who ask for our votes are even suitable for the job they are applying for?

Also, we need a system of feedback and assessment. People who vote for them must be able to rate their work from time to time. 

Parenting is the most important job on earth.

Becoming a parent means more than just giving birth and providing for the child.

Parents are the early caregivers, and that makes them the most influential people in the child’s life. They determine the child’s belief system and personality to a great extent. The relationship that a child shares with parents shapes all the future relationships that the child forms.

There are no words that can fully describe the impact parents have on the child.

And yet parents don’t educate themselves in child psychology. It’s taken for granted that becoming a parent is enough. That the love they feel for the child is all that it takes to raise them. Just because they are the parents, they will know how to look after the child. 

The role of parents is a constantly evolving one.

As children grow, parents need to alter how they see and treat their children. The way you treat them at 16 has to be different from the way you treated them at 12.   

Parents have more power because they are adults and experienced. They can make or break the child’s spirit. They need to realize how their words and actions shape their child’s mind. Most of the time they don’t realize it. They need to learn how to communicate with their children. That’s why there is a need for guidance from a specialist or a parenting coach.

Both parents and politicians need to stop believing they know it all.

It doesn’t matter what religion they follow or what language they speak, people everywhere want to live peacefully. 

They want safety, clean water to drink, a clean environment, safe roads, unbroken power supply, affordable education for their children, employment opportunities for the youth. 

Politicians are human beings with similar needs. Why is it difficult for some to understand that?

They need to strive to solve the problems in the country throughout their lives and eventually, when the time comes, step down and guide the next generation.

Why do they want to stick to their chairs? How about having a training institute where they can guide the next generation of political leaders?

Parents need to understand children are separate individuals. They need to help children identify their strengths, their interests. They must focus on making the child independent and hence treat them like that from an early age. 

Children need not be pampered so much. While they’re young, they need to be given certain responsibilities. Children need to know that if they want something, they need to work for it. It will not be served on a silver platter. 

It takes work to do all of this while loving children unconditionally.

And finally

Parenting shouldn’t be about parents but the child and politics shouldn’t be about the politicians but the country. When it becomes about them, things go wrong.

Whenever politicians and parents make things personal, whenever they see their own interests first, they fail. They can’t do their job. 

Both jobs require passion and patience. These are not for the indifferent and the self-centered. They must be selfless; willing to forsake personal desires that may prove harmful in the long run. 

Parents must understand they don’t own their children, and politicians need to understand that they don’t own the country. 

Our country needs a lot of work in all sectors. We are still developing and not developed as yet. And for that we need efficient politicians and conscious parents. 

If what you just read makes sense to you, please share it. Subscribe to my blog and help me raise awareness.

Kushal Pahuja 

Reforming the system for protecting the mental health of students

The coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown that followed changed the lives of children and adults alike.

In a pre-corona world, children would leave home in the morning and be back by the afternoon, after which they would rush to coaching classes. They were busy throughout the day, and when children were busy parents were happy. 

When parents see their children doing one thing after another and living a hectic life, they fall for the illusion that the child is preparing for a successful life, that this hard work and this toiling will bear fruits. 

What parents don’t realize is that children don’t enjoy this hectic routine. They may enjoy certain parts, like meeting friends and playing games, but there’s a lot that’s not fun.

They have to study subjects they don’t like and do things they wouldn’t be doing if they had a choice. They have to wake up early in the morning and get ready for school, sit through some really dull and unengaging classroom sessions on hard benches for hours together. 

Children in school constantly look for ways to escape the rut. They want relief and they want some fun.  As a result, they do things that the school doesn’t approve of. They disturb the teacher. They break the school rules, they daydream, they are constantly planning things they would do after school. 

Don’t you think they would rather do something they find interesting?

For example, if a child is interested in English literature, why can’t they spend more time reading and studying literature instead of sweating over a complicated math sum? That child can do a simpler version of math. 

The system that doesn’t allow them to study more of what they like is not just depriving them of a meaningful life but also teaching them to live half-heartedly.

They learn that you have to do things that make little sense to you just because someone with authority tells you to do so. Just imagine, this happening for years and years together and the impact it may have on the person’s mindset and personality. 

Students commit suicide, they suffer from anxiety and depression; they turn to drugs; they are confused about career and relationships; the cause of all these issues somewhere lies in all those years spent doing things they didn’t want to do. 

So many of them don’t have any first-hand experience of doing things they love doing. All they know is how to go against their will and do what the society approves of. 

Thankfully, because of the lockdown, children don’t have to go to school. However, the problem now is what do they do with all the free time they have at their disposal. All this time they depended on the school to tell them what to do. 

Imagine how different it would have been if every child had a personal project; something other than academics, something that truly made sense to them. It could be anything from creating an app, learning to cook, learning to write well, or working on a science project.

If they had been working on something they were passionate about, the lockdown wouldn’t have affected them the way it has.

It’s not that children don’t have hobbies or interests. Schools, to a very great extent, have taken away their ability to think for themselves, to execute their ideas, and live life with a kind of confidence that only comes from doing things independently. 

Children study for grades. They work hard to be successful as per the standards set by others. They have got used to a life where they are told to do things, where they need an external evaluation system to prove themselves. 

We have also seen a rise in online education. Schools have resorted to online teaching; they have also conducted exams online. This can be the beginning of a new era in education. We had mistaken schooling for education. Now, we know that education can take place without going to school. 

There are new platforms coming up to teach children coding. One thing that’s worth noticing is how to promote its platform, one of these companies, is selling the idea that if your child learns to code, they may be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. No doubt they are doing it to attract customers.

Parents need to understand that coding has endless possibilities. Anyone can use it. Let children learn to code, let them explore. Let them do it for fun, and if they create something beautiful out of it, then there is nothing like that. Just don’t expect them to create a multi-million-dollar app or a social networking site.

We are all waiting for things to get back to normal. When that happens, are we going to forget the lessons we have learned during the lockdown? Are we going to allow our children to go back to the system that damages them and lose their originality once again? 

A big change like that will take time. We are aware of the pace at which things move in our country. Before we see things moving, let us ask questions like:

Why can’t school become a learning center with few rigidities and more freedom to explore less emphasis on uniformity and more on what makes a person unique? Why can’t we have schools that work on the holistic development of the child with the aim to prepare them to deal with real-world problems? 

Some schools had already started with a life skills curriculum. A lot of them had also hired counselors. But that’s not enough. The focus was still on academics and not overall development. 

As adults, we know the importance of life skills like decision making, regulating our emotions, maintaining healthy relationships, and effective communication. Life skills education ensures that children learn those skills while in school. 

Now, let’s just imagine a school where children study the subjects they want to study, a school where they learn things by doing, where they learn life skills and put into practice what they have learned. 

Just imagine that by the time a person steps out of the school, they know for sure what they would like to do with their lives. 

The law of demand and supply works everywhere. Parents need to be aware of the problems with the current system and demand a new one. Parents need to stop focusing on academic success and focus on what their child wants to do.

Dear parents, please stop worrying about your child’s future. They will definitely have a bright future if you help them figure out things. 

For that, you got to let them explore. Just play the role of a guide. Listen to them and trust them. The world has changed and is constantly changing. It’s no longer the world you grew up in.

I am a mental health professional, raising awareness about mental health. Please help me by sharing this article and subscribing to my blog.