Thursday, November 23, 2017

Unfolding the reasons behind a rape by a four year old.

A four-and-a-half-year-old boy has been booked for raping a classmate inside the classroom as well as the washroom of a prominent private school in west Delhi on Friday, police said.
The girl, who is of the same age, told her mother that the boy used his finger and a sharpened pencil to assault her sexually.
The assault caused wounds in the child’s private parts, her mother said.
Though they registered a case of rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act was registered, police were unsure how to proceed with the prosecution because of the suspect’s age.
 The Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides children below seven years of age certain protections against prosecutions..
In her statement to police, the girl’s mother said the child complained of pain in her lower abdomen after returning from school on Friday. The girl kept complaining sporadically, but the mother ignored it thinking it was “one of her tantrums”.
The girl began crying that night and told her mother about the alleged assault. She told her mother that a boy from her class unbuttoned her pants in the classroom and used his finger to assault her.
“She tried pushing him, but could not get away as other children had left and there was no staff around,” the mother stated in the first information report (FIR).
In the FIR, the child’s mother stated that she complained to the schoolteacher through a text message that night. She informed the school again on Saturday, but the authorities allegedly did not cooperate with her and instead asked her to give a written complaint on Monday.
Since her daughter’s pain did not subside, she rushed her to a hospital where she was treated as well as a medico-legal case made. A police case was then registered.
The mother alleged that there was no class teacher or even an ayah, or help, in either the classroom or washroom at the time of the assault.
She said her daughter’s delayed exit from the classroom, as she saw in CCTV footage, corroborated the sexual assault allegation.
Is it possible that a 4 year old child can have this kind of mind set? If not which most agree then why did he do this horrendous act?
 Children at this age have their prefrontal lobe which are not developed completely so there is no regulation to their impulses. Hence any little curiosity or stimulation make the replica the things they see or hear.
Second possibility is that since their brains are highly neuroplastic (means curious and want to try new things).The neurons in our mind tend to replicate what is present in the opposite others mind. Exposure to Visual stimulation such as pornography or intimacy in adults can lead to the child replicating the same.
Another possibility is present of an adult doing this act which is the matter of investigation.
What needs to be done as Parents?
Limiting To Exposure
Parents should be highly cautious in getting intimate in front of children. Adequate care must be taken to keep the children away from exposure to adult contents.
Early exploration
As children learn to walk and talk, they also begin to learn about their bodies. Open the door to sex education by teaching your child the proper names for his or her sex organs, perhaps during bath time.
If your child points to a body part, simply tell him or her what it is. This is also a good time to talk about which parts of the body are private.
When your child asks questions about his or her body — or yours — don't giggle, laugh or get embarrassed. Take the questions at face value, and offer direct, age-appropriate responses. If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.
Curiosity about others
By age 3 or 4, children often realize that boys and girls have different genitals. As natural curiosity kicks in, you may find your child playing "doctor" or examining another child's sex organs.
Such exploration is far removed from adult sexual activity, and it's harmless when only young children are involved. As a family matter, however, you may want to set limits on such exploration.
Everyday moments are key
Sex education isn't a single tell-all discussion. Instead, take advantage of everyday opportunities to discuss sex.
If there's a pregnancy in the family, for example, tell your child that babies grow in a special place inside the mother. If your child wants more details on how the baby got there or how the baby will be born, provide those details.
Consider these examples:
How do babies get inside a mommy's tummy? You might say, "A mom and a dad make a baby by holding each other in a special way."
How are babies born? For some kids, it might be enough to say, "Doctors and nurses help babies who are ready to be born." If your child wants more details, you might say, "Usually a mom pushes the baby out of her vagina."
Why doesn't everyone have a penis? Try a simple explanation, such as, "Boys' bodies and girls' bodies are made differently."
Why do you have hair down there? Simplicity often works here, too. You might say, "Our bodies change as we get older." If your child wants more details, add, "Boys grow hair near their penises, and girls grow hair near their vaginas."
As your child matures and asks more-detailed questions, you can provide more-detailed responses. Answer specific questions using correct terminology.
Even if you're uncomfortable, forge ahead. Remember, you're setting the stage for open, honest discussions in the years to come.
Proper care must be taken to monitor the kids in schools so such events may be prevented in the future.
To label the child as a criminal at this tender age seems unfair but in the eyes of law a crime has been committed. The only way forwards is proper education and counselling of both parents and kids must be done to prevent such events in the future.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The “Silent Killer” of Obesity in Children

Shushant came home crying as Radha, his mom looked at him in disbelief. His shirt was torn and there were scratches on his face. This has been happening quite often since a last few months. He had been frequently fighting with the kids in the school. His friends used to call him “Appu” as he had gained a lot of weight in the last couple of years. This would irritate him and he would end up quarreling with them. Radha had consulted quite a few doctors but was unable to diagnose the exact cause. All his blood investigation were normal and the doctor had advised to improve his eating habits. There was no one so obese in the family. Even people in the family were taunting Radha to do something about his weight. Radha who was a house wife would continuously monitor his food but Shushant was just 12 years old .He would end up eating some junk food and this would lead to arguments with his mother. Radha understood the mental state of her son but was unable to help him. She was busy the entire day with her household work and then the school assignments. She had very little time to focus on Shushant. Radha knocked on the door but Sushant was not opening it. Radha got scared. She had an alternate key with which she opened the door .She saw Shushant weeping profusely under the table. Radha was upset at seeing her son’s state. She had tried her level best but still was unable to help him. She had complained to the class teacher but of no avail. Radha was upset on seeing her son suffering but what she didn’t realize that some of the issues were existing in him before the teasing from his friends.
Historically, a fat child meant a healthy child, one who was likely to survive the rigors of undernourishment and infection. But in today’s word it has become a major healthcare problem. Factors responsible for childhood obesity like genetic inheritance, disease like Diabetes, thyroid and dietary habits are usually highlighted in media. The role of childhood emotional and social needs are highly underplayed in the contribution to obesity. This article highlights the understanding of how psychological and emotional turmoil’s can contribute to this dreaded disorder.
Perhaps one of the biggest psychological factors of childhood obesity is the child’s home habits. If a child sees their parents turn to food for comfort then they are more likely to do the same. Also, the unavailability of food and the use of food as a reward for good behavior can become habits that stay with children into their adulthoods. This means that parents can not only influence whether a child becomes obese due to their genetics, but also due their habits.
Since kids tend to imitate their parent’s habits like eating food while watching TV or mobile or eating fast these tend to be the factors responsible for child hood obesity. Poor habits start early on. Many parents adding juice to baby bottles, which introduces babies to sweet tastes too early on and predisposes them to being overweight as a toddler and adolescent.
Our Neurons in brain mimic the emotional feelings of others unless they are being regulated by the prefrontal lobe in the brain. Since their prefrontal lobe (the regulatory center) in brain develops by 18 years hence the amygdala (Emotions firing center) is unchecked. They rewire and exhibit the same emotions and habits from the parents without actually the parent teaching them or realizing they should adapt habit. This is known as mirror imaging in neuroscience. Kids learn and mimic emotional and social behaviors from their parents. Say watching TV while eating food, eating a lot of food when upset. Kids pick up these habits without the knowledge of parents.

Low self-Esteem
Many people jump to an obvious, and often wrong, conclusion when they see a child who is obese.
“The parents are letting those kids eat anything they want. Those parents must be lazy.”
“A little self-discipline is all those kids need. If that kid would just quit eating so much.”
However, for many kids the cause of obesity may go much deeper. Childhood obesity can be a physical manifestation of a Low self-esteem and what that child needs is help handling their emotions. When the healing begins, a new healthy life can begin as well. First, adults need to understand the emotional causes of childhood obesity.
Low Self Esteem is another big factor that may influence a child to become obese. While it is suggested that weight gain is a common cause of low self-esteem, it can also be a cause of weight gain as a child is more likely to turn to food for comfort and social withdrawal can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Low self-esteem is something that many children suffer from, a child who feels badly about their looks may not make an effort to stay healthy and talking to them about their weight gain may only cause further self-esteem problems.
One stress in the house may be divorce. It literally turns a child’s world upside down. If the parents are constantly fighting for the child’s affections, that can be even more damaging. Many children turn to food as a form of rebellion as well as comfort when they can’t seem to get it anywhere else. Eating comfort foods releases those same feel good endorphins that exercise does, but the reality is that children will turn to food first because it’s easier.
Children are also affected by abuse. It can be sexual, physical, or verbal. Children are looking for acceptance, and when that comes in the form of hurt from those who are supposed to love them, it can confuse a child and destroy their self-worth. Food is often a substitute for love and a hiding place from the abuse they can’t stop.
Traumatic injury or accidents
Trauma suffered in childhood like natural disaster or vents like suicide or murders in the neighbourhood can also lead to childhood obesity. Children can become withdrawn and prone to unhealthy behaviors like stress-induced eating. In this situation, food can become a coping mechanism that leads to another unhealthy problem — obesity.
How to manage Psychological issues or Habits  in Obese kids
Children who experience psychological changes in their lives need an outlet for their pain as well as avenues for healing. One solution is therapy.
 When a family is going through divorce, a therapist can help all parties involved deal with their own feelings, as well as those of the other family members. Kids have a chance to vent and also to understand that the divorce has nothing to do with them.
In cases of abuse whether by a family member or an outsider, healing is crucial. A child needs guidance in how to process their feelings, as well as acceptance and understanding from their family. Eating disorders are commonplace in children of abuse. Therapy can give a child who finds solace in food a healthier way to communicate and deal with his or her pain.
When an injury or accident occurs in a child’s life they can be left to feel helpless. The ingestion of food is one thing they can control. Proper psychological help is crucial in this instance as this could become a lifelong preoccupation with controlling the world through means as futile as what they eat. Besides the control, the whole endorphin through eating comes into play once again, setting children up for a vicious cycle of eating for comfort, then eating to hide from their feelings about being obese.
Obese children are often hiding a deep, psychological pain. Learning to cope constructively with feelings not only produces emotionally well-adjusted children, but physically fit children, too. Look beyond the sugary treats if you love a child who is obese and help them find the pain behind the problem.
There is no such thing as a perfect family. We all do what we can for our children but the situation may be less than ideal. Changes in the home not only affect the parents, but also the kids.
Training the children to be aware of their emotions and deal with pressure from peers and maintain healthy relationship like Mindfulness based Cognitive interventions are some of the methods which increase the resilience and improve their impulsive behaviors. They learn how to cope up with the stressful events and are aware of their eating habits
How to eat food
Scientists discover those who eat too quickly are five-and-a-half times more likely than slow eaters to go on to develop a cluster of conditions including obesity, high blood pressure and cholesterol

Bolting your food increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, research suggests.
People who eat very quickly do not give their bodies time to realize it is full – meaning they tend to eat more. Eating slowly, savoring every mouthful and taking time over a meal is better for overall health.
Faster eating speed was linked with more weight gain, higher blood glucose and an expanding waistline.
Researchers proved that chewing food properly does help us eat less at the dinner table.
A study has found that eating slowly and having smaller bites makes us feel less hungry an hour afterwards than if we wolf down food. People who ate slowly also drank more, which helped them feel fuller.
Eating without the distraction of mobile, computers or TV can help children lose weight and maintain the loss.
Eating mindfully, choosing and savoring food away from the distractions of computers and televisions, can help people lose weight, a study has shown. Kids can eat what they want, including their favorite high-calorie, fattening foods. But they must eat it mindfully, thinking about nothing but the enjoyment of eating their food – although not necessarily eating all of it.
           Radha spoke to Shushank about his problems and how she could help him. She decided to spend more time with him and help him lose weight. Her husband started taking him to the park regularly where he would exercise with Sushank. They started attending mindfulness sessions where the family learned how to mindfully eat their food. Sushank lost 6 kgs in the first month and he became healthier. Radha came to school and requested the principal to take necessary action. The principal met the boys who were teasing him and warned them .The couple spend more time with child and decreased their screen time. Sushank was lucky that his family was able to help him out but there are many obese kids who have this “silent killer” as the cause are not so lucky and need help.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Five attempted suicides in five days in a school! What next?

               We were waiting with our team in the lobby for a principal and teachers meet to discuss the importance of emotional quotient in today’s children’s life. Since it was a famous school of Mumbai with a lot of students, mild chaos was always expected. We saw an anxious crowd of mothers weeping outside the principal’s office. Not able to understand what was going on and the intention not to interfere in the school activities, we continued our scheduled meeting. As we came out after the meeting we saw a mother weeping profusely outside the office. We were simply overwhelmed on seeing her state .So, we went up to the mother and offered her a glass of water and told her to calm down .
        The lady narrated that she was  the parent of a ten standard student of the same school who was suspended by the school. Her son had attempted a suicide along with four of his friends in the school bathroom. They had used a sharpener blade and were caught by other friends on seeing the marks on their hand. It all started when a teacher humiliated a boy in the class for some trivial issue. The boy attempted a suicide and was suspended by the school authorities .
          After a couple of days the other  four kids followed the same. The mother couldn’t believe that her son could have attempted such a dreadful thing. She was devastated .Although the principal along with their team of psychologist were attempting to solve the issue. We were discussing emotional intelligence with them and here we find a group of children behaving so irrationally .Soon the father came  with a puzzled look on his face. We can never forget the helpless face of the mother and the father and the questions they were asking. “Where did I go wrong, she was asking us? What if he was successful in doing what he wanted? How to deal with him when I couldn’t understand why he did this”. They told us not to reveal the identity as that would spoil their child’s future. Hence I am not naming the school but only trying to highlight the problem. This might be happening in many schools which we do not know but dealing with the situation seems to be a better option for school rather than introducing regular interventions to prevent this catastrophe.
       This anxiety will be seen in most of the parents including me if we were in their place. Dealing with a child attempting suicide  and  helping them to overcome emotional problems in the wake of an emotional turbulence is a considerable task for parents, teachers, and mental health professionals.
When family members become anxious and frightened, a child's fear is magnified. When possible, adults need to deal with the situation in a way that will help children to manage their impulses. Adults need to support each other so that they can be emotionally available for their children. When they cope well under extremely difficult conditions, there is a good chance the children will make a positive adjustment. Support for these children is necessary to avoid long-term emotional harm. They need to know that their fears are normal.
Warning signs parents need to look out for depression in a child

  •    Kids having intense emotions and being unwilling to discuss them with their family.
  • Kids having reduced appetite and sleep disturbances.
  • Kids experiencing flashbacks or nightmares.
  •    Physical problems such as rashes, digestion problems, asthma or weight gain or loss.
  •    Frequent headaches.
  •      Fear of leaving home.
  •      Feeling guilty for not doing more.
  •       Withdrawing and losing interest in school and/or peer interactions.
  •       Avoiding school and academic work.
  •      Having a decreased energy level.
  •     Feeling indifferent, agitated, hopeless and/or depressed.
  •      Having suicidal thoughts.
  •      Rebelling against rules.
  •     Exhibiting risk taking behaviors

How can parents Intervene?
  •     Help them feel in control by having them make some decisions.
  •   Reassure them that they did all they could at the time.
  •    Foster participation in social activities and/or athletics with peers.
  •     Provide extra attention and comforting.
  •    Provide a routine but be flexible.
  •    Relax expectations for a time.
  •   Encourage participation in rebuilding efforts.
  •    Take time to prepare yourself emotionally, especially if it is affecting you personally.
  •    Let children know that it is normal to feel upset and fearful after being exposed to an incident like this.
  •  Provide an opportunity for children who want to talk about the event to express their thoughts and feelings.
  •  Respect the right of children to avoid any discussion.
  •   Avoid repeated dialogue concerning the event that may be disturbing to some children.
  •   Answer their questions with honesty, yet be brief using words that children easily understand.
  •  Speak in hopeful terms.
  • Understand that some of these children may be extremely angry, withdrawn or sad.
  •   Realize that it will take time for the students to adjust.
  •    If deemed appropriate share stories that demonstrate resiliency and that have resulted in a return to a “new normal.
  •  Offer opportunities for children to draw pictures of their choosing and perhaps pictures that represent their future hopes.

        Apart from counselors, the schools and educators can introduce interventions to develop the resilience and emotional quotient of children who are exposed to various unwanted situations so they are able to deal with them in a rational way. Preventing a situation should be the aim but reacting to a Disaster has become a norm. Schools and education need to change the narrative so we can have a more resilient and empathetic generation
        The alarming rise in attempted suicides makes it all the more necessary that parents reach out to the children and help them control the raging emotions and impulsive behavior which can harm them. One of the research proves that 70 percent of people committing suicide in the adult life have attempted suicide in their childhood. My vision and my dream  is that we can introduce socio emotional interventions into the school and college curriculum like Cognitive based Mindfulness and prevent these unfortunate incidents and have a more happy world.
Along with growth of Artificial intelligence we are able to grow the emotional intelligence for our future generation. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The untold story of the Murderer in Ryan International school

We have been reading a lot about the gruesome murder of seven-year-old Pradhyuman’s body was found in the washroom of a Ryan International School branch in Gurugram. The botched up investigations by the state police seems further increase the insecurities amongst the parents. Is my child safe in school? To add to the mystery the CBI has come up with another theory of a 16 year old student doing the gruesome act. The fact that a 16 year old child can actually commit a crime of this magnitude in a top international school is not palatable for quite a few parents. What must be the child’s psychological state and was it an act of impulsivity or a prolonged effect of some psychological trauma? What will be the effect on the juveniles mind if this turns out to be a botched up investigation like Aarushi’s murder case? My aim to write the article basically tries to dig deeper into the mind of the juvenile who has been arrested by CBI and finds out the reasons why the child acted in a horrific way. The contributing factors while lead to a criminal mindset and what parents can do about it?
Let’s try to first recap a few points about the case so far.
·       Pradyuman had been dropped outside his school in the morning just before start of school hours and in a matter of 15 minutes, he was found to be lying in a pool of blood, dead.
·       The police arrested a bus conductor as the murder accused even before the passage of a whole day.
·       The Gurugram Police Commissioner boasted that the case will be cracked in 1-2 days.
·       The arrested bus conductor first confessed to committing the murder then retracted the statement, saying the police coerced it out of him.
·       The investigation was handed over to the CBI which after several weeks detained a school student as accused.
·       The CBI has asked for the 16-year-old boy's custody in order to find out if any other people were involved in the crime, and to also unearth the sequence of events leading to Pradyuman Thakur's death, and to "unearth the conspiracy, if any".
·       The CBI has asserted that after inspecting the crime scene, the CCTV footage, movement of students near the crime scene and questioning people in the school, it has identified and apprehended the accused.
·       The CBI's findings in the case came as an embarassement to the state police as the CBI said that a Class XI student who allegedly wanted a parent-teacher meeting and examinations to be postponed had been apprehended in connection with the killing of seven-year-old Pradyuman in Gurugram's Ryan International School.
·       As it has often been seen, wide media coverage and public outcry put investigating agencies under extra pressure.
·       In many cases, failure in proper preliminary investigation, or incomplete/delayed collection of forensic evidence lead to botched up investigations that ultimately make it more difficult for the victim to get justice.
If the crime was committed by the 16 year old boy
The motive of the murder was postponing the parent teachers meeting and examination. It may sound very trivial to most of us but it would be really important to know what led the juvenile of 16 years to actually do the gruesome act. So let’s assume that the juvenile committed the crime. So let’s try to understand his mind
1.     What were the changes in the brain that must have taken place? We all know that “amygdala” a part of the brain which deals with firing emotions develops by the age of 2 and the prefrontal (neobrain) develops by the age of 20 years and for some it may be later. This we label it as maturity. The prefrontal lobe works as a regulator to control emotions like anger, sadness or impulses. In short, kids are without any regulation till the lobe develops completely. Here the role of parents and educator comes into play. Most of the schools do not have curriculum or take active interventions in India into helping the child deal with these raging emotions. So the primary responsibility of helping the child with socioemotional problems lies on the shoulders of the parents. If both parents are working the child is left at the mercy of the caretakers. This creates this dysregulation.A study done in United States where MRI of criminals were done and it was found that most of them had a very thin layer of prefrontal lobe with an enlarged hypertrophied amygdala. Hence when provoke they were unable to regulate their impulsive behavior. Hence, lack of regulation in kid lead to such catastrophe.
2.     The motive was the postponement of examinations. If it hold true, then the children today are highly stressed by the expectations of parents as well as educators to excel in their academics. A study by me where we measured the blood cortisol of school going kids on a normal  day without any examination. We were shocked to see that the average levels of cortisol (207) were actually on the higher side close to the upper limit (210).You can imagine what must be the state of the child when they appear for their examinations. Again lack of regulation will make the child take these drastic steps as it is evident by shootouts in the United States.
3.     The role of gaming and gadgets have further deregulated the children.The ease of availability and addiction of technology  in today’s kids is for everyone to see. At a very tender the age the child learns to shoot someone in a game by a click on the mobile. Violence in cartoons like Chota Bheem are seen by kids of the 6 and 7 years. Since the prefrontal lobe is not developed, the difference between good and bad is not understood by them. Hence we are seeing a rise in violence and aggressiveness among kids. Surprisingly parents themselves want them to be addicted to television initially but later on regret. Social media like Facebook and whatsapp have contributed to isolating a child and interfering in the basic skills of communication. Games like Blue whale have taken undue significance due to poor development of socioemotional skills in the learning phase of teenagers. Typing an emoji saves the body a lot of trouble of making facial expressions but eventually creates plutonic and shallow relationships. You type a wrong emoji and the meaning changes.
4.     Lack of effective programs and interventions in schools focusing on socioemotional behavior and helping children to deal with stress.
5.     Time spend by parents with students has markedly reduced. With the hectic schedules and competitions in today’s world, parents are not giving enough quality time to their children.They themselves are too much involved their own world, the child misses the guidance and compassion of the parents. With a deregulated and agitated system the child is bound to react impulsively. I am not defending the juvenile who committed the crime but simply believe that he is not solely responsible.
What if the Juvenile has not committed the crime?
The marks on the child’s mind where the whole country is gunning for his life are going to be damaging and permanent. The amygdala which is deregulated will fire and lead to the added frustration and anger. This will have an extremely negative impact on his mind which may lead  him to become a hard core criminal or commit suicide depending on the value system. All we can pray that the CBI at least in this case has not goofed up in naming him as the murderer. It may end up destroying the future of a young life.
Way forward
Parents and educators need to take combined responsibility in developing the socioemotional behavior of the children.Teaching them to deal with their impulsiveness.
Some of the tips which may be useful for parents
Talk to your children .Parents need to speak to their children without judging them and advising them. Make them your friend and listen to their problems controlling the urge to advise them if not necessary.
Limiting gadget times. Parents need to fix the gadget times for both themselves and their children. By forcing them to switch of the gadget and parents still using them might not work. Children learn from their parent’s behavior and mimic them.
Giving positive feedback: One of the most depressing thing for a child is to get a negative comment from the parents. Parents are their world especially for young kids. Every negative comment creates disinterest in their studies or activities and widens the gap of understanding between them.
Giving them space. Every child is special and each one has a unique quality and skill. By judging and analyzing them solely on their marks and ignoring their other talents, we destroy their self-confidence and make them more aggressive. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses is done by all parents but very few have the heart to ignore their weakness and help them work on their strengths. There would be only doctors and engineers in the world and no painters or sportsman if academics was the yardstick to success.
For educator and school authorities: Effort should be made by introducing programs to develop the socioemotional behavior of the kids .Active interventions at the right age will prevent the murder of kids like Pradyuman and spoil the future of teenager who murdered him . There are many Pradyumans and teenager who are roaming around with an unregulated mind who need active intervention. My vision is that socioemotional interventions like mindfulness based cognitive therapy will be made compulsory in school curriculum which seems to the need of the hour and save many Pradyumans and the teenage boy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

What goes on in the child's brain when they are addicted to mobiles ?

Recently we were having a family dinner at a popular restaurant. It was a weekend and the restaurant was fully occupied. I couldn't help noticing the young people specially kids around  us, almost zombie like staring at the glowing screens of tablets and smart phones . It is not unusual to see this sight among kids nowadays.  Not only children,you will see the addiction running down through adults also. However the effect on children has already become evident by the change in their behavior and social interactions.The full blown effect of this revolutionary technology is yet to be experienced by mankind and only future will be able to foretell.The speed with which technology has conquered the human mind which was the creator is fascinating as well as unfortunate.I will try to explain the working of the brain when using the mobile and its effects restricting to children.

Mobile addiction can be divided into parts based on the mechanism activated in the brain – gaming and  video.
In the early stage we all know that a newborn at birth has most of the brain cells that we will have for our entire life, but relatively little of the connections, circuits among the different cells. What happens very, very rapidly is that the brain is building connections, its building synapses (connections). These connections form the foundation on which newer connections are added later on. The brain is highly neuroplastic in the first few years of life and as we grow it becomes more and more difficult to change the way we think.
Hence when we give them the smart phone ,it ends up creating shortcuts in the mind rather than learning through experience and reasoning .We all agree in principle that this  is the most essential and effective way to gain knowledge and social skills. Let me give you an example when we see a particular cartoon, movie or a Sitcom, the story may have a variable impact to our mind depending on our choice of subject. The reason behind this is that whatever that has been fed in our mind is questioned by our parietal and frontal lobe (part of the brain responsible for reasoning) before it enters into our belief system. 
Also these inputs are further matched with our experiences of similar situations in our life. Hence at times some of the scenes actually evokes strong emotions while other do not .But overall this process makes our experience enjoyable or boring depending on the final outcome. With our logical reasoning we are able to restrict the experience to the movie.But for a child it may have detrimental effect on the neural pathways. Rather than experiencing the real life situation the child tends to form images and Mirror neurons (replica neural pathways –a property of our neurons) rather than going through the conventional reasoning and experience. This makes it actually easier for the mind to process.
Our neural circuits like most of the nature have a tendency to move into automation and are more at ease in the process of automation. Do not get me wrong, automation are the reasons you can drive the car or do multitasking but if formed at very early age can be damaging .our brain becomes lazy and tends to function more in automation perceived from what they see. Another important finding is that  our brain understands and stores information by forming images and the emotions related if any.Then newer experiences forms newer images and the brain tries to relate them and stores the new information and so on . By bypassing the process of reasoning and experiencing it may reduce the job of the brain for the time being but in the long run due to these weakened neural pathways, they will create improper social behavior and defective learning.The newer images will be actually reinforced on the images perceived by the sitcom or video rather than formed by the process of experience and learning.
How severe is this problem, and what could be the long-term effects? I will try to give you some idea about this.
Infants Social Interaction.
Let us try to understand what happens to the numerous synapses with which the neonate is born and how the changes take place. As with our experience the human brain changes and increase in size. This is also known as neuroplasticity. The human brain triples in size in the first 2 years of life. The voice of the mother, her touch all result in forming extensive connections in the brain and lay down the platform for social interactions in the future. But too much of screen time for children results in hampering of this important lessons of early life.The child looks for social interactions and creates images based on their experience and observations. Although they are not so accurate but they form the foundation for reinforcing them by future learning experience. Their neural pathways change and different ones are created. This greatly affects the child in future to develop deep personal bonds, their self-belief and at times their attention

Foundations for first Addiction
Advances in technology have given mankind immense powers to create, recreate and find simpler solutions to what seemed very difficult to our forefathers. This has created many things accessible which were a distant dream, a couple of decades ago. They are no more a luxury for a privileged few but a necessity for common man. Tasks which seemed to take ages to accomplish have become accessible at a click of a button. The smart phone and tablets make the kids more prone to self-doubt, impulsive and lack of control which lead to addictive behaviors. The reward circuit especially in gaming creates addictive behaviors leading to  excessive craving  and  greedy.Accomplishing seemingly difficult task at the click of a button or buying few extra lives is the lesson a child learns which he will mimic in real life situation. The way these games are designed they create enough stress for the children to be interested with easier options always accessible.
Inappropriate Behavior
If someone is obsessed with anything the moment you take it away from them they will definitely react .This does not imply only to kid but you will also see this with adults. It’s become a habit or I may say fashion whenever we see a child getting bored or having a tantrum parents tend to give them the smart phone or tablet as an act of soothing them down. Although in the  near future it may release the tension but In the long run interferes with the natural mechanism of self-regulation .These lessons are of great importance specially in future to deal with the disparity and struggle of life which everyone of us have had to face. 
Sleep Deprivation
Almost a decade ago it was a common fact that people watched television when they were sleep deprived. Although the numbers were not great but it was one of the measures to kill time if you didn’t get sleep. But now with advent of smart phones it has almost become a habit for many young adults to sleep with their smart phone or tablets. What it does that light from the screen suppresses the hormone melatonin which activates the Reticular activating system(RAS) of the mid brain giving the message to the brain that it is daytime. This affects the circadian rhythms and cause sleep deprivation. What seemed as measure to kill time when you are sleep deprived has become the cause of sleep deprivation. There are many parents who do not supervise their kids and allow them to use gadgets when they are sleeping. It is obvious that children who are sleep deprived will have trouble with their concentration and have effects on their grade
Muted Learning skills
I think most of the parents including me would agree that smart phone and tablets distract the kids and decrease their ability to focus and concentrate in their studies. Too much of visual stimulation and rapid pictorial image changes create very little time for the child to understand and analyse the situation. It needs to be remembered these are crucial years of learning and would greatly affect their sensorimotor and visual motor skills. These are important in learning maths, science or anything to do with logical reasoning and analyzing. Asking questions is the first step to learning .If everything is spoon fed then the quest to learn simply dries out.

However there are games which actually increase their attention skills but the child is inclined to learning more with motion pictures and actually finds it difficult to read a book attentively because of the defective neural pathways. It is also found that most of the video and online games also limit kids’ budding creativity and imaginations and slow their motor and optical sensory development.

Poor self Introspection

A fact that 60 to 70 per cent of our interaction is nonverbal (i.e through facial expression, eye movements, body language).All this creates a gap in learning of essential social skills. These are all fundamental to establishing human relationships. And they’re all missing with most forms of modern technology. Kids are spending so much time communicating through technology that they’re not developing basic communication skills that humans have used since forever. Communication is not just about words but also about expression and emotions. It is impossible for anyone to communicate their feelings merely by emoticons and have the same effect of one to one communication with the individual.If the communications skills are poor how does one expect to be empathetic to any one.

Susceptible to psychological trauma.

Once again poor communication skills lead to isolation and frustration for any individual. This makes the child susceptible to cyber bullying which has become a reality in today’s world. Access to too much information which is not age appropriate gives rise to curiosity in young children about their physicality and body changes. Childhood depression, anxiety attention deficit disorder are the some of the unwanted gifts  of the twenty first century which we need to protect our children from.


Too much time spends in front of the screen leads to lack of movement and physical exercise. If Children do not play in the playground, they only end up increasing their weight. Childhood obesity is not only due to the lack of activity but also due to the isolation and lack of communication skills which leads to overeating (a sign of Depression).Obesity in childhood is a precursor for early diabetic ad high blood pressure in later years.

Pumping in aggression
Violent movies and games only end up creating aggression in the young minds. They start feeling that it is okay to be mean and aggressive in normal life. The child is too young to differentiate between the normal life and abnormal situations which they depict. The striking rise in children aggression is another issue we have to deal when raising a child in today’s world. 
On the other side more and more emphasis is given to the emotional quotient in workplace as compared to the intelligence quotient for more effective performance. This paradoxical situation makes it all the more necessary for parents to intervene and tame this technological monster.
Although because of peer pressure and hard wiring of the last few years ,the child may be initially resistant. Parents can increase the inter family communication ,starting with dinner time where gadgets need to be away from the dinner table. We need to understand that when we take the gadget away there will be a vacuum in the child's life .This needs to be filled with quality family time and a lot of patience. 
Another important step for parents who want to put an end to their children's mobile addiction is to role model them. If you cannot leave your addiction it becomes unfair to expect the kids to do so.

Although we are lucky due to the great work of a few intelligent minds we are accessible to gadgets which have increased greater convenience and colors to our lives .But it has also created these very disturbing and serious effects on our future generations. We need to act before it’s too late.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Whats the science behind loosing an argument and why some people love arguing?

You’re in a tense conversation with a friend trying to defend your position on a political leader and his policies and start to feel yourself losing ground. Your voice gets louder. You talk over one of your colleagues and correct his point of view. He pushes back, so you go into overdrive to convince everyone you’re right. It feels like an out of body experience — and in many ways it is. In terms of its neurochemistry, your brain has been hijacked.
It is a common scenario especially with high voltage political campaigns around the world. However this can happen even in a simple conversation between couples regarding the child’s future which can convert into an ugly argument.
 By definition an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion. So what goes in our brain that makes us lose the argument and the other win inspite of us knowing more relevant facts but we simply can’t win the argument. The fact that everyone believes that they are right is well known but the reason  some people win the argument has to do with changes in the brain which the other ones don’t have.
Corpus Callosum
We all know that there are two parts of the brain, the right and the left hemisphere. These hemisphere are joined by fibrous tract known as the corpus callosum .The thickness of the corpus callosum determines the cross connection between two sides of the brain. Any conversation requires the valid points to be remembered from the hippocampus (memory storage part of the brain) and the impulse is transferred to the thinking brain (Left parietal and frontal  lobe) and then to the right counterpart to form a meaningful sentence and finally to the speech center. This sounds very complicated but you can actually imagine the brain overworks when we get into an argument and hence we feel exhausted by the end of it.
 So people having thickened corpus callosum fibers tend to hasten this process and are able to come up with valid points supporting their point of view. Also they will end up remembering and speaking the right thing at the right time. Women surprisingly by birth have a thicker corpus callosum and the saying that you can never win a conversation with a woman holds true.
The other reason is stress and persons behavior which make him prone to get worked up. In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain. Executive functions that help us with advanced thought processes like strategy, trust building, and compassion shut down. And the amygdala, our emotional and reactive brain, takes over.
The body makes a chemical choice about how best to protect itself — in this case from the shame and loss of power associated with being wrong — and as a result is unable to regulate its emotions or handle the gaps between expectations and reality. So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up) or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).This another reason why we end up losing the argument.
The moment we shift from logical reasoning to emotional implosion we start losing the argument. This is the area where we can work upon and can be highly effective. Going further I will try to explain why some people end up in arguing on a regular basis.
The stress created in an argument prevents the honest and productive sharing of information and opinion. But, I can tell you that the fight response is by far the most damaging to any relationships. It is also, unfortunately, the most common. That’s partly due to another neurochemical process. 

When you argue and win your brain floods with different hormones: adrenaline and dopamine, which makes you feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s a feeling any of us would want to replicate. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again. We get addicted to being right. So what goes on in our mind that we start losing the conversation and hence these series of cascade of neurochemicals flooding our mind.

Luckily, there’s another hormone that can feel just as good as adrenaline: oxytocin. It’s activated by human connection and it opens up the networks in our executive brain, or prefrontal cortex, further increasing our ability to trust and open ourselves to sharing. Your goal as a leader should be to spur the production of oxytocin in yourself and others, while avoiding (at least in the context of communication) those spikes of cortisol and adrenaline.

Here are a few exercises for you to do at work to help addiction to being right:
 Deciding Rules of engagement. If you’re heading into a conversation that could be a little difficult, start by outlining rules of engagement. For example, you might agree to give people extra time to explain their ideas and to listen without judgment. These practices will counteract the tendency to fall into harmful conversational patterns. Afterwards, consider see how you and the person  did and seek to do even better next time.
Empathetic listening. In one-on-one conversations, make a conscious effort to speak less and listen more. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them. And when you do that for others, they’ll want to do it for you, creating a virtuous circle.
Speak one at a time. In situations when you know one person is likely to dominate a group, create an opportunity for everyone to speak. Ask all parties to identify who in the room has important information, perspectives, or ideas to share. List them and the areas they should speak about on a flip chart and use that as your agenda, opening the floor to different speakers, asking open-ended questions and taking notes.
 Arguments are a way of life. We live, we love, we argue, we make up. Sometimes though, arguments cause breakage - of relationships, families and people.The more we can understand about how we argue, the more deliberate we can be in responding to conflict in such a way as to preserve the relationship.