Ask your counsellor

Last Updated 24 May 2017, 18:45 IST

Dear Madam,
I am active in the extracurricular activities organised at the school and at outside platforms. However, I often find myself lagging behind in my studies. Most of my good grades are because of last-minute cramming. I do try to plan a schedule, but it often never works out. What is the best way to achieve a balance between the two?

Dear Sebastian,
If you are able to manage good grades along with all the other activities that you are involved in, I am not sure why you think there is a problem and things are not okay. The fact that you have a schedule and/or that you follow it is not important, it is the end result that is important.

If you were just wasting your time and procrastinating, and there being able to only do last-minute cramming, there may have been a problem.

But if you are doing things, that in my opinion may actually add more value to you than a few extra marks ever could, and you are still able to attain good grades, then where is the problem? You are in an enviable situation and many others would love to be in your shoes. All the best.

Dear Madam,
Thinking before acting has never really been my forte. Neither has been listening. This often results in fights between me and my close ones. Kindly guide me as to how I can remedy this and ensure better listening.

Dear Anonymous,
The first step to change is to acknowledge that there is something to change. And I see that you are already acknowledging that. So that’s great! Once you know what you would like to change, it is easier to change it. After any event when you have acted before thinking, stop and reflect on the event.

Initially, you will only be able to reflect after the fact, but gradually you will be able to catch yourself in time and reflect before the fact. Reflect on how you acted, and how you could have acted differently if you had thought of what to do. And compare the end result of what happened now, and what could have happened if you had thought before acting. How would you have been better off if you had thought before acting. Remember to respond, not react.

What often prevents us from truly listening is the fact that we tend to listen to respond, not to understand. Most of the time when someone is saying something to us, we are already getting ready with the answer in our mind and our emotional energy is taken up in getting our response ready, rather than in trying to understand what the speaker is actually saying and feeling.

Active listening, in a way that people can experience the fact that you truly listened to them, is an art and a skill that takes effort to cultivate. It involves putting the other person first, and that is not always easy for many of us. It also does not seem to come naturally.

But like I said before, for us to make any change, we first need to be aware of what we want to change. And you have already taken the first step. So good luck on your journey.

Dear Madam,
I am a Class 8 student who wants to eat out, watch movies and play with friends during school holidays. My parents want me to volunteer or take up some course or new learning during holidays. But I feel holidays are not for studying but for spending time leisurely. My parents get annoyed when I get up late and laze around. How do I convince them? Kindly guide.

Dear Sharan,
Before you take an opposing position to what your parents are saying, it is important for you to understand their perspective and why they want you to take extra classes. You don’t need to agree with them, but you do need to try and understand them. And the same holds true for your parents. They need to understand your perspective and needs, and why you feel it is important to use your vacations to unwind.
You will find that if you are able to have this conversation with them where both sides are trying to understand the others perspectives, you will be able to arrive at a path that will work for both – you and your parents.

Don’t view this as a battle, you win – they lose, or they win – you lose. You are not on opposing sides of the situation. You and your parents are on the same side of the situation, and that is wanting the best path forward for you. So this is not about confrontation. It is about collaboration. And that’s an important life skill to learn, so why not try to develop it at home first.

(Published 24 May 2017, 18:45 IST)

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