There are many good choices

There are many good choices

Dear Madam,

I am a mother of a 10-year-old child. Come weekends, he enjoys spending more time indoors playing video games rather than interacting and playing with his friends outdoors, which I think is important for a child of his age. While I do not try to impose it upon him, it is sometimes frustrating to see that he stays indoors all day. What are the ways that I can enable him to enjoy the outdoors as well without making it look like a 'must do' activity for him?

A concerned mother


Dear Concerned Mother,

Yes, I agree with you, it is important for children to spend unstructured time outdoors. This is becoming more and more challenging these days as the social dynamics amongst children seem to be changing with personal technology devices dictating how children interact with each other. Try and understand what his peers are doing? Are the children in your community coming out to play or are they all staying indoors? If the others are outside, then is there something in the interactions with your son that he is not comfortable about that is making him prefer to stay indoors. If they are all indoors, then what can you do as a community to encourage outdoor play.

Maybe all the parents can get together and set some rules around being outside for some time. Basically, understand the peer group and its dynamics and see if you have some leverage to influence that. Also, remember, children to a large extent do what they see the adults in their life doing. So maybe you as a parents can engage in more outdoors stuff individually, or as a family. That may help.

Dear Madam,

Throughout my academic career, I always thought of myself as an average student and always used to step cautiously when it came to selecting a school or course. I am now in a job that I am no longer interested in. However, all of these developments have put me in a state confusion. I have developed a lot of negativity. Everything seems impossible now. Please help.



Dear Yogesh,

It may be helpful for you to take the help of a career counsellor to help you map your interests and aptitude to the avenues that are really available to you, and to chart out a path to reach there. As for negativity, that is something you can control by identifying your exact negative thoughts and realising that they are irrational generalisations. You will need to learn to replace them with more helpful, positive thoughts.

You can really benefit from learning this and getting this help from a counsellor who can help you through this process. It is not practical for me to try and explain this in this column because each one's thoughts and fears are different and each one of us has to come up with an alternative thought that is specific to us.

Dear Madam,

I am a postgraduate student. I have good friends and some of them confide in me. Whenever they speak or comment about others, I start feeling that they would discuss me in my absence. Though I don't care what people discuss behind me, the feeling  sometimes disturbs me. Is it common or does it indicate a low confidence level?



Dear Charan,

Even if someone discusses you, as many people will, what is your fear? What are you afraid of? What will happen if they discuss you? Just like you and your friends discuss other people, other people will discuss you. How does it matter? What they say does not become the reality and is not the truth. Only you know your truth and your reality. What others say, do or believe is not material. So it is okay if they say or believe something that you know is not true? That is a choice they make and they are entitled to that choice. Remember, everyone does not need to like you. Just like you in all probability don't like everyone equally - there will be some people you like more than others, and some that you do not like at all.

And that is okay. That is a choice you make. In the same way it is okay if some people really like you, and some dislike you, while others don't care one way or the other. That is a choice they make and does not in any way reflect the reality about you. So don't worry about what people say about you.

It is not important and don't let something that is not important decide how you want to behave with your friends. Be genuine in the person that you are and in the relationships that you have. That is the only thing that matters. All the best.


Dear Madam,

I find it difficult to overcome a dilemma as I am unable to make the right decision to take action. This often affects the way I work and some areas of my personal life. How can I overcome this?



Dear Anonymous,

We often believe that there is only one right decision and that is the decision we must make. The reality however is that there are often many equally good choices or options that one has to decide from. We fear making the wrong decision, and therefore end up not being able to make any decision at all. But if we recognise that there can be more than one right decision, it becomes easier.

It is often helpful to ask ourselves what is the worst thing that can happen if we make the wrong decision. What is our biggest fear about making the wrong decision? When we name and concretise our fear we are able to deal with it. Often the 'cost' of making the wrong decision is not so significant. And no matter what, most of the time we can always recover from our mistakes (in this case a supposedly wrong decision) if we give ourselves that chance.

Also remember that all decisions are not equally important. So learn to be able to differentiate between big decisions (like whom to get married to) and small decisions like what to order at a restaurant. Most decisions we need to take fall into the small category and are really not that significant. After all what is the 'cost' of ordering the wrong dish?

So remember, there is more than one 'right' choice, prioritise the significance of the decision you need to make, and face the fears that you associate with taking that decision. Good luck!

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