‘Playing outdoors is the most important part of a child’s day’

Let me take this opportunity to wish all kids a super children's day and may they be blessed with a healthy mind and body!

Let me take this opportunity to wish all kids a super children’s day and may they be blessed with a healthy mind and body!

Is there any significance of the day beyond the customary greetings and celebrations? If there is, then it needs to be conveyed to children. And as everything else, it falls to the parents and grandparents to do so.

If I have to wish my child on this day, what would I wish her?

I would wish her an early morning. Not just because I’m impressed by age old proverbs, but because today I see the crazy way that every child begins her day. Most kids wake up at say, 7 am and they need to get into the school bus at 7.20 am!

samir-dalwaiI recently attended a conference in Sharjah where constipation was being discussed with great seriousness. I mentioned the fact that in Mumbai kids have to “finish” their daily chores in 15 minutes and there is simply no time to brush their teeth and go to the toilet and have a bath and eat breakfast. An Arab lady said parents wish there were buttons – you press one and.. Swoosh… the kid evacuates; you press another and swoosh… the kid eats… and voila. . You make the school bus in time!

What we fail to realise that just like falling asleep, waking up is a ritual. Arousal needs to proceed in its own order, enabling the child to transition out of a state of deep sleep to wakefulness to complete alertness. If this is crumpled to within 20 minutes, not only will the child end up with constipation and poor hygiene but she will still be half asleep for the first hour or two of school which often has the “important” subjects.

And it’s not rare to see such kids doing poorly at academics and being misdiagnosed as ADHD or Dyslexic! So, to start with, wake the child up at least an hour before she sets off for school. I encourage a few minutes of prayer- for the simple reason that this ritual allows the child to have a little time to get her act and thoughts in order and eventually reach school with her bowels cleared, body cleansed, well-nourished and most importantly – focused for studies.

I would wish my child come home back by lunch. That’s ideal, though I know that’s not possible very often due to many reasons. Whatever be it, once the child is home I would wish my child to have some good food and if possible have a small chat – I call it “debriefing”!

I wish the child would then after a few minutes sit down for her studies. Avoid television here as it will drag on and end up in a fight! Instead let the child finish off with whatever studies or homework or project work is needed. And be done by 5 or 6 pm.

That’s also because many children today don’t have great attention spans and as the day wears on the quality of attention and concentration wears thin. A simple rule of thumb- if a kid has slept for 10 hours, the best concentration could be expected for the next 10 hours. Any effort to engage him in any activity thereafter, needing good concentration, is not very fruitful and again ends up in arguments.

I wish my child would have an opportunity to play outdoors every evening for 2 to 3 hours! This is the most important part of the day for the child since this is the time when the child is by himself and can do what she feels! Hence it’s important to let the kid have non structured play – let them play whatever they want. This is for them to vent their hearts out, and be refreshed for the next day as well as to bond with friends and learn co-operation and how to resolved differences.

Many parents end up sending their kids to official “training academies” be it sport or dance and this ends up being another performance task and ends up tiring the child up much more and often frustrating him that he has to live up to expectation and “perform” even here. Decrease performance anxiety!

I wish the child would be back home completely relaxed and sit down for an early dinner. We could chat over dinner – chat being whatever the child likes to say, and not what we would like to hear (about her academics) and certainly not for us to talk about her performance or marks!

The best of nutritious food is a waste if not accompanied by the digestive juice of happiness and satisfaction. Monitor for yourself the number of times you are inclined to “opine” to your child- “this is not good”, “if you do that you will suffer”, “you need to do this”, etc. Your child will either learn to switch off (and you will keep wondering why she doesn’t listen to you ever) or worse this will destroy her ability to think for herself.

Rather, let the child speak and your role is to ask open questions or questions which will make her assess her actions. In this manner, though the child may not verbally express the “lesson” you wanted her to imbibe, rest assured that she has indeed internalised it-much better than you ordering it to happen.

I wish my child would find engagement in activities that connect her to others rather than to machines. Gadget addiction is a huge problem today. But we lay the foundation of this addiction when we switch on the TV or hand over the cell to the tiny tot to make her eat or to let us be-please don’t use gadgets as “electronic nannies”.

Besides the host of reasons why gadgets are bad for your kid which any Internet search can easily give you, please remember two main reasons. One, these gadgets are one way communication systems – your kid’s communication skills and social interaction with others will suffer. Reciting nursery rhymes verbatim is not really a great gain – teach these rhymes yourself to enhance her social skills. Two, habits formed at an early age become part of “normal” life and it will be impossible to restrict or limit these later.

Lastly, the best thing I could do as a parent for my child’s life long physical and mental health is to inculcate great sleep habits!

Intelligence, memory, behaviour are all impacted by sleep habits.

Children below 12 needs about 10 to 12 hours of continuous sleep, adolescents need at least 8 to 10 hours. This can be managed only if the kids are trained to sleep early. A couple of hours of good outdoor play will tire the child sufficiently. Once home, serve them dinner early. Encourage activities which will induce sleep and not those that will increase arousal instead. Television or mobile games or chatting will drive away sleep. So will arguments and fights. As your infant grows up, discourage day time napping as this is likely to delay onset of sleep at night. Also, the best way to inculcate this habit is to make the child wake up early as mentioned above and avoid afternoon sleep. She will surely begin to feel sleepy early on in the night.

There is no one fool-proof way to happy parenting! These are general principles- you may modify them as long as the idea behind each is followed more or less! Simple guidelines will go a long way in contributing to your child’s life!

The author is president of Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Mumbai

  • Mushtaq Dalwai

    Chaos Dr. Sameer Beautiful article

  • Dr Pallavi Patil

    All things very well put and will be very useful for parents.

  • Dr. Meenakshi Sood

    Excellent article Dr. Dalwai. A must read for every parent.

  • Shubham


  • Ellahe Meherazar

    Yes my daughter too suffers from constipication…and now i know why.
    Great tips dr. Samir Dalwai….we r definitely going to.implement them.

  • Dr.Gaurav Yadav

    Excellent article….

  • Dr Vilas Jadhav

    Excellent Sameer. Should be printed and hanged in the waiting room of every paediatricians OPD

  • Samsher Hasan Dalwai

    Very deeply studied n medically proven article . Really medical mantra of parenting child. Should follow or think on it by parents n educational institute. Dr Samir we are proud of you.Regards.

  • Carolina

    How true!! Excellent article!

  • Priti Kedia

    Nice tips for parents Samyr.

  • Dr.Girish Mundada

    Very nice and informative article Sameer,keep us enlightene with your knowledge

  • Bhavya Gour

    Beautiful article sir…very important message for the parents.

  • Sangita

    Very insightful!!

  • Gitanjali Pillai

    Wow!Beautifully written AND explained “5 Golden Rules” for all parents and caregivers!Such an informative article for Children’s Day!

  • Madhumitha

    Very well written article on the perfect occasion. Thank you for this Dr. Samir☺

  • Alaknanda Sengupta

    The message is as simple as it is profound. From my personal experience, young parents are well advised to start following these principles not only for healthy childhoods but also to protect themselves from daily battles starting with getting ready for school and ending with getting off the phone and going to bed with countless arguments in between!!

  • As a grand parent with a lil child inside me, as we all do have one inside us, my grand son greatly connects with me. Just like me he believes in “early to n early rise”. He’s vivacious, vibrant & full of outdoor activities. God bless.

  • Dr sangita lodha

    Nice write up doctor.

  • Sonali Kir


  • Ms. Madhuri

    Very good article.. And yes very true, these days children are missing all of the above.. Their routine is too bad..

  • Paullomi Shah

    absolutely amazing article.. !!

  • Suchismita Kadam

    Simple and eloquently written.

  • Prashant

    Excellent article and good advice.

  • Barkha chawla

    Well said Dr samir Dalwai… This article leaves an impact on me, the changes I need to make to give my kid a better life..thank u..

  • Padmaja Tripathy

    Very nice article! Beautifully written .

  • Samsher Hasan Dalwai

    Dr , Really medical mantra of parenting child. Pl take note on it by parents as well as educational institutions . Dr Samir , proud of you.

  • sabah khan

    jazak allahu khairan

    excellent piece of work

  • Alina

    A brilliantly written article… So simple yet powerful!

  • Hariom Pal

    Bravo… Worth to understand and implement.

  • Sohini

    Simple rules of parenting. Very well outlined for all parents.

  • Javed Dalwai

    Great! doctor, good article.

  • Hasan K Dalwai

    Very Informative. Specially the way you have explained the importance of early morning routine on the kids which is often ignored since most of the parent are busy preparing themselves for the upcoming activity of their day.


  • Abir Chakraborty

    Simply fantastic. I Wish can be a good interactive tool from patents where one can wish and evaluate how much they have fulfilled for their child.
    I will send this beautiful article to as many as possible .

  • Dr Ganesh Salunke

    Worth Reading Excellent work Dr Sameer

  • Dr Dinesh Saroj

    Very nice article Sir.

  • Dr Samir Dalwai

    Thank you for your kind comments and suggestions! Organisations like Indian Academy of Pediatrics (www.iapmumbai.org)and New Horizons Child Development Centre (www.enablemychild.org) are always ready to share their experience and learning.

  • Dr. Hemal Gada

    Well compiled n worth following..
    Simply amazing tips…

  • Thanks for writing this most informative article on a very important occasion. You have listed the Essential Daily Requirements of every day in a child’s life so succinctly – a pleasure to read! Shaabaash Samyr!

  • Kavita rajput

    Thank u for sharing this wonderful information.

  • Dr. Shilpa Ambegaokar

    Apt description of lifestyle of today’s generation , Sameer . Mostly we as parents give a lot of allowances to children out of guilt of not giving them adequate time , then it becomes a habit for them . You have so nicely made us aware of small changes we need to make to improve wellbeing of our kids . Thank you for great article

  • Pranali

    Very useful information..Excellent article Sir..will implement the same..

  • Tejswi Kamble (Occupational Therapist)

    What an informative gift to children!
    Let the info spread masses by hitting share
    More such gifts awaited Dr Samir.
    All The Best and U get a Star and a 🙂