BENGALURU, 23 September 2023: Health and wellness knowledge platform, Happiest Health hosted ‘Get Set, Grow! 2023: Children’s Wellness Summit’, a day-long event at The Leela Palace, which demonstrated the wide range of expertise and mindfulness needed to raise happy children and confident young adults. Among the 250+ participants were parents, educators, medical professionals and psychologists, sports and wellness professionals… and many others. A series of talks by multi-faceted expert panels emphasised a holistic approach to parenting, education and caregiving.
The summit explored topics such as new-age career options, promoting balanced technology use, proper nutrition for children and tackling junk food temptations. Experts also covered the importance of play in children’s development, the need for finance management among adolescents, strategies for stress management, and bridging communication gaps between adolescents and parents.
The event witnessed perspectives and knowledge from eminent experts in various fields. Speaking from a medical perspective were Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Coordinator of Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic, NIMHANS, and Dr Supraja Chandrasekar, Paediatric Intensivist, Dhee Hospital. Representing education and career were experts such as Dr Florence D’Souza, Principal of Sherwood High, Ms Manju Sharma, Principal of Delhi Public School, Mysuru, and Poorva Ranade, Child Psychologist and Counsellor.
At the summit, the findings of ‘Are You Listening? – Voices Of Adolescent Survey 2023’, a comprehensive research survey that voices the concerns of adolescents, conducted by Happiest Health, was released. This insightful survey draws from the perspectives of 500+ adolescents, aged 12 to 18 years, from across the country. The survey brought to light the uncharted new realities that young adults must navigate and highlighted the need for parents, schools and peers to acknowledge this and adjust their approach and role in raising adolescents.
Various sessions delved into topical issues relevant to the times – such as reducing gadget time for kids, understanding money, exams and stress management in children and youngsters, and career options for the India of today and tomorrow, were discussed.
Addressing the major challenge of parents and teachers today, that of technology addiction, Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, Professor of Clinical Psychology and Coordinator of SHUT Clinic NIMHANS, Bengaluru, said, “We need to look at 3As – Accessibility, Affiliation and Acknowledgement. Accessibility has become immense because of academic reasons and others. With families not spending quality time with each other, children get affiliation from online platforms, where social media platforms have become places where they can vent. And lastly, children feel they don’t get acknowledged.” He called upon parents to initiate the topic of reducing gadget time in a non-judgemental way and mentioned that working on family dynamics was essential. He advised children to do simple eye exercises, besides spending quality time with their families.
A well-rounded panel discussed the power of play and sports highlighted the developmental importance of allowing children to play, and its impact on physical and cognitive development, as well as confidence and social adjustment. Another thought-provoking panel deliberated on managing stress related to exams, academic pressure and choosing a career and other stressors that are experienced while stepping into adulthood. Dr Poorva Ranade, Child Psychologist and Counsellor, Mr Neeraj Kumar, Founder – PeakMind, and Mr Mahesh Yadav, Academic Head – South India, Allen Career Institute, shared their insights. Dr. Ranade said that for a child to attain well-being, there should be synchrony between the mind and body. “The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. We should really question if we have converted our experiences into learning,” she said. Concurring, Mr. Kumar said the ABC of stress management was, “Being aware of it, being beware of it and taking care of it.” An effective antidote to stress, Mr. Yadav said, was at least one-hour of physical exercise. “Parents should not focus too much on children’s academics. They must also teach children to embrace failures whenever they happen,” he added.
While speaking about “Communication gaps between kids, parents and teachers and how to address them”, Ms. Manju Sharma, principal of Delhi Public School, Mysuru, maintained that active communication happened in schools all the time. “When we communicate with students it has to be at a different pace, and the way we communicate with children of different age groups is also different.” She went on to add that the emotional environment dictates communication in school. “A child can feel lonely in a class of 40 students. Affirmations are a fantastic way to begin the day. The most dangerous sign is when a child is responding in mono-syllables. Bridging the gap is to take into account their views and opinions,” she said and called upon teachers and parents to be empathetic with the children.
Dr. Supraja Chandrasekhar, paediatric intensivist, Dhee Hospital, spoke about “Nutrition for children”. In her illuminating talk, she shed light on the fundamental role that diet plays in the lives of children. “We have gone from feeding our children wholesome food to processed food. We overfeed and undernourish our children. This has resulted in a spike in number of overweight children, which was not the case a decade ago,” she said and added that half the plate should be occupied by fresh fruits and vegetables, one quarter by grains and the remaining quarter by proteins.
The ‘Get Set, Grow! 2023: Children’s Wellness Summit’ summit successfully raised awareness on a topic that until now was considered to be something to go with the flow on, and raised the importance of multiple influences and various perspectives to be considered while raising or caring for children and adolescents.
“Happiest Health is dedicated to transforming the ideas of wellness in India. Through the ‘Get Set Grow!’ summit, we hope to bring a new paradigm of nurturing and awareness to the systems that care for children. We want to challenge the age-old notions of parenting and education with up-to-date research and hearing about the realities of youth from their own experiences. These can inform our approach and define our roles as parents, caregivers and the institutions we create, to create the foundation of a strong and productive nation.”, said Anindya Chowdhury, President & CEO, of Happiest Health.