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Lessons on Raising Children from Priyanka Chhabria

Priyanka Chhabria is the founder of the Indore Mom Tribe and a mommy blogger who goes by mommy_onboard on Instagram. Through documenting her parenting journey, she provides advice and tips to support her community of parents! In this conversation with her, DinoStaury discovers how she used practical strategies to inculcate a love for reading in her toddler, Aarav.

DinoStaury: Tell us a little about how you’ve built a love for reading in Aarav!

Priyanka: Reading is one such great hobby that contributes to shaping your personality and helps you understand and analyze different scenarios by challenging your thought process. I was sure from the start that I wanted to introduce reading to Aarav at a young age. So I started at 5 months. I got him 5 board books (vegetables, flowers, ABC, Numbers and Fruits). I started with a nighttime reading routine. After getting him ready for sleep, I showed him one book each day. He seemed interested because he could see bright colors and that is the age when children develop proper color vision. Gradually I started reading him storybooks.

The simple answer for how to cultivate a love for reading in your child is 'consistency'.

I kept reading to him no matter whether he was showing interest or not and spent at least 10 minutes of time reading with him. I stopped the bedtime story routine and started experimenting with timing depending upon his interest. We started reading when he was bored of activities but still wanted to keep exploring other things. Books were the perfect escape.

Once Aarav started to speak, I started 10 minutes time with books twice a day. We have been doing this regularly since then. In the morning we read books word by word and evenings are a fun-filled session of just flipping the pages, looking at pictures, and weaving our own stories. I ask him, ' what do you think is happening in this picture?' and his answers amaze me every time.

One more thing that helped in the process was to dedicate a shelf for all his books and keep it accessible to him. I, Aarav, and his dad made a DIY book holder with spare cardboard. I have kept all his books in it. I have seen him taking a lot of interest in books after that. It's because he has an attachment towards that holder as he helped us while making it.

He picks books of his choice now. Every now and then he just picks up any book and starts seeing pictures. These are the little tips and tricks that have worked for us.

DinoStaury: We can see you have a love for traveling! Do you have some ideas on how to make traveling with a toddler easier? 

Priyanka: Travelling has a major impact on me. It is a great way to rediscover and reconnect to the world. After Aarav was born, his father was skeptical about traveling with him and so we waited for Aarav to turn 1.5 years to plan our first trip with him. And after that we have already traveled thrice with him in 6 months.

The trip was fun to plan and pack for. I made a four-part plan and packed according to it.

  • Engaging him: This was tricky because it takes only 10 minutes for him to get bored of doing any activity. I planned all-new activities so that he has an element of surprise and spends more time on that activity. I got easy grip crayons and a drawing notebook (for scribbling), 6-8 stickers pack (sticking activity), an all in one book, newspapers (made puppets using them), and a box of non-toxic clay (gave him two at a time). All these things made flights, airports, and staying in hotels easy for us.

  • Clothes: This was the easy part but took most of our suitcase space! The first priority was comfy clothes, then we packed a few new pairs, extra shorts, undergarments, footwear, beachwear, and lastly swimwear. I also packed a sweater and an extra door in case it gets cold.

  • Essentials: This included his diapers, disposable bags for diapers, SOS medicines, wet wipes, soap, towels, napkins, sunscreen, and rash cream.

  • Food: We got some ready to make food packets for emergency and home-made light snacks like makhana, and roasted semolina.

Our trip was fun because we packed properly.

The next easy tip I would like to share here is that you should always have a backpack instead of sling bags. I always packed a backpack while heading out. This way we had everything we would need for Aarav and our hands were free to hold him and run after him.

Lastly we always keep the schedule flexible and go with the flow. We’d return to the hotel for his naps and stay at the hotel if he was tired.

DinoStaury: Can you describe a challenging behavioral situation you had with Aarav recently? How did you handle it and turn it into a positive learning experience?

Priyanka: Well in this case I believe that children learn from what they see. They reflect the behavior of family members around them. So instead of correcting Aarav, I always try to monitor my reaction and I have conveyed the same to my family. Say for example when he falls down, I never panic. I have always handled it calmly. So now whenever he falls down, he never makes a fuss about it. The majority of times its 40-50 seconds of crying and then he calms down. I simply hug him, ask him where is he hurt, and kiss him and that's it. Now that he is a toddler and is in his so-called ‘terrible twos,’ I can see some behavioral changes in him like throwing fits, acting stubborn and even getting violent sometimes.

It gets difficult to be calm sometimes, but it's the only way we can deal with it. Everything will fall in place at the right time. All we need to be is patient and calm.

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