You’re letting your Child get addicted… and you don’t know it! (Part 2)

Recent studies show that an average adult spends 12.5 hours a day on a digital devices. Children can’t be too far behind this figure! This 12.5 hours spent on the device has to come from somewhere, right? Research shows that it comes from (i) family talk time (ii) social practice (iii) sleep (iv) physical activity.

Because kids (and let’s be honest, we adults too) are hooked on to our devices we don’t talk as a family anymore. Yet, this is the time when a child / adolescent develops the basic sense of who they are at the core. It’s the place where intimacy is developed, difficult conversations shared, conflicts resolved and so on. It is the framework for how later relationships will be developed. Therefore, if children and adolescents do not experience this family time, it will impact their later relationships. No amount of 2-day skill building training can re-establish this foundation! So, why would you handicap your child this way?

Social practice are events when children meet with other children and family members of all ages and learn to talk, laugh, play, interact, experience emotions and resolve difficult emotions and situations. The key development theme in these settings is that one can make mistakes or a complete fool of oneself, and life goes on – one is still loved and accepted. A child learns to live through awkward moments and realizes that life does not end. Children and teenagers who are hooked on devices miss out on these embodied connections and experiences, which are so essential for developing a healthy sense of self and wellbeing at a psychological and physiological level.

In terms of physical activity it’s easier for parents to keep young ones occupied with a device rather than give them an opportunity to play (or for parents to play with their kids?).

Extended usage of these devices into sleep time is another danger! Studies show that the ‘blue light’ from these devices puts a strain on the retina and eyes are ageing prematurely. Interacting with device screens encourages one’s body to release endorphins that boost mood and therefore play havoc with getting good sleep. Video games at night boost cortisol and adrenaline that lead to heightened alertness and awareness, which quickly turns to a sense of agitation. Not the best frame of mind for anyone to sleep in!

But all is not lost! Wherever you or/and your child are at now in terms of digital attachment or addiction, there are interventions that you can do to make the situation better, and bring about a qualitative difference in your engagement and relationship within your family…

Conclusion – next week! (part 3) Effective interventions for Parents to minimize the effect of digital addiction on their children and family.


Conclusion – next week! (part 3) Effective interventions for Parents to minimize the effect of digital addiction on their children and family.

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Getting your Child / Children addicted to Digital Devices! (Part 1)

No parent hands over a packet of an illicit, addictive drug such as marijuana, heroine or cocaine to their child and encourages them to use it! Yet, there is something almost as dangerous happening when parents buy digital devices (smartphones, tablets, hand held video games), for their children. Surely, the intention is not to harm but to have the child use the device for education or entertainment, (or to keep them quiet or because their peers have it and one doesn’t want to be seen as less of a parent…).

Yet, it very quickly becomes an addiction – a digital addiction – and research is now pointing to the dangerous impact of these devices on the young person’s physical and psychological development. Research shows that an average adult spends about 12.5 hours a day on a screen-based device. I guess that the number for adolescents and younger children is NOT dramatically less. The industry involved in the gamification of entertainment and education (not to mention the hardware manufacturers of these devices) would have one believe that such hardware and software is great for a child’s development, and a necessary part of success in the 21st century. Yet, no one talks about the challenges digital addiction is causing amongst children and teenagers (and even adults!).

Gaming technologies (both hardware and software) are specifically being developed to make the experience completely immersive and therefore isolative. So, children are getting hooked on to an artificial reality that is hugely distorted (have you seen the graphics recently?). These devices encourage users to become more and more socially isolated. Therefore, children are finding it increasingly difficult to play with other children in physical games or sports, or interact with parents and other adults in the family. They’d rather be caught up in their device. (Check out the family at the next table when you dine out next. Or, your own table!)

Children get exposed to higher and higher levels of stimulation in these video games, which leads to physiological stimulation of the endocrine system that creates a desire for more. In effect, they are getting ‘hooked’ in similar ways to how one gets hooked on a drug.

(Continued with Part 2 next week…)

(Continued in Part 2 next week…)

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Why real men ZUMBA?

Mostly, it’s great to be a man. (Thinking about the convenience of peeing anywhere!) The challenge starts when we buy into what we think a real MAN does, and how he should behave. For example, real men do Cross Fit (not Zumba); drive Dusters (not Nanos); expect the meals cooked, and the home looked after (and really not do much here); plan for the kids’ future (but not help with nappies or homework)…you get the picture. A lot of this possibly worked for us in the ‘old’ days but strong adherence to this ‘masculinity ideology’ can have some major consequences for men in today’s organizational and personal contexts.

According to literature, masculinity ideology is defined as an internalization of cultural beliefs about the masculine gender role; it seeks to explain male socialization in cultural contexts. Masculinity – as traditionally understood -values strength, resilience, courage and personal sacrifice in the face of difficulty or danger. Masculinity is socially programed in men from a very young age as boys are taught that to be a man means toughness, independence, emotional control, and solving life problems without assistance. By the time they are adults, this code of masculinity requires men to be aggressive, dominant, achievement-oriented, competitive, and self-sufficient – irrespective of the cost in terms of their relationships or for themselves.

     Now the bad news: Recent studies demonstrate that high levels of adherence to this ideology is associated with alcohol intake, use of drugs, increased sexual risks, loneliness, less relationship satisfaction, and a reluctance to seek help (either from a co-worker, boss, coach or even a friend or relative).

A man is very unlikely to admit in front of his co-workers (especially women) that he does not know what to do, or that he needs help. Often, we struggle when working for a woman boss – we swing between treating her as mother-goddess or just mother. How many of us are comfortable receiving feedback from a woman at work? (Yeah, right!)

Simply put, our beliefs about what men should do and not do puts our physiological and psychological health at risk. Research shows that it creates social stressors at work, especially in occupations that have large population of female workers. Social stressors include bad group climate, social conflicts, personal animosities and so on; these stressors are related to psychological strain for the men.

What causes this strain on men? There is substantial evidence that men adhering to the masculine gender role type have certain restrictive beliefs and behaviors that lead to intrapersonal and interpersonal problems for them. Think about the emotional overhead for a man who has to behave in one way with his female colleagues at the work place, but his true belief system is reflected in the way he treats the woman in his home!

Gender role theory suggests that men go through various transitions as we struggle to integrate the differences between what we’ve been brought up to believe and how we actually need to behave at the workplace. Many of us make the transition and integrate a healthier belief and behavior system; and many of us do NOT! This transition process itself, causes distress and anxiety as we go through it, and can often get amplified if it is combined with identity confusion.

So as a man how do you know where you are? Where are your blind spots? Adapting from gender role conflict theory, here is a quick, self-check to see how much of a MAN you are (hint: the stronger your belief, the more you are likely to struggle! Don’t cheat. Remember you’re a MAN!): Rate yourself on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being not so strong, and 5 being a very strong belief.

I believe that as a man:

  • I must be successful – success defines me.
  • I want to have position in which I can lead
  • I enjoy competition, and I love to win
  • I don’t like to demonstrate my feelings openly
  • I’m uncomfortable talking about my feelings
  • My focus is on my work and career
  • It’s very hard to balance work and personal time, work wins!
  • My wife and family need me to be a strong provider
  • People respect a leader who is seen as strong and decisive
  • No one likes a weakling on the team!

A high score demonstrates a strong adherence to masculinity ideology. So, how do you think your score impacts you at work? At home?

For most of us, we don’t really know the true answer because we don’t know how to ask for this feedback. Even if our 360* feedback data screams at us, many of us would not seek help, because for us, seeking help is socially unacceptable. I’m in emotional pain but working with a coach or reaching out to a friend demonstrates weakness and failure; it is against my concept of strength through success and self-control.

By now you’re probably feeling bad about being a man. Hang on! All is not lost! There are more benefits to being a man than peeing convenience. Strength and resilience, for a man, means bouncing back up from a setback. Research data on masculinity points to the challenges that a man faces, but it also points to evidence based solutions. One solution is to work with an executive coach! All the top athletes work with one, why not you? Another solution is to create a supportive network of colleagues/friends who support you with honesty while maintaining confidentiality. A really great one (and possibly the best one!), is to let go one’s pride and false beliefs, get vulnerable and ask one’s spouse for feedback, support and encouragement! Do this – if you’re a real MAN!

Would you like to MAN up and work with an executive coach? Connect with us on for details.

(Dedicated to the AWESOME, Zumba instructors at TheTribeFitness in Indiranagar, Bangalore!)


Cox, D. W. (2104). Gender differences in professional consultation for a mental health concern: A Canadian population study. Canadian Psychology, 55(2), 68-74. doi:10.1037/a0036296

Danforth, L., & Wester, S. R. (2014). Gender-sensitive therapy with male servicemen: An integration of recent research and theory. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 45(6), 443-451. doi:

McDermott, R. C., & Schwartz, J. P. (2013). Toward a better understanding of emerging adult men’s gender role journeys: Differences in age, education, race, relationship status, and sexual orientation. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 202-210. doi:10.1037/a0028538

Sobiraj, S., Rigotti, T., Weseler, D., & Mohr, G. (2105). Masculinity ideology and psycholgocial strain: Considering men’s social stressors in female-dominated occupations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(1), 54-66. doi:10.1037/a0035706

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Preparing (Coaching?) Your Parents and YOURSELF for old age!

Old age happens – whether you like it or not, whether you’re prepared or not. You’re far from it yourself, and believe that you don’t have to worry about its impact right now. Think again! Your PARENTS are there already, and it’s possible that you’re struggling with its implications already. The good news (at least for you) is that productive life expectancy is increasing, and with some planning and preparation (that needs to start right NOW) you can continue to have a satisfying life well into the golden years. Here are some pointers from contemporary research to help you – and perhaps YOUR parents too – think about this issue.

Research clearly demonstrates that optimism has a significant influence on older adult’s health and well-being. Optimism, in this case, is defined as a general, positive attitude about the future and a tendency to anticipate favourable outcomes to life situations. In older adults it contributes to successful adjustment and recovery from disease, increased survival, better quality of life, and less distress when making health-related decisions. But how does one develop – or coach – or get coached around optimism for old age?

One way to contribute towards optimism for old age is by planning for social, medical, and long-term care, technically known as preparation for future care (PFC).

PFC is a set of health behaviors and beliefs that comprise of future focused, goal setting and problem solving efforts, and building self-efficacy and competence related to coping ability, to ensure better mental and physical health outcomes. Studies show that older adults who have prepared for the future report greater life satisfaction in later years, are able to integrate behaviors such as exercise, and report lower rates and severity of depression and anxiety in later life. These adults who have high levels of awareness of potential care needs are more satisfied with preparation, worry less, and report fewer depression symptoms than adults with no concrete plans.

     Having said this, how many of us are able to have conversations around this topic? Not only for ourselves, but also for the elders in our care (parents, grandparents in-laws…)? Where does one start?

One starting point: Have these conversations, with your spouse or partner, for the both of you. Then, talk about elder care for the elders in your life. And, of course, have these conversations with the elders themselves. Easy, yes?

Actually, it’s not so easy because beliefs that limit us include: ‘we’ll cross that bridge when it comes’; ‘nothing will happen to me (my spouse/my parents) because they are so healthy and fit’; ‘my other sibling will worry about that’; ‘my parents are very independent’, ‘I don’t have time right now – enough immediate fires burning already’…and so on.       The fact is that old age, unexpected events, and complications can happen to any of us.

And, not being prepared for these events can put a lot of pressure on you, your relationships, and your lifestyle. As an example (and I don’t mean to spoil your mood for the day), what happens if one parent passes on? Will the surviving parent move in with you? Is this their expectation? What impact will this have on your family dynamics and existing lifestyle? What happens if this parent then goes through emotional, physical or medical difficulties? Will you still be able to travel? Focus on your career? Will your spouse be able or want to take up this responsibility? Difficult questions indeed! And no easy answers! Therefore, best to start thinking and talking about it from NOW itself.

You (and your spouse/partner) could get coached around preparing for old age, or even get an elder parent or stakeholder to work with a coach to help them find purpose, satisfaction, or acceptance in these years. Connect with us on for more details.


Hofer, J., Busch, H., Au, A., Solcova, I. P., & Tavel, P. (2014). For the benefit of others: Generativity and meaning in life in the elderly in four cultures. Psychology and Aging, 29(4), 764-775. doi:

Sorenson, S., Hirsch, J. K., & Lyness, J. M. (2014). Optimism and planning for future care needs among older adults. GeroPsych, 27(1), 5-22. doi:10.1024/1662-9647/a000099

Shankardass, M. K. (2013). Addressing elder abuse: review of societal responses in India and selected Asian countries. International Psychogeriatrics, 25(8), 1229-1234. doi:10.1017/S104161021300063X


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Spirituality in Coaching? Would you risk it?

Many coaches shy away from integrating SPIRITUALITY in their coaching practice. They probably feel that it has ‘religious’ overtones – and therefore, don’t want to risk the challenges of bringing religion into the conversation. More often than not, coaches may not be aware of what spirituality is, and how it can be used to work effectively with a client.

Emerging research demonstrates that spirituality is an essential element that needs to be addressed when seeking to understand human behavior. There is a growing interest in spirituality at the workplace and in coaching in the last few years because researches feel it provides (at an individual level) answers to complex, contemporary problems such as downsizing, reengineering, and layoffs. These changes leave employees feeling like expendable resources; and, having lost trust in the organization, they seek a deeper meaning and connection in life – moving towards an integrated spiritual-work identity.

Let’s first understand the meaning of spirituality in the context of the workplace and coaching. Spirituality (in coaching and the workplace) is understood as thoughts, feelings and behaviors related to a concern, a search, a striving to understand, and relate to the transcendent. Spirituality is the journey that people take to discover and realize their essential selves and higher aspirations. In contrast, religion is the search for significance that occurs within the context of established institutions (and belief systems) designed to facilitate spirituality. This distinction is important because emerging research states that 72% of millennials (18-29 year olds), in the West, identify themselves as spiritual but not religious.

Research shows that spirituality (and for many individuals, their religious beliefs) contributes to identity and worldview development, avoidance of risky scenarios, ability to cope with difficulties, and meaning and support in times of stress. Furthermore, spirituality is recognized as a core component of recovery from substance use disorders, and is linked to an increase in a sense of meaning, purpose, resilience, satisfaction, and happiness. In addition, interventions that have their roots in spiritual traditions are increasingly used for treatment of depression and anxiety, enhancing psychological well-being, and improving anxiety and mood symptoms.

Therefore, coaches must understand how to integrate spirituality in their practice, and develop the competencies and tools to do so. Spirituality is the foundation source for values for many coaches and clients. Interventions that have their source in spirituality include practices such as meditation, prayer, religious practices, yoga, journaling, walking in nature (all examples of individual practices) and in the organizational context, rooms for inner silence and reflection, to help individuals become more self-aware and draw strengths from their religious or spiritual beliefs.

However, before a coach starts looking at spirituality with his/her own clients, a self-assessment is recommended. Ask yourself: How aware am I of my own bias and prejudices? What available resources can I draw on? Am I willing to consult colleagues (including clerics, pastoral resources and so on)? Where am I and how am I doing on my own spiritual journey?

As a coach, you can improve your own effectiveness by working with a coaching supervisor who can help you think through your cases, provide additional perspectives, knowledge, tools, and resources. And help you manage your own feelings and anxieties – all in confidence. Connect with us on for details.


Benefiel, M., Fry, L. W., & Geigle, D. (2014). Spirituality and religion in the workplace: History, theory, and research. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 6(3), 175-187. doi: 10.1037/a0036597

Plante, T. G. (2014). Four steps to improve religious/spiritual cultural competence in professional psychology. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 1(4), 288-292. doi:

Vieten, C., Scammell, S., Pilato, R., & Ammondson, I. (2013). Spiritual and religious competencies for psychologists. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5(3), 129-144. doi:10.1037/a0032699

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Why do MEN find it difficult to seek a coach? Or, work with one?

Often, it’s harder for men (than women) to seek out a coach. If they’ve been asked to work with a coach by their organisation, men start of being resistant and not as engaged. Research also demonstrates that retaining men in coaching is harder. As coaches, we can feel that we’re not doing something right! However, some insights on this behaviour, typical of men, is provided by masculinity ideology and gender role theory. In simple terms, this theory states that men are socialised, right from childhood, to adhere to a persona in which they are supposed to be tough, strong, not show emotion, fear, or failure. They are taught to be self-dependent and independent, and seeking help is akin to admitting failure. Think about your very successful, high achieving, powerful, alpha-male client. Envied by the world, they may struggle with relationship issues, a feeling of loneliness, finding meaning and purpose, and a fatigue deep within.

No doubt men differ on how much they internalize this ideology, ranging from very traditional (to those who adhere strongly) to more egalitarian (those who are open to questioning, and refusing strong adherence). The challenge is with those who adhere strongly to masculinity ideology (even though they may put up a façade that supposes otherwise). Such men face anxiety and stress as they struggle to deal with the conflicts that arise when their adherence to masculinity ideology puts them in situations that demand a different response.

In such situations, men find it easier to go through intrapersonal and interpersonal distress rather than seek help. Research points to the harmful consequences of this: higher alcohol intake, use of drugs, increased sexual risks, loneliness, less relationship satisfaction and so on. Such men also find themselves in higher social conflicts, personal animosities and so on. These create additional psychological strain and a vicious cycle starts. Another contributor to the emotional turmoil that men struggle with is the stigma attached to needing and asking for emotional and psychological support. Therefore, coaches need to understand that a man’s social context and worldview can limit an effective coaching engagement. Interested stakeholders (such as HR and L&D) can aggravate the situation by selling coaching as the ‘help’ that this high achieving male needs, thereby setting up the relationship for sabotage and failure.

When working with men, some strategies coaches can use is to build safety and security around the process of coaching, build the confidence of men as they start the engagement, address some of their concerns and defuse the stigma around them by pointing to successful men who work with coaches, help them focus on the goals and objectives that they want to achieve in the process, be patient as they work through reorienting their beliefs.

As a coach, you can improve your own effectiveness by working with a coaching supervisor who can help you think through your cases, provide additional perspectives, knowledge, tools, and resources. And help you manage your own feelings and anxieties – all in confidence. Connect with us on for details.


Sobiraj, S., Rigotti, T., Weseler, D., & Mohr, G. (2105). Masculinity ideology and psycholgocial strain: Considering men’s social stressors in female-dominated occupations. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 16(1), 54-66. doi:10.1037/a0035706

McDermott, R. C., & Schwartz, J. P. (2013). Toward a better understanding of emerging adult men’s gender role journeys: Differences in age, education, race, relationship status, and sexual orientation. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 202-210. doi:10.1037/a0028538

adult men’s gender role journeys: Differences in age, education, race, relationship status, and sexual orientation. Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 14(2), 202-210. doi:10.1037/a0028538

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Ethics in Action: What Executive & Life Coaches need to think about!

We last spoke about why coaches need to bring conversations about ethics to the front burner; in particular we spoke about boundary management. So, what does ethics in action look like?

  • Clients can develop an unconscious wish for their coach to be the ideal parent, friend or partner they never had – one who would make their childhood wishes come true! The coach needs to find the balance between being completely aloof from the client (something that is not possible nor desirable) and trying to fulfill the client’s desire to be loved and accepted. This involves being clear about and maintaining a role boundary: What is it that I as a coach really do?
  • Both time and space have boundaries. Coaches need to define session time and limits, and establish guidelines for when their clients can access them. It is easy for coaches to extend sessions and to allow clients to call them as and when they are needed outside the contracted session limits (perhaps more in Asian cultures?). This is a boundary crossing (other than in exceptional situations) that may lead to dependence and dilution of the professional frame.
  • In term of space, coaching session done at home, or in a park, or in a car are at risk of boundary space violations as they can bring in an air of informality that may not be beneficial. What other risks can arise if these space violations continue?
  • Inability to ask for money or to collect it from a client is a boundary issue too. Coaching is professional work and not collecting agreed fees or letting debts mount is a boundary crossing (pro bono work is an exception naturally).
  • Self-disclosure is another area that needs to be thought through carefully. In many Asian cultures, the level of self-disclosure is quite different compared to what might be considered appropriate in a Western culture. Inappropriate self-disclosure runs the risk of shifting focus away from the client and on to the coach. It can also create a level of intimacy that may not be helpful for the coaching alliance.
  • The language a coach uses is another area that can create unnecessary familiarity or intimacy, thereby taking away from the professional frame of the relationship. While being appropriate to culture and context, the coach needs to be sensitive that the language used does move the relationship to a social friendship. Be even more alert in written communication (emails and sms) with your clients!

In addition to some of the above, many other areas can be at high risk for boundary crossing or violation in the coaching space (such as gift giving, visiting client’s home for family events, social engagements with a client…) Ethical practice for coaches starts with an awareness that these are flash points that can have unintended consequences despite the coach having good intentions at the start. Perhaps, other than the mandate to avoid any form of boundary violation that involves sexual misconduct, coaches need to think about the range and impact within which they choose to operate. Professional coaching associations such as the ICF have a code of ethics that provide a useful frame for the coaching alliance. The challenge is to apply this frame in our practice. Reflection on our practice, conversations with peers, and coaching supervision are necessary elements of ethical practice for coaches.


Gutheil, T. G., & Gabbard, G. O. (1993). The concept of boundaries in clinical practice: Theoretical and risk-management dimensions. American Journal of Psychiatry, 150, 188-196.

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