Exams are over, schools have closed, and children have begun to make the best of their well-deserved winter vacation. To not have to worry about classwork and homework and sure is a blessing for our children who are otherwise burdened with other co-curricular activities. It is important that children are allowed some stress-free time after a yearlong struggle with academic requirements. Unstrained mind and unburdened head help young minds reflect on the essence of their being and to chart their aims and dreams.

For the parents, it is about intimacy. The children are around all the time! But we must also look at the risks associated with long school vacation, not least in urban areas. Our children and young people are increasingly getting trapped in socioeconomic problems. These are indicators of change. How are we dealing with them?

Unable to handle too much free time, children engage in activities that are detrimental to both parents and themselves. Often they come in conflict with the law. Devoid of guidance and care from parents and elders, young people loiter around towns seeking trouble. Already a sizeable number of them are in the city corners dark and bright, engaging themselves in unhealthy habits.

There are many activities aimed at engaging young people gainfully. Many skills development programmes are being planned to encourage young people to participate. Parents could do well to explore them and encourage children to participate in some of the programmes that will go a long way in shaping their future.

What about reading, the easiest and profitable of all engagements?

Parents could take their children to libraries and bookshops and teach them to love books. In this competitive age, it is important that our children read, and read a lot. Employment scenario is changing by the day and jobs are becoming scarcer.

It is not enough that our children do well; they need to outshine their peers. This is also the season when children will travel a lot. It is important that you do so with caution. Disasters can be averted if we are a little careful.