Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stressfree Childhood - Is it possible?


Don't we all just love to be able to be a kid again? After all, being a kid simply means having a carefree life - happy with nothing to worry about. No bills, no mortgages only happiness.

Now, if only the above statement holds true in this current world we live in. Those days, as a child, the only stress I encountered was learning to tie my shoe laces. Try as I might, I always get them wrong. Stress!

These days, children are stressed out even before they can learn to walk! Talk to any urban mothers out there. They'll proudly tell you how they already have everything nicely planned out for their kid even before the child is born!

Often, pressure to excel and wanting to prove that they are mighty good parents push them to do the impossible. Gone were the days when parents shed tears of happiness listening to their child calling them "Mummy" or "Daddy" for the first time. These days, in order to please the parents, the child needs to be able to call "Mummy" in at least 3 different languages, be able to spell them out loud and if possible write them out!

Parents get so engrossed in ensuring that their child will be able to cope with peer pressure that they stressed the whole family out. Their judgement has been clouded with fear that should the child show any sign of weakness it will spell "LOSER". The urge to win is everything and along the way without realizing it, they have actually lost!

What is a child without a nice childhood? What can you recall about your childhood? I remembered vividly the day my sisters and I trailed after several ducklings. Being our first encounter with real life ducks, we found them too cute to resist. We followed them until they swam away in a stream. We saw a small log floating in the stream and decided to jump on it to get a closer look at those ducks. Alas, we ended up not only on the log, but into the water as well as though the log can float on its own, it couldn't take all our our weight on it! Thank goodness the stream was shallow and we managed to get ourselves out safely.

The point here is, though what my sisters and I did was dangerous, it taught us a vital lesson that a log floats but not necessarily will stay afloat when too much weight is put on it. Come to think of it, the same goes to a child. Though the brains of most children have the absorbent capacity of a sponge, soak it with too much information and the sponge will get all too soggy and eventually breaks down into pieces.

Stop for a minute and take a step back. Look at your child. Is he or she happy? When was the last time your child ran happily under the sun in the open air chasing after butterflies? Do you remember ever seeing your child looking up in the sky smiling at the birds flying by?

Most of us might not realised it but to many parents these days, the sky is no longer the limit. The irony to all these is, the children hardly ever get to see the sky. All they see are the four walls in those endless classes that they are put to attend.

It is time to break down the walls and let them run free for all you know, the sky might not be there for them anymore tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Parenting Conflict


When my son was born he was not delivered with a user manual attached to him. My husband and I went through endless trials and errors raising him and we are still learning. It can be quite an adventure - rewarding one moment, challenging the next split second. 

Raising a child is no different from marriage; it is all about give and take. Playing the role of a co-parent is no easy task. It requires a big deal of patience, understanding and tolerance. While we both may have the same aim - to raise our child into a healthy adult, we may not have the same approach.

Communication and awareness

The key to avoid or get out of conflict is to talk things out. Discuss with your spouse what is the discipline method best accepted by both parties. Many new parent's approach on parenting is based on their childhood experience. Some might have been brought up in corporal punishment and believes that his/her own offspring should be disciplined the same way. If you vehemently oppose corporal punishment you must justify your argument with your spouse.

Discuss in a respectful manner. Keep in mind that both of you are equal. Do not show authority over your spouse. One rule we should always adhere to is - Never undermine your spouse or your spouse's parenting in front of your children. Children learn important life skills when they deal with parents with conflicts on parenting skills. A child will learn to ask Dad for things he knows Mum won't approve of and vice versa.

Take a note that a child will learn to manage disagreement through the way his/her parents handle conflicts in their household. Always keep in mind that our children are a mirror image of us. Be gracious and they will turn out to be alright. 

Despite all the disagreements or conflicts, you know that you and your spouse only strive for what is best for the children. Just relax, negotiate and you will both find a mutual point of agreement somewhere in the middle :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spare the rod and spoil your child?


To spank or not to spank?

It is an age-old question. I would love to tell parents not to spank their child but I can't, because to discipline a child we need to look at the complete picture. But what I like to say is if you need to spank, please do so only on the bum or hands; never hard enough to leave scars or unsightly marks of your handprint or the rod. Handprints are meant to look beautiful only on art and crafts, never on a child's face or body.

You spank your child so that they will think twice before being naughty again and to educate them on what is right; not to release your bottled up anger. Spanking often occurs in a spur of the moment when parents are extremely upset. If only we can hold back for 10 seconds before snapping, chances are we might not even need to spank.

How to hold back for 10 seconds? Look at it this way, the 10 seconds you hold can save you minutes or hours of guilt later on. The temptation to spank is there and like many other urges, all you need to do is to instill some self-control. There, that sentence has just taken up 10 seconds of your time. In that 10 seconds that you remained calm, you will find your anger subsiding and the chances of you hurting your child has gone down tremendously.

I am no softie when it comes to parenting. I am very firm and fierce even, but I just don't spank. I always apply the '10 seconds' rule before making my next move. It helps to prevent many unwanted incidents that I know I would just regret later on.

We have choices - to instill fear and pain or to talk and explain. I choose the later as I believe at the end of the day - love conquers everything.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Engage, interact and just have fun!

“Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. It is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them. Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles” – Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg

I once read somewhere that “Play is universal throughout the animal kingdom”. How true. Think kittens, you’ll automatically imagine it chasing butterflies. Think of puppies, you’ll get an image of it chasing its tail. Those images will definitely put a smile on your face.

Why then when it comes to our own offspring we often stop them from playing; playing is often regarded as ‘wasting time’. More often than not, we tend to push them to do something that we believe is more productive and constructive. In short, we made them attend classes, lessons, anything as long as it is not just purely play!

Play allows a child to be in charge. Try this – sit back and just watch. Let your child be free to do whatever he wishes. See him play but don’t put restrictions. For once, refrain from telling him what to do or how to do it. You will be amazed on how well he can actually run the ‘show’! When they play, toddlers use the first hand experiences that they have in life and in most cases, you might end up learning a thing or two from them!

As an adult we often think that all toddlers do is play. Honestly speaking, there is nothing wrong about that as from a child’s point of view, each play takes on a very different approach and meaning to them. Playing is learning. They learn to play and gradually play to learn. Play is a priceless commodity to them. Never take it away from your child. It is what they do to fill up time. That’s what they do as a child - play.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Money Sense In Kids


Making sense to the monetary world to the kids

I don’t remember at what age money first fascinated me. I do remember though that I was always on the look out for coins on the ground. The joy of discovering them was just priceless; not that I could do much with them though.

Kids these days have it better than us. They are often pampered with luxury but I try not to splurge on my kid. I want him to learn to appreciate money. As they say, “Today’s pennies are tomorrow’s dollars”

Teaching kids about money

I started introducing money to my kid when he was two. By then he already knew his numbers well so associating them with the value of money was easy. He is now 2 years plus and recognizes the value for each coin and dollar.

When we shop or eat out, I always let him pay. By having hands on experiences on seeing money-exchanging hands, he understands the concept that money can be traded off with objects and stuffs.

Teaching kids to be responsible with money

Each day before he goes to school, I’ll give him a couple of coins to be placed safely in the pocket of his pants. He will jump and the jingling sound of the coins makes him pretty excited. He will also make sure that the coins remain there in his pocket until the moment he reaches home. Though they are merely a few cents to us, to him they mean a great lot!

In a few years when he is 7 onwards, he’ll be old enough to be introduced to pocket money. He will then learn to make his own budget. I hope he will be wise enough to spend and save some.

For now, I better make a trip to the nearest bank and open a bank account for him. He has accumulated a considerable amount of cash from his birthdays and other previous occasions. It will be great to let him have his first experience in depositing money in a real bank.

P/S: This article is also featured in VenusBuzz as part of my weekly contribution :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An IT illiterate's journey on blogging...


Before I started blogging about one and a half years ago, I never know we can start a blog for free. I always thought that to blog, we need to pay for a domain and hosting. You see, back then none of my friends are bloggers, or so I thought!

I stumbled upon by chance. I tried signing up for an account and was surprised to see how easy it was to start a blog! I then started blogging and I focused on my toddler who was about 14 months old back then. It was not so smooth sailing initially as I was a total IT idiot. I was not familiar with the HTML codes so I had difficulty in loading pictures and personalizing them into my post. I spent endless hours googling for information.

Then there was the money making side; I wanted to have ads placed in my blog but was not intelligent enough to understand the simple instructions on how to insert the codes! Again, I spent endless hours googling for help.

Looking back, there were many stumbling blocks that might have just stopped me from blogging but I persevered and was determined to learn my way out of it.

Today, my blog is running actively and I am now a full time blogger. I get invites to product launches parties, being featured on television as well as in prints and many more. The perks that I am enjoying as a blogger now definitely make all the hardship I went through in the beginning, worth it.

The only thing I regretted is not having my own domain earlier. I have just recently migrated my personal blog to its own domain and by doing that, I've lost the PR4 that I have just begun to enjoy! Bummer... But THAT will be told in another post, another day..

P/S: This article is also featured in VenusBuzz as part of my weekly contribution :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Handling Tantrum


Many parents find disciplining a toddler to be a very difficult task. Some would take the 'easy' way out by resorting to military style disciplining. Unfortunately this method usually only involves a one-way communication where the parents dictate and the toddlers listen, or rather are forced to listen.

The more patient parents will use various methods of disciplining a toddler. There is no one sure way to discipline a toddler. It usually involves around the current situation when the 'behaviour mischief' takes place.

If you ask me how to discipline your child, chances are I won't be able to give you a straight forward answer as to discipline a child, you must first know your child. As a stay at home mother, I know my toddler very well. He hardly throws tantrum in my presence but ever since he attends play school, he cries, misbehaves and throws a big fit if things are not done according to his liking.

What I do when faced with the above situation are:

When the toddler is shouting, he won't be listening. It makes no sense to be shouting along to gain his attention. Move him away from the 'spot of tantrum'. A change of location, even a few steps away creates a distraction and diverts the negative energy away.

Time Out
If you have to implement a time out, remember the rule of thumb - One minute per year of age.

Limit to 2 minutes maximum of time out if your toddler is only 2 years old. He won't usually stay in the corner so it only means you have to stand there with your back to him but avoid facial/body language to let him know it is not playtime but a means of discipline.

Eye contact and ignore
Temper tantrums are usually overly dramatic, emotional and intense. Whatever you do, refrain from snapping. Be persistent, hold him by the head, look him in the eyes and tell him that you don't fancy him that way so let you know when he is done and only then you'll talk will let him know that tantrum will get him nowhere and he is not in control over you.

Soft approach
You won't like it if your boss is demanding and always instructs and treats you like a little kid. The same applies to your toddler. Treat them like an adult. Make a request rather than demanding. Give him a hanky and say, "Would you help Mummy wipe away your tears?" will definitely work better than saying, "Keep quiet and dry your tears!"

Positive reinforcement
Don't wait until your toddler throws tantrum to pay attention to him. Some toddlers throw tantrum just to get our affection, as we are often preoccupied to notice them when they are at their best behavior.

Praise and reward them with hugs and kisses if you caught them doing good. Over time, they'll understand that being good is more beneficial than throwing tantrum.

It takes a lot of trial and error in parenting. There is no one true answer to everything, but often all it take are some common sense and lots of tender, loving care :)

P/S: This article is also featured in VenusBuzz as part of my weekly contribution :)