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Monday, April 13, 2015

Letter to my little girl

Letter to my little girl, 2015 April 13. A letter for my little girl to read when she is older. Yes Mommy has been crying. Secretly, quietly, when you were not looking. But you have noticed. “Did you cry? You look like you’ve cried. What happened?” At that moment Mommy was not brave enough to explain, and could only reassure you that nothing serious has happened and I’m alright. How can I be alright? It has been an emotional roller coaster. My precious little girl is not well. It is worse than being sick myself. It pained my heart. So much. When you suddenly had a big swell on your forehead. When you tossed and turned and screamed from unbearable pain. When you were in so much pain and could not even walk. When you bravely allowed the nurse to draw your blood, sitting on my lap and holding on so tight, murmuring “I’m scared, I’m scared”, but not crying. When you commented you have so many “holes” and plasters from all the needles. When I have to give you your medication, knowing fully that they have various side effects. When you suffered from the side effects, especially when you kept asking for more food even though your little tummy was already so full. I cannot resist asking myself why you suddenly have to suffer so much, at such a tender age. In one short month, you have more needles poked into you, and taken more medication than in your whole life in the past 6 years. In one short month, I have researched and read more medical terms than in my whole life. The day after your most intense pain, you said “I’m so lucky, I’ve no pain today.” Yes, that’s the attitude. Be grateful for what you have. We are already very fortunate and have much to be grateful for : Your wonderful health in the past 6 years. Love and support from so many people. Good medical doctors and hospitals. And so much more. There are people in worse plights and sufferings. There are people who have risen above their life challenges. Mommy cannot take away your sufferings, but Mommy is very proud to see you growing on this journey. You learned to face your fears, and to celebrate small achievements. You obeyed doctor’s order to lie down for 6 hours and not get out of bed for 24 hours, even though you are so active. No running, no jumping, no playground, no dancing, for 1 month. I know it’s tough. You dutifully swallowed very bitter medicine. (Yes it is super bitter, I tasted it.) You squealed in delight when you successfully swallowed your first capsule. You faced injections with as much courage as you could muster. You endured side effects of medication without much complaints. You conscientiously finished your homework despite discomfort. You learned to eat more different types of vegetables even when you did not like them. You may not understand what is the meaning of transience. Me too. What I do know is, it’s all temporary. The aggressive treatment and strong medication may be tapered off after 2 years. The monthly intravenous drip will be completed in 6 months. The “no physical exercise” order will be over in a month. Everything will be alright. In fact I hope you will emerge from this illness much stronger, resilient, compassionate, optimistic, courageous. Your physical body may be weakened now, but you can allow your heart and spirit to be strengthened. You can allow yourself to become an inspiration, like so many others who have suffered different ordeals. Remain cheerful. There’s so much more you can be in life. Yes you have to wear a mask when you go out. Yes you may look different. Everyone IS different. If you cannot lead a normal or ordinary life (for now), then live an extraordinary one. With love, from Mommy

Monday, February 24, 2014

Birthday letter to my son

Dear son, Now that you’re 15 years old, I would like you to meet a very important person. This person will always be there with you throughout the ups and downs in your life. He will laugh together with you, cheer you on, bring you to new heights and achievements, and never forsake you. This person will love you, criticize you, do your work together, learn together, play together, and experience life’s journey together with you. He will take care of you and grow together with you in every aspect, whether physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual. He will do all the work that needs to be done, not because they are necessary chores. Instead, he will enjoy all the work that he has to do, because every action will help nurture you, build you and grow you. So that you will have a strong body, mind and character to take care of more people, contribute to the society, and fulfill your life purpose. Are you ready to meet this person? Now go find a mirror and look. Yes this person is….YOU. Happy Birthday my son! May you always be humble, do your best, and take good care of yourself. I love you :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sibling love

After celebrating Mother's Day in May and Father's Day in June, the 4-year old girl suddenly asked me: "Why is there no Brother's Day?" And she proceeded to make a Happy Brother's Day card for her brother. Haha, I feel touched.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How my son did well in his studies

As many of my friends know, my son did reasonably well for his PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) and has been accepted into one of the popular Secondary Schools. 

His aggregate score was in the "highly proficient" range, though he is not in the top. I'm very blessed that he could achieve such results. His school teachers did a very good job. He started learning independently around second half of Primary 1, and was put in the top class since Primary 3. From there on it was rather smooth sailing. We did not have to sit down with him nor monitor his studies closely. He does not attend any tuition classes either, though we did send him to various enrichment activities during school holidays.

So what's "behind the scene"? What's our "secret"? 

Recently I heard rumours of me pretending to be "relaxed" with him while secretly being very "on", which is the reason he has been doing well.

Well it made me laugh. Upon reflection, I'm not exactly "relaxed" nor am I very "on". Though I didn't really push him in terms of academic results, I did place emphasis on motivating him to be an independent learner, on his character development, on his mindset.

He's only twelve years old and still have a long way to go. We are not a "success story". We are just an ordinary family living our life the best way we know. I've been sharing my personal experiences though they may not be the best, in the hope that they inspire other parents and kids to do even better.

A peek into what we've been doing: During the recent school holidays, we started a new schedule with him. We discussed which household chores are those he enjoyed or able to commit to. Which learning activities, fun activities to do for each day of the week. What are things he should do everyday. It's a simple list, but I believe it provides structure and guidance in building supportive habits. 

For example, learning to take care of his health. Corresponding activities: fill up his water bottle in the morning (so he remembers to drink enough water), take nutritious breakfast.

For example, learning to contribute his part to the family. He volunteered to wash our toilets, feed the fish, water the plants.

For example, living a balanced life. We planned for one learning activity and one fun activity for each day of the week. I agree learning could be fun, and fun could include learning. It's just that we wanted to incorporate fun activities into his life. At the time of drafting the schedule, these two terms came to mind when we were listing the activities we wanted to do. They could have been termed "things he needs to do" and "things he wants to do" instead.

In short, learning activities refer to those he should be doing to improve his knowledge and proficiency, especially in areas he is required to or has committed to. Examples are languages, science, music theory, life skills. Of course, the idea is he should spend time on these, but it's even better if he finds enjoyable ways of doing them. 
As for fun activities, these are what he likes to do. They enhance his quality of life and happiness even when they don't serve any practical purpose. His list included visiting the library, movie, baking (I bake, he eats), game.

After listing these learning and fun activities, we put them into his weekly schedule. That is, each day of the week he has a different learning activity and fun activity.

As for enrichment, we decided to let him go to BeiJing for ten days of intensive wushu (martial arts) training.
This is the basic idea. There're activities which he does everyday, and there are activities which he does once a week. Just a simple guide so that I don't have to nag at him, he has something to look forward to each day, enjoys his holidays, and hopefully it is somewhat constructive in making him a healthy, happy person.

Today is the first day of year 2012. May all parents and children enjoy another fulfilling year :)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why I enrolled my son in a popular school

Are good schools important?

Recently a Facebook friend's article inspired me to ponder this question again. By the way, Mr Patrick Liew is an inspiration to me in many ways and I've attached his original note at the end of this blog post. Do read it as I find it a good resource and sincere sharing of his experience.

Back to my question and the topic of this post. Before it was time to enrol my son into Primary One, I decided I wanted to move all the way from the north part of Singapore to the east region. I sought the help of more than 10 property agents and viewed many properties every weekend, so as to get a dream home within 1 km of our ideal school, in order to increase our chance of successful enrolment. 

Looking back, I now think it's worth all the efforts. The school provided a good learning environment for my son in his six years of Primary School education. He had an all-rounded education, with exposure in academics as well as co-curricular activities. He's an independent learner, creative thinker, and enjoys good relationships with his teachers and friends. Recently he has also been accepted by a reputable Secondary School through the DSA (Direct School Admission) exercise. 

As he's still young (12 years old), I do not wish to brag about his accomplishments. He has yet to prove himself in the adult world. I'm also not putting down "neighbourhood schools" as I myself came from one such school, which has nurtured me well too. However I'm eternally grateful for the wonderful foundation my son has received in his Primary School. 

When it's time to enrol my second child, I'll still go through the same considerations for choosing a good school for her, be it a "neighbourhood school" or a "better known school". In fact, though she is now almost 3 years old, I've not sent her to any nursery/ pre-school/ enrichment courses yet. I've decided to "home-school" her until she is ready. Just like her brother, who didn't attend full conventional pre-school before enrolment into Primary School.

I totally agree with Patrick Liew that parents need to take an active and major part in educating our children and not absolve our full responsibilities for our children’s education to the schools.

Secondly, parents should take an interest in our kids' overall character development, not just getting good grades.

Thirdly, a balanced education is important. We do not pressure our kids to achieve good results to the exclusion of love and compassion for others.

Needless to say, I fully agree with his concluding remarks: As parents, we need to take a proactive role in loving our children. We need to be an active co-partner in our children’s education.

Below is the article written by Mr Patrick Liew, copied from his Facebook page with permission. Thanks, Patrick!

Patrick Liew
Learning For Life 

I read in the newspaper today about how hard parents tried to place their children in ‘designer’ schools.

One parent apparently paid $3.5 million to purchase a condo just so that they can be near to a popular school. Another parent downgraded to a smaller flat.

It was interesting to read about how a celebrity and her husband volunteered 80 hours to help in their preferred school. Unfortunately they failed to get a place for their son.

According to the report, they did not even have a chance to ballot for a place in the school.

Many years ago, when my wife and I were considering to register our eldest daughter, we went through the same pressure. Many of our well-intentioned friends advised us to place our girl in one of the popular schools.

Fortunately, I was pretty well connected. I pulled all the strings so that I could get a place for my girl in the ‘perfect’ school.

We prayed over the decision. Finally, we registered our girl in a neighborhood school – a relatively unknown school that was located near to our home.

Looking back, we are thankful to our Creator. It was the right move.

My kids had a great time in school. They did well in their studies and played an active part in co-curricular activities (CCA).

As a proud father, I have to share that both of them qualified to be in the Gifted Education Programme.

I wonder when parents endeavor to place their kids in a ‘designer school,’ are they absolving their full responsibilities for their children’s education to the schools?

I believe we need to take an active and major part in educating our children.

I was told during a Parent-Teacher Association Meeting that children of parents who get involved in their children’s education and participate actively in school activities do well in school.

The second question in my mind is, are the parents more interested to see their children get good grades or are they interested in their overall character development?

As adults, we know that grades may be able to help open the door to the right career and jobs. However, to do well in them, we need to have many other different forms of intelligence.

In 1983, Howard Gardner posited that there are multiple intelligences. Unfortunately, schools have only focused mostly on a narrow perspective of helping students develop their logical and linguistic intelligence.

The third and key question in my mind is, will kids who go to a ‘designer school’ be pressured to focus on just achieving good academic results? After all, without good results, these schools cannot have become popular.

The danger is that they will fail to see the forest from the trees. These kids will not have a wise, balanced and pragmatic education.

For example, these kids may not learn to enhance their emotional intelligence. In their battle to get good grades, they may not develop love and compassion for those who are poor, weak, and disadvantaged.

There are too many questions going through my mind.

Suffice to say, as parents, we need to take a proactive role in loving our children. We need to be an active co-partner in our children’s education.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

By the way, I have also recorded other reflections.

Please go to ‘Notes’ found below my profile picture.

Visit my Inspiration blog at

Visit my Transformation blog at

Please read them and continue to teach me.

Life is FUNtastic!

Question: How can we become better parents?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do you label your kids?

Do you label your kids?

I do. I label my two kids. They're: happy, cheerful, adventurous, good, helpful, beautiful, wonderful, sweet, creative, friendly, brilliant, clever ...

I make sure I use positive terms as much as possible whenever I refer to them.

I know of one little girl who was labelled "black face" by her parent, because she was unhappy & her facial expression showed it clearly. To me, every child should generally be happy & contented. If not, the caregiver should try to find out the underlying cause & help the child manage his emotions. Scolding & negative labelling (eg lazy, stupid, useless, ugly, clumsy, naughty) is not constructive. In fact it could cause long-term detrimental effects.

As parents, we have to observe the kids, feel them, understand them, then guide them. Taking a shortcut by jumping to conclusions or passing hurtful remarks does not help in showing our kids that we really care. 

I think it is crucial to build a loving parent-child relationship, especially when the child is young & vulnerable. It is an important foundation for their life & their future.

As a parent, your words are more powerful than you thought. Your remarks or "labelling" could build or break, which do you choose?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting closer through babysteps & foods

I would like to share one particular experience on my parenting journey, related to meals & foods. After my second child was born, I hardly had time nor energy to do much. She would wake me for night feeds (yes I still breastfeed though she's already two-and-a-half now). Because of disrupted sleep & to take care of the young baby, my husband kindly took over morning routines of sending the older child (age 10 then) to school. Fortunately my son was also rather independent & sensible, waking up & settling his own breakfast everyday. 

At night, I would shoo him off to sleep when it's HIS bedtime, while I continue with my activities until it's MY bedtime.

With the baby in tow, I could hardly find time & energy to cook. My husband was very supportive and took over lunch preparation as well, before leaving for office. Dinner was usually eaten outside.

This went on for two-and-a-half years. My son is currently twelve years old and attending Primary Six. I don't really know what exactly triggered a change. Perhaps I was feeling a need to give my son moral support during his last semester of Primary School. Perhaps it was to let my husband sleep longer. Perhaps the baby girl has grown up enough to follow my schedule. Perhaps the previous months of building positive habits gave me the confidence to pull this off.

In fact, I only started with a simple decision to sleep & wake up earlier together with my son. Then I had to cook dinner so he could eat earlier & thus sleep earlier. Then it evolved into making effort to prepare varied breakfast foods for him each morning. Then I started to cook lunch too. Then because of waking early, I also found extra time for making some treats, like fruit milkshakes.

I never imagined I could do so much (I'm comparing with myself, I know many mums do much more than me). Guess it all started with building new positive habits. I did it in babysteps, focusing on one or two each month. After a few months, many things became "automatic". Thus when I decided to make another positive change in my life/ schedule, it was possible. I must give credit to Flylady and many other friends & resources. I'm also going to share this method with my kids. Oh, I mean the babysteps, not the foods, hahaha.

I feel my son is happier. I'm happier too. Not just because of the foods. But because I make the effort to provide support in whatever humble ways I know. Putting love in things I do for him. Cheering him up with little surprises. Showing him that he's important enough for me to make changes in my life.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Learning from our kids

Today a friend shared his experience with me. He's a successful entrepreneur & investor. He's also a person who cherishes his family & make effort to spend time with his three kids.

He told me he learned many things from his kids, among them the following two:

1) they always ask "why". That's how kids learn. That's how we learned when we were kids. 

2) they're very persistent. For example, if they want dad to bring them to visit the zoo, they will persist until they succeed.

I totally agree with him. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Say something nice

As parents, we are often quick to criticise our children. We have expectations and feel responsible for them. But it doesn't work this way.

Have you ever been criticised? How did you feel? Did it help you to overcome that particular weakness or habit or behaviour? Unless we are very open-minded and strong-hearted, criticisms don't work. They hurt. They cause resentment. They backfire. They do damages to our relationships, especially so between parent and child.

"I have your interests at heart" is not a good reason for hurling criticisms and hurtful remarks at our kids. Uh-oh. Damage done? Me too. I'm not a "saint" mum who is always as sweet as an angel towards my kids. But I do strive to remind myself that I'm a mother, not a monster. If we look at a mirror when we start to criticise or scold or yell, my guess is it's not a pretty sight. Of course, which parent wants to look like a scary monster? But we have to sacrifice ourselves and act like this in order for the kids to listen, right? If not, they will never improve, right? They should learn to be strong enough to take criticisms, right? They need someone to knock some sense into them, right?

Hmmm. Maybe not right?

From my limited experience, my children respond better to praise and constructive suggestions. My son becomes motivated when I could find something nice to say. Twelve years is not too short a time frame to find praise-worthy improvements and achievements. (Do you remember how when our kids were small, we were forever so enthusiastic in every step they took, every new word they uttered, every milestone they achieved?)

When you say something nice, do you notice that your child's eyes light up, his face brightens, his mood lifts? He smiles? His energy is renewed? When you criticise him, is he stunned? Does he frown? Can you feel his poor heart and spirit sink together?

My ultimate objective is not to teach my child to become immune to criticisms, but to be able to understand his weaknesses and find ways to improve. Even more important is to teach him to love and respect himself, so he will live his life by being the best person he can be. How can he learn to do that if I don't love and respect him? How can he feel loved and respected if he never hears anything nice from someone who is so dear and important in his heart?

Say something nice. It's not for the sake of pleasing but to show our true appreciation. If we can uplift our kids with simple words, why do we need to trample on their efforts with nasty remarks? Have we unconsciously become generous with criticisms but stingy with praises? How often do you say "thank you", "well done", "I love you", "I'm proud of you" to your child?

If we have big dreams for our kids, let's start with a simple step everyday. Once our relationship has evolved into mutual respect and trust instead of conflict and resistance, our kids will be much more receptive to what we have to say, (constructive) criticisms included.

Oh yes, and thank you for coming to this blog, whether you are looking for resources in your journey as a parent, or simply to support me as a friend. I appreciate your efforts and support. Hope that puts a smile on your face too.

Independent or not?

How did you teach your son to be so independent?

This is one question many people asked me. Actually he's not yet "independent" in the real sense of the word. Well he does practise his piano without prompting, does his daily school assignments without needing any of us to sit down together with him, eats breakfast and prepares for school on his own every morning, packs his school bag by himself daily, washes his dishes after meal, helps with housework and babycare at times, and so on. But isn't that what a twelve-year-old boy is capable of doing?

I usually replied to this question that he was "forced" to be so independent by circumstance. Looking back, I think it started because I encountered a difficult pregnancy while he was in Primary One. Starting from around July that year, I barely had energy to do much and could only manage to take care of his basic needs, due to my condition. Worse, on Children's day, I was in hospital for an operation due to miscarriage. After that I had to do a "mini-confinement" for two weeks, as advised by the gynae. So for the whole second half of my son's Primary One education, he had to do whatever school assignments and revise for his exams, all on his own. Most of the time I could only "talk", eg asking: "have you done your homework?", "go do your revision now" etc. Guess he *had* to be independent because I couldn't "peer over his shoulders" or guide him in his studies most of the time. 

However I don't recommend "forcing" your child to be independent. Though I didn't do much physically, I tried to provide more in terms of emotional support. For example, praising him for every achievement no matter how small, explaining my situation so he cooperates with my efforts, involving him in the growth of the tiny foetus in me and so on. He was just as sad as us with the demise of a precious life. So I also had to support him by a simple explanation (our baby took the wrong "flight" or "boat" and has gone back, if it's meant to be, the baby will come again in future).

He's a rather sensible boy. Perhaps the feeling of love and security which I strived hard to provide, could also have helped him move towards an independent learning journey. When he was in Primary Three, I became pregnant again. She was born in December that year. Thus it's such a relief that he could take care of himself while I was so busy with the baby. (Friends also chipped in to help during that first few months. Many thanks to all of u:-))

I prepared him mentally before his sister's birth, that I could be totally focused on her needs for a few months. But once everything was more settled, I spent more time "talking" to him again. I enjoy sharing with him motivational stories, which I hope would encourage him in his every endeavour.

He's still a child and needs guidance and love, I try hard to be a parent who provides that. By being positive and building good habits myself, I hope to give him an example to emulate. I'm so proud of him for doing so well academically, but even more because he has developed into a young man that every mother would be proud of, in terms of personality and character. Oops can't help bragging a bit again huh? Haha, just taking my "daily dosage" of counting my blessings.

I believe that in the hearts of every parent, our child is a gem in many ways. We may get disappointed or angry at times, but we cherish them nonetheless. We may ask questions, but it is precisely these questions which show a deep love and concern for our kids.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Need new toys?

Every child likes new toys. Children learn through exploring their world, and toys provide a good medium for their learning and enjoyment.

However it is not necessary to keep buying new toys for them. Instead there are many "playthings" around us that can entertain them as well as provide learning opportunities. I like giving my kids "useless" things to play with. For example, plastic bottles, plastic tags removed from bread loaves, ice cream sticks, used parking coupons etc.

To illustrate further, for young babies we could use small plastic bottles as a "music instrument" by filling it with some beans then sealing it tight. I remember my baby usually stopped crying when I distracted her with such a shaker. Some plastic bottles could be used for water play during bath time. The kids love learning how to scoop up and pour out water. When babies grow into toddlers, they can practise motor skills of opening or closing the caps. 

Bigger plastic containers (for example those which contained festive goodies) can be used to sort and contain their different types of smaller toys. This gives them the concept of similarities (a basic maths skill), encourages them to organise, and is easier for them to put their toys away after playing.

Another example is the plastic tag that comes with the bread we buy. It secures the opening and usually has some information, for example expiry date or price on it. I usually collect a lot then recycle. But I found that they can be entertaining toys too. When my daughter was around 2 years old, I gave her a spoon, two bowls and those plastic tags. Then taught her to scoop out the tags from one bowl to another. At that age she was trying to feed herself. This gives her the opportunity to practise her skills while at the same time it's not so messy compared to "practising" with her food at meal times.

I also let her try slotting the tags into a coin bank. This helps her to concentrate on an interesting task while practising her motor skills. She loves slotting them in, then removing them from the opening at the bottom of the coin bank, then repeating the process again and again. I've a short video of her playing with those tags on YouTube.

Another example of "useless" stuff turned into playthings is the parking coupons we use in Singapore. When parking our vehicles, we tear out the relevant tabs for year, month, day, hour, minute, and display them on our dashboard. After that it's useless. I usually recycle them. When my son was younger, he liked to tear out all the other tabs. Then we would play a game of searching for the number each other called out. Example of variations could be giving addition questions and finding the answers.

Other recycled materials like ice cream sticks, disposable spoons etc, could be used for handicraft projects.

There are many possibilities in using discarded items as "toys". The best part is they cost no extra money, are easily replaceable, and teaches our kids to recycle. 

However I do recommend playing together with the children. Choking hazard aside, it's a good bonding time. Toys are "useless" and children quickly grow tired of them. But your children will always enjoy your company.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's no use

Have you tried to get your children to listen to you? Have you tried telling them to eat more nutritious food? Sleep early? Stop playing computer game? Do their homework? Revise for their examination? Clear their desk? Organise their room? Make their bed? Wash their shoes? Behave themselves?

I assure you, it's no use. Yes it's no use 'telling' them what to do. It's no use yelling at them. It's no use punishing them for not doing what they're supposed to do. 

If we want our children to grow up into self-respecting adults, we cannot allow them to develop a habit of relying on other people to tell them what they should do, or waiting for someone to kick them into action.

This does not mean we should hasten the process of their independence by letting go altogether. Nor should we keep dictating their every action. Rather, a parent's love and motivation is very important in guiding them along this inevitable route of growing up.

If we reflect upon ourselves, what are the actions we take everyday? We do what we 'should' do (most of the time, I assume), what we 'want' to do, and what we 'like' to do. So if we can motivate our children to like what they're supposed to do, then we don't have to keep telling them what to do, right? But HOW do we achieve that? Through playing games? Through ourselves setting an example or role model for them? Through our praise and encouragement? Through their own sense of achievement and fulfilment?

The above thoughts are really too brief. Perhaps I'll spend more time reflecting and expanding upon them in future. Bringing up our children is essentially a project in progress. However this project also enables us to progress in our own life journey, expanding and deepening along the way.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Are you ready?

When your children want to play with you, do you feel energetic & enthusiastic? When your children want to confide in you about a problem they are facing, are you able to lend a sympathetic ear?

Are you feeling too tired, too busy, too stressed, too worried?


Have you been taking care of yourself? Do you have enough sleep and go to bed at an appropriate bedtime? Do you take regular nutritious balanced meals? Is your body in optimal health?

I find that physical health is a very important but usually neglected aspect. We need our body to carry out tasks that we set our mind upon. Without good health, we are not able to enjoy our life, our children or even pay close attention to their needs. Many mothers are 'guilty' of not taking good care of their health. But our family love and value us, and definitely wish to spend many more good years with us.

Are you ready to love and nurture yourself as well as you love and nurture your children?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sibling rivalry?

Many parents who have more than one child will be worried about sibling rivalry. Can it be avoided?

Frankly I don't know. But I do know that with some efforts on our part, the relationship and situation can be greatly improved.

I have not done much, except to "explain" positively my daughter's behaviour or actions to my son, and vice versa. For example, my daughter look up to her brother and imitate him in many ways, so I'll point out to my son that he's her "idol". Once when I was doing something and left her for a few short minutes, she had climbed onto her brother's stool, sat at his desk and scribbled on his papers using his pens. I had to interpret for my son that she was imitating her "idol" doing his homework and not purposefully mischievous or destructive. She was taught to apologise to him. Thankfully the incident was never repeated. On the other hand, my daughter is rather sensitive sometimes and become agitated by some of her brother's actions. I'll explain to her that he is not disturbing her but playing with her and that he loves her. Gradually they learned to love and appreciate each other more.

One day my daughter asked for grapes, I washed some for her. As she walked away happily with her bowl to sit at her favourite spot to enjoy her favourite fruit, I was pleasantly surprised to observe her detour to her brother's desk and offer him some grapes voluntarily. She was not yet two years old but she expressed her love for her brother by sharing without anyone asking.

On another day, I had brought my daughter out to fetch my son from school. It was almost her nap time and she fell asleep in her car seat. On the short journey home (about 7-10 minutes drive), my son saw the afternoon sun shining through the car window onto his sister. Without any prompting from me, he found a towel and started to put it up so as to shelter her from the bright and hot sun. I was speechless and touched by his gesture.

There're other examples, like my son buying books and toys for his sister when he went on trips with his school, the two of them playing together and having a good laugh, etc. As a mother, one of the most satisfying experiences is to see our children's love for each other. I believe it's partly natural and partly nurtured.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Comparing our kids

Many people have advised against comparing our kids with other kids, including their siblings. I myself refrain from doing that in front of them too. Ah, but in comparing my two kids, I see their individual virtues, which always bring a smile & light up my day.

My son, turning 12 years old this month, has always been the "angel", easy to care for, obedient, gentle, obliging. My daughter, just turned 2 years old less than two months ago, is spontaneous, assertive, responsive, displays her affection readily. Both of them have traits etc in common too, for example, their enthusiasm in "helping out", their love for babies, their intelligence, their fantastic "music sense". Yes they are different & unique individuals, otherwise I wouldn't get to enjoy the "best of both worlds", right?

Haha, I better stop here before I rattle on and brag about them any further. Hmmm, my darlings.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Do you love your child or are you loving towards your child?

I'm sure all normal parents love their children. But do we always treat our children with love? Do they feel we are loving towards them? Are there times when we get angry or become frustrated? Do we always speak patiently and lovingly to them? Do our children "know" that we love them or really "feel" loved by us?

Do we look at them when they talk to us? Do we make effort to play with them? Do they laugh or sing or appear happy when together with us? Do we respond with kind and encouraging words everyday?

I've been asking myself all those questions. Many people can teach our children knowledge and life skills. But only we as parents can provide the unconditional love of a parent. The first thing I want my children to remember, even after I'm long gone, is my love for them, regardless of their flaws and my flaws.

Our children are not just our responsibilities. They are a product of our love and will flourish with our love.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Why we have such high expectation of our kids

Many parents have high expectations of their kids, hoping they do well academically, behave themselves properly, interact with others gracefully, are stable emotionally, are independent etc. We always hope our kids do better than us & not meet with setbacks similar to ours in life. This in itself is normal but why do so many parents & kids feel stressed due to this? Have we pondered upon what we expect? Are we expecting our kids to be "perfect"? Are they "not good enough" if they didn't do as well as others/ faltered in their attempts? If we have such high expectations of them, it usually stems from our deep love for them. Then shouldn't we celebrate & encourage them on every little progress they made, instead of focusing on what they have not achieved?

On the other hand, we could be too hard on ourselves. We have high expectations of ourselves to be "perfect" parents. Every imperfection in our child, every mistake our child makes, becomes a score on our "failure" list. No one likes to fail. So we wrongly place emphasis on raising the perfect child. There are no perfect parents & no perfect children. If we accept parenting as a learning journey, we would not blame ourselves unduly but focus instead on improving ourselves & enjoying our kids.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Acceptance and appreciation moulds the child

My darling daughter just turned 2 years old recently. Though her temperament is very different from her brother, I've learned to accept that all individuals are different & to be respected as such. She has shown me a different perspective on the journey of motherhood.
I've realised that by appreciating her & interpreting her actions & intentions positively, she has evolved into a more adorable baby day by day. Before we embark on "teaching" another person, we have to accept them, feel compassion for them, & love them wholeheartedly, especially towards our kids. It's such a joy & enriching experience growing up with my two kids. I'm blessed to be able to do so.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Did You Weed Out His Good Traits?

I once made a mistake. My son pulled out "weeds" from my flower pots, which happened to be seedlings of vegetables that I had planted. I had even placed cards indicating the date & name of vegetable in each pot. So you can imagine my exasperation. They were obviously not empty pots, and whatever appeared were not necessarily weeds! I succumbed to my dismay and chided him.

After cooling down, I really regretted what I did and realized that I was the one who had done damage. No, I don't mean the plants. Yes, I mean my son. Needless to say, I quickly spent more than double the time (talking, explaining, sharing & hugging etc) to "repair the damage done".

This boy has always been proactive, taking initiative in helping out with housework etc. Yes, he even scrubs the toilet bowl out of his own accord. He would willingly volunteer his service or participation whether at home, in school, or at other social settings (Of course, at his age, enjoyment may be the main motivating factor, haha).

Furthermore, he has helped me with weeding before. To him, weeds were no good and have to be cleared as soon as possible before they multiply out of control. From his point of view, it was just another chore that he's trying to help out with. Upon analyzing the situation with a clear mind, I concluded that he was not purposefully causing harm, but rather had done it with good intentions.

Would I prefer to lose those seedlings or dampen my son's proactive nature? This valuable trait in him should not be destroyed. Of course he can be taught to be more careful next time round, and learn to differentiate plants we want from weeds we don't want. He can be taught to think of the consequences or gather more information before he act. But the act in itself should not be condemned.

I don't mean we cannot reprimand a child when he has done wrong. However what do we achieve by doing so? Many people find that if they venture to do something, they will be blamed for mistakes or failures. If they don't do anything, they don't get blamed because they won't make mistakes! Thus they slowly become apathetic or indifferent. Don't you find that many teens are not as enthusiastic or lively as younger kids? Maybe there's a reason.

Mistakes are valuable learning lessons. By scolding a child for every mistake he makes, especially unintentional ones, we are actually squashing his passion in life and his spirit of adventure. Aren't we pulling out the good "seedlings" in their hearts?

Planting a seed in the soil is easy. Planting a good "seed" in a child's heart takes much more effort. It is a pity to weed out seedlings by mistake, it is even more so if we inadvertently "weed" out the "good seedlings" in a child's heart.

I hope you don't make the same mistake. At least, don't react too fast :-) Look at the children's intentions and not just the results. There is only so much that we can teach them, and they will make mistakes no matter how much we protect them. But they will learn & grow well if we don't unduly discourage their every effort.

I guess that's life.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Improving Memory Skills

Recently heard some mothers discussing their children's memories, or rather, lamenting their lack of memory skills.

I understand the concern of these mothers as memory skill is very important in the children's studies. However, except for a few extreme cases, I think the majority of us (including children) have no problem remembering things of interest to us, be they facts, names, numbers or events etc. So the key issue here is to try to arouse our children's interest in the topics that they have to remember. If a child can concentrate well, it should also benefit his memory as well. I've some suggestions in the earlier article "How to improve on Concentration".

The brain is amazing. The more you "exercise" it, the better it works. To enhance my son's memory skills, one method I tried was to play games with him like reciting & memorizing rhymes, poetry & other interesting literature, starting with short ones (about 20 words), then proceeding to long ones (a few hundred words). I used mostly chinese poems, many of which are written beautifully & rhyme well. When he was just a baby learning to talk, he could give the last word of each line when prompted with the few words before. To-date at 9 years old, he can still recite from memory 满江红 (over 90 words) & 正气歌 (about 300 words).

As for my own experiences, I like numbers and used to memorize all my contacts' phone numbers (when we didn't have the luxury of high-tech gadgets like handphones with the convenience of address books). To me it was almost like a "hobby", memorizing all sorts of numbers. Once we waited in vain at a bus stop while in Hong Kong, and decided to get a cab instead. But we didn't bring out the taxi company's phone number and the trip back to our apartment was really far. Luckily I could recall the phone number as I've used it once :-) How did I manage to do it? Well, I memorized by the "relationship pattern" of a group of numbers. Or by the "sound" of them. Of course like I said, I don't bother to memorize so many phone numbers anymore as they're all conveniently stored in my handphone. So now my ability in this area has kind of gone downhill, haha.

Once a teacher taught us how to remember the year of an event, 1698, which sounded like "first class bar" when said in chinese (一流酒吧). Haha, until now I can still remember this year though I can't remember what event it was!

One relative who stayed in an overseas hostel while studying, told us that he and his group of friends in the choir were the fastest to finish their revisions. How did they mange to do it? While others were slogging it out trying to memorize for the exams, they sing! Everything that has to be remembered, they invented a song for it. Wow!

If we tend to forget certain things, another way to "jolt" our memory is to write it down. I didn't really teach my son to do this. But I was amused when once my son stuck a few reminder notes in his school bag to remind himself to submit a certain piece of paper to the school's general office. I even found notes at his bedside reminding himself to do something the next morning. As for learning of spellings, whether Chinese or English, he usually remembers better if he copies out the words at least once.

For people who are good at "visualizing", forming a picture in their mind may be a good method too. To remember a sequence of events (eg. a to-do list of errands etc), just "play" them in your mind like a movie.

Sometimes for a group of points to be remembered, I use the first alphabet of each keyword as a prompt, so that by just remembering the few alphabets, the key points will follow accordingly. If possible, arrange them in an easy to remember sequence. Many people like to use this method.

Anyway, just make a conscious effort to reduce incidents of forgetfulness, then keep practising, and memories will improve.

Monday, March 3, 2008

How to Improve on Concentration

Many relatives & friends have commented that their children cannot sit still, and on the difficulty in getting them to concentrate for a longer period of time. Though they compliment my son on his ability to sit still & concentrate since a very young age, as his mother I must confess that he's not *always* sitting still, I'd be terrified if he did, hahaha. So the issue is not just whether the children can sit still but whether they can do so when required of them.

I think the first step in approaching this subject is to have a realistic expectation. Every child is born with a different temperament. And age does matter. A young child may be busy learning through exploring his world, and is only able to concentrate on whatever is of enough interest to him. He naturally wanders away if he's not interested.

Next, I do believe a modification in his diet will be able to help to some extent. Try to limit consumption of foods & drinks that are highly processed, and those that contain colourings and chemical additives. As far as possible, give a variety of fresh fruits & vegetables, cooked lightly & simply (limit fried foods and foods with high sugar & salt content). Whether this measure would directly improve his concentration span is an unknown (though I believe it does), but it certainly will help to boost his immune system and general health, which in turn will make it easier for him to concentrate.

Then there is the modern world TV and electronic games which I believe is a culprit of robbing away the kids' ability to concentrate. They may appear to be able to sit still or "concentrate" on a TV program or an electronic game they're playing (whether on the computer, on X***, P**, in games arcade etc), but in actual fact they are highly stimulated. I think this is detrimental to their mental & physical development as well. My son will always end up with a hot head, flushed face, & cold hands & feet after playing electronic games (sometimes even *watching* other people playing would result in similar physical symptoms). I try to limit such "playing" times and encourage other "real" play activities instead.

So can concentration be taught? Well there ARE some games & activities which can enhance his ability to concentrate for a longer period. Tailor these to his age & interests. For example, jigsaw puzzles, board games, chess games & card games would encourage him to concentrate longer. Building blocks, moulding plasticine, making things from scratch, science experiments, , drawing, painting, handicrafts etc are all fun ways to let him learn how to do something for a longer period of time. However, try to do one activity at a time, and tidy up or keep it away after you're done before starting on another one. This encourages him to focus on one thing at a time, & not be distracted unnecessarily.

My favourite "concentration-enhancement" activity is reading & story-telling. If you borrow library books, the only "investment" you need is your love, time & imagination. Almost all children enjoy stories. Choose books that are appropriate for his age, or books that he likes. Read a chapter or for a period of time. While reading, allow him to ask questions, but sometimes tell him the answers later like: "let's see if they say why", "after this paragraph" or "after this page" to create suspense or encourage him to wait. Even when he's old enough to read independently, don't stop reading with him or telling him stories you made up. Telling him "family history" or other topics he's interested in would also keep him captivated and engrossed. Talking about his favourite stories & characters could grab his attention for a long time too. As a bonus you'd see his eyes sparkle & hear his non-stop ramblings. Who say they cannot concentrate? :-) It's a skill & trait that they can improve on.

I hope you find the above sharing beneficial to your kid :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Back! Announcement of 3rd Blog

The 15 days of Chinese New Year celebration has been a busy period, with lots of gatherings & visits, especially because we have many elder relatives in our family, and many friends too of course, haha. Well the busiest time is now over but I realized that while I was away from blogging, many people, even my son (who has just turned 9 years old) have been reading my blogs. That’s nice :-) It’s also a pleasant surprise to learn that more friends have started their own blogs. Wow!

For people who read my blogs, I do hope I can contribute in a positive way somehow. Some friends have excitedly shared with me that they tried my recipes on the cooking-simple-dishes blog. Though I'll try to include as many healthy & nutritious dishes as I can, I would still like to give a gentle reminder to my friends: remember to eat regular & balanced meals containing high nutrition value, and try to avoid (junk) foods that are highly processed, contain additives & colourings, and those that have high fat, sugar & salt content. Remember the food pyramid, and eat more vegetables & fruits, not just “more” in terms of quantity but “more” variety as well, with as many different colours as possible.

As for friends who link to the teach-my-child blog, I hope you are not disappointed as the contents will be mainly on sharing my personal experiences & views in the upbringing of my own child. Anyway I’ve only one child, and my son is still young. There’s a long way to go, and really too early to say if I’ve brought him up well. I’m no guru in child education or development, just a mother who records down her experiences & thoughts, which would invariably include my flaws & limitations as well. In that sense, it is not yet “教子有道”,but just only“育儿经验分享”, though I must say I’m very grateful to my friends for giving me such a high level of recognition. :-)

Today I’ve also started a third blog, with contents on my personal views & encounters in daily life. Do feel free to give me your comments.


很感谢朋友们链接到我的博客,希望我的拙作能起到抛砖引玉之效。不过有一点需要澄清的:teach-my-child blog 只是我在陪孩子成长的过程中,一些个人的看法、经验与体会,因此必然包括我本身的局限;而且我只有一个儿子,年纪尚幼,是否教养得好还言之过早,他日若能成才,也必然是由许多因素促成,绝对不只是我的功劳。朋友们厚爱,把它取名“教子有道”,令我诚惶诚恐,也鞭策我要朝这个方向去努力。

至于cooking-simple-dishes blog, 主要分享平常煮来糊口的小菜,当然没有专业水平,虽然尽量收录比较营养可口的食谱,但由于主要是煮给不太挑食的儿子,因此口味不一定适合所有人,欢迎大家给我一些指点或建议。无论如何,都希望对“吃”有兴趣的朋友们,要注意健康,虽说“病从口入”,幸好“营养”也是“从口入”,要尽量选择营养含量高的食物,多吃不同种类的蔬菜水果,避免高盐高糖高脂肪及“加料”(如颜料及化学成分)的食物。另外还要早睡早起,做适量的运动。



Monday, January 14, 2008

Taking A Break Before CNY

Dear friends, if you've been reading my blogs, you'd have noticed that I've not been updating them recently. Reason being this is the last month before CNY (Chinese New Year, 7 Feb this year), and I've been channelling my concentration & efforts towards getting my house etc ready for it.

Though there's so much that I want to write & share about, this period I'm shifting top priority to my CNY project. So you'll likely hear from me again after CNY. Hope everyone enjoys a healthy, prosperous & fulfilling new year!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Baby Trusts Me

The previous post talks about teaching my baby some etiquettes & attitudes which I hoped would set the stage for future education & discipline. (Of course there're more which I'll share in the near future.)

Well, did that result in him resenting our code of expected behaviours? Did that make him an unhappy baby who felt restricted in everything he did? Did he become rebellious? On the contrary, a baby naturally trusts & relies on his care-provider. We never used a cane to discipline him. In fact, we never bought one.

I hoped he would learn positively and not be frightened or threatened into doing "correct" things. I reckoned I wouldn't need to punish him severely just for harmless mistakes (who doesn't make mistakes?). Of course I have no qualms about punishing him if he made a grave mistake or was purposefully defiant. The bottomline? The act of punishment is to convey the message that he is wrong, not to vent my anger or frustrations.

What do I do if I really become angry? As much as possible, I try to refrain from talking or taking any action until I'm calm enough to handle the situation. After the incidence I would reflect on why I was angry. Was I overly protective? Was I unduly worried? Was my expectation unrealistic? Did I feel helpless? It usually boils down to the fact that I love him. This is sufficient to reassure me that no matter what happened, my intention was good though the results might not have turned out favourable. Next I ask myself: Can I do it better next time? So even though both of us made mistakes on the way, they strengthened our mother-and-child bond and left fond memories of us growing up *together* in the process.

I believe loving him means giving him what he needs, not what he wants. My child has to learn to trust me and accept that he is part of our family. He has to behave accordingly and not just copy the behaviours of other people. Of course, he was encouraged for good behaviours. But the key was not in punishing him *after* he did wrong, but in avoiding possible undesirable behaviours *before* they happened, thus reducing the possibility of conflict & clashes. (Prevention is better than cure.) This required an understanding of my baby's nature & his stage of development, and believe me, most of a young baby's actions can be anticipated & accidents prevented.

For instance, I kept all dangerous objects out of sight. To a young baby, out of sight means out of mind. I also kept things which I didn't want him to touch out of his reach. His play area & surroundings have to be carefully planned & scrutinized for safety. If I failed to notice in advance and something unsuitable caught his eyes & interest, what could I expect? If I were to remove it by force, resistance and tantrums were likely to follow right? However a young baby is easily distracted. So instead of just telling him "no", I quickly substituted it with some other toys or activities. Whew! No wrestling, no crying. Happy baby, happy mummy.

However there were still "accidents". For example, once I caught him climbing up onto the window grilles by first climbing up on the sofa then using that as a "stepping stone". Of course I warned him sternly against doing that in future. There was no danger of him falling out of that window because the grilles were locked all the time. Nonetheless it's dangerous to climb so high and definitely not a "proper" or acceptable behaviour. I have no intention of training him to be a spiderman either. But whose mistake was it? Mine! I had not prevented this incidence because I lacked the foresight that he was going to climb at his age & stage of development. Did he ever do that again? No. Not because he understood the danger & my worries of him getting hurt (though I do believe he understood somewhat). Why? Because I moved the sofa away from the window!

On hindsight, I think I developed a sense of authority & confidence which evolved from my natural love for him as a mother. I love him. I do what's best for him. I believe he could sense it. So even when there were times that I had to stop him from doing something he liked, it was acceptable to him. Or when there were times that I wanted him to do something he wasn't comfortable with, he obliged. He trusts me.

What more can I ask for? What should I do next? The answer inevitably lies in improving myself. That is the first step towards bringing up a child who is strong & upright. I have to make sure I deserve this immense trust from a tiny being, whose life is so fully dependent on me.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Loving My Baby

As the chinese saying goes, 教儿婴孩,教妇初来. The first few months are crucial in "teaching" a child.

During those months, other than taking care of my baby's basic needs, I paid extra attention to "teaching" him proper etiquettes and attitudes among other things. What does that mean?

For example, tables are not for sitting. I made sure he was not allowed to sit on tables, no matter how small he was. This was my first step in "telling" him what was proper & what was not. I made sure I was "proper" myself too, like standing & sitting properly, instead of slouching on the sofa or putting my legs on the coffee table. I ought to be a role model, remember? Postures were just the basics.

When he started to eat solid foods, he was supposed to sit down and finish his food, no wandering around. And when he could walk on his own, I made sure he understood eating places are not playgrounds. He was not allowed to play or wander around in a restaurant. This was for his safety as well. Who knows what hot food / soup would land on him?

Another example of how I expected him to behave: If he showed signs of impatience while waiting for his milk / food like banging on the table, I would tell him gently but firmly to "wait", together with hand gesture. I tried to convey the message that I've understood what he needed and he was going to be satisfied soon, and he had to behave properly. He might not understand in the beginning, but I hoped he would soon understand that no matter how hungry (or whatever the circumstances), we are humans and capable of controlling ourselves. I don't mean he has to bottle up his emotions, but certain behaviours are acceptable and certain are not. Courtesy is the most basic attitude.

Sounds paranoid? Don't laugh at me. Sounds strict? Believe me, if you love him & put his welfare first, you will be able to do what's best for your child. Every family & every child is different. Noboby is the "best", and there's no right or wrong way to bring up a child, only a "suitable" way. So I made sure I learned a lot, and adapted my parenting style according to my son's age & temperament.

Time for Solid Food!

Before starting with solid food, first ensure that your baby is given "clean" food, not even contaminated by the saliva of adults closest to him. Yes I know it's a gesture of love when adults share their food with babies / kids. But the bacteria residing in our body system can be passed on to the kids. Believe me, I've read up on this issue and have decided it's in my son's best interest to NOT share foods with anybody else, and I try to avoid it as much as possible.

By not sharing, I don't mean it in the selfish sense. "Hygienic" sharing is alright & encouraged. What does that mean? For example, don't let kids stick their hands (with saliva included) into one bag to share their titbits or snacks. Instead pour out some into their individual bowls. At meal times, use a common spoon to serve from a dish into our own plates, instead of sticking our own spoons (with saliva included) into the shared dish. Sometimes adults would use their own spoons or chopsticks (with saliva included again) to give foods to the kids. Sometimes they drink from the same cup or bottle. Sometimes well-meaning adults will take a bite off their apple for example, then offer it (yes the same bitten piece) to a kid. I'm horrified. If you know the consequences you'll be too. If we really need to share food, why don't we get another set of spoon & bowl? I'm sure hygienic sharing would convey our love just as well if not better.

Anyway, what were the types of solid foods I gave to my son? Of course I had started with semi-solids like rice cereal. Sometimes I gave him food from a jar (when we went out, for convenience sake). Then soft foods like apple puree (scrape apple with a spoon), potato puree (mashed potato), papaya etc. Then came the "real" solid foods.

Usual meal would include 2 vegetables and 1 meat. These were complemented with either porridge or soft rice. I tried to rotate the vegetables I used for every meal. List of vegetables include tomato, pumpkin, carrot, baby corn, cauliflower, broccoli, leafy vegetables (like spinach), mushrooms, hairy marrow, potato etc. Sometimes I give beancurd (tofu) , egg (steamed or hard-boiled) or silverfish. Meat given was usually rotated among fish, minced chicken, minced pork or minced beef.

Method of cooking? Usually by steaming. Any seasoning? None. To me, that's the ideal diet for a baby / toddler. He gets the "real" taste of the food. I tried to include a variety of fresh healthy foods and avoided giving him foods which are highly processed, or contains colourings or preservatives. (Yes I admit I don't like Y----t or V-----n.) I don't give him sweets as rewards too. Fruits are healthier. I'm lucky that to this date, he doesn't eat much sweets or titbits. It's been beneficial to both his health & his teeth. In addition, I always prefer plain drinking water to sweetened or carbonated drinks. (Did you know that sweets & additives are detrimental to kids? I'm not sure if they result in lack of concentration or cause hyper-activity in kids, but I do believe kids will benefit if they follow a healthier diet.)

How to entice him to eat? I tried to make at least the colour interesting. For example I'll not give him a meal which includes fish, hairy marrow & tofu. Why? Though it's quite balanced in nutrition, you would've noticed that it's all white! Next I tried to vary the texture & taste. For example, more crunchy baby corn can be given with soft pumpkin, tomato can be given with cauliflower. Then you can also play around with shapes. Carrots can be cut into shapes of stars or moons, baby corn can be cut into round shapes, potatoes can be cut into strips or triangles. You get the idea.

Side-track a bit here. Talking about potatoes. I never introduced him to fast foods when he was young. He was first introduced to Mc------- and Ke------ by his pre-school teachers (when they went on outing)! However with my own attitudes towards fast foods, I believe he has been influenced more or less and accepts that they are unhealthy foods though once in a while he will request for fries. Most of the time he's more attracted to their kids' meal toys than their foods.

Let's get back to meal time. When I fed him, I didn't just "spoon-feed" him. I made sure I told him the name / colour / shape of the food he was eating. Meal time was a learning time & fun time. But he was not allowed to run around while eating. A routine was set so that before every meal time, he would have to sit in his walker (tied so it couldn't move) or high chair (when he was slightly older), and have his hands cleaned. I did have some toys standing-by to entertain him if necessary. (Usually I try to "entertain" him by talking, so he doesn't get distracted by toys, haha.) No shoving of food into his mouth either. Just put the spoon next to his lips so he ate "voluntarily".

Though proper food & nutrition is the foundation for a healthy kid, meal time should never be a struggling time. It's a time for the child to enjoy his food. If he doesn't appreciate your time & effort spent in preparing the meal, so be it. Just accept that it's a passing phase of his life and keep at it. I haven't encountered much difficulties in this aspect and have limited experiences with only one kid, however I've known many mothers who actually became very creative because they have difficulty in getting their kids to eat. So take heart mummies.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New-Born Baby

1999 Februay 22, my baby was born! The first 3 months was more a learning phase than a teaching phase. I learned how to take care of my child's needs, mainly in feeding him, cleaning him, carrying him etc.

I came from a small family and had no prior experience whatsoever in handling babies, or see how other people take care of babies. Thus it was a challenging time for me. The first few times that I cleaned him on my own, I even had to put him beside a big book of instructions & followed each step closely in case I forgot: wipe the eyes, the mouth, the bottom....etc. I even had to consult my book on how to pick up & put down my baby, haha!

The first lessons I learned were to love my child unconditionally & accept him as he is. The perfectionist in me had unknowingly wished for a perfect motherhood & a perfect child. So when I encountered problems with breastfeeding, and when he was diagnosed with urine tract infection, it was a traumatic experience for me. Especially when it's unlike other endeavours, example baking a cake, as I could not start all over again to get the "perfect" result!

Those first months of his life were spent on teaching him to
- recognize day from night, by playing more actively during daytime and toning down & speaking quietly during his night feeds or diaper change
- enjoy rhythm of chinese Tang & Song dynasty poems (唐诗宋词)
- enjoy music & songs & nursery rhymes (by singing to him, NOT by using TV or VCD or DVD)
- be familiarized with our language & his surroundings by speaking to him about *everything*, from what we were doing to where we were going to who we were meeting etc
- stay calm by providing a loving environment: he never hears arguments between his parents (I'm not saying we have heated arguments behind his back, haha, I'm saying we settle any disputes amicably and try not to show any disagreements in front of him, as he's still too young)
- trust his parents to love him & take care of him by carrying him as much as possible while he's awake

Some people might think the last point is objectionable. But this was my way of communicating to my baby that he is safe & loved. Of course I didn't carry him *all* the time, he was given time to entertain himself in his cot by looking at mobiles etc, and he was allowed time to stretch & exercise his limbs. But I do pay as much attention to him as possible when he's awake. (Anyway he was sleeping most of the time during those first few months.) However, when we went out, I always preferred to carry him rather than put him in a stroller. It builded a kind of "closeness" between us. The by-product? I got nice bicep muscles :-)

By the way, it didn't matter that he didn't understand any of the above-mentioned things that I was "teaching" him. I only did all those because I thought that's the best I could do for him. In essence, he's still too young at this stage to "understand" anything except "feelings". So the ultimate goal in whatever I did was to instill in him a sense of love, security, happiness & serenity.

Pregnancy Stage

First things first. I believe the first "communication" with my child was during pregnancy. I tried to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and rest adequately to stay in optimal health. In addition, I did what I could to "teach" him about the world, especially to introduce him to his parents :-)

I remember I was taking social dance classes before pregnancy, and was still dancing (yes, turning, spinning etc though a bit clumsy) until I was 3 months pregnant. Of course I don't recommend other mothers-to-be to do the same. But later in my pregnancy I did continue with exercising by attending ante-natal class & doing the exercises recommended.

By the time I was 5 months pregnant, I left my job to have more control over my state of well-being. I remember my first experiences of "teaching" my baby was in listening to classical & soothing music. Other than that, I tried to "talk" to my unborn baby. I would put my hand on my bulge or stroke my belly gently and recite a simple Buddhist scripture (though I'm not a Buddhist). Or I would speak positively to my baby, sing songs etc. All these provided a calm & soothing state of mind for me, which I believe would be passed on to my baby somehow.

As for my short temper, it improved tremendously during my pregnancy. Partly because I was overjoyed to become a mother, mainly because I cautioned myself to curb my negative emotions. I believe a happy mother would give birth to a happy baby who will have a nice temperament and thus easy to manage (this is for my benefit too, haha). Anyway, nothing seemed important enough for me to blow my top when compared to the possible effect on my baby.

I remember the whole process was quite smooth & easy, except for vomitting 2 times & having high blood sugar count once. Though unpleasant, I accepted swollen ankles & mid-night cramps etc as part & parcel of pregnancy.

In essence, I tried to stay healthy both physically and spiritually. And I prepared myself mentally by reading up a lot on pregnancy, child-birth & childcare.

When my son was finally born eight years ago, in 1999, I was overjoyed. But soon faced with the question: what should I teach him? how do I teach him? To be continued......

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Beginning of Teach-My-Child Blog

My son was born in February 1999. Ever since I became pregnant, I have taken a keen interest in how to give him the best that I can, in terms of his growth & development, especially in his "education". This area is my life passion!

This includes what to teach him & how to teach him. It also includes what I do for myself & for him. Being a parent, I consider myself his first teacher. As such, I became very conscious of how I teach myself to become a better person too. Action speaks louder than words, and "teaching" my son would be easier if I could be a role model, someone he can look up to & learn from. Parenthood thus became a journey for all of us in the family.

All these years, though there were ups & downs inevitable in life, I have felt great contentment & satisfaction in the process. Relatives & friends have doted on my darling & many have asked me how I brought up my son. I will use this blog to share my experiences as a mother for those of us who are interested.

Nobody is perfect, neither is my son, neither am I, though I try to do what I think is best for my son & family. I would be delighted to hear opinions of other parents / children. It would be great if more people share and make the world a better place for everybody.

Hope everyone has a fulfilling life journey!

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