Category Archives: Ramblings

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Let Them Play and… Be There

I’ve been a parent for a little over 4 years… not much hands-on experience… but I’ve been observing parenting styles and their outcomes since I started having long-term memory.

I’ve adopted the “love them fiercely, play with them and be the parent” style. (Sorry, I have not yet come up with a cooler phrase). This was recently affirmed as an effective style when I met an old friend with teenage kids – gentle, loving, kind, good-spirited, God-fearing kids. For her, she said “Never pass your authority as a parent to another person” and “give them LOTS and LOTS of love”.

What I mean to “love them fiercely” is to tell them daily that I love them, give lots of hugs and kisses, give my time, my listening ear (and heart) and if we could afford it, a gift here and there once in a while.

When I say I “play with them’… it’s just that… play with them. Play doll together; play pretend together; play catch together; play hide and seek together; play wrestling, etc. Through playing with them, many things will happen, including undesirable behaviours. I will then correct them on the spot. Even when nothing negative seems to be happening, lots of positive things are happening. For example, I demonstrate how to be gentle and safe even when apparently playing rough (e.g. wrestling or sword fighting). I use my Ps and Qs. Etcetera.

“Be the parent” means that even though I seemed to have gone bonkus, I am still the adult with responsibilities and the parental authority over their lives. When it is time to bathe, they have to bathe. When it is time to eat, they have to eat. When it is time to sleep, they sleep. When they are ill-mannered, they have to be corrected.

My eldest has been mingling with older kids here and there (she is usually the youngest no matter where we go because we had our children late in life). Kids who were parented with theories found in parenting books usually bullied her, were mean-spirited, and did not exhibit behaviour that I would like her to imitate. These kids usually could read at an early age and seemed to have “discipline” such as keeping still to feed themselves or colour or write. For older ones who were in school, they seemed to be academically “up there”. They have become book-smart but lacked age-appropriate maturity and love.

Whereas kids of parents who let them PLAY and PLAY and PLAY all day through their preschool days (and even into primary school) were, while rowdier, nicer, kinder, gentler and friendlier to younger children like my daughter. Of course, kids being kids, there will be moments when they get rough and dangerous. But I did not have to be put on the spot because for this group – their parents were always present to catch teaching moments. And such parents are more often not, very others-centred and disciplined their kids a lot stricter to be nice to others and to share. I did not have to discipline their children for them or feel the need to protect/defend my own.

Before you think that these kids are out of control and ill-disciplined… be informed that their parents set physical, emotional and behavioral boundaries – all age-appropriate. And when caught outside these boundaries, the kids are immediately disciplined according their their age and personality.

In other words, these parents are building character over academic achievements. They contextualise and treat each child uniquely, yet fairly. They teach them to put others above themselves. This is the group of parents I belong to. With character, academic achievements can follow (with humility). But with academic achievements, character seldom follows (pride tends to set in instead).

It’s so true that “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8:1)

But I must admit that the parenting style I adopt is getting harder and harder to do as I notice more and more self-centred parents teaching their kids to be self-centred. Around such people, I have trouble teaching my kids to be others-centred because they are only going to be bullied (both by the other parent and child) and keep losing out and she will keeping commenting that it is unfair. In such situations, I normally have to think on the fly on how to handle each unique situation such that my child is not unfairly treated yet the other party is still respected. When in doubt, I walk away with my child.

Fortunately, such kids also usually have absent parents. I usually take the opportunity to teach that child to be kind and gentle.

There are schools of thoughts which think that the child should be left alone to struggle through experiences. Too much parental intervention would cause the child to be over-reliant on adults and not develop self defenses. I also believe that – but I believe in applying age-appropriateness for everything. A pre-schooler is too vulnerable and malleable to allow natural forces to take over. She needs to feel love and security amidst life’s challenges.

Sometimes, recently when my child is older, I watch her hurt herself or get bullied… but I just watch to see her reactions and not intervene. If she can manage, I let her work it through with her playmates. That’s when she tests out the values and skills that she already has and reaps the consequences accordingly.

Everyday, I pray for wisdom as a parent – to do what suits my family and child.

Fun. We Are Young.

The first time I heard this song, I got hooked onto its chorus.

Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun

It was not only musically catchy but the lyrics seemed really inspiring.  It made me want to blaze forth and set alight a bright future for self and others.  Sung not alone, it also made me want to go forth with a bunch of like-minded people.

The rest of the song was catchy too so I took some effort to listen carefully to it so that I could sing along.

But I began to realise that the song was about drugs, booze and physical abuse.

My friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State

… asking bout a scar, And I know I gave it to you months ago…

So if by the time the bar closes
And you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home

 

So now I do not know whether to like the song or not.

Our own brand of Potty Training

My itsy bitsy princess is growing up well.  “Potty training” was almost like a 1-day hit success.

I hear of people “potty training” their child with different methods.  Some force, some have regular timings to sit them on the potty, some believe that they should just start using the potty the moment they can walk about, some just do not provide diapers thinking that the discomfort would cause the child to want to go to the toilet.  Results from these parents?  Many wrestling matches and meltdowns later… not much success.  The little fellas continued to pee, poop anytime and anywhere.

It seemed unnatural to me but I tried nonetheless… for just one day … when she was close to 2.  I kept her diaper-free and in just 2 hours, I had to clean her, clean the place and changed her clothes a few times.  Then I gave up.

I actually believe that it is largely about biology.  Just like how their body develops the necessary structure and strength to roll, then sit up, then crawl, then walk, then run, etc over time.  It is the same with toileting.  There will come a time when her muscles for the bladder and bowels would be sufficiently developed and also signal paths that help her control them would be in place.

The emotional and psychological part would be how parents treat the kids.  Would all the training make them hate or be stressed with toileting and hence it delays that aspect of them?  The opposite could also be true.  Could the lack of coaxing cause the child to be so comfortable with diapers that she takes a long time to wean off them?

Anyway, I decided to experiment my own brand of potty training on my kid.

Step 1: Observe for signs of development.

Since my kid could already hold an intelligible conversation at 2, we started “potty training” by telling her that whenever she wanted to pee or poo, she should tell us so that we could bring her to the toilet.  This was a daily one-time instruction.

At first… nothing.  Then within a week or so, started telling us.  But it was post-poop or post-pee.

Step 2: forget about giving instructions for the next few weeks.  you live free.  the kid lives free (no disturbances/stresses from traditional potty training).

Step 3: Observe for signs of devt again.

After a few weeks’ break… we started giving the instructions again.   There were a few attempts.  We brought her to the toilet but either little came out or nothing.

And because she had become conscious about her pee-ing… outings became a tad bit embarrassing.  E.g. we were walking in a busy shopping centre and she suddenly stops and squats.  I ask her what she was doing.  She said “I need to pee” (diapers were on).

Step 4: I knew it was about time.  But I gave it another few weeks’ break.  cos we did not get the same signs for pooping.  If I wanna potty train, I wanna settle 2 processes (pee and poo) in 1 session.  Saves so much time, stress and inconveniences.

Step 5: After a few weeks, start observing for signs again. 

This time, there was a pattern for pooping.  She had to hide in a quiet corner, kept really still and quiet to do her most important business.  It started to get very regular too (e.g. 10am every morning).

Step 6: Once signs of readiness become stable and regular, choose a week which we (parents) are the most energetic and have the most time with her in person.  And go cold turkey.

That was the school term break for us.  We took a few days’ leave, there were a couple of public holidays, she had no school and we had lots of time with her.

We picked one fine day and said… you will now go without diapers.  And wahlah!!! Instant success!!!! She was clean and dry on the first day and the rest of the week!!!  No diapers!!! No forcing, coaxing. no stress.  no fights. no meltdowns. no frustrations.  Success!!!

(sounds like some tv ad script)

Step 7: Inform the other caregivers.

We informed her other caregivers to do the same and it has so far been really good!  She did hilarious things like hunt for spare diapers (cos the main packs were hidden) to put on by herself but that has stopped after 2 attempts or so.

However, as a precaution, her first week back at school was still with diapers.  Wanted her to adjust back to school routine before trying without diapers.  Next week will be another milestone for her… going to school without diapers.

Step 8: Wean her off diapers during sleep.

This would probably be the last step.  She still wears diapers to sleep simply because we do not want to risk tiring ourselves (and her) when her mattress gets dirty.

I think I’ll try this probably 2 years down the road… probably when she is abt 5.

There is no shame in wearing diapers to sleep till 5 really.  It keeps mummy and daddy sane.