Tag Archives: parenting

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.

Her Latest 3-syllable Words at the Age of 20 Months

Antelope

Last night, while I was drinking a TCM drink called “lengyang”, my little cupcake asked me what was that and she skilfully and accurately repeated the word after me.

Grandma said she might not understand “lengyang”.  So we told her the English name instead: Antelope Horn Drink.  She went “An Te Lope!”  Pause.  “Horn!”  Pause.  “Drink!”   So cute!

As I am writing this… I just realised… she would not understand what Antelope Horn Drink is either!!!! Haha!!!

Strawberry

She has been able to refer to strawberries for a few months now.  But it was never a complete nor well spoken word.  She used to say “aw…. bewwy”.  Now she can say “strawberry” albeit the “str” sound still seems a slightly inaccurate.

Hey Diddle Diddle

These aren’t a 3-syllable word but I wanna pen it down still cos she says it so adorably!!!  And she loves to repeat and repeat (when she wants to).

Whenever she wants me to read this rhyme to her, she will hold my face, look into my eyes and go “hey diddle diddle”.  Then she will scoot to get the book of nursery rhymes while chanting “diddle diddle. diddle diddle. diddle diddle… ”  Sigh…. so cute.

Elephant

Ok… to be precise….. she can’t really say this word yet.  But she will say “eh phant” when she sees an elephant.  Still thrilling to me nonetheless.

 

Now, let’s talk a little bit about her mastery of the Teochew language.  Unfortunately, this dept is moving rather slowly cos Ah Mah and Ah Gong still use baby language with her.

  • bor (could say this with open swinging palms since she could sit up)
  • wu (have)
  • pak pak (beat beat)
  • pai pai (naughty)
  • bang sai (pass motion)
  • guai guai (good girl)
  • jiak (eat)
  • dak (stick on an anti mosquito patch)
  • gak (throw away)
  • mai (don’t want – used abundantly like the English word “no”)

She still uses a lot of English with them.  I think Ah Mah and Ah Gong are learning more English from her than she is learning Teochew from them.

How about Mandarin?  Well… this one still got a loooOOOOooong way to go cos I’m super lousy with this language too.  Her most accurate now is “hao chi ma?” (is this nice to eat?)

Parenting Without Workshops

Been recommended to parenting programmes or groups a few times.  These recommendations did not appeal to me and here’s why…

I was a teacher for young children and youths, and later became a trainer for adults.  Now, I am a Learning Designer in an institute of higher education.  These roles have many common areas.  One of the common areas is to begin your lesson design with the end in mind.  We start designing the lesson/course by first asking ourselves what we want the learners to take away from the course (i.e., we develop what is sometimes called the “Learning Objectives” or “Learning Outcomes”).  From there, we plan the types of learning activities or teaching methods to use, then we sequence them and add the necessary transition instructions into them so that learners can flow along and have the opportunity to assimilate new ideas into their current schema.

As a teacher myself, I prefer to deliver a lesson based on my personal beliefs and personality.  When the lesson goes live, I adapt the lesson on my feet according to the class’ “personality”.  Hence, when I became a Learning Designer working with university faculty to design their lessons, I take into consideration each faculty’s personality and beliefs as well and do not bulldoze my way through even if some techniques are proven as best practices for anyone with any personality.

It ain’t too different for parenting.

I’m no perfect parent cos I’m not a perfect and flawless human being in the first place.  But considering the hectic lifestyle we have in Singapore, I have to choose if it is worth my time attending and reading parenting programmes.

I chose not to attend (but I do read a little) because many a times, the methods may or may not work on my child.  In the end, it is about what I believe about child development (taking into consideration but despite what research says), and it is also about what I want my children to grow up to be and the kind of relationships they have with us parents (akin to “Learning Outcomes”).  From there, I decide what methods I will use to guide her.  And as I go along, I learn about her personality and adapt accordingly.

There are 3 main things as to how I want my child to grow up. (1) Strong and healthy, (2) safe and sound and (3) beautiful on the inside and on the outside.

The first would lead me to guide her to eat a variety of foods and minimise her intake of junk foods; I would also try to make sure she gets to go outdoors once every day to get active and get some sun and fresh air – it’s also good for her eyes/other senses.

For the second, we teach her to avoid unsafe behaviour (e.g. climbing onto tables and jumping off from there).  Of course, if she were to go into tougher sports in future (e.g. unarmed combat), she may do so but have to bear in mind safety measures.  We also teach her to be buckled up in the car.  As she grows older, we would probably provide her with tips for travelling overseas and such.  In fact, soon, when she is able to understand more, we will teach her “good touch” and “bad touch” and to not trust strangers too easily.

For the 3rd… I rely a lot on prayer because more than 50% of her waking hours are with others and not with us.  Teaching your child to be beautiful takes opportunities… which means I must be around when the opportunity arises so that I could talk about an event with her.  For e.g. when someone you are playing with falls, what do you do?  You  help check if he/she is ok and help if necessary.  The less I spend time with her, the fewer such opportunities I have.  Being a full time working professional, such time isn’t much.  Even if I had the time, I sometimes didn’t have the energy or may not be in the right frame of mind to do it.  Hence, the reliance on God.

There are people who think quality time is what matters, not quantity time.  But for my husband and I, we both agree that without quantity time, there cannot be quality time.  Quantity has to come first.

Without quantity time, there cannot be quality time.

There is one very important aspect in our parent-child relationship I hope to have all the days of our lives together on this earth… that we have open communication no matter what our difference in views are and no matter which stage of life we are in or where we are located… that we know and understand each other well… and always feel at home with one another.

There is no plan to “teach” this because living it out teaches best… we live it out between husband and wife… and of course want to raise our children such that they will still come to us to talk about their most intimate things (e.g. a crush, a career decision or some trouble they got themselves into) even after they are all grown up.

With the “Learning Outcomes” as my guiding light and God and His Word as our pillar… my husband and I work out plans along the way… food plans, discipline plans, communication plans… very customised.  Hence, I don’t see a need for the programmes… at least not for now.