Say what?


Communicating clearly is important to ensure smooth delivery of your message across to the other party. For the listener/message recipient, do listen attentively or read the message carefully so that no part of it is misunderstood. If unclear, it is always wise to ask for further clarification or verification. 

I’ve personally misunderstood statements and messages sometimes. It happened when I misread them or having the wrong perception or being a tad too quick to jumping to conclusions. I’m sure, I’m not alone in this.  We are either busy, on the move, or multi-tasking that we can’t focus on the matter in hand. We put ourselves through some embarrassing moments before we learn to be more careful. 

That is the reason why I often remind my children, to ask the right question to the right person so that they will get closer to the right answer. When unclear, please ask for an explanation. This simple act makes a lot of difference especially in avoiding unnecessary misunderstandings. Besides, by asking questions, we get to slow down to think before we react. 

I observed that most conflicts started from mere words? Tone of voice used actually plays a part in it, especially when people are sensitive towards one another. Some words were spoken carelessly, some were misunderstood due to language barrier or mental block. Firstly, we must understand that no two persons can perceive one message exactly the same way, not even a set of twins. People see things from the way they feel at that particular state of mind. Feelings affect the way we process information received. For example, we are more forgiving and optimistic in a happy mood.

One of the 7 Habits written by Stephen Covey is “Seek to understand then be understood” is the best way to communicate with one another. I liken it to “taking one step back, to gaining two steps forward”, especially during confrontation, conflict resolution, negotiation, mediation, or during an argument. It is more manageable when we put our ego aside. Ego can block the right message from reaching us just because we don’t like the way it was delivered. Ego also puts us in a state of denial because we always think that we can do or say no wrongs.

Being trapped in a rat race, people are multi-tasking more now than ever or seemed preoccupied. Most of us here belong to the sandwich generation, whereby we tirelessly  strive to make our lives better by providing for ourselves, the growing children and ageing parents.

Juggling with work and family matters round the clock can make us physically and emotionally drained resulting in roller coaster mood swings. Could it be due to the stress that we are being more impatient and short tempered? I noticed tempers flare like firecrackers these days. It is as if everyone is a walking time bomb. What an emotional mess we are in!

Anyway, regardless how easy or tough your life or day is, remember to filter the words before they are spoken. Sift through the words and thoughts. Do they make sense? If you need to re-read the sentences or re-run the train of thought, do so. All it takes is mere seconds, but it saves one from making a fool out of oneself. 

Remember to be more careful when sending words out of our mouths and fingers. Let us not hurt others with them. Let our words be encouraging, motivating and inspiring. 

Cheers,

Alice N.

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Phone Junkie

When I looked at the main page of my morning papers, the word “PHONE JUNKIE” stared back at me. Hmmm…interesting! It’s about people at large paying more attention to their smart phones than another human being. Doesn’t sound good but it’s true. We can see it around us, restaurants, cafe, malls, homes, literally everywhere!

It was reported that such “addiction” causes declining social skills whereby communication has turned scarce and sadly in some, troubled relationships/marriages. I have witnessed many young couples out for a meal, drink or supposedly a date, but were more engaged to their smart phones or tablets than their partners! No one’s talking much these days. I wonder….do they communicate with each other via these gadgets or are they just minding their own business. Is it good or bad?

Fortunately, my courting days were from another era. Those days, the luxury item we had was a simple and basic mobile phone, to make and take phone calls. Well, at least to me, it was just that. I’m not tech savvy but I still enjoy having gadgets to serve my uncomplicated needs. From a cellphone to PDAs, to BB and iPad, I just used them for tasks and work. Yeah, a techie friend once laughed at me and exclaimed that I under-utilized my intelligent gadgets! It’s fine by me because these gadgets are tools to me and more of an electronic personal assistant. They do not replace the company of another human being.

Now, we are living in a social trend which keeping a smart phone close by at all times, is a norm. Some seem to have the smart phones glued to their hands. If these gadgets are used and treated appropriately, they are in fact great assets. We should not hide our true selves behind the phones/tablets. Through my personal observation and random research, I found that many young adults now are rather shy to speak up, uncomfortable with eye contacts, some don’t even like the sound of their voices, there are those who are afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, that they resort to texting and updating status in the social networks. Having said that, I totally agree with the author in the papers mentioned earlier, that our social and communication skills have declined. Pity.

I fondly call my little family “The Gadget Family” but I do not wish for any of us to stare at our smart phones or iPad each time we’re together. Calls are allowed to be answered so as not to be rude to the callers, but make it brief. We have no-gadgets zones in the house, especially at the dining table. There is no hard or fast rule but we do allow some flexibility if any one of us is expecting an important call.

There are times when we do our own stuffs at coffee table in a cafe, e.g. at Starbucks, when we’re having a leisurely cuppa. I love to write my blogs while enjoying a cup of hot black coffee. My me-time is enjoying my cuppa and I take that time to write as well. Sometimes, we got carried away that my hubby and I would exchange BBMs when we were just sitting across from each other! Silly as it may sound but we just have to be more mindful next time or it’ll become a habit.

What people said about having too much of a good thing is bad, is true. Smart phones are useful as they allow us to multi-tasks and make our lives more orderly while allowing us to keep in touch with family, people we know and whom we do business with. But, if we become too obsessed with the gadgets in hand when we’re in the presence of other fellow human beings (family, friends, colleagues, etc), it’s time to take a good look at ourselves again. Who is the master here? You or your gadgets? Sometimes people would try to avoid discussing sensitive issues or confrontation, with another, by shoving the phones or gadgets in front of their faces to look seriously occupied! I hope I’m wrong, but you get the message…Have you ever done it before?

I think, before the situation gets worse, as it is already out of hands, we’d better act proactively, fast! For parents who have young children, be a good role model. You can’t tell your children to keep the phones away when you are happily chatting away over the phone yourselves! “I can do what I want because I’m your father/mother” doesn’t work anymore. They are quick to mirror our actions, especially the wrong ones. Who to blame, except ourselves, of course.

If you are couples, put that phones/tablets down to start paying attention to your partners. The more you communicate the more you understand each other. How else to spend the rest of your lives together when you don’t understand your other half well enough? When you talk, you will inevitably pay closer attention to body language, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, etc. This is what I’d called, real connection! Not the WiFi connection, please. I’m from the old school (but not ancient, mind you)….still prefer to look into people’s eyes when I speak to them. That way, I feel more connected, if you know what I mean.

For those who like the idea of having harmless emotional affairs via texts, BBM, social networks, chats, and think that they are harmless, think again. Affairs are affairs, whether they are physical or over the Net or phone lines. You may think it is harmless as no further action is taken. Do you know that emotional attachment is much stronger than physical attachment? It grows in you and rooted firmly in your heart. Just don’t play with this kind of fire or you’ll get worse than a third degree burn.

So, please be careful with what you have as convenience. Do not let your smart phone(s)come between you and your loved ones. Do not let that phones stop you from facing real situations. Use it as it is…a communication tool when you are apart, so that you can reach one another and to make life simpler for you. Not to complicate it further. That is the main objective of owning a smart phone, isn’t it? And yes, I won’t deny that it is also an important accessory to your overall image, kind of like social status. Whatever it is, just be extra careful not to be carried away with it.

Let’s decide to communicate more face to face, like a friend once said, “eyeball to eyeball” (you may laugh if you like….what an expression!). If you find it uncomfortable, do it more and in due time, the jitters will be replaced with better feelings. Get connected the right way. Trust me, you’ll find that you’ll have a more meaningful relationship with people around you. Start practicing now so that you can enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day!

Ciao,
Alice N.


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Who Says…….

“Who says, who says you’re not perfect, who says you’re not worth it, who says you’re the only one that’s hurting. Trust me, trust the price of beauty, who says you’re not pretty, who says you’re not beautiful, who says”. That, everyone knows is a hit song, sung by Selena Gomez.

Well, since when we care so much what people say about us? Yea right, you’re going to say since the day you were born. You are not wrong, actually. That’s why you notice babies and little tots keep doing the same act knowingly that they can draw more attention and praises from other people. You can see that they enjoy being the centre of attention and at the same time, showered with strings of praises.

There you go ; Human beings, of any age, are continuously seeking to hear good words about themselves from people around them, known to them or strangers alike. Of course, everyone tries to avoid, as much as possible, listening to negative ones.

When you think or believe you are smarter/good/charming/etc. why do you care so much when others say otherwise? Could it be that the person is telling the truth or wait a minute, could the person aim that hurtful statement just to spite you? Nonetheless, it is always good to find out more before you decide to give in.

I have heard and seen people brushing away compliments for a another person by saying something “hurtful” in the person’s presence, without realizing how bad it sounded. I mean like, a child did very well in his studies. When someone else praised the child, humble parent(s) would be quick to dismiss it and said that “it’s nothing“, or “my child is not that smart“, or “my child is actually very lazy“, or “it’s pure luck!“. I can understand when parents choose to be humble and not wanting to boast such excellent achievement. But, to the extent of belittling that young person, who deserves none other than a compliment, is just not cool! Please parents, just graciously say “thank you“, if you don’t want to say more. It’s good enough for all.

If it is not corrected this instant, over time, it would leave a permanent mark in the receiver (in this case, the young child) e.g. loss of self-confidence, lower self-esteem, lack of self-worth i.e. started to believe that he/she is never good enough or maybe simply given up altogether (because no matter how well he does, the parents just won’t notice or feel proud of them)! It could happen to adults too, anyone and anywhere. So watch what we say to others, as well.

We have no control over other people’s action and speech. What is within our control is, when you know that is not right, don’t let it get to you. Don’t for a minute be doubtful about your capability. Stick to your ground by choosing to believe in yourself. If you are not strong enough to counter that, look for someone who can boost your confidence and who is more respectful and objective about it.

I must qualify that not all remarks are made with bad intention. There are times when the remarks are true! This happens when we are over-confident that we disregard everyone else, when we are in denial and refuse to face the truth. Here, we should pause to re-assess the statement, honestly. It could be one spoken by a trusted friend, spouse, parent, sibling, employer, colleague, etc. This kind of remark is spoken with good intention, by someone who cares about you, who takes the effort to speak to you about it, risking your friendship/relationship. If you know, at a corner of your mind, that he/she might be speaking the truth, it is worth listening and find out why he/she thinks/feels that way about you. You might re-discover your true self, who knows?

When you face such challenges with an open mind, you’ll learn more about yourself. Through all these “psychological trainings”, you’ll only grow stronger. As you grow older, you’ll realise that you don’t need approval from everyone in everything that you do or say! This is because you are more mature and you know yourself well enough to recognize what a genuine judgment is and what is not. If it is not, you can choose to dismiss it altogether. If it is true, you will allow yourself to bask in the limelight. And if the negative statement is true, learn from it. Make necessary changes to have a more meaningful life. The only thing that is constant is change! We have to keep changing to adapt to our environment, agree?

Finally, you must love yourself first before you can afford to love someone else, and to have a meaningful and lasting relationship. No one can hurt you unless you allow it. Always remember that the final choice is always yours. What you choose to believe and accept. You are what you think you are….so do your best to make the right choice!

Now, tell me again, who says you are not perfect, who says you are not worth it? Who says….

~ Alice N.

Fear, Therefore Lie…

Let’s make a wild guess…many people lie, not because they enjoy doing that, but because they are afraid of the receiver’s reaction. I strongly believe that human beings were born with conscience. They were born with analytical mind. Deep down everyone knows what is right and wrong, well, most of the time. Either you know it immediately or learn from mistakes committed.

Now, that makes us wonder, isn’t it, why people want to lie to another? Between children and parents, between spouses, amongst friends, siblings, colleagues, strangers, etc. We all know that the truth will one day, somehow or rather, surface! Not only will the liar feels embarrassed and sorry; Regrettably, it makes one feels more difficult to trust that person again.

What I heard mostly and from personal experience are little lies which children tell to their parents. It is usually school-related, about homework and exams results. Every parent whom I came into contact with would share that his/her child lied and hid incomplete homework, lied to teachers, about report card, money, books, etc.

What I found out from the young ones is that, they lied because of fear. Fear of being scolded or punished and the possibility of causing disappointment or sadness to their parents. In their little innocent mind, when they realize the “oops! effect”, to them, the only way to cover it up is via a little lie so that mummy and daddy will continue to enjoy a happy day and loving them. They’ll face the consequences when they cross the bridge. Meanwhile, they’ll carry that burden on their small shoulders.

I continue to give assurance to my children that if they tell the truth, we parents, will not get angry. We may get a bit disappointed with their actions, but we also want to hear them out, and giving them second chances to make it good again. We want them to know that we love them and would appreciate their honesty. There is always a solution to everything.

Children often feel relieved to know that they can tell the truth and still get parents’ support as they learn from their mistakes. Mistake done….what we want to do, moving forward, is to let them to learn from it. By doing so, we are making them understand that Honesty is the Best Policy! They are also learning that making mistakes is common but most importantly, not to repeat them in the future. Of course, after all, they still have to face the consequences as a result of their lies. By being there for them helps them recover better from that situation, without crushing their self-esteem.

I never fail to let them know that when they lie, not only will they be hurting the ones they love but themselves too. Simply because, by lying, they will be consumed by guilt, they cannot sleep well and be happy, and always live in fear that the truth will finally come out in the open. Then, they have to suffer from the embarrassment of being caught lying.

A far as I know, children love their parents very much and deeply. They will not want to hurt them at all, at least not intentionally. They are especially sensitive to their surroundings. Always seeking approval and love from their parents. They enjoy basking in their parents’ attention and happiness. It’s like angel’s wings wrapping around their little body, keeping them safe and warm always.

Growing up, children either learn to stop or continue lying. It all depends on how parents react and manage this delicate situation. Either you offer love and understanding (behind gritted teeth) or you scold and punish heavily. When you choose love and understanding, that doesn’t mean the child get away scot-free. He/she will still be reprimanded for having lied in the first place. You decide on the right punishment. Make them understand that, what you disagree with is the action, not the person. No harm letting them know how you see and feel about them as an individual – their good qualities which you know so well.

Having said all that, you know and I know, that the children forgets easily. Parents will still be challenged repeatedly but you’ll find that when you use the right technique, giving them a safe platform to speak up, the lying will eventually become lesser.

Let’s make them see that Honesty is still the Best Policy“. Of course we are the Giant role model to them. We must first walk the talk! Let them see that it is alright to admit a mistake and face the consequences. In fact, it’s most honorable and brave for a person to do just that!

~ Alice N.

Look straight into my eyes…

Are we learning the right stuffs today? What do we learn from everything that’s happening around us? At home, at school, on the street, in our neighbourhood, from the media and around the world…

We tirelessly teaching our children to do the right thing, say the right words, to admit when we are wrong and to have a forgiving heart to those who are innocent and ignorant. Parents with the right frame of mind would preach all those, if not more, to our young children hoping that they’ll grow up to become someone responsible with great conscience.

For parents, it would be dreams come true when our children could differentiate between good and bad; and act responsibly. Since young we were taught that ” Honesty Is The Best Policy “. But, are we adults, being the role models to our children, do as we preach?

Children these days are very smart. They are like fresh recorder and camcorder, able to replay what you had taught them as opposed to what they see you just did. If we make excuses for our wrongdoings, aren’t we sending mixed messages to them, like, I can do it but you can’t. Or, only adults are allowed to break or bend rules…AHA! So, once they become adults, they get the license to bend or break rules too?

Watch yourself when you say something, do or not do anything, around the children. When we thought they aren’t looking or listening, they are actually paying attention. Children are always fascinated by adults’ speech and action. They will not hesitate to question you when they see or hear something that is unacceptable to them. Then, you must be ready with valid answers. So, when we tell them to be honest, we must also show that we can do it and live with it.

Some of you may ask, what about “white lies”? If it is to protect a person, depending on the situation, I guess, white lies might be allowable? Someone told me that not all questions need to be answered. In this case, we may choose a non-committal position by not giving any affirmation, when confronted with a chance to tell a white lie. No one can force you to do otherwise. If, however, you inevitably did that in front of the children and they know what’s going on, I think you just owe them an explanation.

If you preach Honesty, first be honest to yourself, then to people around you. Remember the story about the boy who cried “Wolf”? Once or twice, people will still believe you, but once too many times, no one will be able to trust what you say or do next time. As I’ve always told my children, when you try to lie, the one most important person you lied worst to is Yourself! And, once you feel comfortable lying, you tend to believe in your own lies and start treating them as true. Following that, you will not be able to differentiate between truth and lies anymore!

Lastly, being honest means you don’t have to carry a heavy burden of guilt around you. Guilt can suck the life out of you, if you are not careful. That’s why people with clear conscience will always be happier people. They can taste what they eat, they can sleep like a log and they don’t have to always look over their shoulders guiltily.

So, Honesty is still the Best Policy!

~ Alice N.

Your 13 is not My 13….

It’s about AGE actually. I’m sure we’ve heard more than enough of such remark, referring to a teenager’s 13 years of age today is not the same as his/her parents’ 13 years of age, decades back. The landscape of our lives has been constantly changing, from the days of boxed TV to today’s LED HD TV, from brick-like handphone to light and slim smartphones, from a mini computer to iPad2, from few hours black and white TV programmes with two channels then to colourful 24 hours multiple channels today, from writing diaries to writing blogs, etc.

A scene from our teenagers’ lives today : Everyone older would tell you that he/she had gone through your growing pains before. Before you retort that their younger days were different from yours, read on. In my opinion, the emotional journey has always been the same. Let me demonstrate a few examples : When your BFF said something carelessly, you’ll feel hurt and upset, isn’t it? When you like another person, you feel happy talking endlessly with him/her. There are times when you feel that your elder siblings are out to bully you and your younger ones are pests, always get you into trouble with parents, don’t you? You might also think that you are weird, and have a weird family. You are moody but don’t quite know why. You secretly wish to be popular in class or school. If you are popular, you wish people would just get off your back and leave you alone. Mostly, you complain that your parents can’t understand you at all.

Would you believe that I had gone through most of that when I was at that age? I must admit that my 13 was not as complicated as yours today. Peer pressure wasn’t so bad then. We didn’t have extra distractions like cellphone, Facebook, YouTube, internet, Worldwide 24-hour TV shows. Our after-school activities were much lesser as compared to today; you have a string of tutorials, skill development activities, loads of homework, leaving less time for outdoor games and sports with friends and family members. We spent more time outdoor than indoor then, which is a reverse today. We used to play police and thieves, “congkak” made of wood or we dug up holes on the ground to play the game, whilst the boys would play with marbles, tops, “lastik”, hand-made kites, lanterns made out of condensed milk tin or milo tin, fishing with self-made rods by the river, climbing trees, etc. Some of these may sound foreign to you. Today’s 13 year olds play with their PSP, iPad, iPhone, on-line games, spending lots of time on Facebook, YouTube, tumblr.

Deep down in our hearts, we are the same 13. What makes us different is just the time zone and the environment we are exposed to. We need to recognise such differences before we can move forward to having more open and honest discussions with each other. Teenagers may treat your parents as your friends when it comes to sharing your emotional issues. You know very well that your parents won’t laugh or judge you. Nor do you need to speak or act to impress them. You are after all, their beloved child and they only wish for the best to you.

Seek to understand then be understood (7 Habits – Stephen Covey). Try to see things from your parents’ perspective too. Take for instance, if your parents do not allow you to go to the mall, they have their reasons. Find out why and try to understand their fear. I’m sure most issues blew up because of lacked understanding. People get mad, upset and hurt mostly because they do not understand the actual situation. Many misunderstandings can be avoided when we can explain well and clearly to the next person.

As for parents, do recognise also, time has changed and technically, today’s 13 has its own challenges and degree of complications, which may be foreign to some parents. Do listen with an open mind and stay relevant, to encourage your teenagers to talk more often with you. If you provide a good platform for them to voice their thoughts, there is no other reason for them to turn to someone else or to feel lonely and sad in this world.

Having said that, shouldn’t we start the ball rolling by respecting each other’s points of view? I’m sure we can find ways and means to bridge those differences. When the situation calls for parents to be teenagers’ friends, be their buddies. Conversely, when a situation calls for a parent to be a parent, do it. Parents need not go all out, trying hard to be your teenagers’ buddies. Let me elaborate : when our teenagers need an emphatic ear, listen patiently and from your heart, feel behind those words. When they seek guidance or advice, be their life coach (more on “life coach” in my past post).

Another important point for parents : Always be there for your teenagers when they need you. Know where they are and who they are with. Get to know their friends too. Trust me, it’s worth every single second spent with them. For my dear teenagers, please don’t assume that your parents are always busy, when they appear to be busy. Ask to speak with them and tell how important it is to you to be heard. Don’t be quick to dismiss when you see your parents are engrossed in something. If it is very important, you may interrupt. If not, you can ask for the right time and come back to talk about it.

Remember, it takes two to make your lives simpler and happier. Work on it. Talk about it, K? Always remember you don’t have to be lonely, if you choose not to.

~ Alice N.

Happy Teacher’s Day!

To all teachers in the world, who are reading this post, Happy Teacher’s Day! To my teachers at SRK Father Barres Convent, SMK Convent, teachers at BUBS Dhamma School and all teachers/tutors/coaches to my children Cheers to you, for your dedication, patience, love and guidance.

This is my second post dedicated to Teachers (the first being “Dear Teacher“). We all know that being a teacher is more of labour of love than the money. People who choose to teach are usually the ones who are generous in sharing their knowledge, patient enough to deal with all sorts of behaviour/actions and want to make a difference in the lives of young growing children. They deserve to be acknowledged and recognised for their commitment in carrying out such challenging duties.

Teachers, besides being the educator, you are also the ones whom children look up to. You are their role models. Reason being, you are so smart and able to communicate with them more effectively. You also show your love, care and understanding towards them. Of course, there are times when you need to be firm. You stand firm because you want to teach the children that there are limits to freedom. They cannot do as they like (especially when it is wrong) and discipline is to be observed – just like every house has house rules. You also help to prepare them to face the real world. For that, I am grateful that you care.

I know of teachers, who feel so helpless beyond words, when they poured their hearts out, helping their students cope with their studies and discipline, but were condemned by parents instead. I also know of some parents who actually expect teachers to discipline their children as they cannot do so at home! Unbelievable, isn’t it?! (sigh)

I’d like to see teachers and parents as partners in this company called “My Child Pte Ltd“. Each partner has to carry out his/her responsibilities and does it well. It’s like a company with departments like Finance, Human Resource, Marketing and Technical. Parents are heads of Finance and HR whilst teachers are heads of Marketing and Technical. Human capital is the child, of course. Core values should come from parents and, teachers take it from there to brush up the skills involving technicalities (subjects taught in school) and self-presentation (ideas, public speaking, problem solving, etc). 

Well, I’m not surprised if some of you disagree with me. This is my personal view and it does not represent the general public’s. Everybody has different perception on everything and has the right to his/her views.This is how I see it….the positive side of things, focusing only on the good rather than ugly.

Teachers, my toast to you for all you have done for the children today, in shaping them to be leaders of tomorrow. Thank you, Teachers.

~ Alice

Help Children dealing with their Feelings

During pre-children years, I was a fantastic parent. I was an expert on parenting issues, always had something to add or say – no sweat! Till one day, I had one then two of my own. It turns my world upside down. Comments are just not enough. Like people said, “saying is one thing; doing is another”. How true…how true!

First, the baby cries to communicate his wants – you are like playing “win, draw or lose” always looking for clues to his blues. Soon, you’ll find him learning to walk and talk. How adorable! He starts to discover many uses of his limbs. Every word and action deserves the blue ribbon! He also adopts the “monkeys see, monkeys do” behaviour – oh yes, so be careful of what you say and do in front of that little bundle of  your joy. Don’t be surprised when they repeat your sentences perfectly to someone else.

To some, as this firstborn grows, the second baby comes along. Boy, how they wear you down. Armed with parenting books, parent groups, internet, we make sure we are ready for each casualty. Haa…haa..no matter how ready you feel, kids somehow have a way to spring surprises at you. Parenthood is fun and challenging, yeah?

Have we ever realised that most often than not, we have been denying their feelings without realising it? Take for instance, your elder child told you that he doesn’t like the new baby. What do you say next? Would you say something like “I don’t think so. I’m sure deep in your heart, you really love the baby“. Do you find yourself smiling now? Ah-ha!

Another example : Your young chap came to you and said that he doesn’t like the new football boots, the one he insisted on buying in the first place. Are you going to say something like, “I’m sure it takes time for your feet to get used to the new boots. After all the money we spent on it, you’ll have to wear them whether you like it or not.” Ooops!

When we deny their feelings, we are actually telling them that they have no reason to be upset, they are just being petty and it’s foolish to feel that way. Then, we’ll “force” them to smile, hoping that this smile would distract their mind from the issue at hand. Do you think they’ll feel better instantly? Try to force that smile out when you are feeling lousy….hard huh?

When our little ones come running to us, they are actually seeking validation to their feelings. Usually, with so many things spinning in our heads, we unintentionally dismiss their feelings and try our best to make it look better for them. We would be quick to explain that the world is like that and there’s nothing much we can do about it; we offer advice, we question them, there are instances where we even defend the other party, or we start to analyse the whole thing which makes them feel worse and even more confused.

The young ones are like us. When we feel hurt, the last thing they want is an advice. When we pity them, they feel more sorry for themselves. When we question them, they become more defensive. When we defend the other party, they would just give up and would try not to tell you anything anymore. They’d feel that whatever they say or do, it’ll always be wrong in your eyes.

What we need most when we are stuck in this situation is what they need also. That is, they want to feel that someone really listens to them, acknowledges their feelings of pain and disappointment, lets them have the chance to express themselves, to finish their sentences without interruption. Usually after they pour out their heart’s content, with a little lead, they could find answers to their questions, they could find solutions to their issues, on their own. All they need is  a listening ear and emphatic response.  

You notice that in all my posts, I prefer not to mention “Problems“. I refer to them as “Issues“. Problems seem big and heavy in the head, but Issues are more manageable – like a phase you have to pass through before you could move on to the next thing on your mind. Psychologically, the right choice of words can help you and your children have more meaningful conversation. It also allows them to feel that they can safely come to you, without being judged.

I find that this is one of the right ways to build a child’s confidence to express their feelings and to help themselves to solving their own issues. We grow up having our feelings denied. Yes, we survived but do we want to duplicate this method on our kids, knowing very well how it feels like being in their shoes?

It’s certainly not easy to adopt this new language of acceptance but it is also not impossible. I trust that with the right practice, we’ll be able to make a difference. I always believe in small differences at a time. As a result, it does make a huge impact in our children’s lives. Our influence is like a ripple on the water.

So, if we have not already done that, let’s do something differently this time. See if you can detect a sign of hope in your children’s eyes, a sigh of relief when you just listen, with occasional responses like “Mmm”, “Oh”, “really”, “I see”, etc. Encourage them to express their feelings….they need to. Besides being a good parent, we must also be their trusted friend.

~Alice

Dear Teacher

Today I want to write about all-time favourite i.e. children-teacher issue. I’m writing based on my personal experience. I want to share my experience as it works for me over the years and I hope that it would work out for you too.

Throughout my first-born’s primary school years, I met with all his class (form) teachers. Talking about mom doing PR work in school; please don’t misunderstand my action for trying to get my son to be the star of the class. None of that at all. You see, my prince here, is a very “friendly” boy, quoting his teachers (LOL!). Simply means, he loves to talk! It is challenging for a teacher to handle a class of 50 students, and what if all talking at the same time? I can only imagine.

Each year I make it a point to introduce myself to his class/form teacher and to pre-emp her on my son’s friendly behaviour. Not to ask her to consent to such behaviour but to make her understand so that she can use the right application when she has to deal with his “friendliness”. You see, since he was able to talk, I’ve been encouraging him to speak his mind and that it’s okay to express himself. I guess that makes him a confident little boy. But, most of the time, he got carried away with his “speech” and forgot that there are times to speak up and there are also times to not-talk and just listen. I’m so grateful that all his teachers were understanding and knew how to motivate him to move in the right direction. Some of them have become my friends after my son had moved on to the next level and eventually graduated from his primary school. I’m so grateful for his teachers. Bravo!

Many parents are quick to complain about their children’s teachers. When I hear that, I would always encouraged them to go to speak with the class/form teacher personally, if they have not done so already; to try to understand the issue  and to seek understanding from the teacher. We can’t expect a teacher to understand the character of each student in his/her class. We as parents also find it hard to solve that big piece of puzzle and we are still learning to.

I’m sure all teachers want to give their best to the students. Being a teacher is a labour of love, requires a person to act selflessly and patiently, imparting knowledge to build our future leaders. I choose to trust the teachers to carry out their responsibilities. Unless there is any valid reason for me to doubt that, then I shall want to find out more, before taking necessary action.

At an early sign of any issue (problem) at school, parent(s) should immediately meet with the teacher to discuss the matter amicably. Not to act with threat or legal letters the instant our children complained. I would prefer to take a more pro-active role than being reactive. We must first investigate, listen to both sides and then, find a solution or compromise.

I have great respect for teachers. Of course, I have my share of experience with inexperienced temp teachers who did not know how to handle their students in the class. I spoke with them to find out what’s the matter and we exchanged information. At the end of all discussions, we always part on friendly basis. If my son is on the right side, I would stand by him and make the teacher understand the situation, from his point of view. On the other hand, if the teacher is right, I’ll support the teacher and make my son understand the teacher’s action. I strongly believe in teacher-parents partnership to make our children’s learning experience in school, to be as smooth as it possibly can.

By meeting with the teachers, to discuss our children’s school matters, it shows that we are open for discussion and that parents-teachers can make great teams for the benefit of our children. All teachers whom I came into contact with, over the years, told me that they greatly appreciate when parents came to talk with them personally instead of shouting at them in front of the students or slapped them with legal letters, without first understanding the situation. Teachers are human too, subject to making mistakes. When they found out any misjudgment on their part, they would be quick to apologise for it. Why can’t we do the same too?

We must not pamper and spoil our children. If they happened to forget their homework, show disrespect to teachers/rules and regulations of the school/disrupting lessons in progress, we need to sit down with them and have a nice, slow talk to find out why. We need to know the root cause to their misbehaviour. Assured them that we won’t be mad when they tell us the truth. Sometimes, the root of the problem stem from us, not them or the teachers. Surprise! Surprise! We must keep the communication line open to let them know that whatever happened to them, matters to us. We can start by asking about their day at school and if we like, share about our day too.

So, parents who have not meet their children’s teachers ever, please make it a point to get to know them before the end of this term, okay? You can find out a lot from just a short conversation with the teacher. Teachers meet with all sorts of challenges everyday. And, they need motivation too, you know? One way is from us parents, to validate their actions, when they have done something right. It is okay to pay compliments to the teacher and let him/her know that he/she had done a great job, in making your child a better student. Many teachers are great. There may be some who don’t fit the bill – but don’t let some bad apples spoil the good ones.

To me, it all balls down to communication. We need to always listen to both sides of story before we jump to conclusions. Bear in mind that our children is constantly watching our actions, including the ones on how we handle sensitive issues. If we jumped and blow our tops each time they come home crying or complaining, be careful – they might take advantage of that. Just be mindful when handling sensitive issues like this.

I shall leave you to your thoughts….you have the right to think differently. Like I said, this sharing is purely from my own experience.

~ Alice

LOVE Amongst Siblings

Most of us have siblings in our family. To some, siblings become our bosom buddies, whom we share our stuffs, about school, friends, etc. If you are an only child, you might treat your cousins as your siblings. Let me walk you through a journey of siblingship (is there such a word? If not, I’ve just created one, yeah!) – as I see it. Some may, some may not share the same experience.

When we are young, we often play together, snatch things from one another, play tricks, argue endlessly just about anything, irritate one another for the fun of it, and many more. I feel that the more you interact this way, the closer you are with one another. It would drive your parents up the wall, though! Oops! It is okay to have fun, as long as you don’t go overboard, or harm one another, physically and emotionally. Being protective and watching out for your siblings could do a lot more good, to cement that strong bond you have for one another. Many children said that they hate their brother(s) and/or sister(s), especially when they are mad or sad. But, should anything happen to any of them, they would shed tears and wish no harm to befall him/her! You see, deep down inside you, you truly love your sibling(s). Nonetheless, kids just wanna have fun, so have fun! Just remember to be kind, k?

Growing up, each sibling will have his/her own friends and interests. Small arguments and shouting continues, but you see lesser of one another now. The strong bond you built when you were younger, usually, could still keep you all together. If you don’t have that, you might grow a little distant. Simply because you have so much to deal with now, and it’s called growing pains. Familiar to some, depending on what’s your age as you read this.

When you have your own family one day, the landscape of your private life would change again. If you fail to keep in touch as before, you may soon become strangers. You only meet once or twice a year, hardly keep in touch via emails or phone calls. Zero, unless there is any family issue. If you are fortunate to have living parents, they would still hold these siblingship together for that occasional gatherings. When they are not around anymore, it might be tougher to keep up with the family gatherings unless someone takes the lead, and the rests agree to keep this practice going. If not, the gap would grow wider and wider till one day, we might only meet, God knows when!

So, young men and ladies, take great care of your siblingship today, just as well as you take care of your friendship. If you show love to one another and care for one another besides the “fighting” and “screaming” happening this minute, you may have a better chance to lasting relationship with your siblings. You share a lot in common, which other people may not understand. You share the same parents, family culture, journey growing up which most often than not, affect your behaviour and attitude towards things and life around you. You don’t have to do something to impress one another, you can be yourself because you literally grow up together. All your good and bad habits are no surprises to your siblings, yet they still love you for who you are.

So cherish this special moment because one day in the near/far future, you would think back and miss all these. Wish you could have done more to keep this going for the longest time.

Cheers to Siblingship!

~ Alice