Mother-daughter relationships

On Facebook I always see pictures of friends who are close to their mums, and they boast of all the good things they do. I don’t particularly feel envious as I acknowledge things between my mum and I have never been good. Of course there are days when we just talk and gossip and it seems that all is well. But there will always be at least one incident a day either one of us will piss the other off. This article I came across holds true of my mum:

Whenever mothers offer any (motherly) advice, or suggest improvements in wardrobes, hairstyles, or looks, daughters smell a rat and see implied criticism in everything that is said (or left unsaid). Mothers think that they correct their daughters because they care for their daughters; daughters think that mothers just need an excuse to criticize. The resulting tension often spills over for days on end.

If my mum wasn’t always so critical of me, I may like her more, and even tell her my secrets, instead of telling my aunt or bestie first. But knowing her, I know she will never change. This is the same woman who will preach to me about how I should “be a wife” to Ravin, of which zilch she follows of her own advice. Role modelling they say.

Do I believe in karma? I do. Someday my own kids will be writing blogs like this, criticizing my role as Mummy. But at least I know I’ve tried to be everything my mum was not. I’m not going to boast that “I raised you two by myself so I’ve got experience you should follow”. I read, and I’m proud of it. Yes, theory may not always be able to be applied realistically. But the authors are not called experts for nothing.

Reference: http://sg.theasianparent.com/mother-daughter-relationship/


Empathy VS Sympathy

I dreaded taking my Helping Children Cope with Stress Module during my Bachelor of Science degree course so much I didn’t do my assignments. Yet this was the one module I learnt the most, in terms of becoming an emotionally better person.
I once commented that ‘sympathize’ should be a banned word because there’s no one else who will ever know EXACTLY how you feel about what you’re going through.
Empathy VS Sympathy. I learnt this distinguished difference from Paul Thayer, our lecturer for that module.



Grandparents’ role in a family nucleus

I’ve never understood my parents’ role as grandparents in my little family of soon-to-be 5.
I don’t understand why they will fault me and nag at me for discipline methods they themselves have used on us when we were young kids.
I don’t understand why then, they need to interfere, when I’m disciplining my own kids.
I’ve always felt “Man! Being a mum is really a crap job.” Because we’re really picking up the crap everybody else is leaving behind.
I got so upset once I told my parents off “Once and for all, you’ll be responsible for the consequences of your own actions!”
Eg 1. Raoul threw a tantrum because he wanted my dad to carry him while he was carrying Raylan. My dad said no although he usually gives in to him. So I walked further up to let my dad settle this issue himself. That’s for NOT listening when I said not to give in to him from the start.
Eg 2. It was Raylan’s naptime so I took the opportunity to rest too. But after he finished his milk, he got up crying by his cot because I didn’t allow him to play. Just because my mum didn’t want to hear him cry, she brought him out to play somemore when he was already so sleepy. Not only did it ruin his schedule that day, she made herself tired as well. I allowed her to do that to herself.

Call me mean or uncaring but I’ve really neither time nor patience to deal with my parents when I’m already busy trying to deal with and correct my children’s bad habits (a direct result of pampering and inconsistent rules).

So I’m glad I came across these articles. This is dedicated to you Mum and Dad.





Bite me, bite me not

I wish I had seen this article when I was struggling with Raoul’s biting issues and aggressive behaviour! Just need to share this:

Seen from http://peacefulparent.com/680/

Helping children when they bite, hit and push
July 2, 2013

When your child hits, pushes, bites, grabs or otherwise acts aggressively, telling him/her to be gentle and to not hurt is only a small part of the information and support that they need to learn to understand and respect other people’s boundaries.
Not all, but mostly when a child acts aggressively, their actions are driven by frustration and frustration can really overwhelm a child who’s still slowly developing impulse control, especially when they lose their sense of connection and safety.  As well as learning that it’s not okay to hurt others, they need an answer to the question of; “but what CAN I do with all this frustration?”
Children hurting others is often a cry for help; as well as guidance relating to what you won’t let them do, it’s also generally a call for increased connection, warmth, affection, fun, laughter or perhaps they have some big cries locked inside their body that need an outlet.

Babies around one year to eighteen months often bite, push, grab or hit out of excitement or experimentation without being aware that it hurts the person on the receiving end.  In telling your child that it hurts, you can be sincere without being critical “ouch that really hurt!” if they hurt you, or “I can’t let you hurt your sister”, as opposed to “don’t you dare do that!”   Your child is learning through seeing the reaction that the receiver didn’t like it (be it another child or parent) and with your patience, they soon learn to control the impulse.

Your calm consistent patient guidance and support will pay off greatly. Gaining more language and greater understanding of the information they’re receiving also helps children to better communicate what they want or need without becoming physical.  Be assured that your child’s phase of hitting, biting or pushing is all part of their learning and is symptomatic of them still developing impulse control and healthier ways of expressing their feelings.  It’s not indicative of them being an “aggressive chid” or a “naughty child”.   These issues mostly only become an ongoing problem when a child can’t access the calm, level and warm support that they need as they learn.

How else can the need be met?  When a child around this age goes through a phase of biting, it can be helpful to tie a teething ring or other object that they can bite onto a ribbon and safety pin it to their top or put it within reach and encourage them to use that when they have the urge to bite.

But mostly children, especially if older than 18 months, tend to hit, push or bite out of frustration.  It can be good to make a note of when it happens and identify any patterns.  Reducing the contributing factors may be the way forward.  For instance many children become very out of balance when they eat certain foods like gluten or dairy, processed sugar or food with artificial colours and dyes.  A few days of jotting everything down could potentially save you years of frustration.

Children like adults do better when they’re more relaxed than stressed.  Think about what you can do to reduce your child’s stress or minimize situations that may be over-stimulating.  If your child becomes aggressive every time you go to the supermarket, then it’s fair to assume that being in that environment is the problem rather than the child.

Seeing it as a symptom of stress (rather than judging a child to be “naughty”) helps the parent (or teacher) to think creatively and do all they can to increase the child’s sense of connection, safety and security.  Are they finding interactions with certain friends or siblings stressful and if so, do they need more of your calm non-judgmental mediation?  Perhaps your child needs for you to slow down the pace and maintain calm respectful communication, especially at vulnerable times like when the child wakes up or is tired or hungry.  Quality non-directed time in nature can also do wonders for helping children come back to balance.

Touching and handling your child gently and sensitively.  Touching and treating a child gently in your day to day activities of putting on their shoes, picking them up, restraining them in situations of danger, lifting them into their high-chair or car seat helps them learn to be gentle towards others.  Even helping a child get dressed can lead to them feeling over-powered and result in them over-powering other children, as children naturally re-enact what they experience.

Advance warning.  It also helps to prepare the child by explaining what you intend to do before and during normal activities; for instance “ok let’s go and change your nappy will we” giving them a minute to adjust, holding arms out and waiting for baby to come to you, this general approach increases their sense of having more power and decreases the fight flight response that often leads to the instinct to attack.

Prevent the biting, pushing or hitting;
* by shadowing your child if they are going through a phase of being aggressive,
*  by intervening physically as swiftly as possible rather than expecting them to respond to verbal instructions; physically hold them as you tell them “I can’t let you hurt, but I’m here to help you with your frustration”,
* if they’ve already lashed out, keep the child who did the hurting close and involve them when caring for and empathizing with the child who has been hurt,
* if the child who did the hurting doesn’t want to stay close, you can tell them “I care about both of you and will come and help you soon”, this can seem counter-intuitive, but I consistently see that aggression fizzles out when children feel understood and helped,
* then showing care and empathy for your child’s feelings of anger and frustration that drove their actions;”you got really frustrated, you hit your brother and now he’s hurting”, “that was a tricky problem for you wasn’t it”, “you got upset when Tom rode on your bike didn’t you”, this invites your child to share their feelings,
* your child knows what they did was wrong, they see the upset it caused, show them that you’re working hard to keep everyone safe, to prevent one child hurting another and helping them get their frustrations out in non-aggressive ways like having a cry or asking for help,
* as soon as your child learns to really trust that their feelings are always important and deserving compassion, they will get better at seeking support before they reach overwhelm.  Children who gain support learn to seek support, to release stress through crying or to talk when they start to become overwhelmed, rather than lashing out.

Children who hurt others when frustrated feel insecure and need to receive messages that they are safe.  Quite often the child who did the hurting receives little care for their feelings.  But the aggressor wouldn’t have lashed out if they weren’t feeling insecure, frustrated, threatened or possibly even overwhelmed.  When children hurt another, they need to know that you’re not just trying to make them stop being angry, they can’t do that and trying to not be angry causes a lot of inner conflict and even more frustration.  They need to know we understand and care and can help.

Show him that you can remain calm and confident as you help him with his frustration.  Your confidence in helping your child will start to ease any feelings of insecurity or overwhelm they may have.  Even when a child doesn’t look afraid or frustrated when they lash out, if you look closely you will see that their body is in a very tight, tense stressed state.

Show her what she *is* allowed to do when frustration builds up.  If at all possible, when you intervene and stop your child, hopefully just before they lash out, show that you’re making yourself available to really listen as they cry and complain and get it all out. Quite often the parent’s intervention to stop their child, will provide the outlet they need to let the underlying frustrations push to the surface and gain some release through big cries.  You can perhaps suggest that they roar like a lion, stamp their feet, jump up and down, scream into a pillow (which is less overwhelming that screaming into the air), maybe tear some old newspapers, pop bubble wrap, take their hand and do some brisk walking or a little run outside which gives them both an outlet and connection at the same time.  Also, doing some slow deep breaths with them can help them regulate.  A tight hug sometimes works wonders to dissipate tension if they allow that.  There are many ways to dissipate frustration.

Laughter heals and dissipates tension.  Another really effective way of helping them get their frustrations out is to invite them to push against your hands as you kneel in front of them, this will bring frustrations to ahead and they’ll either growl or laugh, either way it’ll be a release.  Power reversal games help a child release frustrations relating to feeling powerless or controlled, any game where the parent takes on the role of being goofy, silly or the less powerful one can be very therapeutic, which can be measured by the intensity of the laughter that the game elicits!  It can really help to have a pillow fight with you to give your child an outlet to their need to push and be vigorous, or scream into a cushion as you tell her it’s safe to do so and you’re looking after her.
Also important to consider is that the frustration that drives a child to lash out is often the result of them not gaining the opportunities they need to have big releasing cries that are supported by their parent.  The biggest need is always acceptance and empathy!

To summarize.  To keep everyone safe, keep your limits simple, clear and confident – aim to avoid pleading or being aggressive in saying no. Let him know that you won’t let him lash out, that you’re keeping everyone safe and helping him with those big feelings of frustration.  She needs to see that you see her big feelings not just her behaviour which is only the outward symptom.  A stressed child needs to see hat you can care about and empathize with her frustration “I see this is really hard for you, I can help”, “I care about *all* your feelings, I’m going to stay here and care for you until you feel better.”

Avoid isolating, threating unpleasant consequences or punishing or otherwise giving your child the message that you don’t want to interact with her when she’s angry as this can instill shame.  In my work with families, children of all ages often describe to me what they truly feel about themselves and their parents when put in time out, and they are just not the messages that we want any child to embody.  It’s not necessary and can lead to long term feelings of aloneness when they have problems and difficult feelings.

Your child especially needs your loving care and guidance when he’s angry, anger is a tough and often overhwleming emotion and deserves empathy.  The child needs your loving support with their feelings of anger (that are allowed) when they act aggressively (which is not allowed).  Avoid shaming him when he lashes out, he’s already struggling with difficult feelings and needs help in coming back to peace with himself and his world.  Kids act well when they feel well.


Full-time mum’s privilege

I’m sure there used to be a time when parents were in charge, and involved with their children’s education and upbringing. I still remember how my mum spent time with us making dough, playing with us, and bringing us to the market, other than ferrying us to the 2-hour kindergarten programme at PCF.
Fast forward many years; one parent’s earnings are no longer enough for some families’ basic living. So both parents have to work to make ends meet. And when both parents have to work, this means their children spend alot of time in childcare.
Mothers who choose to stay home and concentrate on their children’s academic learning and moral education are penalized with less subsidies.
It seems to have become teachers’ sole responsibilities that every child under her charge becomes the upright and moral citizen that parents want.
As a teacher, I’m extremely tired of doing the parents’ job. All these years of work, I’ve met my fair share of parents who just brush off issues with “yeah he/she’s like that” without any followup action. I can’t parent them, so I can only shake my head in disapproval.
As a mother, I’m lucky to have the skills and knowledge of a preschool teacher to try and bring up my kids to be happy, independent and socially acceptable people. My only regret is not being able to be their mother and teacher full-time. Now I’ve to contend with passing this job to their teachers while I can only do whatever I can with whatever time I’ve with them. Hope I can eventually spend much more time with them; to grow up with them; to guide them; and to be the person they’ll turn to for help.


How to get your child to listen

Raoul is at the Terrible Twos stage and I’m getting stressed and peeved at the same time. I went online to look for some answers as a worried parent, and found this to be quite useful and more importantly, do-able.

Top Tips
Before you can expect your child to listen, you need to ensure you really listen to your child.

As a parent, the pressure of 101 things that need to get done can sometimes make it hard to listen. But when a child is not feeling listened to, they are more likely to whinge, shout or throw a tantrum to get your attention.

Careful listening shows that you respect your child’s feelings and gives her space to explore a problem and, often, find her own solution. Being listened to can cause difficult feelings to evaporate…cue less moaning, less tantrums, less tears. Most importantly, if you listen to your child, she is more likely to listen to you.

How to Listen
* Give your full attention. Stop what you are doing, turn to your child, make eye contact and listen to what they are saying.
* Acknowledge what your child is saying with a non-committal, simple “Mmm”, “I see,” “Oh,” “right”.
Often behind what your child is saying (or even behind how they are acting, if not yet talking) is a feeling. Identify the feeling and give it a name.
“That sounds frustrating”

“You’re disappointed that we have to leave now”

It’s crucial to accept feelings and resist the temptation to make things better by denying them (“hey, there’s no reason to be so upset”).

* Diffuse difficult situations by giving your child his wishes in fantasy. Wave a wand with words!
“You’d really like it if you could stay up later”

“If only I could make that orange juice into your favourite apple juice”

How to Communicate
To get your child to listen, think carefully about exactly how you communicate. Subtle differences in words, tone and body language may effect whether your child tunes in or out!

Tone of voice
How you say something is as important, if not more important, as what you say

* Use an up-beat, encouraging, positive tone as much as possible.
* When indicating limits, sound definite and confident. Any hint of uncertainty and you’re more likely to be ignored, debated (But “please, can’t I just…”), or guilt-tripped (“It’s soo unfair”).
* To indicate disapproval, use a firmer, lower, authoritative tone, but don’t shout.
* Avoid nagging. Ask once nicely, once firmly and then take action. If you typically repeat yourself several times before your take action, your child will learn to ignore your initial requests.

Body language
* Communicate from close by. Don’t shout through from the next room.
* Always get down to your child’s height and make eye contact. An adult towering above a child can be intimidating.

* Use clear commands and keep requests brief and to the point. Limit yourself to a few important words (e.g. “8 O’clock. Bedtime”).
* Avoid accusing (“you never listen!”), criticising (“you’re so lazy”), or threatening (“if you don’t hurry up, then I’ll leave without you”).
* Avoid phrasing which implies that cooperation is an option!
“Shall we…?” “Could you…” gives your child a get out clause (i.e. “No!”)
Instead, make requests clear, short and specific: “Bedtime now”

How to Encourage Co-operation
For some children “no” can be the default position when asked to do things. Below are some tips to encourage your child’s cooperation.

* Make a statement of fact that describes the problem rather than accusing or criticising
“There’s paint on the table”
“I can see wrappers on the floor”

* Give information
“Clothes on the floor don’t dry very quickly”
“Leaving lights on wastes electricity”

* Describe how you feel
“I don’t like hearing whinging”
“It bothers me when I see clothes on the floor”

* Reduce resistance by offering a choice about when or how something is done
“Would you like your hair done before or after breakfast?”
“Do you want to skip to the car like a pony or bound like a dog?”

* Avoid lectures, use one word

* Use ‘when…then’ technique to focus your child on what needs to get done
“When you’ve brushed your teeth, then I’ll read you a story”
“As soon as your homework’s done, then you can watch TV”

* Write a note
Children love receiving notes. Be creative, notes don’t just have to come from you!
“I like to be hung up. Please don’t leave me on the floor. Thank you. Your towel.”

* Praise and reward cooperation
Praise all signs of cooperation with warmth and enthusiasm. Use a star chart to motivate your child for daily tasks such as getting up, brushing teeth, getting dressed

Finally, use the involvement technique to encourage helpful behaviour through positive attention.

By Dr Victoria Samuel
The Parent Support Service
Supernanny Expert

Taken directly from