Today I Learn… I make a point of learning something new everyday. This is what I learn each day

1, May 11, 2018

Life would be easy, if parents set rules from very beginning

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:37 pm

When I talked to my mom over wechat today, she told me an interesting story.

My youngest sister keeps a cat. She trained the cat to pee and poop outside her apartment. Every morning she would take the cat out and bring him in after he’s done using restroom outside. So the cat now never mess up indoors.

On the other hand, my sister has a neighbor who has a pet dog. It was a tiny puppy when they first got it. From very beginning, they trained the puppy to use restroom at a certain spot inside their apartment. Now the puppy has grown up. But it refuses to pee or poop outside when they take it out walking. It insists on using its assigned spot at home.

My mom comments, “It’s all a matter of setting rules from very beginning. So is it with human babies.” Very true!

1, Mar 26, 2018

How to Curb children’s desire to buy and buy

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 11:42 am

Both of my children have moved to their own respective apartments since they left home for college. My son moved to NYC in 2011. I don’t know how many times he and his girlfriend have moved within that area. Each time they move, my son is keenly aware of the burdensome piles of things they have bought and accumulated over the years. Same experience with my daughter.

So I keep telling them, “Be careful when you buy and bring in. Anything you buy takes not only your money but also your time and space which are not unlimited.”

This is something that I should have taught them when they were little. I don’t think I have done a good job in this regard.

I remember a saying: anything you bring back home loses its value. This is especially true with toys for children. My son always remembered what toys the stores had that he didn’t.

Perhaps I should have taught him that our resources and the space were limited. Perhaps I should have told him to enjoy what he had instead of thinking about what he didn’t have.

I am not sure which trick would work for young children. But if I had a chance to start all over, I would do the following.

(1) Give the child small space for himself, so that he doesn’t have room for too much stuff.
(2) Insist on having the child putting in order his own toys and restrict toy to his room only.
(3) Share with him the experience of those who cannot afford even food on the table.
(4) Involve the child with family budget.

1, Mar 24, 2018

Don’t make your child a victim of your expectations

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:28 pm

“I expect you to pass all the courses this semester. I won’t accept any fail.” Recently I heard this from one parent. This reminds me of so many times when parents tell their children, “I expect you to …” I myself was not free from this until my daughter was in high school.

First of all, in the long run, it will benefit children more if parents encourage children to have their own expectations of themselves. Instead of saying “I expect you to,” parents encourage children to think this way.
—“What do you expect to get this semester?”
—“What do you expect to accomplish this year?”
—“What do you want to do with your life?”

By shifting emphasis to children, parents are saying to them, “You own yourself an expectation. What really matters is your expectation of you and not mine. What is it that you want to become?” Of course, by the time you say all this, children already internalize your expectations.

Secondly, it would be nice if parental expectation coincides with that of children’s. Otherwise, it will be too burdensome and unfair to the children that they carry on their lives trying to live up to parents’ expectations, as if they didn’t have their own.

Make no mistake. Parents’ expectations are important since they support children financially. But if parents insist on their expectations all the time, regardless of children’s interests, dreams and even children’s resistance, parents are trying to make their children victims of their expectations. Nothing less than this.

A sensible alternative to always telling children what you expect is to encourage and consider what the child expects of himself.

Don’t punish your child with your rules

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 12:38 pm

Initially parents set the rules for their children, regardless they like it or not. Because parents believe these rules are good for the children, like rules regarding their sleeping time or TV or cellphone or game time.

The children are normally not thrilled about any rules imposed on them. Who would be? They might feel even less thrilled if rules are enforced by certain punishment for violation that you define. Rules are necessary, but it will make a huge difference if punishment does not come from you.

Instead of telling your child the consequence of breaking the rules you set, you ask your child what the consequence would be, that is, inviting your child to come up with his own punishment. Right. He knows clearly what punishment he should get. He will be really thrilled and harboring no trace of resentment if you are receptive and lenient toward his version of punishment.

E.g. if the child says “No TV for a week,” you would say, “That’s too harsh. How about 6 days?”
This is how you hand over to your child the punishment for violating your rules. And make him a happy one at the same time.

1, Mar 15, 2018

Let the children decide as early as possible…

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 9:52 pm

On Monday, 3/12, I went to a friend’s house where her daughter gave birth to a baby boy about two weeks ago. The daughter mentioned one event that her friend told her.

What happened was her child wanted to do something that was not allowed. The mother said, “You will not watch TV for a week if you do it again.” The child never did it from then on.

It is a small event happened to a small child. However I would not recommend this parenting style. Because I doubt if the same method would work to a bigger child or dealing with more troublesome event. Plus the child needs to learn to make decision, to choose the right option by themselves.

From early on, in fact, as early as possible, instead of deciding for the children, parents should encourage children to make their own decisions. Let’s call it giving them the right to choose and the chance to be responsible for the consequence of their choices.

In situation like this, parent should let the child decide the consequence or the punishment for doing thing that’s not allowed. If you allow the child to make decision, to have choices, he will learn, with your help, how to choose among various options and the consequences associated with his choice.

I think of many Chinese parents who tend to decide on the children’s behalf, so much so that the children either become dependent on the parents when it comes to making decisions or make wrong decisions later in life because they have not learned how to make decisions when they were at home.

1, Mar 13, 2018

Children pressure on parents

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 7:26 pm

Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to see her brand new grand-baby. Today she told me the boy’s height was “100 percentile rank.” He must be the highest in the range, though I don’t think one can have the perfect 100 percentile.

“He will be a tall boy,” I said.
“Looks like it. When he grows up, we will be small old men and women,” she said.

It doesn’t sound upbeat. So I said, “Don’t think about it now. Enjoy the present. We will be lucky to be around when he grows up.”

Even better. I told her if you think you have a wonderful grand-baby, don’t you think the baby deserves a wonderful grandmother? Think about what kind of grandma you want to be for this baby? Of course you will be a great grandma! But in what way? I don’t think he will be in want of any material things. Here’s the niche that you can fill in — you are the key to his being bilingual [given the fact that the baby’s father is an American]…

This reminds me of the time when my daughter told me about her friend who was an inspiration to her. I said to her, “Don’t you feel you want to do something to prove you are as worthy a friend to her as she to you?”

Perhaps we all feel this way when we are among good friends. Call it peer pressure. But I don’t know how many parents or grandparents ever feel the pressure to be equally great when they are holding a great baby.

1, Jan 18, 2018

Keep a log tracking how you spend your time

Filed under: Daughter,Parenting 2018 — admin @ 1:47 pm

This is what I write to my daughter today.

“You want to get more things done. You want to get a paid job. You want to get more skills. You want to be on your own. Since you got nobody but yourself to watch over your shoulder, you really need some mechanism to meet your goals.

I suggest this
(1) keep a log to track how you spend your time. You must be honest with yourself as we all must. If you spend one-third of your time on your cellphone, it is good for you to admit your addiction to whatever you’re on and you must wean it off. HONESTY is the key.

(2) When you were home for holiday, you bought something from online shopping and also tried to get something from second-hand stores. I hope you have stopped online browsing by now. This is what I suggest: every time you do so, associate spending money with making money.

(3) Try to get into the habit of asking yourself to learn something new each day, each week, each month, and each year. I believe this is a better habit than spending time on your cellphone.

You will soon be 23 years old. I spend time thinking about your situation and writing to you, all because I care and I know you are not happy with your current situation and you eagerly want to see a big change. I want you to be happy. And you want to be happy, too. So please do the right thing for yourself.”

1, Jan 17, 2018

Lady Bird, teenage girls, challenges to parents

Filed under: Parenting 2018 — admin @ 8:40 pm

Today I read this article on Time magazine, “Lady Bird: the pains of being pure at heart,” by Stephanie Zacharek. At some point it reminds me of my daughter when she was in high school, and some of my friends’ daughters.

“At one point, Saoirse Ronan, as disgruntled high school senior Christine, begs her mother, Laurie Metcalf’s Marion, for a magazine at the supermarket: “It’s only $3! I’m having a bad week!” Marion brushes her off, and it could be the usual mom move of just saying no–until she reaches the cash register and you realize that this respectable-looking suburban woman can barely cover the family groceries.

…Metcalf’s face betrays nothing so obvious as frustration or anxiety. Instead, it’s as if every molecule of her body has been, out of necessity, trained to count money. Meanwhile, when you’re a teenage girl wanting a magazine–so you can look at makeup ads, or pictures of rock stars, or fashion spreads featuring clothes you can’t afford but want to ogle anyway–it it among the world’s most straightforward, achievable desires. This measly dream costs $3, and Christine’s mother won’t–can’t–let her have it.”

I’m not here to make any judgment on either the mother or the daughter. I see myself as the mother, the parent and can see the same challenge facing thousands of parents like me.

On the one hand, we want our teenage children to be happy, healthy and ready for their life ahead, and we don’t want to upset them by saying no to them.

On the other hand, I can definitely understand the need to say no to this trivial thing when a mother can “barely cover the family groceries.” Also I can see a capricious teenager would want something else tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. There’s always something new that she wants everyday. Obviously, $3 magazine will make her happy for long, won’t buy her appreciation, won’t buy peace and won’t make us happy. In fact, it will do more damage than help in the long run.

If I had a chance to start all over again, I would teach my children before they turn teen about finance and the need to save for the rainy days and for their college expenses. I would ask them to save for their own expenses.

I would share my financial worries with them, trying to win their sympathy and understanding. With this understanding, they would be less selfish and would be willing to make sacrifice for the whole family. I would teach them the value of learning, the need to eye on the bigger prize, and focusing on the important things at this point of life, etc.

I can’t say I will be better off with this preparations. But I will keep trying and talking and making sense with the teenage children, and always keep in mind they won’t be teen forever.

Good luck, parents of teenagers!

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