The child is the mirror of the parents


If you want child to be great, be a great parent first.
If you want respect from your child, respect your child first.
If you raise your voice at your child, the child will learn the same mode of communication.
If you let go your temper, the child will never know self control.
If you waste your default time, your child will do the same.
If you harbor prejudice against others, your child will share your prejudice.
If you spare proper your child proper discipline in the name of love, complain not when you are child does not turn out to be what you want him to be. When you complain about your child, look inward for explanation.

The child is the mirror of the parents. The child is the product of your parenting. Nothing comes from nothing.



When not to criticize your child


When your child makes mistakes, you as the parent should let him know where he did wrong and how to be better next time. But the timing of your criticism is critical to ensure your criticism is constructive and positive. Always have in mind the well-being of the child.

If you truly love your child, DO NOT criticize him —
1. in public
2. when the child is already full of regret for what he has done
3. before the child goes to bed
4. at meal time
5. while the child is having a good time
6. when the child is crying
7. when the child is sick

These rules go for anyone, not just for children.



Not that many ADHDs, try behavior management


Is it ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or behavior problem? Parents, try behavior management before heading to the doctor’s office. Medicine may seem an easy solution, but good discipline will last longer.

Behavior management/self-management:
(1) Daily routine, having boundaries and consistency in expectation
(2) Positive reinforcement for the effort made not just for the result
(3) Clear rules, instructions, and expectations
(4) Consistent consequences to unwanted behavior



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part VI


(23) Philanthropy. Teach the child the importance of engaging in philanthropy work and develop in her the habit of giving as a social activity. Set an example for the child by volunteering time into charity work

(24) Focus on the present. While the past is gone and the future is not here yet, present is all we have right now. Only by focusing on the present can we not only fully enjoy life but also have a better chance of a future in which we are less tortured by regrets for having wasted time.

(25) Enjoy life. While we work hard to prepare for the future, don’t forget to enjoy what life has to offer now.

(26) Seek a goal in life. Have a goal and work toward it, be it in career or in health or in family.

(27) Learn how to develop and maintain an intimate relationship. Learn to resolve conflicts by open communications, understanding, and compromising.
THE END



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part V


(16) Savings.
(a) Teach the child to live within his means instead of living on borrowed money;
(b) put aside a little of the income into a saving account;
(c) plan well for any big purchase, e.g. if a child wants to buy an expensive item, teach him to set a saving goal, say $10 per week, and wait till he has saved enough for the purchase.

(17) Learn to budget.
(18) Expense. Teach your child how to pay bill.
(19) Investment.

(20) Thrify.
(a) Before making a purchase, always compare at least two stores the quality and price of the goods;
(b) Avoid waste of any forms;
(c) Avoid impulsive shopping;
(d) Eat home cooked meals whenever possible
(e) Avoid shopping sprees, especially during holiday season

(21) Debts. Teach your child the responsibility of a loan, how to avoid getting into unnecessary debts or getting deeply in debts. Learn how to use credit card.



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part IV


(9) A kind heart which is filled with good wishes for others, with which you are ready to extend your helping hand to the needed.

(10) Listening and understand what others are saying and how others feel.

(11) Communication. Good oral and written communication skills are very essential to a child’s success. Schools are not designed to help students develop strong communication skills. Hence, you should help your child to develop this skill at home.

(14) Clean and orderliness. The child should learn to keep his room clean and in good order. Carry out a weekly or monthly cleaning.

(15) Organizing. Teach the child to be organized, put things back to where they belong after the child uses it, and establish a proper procedure in completing a task.



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part III


(4) Motivation, the start of everything. Nobody can push you forward all the time. Your self-motivation is the ultimate push and energe to your goal.

(5) Efficiency. Learn to manage your time. If it must be done, do it without procrastination. Don’t always wait till last moment.

(6) Passion. Find out what you are interested in and good at, and want to spend as much time on it as you are allowed. Go for your passion at full speed.

(7) Cooperation. Learn to work with others and aim at a win-win result. Make friends in competition.

(8) Empathy. Learn to see situation from other’s perspective, to put yourself in other’s position so that you will be able to gain a better understanding of others.



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part II


I might not go into great detail on each of them, as I myself have not learned all of them yet. To be sure, it is hard for the children to learn them all, especially if the parents cannot claim to have done them all.

(1) Critical thinking ability. This is not something you learn at school, which confirmity is the norm and you are not encourage to challenge authority. Both teachers and employers like obedient students and employees. But if you don’t want your child to become someone who only know how to follow the rules and obey authority, you need to teach the child this crucial skill — critical
thinking.

(2) Read to develop the ability to make associations, to determine the reliability of the information presented by the author, or decide if the conclusion is logic and truthful, and finally engage in dialogue or debate with the author.

(3) Stay positive. Especially in time of setbacks or hardship or facing obstacles, instead of complaining, actively seeking solutions, maintain self-confidence and do everything to keep at bay negative thoughts.



27 Life skills that parents should teach their children, part I


4 summary
A friend of mine sent me the above on 1/4/2013. I am sure I have read something similar to that effect, but good things always worth repeated attention.

Here’s the list in English:
(1) critical thinking ability
(2) reading comprehension
(3) positive
(4) motivation
(5) efficiency
(6) enthusiasm
(7) cooperation
(8) empathy
(9) loving
(10) listening
(11) conversation
(12) car
(13) housework
(14) clean
(15) organizing
(16) saving
(17) budget
(18) debit
(19) investment
(20) thrifty
(21) debt or loan
(22) retirement
(23) philanthropy
(24) seek the moment
(25) enjoy life
(26) have a goal
(27) develop intimate relationship



Parents could be part of the bullying problem


I read this article on 12/27/2012, “Parents: are you part of the bullying problem? Take this quiz” by Dr. Claire McCarthy. The author reports that at least one in ten middle school students reports being bullied, which is more than I have thought before.

Very often, the hurt and the damage to the kids will put them at the “a higher risk of mental and physical problems long after the bullying has ended.” Here are some of the questions the author asks in the article.

Are you part of the problem? Answer these questions:
(1) When you want your child to do or stop doing something, do you every use phrases like “don’t act like a sissy” or “you throw like a girl!” or ‘you’re getting fat”?
(2) Is “tough love” part of how you parent?
(3) Do you spend limited time talking to or being with your child?
(4) Have you ever wondered if your child might be bullied–and not said or done anything?
(5) Have you ever wondered if your child might be bullying someone–and not said or done anything?
(6) Do you praise your child for being aggressive?
(7) Would you be proud of your child for being successful and popular–even if you suspected he or she might be bullying people?
(8) Do you ever talk about other people in a demeaning way in front of your children?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you may indeed be part of the problem. It’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself and your parenting, and make some changes.

A few more questions:
(9) Do you know the signs that a child might be a victim of bullying?
(10) Do you know the signs that a child might be a bully?
(11) Have you talked to your child about cyberbullying–and about what they do online?
(12) Do you regularly tell and show your child that you love them no matter what?
If you answered no to any of those, it’s time to start learning, talking, thinking and feeling.



The power of belief, the stories we tell the children — Part III


I remember when my son was little, I taught him math. As the result he could do multiplication when he first entered primary school. When he got good grades, I told him it was because he was smart. “If you are smart, you are supposed to be ahead so that you can help those lagging behind.”  With this story, he has lived up to this belief and has succeeded in graduating from one of the top institutions of higher education majoring in mathematics. Even if, at some point in his life, he is behind others, with this story, he is more likely to see himself in front of a group.

To be sure, this story-telling practice is not a modern invention. Humankind started telling stories since the most remote past in human history. Before written languages were invented, story-telling was the primitive and primary means that humans passed on to the next generation knowledge, experience and values.

Good stories, like the one told by this Jewish boy, play a positive role in a child’s life, as they are crucial in forming a high self-esteem in a child and contributing to his success. Nothing boosts a child’s self-esteem more than winning a hard-to-win competition or living up to a high expectation or solving a hard-to-crack problem or having met a tough challenge.

On the other hand, nothing ruins a child’s self-esteem and exerts long-term damages on his life more than starting his life with no story or sad story like telling him that he has not measured up because he is not that smart or because he is a loser or because he is not worthy.



The power of belief, the stories we tell the children — Part II


To be sure, we all write our story with our life’s experience. Be it an epic voyage or a colorful journey, our story all starts from our first home, with our parents being the first narrators.

In the broadest sense, the stories that the parents tell the children define what is, what should be, and what shall be. They shape the way children see the world, explain cause and effect, give meanings to their experience now and later.

Furthermore, these stories embody the values that the parents hold and hope to pass on to their children. Sociologists call this social construction of reality. That is, we live in the world of reality that is initially constructed by our parents and is taken over by us as we grow older.

The stories always have heroes or heroines who are expected to conquer a mountain or to take a journey or to fight a battle or to reach a goal or to fulfill a promise or to complete a mission or to live up to an expectation. They invariably follow one of the master plots of all novels, that is, the hero of the story is going to take the journey.

These stories make up a large part of one’s childhood experiences. The memories of these early life experiences will continuously be interpreted by the child as he grows. They lay the foundation for beliefs about oneself and one’s self-confidence, convincing the child’s general competence or incompetence.

These childhood experiences can be translated into a set of assumptions about oneself and an explanation of why one succeeds or fails.

To be continued…



The power of belief, the stories we tell the children — Part I


This is the second column that I am going to write for our local paper. I would like to share it with my readers here first.

When I was teaching sociology courses in 1990s, there were a few Jewish boys who were top students in my class. Still, they wanted to be better than the best. Once I asked one of them, “You are already the best. Why do you still work so hard?”

He answered, “You know, since God gave me such a smart head, I would waste it if I don’t use it.” With this belief and this positive attitude, this boy will without a doubt claim top prize no matter where he goes in the future.

Sociologists call it self-fulfilling prophecy. That is, if you believe you are smart, you act on your belief by working hard. And of course, the hard work will reward you top prize, which further confirm your belief.

As a teacher and a parent, I have been marveled at the power of belief on the one hand. On the other hand, I was wondering how this idea got into his head? Who told him God had given him a smart head instead of a dumb one?

We all know it was not from God directly. It was most likely from his parents or rather from the stories that his parents told him when he was little. It is this story that has motivated him to work hard and it will continue exerting impact throughout his life.
To be continued…



Smoking, health inequalities, behavior from Parent to the Children


“Smoking has been identified as the primary reason for the gap in healthy life expectancy between rich and poor. Among men, smoking is responsible for over half the excess risk of premature death between the social classes.”

“Smoking is the principal cause of the inequalities in death rates between rich and poor. Put simply, smoking is a public health disaster.” Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, posted on nice.org.uk site

The smoking habit is more often found among lower class than among upper and middle class. Very often, this habit is passed on from parents to the children. Same pattern can be said of alcoholism, drug addiction and other undesirable habits. Look at Whitney Houston’s daughter.

It is extremely crucial that parents rid themselves of any bad habits if we don’t want to see them in our children.



It is better to let the children figure out themselves


My sister told me her son used to ask her about his math problem. Sometimes, the boy understood it but still needed his mother’s confirmation. It sounds like he needs more confidence in his own ability. This reminds me of an incident when my son was about three years old.

When he was small, I used to buy lego toy for him, big block at first. I could see he was trying to piece two together. If one side was not working, he turned and tried the other side. After some twisting, he finally plugged one block on another. He was happy figuring out by himself.

Around age three, I started buying small size lego, which was more challenging. At first, I showed him examples by piecing them together to make a car or a house. He was sitting there watching me and would not trying making something by himself.

What happened was he thought he could not make something as I did or could not make as well as I did, so he would rather have me build and then he would play with what I built.

When I looked back, I realized a trap that parents are likely to fall  into. On the one hand, parents want to help their children; on the other hand, if they help too much, it is very easy to overwhelm the children with parents’ ability, which can potentially defeat the child’s desire to try or damage their confidence in themselves.

It’s better to leave children alone and let them figure out how to play. Sometimes, by doing too much for the children in the name of love, the parents accidentally deprive the children of the opportunity to play and learn and to build their confidence in doing things by themselves.



French President Sarkozy’s Son Threw Tomatoes at a Policewoman


On 3/13/2012, I read an interesting news about French President Sarkozy who apologizes for his son’s throwing tomato prank.

His 15-year-old son Louis Sarkozy and a friend “chucked a tomato and a pellet at the policewoman from the Elysee Palace, police sources said.”

I feel a bit disappointed when I learned of this. I used to think Sarkozy is a great politician and must be an equally great parent to his children. At least, he must be a good role model for them.

I guess not. People can be great politician and a not-so-great parent at the same time. I guess probably because he is too busy with big matters and has ignored his children’s proper upbringing.



The Most Precious Gifts that a Parent Can Give to the Children


My first writing came out on 3/3 KCStar newspaper. To my surprise, I received some emails from work. I have to confess that I myself seldom read newspaper and thought others were like me, going online for any news, without ever buying the newspaper.

I feel encouraged by the nice compliments that they sent to me. One person thanks me for the gentle reminder of parents responsibilities to their children. Of course, that article also reminds people of sacrifice that their parents made for them.

One friend even asked if I were the mother in the story. Of course not. But I do share one thing with that mother, that is, the gift that I give to my children. That gift is time. Considering life is nothing but time, time is the most precious gift that a parent can give to the children. Yes, there is another gift that a parent can always give to the children, that is, be a good role model.



Teenage Years, The Most Challenging Ones in Parenting


A colleague of mine enjoys spending time with her young grandchildren, all under age two. When we talk about children, there seem to be a consensus, that is, we all agree the younger the children are, the easier it is for parents and the most difficult period is those teenage one.

Most people tend to focus on the rebellious part of teenagers, deliberately choosing east when you say “Go west.” Or they become adult-like physically but less than an adult mentally. As a parent, I often feel torn between the desire to encourage their independence, mentally at this point, by debating or arguing with them and the need to cultivate respect to adult and elderly without demanding total obedience to authority.

To be sure, debating with or even conversations with teenagers can be rather exhausting sometimes, so much so that you wish your teens could be a bit docile and just accept your authority. But in the long run, parents help their children to hone their debating skill and critical thinking ability, which will benefit them in their adult life.

It is so much easy to raise obedient children than one who always test your authority, argue or bargain with you on every issue. But you know what, for the future of our children, we should encourage debate, argument, bargaining instead of trying to knock the sharp angle off the children, rendering them incapable of nothing but succumbing to authority.



Fun Time When a Child Is Not in the Mood for Study


Last Saturday, on the way back from Barnes & Noble where my daughter stayed for the afternoon working on Acadec preparation, I asked her a question. What would you do to a child if he, after throwing a temper, refused to do his work? She said “That sounds like me. Are you sure you are not talking about me?”

“Would you let the child play since he would not study and you might as well let him have some good time?” I asked.
“No, that sounds like encouraging the child to throw a temper, knowing the consequence would be play time,” she said.
“I would let him play because he would be in good mood after some fun time. Then you can talk to him and he is more willing to listen when he is in good mood.” I explained.
“That makes sense. After all, you still need to talk to him,” she agreed.

Another reason is this. The fact that you let the child play instead of punishing him for throwing a temper demonstrates your kindness and forgiving, which should in turn touch the child and creates a sense of guilt for having behaved badly, that is, if the child is good. Sometimes, punishment can yield opposite result. I would use it sparingly in good children.



Do What Is Right Not What Makes You Feel Good


It may make you feel good when you scream out your frustration.
It may make you feel good when you throw out hurtful words without any regards toward other people’s feeling.
It may make you feel good when you smash at something hard to let out your anger.
It may make you feel good when you always have the last word in quarrel.
It may make you feel good when you solve your problem with a powerful fist.
It may make you feel good when you indulge yourself in your favorite unhealthy food.
It may make you feel good when you smoke as you are so addicted to.
It may make you feel good when you drink as an alcohol does.
It may make you feel good when you lie in bed instead of venturing out in the morning.
It may make you feel good when you are just purely selfish.

But you know what, do the right thing always, because, by the end of the day, doing the right thing will make you a good person and that should make you feel good.

If you ask why I write this piece, it is because I am fed up with too many selfish persons.



Tough It Out Over Minor Physical Discomfort



I heard of this saying regarding raising a boy when I was in China. In English, it means something like this — “Don’t spoil a boy” or “Raise a tough boy.” The belief behind it is a boy should be raised in such a rough manner so that, when he grows up, he can shoulder life’s hardship, either physial or psychological ones.

On 12/3, after her SAT test and upon hearing her complaining of the temperature at the test center, I told my daughter this. She said it was such a sexist view as if boys and girls were different and should be raised differently.

“Well,” said I, “I’m not a sexist. That’s why I have raised both you and your brother in the same way and expect both of you to tough it out instead of complaining over minor physical discomfort. She got my message.



Mental Health and 10 Signs of Over-Controlling Parents


Back in 2007, I read an article in Chinese on over-controlling parents. I have kept this article all the time. Now I am going to deep six it after this posting.

(1) Interfere in children’s play time
(2) Always tell children what they should eat
(3) Say too much over children’s dress
(4) Tell children how they should do their homework
(5) Bargain with children’s teachers about grade
(6) Teach children how to compete
(7) Frequently call children during day time
(8) Ask children to report the happenings at school in detail
(9) Peep in children’s privacy
(10) Have decided what college they should get into when children are in elementary school

If you find yourself possessing all of these controlling signs, I would suggest you go to see a psychiatrist for your own mental disorder. No mentally unhealthy person can become a sound parent.



Order of Birth and the Power of Example


On 8/4/2011, I chatted with a monitor from Wisconsin. She has two boys. Unfortunately, the first one is autistic. Even worse is the second one who is perfectly normal wants to behave like he were also autistic, doubling the amount of work for the parents.

I am sure the second child will grow up normal like the rest of us, only he has an autistic elder to emulate in his childhood and that definitely has a huge impact on his life.

This incident reminds me of the theory on birth order. What would happen if the younger one were autistic instead of the older one? Will the older one emulate his autistic younger brother or will he become mature early and assume some responsibility in helping his parents taking care of his younger brother? I have no doubt the result would be vastly different from what it is now.



Laissez-faire Parenting Style


Yesterday when I was at Barnes & Noble’s bookstore with my daughter, I met another Chinese parent with two boys, the elder one being first year of high school.

When talking about her children, she had a rather laissez-faire style, getting as little involvement as possible, allowing the children to develop freely.

“Have fun in high school. Enjoy your high school life,” she thus encouraged her child. “I don’t need the children to bring honor to the family. After college, they are on their own,” she said.

I was very impressed by her light-hearted and easy-going approach, a sharp contrast to Tiger Mom. Then again, she reminds me of a relative of mine who adopted similar parenting attitude when her son was young and had to continue providing for her son’s care many years after college.



What A Parent Should Be To His or Her Children


I am 100 percent sure that I have posted this piece before, but on reading it again, I feel strongly that this should be out one more time. Simply because I love it. I hope I could commit it to memory, though mine gets short.

(What a parent should be to his/her children)
A place they can search for comfort.
Eyes they can look at and trust.
A hand they can reach out and clasp.
A heart that understands and doesn’t judge…

A place they can search for comfort.
Eyes they can look at and trust.
A hand they can reach out and clasp.
A heart that understands and doesn’t judge.

Someone they can lean on and learn from.
A source of wisdom and loving advice.
A million memories in the making.
A precious companion on the path of life.

A door that is always open.
A caring, gentle hug.
A time that is devoted to family alone.
A reflection of love and wisdom.
L.N. Mallory



An Ideal Home or Dream One


This is from what I wrote long ago when my son was still a baby. I don’t even remember where I got it, but I believe there must a reason for me to keep it. Words associated with an ideal home are the following–
fun,
happy,
loving,
honest,
helpful,
balanced,
peaceful,
respectful,
listening,
supportive,
cooperative,
appreciating,
communicating,
providing good role models,
feeling safe and secure,
feeling unique and special.

I am not sure I have provided this ideal one for my children, giving my easy-to-boil temper. At least, I have tried. No regret.



Provide Advice and Guidance without Imposing Restrictions


The CEO in our practice says in our newsletter, “My job was to give the great people who worked for me a chance to be successful–to give them the tools to be successful–and let them flourish, even in hard times. Seth Godin says that the role of a supervisor is to be a librarian/coach, not a teacher/limiter/taskmaster. It’s the same with my kids I think. I do have to set boundaries occasionally, but in the long run it is about giving them the chance to try things, to be successful, but also to fail. My job is maybe to pick them up, or boost them up, but not to pre-judge what I think they cannot do.”

I can’t believe he could come out with so much wisdom. This tells a lot about both being a parent and being a boss. While employees need rules and policies, they also need room to grow and develop their full potential. Same can be said of children. It is a real challenge to the parents to provide children with advice and guidance without imposing undue amount of restriction and limitations at the same time.



Language, Thought, and Parenting


On 1/29/2011, Saturday afternoon, I was at HyVee reading magazine Scientific American. There is an article by Lera Boroditsky, “How Language Shapes Thought–The Language We Speak Affect Our Perceptions of the World.”

“In recent years empirical evidence for this causal relation has emerged, indicating that one’s mother tongue does indeed mold the way one thinks about many aspects of world, including space and time. The latest findings also hint that language is part and parcel of many more aspects of thought than scientists have previously realized.”

This is no surprise when considering the fact that language is but an instrument, with which we think, express and communicate to each other. Different instrument will naturally yield different result. However, no matter what instrument you use as a parent, the more you use it with your youngsters, the sharper their minds will become. So, talk with them as much as you can.



Gardening, Parenting, Hard Work


On the Saturday morning of 7/30, the heat finally let down in its intensity as the long-waited rain finally blessed the dry-hit land. I knew weeds had grown out of control in my backyard garden during the time when I was in China. Since I got back, I had not done anything about it because of the hot weather and dryness of the land. Now with the rain and the cool day, it was the good time for me to work on the yard.

Oh boy, in just a few weeks, the weeds had grown taller than my waistline and it was so hard to yank out just a tiny part of them. Yet, I had to do something about the weeds as some of them had already yielded seeds and might be soon spreaded far and wide, which meant a whole lot extra labor.

As I was hard at work over the weeds, I thought of the similarity between gardening and parenting. Weeds will grow wild when the garden is left unattended. When children are left without parenting, they will be free to develop. There is a strong possibility that some of them will go wild like these undesirable weeds.

The moral lesson is parenting is like gardening. Both need constant tender loving care. No shortcut. Hard work, whichever way you look at.



Bin Laden, Honesty, Consistency and Parenting


Make no mistake the man behind the 911 event deserved a thousand of death. Yet, there are something lurking in the back of my mind that is disturbing.

Number one, like typical government behavior, there is an obvious lack of transparency. Present is a quick killing and corpse disposal and their labored coverup soon after and plenty of excuses. Why? What was it that Obama tried to cover up? This opens itself to all kinds of speculation.

Number two, the killing could be justified if acted upon self-defense, which doesn’t appear to be. Sounds like it is okay to kill as long as you can find good excuse. NO.

Number three, if anyone can act like a judge, able to determine the life and death of another human being, let’s just do away with our court system and save tons of money. NO.

The last implication is most disturbing. That is, honesty and consistency in parenting. When we demand total honesty from our children, we try to cover up something, which is a dishonesty to me. When we don’t enforce the same standard to all, we are inconsistent. Same thing happens when we say “God bless America” only. I always want to replace it with God bless all. Why not?

By the end of the day, what should we honestly say to the children? Throw honesty out of window? Ask Obama.

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