Financial Literacy For Children at Every Age

money lessons for children

Having basic financial skills is crucial as it helps our children navigate through life as an adult. Not only will they be able to plan ahead for the future, they will also be aware of the importance of keeping their spending within limits and make wise spending decisions.

While it will be years before our children get to experience first-hand the complexities of managing their finances, there are lots we can do right now to teach them the concept of money and savings. Here are some hands-on activities to start off with during your children’s early years:

5 Years Old and Below

Introducing coins and the piggy bank

During the early years, our children’s brain soaks up new concepts and information like a sponge and it is during this time that learning takes place at a rapid rate. As they learn best by observing others and repeating their actions, you can make the most of this by introducing the various coin denominations and putting money into a piggy bank. The more they practice this, the concepts of “money” and “saving” through the piggy bank will become second nature to them. However, do bear in mind to introduce this exercise once they are past the stage of putting things into their mouths.

Create “Saving”, “Spending” and “Sharing” jars

Here’s a fun activity to teach your children the concepts of saving, spending and sharing. Set aside three jars (or plastic containers) and label them as “Saving”, “Spending” and “Sharing”. Each time your child receives money – i.e. during his/her birthday or major celebrations such as Chinese New Year or Christmas – get him/her to place the money in the jars. The money in the spending jar can be used for simple treats such as sweets or stickers, while the sharing jar can be used to help someone in need or donated for a worthy cause. Lastly, the saving jar acts as the most basic lesson in saving – your child can accumulate the money in there for bigger purchases, such as his/her favourite toy.

Play “Supermarket” at home

Set up your very own supermarket at home by preparing DIY grocery items (think, plastic fruits and vegetables, and empty sauce bottles) and giving each item a price tag. Arrange them neatly in rows and give your child a basket and paper notes to “shop” for groceries, while you play the role of the cashier. When their basket has been filled up, count the total amount and get your child to give you the correct notes and coins to “pay” for their purchases. For older children, you can take this to a higher level by giving them a shopping list and introducing discounts and offers on selected items.

 

6 to 10 Years Old

A lesson on allowances and savings

Most children receive allowances when they start primary school. At this age, they understand that money is used a means to exchange for goods (i.e. food or stationery items from the school book shop). To establish good spending habits, you need to set down some ground rules such as to inform you what they spend their money on. This is also a good opportunity to encourage them to save, instead of spending all the allowances. You can keep them motivated by offering to match the amount saved so that they can see their money “grow” over time.

Get them involved in real-life purchase decisions

You can now include your children when making real-life purchase decisions – starting with the weekly grocery trips. Start by setting aside a budget for a set of items (e.g. $10 for milk, eggs, bread and fruits). Here, you can carry out price comparisons with them by choosing items that are on offer while keeping to the set budget for the items required. Through this exercise, you are essentially teaching them simple budgeting skills that will definitely come in handy later.

Encourage them to give back

There are many ways to teach your children to give back at this age by sharing their blessings with others. This can take the form of donating a small amount of their savings to a worthy cause (i.e. there will be plenty of opportunities to meet people with donation cans on the streets) or clearing out their toy boxes every now and then to give away their toys to children from needy families. Through these exercises, you are also inculcating important life lessons to your children, such as the value of compassion and gratitude.

Discuss needs versus wants

While you are shopping with your child, you can include them in the process of making wise financial decisions by getting them to weigh the importance between a need and want. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Do we really need to buy these buns? Or can we skip it since we are going out for dinner soon?
  • Is this bowl the best we can get, or would it cost less elsewhere?

 

11 to 13 Years Old

Teach them banking concepts

You have started a savings account for your children since they were little, so now’s a great time to introduce the more complex banking concepts of ATM, online banking and interest rates.

To show them that “digital money” will run out the more they spend, you can set up an excel sheet to record their spending and keep track of the amount saved. As for explaining to them about the abstract concept of interest rates, Beth Kobliner, author of the New York Times bestseller Get a Financial Life, recommends that we use specific numbers and simple terms such as, “If you set aside $100 every year at 14, you’d have $23,000 by the time you turn 65. But if you start saving at 35, you’ll only have $7,000 at 65”.

Introduce long term saving goals

By now, your children might be well versed with the concept of saving up for the things such as their favourite snacks and toys. You can take their saving efforts to the next level by getting them to set a longer-term goal for big ticket items and holding back on their regular purchases. For example, if your child has the habit of buying snacks and stationery from the school bookshop, he/she might want to hold back on those and save up for a watch instead. By setting long term goals, your child will learn about the concepts of delayed gratification, trade-offs and opportunity costs – which essentially involve giving up the things that they like in order to save money.

 

Read also: Social Skills for Children – An Age-by-Age Guide

MindChamps Academy helps to prepare your child for the challenges of the future with effective learning techniques, thinking skills and more. Find out more and book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

8 Amazing Reasons to Hug Your Child Every Day

hugging children

Author and family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth”. Indeed, the benefits of hugging are boundless as it does wonders to a child’s cognitive and emotional development.

Research has shown that children thrive in environments where they are showered with love constantly – and this starts from as early as the day they are born. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) of hospitals today, parents are encouraged to practice “kangaroo care” by holding their premature babies as this has been shown to lead to improvement in vital signs (i.e. weight gain and minimal breathing complications) which leads to earlier discharge.

Now that we are aware of the scientific benefits of hugging, here are 10 amazing reasons to gather your child in your arms for a soothing hug, every day:

1. It helps them feel safe

As children begin to learn about how things work, they need the loving gestures of their parents to feel emotionally secure and be assured that they are accepted into the family. The nurturing touch of a hug helps to establish trust and a sense of safety in them, which allows them to take in the sights and sounds of the world around them without worry. With a deep sense of security, hugging also leads to an openness to learn new things and promote open and honest communication between parent and child.

2. It makes them smarter

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine found that children who were showered with love by their mothers during the early years have a larger hippocampus, the key part of the brain that is vital for learning, memory and response to stress. While this may not imply that hugging leads to higher IQ levels in your children, it is worth noting that providing them with a loving and safe environment to grow up in does wonders for their learning and development. In the long run, they will continue to reap the benefits of your loving affection as they grow up into confident and well-adjusted individuals.

3. It’s a natural stress-buster

Physical contact such as hugging releases a chemical in our brain called oxytocin, which is often called “the love hormone”. Made primarily in the hypothalamus in the brain, oxytocin is known to reduce depression and anxiety, and may have an effect on attentional disorders. Thus, cuddling and hugging your child helps to melt the stress away and put them (and you) in a better mood. So, the next time you find yourself having a rough day or if your children seem to be pushing your buttons, do take a moment to breathe in and reset the atmosphere with a simple cuddle.

4. It promotes a healthy self-esteem

The hugs we give our children from day one helps to reassure them that they are loved and develops a sense of self-confidence and positive mindset in them. These associations of self-worth stay with them from childhood right up to adulthood and we can boost their confidence with a simple hug. As a whole, hugging your children helps to provide a safety net for them whenever they need to take a breather from “the real world” and builds up their ability to love themselves for who they are.

5. It helps in discipline

In our efforts to discipline our children when they misbehave, we often resort to methods such as putting them in the time-out corner. However, giving them a hug could be what we need to start off the discipline process on a positive note, and this can be followed up with a firm explanation of what they did wrong.

While your child might resist the hug initially, he/she will soon give in and allow his/her body to relax, which brings on a feel-good effect. Children are more willing to listen to what we have to say when they feel good, so do encourage them with a hug to reassure them of your love – over time, you just might notice a change in their behaviour.

6. It teaches them to develop empathy

Hugging allows you and your child to be completely present in the moment and connect with how both of you are feeling on an emotional and physiological level. With this exchange of energy, hugging teaches your child the value of empathy as he/she develops an understanding of how you might be feeling. In addition, hugging also teaches your child that love is a two-way street and that he/she can show love to others by giving hugs in return. In short, a hug is a powerful lesson itself to show your children what it means to love, and be loved.

7. It promotes better health

Medical case studies have proven that hugging goes a long way to boost our immunity. The gentle pressure applied to the sternum (or better known as breastbone) and the emotional charge created while hugging stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates the body’s production of white blood cells. The combination of all these processes helps to improve the immune function and keep you healthy.

In addition, a 2015 study conducted by researchers from King’s College, London found that oxytocin (the hormone that is released as a result of hugging) has analgesic effects, which leads to lower pain ratings and intensity. So, do make it a point to hug your child often to keep him/her in the pink of health!

8. It keeps both of you happy

Gathering your child in your arms for a hug helps to uplift both your spirits and keep you both happy. Hugs function in a similar fashion to meditation and laughter. Apart from teaching you to let go of all negative vibes, they also encourage you to “go with the flow” and relish in the feel-good feelings of the moment.

Children benefit greatly from being cuddled, as it provides them with a safe place to which they can turn to when they feel scared or nervous. On top of that, hugging is also a great remedy for us, as parents, to eliminate the frustrations when dealing with our children while letting them know that our love for them remains unchanged.

 

We hope that you will be inspired to spread the love and fill your child’s day with bear hugs and cuddles after reading this article.

Read also: 5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

8 Strategies to Get Your Children to Listen When You Talk

child discipline

When it comes to raising children, one of the most challenging areas involves learning how to talk to our children in a way that they will listen. Although it can be frustrating to repeat your words and instructions to your children numerous times, know that they are trying their best to take in the various stimuli from their surroundings – thus it won’t be surprising if they seem to blank out or switch off every now and then.

At the end of the day, we hope to find the right balance in nurturing our children as this will reflect in the way they communicate with others. Here, we offer you some tips to help you get your message through to your children when you talk to them:

1. Connect with them at eye level

When you talk or give instructions to your child, do get down to his/her height level and maintain eye contact to get his/her attention. You can teach your child to focus and direct his/her attention towards what you are about to tell him/her by saying, “Kate, I need your eyes.”

Do the same thing when your child is trying to talk to you to assure him/her that you are listening. However, be sure not to make your eye contact too intense as your child might see it as you being commanding rather than trying to connect with him/her.

2. Keep your words brief and simple

It is common to get sidetracked and long-winded when you are talking to your child about an issue. However, the longer you ramble, the easier it is for your child to slip into a dazed state and ignore everything that you have said.

The secret to retaining your child’s attention is to keep your sentences short and brief. Do take note of how children communicate with each other to get some inspiration. It is also beneficial to observe their facial expression while you are talking to ensure that they are paying attention to what you are saying and that they understand your instructions.

3. Repeat and replay

Younger children, especially toddlers, have difficulty in making sense of directives and converting them into action, which explains the constant need to repeat your instructions to them. You can help your children internalise your message by getting them to repeat your instructions and asking them on their next course of action. For example, once your child understands that playtime is over, the next thing to do is to explain that he/she needs to clean up the mess by putting back the toys and books at the appropriate places. As your children grow up, there will be less of a need to repeat and replay your instructions to them as their processing ability gets more adept.

4. Use positive words

Threatening and judgmental sentences (e.g. “You better do this, or else…”) are bound to make your child feel hurt and discouraged, which causes them to go into defensive mode. Instead of framing the message towards your child, try using “I” messages instead – for example, “I would like you to put your toys away” or “I am so happy when you helped with the dishes”. Not only does this help your child understand your expectations better, it also works well with children who are eager to please but don’t necessarily like being ordered.

5. Give advanced notice

While some children are receptive towards the instructions given by their parents, others may need some time to process the message and comply with what is being asked of them. One of the ways you can manage this situation is to pre-empt your children on what is expected of them and give gradual instructions for them to follow.

Here are some examples to help you go through with this method:

“Bedtime is in 10 minutes. So, I need you to switch off the TV and hop into bed soon.”

“We are leaving soon. Say goodbye to teddy, and bye-bye to your friends.”

“It’s homework time. So, I need you to finish up your art and craft and clean up the table.”

6. Apply the ‘No shouting’ rule

Remember the last time you tried to get your children ready for dinner by shouting from the kitchen? This didn’t exactly get them scrambling to the dinner table, did it? Here’s another method which you might like to try instead: Walk into the room where your children are playing or studying. Using your normal tone of voice, tell them firmly that it’s almost time for dinner – then join in their activities for a few minutes before declaring a “time’s up”. By going to your child, they get the message that your request is important, rather than just ignoring your shouting from the other end of the house.

7. Ask specific questions

At times, getting your children to answer your questions might be a real struggle – you’ll either get a flat “yes” or “no”, or fail to get a response out of them at all. You can turn this situation around by asking specific questions that they lead to more than a “yes” or “no”, and to stick to topics that interest your child. For example, instead of asking the broad question of “Did you have a good day at school today?”, try asking “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” or “Tell me something that made you laugh”. You might also like to check out this article on the various questions you can ask your child to get them to talk to you about school.

8. Get your child to think

If your child does not seem to want to comply with the instructions that you give, you might want to try a reverse approach that sets them thinking instead. So, for example, instead of saying “Please do something about your messy table”, try this instead: “Think of where you would like to keep your files and textbooks so that they don’t clutter your table.” By painting a clearer picture for your child, he/she might be more likely to act on it rather than to procrastinate.

Nurture your child’s early years with a cutting-edge preschool curriculum which is backed by years of research. Book a visit to your preferred MindChamps PreSchool centre now!

Read also: 5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

5 Effective Ways to Avoid Power Struggles with Children

avoid power struggles with children

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the sense of power and dominance is a basic emotional need that we all seek to fulfill. The need to satisfy this craving for power begins as early as the age of two, as this is when children begin to see themselves as separate individuals from their parents. This phase of life leads children to discover that they are capable of creating or triggering various emotions and reactions in their parents – which also marks the start of a very long journey involving power struggles.

By three years old, most children have developed sharper skills in this area which causes parents to feel overwhelmed, overpowered and determined to set their child on the path of good behaviour. However, attempts by parents to overpower their children often leads to opposite results, leaving their children feeling more angry and defiant than ever.

Parents can turn this phase into a rewarding lesson for both themselves and their children by looking at this behaviour from a different light and responding to the battle of wills in a creative manner. Here are some suggestions to help you ease the power struggles with your children:

1. Side-step the power struggle

To deal with power struggles positively, one method which was shared by Karan Sims, instructor at the International Network for Children and Families, involves side-stepping the power struggle. In order to do this, you – as the parent – would need to refuse to give in to your child’s invitation to join his/her power struggle.

Here’s an example on how to side-step a power struggle situation:

When your pre-schooler gives you a flat “No” as an answer when you ask if he/she is ready for a bath, try your best to stay calm. You can turn the situation around by asking, “Can you walk to the bathroom with me or do you want me to carry you?” If your child is feeling cheeky, he/she might answer, “I want you to carry me – piggyback style – and gallop like a horse!”

In this case, although your child’s answer acts as the ticket for you to join a power struggle, you can side-step the situation by not fighting or giving in. You can turn the situation into a happy and loving one instead of starting yet another battle of wills when it comes to bath time. According to Sims, when you side-step the power struggle, you are telling your children, “I am not going to fight with you. I am not going to hurt you. I am not going to overpower you and I’m not going to give in either.”

2. Give choices – not orders

Once you have successfully side-stepped the power struggle, the next thing to do is to give your child choices. For example, if your child kicks up a fuss about leaving the house right away to attend swimming lessons, you can let him have a choice of which swim goggles to use. Once that is done, let him lock up by choosing which set of keys to use (assuming you have a master set and some spare sets). With this gradual transition, you have succeeded in getting your child to go for his swimming lesson and dissipate the power struggle about leaving the house.

Do ensure that the choices you give your children are ones which you can accept. For instance, when your child misbehaves while eating out, do not give him/her the choice of either sitting down quietly until everyone has finished eating or to leave the restaurant if you don’t intend to leave so soon.

It is also important to make sure that the choices you give do not represent alternatives of punishment. Thus, when you give your child an ultimatum by saying “You either clean up this mess or go to the time-out chair”, this creates fear and intimidation rather than empowerment.

3. Use more “Do” commands

“Don’t stay up too late!”

Does this sound familiar? Most of us tend to use “Don’t” commands to get our children to do what we want them to. However, most of the times, it gets us nowhere near what we want them to do in the first place. “Don’t” commands require your child to double process (“What does mum wants me to do in the first place?”) as most of what he/she gets from your message is what you don’t want him/her to do. This can be confusing and discouraging, especially for younger children.

To turn things around, parenting expert and best-selling author Amy McCready recommends that we calmly state what we want our children to do right from the start. So, rather than saying “Don’t run”, try “Please use your walking feet” instead.

4. Find alternatives for your child to be powerful

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a power struggle with your child, do find a way to give your child more power to ease the situation. For example, if your child often kicks up a fuss about buckling up in the car, you can put him/her in charge of making sure that the rest of his/her siblings are safely secured. Apart from making your child feel important, it helps to divert his/her attention away from the power struggle over buckling up.

5. Teach your child to say “No” respectfully

As parents, it is natural for us to react negatively when our children give “No” as an answer. However, the last thing we want to do is to send the message to them that they should not give “No” as an answer, as there will be times when they need to stand up for themselves in the face of peer pressure and inappropriate situations.  What you can do instead is to teach them to say “No” or to disagree in a respectful and appropriate manner. This can involve them explaining the reason behind their disagreement to help the other party understand their point of view better.

Looking to give your child a good head start in character building during the early years? Find out how this in incorporated into MindChamps PreSchool’s cutting-edge curriculum – book a visit to your preferred centre now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

5 Things You Can Do to Bring Out the Best in Your Introverted Child

raising introverted children

As parents, we do our best to prepare our children to deal with the ups and downs in life as they work towards their dreams and goals. At the end of the day, we want them to grow up happy, well-adjusted and ready to take on the challenges that come their way.

While there are various resources that provide tips and strategies to bring out the best in your child, not all of them can be applied to children who are introverts. Often mistaken for being shy, some common characteristics of introverted children include:

  • More inclined to spend time alone in his/her room with the door closed
  • Often appear as reserved and may not share their thoughts and feelings easily
  • Likely to have just one or two friends, as opposed to a big group of friends

If it seems like your child is more of an introvert, here are some things you can do to bring out the best in him/her:

1. Avoid labels

Contrary to what most people think, introversion is not a sign of socio-emotional problems such as depression. Instead, it is a unique personality trait and people who are introverts have different social needs and preferences compared to extroverts. Giving your children labels with negative connotations such as “loner” will affect them emotionally and mentally, leading them to believe that they are what you describe them to be. The best thing that you can do for your introverted child is to accept his/her personality traits and try to work around them to bring out the best in him/her.

2. Initiate small talks

At first glance, introverts may appear to have poor social skills as their style of interacting differs from that of extroverts. They tend to listen and make eye contact with the person who is talking to them. However, when they talk, they usually say what they mean and may look away from the person they are talking to.

Parents of introverts can help their children express their thoughts and feelings to others by having simple conversations with them. You can guide them along by asking questions and teaching them to see things from different perspectives. With lots of patience and practice, your introverted child will be on the right track in expressing himself/herself confidently to others.

3. Understand their social preferences

Introverted children tend to be quiet by nature and they do not enjoy being the centre of attention. On top of that, they are more comfortable interacting with one or two people at a time, as opposed to a large group of people.

Understanding the preferences of introverts in social situations such as this can go a long way to help parents and teachers guide introverted children when it comes to group activities such as Show and Tell. Give them a chance to observe the activities at first, and once they get a good idea of how things work, encourage them to join in. Be sure to assure the children that they have many good ideas to share with their friends, and do affirm their efforts and contributions along the way.

4. Don’t force him/her to make friends

Children who are introverts prefer being in the company of just one or two others. Thus, when it comes to making friends, they prefer to do this on their own terms and are highly likely to keep the circle close-knit. Although you might want your child to mingle with other children of the same age through playgroup outings, do take note not to force him/her to interact and play with the others. Doing so will only make things worse, and your child might become resentful or have negative feelings towards social interactions. Once your child finds a friend with whom he/she can relate to, things will take off naturally.

5. Be aware of his/her emotional responses

Parents of introverted children may be eager to enrol their young ones for various enrichment classes to help them improve their social skills, but an activity-filled scheduled could be overwhelming for these children. As they do not take well to crowded places and spending time with strangers, introverts often feel emotionally drained, which causes them to be grouchy and irritable. Thus, it is important to know your child’s limits when it comes to group activities and how he/she reacts to each. With this, you can tailor the daily schedule according to your child’s needs, while keeping things fun.

 

Read also: 10 Life Lessons and Values to Teach Your Children Before They Turn 10

Discover how MindChamps’ Thinking Cap programme can help to bring out the champion in your child. Find out more now and book a complimentary personal coaching session for your child! 

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

The Value of Play: Age-appropriate Play Activities for Children

play activities for children

Whether young or old, we all love to play and we all need to do it regularly. Sadly, as we grow older, some of us have become too consumed with day-to-day errands and activities and do not get to play as much. Some of us might have even forgotten how to play.

Having a child certainly forces many parents to start thinking about playing again. Research has shown the myriad of benefits of playing from a very young age. Not only does play give children numerous opportunities to make use of their creative abilities, playing regularly also encourages a child’s imagination and dexterity to bloom. Their physical, cognitive and emotional strengths are greatly enhanced through such activity as well. Undoubtedly, play is integral to healthy brain development. Social skills are cultivated too, as children learn to engage and interact in and with the world around them through play.

The intriguing thing about play is that it makes learning happen naturally and joyfully. While playing, a child laughs, explores, wonders and imagines in the most relaxing of ways.

Here are some ideas for age-appropriate playtime with the little ones:

Birth to 1 year old

  • Hold and touch your child as much as possible; physical contact makes him/her feel loved and safe.
  • Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, learn his/her cues. This also teaches your baby to trust you. Such two-way bonding promotes attachment between parent and child.
  • Babies love looking at faces and facial expressions. Make funny faces with your baby in front of a mirror, or point to the reflection of his nose, ears, and other parts of his body – this develops self-awareness and communication.

2 to 3 years old

  • Teach your child to sing his/her favourite nursery rhyme and make up a dance or movement to go along with it.
  • Give your child blocks to sort by shape or colour.
  • Let him/her use magnetic alphabets to form words and teach him/her to pronounce them.
  • Go to the playground with a friend’s child and help your children learn to play together.
  • Play glove or finger puppets to encourage communication.

4-6 years old

  • Ask your child to put one finger on your open palm. Tell a story and have a “key” word (e.g. happy). Tell the story, and when the key word is mentioned, try to grab your child’s finger. Your child will need to be alert to avoid getting caught.
  • Make a simple and nutritious snack together.
  • Play freeze-dance (turn on the radio and dance, then turn it off suddenly and tell your child that he/she has to freeze until the music starts again).
  • Exchange jokes and riddles.

As the saying goes, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Indeed, our children’s lives will be enriched if we take the time to let them play, but better yet, play with them. Nurturing the love for play and injecting a sense of fun into the most routine and mundane of tasks in everyday life will put our children in good stead. Helping our children develop the ability to find joy in all they do from an early age will benefit them greatly throughout life.

 

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Article contributed by Elvira Tan, Focus on the Family Singapore

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

Read also: 10 Life Lessons and Values to Teach Your Children Before They Turn 10

Chores and Children: Inspiring Your Child to Help with Chores

chores and children

Have you found yourself experiencing fatigue and desperately needing help around the house? While most of us believe in the virtue of having children help around the home, the real challenge is getting them excited and committed to playing a role in the upkeep of the home. Furthermore, children who help with household chores have greater opportunities to learn to be accountable, independent and less self-centred.

So, here are some ideas from other parents that you might want to try out with your little ones. Feel free to adapt the ideas to suit your needs. Not only will it be fun for your children, this also allows both yourself and your spouse to get creative.

For children aged 3 to 5 years old

Colour the quilt

Encourage them to make their beds by drawing a picture of a quilt with 30 patches. Each time they make their beds, let them colour a patch. The goal is to complete the quilt.

The clean-up song

Help them get into the habit of picking up their toys – and make it fun. Make up lyrics to familiar songs and sing them while they pick up the toys. For example, sing “The Farmer in the Dell” with the following lyrics:

We’re picking up the blocks,

We’re picking up the blocks,

Hi-ho, the derry-o

We’re picking up the blocks.

You can even add in the child’s name to personalise it:

Josh picked up a toy

He’s such a wonderful boy

Hi-ho, the derry-o

Cleaning is a joy.

Caring for pets

Let them fill the pet’s water bowl using a cup and transferring it into the pet’s dish. When he sees the dog lapping up the water, praise him for taking care of his pet.

The key is to affirm each child when their actions have contributed to making things better for others around the home.

 

For children aged 6 to 12 years

Motivate with a point system

The goal is to instil responsibility and ownership without parental nagging. Start by determining a scale for points to be earned. Allocate more points for difficult tasks, and “bonus” points for being generous and kind. The key is to be consistent. At the end of the agreed timeframe, the child with the most points win. The winner earns the power of choice – where the next fun family outing will be, for instance – but siblings still get to join in the fun. A win-win situation for all!

Create chore charts with a reward system

Start by preparing a laminated chore list for each child, then set up magnetic charts that have their names and days of the week. Have the children pick out inexpensive items that they’d like to form a set of rewards that can be redeemed. When each child does his/her chores without being reminded, they place a magnet on the chart. Failing to do chores gets a magnet removed. Once they have accumulated enough magnets, they can pick their reward from the prize box.

Use chores to build relationships

While children do their chores, parents can help them out by working alongside, which paves the way for conversation and even playfulness.

 

With many families in Singapore relying on live-in domestic help, it remains highly important that children learn to help with basic chores so that they do not grow up with a sense of entitlement. Getting the children to perform light chores on a helper’s day off will give them a fuller appreciation of the aid that the family receives from the domestic helper. Over time, children will also learn to be more independent, increasingly confident in their growing abilities, more accountable and less egocentric.

Make helping around the home a norm for your children today, and witness the benefits your family will reap tomorrow.

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Article contributed by Elvira Tan, Focus on the Family Singapore

Read also: What You Need to Know About Teaching Children to Share and Take Turns

Lying in Children: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

lying in children

Children are bound to tell lies at some point in their lives. While this may seem worrying for parents at first, you can rest assured that it is all part of the learning process that they go through during the growing up years. On top of that, it also doubles up as a teaching opportunity to help your children differentiate between the real world and a make-believe one, and emphasise on the consequences of lying (yes, even if it is a harmless white lie) and why it is important that they tell the truth.

With this, we present to you some facts on why children lie, and what you can do to set them on the right path to honesty:

When and why do children lie?

According to a developmental model of lying proposed by Victor Talwar and Kang Lee, children typically start telling lies between the age of two and three where they blurt out statements that are untrue on purpose, without considering the consequences.

By four years old, children get better in telling lies as they have learnt how to match their facial expression to their tone of voice to make you believe that they are telling the truth. However, upon further questioning, they will eventually own up. Needless to say, they will perfect their lying ability further in primary school, where their lies get more complicated and frequent.

The reasons that lead children to tell lies vary, and may include the following:

  • To conceal their mistakes and avoid getting into trouble
  • To avoid hurting other people’s feelings
  • To see how you respond to their lies
  • To jazz up their stories and make it sound more exciting
  • To get your attention and/or to get something they want

How to encourage children to tell the truth

Around the ages of 6 and 7, your children will begin to understand the difference between lies and the truth, which gives you the perfect opportunity to emphasise the importance of honesty in your family.

Here, we have outlined some age-appropriate tips to help you go through this process with your children:

1. Draw it out

Younger children are extremely imaginative and may have a hard time differentiating between what’s real and make-believe. When your child makes up a story, you can respond by saying, “I love how you came up with your story – let’s draw and turn it into a beautiful picture.” By doing this, you are inspiring him/her to be creative without giving the go-ahead to lie.

2. Praise them often

Telling “tall tales” may be your child’s way of getting attention and praise from you. To avoid this from turning into a lying habit, do make an effort to praise your child for his/her accomplishments – no matter how big or small they are. This can work wonders in boosting his/her confidence and self-esteem.

3. Read books on lying and honesty

Read books that emphasise on the importance of telling the truth – an all-time favourite is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, which gives a great example of what would happen when the same lie is told repeatedly.

4. Acknowledge their efforts to own up

Do praise your child when he/she owns up upon doing something wrong. You can respond by saying, “I’m glad you told me the truth – it makes me really happy when you are honest”. This assures your child that you will not get upset when he/she owns up to something that was done wrong.

5. Set the rules

Make sure to be clear on the rules and guidelines on what constitutes acceptable behavior in your family, and the consequences of breaking those rules.

6. Address the issue calmly

For older children who seem to be lying frequently, do talk to them calmly about the issue and help them see why lying does not constitute acceptable behavior. You can rationalise the issue by telling them how their lying makes you feel, how it affects the parent-child relationship and what it feels like when the people in their life no longer trust them.

Read also: 20 Ways to Instill Good Manners in Your Child

Find out how the MindChamps PreSchool curriculum helps to nurture the love of learning in your child and instill positive values such as gratefulness, compassion and more. Book a visit to your preferred centre now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

Dads Matter! How Fathers Can Help their Children Succeed

the important role of fathers

Every parent desires to see their children grow up to be confident, resilient and successful adults – and this comes from giving appropriate affirmation to build up their self-worth and esteem. Every child needs to feel and believe that they are loved. And as parents, we need to give that message of affirmation regularly, through the stages of development in our child’s life.

While both parents play equally important roles in this endeavour, mothers are often more inclined towards the role of giving care and affection to the child, while fathers take on the role of “play buddy” or the disciplinarian. While each parent should play to their strengths, it is good to share these tasks, and not segment their parenting roles strictly. In fact, in the case of fathers, research[i] has shown that children who have involved fathers tend to have better cognitive ability and are better problem solvers.

See also: 8 Things Parents Do to Raise Successful Children, According to Research

Dads, these are some self-esteem boosters to try with your child today:

  • Celebrate your child’s milestones together as this keeps a celebratory and encouraging atmosphere in your home (E.g. diaper-free day, first word/book read, first tooth dropped)
  • Apologise when you make a mistake
  • Help your child become an “expert” on a topic he cares about
  • Give your child the chance to make simple decisions (E.g. what she would like to wear for an outing)
  • Show enthusiasm about your child’s questions;

Parenting sons and daughters also requires very different approaches – here are some tips to adjust your parenting style accordingly:

Raising Confident Sons

  • Don’t praise your son only when he is tough, strong or brave. Be sure to compliment him for being sensitive and kind, for taking care of friends and siblings, and for being curious and asking questions.
  • Encourage your son to pursue activities he likes and is good at, and don’t force him to do things he does not enjoy. Take an interest and participate with him in those activities.
  • Comfort your son when he is sad, upset or hurt and let him know it is ok to cry. Don’t laugh at him or shame him. This will encourage him to be himself, and to understand his emotions and express them appropriately.

See also: What You Need to Know About Teaching Children to Share and Take Turns

Nurturing Secure Daughters

  • Don’t just compliment your daughter on her clothes or looks. Give her specific praise on what she is good at, (E.g. being a talented artist, smart with numbers, good at sharing, a caring big sister, knows how to tie shoe laces).
  • Many girls and women suffer from low self-esteem due to the messages they get from the media, which advocates the idea that beauty is all that matters. Praising your daughter’s inner beauty will help boost her self-esteem. Tell her that she is valuable, special and important, not because of how she looks but because of who she is.

While we can attest to the fact that parenting has its challenges, there is a great pay off when you are done raising your children to be confident and well-adjusted adults. Fathers play an important role as nurturers and confidence-builders in this journey, and we encourage you to try some of these tips and ideas with your children today!

©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved

Article contributed by Judith Xavier, Focus on the Family Singapore

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog

References:

Amato, P. R., & Rivera, F. (1999). Paternal involvement and children’s behavior problems. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 61 (2), 375 – 384.

Gottman, J. M., Katz, K. E., & Hooven, C. (1997). Meta-emotion: How families communicate emotionally. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Yogman, M. W. Kindlon, D., & Earls, F. (1995). Father involvement and cognitive/behavioral outcomes of preterm infants. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 58-66.

5 Ways to Help Children Identify and Express their Emotions

Helping Children Express their Emotions

The early years are crucial for your child’s development, as it is during this time that they learn about how the world around them works. Along with their new discoveries, they also learn a lot about their feelings and how to express them in the appropriate manner.

Throughout this learning journey, things can get overwhelming for young children who are trying to understand the complexities of emotions. As a result, they may vent their frustrations through emotional outbursts or have a hard time calming down. Although you may find this situation challenging, know that it is all part of your child’s learning experience in identifying and expressing their emotions.

Here are some things you can do to help your child learn and understand their emotions better:

1. Name the feeling

The different feelings that your children go through daily may be foreign to them at first, but you can help them out by naming those feelings appropriately. For example, you could say, “Mummy has to go to work, and you are sad to say goodbye” or “You were angry that your friend snatched your favourite toy”. You can also use picture books or videos to point out the various emotions of the story’s characters to your child.

When you teach your child to name feelings when they occur, your child will build an emotional vocabulary over time and get to the point where they are able to identify those feelings and talk to you about them. This will then help them learn the basics of expressing their feelings appropriately.

2. Talk about how feelings can be expressed

The best way to teach your children to express their feelings is to set a good example yourself. Start by talking about your own feelings and describe how to best express those feelings. You can also create opportunities for your child to come up with solutions for various situations, and then discuss why they are or are not appropriate.

Here are some questions you can ask to help you get started:

  • Remember how Mummy got mad yesterday because the kitchen sink was clogged up? When I get mad, I take a deep breath, count to three, and think of the best way to solve the problem.
  • Your brother bumped his head on the wall – how do you think he feels?
  • You are frustrated because you are having a hard time putting back that box on the shelf. What can you do? I think you can either ask for help or try to do it again. What would you like to do?

3. Offer a deep nurturing connection

While babies are soothed by their parents, toddlers and pre-schoolers need to bond and feel connected to mum and dad in order to regulate and deal with their emotions. Thus, when you notice your child getting upset or overwhelmed, the best thing you can do for him/her is to reconnect and try to see things from your child’s perspective. This helps you understand the reason behind their meltdowns and allows you to respond appropriately. In fact, experts highly recommend that we hug our children when the going gets rough, as this has shown to do wonders in regulating their emotions.

4. Resist the urge to punish

Discipline methods such as spankings, time outs, giving consequences and shaming are often used to correct children’s misbehaviours, but these do nothing to help them deal with their emotions. By resorting to these methods, children get the message that their “bad” emotions are to be blamed for their misbehaviours. As a result, they try to bottle their emotions until they get to a point where it “overflows” one day through a meltdown episode.

Instead of using punishment, do help your child to process and manage their emotions in positive ways until they are able to handle it all by themselves. Leading through good example (i.e. speaking in a proper tone of voice and not yelling) and giving them activities that allow them to express their emotions (e.g. drawing and shaping with playdough) go a long way to help both of you get there.

5. Praise and practice – often!

Give praises to your child whenever he/she talks about his/her feelings. This brings across the message that he/she did the right thing and that you are proud of him/her for reaching out to you and talk about feelings.

Children should know that it is perfectly fine to express what we feel, and be given ample opportunities to respond to their feelings in appropriate ways. You can play your part in this aspect by practising strategies that will help your child express his/her emotions in various situations. For example, you can talk about feelings and coping strategies during dinner, a play date or while grocery shopping. Through the series of events that unfold in each situation, there will be opportunities for your child to express and deal with his/her feelings when interacting with others. The more your children get to do this, the faster they will learn to regulate their emotions independently.

 

Part of the focus of MindChamps PreSchool’s curriculum is centred on character building. Find out how this can benefit your child during the early years – book a centre visit now!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.