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 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

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.

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

life lessons and values to teach children

There are many skills that our children are expected to learn and master in order to excel in today’s fast-changing world. In our bid to give them the best things in life, we do what we can to give them the foundation to these skills. At the same time, there are many life lessons that parents should not miss out on teaching their children. These life lessons and values will help your children cope with the challenges of the real world with grace and confidence as they grow up.

Here are some life lessons and values to impart to your children during the tender growing up years:

1. Lessons on good manners

Good manners should be inculcated in children from the day they are born, for this helps them interact with the people they meet in their daily lives and shapes them into a loving and considerate person.

You can teach your children the basics of good manners from the day he or she is born. Use common phrases such as “Please” and “Thank you” when you are interacting with your child, and keep up with this as he/she grows up. Do make it a habit to use these phrases when he shares his favourite items with you. Although your child may not be able to express himself during the early years, he is observing your moves and actions and learning to make sense of the interactions taking place. The more you model the basics of good manners, these examples will become a part of your child’s life in time to come.

2. The value of honesty

It is important that we teach our children about the value of honesty and explain to them the consequences of lying. As children learn by taking our actions as an example, we need to make a conscious effort to show them that they should always strive to tell the truth. For example, if you tell your friend that you can’t attend their party because the whole family will be away and then head out for dinner with the family instead, your child will think that it is alright to tell a white lie occasionally. Instead, explain to your child that he/she should always aim to tell the truth – and that they should not attempt to make others feel better by telling white lies.

3. The joy of learning

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go” – Dr. Seuss

The quote above by popular children’s author, Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel, puts across the fact that learning is a life-long journey and that it leads to a world of opportunities. While you help your children to develop a love of reading, do also point out to them that there are many ways to learn new things apart from reading. Encourage them to open their minds to new experiences and learn from life situations and the people that they cross paths with.

See also: Top 3 Qualities That Will Help Your Child Grow Up To Be Successful.

4. The courage to speak up

As much as you’d like to protect your child as he/she goes through the ups and downs in life, you may not be able to step in all the time. Thus, teaching your child to speak up and stand up for himself is one of the most valuable lessons that you can impart during the growing up years. This helps to give him the courage to ask questions when he does not understand what is being taught in class and the confidence to put across his thoughts and ideas to others as an adult.

5. How to manage money

We go to great lengths to teach our children essential life skills such as reading, writing and to play various games, but we don’t seem to spend time or do enough to teach them about money management. This life skill should be taught from the moment your children start receiving an allowance for school, as it helps them learn about the importance of saving, how to budget their money and the consequences of spending more than what they can afford. By giving your children a good head start in money management, they will grow up with a sense of responsibility when it comes to money matters.

 

From learning to resolve disagreements peacefully to lending a helping hand to others, go to the next page for more life lessons and values to teach your children. 

6 Habits of Happy Parents – How to Find Joy in Parenting

habits of happy parents

Amidst our duty to raise successful children, finding joy in parenting may pose as a challenge. As parents, our children are the centre of our universe and we take great joy in seeing them live in their happy moments. Apart from the effort we put in to raise them to be happy, well-adjusted individuals, psychologists confirm that parents have a great role to play to set a good example to their children on how to live a happy, fulfilling life.

As with most things in life, living life to the fullest is easier said than done – especially when raising children comes with a whole new set of challenges. To help you fill your life with joy and love and to achieve a great balance in parenting, we offer you the following tips:

1. Get help when it’s needed

When it comes to parenting, there’s always an endless list of things to do in a day – from arranging your children’s pick-up and drop-off from school to making sure that meals are prepared for the family and that the house is in order. Add in a full-time job to the equation, and getting it all done by yourself could prove to be challenging and may leave you worn out and unsatisfied by the end of the day.

Here’s how to do it: As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” – know that parenting and running a household need not be a two-person show and that it is perfectly fine to get help when it is needed. This could involve asking for help from family and friends or getting a live-in helper or nanny who can share the load of house chores and childcare with you.

2. Set aside some time for fun!

Giving your children the greatest life lessons and experiences does not need to be a serious affair. In fact, renowned educator Maria Montessori once said that “Play is the work of the child” and it is through play that children learn best about the world around them during the early years. So, here’s a reminder for you to inject some fun in the activities that you plan for your children throughout the week. After all, this also gives you the chance to destress, recharge and feel good about life all over again.

Here’s how to do it: Plan for some fun activities during the week that serve a learning purpose to your children. This includes the likes of exploring the Singapore Botanic Gardens where they get to learn and experience nature first-hand, or taking a trip to the museum for an educational journey about our country and its humble beginnings.

3. Be happy with what you have

The grass may be greener over the other side, but that does not necessarily mean that having the best things in life – for example, better-behaved children, a bigger house, or nicer car – will make you happier. The key to your happiness lies in counting your blessings in life instead of focusing on what you deem as the “shortfalls”. For all you know, you might be living the dream life in the eyes of someone else.

Here’s how to do it: Resist the temptation to compare your children to that of your friends, or to check their growth and development against the “standard guidelines”. Every child develops differently and at their own pace, with unique strengths and weaknesses. Focus on those instead and work together with your child based on where his/her passion and interests lie to help him/her become the best that he/she can be. At the same time, do not neglect your spouse. Make time for quality bonding sessions to keep your marriage and relationship alive – this also gives both of you the opportunity to recharge and carry out the role as parents to your children.

4. Be flexible with the rules

Rules are created to teach your children values such as self-discipline and learn the value of giving our best in everything that we do. However, as the person who decides on the rules, you get the flexibility to tailor those rules to each of your child’s needs and personalities. As it is often said that when it comes to parenting, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution that will apply for all children – our job is to nurture them based on their abilities and do our best to impart good values and important life lessons to them.

Here’s how to do it: Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your child and what motivates them to move forward. For example, your five-year-old might be motivated with screen time upon completing the day’s activity sheets, while the only push factor to get your seven-year-old to complete his/her homework is a healthy snack. You can use their likes and preferences as a hook to encourage learning and to create happy moments at home with your children – just as long as you are consistent in applying them

5. Focus on what lies ahead

We all have parenting goals that we work towards to and we try our best to do the right things when raising our children. However, during the toughest times, we either find ourselves losing our temper, being inconsistent and/or blaming ourselves for not doing a better job at raising our children. In line with the popular idiom, “Let bygones be bygones”, sometimes we need to remind ourselves to let go of past mistakes and focus instead on what you can do to be there for your children during the crucial growing up years.

Here’s how to do it: We are all learning to be the best that we can be for our children, and that there are days when things do not go as planned. Do let those tough days go and get on with life as a mum or dad by thinking of what to do next instead of pondering on what has been done. This can involve spending quality time with your children to get to know them better or plan a fun family bonding activity for the weekend.

Whatever you choose to do, remember that these tough moments will not last forever and with this, the highlights of parenting your children while they are young (i.e. the frequent “I love you” that they say so willingly) will be rare as the years go by. So, do use this time to cherish the precious moments and carry on with the journey.

6. Make time for hugs and kisses

Here’s another great reason to plough through the toughest moments of parenting while your children are young. As mentioned before, these moments do not last long and at this age, they can be easily diffused with something as simple as a hug and kiss. Apart from melting the tension from the situation, hugging and kissing also helps to spread those “feel good” feelings between you and your child.

Here’s how to do it: Gather your child for a cuddle every chance you get, even when they are unhappy or are adamant at throwing tantrums for as long as possible. You’ll be surprised how quickly this can turn around a sticky situation. But do note thatthis “secret weapon” may not work for long as your child grows up – so, seize the moment and use it to your advantage while you can!

This article was first published on the MindChamps blog.

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26 Little Things that Mean a Lot to Your Children

things that mean a lot to children

Sharing special moments with your children need not be a complicated or extravagant affair – all you need to do is to take a few minutes each day to show them how much you love and appreciate them. While some of these tiny surprises may seem silly to you, to your children these are memories which they will remember for years to come.

Here are some simple gestures that you can start off with to make your child’s day:

  1. Slip a note (or a tiny piece of chocolate) into their lunch box.
  2. Go for short walks with each child individually to enjoy quality one-on-one time.
  3. Put up their artwork on the fridge door, or frame it up and put it in your bedroom.
  4. Have them teach you something they know, instead of you teaching them everything all the time. Once you get the hang of it, tell them that they make a great teacher.
  5. Wear the DIY necklace they made for you as often as possible – after all, they put a lot of love and effort into this masterpiece!
  6. Set their picture as your phone background or desktop wallpaper.
  7. Say “yes” to something you won’t usually let them do once in a while, such as having ice cream before dinner.
  8. Show them photos of yourself as a child, and compare them with their baby pictures.
  9. Write a note that says “I love you” in a variety of ways – spell it out, draw a picture or use stickers – and hide them in unexpected places for them to track down.
  10. Let them fight their own battles and stand up for themselves during play dates, and only step in when necessary.
  11. Make dinner time fun: blow bubbles after dessert or have everyone wear party hats – they will always look back to silly family moments like this!
  12. Put down your phone and cuddle with them for small talk before bedtime.
  13. Say “yes” instead of “in a little while” when they ask you for something.
  14. Praise them for something they did right each day, and do keep an eye out for that attribute.
  15. Shower them with big hugs and kisses, even if they resist.
  16. Resist from flooding them with “how was school today?” questions if they look grumpy and tired. Having this conversation over dinner might be a better idea.
  17. Let them overhear you say something wonderful about them.
  18. Print and frame up their childhood photos to remind them of the beautiful moments of growing up.
  19. When they make a fuss, don’t be too quick to tell them to let it go. They are entitled to vent their frustrations too.
  20. Make pancakes in their favourite shapes for breakfast.
  21. Thank them when they help out with house chores willingly – even if it involves simple things like hanging their own towel or putting their dirty laundry into the basket.
  22. Read them their favourite book before bedtime.
  23. Sit down with them to play and paint, and stop fretting over the mess they are making. Cleaning up can come later, but memories like this last a lifetime!
  24. Put on their favourite music and have a dance party at home.
  25. Put up a family mantra on your fridge door (Unstoppable! We can, we will – because we’ve got this!), and remind them about it when they feel like giving up.
  26. Start a family tradition so that they have something to look forward to: Pizza Fridays, Saturday evening jog, year-end holidays.

 

Discover how the enrichment programmes at MindChamps can help to instil the Champion Mindset in your child and help them to excel in school and in life. Find out more here or book a complimentary one-on-one session with us.

9 Rules to be a Better Parent to Your Children

how to be a better parent

As a parent, you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that all of your children’s needs are met and to instil good habits, values and behaviour in them. But we all know that this is easier said than done, especially on days when our children seem to be doing all that they can to test our patience. As a result, we might do or say things that would lead to problematic behaviours in our children.

So, what can you do to stay on the path of good parenting and help your child learn and grow in the best possible ways?

Here, we list down some simple rules to abide in order to be a better parent to your children, courtesy of top parenting and psychology experts:

1. Avoid comparisons and labels

For families with multiple children, there is a tendency to compare one child to the other, which can lead to labels. For example, you might refer to your studious child as “the scholar” and his/her energetic sibling as “the wild one”.

The problem with labelling children based on their personalities and abilities is that it creates problems and often strains the relationship among siblings. When one sibling feels that his/her brother “owns” the athlete label, he/she will most probably not try to excel in the same arena due to the fear of falling short. On the other hand, giving your child the picky eater label may very well encourage that very behaviour that you hope to put an end to.

Dr Harvey Karp, a renowned American paediatrician and author of The Happiest Toddler on the Block, advises parents to be mindful of their choice of words when acknowledging their children’s unique traits. For example, try “energetic” instead of “wild”, “spirited” instead of “hyper” and “careful” instead of “shy”.

2. Walk the talk

Studies have shown that very young children learn from observing their parents’ every move, which proves that parental behaviour is far more powerful than words.

In her book, The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behaviour without Whining, Tantrums & Tears, Elizabeth Pantley says that parents are teaching their children something every minute of the day, whether they intend to pass along that lesson or not. “From how you handle stress to how you celebrate success to how you greet a neighbour, [your child] is observing you and finding out how to respond in various situations,” she shares.

With this revelation, do make a conscious effort to think through your actions first to avoid reacting on the spur of the moment. In a WebMD article, Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting, suggests that you overcome this by asking yourself, ‘What do I want to accomplish, and is this likely to produce that result?’

3. Allow your child to learn from their mistakes

When your child builds a block tower and is about to place a piece on top that will send the structure crashing, do you allow him/her to carry on and deal with a meltdown later or stop him/her from adding the block with an explanation of the outcome?

Dr Christopher Lucas, an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, says that while it is natural for parents to protect their children from incidents that could cause harm, it is beneficial for children to learn from their errors as it instils the lesson at hand better than an explanation ever could.

“At a very basic level, this kind of mistake helps a child understand cause and effect. But it’s also more emotionally healthy to let your child experience disappointment sometimes – especially in the form of a toppled block tower – instead of shielding him from any and all negative events,” Dr Lucas adds.

4. Be involved in your child’s life

According to Steinberg, being an involved parent takes time and effort, and it often requires one to rethink and rearrange their priorities. “It frequently means sacrificing what you want to do for what your child needs to do. Be there mentally as well as physically,” adds Steinberg.

5. Establish rules

One of the most crucial parts of parenting involves drawing up rules which will serve as a guideline for your child on what constitutes acceptable behaviour. At any time of the day or night, you should be able to answer these three questions:

  • Where is my child?
  • Who is with my child?
  • What is my child doing?

“If you don’t manage your child’s behaviour when he is young, he will have a hard time learning how to manage himself when he is older and you aren’t around,” Steinberg adds. The rules your child learns from you will shape the principles he/she applies to himself/herself and determine the type of person that he/she will grow up to become in the future.

At the same time, Steinberg warns against micromanaging your child during the teen years. In order to help your child develop resilience to deal with the challenges of life, we need to “let the child do their own homework, make their own choices and not intervene”.

 

 

Encouraging your child to be independent and being consistent with your actions are some things you can do to be a better parent. More details on the next page…