Sunday, 20 April 2014

Raising our kids the right way

Sito suddenly worried about ZK getting spoilt on the way home yesterday. There were a number of trigger points, including a broken bottle at Cold Storage and an crying episode where ZK wriggled on the ground in the MRT station cos we got him out of the bakery.

So after some discussion, we decided to start disciplining him more.

1) First of all, he shouldn't be the centre of attention all the time. I'm glad I have been doing that. I avoid busying myself all over him all the time. Sometimes, it's nice that he wants me to sit with him to do things. Other times, well, he doesn't actually need someone with him so I'll let him be.

My greatest achievement must be mealtimes. Nowadays, I get home before he does, put all his food into one bowl, mix everything up, and wait for him to get there. After making sure he's fine with the food, I have my dinner next to him. I chat with him - or to him *.* - during dinner, only checking on him every so often for that super big and messy mouthful of rice.

Recently, I manage to take his weekend breakfast easy too. I no longer rush to prepare his breakfast cos he's fussing. Instead, I show him what I'm doing, I ask him if he wants his peanut butter, tell him to wait for me patiently in an even tone - if I don't feed on his haste, he won't be able to feed on mine too. I'll even take my time to get a bib for him. But lately, he's been rejecting his bib at breakfast, probably because he doesn't wear one at breakfast in school.

Another issue is sleep time - he always expects me to be with him all the time. So we let him cry it out last night. He woke at 10.55 pm and cried for me at the door. Within five minutes, we agreed that I should go in to put him in his bed. But I didn't say anything other than "joot joot" cos I had to get his pacifier. He cried again when I left. 10 more minutes later, I went in and told him the plan for the night and bade him goodnight before I left. He cried again of course. But now there were lapses of silence. By 11.30 pm, we thought there was no need for a third trip.

I set my alarm for 5-15 minutes for the next half an hour to check on him via the camera. Eventually, we found him asleep on the floor at the door. Poor boy. He woke again at past midnight. And he fell asleep - at the door again - until 6.30 am.

I woke at 4.40 am feeling shocked and guilty that I fell asleep while he was crying the second time he woke - though Sito assured me that by then he had stopped crying. I woke for good just before he did to brush my teeth so that I could be with him 100% when he woke. Soon, he woke - happy! I was so relieved! And in all, he slept more last night than if he were to wake and roll for two or three hours.

He was rather sticky today though. We thought it could be because of last night. I can deal with that so long as he gets enough sleep.

2) Next, we decided that he shouldn't get his way all the time. He emptied his toy box again this morning and I made him pick some up but it wasn't more than he usually picked up anyway. Sito slapped his hand after repeated chiding about him hitting an empty box on the dining table - quite hard. He said it was very 心痛 for him but ZK wasn't going to fear my two-finger slap *.*

3) Third, well, he shouldn't get new things all the time. He wouldn't know how to be patient and how to appreciate what he has if this goes on. We don't want him to grow up expecting new things all the time. It's toys now. What would it be a few years later? Digital gadgets? Sito has a good idea - to give him new things only on his birthday. If he gets new things all the time, what can he look forward to on his birthday? Sito and I had the same thought - some gigantic birthday party?! NOOOO!

And came across this article on Facebook earlier this month. It's called "Why I took my kids’ toys away {and why they won’t get them back}".

When we started our journey with ZK, my idea was to minimise toys. In fact, I got only one toy for him before he was born - Sophie the Giraffe cos of the sound, the size and the bite. Later, when he was very young, I got him a wooden car I happened to come across cos wood is a good material for children and well, he's a boy so.. And then I saw the EverEarth 5-in-1 activity cube that is good for developing his motor skills. When he showed an interest in balls, I got him some cheap ones that occupied him in the bath as well. And we also got him some Mega Bloks to encourage creativity. Sito got him a cute little crocodile pull toy from Indonesia - he really wanted to get something for his little boy :)

And that was all the toys the parents got him. Even then, I haven't brought out all the balls or all the Mega Bloks yet as, good as he is to help pick up toys, he is still unable to pick everything up, which means it's yours truly who will have to do it - so fun, especially when you're pregnant, the husband is sleeping and the helper is out on Sundays *.* And not to mention it's hard to instil discipline - Sito calls it the dirty dishes syndrome where the person who could endure it the least will end up washing the dishes. But frankly, when the mess is huge, not just kids but even adults will tend to procrastinate!

The toy box now sitting in our living room consists of mainly toys from family and friends. And there are more in the cupboards waiting for their chance to be played. I don't know when that will be because even with one box, he's not playing with everything in the box. But he will empty the box anyway!

Actually, I want to get something for my little boy too. But he gets so many now. Sometimes I feel a little sad that I can't get some of the nice things I see outside because he has too many already. But I tell myself that what's the point of indulging myself if he is not going to be able to play with everything and will only pick up bad habits along the way?

Really, as adults, how often do we get new things? So why should we set our kids up for disappointment later in life?

This will apply to 小马哥 as well. In fact, I'm very ready to throw some toys away if they refuse to help each other pick things up, just like in the article!

4) And since we're on the topic, Sito brought up something he read - which I probably read too! - about how we should praise kids for their specific actions instead of the kids themselves, e.g. when they get good scores for an exam because they have studied hard, not because they are so smart. But Sito said the opposite holds true if we want to teach morals, e.g. when they help someone because they are kind.

5) More from our chat today, cos we had some time to ourselves this afternoon as we went to watch a show - more on that later - about our behaviour when our kids start primary school. This stems from my observation of mums around me. Sometimes, I think parents these days interfere too much with their kids' studies, e.g. taking leave during PSLE. Really?! My parents didn't even know my exam schedules!

Sito said he'll be chill but suspected I'll be a tiger mum *.* Well, I don't know but I'm trying to keep chill too. What's the point of stressing them out when the primary school years are really the last few years of childhood for them? I'm not saying they shouldn't study. But at that age, if they don't want to study, it's hard to force them. And forcing is never good for instilling anything but fear of the very thing itself.

And there's no need to manage the kids' schedules for them when they get to the age of being able to do it. Or actually, they should be given the freedom to learn to manage their own schedule from a young age. No need to handicap them with our help.

Ok, end of post. I'm going to sing - very inspired after the show today despite my ulcers!

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