Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy LIVINGESHAN K.
The first birthday of a child is a day that most parents and first-time parents look forward to. Some parents obsess over the details of the celebration, some celebrate it moderately and there are the cynics among us who feel it’s a waste of time and money.
Now, it’s easy to call these latter ones cynics, though upon closer inspection and a little bit of reasoning, you find that they have a point as the child won't remember the day and might even sleep through the whole party.
Whichever way you look at it, there is no shortage of debate as to how to celebrate a first birthday or whether to celebrate it at all. Two parents share their thoughts on first birthday celebrations:
Reena Indharaj with daughter Tamieera
Service desk manager Reena Indhraraj, mother to Tamieera, aged six months:
“The memories from my baby’s first birthday will be priceless. This will be a milestone and it’s meant to be celebrated. It's what makes us human. And a first birthday is a huge milestone, both for the child and the parent.
I don't see it as a party; I view it as a celebration of my child's life. All birthdays should be celebrated! So many babies don't ever live to see this miraculous milestone. I would like my baby to be surrounded by everyone who loves her.
We don't have to go overboard in celebrating, but it's her first birthday. She won't remember but we will and we will have the photos to show her. The first birthday may be seen as an event for mum and dad, it's a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our daughter's first year, a time to acknowledge how truly blessed we are to reach this milestone. As much as I’d love to keep it as simple as we want, I really feel I will regret letting this day pass without some form of celebration.
My plans are to make her a cake just so she can smash it and take a picture and have a close gathering for her birthday at home. For me, what matters at every birthday is knowing that I am loved. To me, it's another year God has let me live, and I know God loves me enough to let me live. I don't want my child to think her life has to be all about money or worldly possessions. I just want to make her birthday a little special, not spectacular that I have to really try to outdo it year after year.
It’s been a big year indeed, so why not celebrate it? I mean, we only have one first birthday, and that is definitely a milestone to us. It doesn't mean you have to go for broke to celebrate it, but why not make it special?
I am so excited for Tamie's party, though I am sure I will shed a few tears knowing my girl is already one and getting more independent each day. I will be the mark of a year since I delivered her! Although, I do wish she'd stay small just a little bit longer.”
Nazlin Yusoff with daughter Zulaikha
HR clerical assistant Nazlin Yusoff, mother of Zulaikha, aged two (with one more on the way):
“My honest opinion is that it is a waste of money. Growth in different children may vary, but it is still safe to assume that at the age of one, the baby would have hardly mustered the necessary ability to quite comprehend what is taking place. This is very important, because the birthday is celebrated for the baby and if the baby can’t quite grasp what is going on or is asleep when the celebration is taking place, it just doesn’t add up, does it?
I think the ideal age for birthday celebrations of any kid is around the age of three onwards. At this age, the child is normally receptive to what is going on around and is able to appreciate all that is taking place.
There have been celebrations for first birthdays in my family, but I think this is a pretty subjective issue. What one parent may feel is necessary, may just be a waste of time and money to another.
I have attended my fair share of these parties. I think if you can afford it then go ahead. However, I still feel these celebrations are a result of parents being swept away by the excitement more than anything else.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
By SHAMALA VELU
Sibling rivalry is bound to happen when you have more than one child. It is especially intense and stressful for parents who have to play referee all day long. Although the best thing is for siblings to work things out themselves, many parents are drawn into their children's fights, afraid it escalates into something loud and physical.
Should parents leave siblings to sort out quarrels among themselves, or should they step in?
Two parents share their opinion:
Norlin Wan Musa with daughter Ishra.
Norlin Wan Musa, mother to Aditya Kamiso, six, and Ishra Kamiso, 10:
“My children actually get along pretty well most of the time. If they quarrel, they don't get physical with each other, either. They’ve had heated arguments but this happens occasionally. I let my kids resolve their differences unless they ask me for help. However, when they start yelling at each other, I become alert.
If shouting matches start, I usually ask them what is going on and speak to them about their feelings and how they want to work things out. Sometimes, I tell them to take some time away from each other before sorting things out. My favourite line is, 'You guys sort it out'. I think I use this so often that the other day I heard my daughter say to the house pets, 'You guys sort it out'.
Although we don’t have any rules about fighting, I don’t encourage them to use bad language. Being physical and using bad language is something we talk a lot about.
I tell them not to say things that they would not want others to use on them. I also talk to them about friends and why being physical or verbal will not help or do anything good for them.
I usually talk to my kids and find out why they do the things they do. The last time my son used a bad word at home (a few months ago), it turned out he didn’t understand what the word meant. Sometimes he’d come up to me and ask what certain bad words mean and why such words exist, or why adults use them. I don’t usually resort to punishment on my kids though.
They usually quarrel when they have different opinions and cannot agree on a game they are playing or a movie they watch. They get frustrated when they don't see eye to eye.
I normally just listen and observe. I talk to them when they ask me for my help or my opinion. Otherwise, I just let them be. More often than not, they will sort things out among themselves. Even when one person ends up saying 'I’ll never play this game ever again'.
I guess when I let them be, they get to think about what happened and learn things at their own pace. They do say sorry to each other and then make up on their own. Before long they will be playing the very game which they vowed to never touch again.
When they display inappropriate behaviour, we talk about it. I don’t threaten them, but I am firm. I try my best to not be emotional about situations either. I am still learning to do this. Sometimes it’s hard. I will usually ask why my son or daughter behaved in that manner.
I will give them my opinion and explain how I felt about what I saw. Sometimes it ends up with a discussion on what’s appropriate and what’s not.
However, I do punish when behaviour is inappropriate. I will deny them playdates or sleepovers. But this happens not because they quarrel but because they didn’t do their work or perform their duties.
My parents were old school. We were scolded and yelled at when we fought. My mum sometimes hit me and my sister when we fought. One of us usually got blamed when we argued or fought. I had always wanted to parent my kids differently.
I like explaining things and talking to them. I believe that they need to understand why people do things the way they do. I also want them to understand their own feelings and be able to express and channel them appropriately.
I also like to guide them into understanding other people’s feelings and the reason why they behave in such a way. Hopefully, they can respond logically when they are confronted, such as when someone antagonises them. I hope they will be able to identify the behaviour and not react to it. My daughter understands this better now, probably because she’s older.
I never take sides when the kids are fighting. I also don't believe that the older child should always give in to the younger sibling.
I'm glad that my children don’t bicker that much now. I guess the more we spend time with each other, the more we learn to get along and understand each another.”
Saraswathi Viswakumar, housewife and mother to Maheshwaran 10, and Lalitha, 14:
“My house is full of noise and scenarios of my kids having major arguments. Although my daughter is more mature now, she doesn't give in to her brother when they fight. There's always bickering and sometimes it escalates and they can get physical.
Whenever a fight starts, I'm already up on my toes to see what is going on as I fear they may hit each other. They know they cannot physically fight but sometimes they break the rules. Sometimes, there are also screaming matches. When it happens, I usually take away devices and the game that caused the fight in the first place.
That really cools them down. Sometimes, they become friends again and scheme together to get the devices back from me.
I must say that the kids do bring out the worst in me. I find that I'm unable to control my anger because their quarrels can be so irritating. Almost anything can spur a conflict between the two of them.
I find myself acting like a child and yelling at the one who irritates me most. After I calm down, I would apologise and explain how I felt. My daughter is very loving but I find that she does not want to understand my feelings. She is also very strong-willed and tries to reason out why she should not be punished.
My son feels bullied most of the time and that's why I sympathise with him. When my son came along four years after Lalitha, she was very jealous. I knew there would be problems because she used to get a lot of attention from friends and family. I thought that she would someday get over it. However, I find that she still looks for attention.
She irritates Maheswaran and upsets him for no reason at all sometimes. Most of the time there's name-calling between them and I have to separate them physically and tell them to go to their own rooms.
I find myself getting involved in all their fights because I don't want it to escalate.
Sometimes I beg my daughter to give in to her younger brother so the argument can be settled. I know it's wrong, but I feel it's natural for the older sibling to give in to the younger one. She cannot understand this yet. I believe it stems from the way I was brought up. I'm the eldest of three siblings and my parents believed I had to take on more responsibility. However, children nowadays don't understand this concept. We need to tackle the situations with patience and understanding. However, I know I lack in this area of parenting.
There are times when they play together nicely and I feel blessed during these rare moments. Deep down, I know Lalitha loves her brother very much and he loves her, too. My only hope is that when they are young adults, they will learn to respect each other and have a good relationship. I want them to have good memories of their childhood and laugh at the silly quarrels they once had.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy SHAMALA VELU
Every year, parents are invited to all kinds of birthday bashes - from grand events to small, private ones. Many parents take the trouble to plan exciting activities and make it fun and enjoyable for children. However, there are many parents who believe that birthdays are a private affair that should be celebrated among family and close friends. No matter what type of birthday party one holds for their child, there’s no denying that it is done with lots of love and enthusiasm.
Two parents share their opinion on holding birthday parties.
Mazwin Abdul Muin
Mazwin Abdul Muin, mother to Ahmad Najmi Haziq, six, and Nur Afiqah, 12:
“A lot of work goes into planning a birthday party, whether it's going to be big or small. I think nowadays parents have a budget to organise big birthday functions. It also depends on the family's lifestyle. Some engage a party planner but there are many mothers who take the trouble to plan weeks ahead of the party, finding the theme, decorations and more importantly, choosing the cake.
Children also look forward to receiving gifts during birthdays. Parents need to cautious as kids can get carried away with their presents. Children need to be reminded that it is not only about receiving, but giving as well.
I'm fortunate that my children are not demanding or want big parties. They are comfortable with having a cake and celebrating their birthdays at home with family members. Sometimes we go out for dinner to make the birthday child feel special. That's what birthday celebrations are about.
I think that having parties at home is good because you get to spend the time with your loved ones and there's more family bonding.
If we plan to have a big party, I plan a month earlier and settle all details two weeks prior to the party. My son usually prefers to celebrate his birthdays with his classmates in school. My daughter sometimes invites her friends home. It's nothing fancy. I usually bake and decorate the cake myself as I have my own cake business and work from home.
When I was growing up, my parents would greet me on my birthday and give me my gift. Mum would cook a family dinner and that made me feel good. My kids are the same way.
However, times have changed. I realise that many people celebrate birthdays in a big way.
I think celebrating birthdays in a big way is good if one can afford it. It's nice to see the smiles on children's faces when they are being entertained with clowns, a magician and other activities but we must be also careful that we don't spoil them.”
TV host Serina Redzuawan, mother to Isabella Saffiya, 11 months, and Tristan Tareff, one:
“This is the second birthday for my son and this year I want to make sure that there are fun activities for the children attending the party. I'm planning a month in advance to be sure that everything goes well. We have chosen an indoor play centre for his big birthday bash this year.
I believe that birthdays for children should be celebrated in a big way because it is important to them. Celebrating birthdays in a big way is important because it comes only once a year, and it is to celebrate our loved ones. I feel blessed seeing our kids happy and feeling special on that day. Of course it's important to have a budget if one is having a big bash.
Holding big parties also teaches children to socialise and be respectful towards others. It teaches them about giving and spreading good cheer as well.
The first party we had for Tristan was a pool party at home. It was simple but lots of fun. We intend to have a big celebration with about 100 guests when he turns two. I want my children to have good memories of their birthdays. They may not remember their party but they will always remember that we love and did the best for them. Money cannot buy happiness and strong family ties. This is what I want my children will see years from now.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy NELLY SOH
Language remains one of the most important ways people communicate. Children pick up languages as soon as they are born, absorbing their mother tongue as well as a variety of other languages and dialects they are exposed to.
Children nowadays are exposed to a multitude of languages. There are, however, concerns that arise when a child learns more than two languages.
Two parents share their concerns and opinions, while a linguist shares her views.
Julia Lim with children Geethika and Nethran (right).
Julia Lim Kae Yuen, 32, mother to Geethika, five, and Nethran, seven months:
“My daughter is currently learning English, Tamil, Malay, and some Chinese. I try to teach her German as well as I do speak it, if only a little. In my opinion, learning something new is always fun and interesting, and it keeps the child more attentive to the language he or she is using. I look at it as something that keeps their mind going.
In my opinion, the advantage of learning more than two languages is that children are quick learners. They absorb information like sponges, and optimistically speaking, I do foresee that one day it will benefit them, be it in their career, or conversing with people from different cultural backgrounds. Such knowledge will help cut down barriers and walls, as we all know that verbal communication is a key factor in building relationships.
On the flip side, the child might get mixed up with the multitude of languages he or she is learning. So far, I have not seen it occurring in Geethika, but I can't rule it out as it is one of my concerns. Furthermore, parents might put unnecessary pressure on the child to learn the language(s), and fail to see that he or she has much potential or talent in other fields.
Adding to that, I believe that there is a very high possibility that children who learn more than two languages have the tendency of speaking in what we Malaysians would call, 'rojak' (mixed up) language.
However, with the proper guidance, I'm pretty sure all of the disadvantages can be minimised, if not entirely avoided. I believe, it's all about the journey, not the destination. Learning is something we do every day, and I believe with encouragement and motivation, our children will be very much inspired to learn.”
Jacqueline Tan with daughter Natalie.
Jacqueline Tan, 32, tax manager, mother to Natalie, seven months:
“Learning more than two languages is something I would encourage. In fact, by learning more than two languages, children get a platform to communicate with people, not to mention, more opportunity to do so.
I do have doubts as to whether they will end up confused. I grew up conversing in English, Malay, Hokkien, and Hainanese. As far as I'm concerned, no confusions occurred.
As far as 'rojak' languages go, I'm not too concerned unless someone speaks to my child using 'rojak' language. However, looking on the bright side, if the child uses such forms of communication, it will be easier for an adult to detect and correct the child.”
Dr Kuang Ching Hei, associate professor, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, Universiti Malaya:
“It is definitely good for children to be exposed to different languages from young. When they hear such languages this early in life, they will be able to distinguish them, and after having sufficient amount of exposure, will be able to speak them like a native speaker. That being said, the best time to learn would be when the child is no older than three years of age.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
By SHAMALA VELU
Toys are important playthings for children. Most parents tend to choose educational toys that help to stimulate and develop a young child's mind. However, there are many parents who feel children should focus more on developing reading habits and prefer to buy them books instead of toys.
Although the best way is to set limits when it comes to indulging children with toys, it's a daunting task as children have a variety of interesting toys to choose from these days.
Should kids have more toys or books?
Two parents share their opinion.
Kasturie Chinniah with her youngest son Arvin
Kasturie Chinniah, a nurse and mother to Arvin, 10, Dashini, 19, Privina, 20, and Shavitra Ravindran, 22:
“I believe that children should have toys that help to enhance their development. With so much to choose from these days, parents need to spend time not only choosing toys that are appropriate for their children but also look into its safety. When buying, we should check if it is relevant to the child's age and development. When my children were young, I always bought educational toys for them. I also wanted them to develop the love for reading books. I think young children should be encouraged to read.
I started buying books for my children when they were toddlers. When reading a book, children develop good language as well as reading skills. However, the love for reading does not happen overnight.
I take Arvin to the library whenever I can and buy him interesting books with illustrations in the hope that he will develop an affinity for books. During reading time, we talk about the book and ask questions. I think reading together is an important family activity and that's why I want my children to read together.
I think children should have a good balance of books and toys in their rooms. My son likes to play with Lego, cars, puzzles, chess and monopoly. I set a limit of one to two hours in the evenings as his playtime.
My fear is that if I do not set limits and he plays all the time with his toys, he will not be able to focus on his studies.
If he insists that he gets a new toy, I reason things out with him and try to divert his attention. If he wants a toy, it has to be an educational one - something that helps to stimulate his mind. However, I’m not against toys. It is important for young children because through play, they develop many skills including learning to control their emotions and thoughts with friends.
Children are also given the opportunity to make friends and strengthen social skills while playing.
However, as children get older, the focus should be on reading as it stimulates their imagination and creativity. Good books with illustrations are also very entertaining.
I let friends and family know that I encourage my children to buy and read books. That way, they know where I stand with toys.
My son still has many toys although I'm more cautious now when he asks for new ones.
I think parents have a big part to play in making reading fun and exciting for children otherwise they would never know how to enjoy a good book.
Many parents buy too many toys for children nowadays and I believe this spoils them. Wise parents are selective and think about the number of toys their children have before buying them new ones.”
Mohan Arumugam, project manager and father to Mayvin Lim Mohan, 10, and Teejay Lim Mohan, one month:
“For babies and infants, it’s all about brain development. I would like my child to get the basics right first. I would buy simple toys with solid construction such as objects, shapes, colours, musical toys and toys which speak out simple words. I would definitely choose educational toys for my children.
I believe that when children turn two, their brains are more developed. I would buy books for two-year-olds because it is a good time to introduce numbers and the alphabet. At this stage, it is good to introduce books that look like toys which will interest them. Parents can buy for toddlers extremely hard material books which the child can't tear or chew on.
We never stopped buying toys for our children. Instead, we slowed down on buying toys when my son turned four. I guess it was because he was going to preschool and there they were using more books than toys in their day-to-day learning activities. At this age, our child started picking books instead of toys whenever we took him out to shopping malls or bookshops. He would run to the children’s book corner, pick up storybooks and sit down on the floor to read.
Buying children too many toys is not a good idea because it is a big waste of money as children will outgrow their toys within weeks or months. When parents buy many toys for their child, it becomes difficult for the child to appreciate the value of what they have as well. My son loves remote control cars and he can play all day long until we take it away from him.
As parents, we have to play an important role in reading to our child bedtime stories and taking them to libraries or bookstores.
Thankfully, my son never demands for toys or throws tantrums. I guess it is because I always advise and guide him to think wisely. By guiding our children, it will remind them that they are growing up and they need to focus on their growth, development and studies.
I would encourage all parents to buy toys for their child but set limits. All children deserve to enjoy their childhood like we did during our own childhood. If you shower your child with too many toys, they will end up losing their creativity and also will not appreciate what they have. Just buy what is needed according to their age.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy SHAMALA VELU
Saying “No” to a child is probably one of the hardest things for a parent to do. Likewise, it is hard for a child to hear that word. It is certainly not an easy situation in today’s world, where children are surrounded by all sorts of sophisticated items – from electronic gadgets to creative toys and high-end fashion.
Most parents are concerned that their child will grow up to be spoilt and difficult if they give in to their constant demands. Others believe children's lifestyles and attitudes today are so different from a generation ago and kids today need to keep up with their peers or risk being left behind.
Two parents share their opinions on how they tackle this tricky situation:
Suhaila Saleh with her son, Amirul Arief, 3.
Blogger Suhaila Saleh, mother to Dalia Amana Mohd Khairul Fadzli, five, and Amirul Arief Mohd Khairul Fadzli, three:
“I'm a parent who does not easily give in to the demands of my children. I believe children should be rewarded only after they accomplish certain goals. As parents, we think that children should be given gifts to encourage good attitude and behaviour, but in my opinion, it spoils them.
We must be practical and teach them that life is a learning process. Whatever they learn is for their own good and it does not come with rewards all the time. However, I do give small gifts such as books and toys occasionally to motivate them when they complete tasks.
If we want our children to be respectful, we must set limits and boundaries. I always make sure my children appreciate others.
I believe nowadays most children do not have this value because parents always give in easily to their children. Children can become demanding and eventually unappreciative.
I don't buy things unnecessarily for the kids; I explain the value of money to them. I want my children to know that life is not easy.
This way, they can set goals for themselves. By giving into their whims and fancies we are teaching them that life is easy and this is not what I want. Children sometimes attribute gifts to love. Usually, I will buy toys for their birthdays or if they want to buy things from their own allowance or “duit Raya” (Hari Raya money).
However, I don't always buy gifts as a way of showing my love to them. I also spend quality time with them, making bath time interesting, or reading a book to them.
I shower my kids with hugs and kisses most of the time as a way of giving them the most important thing - love. Parents can spend quality time with their children by taking them to the playground as well. This is what I value most.
I also draw the line when they ask for things. For me, the important thing to teach my children is, 'get it only if you need it' and I encourage them by example.
I won an iPad in a writing contest and I got it through my own sheer effort, and told them 'I got an iPad with my own effort, so how about you?'
My mother is the same. She is a firm person and never spoilt us with toys. She encouraged us to work for things and I guess I do the same with my children. When children learn from a young age that money must be spent wisely, they will not give in to peer pressure later on. This is another reason why I don't easily give in to them.”
Low Ngai Yuen with her children (clockwise from left) Zi-Enn, eight, Zi-Weng, seven, Zi-Eu, six, and Zi-Yi, three months old.
Low Ngai Yuen, head of Kakiseni.com and mother to daughters Wong Zi-Enn, eight, and Wong Zi-Yi, three months, and sons Wong Zi-Weng, seven, and Wong Zi-Eu, six:
“I'm somewhere in between giving in to my children's needs and being firm. I don't believe in giving direct rewards alone, such as 'do well in your exams, and you'll get this.'
Although I'm sometimes guilty of doing this, I really think this is not a good way of motivating them as it leads children to think very superficially. I want my children to have negotiation skills and the ability to make choices.
When I was a child, all I was ever told was 'we can't afford it.' I was angry because I felt that was a poor excuse. But then it made me who I am. If I really want something, I'll find a way to work for it. It has shown me how everything works in life and I want to pass this down to my children.
However, I am guilty of indulging my kids once in a while especially when it comes to birthday parties. Sometimes it's the parties that I never got to have as a child. It's amazing how many of my best friends walk into my daughter's parties and say, 'Hey, isn't this the party you always wanted when you were young? … Are you sure this is what Zi-Enn wants?'
I guess this is because my parents were very strict and it was the extreme case of not giving in to my demands. Most of the time now, they feel I give in too much to my own children.
However, I feel that my kids deserve things when they know how best to ask for it. I believe it is about getting them to understand the power of bargaining and the effects of how and what they are asking for.
So, it's for them to learn how to ask wisely, so that they can get a 'yes' easily. It also depends on when they've been good and have researched the stuff they want me to buy for them. This must come with a plan of how they wish to use it.
If their plans are good, then yes, I definitely do think that they deserve it. It's all about knowing when and how to negotiate for what they want.
I don't believe that our behaviour is shaped by how we experience things. I have taught my kids to be considerate to others regardless of how much they get. Getting gifts and receiving stuff from me does not mean that they are not learning about giving.
In fact, much is relayed about the values learned from the acts of giving and receiving.
I do spend a fair bit of time away from the kids as I'm a working mother, and there are times, especially after a long trip overseas, that I feel compelled to buy them something for fear of non-acceptance and sometimes guilt.
It's my way of saying that I am always thinking of you. But it's on my terms and what I want to buy for them.
My children are definitely my No 1 priority but what they want is not. Though I must say, I do my best to make certain things happen for them especially when they've been very good children.
I do set rules for the children and the 'law of consequences' applies: If a toy can't be shared, it belongs in the dustbin. If you get a new iPad game and it interferes with your homework, then the game will be deleted. I’m sure all parents have similar rules.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
By SHAMALA VELU
Being in a boarding school far away from home can be quite a daunting experience for children who have always lived in the comfort of their own home. Students are not only expected to settle in quickly in a new environment, but they must also cope with a regimented routine.
Despite the heartache of separation, some parents believe boarding schools provide a good foundation for adult life. Others disagree, saying that institutions cannot replace the traditional family unit that nurtures a child.
Two parents share their opinion on boarding schools:
Shahanaz Zainuddin, mother of Muhammad Ziyad Azhar, 13. Ziyad attends the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) in Perak. Shahanaz says:
“My son wanted to go to a boarding school after completing the UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah). He wanted to go to MCKK because his father attended the boarding school as well. Being a reputable school with an excellent track record, my son did not want to miss out on the opportunity to study there. He joined the school in January this year.
As a mother, I was quite apprehensive and concerned as to whether my son could manage and adapt to boarding school life but we decided to support his decision as a family. Since it was his choice, I advised him to stay strong and face challenges. I told him to do his best and not to give up.
Deep down, I was anxious and worried, wondering if he could cope with the school's expectations, activities and regimental lifestyle. The separation was pretty difficult for both of us. Although my son wanted to go to boarding school, he was extremely homesick for the first few months. He would call me five to seven times almost every day. But by the fourth month, he settled down and was well-adjusted. In fact, he became quite comfortable.
Compared to public schools, discipline is stressed in boarding schools and students become more responsible and independent. This is important for students who want to excel in their studies. Being disciplined is also a great foundation for children as they will do better in their adult life.
Sports is not left out, either. My son plays rugby and participates in debates and a few other activities in school.
Among the cons is that it can affect family ties as the children are away from home most of the time. As parents, we need to ensure that there is constant bonding through phone calls and visits.
We are still his parents and school does not replace his family. He comes home once a month and we visit him once a month as well. The time we spend together is special because we don't see each other as often as we used to. We have long chats and just spend time together as a family.
I can say that my son is more responsible and self-disciplined now. He is also much fitter due to all the physical activities in school. He has noticeably grown as an individual and behaves like a young man now. He carries himself well and speaks with a lot of confidence.
I'm happy that he has settled down in the boarding school. However, I feel that the schedule is sometimes quite rigid and the students tend to become stressed out. Thankfully, my son has learnt to cope well.”
Assistant teacher Peggy Ho, mother of Sarah Quah, 13. Sarah is a student at Tenby International School. Ho says:
“Sending my daughter to a boarding school is out of the question as I would not be able to spend as much time as I do with her now. She may also grow more distant due to the regimented lifestyle there. I certainly would not want to break the strong bond that we have between us right now.
I think it's important that we do not force a child to go to boarding school. This is because a child who is between the ages of 12 and 15 may not be able to cope with a regimented lifestyle and may suffer from culture shock.
Parents must also consider whether their child can adhere to the strict rules and discipline in a boarding school. Furthermore, family members are not allowed to visit students any time they want.
I think that a child who spends his or her teenage years in a boarding school can also be 'vulnerable' to many things. They may be influenced by students with bad habits such as smoking, lying, playing truant or those who engage in vice activities, including premarital sex. They need their parents to guide and instil good values so that they grow up to become responsible adults. How are we to check who they associate with in boarding school?
It is possible that some children do pick up bad habits due to peer pressure. They could also be influenced by wayward students, especially those who lack guidance or adult supervision.
I strongly believe that parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children and should not leave it entirely to teachers or people who are already under a lot of work pressure. Also, we need to think about teachers who have to handle many children from diverse backgrounds.
If I did send my daughter to a boarding school, my biggest fear would be that she would think I'm trying to abandon her. In fact, she may also stop communicating with me.
My daughter is kind and gentle and I would feel guilty if another student took advantage of her good-hearted nature. Nothing can replace being physically present to counsel, give them a hug or a shoulder to cry on. When things are not going their way, they need the moral support from parents. Parents can relate better to their own child.
Children also learn family values from home. These are important values that shape children's personalities. I’m sure all parents want their children to grow into adults who will be responsible for their actions. A child who grows up in a home with good family values will learn how to protect herself emotionally, physically and spiritually. Besides the academics, we need to ensure that a child grows up with good values as well.
We are a small family so I don't see the need to send my daughter to a boarding school. Life is short, and I want to treasure the time we spend together and enjoy our relationship. There will come a time when my daughter will graduate, get married and have her own family. For now, I want to spend as much time with her.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy SHAMALA VELU
Leaving children alone at home can be unnerving. Many parents have had tumultuous experiences with maids and daycare centres. Hence, they feel the only other option is to leave their brood alone at home. Although Malaysia has a Child Act that protects children against neglect, some parents still take the chance of leaving their kids alone at home.
Two people share their views on this:
Photographer Diana (not her real name), mother to five children:
“The decision to leave my children alone at home was a very difficult one when we decided to do it a year ago. My husband and I work full-time and our Indonesian maid went home for a holiday and never returned. We did not have any backup plan. Our extended families don’t live nearby.
Looking back, I realise it takes a lot of discipline and courage to leave children home alone but we had no other alternative. I didn't want to leave them with a babysitter because it would be costly and resigning was out of the question since our household depends on two incomes. I wanted my children to be more independent and I believed this was a good way to teach them to be responsible.
We knew our eldest son, who was then 11, was very mature for his age. He is very independent and does not usually need adult supervision. We decided to see if things worked with him taking charge of his younger brothers. My boys are also not physical and don't get into big arguments. So, I knew it would work well.
Although I was very anxious in the beginning and kept calling back every 30 minutes to see how they were doing, things looked much better when they got into a routine.
We had to make things very clear to the younger boys that their eldest brother was in charge. My youngest child (the only daughter) was sent to the nursery nearby because she is very young. I also told the caregivers at the nursery to assist if my boys needed help. Knowing that there is help nearby has made it a lot easier for me. My neighbours are also working parents so there’s no one to turn to except the nursery.
I tell my boys that if they need help at any time, they can always call the nursery. The boys arrive home at around 1pm after school and the school bus driver is also very helpful. He makes sure that all of them are inside the house before he leaves. There are many spare house keys in the house just in case one goes missing.
I wake up very early in the morning to prepare lunch because I shut the gas cylinder after cooking. I cook simple dishes like fried rice or noodles and it is left on the table for them.
Rules are definitely important for my children. There is a list of rules the boys must follow and it includes not going out of the house at any time or opening the gate for anyone. They are not allowed to use the microwave, gas stove or any other electrical appliance in the kitchen. In fact, the children are not allowed to use the kitchen. Medicine, match boxes and other hazardous materials are locked away as well.
They are only allowed to use the phone to call me and no one is supposed to know they are home alone.
The boys usually shower after returning from school, then they have their lunch. Most of the time, they watch television or play computer games after that. Although I worry about what they are watching or playing, I trust my eldest son and he always keeps a watchful eye on their activities. They are off again to Agama (religious) class after lunch at about 2.30pm. Again, the bus driver takes them to class and brings them home before 4pm. My husband is at home by 5.30pm.
When I get home the house is always in a mess. Clothes are strewn on the floor and plates are left in the sink! I don't scold or expect them to do the dishes because they are already looking after themselves and trying to stay out of trouble.
There's a lot of work for me when I get home and one needs to be disciplined about time management.
Although I'm tired, I don't concede or take a break. It has worked thus far for my family. My boys, who used to be apprehensive about being alone, are also very confident now. I think it just takes a bit of adjustment and close supervision.”
Phenny Kakama, child protection specialist from Uganda, Unicef (United Nations Children's Fund) Malaysia:
“Leaving children alone at home without adult supervision can be dangerous to their wellbeing since children's behaviours, particularly younger children, put them at greater risk. They crawl on the floor, climb onto the window ledge, squeeze through stair balustrades, slide down the stair handrail, swing on the gate, run from room to room and ride bikes inside as well as outside the house. They make use of their homes in ways that may seem reasonable to them, but which could put them in harm's way.
We do understand that there are many circumstances and situations that leave parents and guardians with seemingly no other options but to leave a child alone at home. However, parents and guardians must explore other options that will minimise risks for children and which serve the best interests of the child. This is because parents and guardians will be held accountable for any harm that may befall a child if left alone at home.
Whatever the age, there are risks which parents and guardians should be aware of when a child is left alone at home. Some risks are not even age-dependent, for example, opening the doors indiscriminately to visitors or being exposed to adult content on television or the Internet.
Dangers and risks are variable and depend on the age of the child. For the younger children, there are greater risks of injury from play or handling electrical equipment, abduction as well as emotional deprivation from lack of care and concern.
For older children, there are risks that the child may interact with groups that may be a negative influence on him / her. The child can take advantage of the absence of adults or other children to experiment with alcohol, smoking, use of drugs and exposure to inappropriate content via television and the Internet. In addition, there are risks of rape and other forms of sexual violence for girls in particular irrespective of age, as well as boys.
Adult supervision is widely recognised as vital to protecting children from harm. Some estimates suggest that 90% of injuries to young children occur in and around their home, even when they are supposedly being supervised by a caregiver.
Malaysia's Child Act 2001 protects children from all forms of maltreatment including neglect.
The Child Act of 2001 states in Chapter 3, Section 33 on ill-treatment, neglect, abandonment or exposure of children that:
'Any person who, being a parent or a guardian or a person for the time being having the care of a child, leaves that child (a) without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child; (b) for a period which is unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances; or (c) under conditions which are unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances, commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding five thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both.'
To overcome these challenges that parents face, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recommends that high-quality, low-cost or free daycare and after-school care are put in place to protect the needs of children. While the Government is primarily responsible for meeting this need, other stakeholders such as employers should also be involved in providing alternative forms of childcare for working parents.
In fact, the Committee on the Rights of the Child urges governments to consider developing comprehensive measures to encourage responsible parenthood and to assist needy families with their child-rearing responsibilities. These measures could be in the form of ensuring child-care services and facilities are prepared for working parents or by offering social assistance to families.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
By SHAMALA VELU
Most parents try to give their children equal opportunites, regardless of their gender. However, when it comes to curfews and late nights, parents tend to be more protective over their daughters than their sons.
Some parents say this is because the fairer sex is easier prey for rapists and muggers. In the past, girls were expected to be home by a certain time, while boys could stay out late, or had no curfew at all.
Is it true that double-standards exist in raising daughters and sons?
Abdul Aziz Hamdan
Management consultant Abdul Aziz Hamdan has two sons and two daughters, aged eight to 22. He says:
“When it comes to raising our boys and girls, there are obviously no written rules or strict ones that are set by me or my wife. Rules are meant to be broken and many times, it is difficult for children to abide by rules. Looking back, I see that there were many restrictions placed on girls in our family. This kind of upbringing is harmful as it will not allow them to make family decisions. The girl will only end up listening to her husband and she will not have a happy life.
Thus, I encourage my girls to be open with me. If they have done wrong, I want them to be honest and tell the truth. A girl, who hides things, will only suffer when time catches up with her. I am protective over both my sons and daughters but I'm not overprotective. Anything that is excessive is bad in my opinion. I stay close to them and watch them from a distance. If they fall, they should know how to get up as well. On weekdays, Noah and Naomi are allowed to stay out until midnight and on weekends, the curfew is until 1am for both. However, they are not allowed to go out with friends I don't know or haven't met.
Outgoing young girls today want to be treated the same way as their brothers and I think it's all right for girls to enjoy themselves. However, they should not be naive or act foolishly when they face the real world. Obviously, girls want and should be treated the same way as boys. If my son is allowed to stay out late, then I will also allow my daughter to do so, too.
Times have changed and youths today are more aware of what they can and cannot do. It is an open world now. I find that by the time you can explain things to a child, they already know the answers. When my eldest son was six years old, he told me how whales make babies – it was something he learnt from a documentary on television. It was certainly different in the 1960s when I was growing up. I have 13 siblings and we come from a small town. The answers I got from my older siblings were mostly silly ones, such as, “If you do this, this 'hantu' (ghost) will haunt you,” or “If you do that, the other 'hantu' will get you.”
Fast-forward to the present and you get a very different picture. My eldest son, Noah, and daughter Naomi grew up watching How I Met Your Mother, a comedy about a single, young man who meets many different women. As such, they are exposed to modern day lifestyles. I think it is unfair to give my children different sets of rules when they are mature enough to understand so many things. For the same reason I expect them to help out around the house.
My eldest son knows how to cook as do my daughters. They participate in our weekly cooking and I always tell them that when looking for a life partner, they must make sure he or she is helpful and caring as well. If they have these qualities, it will make them a good husband or wife.
When my wife is busy, I do the cooking, ironing and helping out wherever necessary. I do the gardening and I still have time to play golf three times a week.
The biggest challenge for parents nowadays is trying to tell younger children that the world is not a perfect place. There are a lot of people out there who tell lies. The older kids may already be able to tell the difference and be wary, but for young children, we need to explain to them to be very careful, especially about strangers with bad intentions.”
Rahma Daud, manager and mother to daughters, Izza Azizah Rosli, 23, Nur Khumairah, 15, Nurhana Hasanah, 10, and son, Muhammad Syukur, 20, says:
“In my house, the same rule applies to all my children and it is simple: Outings are allowed but not until very late at night. Everyone must be home before maghrib (dawn prayers).
Any night outing for girls will be accompanied by me. This is because I believe girls are at greater risk of being in danger than boys. Boys don't get pregnant, but girls do. I'm not saying it is all right for a young man to womanise. However, society always puts the blame on the girl if something awful happens. There are so many cases of baby dumping and it's usually the girl who is blamed and ends up being called the culprit. Where is the perpetrator?
It sounds so unfair, but that is the reality. There needs to be some boundaries for both boys and girls to follow when it comes to relationships. Thus, when parents impose any rules, it is for their own good.
My son loves to play futsal at night. Once, when my husband turned down his request, he sneaked out of the house after bedtime to go out and play with friends. Since then, we have relaxed the rules a bit. Now, we make sure that he informs us where he is playing and with whom.
We don't encourage our children to go out at night with friends because it is difficult for us to monitor their movements. As parents, we wonder what they are doing with their friends. If my daughter says she wants to go to her friend's place for revision or to a party to celebrate a friend's birthday, I normally send her to the place and make sure that she gives me the contact number of her friend.
I'm protective of both by son and daughters even though most of them are grown up and are able to look after themselves. I still worry if they get into trouble or if they get into the wrong company. I also don't allow my children to drive to university, or my son to ride on his friend's motorbike because we are afraid that they may have an accident. My son always asks, 'Why do you let us get driving licences when you don't allow us to drive to school?' ... And I have no answer to that!
When it comes to cooking and doing household chores, I feel that it's important for the girls to do household chores. In fact, I don't really force my son to cook. Girls, I feel need to be prepared as they will have their own families to care for later. I think most teenagers don't like cooking even if they can. If I'm out running errands until late evening, my children will wait for me to come home and cook. If they are hungry, they usually make fries, burgers or toast bread.
However, they all do their share of housework. My children, I believe, share my views because they see me as a role model. They respect me for who I am. Thus, when I lay down the rules, they know it is done with good intentions.”
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerBy SHAMALA VELU
When an expectant woman goes into labour, it's not unusual to see her spouse in the delivery room as well. Many men take the role of fatherhood seriously. They want to take the first step by going into the labour room to witness the birth of their baby.
However, some men may not be able to handle the stress and strain when it comes to the crunch. So, should fathers be allowed into the labour room?
A father and a midwife share their views on this:
Tay Chee Loon with daughter Tay Xiao You
IT consultant Tay Chee Loon, father to one girl, aged three:
“Being in the labour room with your wife is probably the most important thing you can do for her. I will never forget the day my daughter was born. It was an anxious wait in the delivery room. I believe it is very natural for every man to feel nervous when he enters the delivery room not knowing what to expect for the first time. As for me, I took my wife to the hospital as soon as her water bag broke. I had a lot of mixed feelings, being anxious and happy at the same time.
While waiting for our gynaecologist in the labour room, my wife began sweating and I could sense that her pain was becoming intensely stronger. As an inexperienced first-timer, I did not know how to help her. I held her hand and told her to stay calm and not to worry. After the doctor came in to check my wife and unborn baby, the nurses started to prepare the room. The doctor gave specific instructions to my wife: 'Don't waste your energy. Do not simply push and waste your energy.'
I jotted down in memory everything the doctor had said so I could help her through labour. When my wife kept shouting and telling me that she was in tremendous pain, I tried to calm her down. Then, I noticed that her legs were shaking while she was trying to push the baby out.
At this point, I was afraid my wife could not withstand the pain, as she had not taken any painkillers. My biggest fear was that she might collapse or fall unconscious and this could lead to other complications.
Though it was chaotic, I wanted to be in the delivery room because I wanted to support her. The birth of my baby was definitely something I wanted to witness because it was important to me.
However, the biggest challenge was pretending to be calm in front of my wife when I was actually feeling very tense the whole time! I knew I had to be calm and collected in order to encourage her to be calm as well.
There was such excitement when I first saw my baby's hair and head. I knew she was going to be out soon. In my heart, I wanted to hold her tight and to give her my first daddy kiss. It was an amazing experience indeed. I could feel the power of life and hope. The proudest moment was when my daughter was born. I was also very proud of my wife for all the hard work she had put in as well. In fact, it motivated me to work hard for my family!
I think all fathers should help support and experience the birth of their babies because it is a remarkable experience. It is also very important for the health of the mother and baby. If a mother's life is in danger or in critical condition, her spouse can give consent to do certain life-saving procedures.
I believe husbands should support and reassure their wives when they are in labour. They should prepare themselves by reading books on what to expect and how to help their wives in the labour room. Husbands should also accompany their wives on their regular health checkups so they are aware of both mother and baby's condition.
I recorded the birth of our baby after she was out and when the nurses took her to the cleaning room to wash her up.
She was carried directly into another room for a checkup. My wife asked me to monitor the baby and follow the nurse while she was still in the labour room being stitched up.
There may be many men who may not be comfortable being in the labour room, watching their wives in pain. However, I must also say that it is certainly one of life's greatest moments to see the birth of your child.”
Retired midwife and former nurse Cecilia Koh:
“The good news is that many fathers are proactive now. Childbirth classes are very helpful for fathers who want to be in the labour room because they are better equipped to help their wives who may not be able to remember much when they are in pain.
Fathers also feel more confident after learning what to expect during labour and childbirth. For men who are not comfortable with the sight of blood, we encourage them to sit by the side of their wives to calm them down.
On one occasion, we had a father who actually fainted when he saw the crown of his baby minutes before the baby was born! At this point, medical personnel had to be called in to attend to him.
Thus, fathers who do attend antenatal classes tend to be less anxious or overwhelmed by the whole experience.
Most hospitals also allow fathers to accompany their wives during planned caesarean sections but not when it is an emergency delivery. Fathers are also asked to step out of the labour room if complications arise during childbirth.
I'm definitely all for men joining their wives in labour rooms because almost all of them have been very involved and caring.
In fact, fathers also want to cut the umbilical cord because they feel it is an honour and responsibility entrusted to them. Times have certainly changed and I believe this is a valuable and positive step towards fatherhood.”