Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Should children have to earn pocket money by doing chores around the house? Some argue that making children earn their pocket money makes them more responsible. Others say certain chores should be done regardless of the pocket money given.
Let's see what a professional trainer/author and a developmental psychologist have to say about this.
Jamilah Samian, certified professional trainer and author of Cool Mum Super Dad and Cool Boys Super Sons:
"I give my children pocket money on a daily basis because although the school provides food it's not enough for them. There is a cafe in the school where they can buy food.
For me, when it comes to giving them housework it depends on what kind of housework. Some things like washing the dishes or cleaning their own room are things they have to do and they are not going to get paid for doing that. That is expected of them.
However, if they do something extra like teaching other young children then maybe I might give them some extra reward. When my children reach secondary school, they have to do some voluntary work. So, I might pay them a very minimal amount of money based on the effort. Part of it is voluntary but maybe later I might give them a little bit just as additional pocket money.
It's just a token sum and it's only towards the end of their voluntary work. I don't want them to do it because of the money.
Apart from that I don't give them pocket money per se. I am quite strict about that. If you want something, you have to earn it.
If they want to buy a toy, they have to save up the pocket money that I give them every day.
There is a difference between their needs and wants. Their needs are something we parents provide. The wants are something they should earn themselves.
I don't give them pocket money during the school holidays. I don't see why I need to give them pocket money then when everything is provided for."
Elaine Yong, developmental psychologist and Sunway University College lecturer:
"I think to a certain degree the bare minimum is necessary. They need money for recess time at school. But if they want extra, that's when I would get them to earn it.
If they want to buy a toy or a game, then I would ask them to earn the money to buy that because then it gives them an idea of what it takes to save the money and that it's not easily earned and they learn the value of money. By making them earn it, you would also be teaching them how to save up to make that big purchase.
They can earn the money by doing chores they don't already do regularly. Things like cleaning their room are basic things that they are already responsible for so those don't count. To earn money it should be for doing additional chores which are usually not done.
You can start practising this from the time they're in primary school because they understand from then and they would have been buying things from the canteen at this age. So, they would understand the value of money. At any earlier age, such as preschoolers, they are just beginning to understand that you need to use money in order to buy things."
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
There are a lot of companies offering courses for children today. There are courses to teach children leadership skills, self-confidence and even teamwork. This is something that is fairly new in our country.
When we were children there were hardly any courses like this. The emphasis then was on going to school and for some, there were tuition classes.
Are these courses necessary or beneficial for our children?
Elizabeth Rutten-Ng, dance/movement therapist, educator, & trainer with NVDAT Member (Netherlands), www.embodiedmovement-dancetherapy.com:
"I feel that parents are generally influenced by the culture and pressure to meet the expectations and standards of society. Thus, children are directly affected in the process. There is sometimes a feeling of 'if I don't follow suit, my child will lose out'. The need to compete and to excel becomes far more important than what the child wants and needs.
Companies see the growing demand for such courses as the trend is moving into building of character, enhancing confidence and leadership skills. However, parents have to consider that if a child suffers poor self-image and low self-esteem, the child may be insecurely attached or perhaps have some other psychological issues.
Will these courses do much to help the child or will they just add pressure on the child to perform to the expectations of the parents? To nurture a character, confidence and leadership skills takes time and these can also change in time. Would one such course actually work a miracle in achieving all the three qualities?
I think that learning leadership and confidence begins with parenting and the growth process of the baby at the developmental phase. If a child is securely attached with love, he or she will naturally have the confidence and a sense of self-identity. I believe that if children are given the opportunity to explore and be themselves in play during their developmental phase, they will build their natural leadership quality. And, I believe that parents are the best role model for their children.
I feel it is not necessary to send children for courses especially at a tender age. Children need more room to play and explore creatively within their own space and time. Children develop at their own pace and time. I also feel that there's no fixed method that will cater to all children. What works for one, will not necessarily work for another.
How can one really define what is the 'right' character, degree of confidence and the kind of leadership to enhance a child? Why not use and take the time for more play and bonding with the child instead of sending the child to attend such courses?
I suggest that parents reflect and ask themselves honestly, 'Is it really necessary and what is the goal and purpose for doing so?'; 'Is it really for the good of the child? Or is it something the child wants? Or is it to fulfil our own expectations?'; 'Will it do more good or more harm to the child?'
I think we should let the children be children. Let them enjoy their childhood; let them be free and not lose their inner free child. It's this inner free child that will nurture their self-confidence, character and leadership quality. It is only when children are given the permission to express their feelings without judgment and play and explore creatively that they will blossom to their true potential. This will eventually lead to the development of their unique character, self-confidence and the innate natural leadership."
Khoo Boo Hank
Khoo Boo Hank, life coach and co-founder of Discovery House (discovery-house.blogspot.com):
"In the past, it was only about a knowledge economy and it was logical that the person with the most information would be the leaders in a country. So, parents sent their kids to school and then to university - which was all knowledge-based. But, now with the advances in technology and the Internet, information and knowledge is just at the fingertips. Today, what makes a person a leader is actually a lot more reliant on leadership skills, confidence, teamwork and communication.
The best time to develop these skills and instil these values is when the child is small. If you're thinking of sending your child for such courses after graduation, it'll be too late because they will need to apply it when they start working. The teenage years are not ideal either because that's when they become a bit more rebellious. So, the best time to instil all these values is when they are young. That's when they are learning and exploring.
Such courses are not conducted in a way that it would stress the children - it's not like sitting at academic lectures. What we provide at our leadership courses is the experience, environment and exposure to learn and instil these values. Children attending such courses will learn and pick up these skills and values through games, craft work and drama. What we provide is a platform for them to learn leadership and other values. We don't just teach them these values, we also help them learn to sustain the values.
When they go for a course there usually is a proper structural evaluation on the child and proper guidance and environment as well.
I don't think a child can pick up such values from school because it is very academic. The closest thing you have is moral class and in moral class all you do is memorise the values. You don't get to experience them or put them to use.
The best way to learn values is through experience. Is our school academic system the place to learn these particular values? Will you leave it to chance that your child will learn them?
I think the academic system is important to lay a foundation. I just think it is not enough.
How about learning such values through extra-curricular activities at school? Not everyone gets to become the club president or a group leader in a project.
However, at our leadership courses everyone gets the opportunity or platform to take up a leadership role and experience the different values.
Can they learn to become leaders at home? If every parent has the skill and knowledge and the way to design this experiential learning for the kids that would be the best. But how often can they do that, especially so because each kid learns differently - some are visual and others learn through audio or kinaesthetic methods. Most parents will just lecture the child and that doesn't work. The child will not learn that way.
Some kids have to learn by experience and these courses use the relevant methodology to teach each child. There are many methodologies and techniques that our courses use to ensure that each child has a better chance of sustaining those particular values."
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
When they are small, children want to try their hand at everything - art, music, judo, taekwondo, singing, drama and even dance. Should parents allow them to try everything or is it better to focus on one or two interests so that they can hone their skills? If they try out everything, isn't there a risk that they will become a jack of all trades and master of none?
A clinical psychologist and a mother voice their opinions on the issue:
Selina Ding, educational and clinical psychologist:
First I would look at the child's intelligence and capabilities. If this child is intelligent and he or she is capable of handling all of these multiple activities and enjoys it, then why not?
The child can become a multitasker and it's not a burden to them.
But if the child is unhappy to go for that activity, is the activity the parents' choice or the child's choice?
This is a good question. I find that nowadays kids are being sent for a lot of tuition, extra-curricular activities and enrichment classes and they see it as a chore.
But parents always say this is what the child wants.
The child may enjoy it sometimes but it's still the parents' choice and not the child's.
I wouldn't say it's not good to let children try everything but if you let them try everything you too have to try everything so that you can lessen the gap between you and them and you can understand the child better.
If your child says he or she wants to join a lot of activities, classes and clubs, then you have to look at their exam results. If their results are not good or on the decline, then you need to talk to the child. Of course, we are not results-oriented but you need to identify which are the important things to you in your life.
If time and money is limited, then the child needs to choose which activities and classes he or she really wants to focus on.
If the child wants to try everything, I would say the child does not have an identity yet. Give them a chance to try everything. Identity crisis starts at age 13 and can go on until we are 30+ or 40. Identity is important and it represents your inner self. People who have not gone through an identity crisis tend to have identity confusion. They are confused about their identity; they don't know who they are.
So you need to have an identity crisis first where you try everything before you can know who you are.
You need to ask your kids what they want. Kids know what they want. Whatever they like, they will do more of that. But if you don't give your child the opportunity to try everything, and they only study and go for tuition, I think that is very unhealthy.
Patti Tan, mother of three:
I think they should try everything. Life offerings are enormous and I think it's very difficult to say to a kid, 'This is what you're interested in and stay focused.' They can't; everything will catch their attention because their attention span is so short.
If their friends are interested in something, they may be interested in it, too. And, if they have older siblings interested in something else, they may be interested in that.
If they are interested in a lot of things when they are small, let them try. Maybe after they try they will know one is harder than the other but I think you have to be realistic with your child and tell them that they are not going to play the guitar well after just two lessons.
Children also live through positivity - they like it when you tell them how wonderful and how great they are.
Let them try everything and, in a couple of years, the number of things they are interested in is going to narrow down. Then I think you have to help them. But once a kid tells you he's interested in something and makes a commitment to it, you have to help them stick to it because there are going to be days when they will want to quit.
When they want to start something we ask them if they're sure and we tell them that there will be days when they don't want to do this and we tell them that they must finish what they start. That's when they look at you very honestly and say they want to go for it. Very good, so, come rain or shine they have to go for the activity after they have committed to it.
In the beginning they don't see the rewards. For example, all my children took taekwondo and when they went from a white belt to a yellow belt to a green belt it all didn't make sense to them. They were very happy when they received a change of belt but it was only later when they got the black belt that they felt good and they felt that the journey they had to go through was worth it.
Since then, they willingly go for the activity and you don't have to fight with them in order for them to go.
I think that parents shouldn't give in or bend too early if the kids want to give up something. They might tell you that other kids don't have to go for tennis or taekwondo and other parents don't make their kids go for it but then you have to remind them that you told them from the start that they cannot start something and not finish it.
As a mother I feel sorry when they want to back out and I make them follow through on their commitment. But, I am not putting them into a dungeon. I'm developing a skill for them and I know that at the end of it, what they will have is living skills.
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this bloggerIs it better to have rules or have no rules when bringing up children? On one hand having rules helps guide them and teach them about what is acceptable behaviour. On the other hand, rules can be stifling and they tend to limit children's creativity, preventing them from thinking for themselves and thinking out of the box.
Let's see what a psychologist and a parent have to say on the matter.
Selina Ding, educational and clinical psychologist:
"It depends on what type of rules you are talking about. We human beings are always governed by law. In any country there are rules. If you want to bring up children without rules it will be quite tough because children being children, they do not know how to control themselves because they are not mature enough to make decisions and solve problems.
I believe rules are important, especially so for children with learning disabilities like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). If you don't set rules for them they will overrule others and distract the other children. If you don't set rules for them it will be hard to control them in places like the shopping mall.
So, rules are important especially if you want to guide them against doing things that are socially not acceptable.
But if you have too many rules then the child feels very restricted and suppressed. Children are like that. If you tell them don't do something, they will do it.
So, you need to strike a balance between having rules and not having rules. Rules are important to mould children to have morals and values. However, without rules children will be empowered to do things beyond our imagination. Having no rules is good if it leads to something positive but if without rules they just run wild then it's not good. So we need to strike a balance.
We have many types of parenting styles but the three common ones are the authoritative, autocratic and permissive. Autocratic parents are those who are very strict with rules. The parent has all the say and the child has no say. When they are younger, the children will listen to you because they don't have any power but when they become adolescents, they have verbal power (they can talk back), behaviour power (if they go silent) and motive power (you do not know what they are doing behind your back).
By late adolescence when you realise your rules are too strict it's too late because by then the child might not be talking to you and there's no communication. If you are too strict the child might become very timid, a follower and not a leader and an introvert. Because they are not allowed to express themselves, they internalise everything and this can lead to a lot of emotional problems. This will also affect their parenting style when they grow up and become parents themselves.
There is another type of parent who doesn't set rules. This is the permissive parent. This is when anything goes and you find the child is doing anything he or she wants to including hitting others. That is also very bad, I think. In this case the child will turn out too daring and bold or does not respect others' rights.
I think that parents should take the middle path and strike a balance. This is what we call authoritative parenting.
If you are not too strict all the time, it will encourage the child to be more creative and he or she can develop a healthy personality. When the rules are not too strict, the child can explore and when the child has problems the child will always come back to you.
Rules must come with love. Don't set rules without love."
Nur Anastasia Abdullah, mother of
"It is important to have rules when bringing up children. Rules are important because as parents, it is our duty to set boundaries for our children in order to guide them in their actions. When parents set rules, they should take the responsibility to explain to the child the reason for the particular rule and the pros and cons of the said rule. This will help the child to understand better and be able to differentiate between right and wrong.
When my children were toddlers, I had rules for mostly everything. However as they were growing up and proved that they could be trusted to do the right thing, the rules reduced over the years. Sometimes a new set of rules will have to come in as children grow and enter different phases in their lives, e.g. becoming teenagers.
If our children do wrong by the rules, we must talk to them and find out the reason for their actions as sometimes, things could seem different from a child's point of view. Parents are not always in the right just because they are adults and we must remember that rules are there for a reason and not seen as punishment by the children.
My siblings and I were raised with rules and as we were growing up there were times that I used to think my parents were not fair. However, my parents took the time to explain to us the reason they had certain rules and we understood that they were only doing it because they loved us.
I am very grateful to my parents for their rules as it is because of their actions that I have become the person I am today and am able to bring up my children in a responsible manner.
When children do not know how to differentiate between right and wrong, they will not know whether their actions are acceptable or unacceptable and thus will not respect other people and their surroundings.
An example of a basic rule: Children should be taught from young not to interrupt a conversation. If children are not taught this basic rule, they will interrupt conversations even when they become adults as they do not see anything wrong with this.
I taught my children when they were toddlers that if they wanted to interrupt while I was talking to another person, they should count till 10 before interrupting. As they grew older and could understand more, I explained to them that they should think if it was really urgent to speak their mind at that time or if they should wait longer.
When children have been following rules from young, it becomes a way of life and eventually they will be able to determine on their own whether they have acted in a responsible manner or not. What I did to teach my children to think on their own was to explain to them the possible consequences of following / not following a rule. I would ask them to chose the path they wanted and ask them to explain to me the reason they chose the particular path. In this way, they learned from young to think responsibly on their own.
In my opinion, parents will still be able to bring up their children without any rules, if they choose to, but in most cases where this happens, children grow to become irresponsible adults."
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Is it okay to spank or cane your child? It's an age-old question. Some people believe that if you spare the cane, you will spoil the child. Others advocate there is never a good enough reason to resort to hitting, spanking or caning the child.
Let's see what two people say about this issue.
Audrey Lee (not her real name), mother of three girls aged seven to 13:
I do spank my children but it's extremely rare. It's only on occasions when they simply do not listen and it could endanger them. In such situations, I would spank them there and then. It's a good way to discipline them so they learn to respect the laws and rules.
I would usually spank them on the bum and hands - not hard enough to leave any scars yet painful enough that they will think twice before being naughty or disobedient again in future.
Naturally I feel bad about spanking them - they are my babies, after all!
In general, I don't think that girls should be spanked less than boys just because they are girls. But, I think girls do get spanked less simply because they are usually less robust and more well behaved than boys.
I myself was occasionally spanked as a child and I think it should be done when they really do not listen and if the consequences could be detrimental to them.
Spanking is always a last resort. It is always better to explain to them why they shouldn't do something.
I don't spank them anymore because they're now big enough to understand when I explain to them why they should not misbehave.
Child developmentalist, parenting author and Star columnist Ruth Liew:
I would never tell parents that it's okay to spank if they can't help it or if they feel they have to, because I know there are people out there who can't control themselves and they go overboard.
You have to ask yourself, does caning or spanking ever work in the long run? After so many years in this field, I want parents to start thinking for themselves and ask themselves 'Is it really that bad that I have to punish my child or cane him? Are there any other solutions or anywhere else I can turn?'
For example, if you're stuck in the house with a child who is very active and you try to discipline the child and you get very upset with the child and with yourself. Sometimes, you don't want people to keep telling you that you're not doing a good job, or your husband to tell you that you're not being firm. So, you have all of these other things coming into play. Then you say, 'Okay, I'm going to just do it. Once and for all spank my child just to make sure he knows what he's doing is wrong.'
Is that going to help him? Are you spanking for his own good or is it for you?
I want parents to think about it - is your child a criminal that you should lock him in the bathroom or spank him?
Think about it - this little tiny toddler can really create big problems. But he is small enough that you can lift him up, take him elsewhere and tell someone 'I really can't handle him. Can you take him for a few days? I'm sorry, I just can't do it. I need a break.' Come back later and look at the situation again.
Or you can remove your child from that situation, make sure he's safe and tell him 'I'm not going to deal with you now. I'm going to walk away and have a cup of tea and I'll come back to deal with you later.'
When you remove yourself from that anger and that hot situation, you come back and say 'Hey, you know, I'm sure he'll never do it again and to ensure that, I'm removing that item from the house.'
We have choices - we can inflict pain or we can talk; we can punish or we can talk.
I used to talk to my daughter and explain to her why a particular behaviour is not acceptable rather than spank her. And, because she grew up that way, she now doesn't understand why parents hit their children when they have other choices.
You have to see the bigger picture. It's not just about hitting. It's easy to talk about hitting - you hit the child, he stops doing whatever he was doing and that's it. In our parents' time, they had no choice. They didn't know any better then. Now, we know better.
Don't you have any other ideas than using the cane?
The anti-spanking group will say there is research to back them up while the spanking group says there are studies to show that not everybody turns out bad because of spanking.
Whether you say it's the right thing to do or not, you need to consider whether the person spanking the child is doing it for the right reasons or if they're doing it to release tension.
If you really don't agree with spanking, then walk away. Although the urge to spank or hit is there, you can walk away just like you can walk away from any temptation.
I used to tell parents that instead of
moving towards their child - because they have to move forward to
hit the child - take one step backwards and take five minutes
before doing anything. Then ask yourself, do I want to do it? If you
take time to ask yourself this question, then your anger will subside
a little bit, you'll feel more in control, you'll feel more
reasonable, then the chances of you hurting the child will be less.
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Most of us have friends or family who have migrated to other countries. The children's education and better prospects / opportunities are often the reasons for the move.
Is it an option? Should you consider migration for your family?
We speak to two parents - one who made the big move and one who remains in Malaysia.
David (no last name given) and his family migrated to Australia over the past few years. He is a father of two aged six and eight. He says:
The children were three and five years old then. We decided to migrate partly for the kids and partly for ourselves. We wanted the children to have a wholesome education.
It was a difficult decision to make because both my wife and I were doing well in Malaysia, career-wise and financially.
We worked out that over the long term,
it would be better for the kids as they would have a well-rounded
education, not only academically but also socially. Their strengths
and weaknesses would be addressed by teachers in a classroom of 20
students rather than 40 in Kuala Lumpur.
Here, where we live in Australia now, there is also nice fresh air and a comfortable and safe environment with minimal traffic jams. You can actually get to your appointments on time.
Nobody looks down on you for being a blue-collared worker. Even if our kids cannot study or go to university, they can work as tradesmen like plumbers and electricians and earn as much as lawyers and bankers. By migrating here we wanted to give our children more options than are available in Malaysia.
On the negative side, our children will
also be exposed to negative western culture such as drinking,
smoking, drugs, etc. But we have to manage that with more family time
and maintaining strong good Asian and Christian values.
If we had stayed in Malaysia, we would have been financially better off and had maids to take care of our kids and home. But we would've been worried about security, what with snatch thieves and break-ins being so rampant.
In addition, I don't believe my children would have been able to do well in their career or advance as far as I had because of the racial politics in Malaysia.
The move has been good so far. I suppose the only things we miss are family and food. The children love it here, especially school. My son can't wait for the school holidays to end and my daughter can't wait to start school.
I believe we have made the right decision to migrate to Australia. It has made my family closer; we spend more time together now.
We make new friends and we have
more time with each other. During summer, the sun sets at about 9pm.
After dinner, you can still go cycling or walk around your
neighbourhood or the parks.
On weekends, we sometimes take day trips to the beach or some small towns. We spend more time outdoors in the fresh air unlike in KL where we would spend time in the shopping centres.
I would encourage others to migrate here but it would also depend on the individual and their intentions. I would highlight the pros and cons and ultimately, they have to decide what are the push and pull factors and weigh them accordingly.
I have known people who moved back after being here for 1-2 years. Some could not cope with the lower career pathway and miss the comfort of easy cheap food back home. Others go back to make more money then return later.
I think if you want to migrate, then do
so when the children are about nine or 10 years old because then, the
kids would have had a few years of Malaysian culture and education,
especially if you want them to learn Mandarin. Don't go when they're
older because then they will have a problem assimilating the local
Elaine, mother of two aged one and four years old:
My husband and I have thought of migrating for the sake of the kids' education. The education system in this country is messed up. We have to pay through our noses for a private/international education because we have no faith in the public school system.
I have a brother who stayed in New Zealand after university and he too has considered migrating. I also stayed on a couple of years in New Zealand after university. I was there for a total of six years. I thought I would give it a shot, living there, but I did not like it. The way of thinking and the lifestyle did not suit me.
I wouldn't recommend New Zealand and Australia for migration. The people there are very close-minded and racist. Their country is their world, so they're not tolerant/accepting of other races/ people from outside of their country.
Singapore would be at the top of my list if I did have to migrate. It would be the ideal country for me as I would be able to retain both my identity and enjoy the trappings of a truly developed and well-thought-through country.
What would make me migrate?
First of all, I would leave for my kids' future. I would also leave if this country becomes too unstable, socially and economically. I would stay as long as I can, because I love it here, but if circumstances prevent that, then I would have to go.
However, I really believe it's better for my children to remain in Malaysia.
This is our country, where our roots are. Unless absolutely necessary, I would never leave. When I am here, I feel like I have a right to be here, that I belong. When I was in NZ, I never felt I belonged. I always felt like a second-class citizen.
I am still very hopeful that there is a future for my children in Malaysia despite all the challenges they will have to face.
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Should we allow our children to have sweets, candy and chocolate from young? Is there a risk of them becoming more hyperactive and not as alert because of all that sugar? Or is it okay as long as it's in moderate doses?
Two mothers share their opinions on sugar:
Zuhairah Ali, mother of four boys aged 12 to 22:
I discourage my children from taking white sugar, candies and chocolates that contain white sugar, glucose and those containing artificial preservatives and additives. I've done this since they were newborns. Instead, I replace these with sweeteners, honey, molasses and gula melaka.
I believe that sugar is bad for the brain and bad for health. It is just a preventive measure I have taken with them since they were born. Also, white sugar is said to feed cancer cells.
I myself try not to take any sugar, chocolates or candy. I feel that one of the most important ways to achieve success with the kids is to set a good example.
Sugar causes detrimental behavioural changes in children - they are unable to concentrate. Avoiding sugar has a calming effect on my kids.
S.C. Chen, mother of two, aged two years and 3 1/2 years:
I myself take chocolates in small and moderate amounts, sugar - only when required, and occasionally I have mints.
So far, I have not given my children candies. They take sugar very rarely and not even in their Milo. As for chocolate, yes, but in small portions because when they take too much they get constipation and sore throat easily.
My daughter only started asking for chocolate and candies after turning two. Prior to that I had never given her any.
My son has learnt that chocolate is yummy. If he sees it, he will want to have some. But it's a case of out of sight, out of mind for him.
I try not to give them much chocolate because of fear of tooth decay and getting sick. I also want them to get used to a no or less sugar diet from young.
At home, we practise less sugar and salt anyway. So, it is actually part of our family habit.
I don't want my children to have a sweet tooth or be picky with their food when they grow up. Also, we have a family history of diabetes, so we need to be careful.
I have friends who will only take sweet drinks and not plain water. They also don't like plain food. I don't want my children to grow up with those eating habits.
My daughter does ask for chocolates and yes I do let her have them but only in small portions occasionally and only after she's completed a task I've asked her to do. Sometimes, I use it as a bribe to get her to complete a task.
I think it is okay to have some chocolates as long as it's in moderation and not excessive. After all, our body needs sugar to boost our blood sugar level and small amounts are okay.
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Should your children start going to kindergarten at the age of six or four? When we were children, most of us started going to kindergarten only at six, one year before entering primary school.
These days, however, children have been known to start at age four or even three. What age is too young, and should children start school so early? Should we be worried about the consequences of them starting so early?
Yasmin Emi, mother of four:
I went to kindergarten at age six. However, my kids started kindergarten at 4. I had my reasons. My eldest started school at six. My second and third I sent at four years old because we didn't have a maid so I put them there to pass the time. Actually at my company, we have a nursery for children. I could have put them there the whole day - it's not a problem. It's for children from babies till 12 years old. But I felt my children were a bit bored. So, we decided to put them in the nursery for half a day and the other half a day they went to the kindergarten. The kindergarten accepts children from age four but of course they don't teach that early. It's only when the children reach six years old that they really start teaching them more.
I think it's up to the individual if they want to send their children to school from age four or six. But for me, I think they should start at age five. Four is too early actually and I feel the syllabus is almost the same for the four and five-year-olds. There's not much difference. It's just singing, painting and teaching them to mix with the other kids.
Our youngest son is a special child. He is hyperactive. He is classified as an OKU (disabled person) and the government has a special preschool for children like him. He went to that preschool as well as a kindergarten. At the special preschool he learnt more about painting as well as how to be more independent and do things on his own. At the kindergarten he learnt about writing, singing and art. In his first year there was no impact. In his second year, at age five, he became the example child at the kindergarten because he made such progress. My son was there from age four until he turned seven. Am I being harsh as a mother to send my child to kindergarten for four years? I don't think so because that kindergarten motivated him to go to school and learn.
My son improved so much. I'm happy because now he can read and write.
There are two categories of children. Those who are not slow and those who are slow. If they start at six years old, those who are not slow can catch up. For those who are slow like my son, it's better to start at four years old.
I think, on average most parents in the city send their children to school early because they don't want to be left out because the other parents are sending their children early now.
Mazniha Mohd Ali Noh
Mazniha Mohd Ali Noh, mother of four:
My mum was a primary english teacher,
so I did not go to kindergarten. Instead I followed my mum to her
school where I sat at the back of the class from age five. She said I
did well and got number 10 in the class considering I was only five.
Basically, I was in Standard 1 at age five!
For my own children - Jasmin, Dahlia and Lily started kindy at three years old. I think it's okay as children nowadays are more advanced than we were due to the exposure to the TV, computer etc.
I think three years old is the the right age to start sending children to school. It's not too early and it is scientifically proven too. It teaches the children not so much of academic but also social skills, friendship, sharing and that the world does evolve around us there are others too.
Children today are starting school earlier because they are more advanced. Parents have no choice really. As parents we try to provide for them so they can cope well along with others. Especially now that the environment is changing and becoming more competitive, with global challenges, it's going to be tougher. We have to brace ourselves and get our children ready for the future.
I am more worried about the consequences of not sending them to school early and the consequences of them not studying enough!
I am not a studious person, so for me I
think the solution is to work hard and play harder. You have to
strike a balance. Life is short. Yes one must study to get good
grades. That's the beginning of life. Yes, getting a good job means
getting a good salary but one must be happy. Money is not everything
because money is never enough.
I agree that children nowadays lose a lot on not being able to have fun ... good, innocent fun that we used to have those days. Why? Because of the rat race. So, we parents make them study so they can get good grades, good university, good job. We do it with good intentions but sometimes we get carried away!
Children should be allowed to have time to be children, fun time as children because that is the only time a person can have for him/herself, because once they grow up and have their own family, then their time is not their own anymore. They will not be able to regain the lost childhood so don't make them grow up too fast and have no childhood at all.
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Just as there are many stories of wonderful maids who are part of the family, there are an equal number of horror stories about maids abusing children. What do parents think about the whole issue? Do you leave your children alone with the maid while you're at work? How safe is that? Would you trust the maid to take care of your kids?
ParenThots speaks to two mothers to find out their opinions.
Kok Wai Yin
Kok Wai Yin, mother of three aged 2, 11 and 12:
I don't have a maid looking after my kids. My baby is with the babysitter who is also my neighbour and my two older kids are home alone.
But we do employ a maid to look after my mum who is not very mobile. My parents, brother and the maid live together just six blocks away from my house.
I don't think you can trust a maid completely. You're definitely worried at first but when they start doing things your way, then you think that okay she seems to know what's going on. You keep an eye on her but slowly let go and trust a bit more as time passes but you can never trust her completely.
Even if she seems trustworthy, you
still won't know what goes on at home when you're not there. That's
why I don't have one at home to look after my kids. But if I had no
choice and had to have one, then I think it is best to install a CCTV
There's no way for you to ensure she is trustworthy when you hire here. You just have to hope and keep checking. It's best to have someone around to supervise her. With my mum's maid, I constantly check on what she does with my mum and I even ask my mum about her in her presence. This way she knows that we actually discuss her and I will confront her nicely with what my mum tells me and find out her side of the story.
My kids know that the maid's job is to look after grandma. My kids are taught to take their own serving of food, clean up the table after eating and not to expect the maid to do it.
I have been wanting to install a CCTV in my parents' house to keep an eye on the maid as my father (82 years old) is also a bit too old to monitor her. During my surprise visits I often find her watching TV in the room with my mum.
Finally, I think you should only employ a maid if:
1. It is REALLY necessary;
2. There is somebody (parents/ in-laws) to supervise her;
3. You install a CCTV; and
4. You are able to give and take and do not expect too much from them. If you are not able do it, you will have a hard time adjusting to the new employee and whatever she does will just not be right!
Johana Johari, mother of two teenagers aged 14 and 17:
In total, I have had four maids. The longest stay was just one year. I never left my daughters alone with the maid until my elder child was old enough to know between what is right and wrong, and articulate enough to tell me what my maid did or didn't do. Why? Simply because I don't know them well enough to totally entrust them with the safety of my children.
Of the four maids I had, three were mothers. The one who stayed the longest with us was barely 17 years old and had to leave due to her parent's request. The others left for various reasons after three to six months.
I always had a relative or a family member supervising my maids. So there was no need for a webcam (which we didn't have yet back then) or surprise visits.
The horror stories about maids which have surfaced on the Internet and newspapers have definitely influenced my level of trust in maids in general.
I'm lucky to have a wonderful family as my support system in the sense that they agree to supervise my maids while they care for my children.
I would rely on my mum or sisters-in-law to help keep an eye on the maid while I was out.
I think its unsafe to leave children to strangers. A new maid is a stranger until she has earned our trust over a reasonable period of time.
While I understand some parents may be strapped for choice and feel they have no other alternative other than leaving their children alone with the maid, I wish they would consider taking several safety steps in ensuring the well-being of their children during their absence.
Even with the availability of a webcam and/or familial support system, take time to observe the characteristics and personality of these people you've employed as your maids. I believe six months is a good duration for probation.
You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of children. Would you leave your children in the care of a stranger?
Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Most children want pets - a cute kitten or a fluffy rabbit. But not all parents want pets in their home because of health and cleanliness issues as well as who will really end up taking care of the pet. Should a child have a pet?
Let's see what one parent and one psychologist have to say about it.
Chow Ai Ling (not her real name), mother of three aged between three and seven:
My children have asked me for a pet. The eldest one wants a puppy. I think it's because they see other children have pets and they want one too.
I tell them that they are still small.
I myself didn't have any pets when I was a child. But that's not why I don't want my children to have pets now. Mainly it is because my youngest child is allergic to dust and fur. When she is near a lot of fur or dust, she starts coughing and develops a rash. Sometimes she even gets phlegmy.
We found out about her allergy when the doctor informed us that she could be allergic to dust and asked us to try minimising the stuffed toys around her. When we did that, we noticed that she seemed to be better.
So, although having a pet is good for children because it teaches them to take care of another living thing, I think this is not the right time for my children.
They already have too many things and toys to occupy themselves with now and they're still a bit young.
They will just have to wait until they are older and the youngest isn't allergic anymore. When they are older they will be more ready for that responsibility as well. If we get a pet now, I will be the one who ends up looking after the pet instead of them.
I think when the youngest is about seven years old, we can think about getting a pet, but again we'll have to see how her allergy is then.
Cheong Sau Kuan, lecturer and clinical psychologist at Sunway University College:
Cheong Sau Kuan
There are a lot of things you can learn from animals such as responsibility and the different stages of development as well.
In terms of responsibility you have to look at the age of the child and the responsibility should be appropriate for their age level. For example, if you have a three-year-old child, you might want to start with just asking the child to feed the pet. You can help by pouring out the food and helping them put it in the fish tank or the hamster's cage. As they get older they can take on more responsibility and by the time they are about seven or eight years old, they can really take care of the animal all by themselves.
Some parents do get their child a pet and say it's the child's responsibility to take care of the pet completely on their own. But the child is not prepared to do that and that's when they make a mess of it. So, you have to give them the responsibility gradually.
There are many other things that they can learn from having a pet. For example, you also learn the many developmental stages in life as the pet grows from baby to adult to elderly.
And when the animal gets sick you have to explain to the child what happens when they get sick. That's the time when you have to prepare the child in the eventuality that the animal dies.
We find that having pets is a very good way to teach children about bereavement, even at a very young age.
If you have a hamster, whose lifespan is short, you can teach children a lot of things within that short time.
On top of that it is also a good opportunity for you to teach children about sex education to a certain extent. If you have two hamsters and you're thinking of mating them, it's an opportunity for you to tell them the hamster is pregnant, what is pregnancy, how long the gestation period is and how you prepare for the babies.
This process can help prepare your child for the arrival of a baby brother or sister.
We also notice that having pets helps with social emotional development. Children learn social skills from handling animals. When you bond with the animal and pat the animal, that teaches the child to be gentle when they play with their friends. All this is actually part of social skills. And, the animal is very comforting to children, especially when they are going through troubled times.
We also notice that if the family travels a lot, you will see that the bond between the animal and the child will become stronger. When they meet new people and want to make new friends, then the pet becomes a vessel to make new friends. It gives them something to talk about.
If parents are concerned about health issues because of the fur, they can adopt pets which are not so furry for example fish.
If you find that due to health reasons or issues with caring for the animal, it's too much for the child, then get an animal which is smaller and easier for them to care for. It is still a pet; it just functions differently. Start with an animal that is low maintenance, especially for younger children and also for parents who do not have much time.
Or if you don't mind a pet that's slightly small but still furry then you can get a hamster, specifically the Golden Hamster which is larger than the Dwarf Hamster. It is easier to handle and eventually calmer and better for children as compared to Dwarf Hamsters which are very edgy and difficult to train. Golden Hamsters, which are bigger, are easier to handle.