Thursday, December 5, 2013

A year of parenting

Monday, December 2, 2013

A secret to handling conflicts with your kids (From toddlers to teens)

It wasn’t until we’d found our place in the absurdly long line at Starbucks that I realized my daughter was mad at me for leaving the house late. I’d mistaken her sullenness for her typical morning lethargy, but when she seemed even quieter than usual I checked in. “Are you okay?”
“You had two hours to get ready!” she scolded in a stage whisper.

“I’m sorry,” I replied, a tad defensively. Her anger had caught me off-guard and seemed not entirely fair to me (as if feelings are supposed to be fair). There had been plenty of mornings she’d been the one to make us late, along with other times I’d been the culprit, but I couldn’t recall her ever having been so incensed about it. It was going to be an even longer than usual forty-minute trip to school.

And so it went. We sat in silence, but my inner dialogue was busy. The banter was indignant, sarcastic and embarrassingly juvenile. There was: “She’s lucky we’re willing to drive her to this godforsaken place every day. How many parents would put up with this?”  And: “Gee, another silent car ride with my brooding daughter. Now, there’ssomething new.”

We were about halfway to school when I began to tire of the one-sided griping. That’s when my higher self suddenly began arguing on my teenager’s behalf. “You know, you really do have a terrible problem with lateness. It’s inconsiderate and inexcusable.  When your girl’s struggling to get herself moving in the morning, the last thing she needs is to be waiting for you. How irritating is that?”

Okay, I can totally see that.

“This could be the perfect opportunity to model a little humility, swallow your pride, be the good guy and do the right thing,” my better angels continued.

When I decided to take the high road, I felt my mood instantly shift and then lift. Misery turned to hope, though I knew enough to bolster myself in anticipation of the rejection I might face.
We finally pulled over in front of my daughter’s school, neither of us having uttered a syllable for over forty minutes. Gently touching her chin, I turned my girl’s face toward mine and earnestly offered, “I am so sorry I was late. That was very thoughtless of me.” She listened but gave up little, though I thought I detected a softening in her eyes as she quickly left.
When I picked her up that afternoon, neither of us mentioned the issue, but it seemed all had been forgiven and forgotten. Funny, but at that point it almost didn’t matter. I’d been elated all day, celebrating a choice I’ve made many times in many ways since becoming a mom, but perhaps never so intentionally. I’d risen out of myself to become the person my daughter needed and deserved, and I was flying high.

This experience reminded me of the frame of mind I suggest to parents whenever they face difficult situations with their kids: rise above it.

Rise above your triggers, wounds and patterns from the past and be the parent, rather than getting caught up in your child’s behaviors, taking them personally and engaging in conflicts at his or her level. This is the key to breaking negative cycles.

Rise above your fear that your children will be hurt or love you less when you upset them by setting reasonable,respectful limits(They won’t.)

Rise above and understand that children go through stages when they need to resist, defy and even reject us in order to develop in a healthy manner. Set honest personal limits (like, “I will need to move to the other room if you continue to speak to me that way”), but don’t feel threatened by this age-appropriate behavior or take it personally.

Rise above so you can set and hold limits confidently, calmly and early, without getting angry or holding a grudge. Repeat: don’t take behavior personally.

Rise above your impatience and model the manners, character traits and values you want your kids to emulate rather than demanding they share, apologize, express gratitude, treat others gently, patiently(!), generously and with respect.  

Rise above your worries and impatience (again), so that you can lead with trust rather than micromanaging your children’s physical and cognitive development, play and food choices, social issues, school work, etc.

Rise above impulses to correct or judge. Be the trusted confidant with whom your child can safely share her darkest feelings, even when they’re directed at you.

(Photo by char!lotte on Flickr)


10 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids (and What to Say Instead)

Current research shows that some of the most commonly used and seemingly positive phrases we use with kids are actually quite destructive. Despite our good intentions, these statements teach children to stop trusting their internal guidance system, to become deceptive, to do as little as possible, and to give up when things get hard.P
This is a guest post by Shelley Phillips via Lifehack.orgP
Here’s a list of the top ten things to eliminate from your vocabulary now. I’ve also included alternatives so that you can replace these habitual statements with phrases that will actually encourage intrinsic motivation and emotional connection.P

“Good job!”P

The biggest problem with this statement is that it’s often said repeatedly and for things a child hasn’t really put any effort into. This teaches children that anything is a “good job” when mom and dad say so (and only when mom and dad say so).P
Instead try, “You really tried hard on that!” By focusing on a child’s effort, we’re teaching her that the effort is more important than the results. This teaches children to be more persistent when they’re attempting a difficult task and to see failure as just another step toward success.P

“Good boy (or girl)!”P

This statement, while said with good intentions, actually has the opposite effect you’re hoping for. Most parents say this as a way to boost a child’s self-esteem. Unfortunately, it has quite a different effect. When children hear “good girl!” after performing a task you’ve asked them for, they assume that they’re only “good” because they’ve done what you’ve asked. That sets up a scenario in which children can become afraid of losing their status as a “good kid” and their motivation to cooperate becomes all about receiving the positive feedback they’re hoping for.P
Instead, try “I appreciate it so much when you cooperate!” This gives children real information about what you’re wanting and how their behavior impacts your experience. You can even take your feelings out of it entirely and say something like, “I saw you share your toy with your friend.” This allows your child to decide for himself whether sharing is “good” and lets him choose to repeat the action from his internal motivation, rather than doing it just to please you.P
10 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids (and What to Say Instead)P

“What a beautiful picture!”P

When we put our evaluations and judgments onto a child’s artwork, it actually robs them of the opportunity to judge and evaluate their own work.P
Instead try, “I see red, blue and yellow! Can you tell me about your picture?” By making an observation, rather than offering an evaluation, you’re allowing your child to decide if the picture is beautiful or not, maybe she intended it to be a scary picture. And by asking her to tell you about it, you’re inviting her to begin to evaluate her own work and share her intent, skills that will serve her creativity as she matures and grows into the artist she is.P

Stop it right now, or else!”P

Threatening a child is almost never a good idea. First of all, you’re teaching them a skill you don’t really want them to have: the ability to use brute force or superior cunning to get what they want, even when the other person isn’t willing to cooperate. Secondly, you’re putting yourself in an awkward position in which you either have to follow through on your threats—exacting a punishment you threatened in the heat of your anger—or you can back down, teaching your child that your threats are meaningless. Either way, you’re not getting the result you want and you’re damaging your connection with your child.P
While it can be difficult to resist the urge to threaten, try sharing vulnerably and redirecting to something more appropriate instead.“It’s NOT OK to hit your brother. I’m worried that he will get hurt, or he’ll retaliate and hurt you. If you’d like something to hit, you may hit a pillow, the couch or the bed.” By offering an alternative that is safer yet still allows the child to express her feelings you’re validating her emotions even as you set a clear boundary for her behavior. This will ultimately lead to better self-control and emotional wellbeing for your child.P

If you _____ then I’ll give you _____”P

Bribing kids is equally destructive as it discourages them from cooperating simply for the sake of ease and harmony. This kind of exchange can become a slippery slope and if used frequently, you’re bound to have it come back and bite you. “No! I won’t clean my room unless you buy me Legos!”P
Instead try, “Thank you so much for helping me clean up!” When we offer our genuine gratitude, children are intrinsically motivated to continue to help. And if your child hasn’t been very helpful lately, remind him of a time when he was. “Remember a few months ago when you helped me take out the trash? That was such a big help. Thanks!” Then allow your child to come to the conclusion that helping out is fun and intrinsically rewarding.P

"You’re so smart!"P

When we tell kids they’re smart, we think we’re helping to boost their self confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, giving this kind of character praise actually does the opposite. By telling kids they’re smart, we unintentionally send the message that they’re only smart when they get the grade, accomplish the goal, or produce the ideal result — and that’s a lot of pressure for a young person to live up to. Studies have shown that when we tell kids they’re smart after they’ve completed a puzzle, they’re less likely to attempt a more difficult puzzle after. That’s because kids are worried that if they don’t do well, we’ll no longer think they’re “smart.”P
Instead, try telling kids that you appreciate their effort. By focusing on the effort, rather than the result, you’re letting a child know what really counts. Sure, solving the puzzle is fun, but so is attempting a puzzle that’s even more difficult. Those same studies showed that when we focus on the effort — “Wow you really tried hard on that!” — kids are far more likely to attempt a more challenging puzzle the next time.P
10 Things to Stop Saying to Your Kids (and What to Say Instead)P

"Don’t cry."P

Being with your child’s tears isn’t always easy. But when we say things like, “Don’t cry,” we’re invalidating their feelings and telling them that their tears are unacceptable. This causes kids to learn to stuff their emotions, which can ultimately lead to more explosive emotional outbursts.P
Try holding space for your child as he cries. Say things like, “It’s OK to cry. Everyone needs to cry sometimes. I’ll be right here to listen to you.” You might even try verbalizing the feelings your child might be having, “You’re really disappointed that we can’t go to the park right now, huh?” This can help your child understand his feelings and learn to verbalize them sooner than he might otherwise. And by encouraging his emotional expression, you’re helping him learn to regulate his emotions, which is a crucial skill that will serve him throughout life.P

"I promise..."P

Broken promises hurt. Big time. And since life is clearly unpredictable, I’d recommend removing this phrase from your vocabulary entirely.P
Choose instead to be super honest with your child. “I know you really want to have a play date with Sarah this weekend and we’ll do our best to make that happen. Please remember that sometimes unexpected things come up, so I can’t guarantee that it will happen this weekend.” Be sure you really are doing your best if you say you will too. Keeping your word builds trust and breaking it deteriorates your connection, so be careful what you say, and then live up to your word as much as humanly possible.P
One more note on this, if you do break your word, acknowledge it and apologize to your child. Remember, you’re teaching your kids how to behave when they fail to live up to their word. Breaking our word is something we all do at one time or another. And even if it’s over something that seems trivial to you, it could matter a lot to your child. So do your best to be an example of honesty, and when you’re not, step up and take responsibility for your failure.P

"It’s no big deal!"P

There are so many ways we minimize and belittle kids feelings, so watch out for this one. Children often value things that seem small and insignificant to our adult point of view. So, try to see things from your child’s point of view. Empathize with their feelings, even as you’re setting a boundary or saying no to their request.P
“I know you really wanted to do that, but it’s not going to work out for today,” or “I’m sorry you’re disappointed and the answer is no,” are far more respectful than trying to convince your child that their desires don’t really matter.P

"Why did you do that?"P

If your child has done something you don’t like, you certainly do need to have a conversation about it. However, the heat of the moment is not a time when your child can learn from her mistakes. And when you ask a child, “Why?” you’re forcing her to think about and analyze her behavior, which is a pretty advanced skill, even for adults. When confronted with this question, many kids will shut down and get defensive.P
Instead, open the lines of communication by guessing what your child might have been feeling and what her underlying needs might be. “Were you feeling frustrated because your friends weren’t listening to your idea?” By attempting to understand what your child was feeling and needing, you might even discover that your own upset about the incident diminishes. “Oh! He bit his friend because he was needing space and feeling scared, and he didn’t know how else to communicate that. He’s not a ‘terror,’ he’s a toddler!”P

Shelly Birger Phillips is passionate about being the best human she can possibly be and supporting others to do the same. She has helped hundreds of clients overcome personal challenges and develop the skills to live happier, more authentic lives. You can find her conscious parenting blog here, and Her Authentic World team here: Follow her on Twitter here or email her at shelly at
Images via Katsiaryna PleshakovaIlike, and Inara Prusakova (Shutterstock). P

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

8 Long Weekends to enjoy in 2014


Plan ahead and make the best of the long weekends in 2014 - see our public holidays chart here

Let the leave planning begin.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released public holiday dates for next year, which revealed that eight long weekends can be enjoyed with just four days of leave.
2014 Singapore public holidays
Four out of the 11 holidays fall on Friday, Sunday or Monday, yielding four long weekends - the first day of Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.
Taking another four days of leave bring the count up to eight. These would be the days before or after Vesak Day, Labour Day, Deepavali and Christmas, which all fall on Tuesday or Thursday.
Public holidays falling on a Sunday mean that the next day - Monday - will be the day off.
However, there are no four- day weekends next year, as there are this year with Hari Raya Puasa on Thursday, Aug 8; and National Day on Friday, Aug 9.
"Long weekends are great, especially since I started working," said Ms Aditi Shivaramakrishnan, 24. "There are good travel budget deals for nearby countries. There are a lot of fun things to do here as well," said the editorial assistant, who went to Vietnam with friends during this year's Good Friday break.
The full list of next year's public holidays is available online at

This article was originally published in The Straits Times on April 11, 2013. Read the full article here at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Top 5 Playgrounds in Singapore

Updated: 15 November 2013

​Playgrounds are a common sight in Singapore and almost every neighbourhood has one. Majority of our playgrounds however, have similar and recurring themes with many of them featuring the same old slides and playhouse sets.

There are however, some hidden gems within our heartlands that dare to be different and push play and imagination to another level to give your children an exhilarating playtime experience.

Here is our list of the top 5 playgrounds in Singapore:


Number five on the list is Montreal Green’s playground located at the junction of Sembawang road and Canberra link. The playground has a range of features, including the basic slides and play boxes, swings and rope bridges. Unlike many modern playgrounds, there is a sandpit for kids to build and sculpt to their imagination. The park is clean and with two separate playgrounds and a swing set, there will be no lack of activities for your kids here.

Getting There: The play ground is located at Canberra Link in Sembawang, a short walk from the closest MRT Station. 

Nearest Train Station: Sembawang MRT Station

Servicing Buses: Take service 167 from Sembawang Interchange and alight at the second stop.

In fourth place is the hidden gem located at Hindhede Nature Park, which is a short trek from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The journey itself is fun and gives an opportunity for you and your kids to be close to nature. Sticking to the nature theme, the playground has many climbing features from rope domes to swinging bridges. Like little Tarzans, your kids will be able to swing, climb and hang from the various rope features throughout the playground. Do remember to bring ample refreshments to keep everyone hydrated.

Getting There: Located at the end of Hindhede Drive, there are limited parking spaces available at the foothill of the reserve. To minimise impact to the reserve, especially on weekends, you may like to take the public transport instead.

Servicing Buses: You can take any of these bus services 170, 67, 75, 171, 173, 184, 852 and 961. Alight along Upper Bukit Timah Road, opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Beauty World Centre, or along Jalan Anak Bukit, opposite Courts furniture store, and walk to the end of Hindhede Drive.

Coming in third are the three separate play areas in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. The first is a water playground which means that it would be a good idea to pack an extra set of clothing when visiting this playground.

The second play area is deemed an adventure playground, with logs and tree-houses and slides for your children to climb and slide down from. The play area is big and offers ample room for your kids to run about.

The last area is a giant sand pit with soft sand and is catered to the younger children. The highlight of the place is a digger which your child can operate to dig on the sands.

Getting There: The park is located along Bishan road and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. It consists of two separate parks and stretches from the junction of Bishan and Ang Mo Kio to Upper Thomson Road.

Nearest Train Station: The park is in between both Ang Mo Kio and Bishan MRT Stations, they’re both about a similar distance if travelling on foot. 

Servicing Buses: You can catch Services 132, 133, 136, 165, 166, 169 and 262 from Ang Mo Kio, or services 50, 55, 58 and 410 from Bishan

Tucked away in Tiong Bahru Park and coming in at number two on the list, this giant train themed playground is set in the middle of the park and can be seen from any entrance. The train and its cabins are held aloft the sandpit by climbing structures and slides. The topsy-turvy train has ample room for more than fifty or so children to play in.

There’s even a mini maze for the younger children to explore and run around in, while parents can easily keep their eye on them as the hedges of the maze do not grow past waist level.

Getting There: Located at Tiong Bahru Road, the park is located within walking distance of Gan Eng Seng Secondary School. 

Nearest Train Station: A short walk from Tiong Bahru MRT Station

Servicing Buses: Bus services 16, 32, 33, 63, 64, 120 and 851, the alighting bus stop is conveniently situated just outside the park. 

Coming in at number one is Alexandra Canal Linear Park’s rope playground. The rope playground is a big hit with children of all ages and consists of rope bridges and tunnels for endless climbing fun. The ropes are strong enough to support adults so parents can get in on the fun too if you are tempted. Afterall, you can never be too old for a good climb!

There are five playgrounds in total, beginning with the rope playground; you can make your way down the path towards Queenstown to a few other unique playgrounds including a trampoline, a gondola bridge and a pair of squiggly tubes that works like telephone lines and carry sound from one end to the other.

Getting There: The rope playground is a short walk from Block 83, Stathmore Avenue in Queenstown.

Nearest Train Station: Walk along Strathmore Avenue from Queenstown MRT Station and you’ll be able to locate block 83. 

Servicing Buses: You can take bus services 51, 111, 145, 186 or 970 and alight at Queenstown MRT Station.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What children secretly want to say to their parents

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you get frustrated with your children sometimes. Okay, it’s probably not “sometimes”. It’s probably all the time.
Your children are disobedient.
They talk back to you.
They don’t keep their promises.
They don’t study as hard as you’d like them to.
I’m privileged to have worked with thousands of youths and parents, so I know that frustrated parents abound. I’m not surprised that many youths are frustrated with their parents, too.
Clearly, there’s some miscommunication going on between parents and children.
I’ve come up with a list of five things that many children secretly want to say to their parents but don’t dare to, because they’re afraid of coming across as disrespectful or because they’d feel awkward.
I hope this list will give you new insights into a child’s mind, so that you’ll be able to build an even stronger relationship with your children.
1. “Practice what you preach”
Children feel annoyed when their parents don’t lead by example. I dare say that this is children’s biggest source of frustration.
As a parent, do you…
  • tell your children not to lie, but frequently tell lies yourself (white lies included)?
  • tell your children not to be distracted by their electronic devices, yet you’re a smartphone addict yourself?
  • scold your children for being late, yet you’re rarely punctual for your own appointments?
It’s impossible to be a perfect parent, but it is possible to be committed to personal growth, and to show your children that continual improvement is something that everyone ought to strive for.
2. “Apologise when you’re wrong”
Since perfect parents don’t exist, this means that you’re bound to make mistakes.
It puzzles me that many parents I work with refuse to apologise to their children, even when these parents have made a blatant mistake.
Some examples of mistakes that parents might make: punishing their children for something their children didn’t do, or feeling overwhelmed by stress at work and taking it out on their children, or calling their children “stupid” or “useless” in a fit of anger.
If you’re a parent who wants to teach your children humility, you’ll need to suck up your pride too. After all, soon enough your children will see that you’re flawed.
It’s important to remind yourself that your authority as a parent isn’t based on how perfect you are, or how perfect your children perceive you to be.
3. “Show me that hard work is rewarding”
All parents want their children to be hardworking.
Most youths I’ve worked with, however, don’t see why hard work is rewarding. They look at their hardworking parents, and all they see is how weary, stressed, anxious and frustrated their parents are.
Many parents come home from the office and complain about their work, their boss and their colleagues. I don't blame their children for thinking that hard work results in punishment, not reward!
I spend more hours at work than the average person. I’m not so naïve to think that work is all fun and games all the time. Sometimes, hard work entails doing things you don’t feel like doing at all.
But, at the same time, hard work ought to bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, because it’s the means by which you make a valuable contribution to others and to the world.
If you're a parent, I encourage you to share this gratifying aspect of hard work with your children, so that they don’t grow up thinking that hard work leads to pain and suffering, and hence should be avoided.
4. “Let me make some mistakes”
Parents think they want what’s best for their children, but most of the time they only want what’sgood. (This is a point inspired by this article.)
Naturally, parents don’t want their children to experience struggle, disappointment, pain or failure. This is the path of “good”.
But is this what’s best for their children?
Most of the time, no. The best path is often the one that’s full of struggle, disappointment, pain and failure. It’s these unpleasant experiences that prepare children for enduring success.
The best path is about allowing your children to take risks and make mistakes. Of course, it’s important to set clear boundaries for them and to provide them with a safe, nurturing environment.
The key, however, is to focus the majority of your efforts on encouraging your children to dream big and dare to fail.
5. “Love me the same, no matter what grades I get in school”
Almost every student I’ve worked with has said this to me: “It seems like my parents love me more when I do well in school.”
Children who have this perception of their parents’ love often feel like they need to earn their parents’ love, acceptance and approval. This can affect their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
Parents should, no doubt, encourage their children to pursue excellence and to always give their best effort, but parents should display unconditional warmth and love.
It’s only when children have complete assurance of their parents’ love for them that they can have the confidence and boldness to step out of their comfort zone and make the most of their potential.
In closing…
When your children throw a tantrum, neglect to do their household chores, or refuse to get up for school on time, it’s not easy to keep your cool.
Being a parent is probably the most challenging job in the world!
But I hope you’ll be able to confidently face these challenges now that you know five important things that your children secretly want to say to you.
Wishing you all the best on your exciting journey as a parent and as an influencer of the next generation!
Daniel Wong is a learning and personal development expert, as well as a certified youth counselor. A sought-after speaker and coach, he is also the best-selling author of "The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success". He offers programmes to help students become both happy and successful and to help parents to connect more effectively with their children. He writes regularly Download his FREE e-book, "The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?", here.

Friday, October 18, 2013








孩子夠冷靜之後,可以問他 第三個問題:“你想要怎樣?”






接著問 第七個問題:“你希望我做什麼?” 並且表示支持。











孩子夠冷靜之後,可以問他 第三個問題:“你想要怎樣?”這時不管孩子說出什麼驚人之語,先不要急著教訓他,而是冷靜的接著問他
接著問 第七個問題:“你希望我做什麼?” 並且表示支持。