Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kiasu Singaporean Guide: Plan Your Annual Leave for Long Weekends in 2015

12 ways to be the meanest mom in the world

When your kids tell you you’re mean, take it as a compliment. The rising generation has been called the laziest, rudest, most entitled kids in history. Don’t give up. They may think you’re mean now, but they’ll thank you later.

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  • Once, I walked out of the store without giving into my child’s tantrum for a cookie. A woman stopped me in the parking lot and told me I was the best parent in the shopping center. My daughter wasn’t so sure. When your kids tell you you’re mean, take it as a compliment. The rising generation has been called the laziest, rudest, most entitled kids in history. The stories about spoiled rotten kids scare the best of moms. Newsflash: it's not just the kids, it's the parents. It’s easy to want to throw in the towel with your own kids. After all, don’t we all want to be the cool mom? Don’t give up. They may think you’re mean now, but they’ll thank you later.
    Here are 12 ways to be the meanest mom in the world: (Moms shouldn't have all the fun. Here are 13 ways to be the most annoying dad on the planet.)
  • 1. Make your kids go to bed at a reasonable time

    Is there really anyone who hasn’t heard how important a good night’s rest is to a child’s success? Be the parent and put your kid to bed. No one ever said the kid had to want to go to bed. They may put up a fight at first, but with consistency, they'll learn you mean business. Now enjoy some quiet me or couple time.
  • 2. Don’t give your kids dessert every day

    Sweets should be saved for special occasions. That’s what makes them a "treat.” If you give in to your child’s demands for goodies all the time, he won’t appreciate the gesture when someone offers a sweet gift or reward. Plus, imagine the dentist and doctor bills that may result from your over-indulgence.
  • 3. Make them pay for their own stuff

    If you want something, you have to pay for it. That’s the way adult life works. To get your kids out of your basement in the future, you need to teach your children now that the gadgets, movies, video games, sports teams and camps they enjoy have a price. If they have to pay all or part of that price, they’ll appreciate it more. You may also avoid paying for something your child only wants until he has it. If he’s not willing to go half with you, he probably doesn’t want it that badly.
  • 4. Don’t pull strings

    Some kids get a rude awakening when they get a job and realize that the rules actually do apply to them. They have to come on time and do what the boss wants. And, (gasp!) part of the job they don’t even like. If you don’t like your child’s teacher, science partner, position on the soccer field or placement of the bus stop, avoid the temptation to make a stink or pull strings until he gets his preference. You are robbing your child of the chance to make the best of a difficult situation. Dealing with less than ideal circumstance is something she will have to do most of her adult life. If children never learn to handle it, you’re setting them up for failure.
  • 5. Make them do hard things

    Don’t automatically step-in and take over when things get hard. Nothing gives your kids a bigger self-confidence boost than sticking to it and accomplishing something difficult for them.
  • 6. Give them a watch and an alarm clock

    Your child will be better off if he learns the responsibility of managing his own time. You’re not always going to be there to remind her to turn off the TV and get ready to go.
  • 7. Don’t always buy the latest and greatest

    Teach your children gratitude for, and satisfaction with, the things they have. Always worrying about the next big thing and who already has it will lead to a lifetime of debt and unhappiness.
  • 8. Let them feel loss

    If your child breaks a toy, don’t replace it. He’ll learn a valuable lesson about taking care of his stuff. If your child forgets to turn in homework, let him take the lower grade or make him work out extra credit with his teacher himself. You are teaching responsibility — who doesn’t want responsible kids? They can help remind you of all the things you forget to do.
  • 9. Control media

    If all the other parents let their child jump off a bridge, would you? Don’t let your kids watch a show or play a video game that is inappropriate for children just because all their friends have done it. If you stand up for decent parenting, others may follow. Create some positive peer pressure.
  • 10. Make them apologize

    If your child does something wrong, make her fess up and face the consequences. Don’t brush rudeness, bullying, or dishonesty under the rug. If you mess up, set the example and eat your humble pie.
  • 11. Mind their manners

    Even small children can learn the basics of how to treat another human with respect and dignity. By making politeness a habit, you’ll be doing your kids a huge favor. Good manners go a long way toward getting someone what they want. We’ve all heard the saying, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
  • 12. Make them work — for free

    Whether it’s helping grandma in the garden or volunteering to tutor younger kids, make service a part of your child’s life. It teaches them to look outside themselves and realize that other people have needs and problems, too — sometimes greater than their own.
    With all the time you spend being mean, don’t forget to praise and reward your children for their stellar behavior. And always, make sure they know you love them.Here are 10 things a mom should tell her kids every day. With a little luck, your kids can turn the tide and make their generation one known for its hope and promise.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How One Man Is Teaching His 7-Year-Old To Think Like An Entrepreneur

What did your parents teach you about money? If you’re anything like me, you were taught that money was earned by completing a task.
As a kid, I had a weekly allowance. My parents made a chore list. Each week I was responsible for taking out the garbage, doing the dishes, vacuuming the house, and doing the laundry. In exchange for this work, I received a hefty $5.
It seemed like a good deal to me, but what did I know? I was a kid. Looking back, that equated to something like $0.50 per hour. A screaming deal for my folks.
Now, as a dad of two boys, Liam and Dylan, I’m in the process of thinking through how I want to structure the pay system in my own home.
This is my oldest son, Liam. He’s seven. He’s awesome, bright, funny, and, as you can see, debonair. And he wants to make some money.
liam 02
Jake Johnson
Liam, chock-full of personality.
After all, there’s a ton of things he needs to buy. You know, like a fourth football and additions to his ever-expanding Beyblade collection. Just like the rest of us, he wants to keep up with the Joneses.
So, the time came a few months back when Liam wanted an allowance.
My initial thought was to do what my parents taught me: Make a chore list and negotiate a fixed-price allowance that was tilted heavily in my favor.
But after giving it a bit more thought, I realized that if I did that, I’d be giving Liam a huge disservice because an allowance teaches kids poor lessons on money. Here’s a few that come to mind.

Bad money lesson #1: Time and tasks are your commodity

Employees sell their time to entrepreneurs to do tasks. You come into the office, slog it out for eight to ten hours, do whatever you’re told, and in return get a paycheck. As an employee, your most valuable commodity is your time and the tasks you accomplish in that time. The problem is that if you don’t have time to sell, if you get sick or injured for instance, you don’t make money. And if companies aren’t looking to buy your time because there aren’t enough tasks to go around, you don’t have a job, no matter how talented you are.
By contrast, entrepreneurs sell ideas or products. They get paid not for their time and tasks, but for the value they bring to the table in solving problems for the world and creating jobs. And if they do it right, they create companies and systems that make money even when they aren’t working.
Paying Liam an allowance for his chores would teach him that his time and tasks are what is of value to me. It’s not.

Bad money lesson #2: Do the bare minimum

As a kid, my goal was to get my chores done as quickly as possible so I could then go and play. There was no pride in my work, and because I was getting paid for my time, I tried to hurry through my tasks. This resulted in a constant struggle between my parents, who wanted the job done right, and me, who wanted to just get the job done.
Often, this is carried over to our roles as employees. Because there is no ownership, the goal is to do the tasks we’re assigned at the minimum level of acceptance. I’m not saying this is everyone, but it is a lot of folks.
I see these patterns in my son, too. I have to constantly push him to complete a task correctly. Entrepreneurs, however, know the importance of quality and passion in work. Because their livelihood is dependent on not just getting the job done quickly, but also getting it done right, they invest themselves into their work in a way that those who sell their time and tasks don’t.

Bad money lesson #3: Life is about work, then play

A natural outcome of selling your time for tasks is that you bifurcate your life. Right now, Liam still thinks that work is a drag that you have to get through in order to be free to play. This creates a destructive pattern of looking at work as a necessary evil to make money so that you can then do what you want.
Employees can have this mindset too. That’s why you often hear people say they can’t wait for the weekend. And why they also love the phrase “T.G.I.F.” The goal is to get through the workweek so that then you can pursue the things you’re actually passionate about.
Entrepreneurs don’t have this mindset, at least not the good ones. True entrepreneurs make their passions their living. They don’t live for the weekend. They live to solve problems and create value. The irony is this often translates into more fun and downtime down the road.
So, we’ve decided not to do allowance at our home. My dream for Liam is that no matter what he does in life, he grows up with an entrepreneurial spirit (which, by the way, I think the best employees also have). With this in mind, here’s what we’re teaching him.
liam 03
Jake Johnson
Future tycoon?

Good money lesson #1: In life, we have responsibilities

Liam still has chores. Each day he’s expected to feed the cat, empty the trash and recycling, put the dishes away, and keep his room clean. For that he gets nothing other than the satisfaction of a job well done (hopefully he feels that satisfaction soon).
He’s protested. He believes he should get money for these tasks. But we’ve taught him that he doesn’t get paid for doing work around the house. Just like mom and dad have responsibilities in the home that we don’t get paid for, so does he.
He’s not there yet, but hopefully he’ll learn that responsibility is a way of life, and you don’t always get paid for being responsible.

Good money lesson #2: Real value comes in solving problems

In our house, you get paid for recognizing a problem and proposing a solution. I’ve taught Liam that if he wants to make money, he has to pay attention to the world around him, identify a problem that needs fixing, and propose a solution. We then negotiate a payment.
So, for instance, during the fall, Liam noticed the yard was full of dead leaves. He approached me with the proposition to clean up the leaves for payment. We negotiated $10 fee. He did a great job and made $10 in a couple hours, which is pretty good money for a kid.
And he’s extended this thinking in other areas. The other day, he noticed that his nana and papa’s car was dirty. He proposed to clean it for $5. A deal was struck. He then leveraged that deal into cleaning his aunt’s car too. He made a total of $10 in a couple hours — and got to play with the hose.
At the end of his car-washing day, he proudly announced he was starting a car wash company. “What will it be called?” I asked. “Liam’s Car Washing,” he said proudly.
liam 04
Jake Johnson
His face looks like this when he wants money.

Good money lesson #3: A great business takes a great plan

I was proud of Liam for wanting to start a car washing business, but I wanted to teach him some more lessons. So, I asked him what materials he was going to use to wash the cars he lined up. He told me he would use a bucket from the garage and the soap and sponge by the sink. I told him that was a good idea with one exception, those things weren’t his to use. He needed to finance his business with his own money and materials.
I then asked him how he would get new business. He told me that he’d put a sign out. “Do you think that will be enough?” I asked. We agreed it probably wasn’t. He needed a better marketing plan.
So, lately, we’ve been working on a business plan together. Liam now knows he needs to purchase materials for his business and to creatively find a way to get customers from around the neighborhood. He is learning the importance of business planning.

Good money lesson #4: Life is about work as play

Liam loves projects. The other morning he was up at 6 a.m. with about twenty "Highlights" magazines spread out before him.“What are you up to?” I asked. “I’m trying to decide which craft I want to do,” he said.
liam 05
Jake Johnson
Our house is filled to the brim with projects by Mr. Liam Johnson.
Kids inherently want to build. Whether it’s crafts or legos or forts, they throw themselves into projects with abandon. The best byproduct of teaching Liam about entrepreneurship is that he’s learning that work can be fun, especially if you’re building something you’re passionate about.
Ultimately, I don’t have all the answers. This is as much a learning experience for me as it is for Liam. But it is awesome to see my son begin to see the world in a different way than I did as a kid.
Since he’s seven, the expectation isn’t that he creates a great business. It’s that he begins to change the way he thinks about money and business. My hope is that as he grows up, these early lessons will set the foundation for great success in life, obviously with many hard lessons along the way.
I see passion building in him as he looks at making money as a project that involves solving problems rather than as selling his time to hurry through tasks. Every kid loves a good project … and so do I. I see him slowly turning into an entrepreneurial thinker. And no matter what he does in life, that type of thinking will help him excel.
Author's note:
As I wrote above, “Ultimately, I don’t have all the answers. This is as much a learning experience for me as it is for Liam.” Part of parenting is being able to receive feedback, learn from it, and put it those lessons into practice, no matter what form it comes in.
In the original version of this post, I had a poorly-worded section called “Leverage talent” about my attempts to teach Liam about hiring employees as part of a successful business.
Sam Biddle at ValleyWag wrote a vitriolic post in response called, “How to Turn Your Kid into a Little Asshole.” While I’m dismayed at the tone of his post and the heartbreaking attacks on my son in the comments, Sam has a point.
At the end of the day, I’m just a normal guy trying to be the best dad I can. I make mistakes all the time. I’m not claiming to be “successful.” I’m just processing my thoughts from what’s worked for us so far.
What I really believe is that part of a great business is hiring the best talent you can. Leveraging is totally the wrong word and not reflective of what I wanted to say. It was a poorly thought out section.
A couple takeaways:
  1. Not everyone wants to own a business, even if they are super talented. As an entrepreneur, it’s always a privilege when you can give people a good livelihood.
  2. A fact of business is that part of being able to keep good people employed is having a profit margin that allows you to do so.
  3. At 7, Liam isn’t able to fully comprehend the balance between making money with a great team versus treating people as a means to an end. There’s no reason to be having those discussions with him at his age.
It was the wrong approach, and one I’ll talk with Liam about to rectify.
Thanks to my critics for helping me refine how I’m approaching my parenting. I’m happy to take the knocks on this, as being a dad is a life-long learning process. I wish I could be the best dad ever right out of the gate, but even harsh feedback is valuable feedback because it’s not about me, it’s about my son.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fever in children: 5 facts you must know

A recent issue of Pediatrics includes a new report detailing the need for doctors to improve patient teaching about fever and fever-reducing drugs.
Many parents fear their child getting a fever, or have “fever phobia.” I certainly can understand why. Kids can do crazy things when they get fevers. They don’t sleep well, eat poorly, and behave strangely. Some children can even have seizures due to a quick spike in body temperature. So it isn’t surprising that beginning as early as the pre-natal consultation, parents ask questions about what to do when their child gets a fever.
Concern about childhood fevers is long-standing in our history. Fever superstitions and ancient fever remedies are ribboned throughout all cultures. For example, Romans would trim the fingernails of those affected with fever. Using wax to attach the fingernail clippings to a neighbor’s front door was thought to transmit the fever to that household. Note: Do not have ancient Romans as neighbors. And, even today, I will occasionally see children whose elders have used a method called cupping to literally suck the fever out of them.
So, here are 5 fabulous facts about fever. Some of these statements may be exactly opposite what our mothers have said about fever. The goal of this post is not to discredit grandma, but to decrease fever phobia and treat fever correctly. And with the right information, maybe the next time our pink-cheeked kiddos come to us with warm foreheads, we might not be so eager to jump to our medicine cabinets.
Please note: The following facts are NOT true for infants under the age of 3 months. Please talk to your pediatrician about newborns with fever.
1. There is no “number” on a thermometer that requires a trip to the Emergency Department. Nope, not even 104F degrees. With very specific exceptions, kids do not have to maintain a “normal” temperature during times of illness. Fever is a normal, healthy way for the body to fight common infections. Bacteria and viruses that attack our bodies love normal body temperature, but cannot successfully replicate in hotter conditions. Fever, therefore, reflects a robust immune system’s defense against these pathogenic attackers. The bacteria and viruses are the enemy, not the fever they cause.
So remember: fever is a symptom of illness, not a disease. Seeing a high number on the thermometer means your child’s body is doing its job to fight an infection.
2. The severity of fever does not always correspond with the severity of illness. So, what does that mean? A fever is generally defined as over 100F degrees. However, with few exceptions, the degree “number” over 100F really doesn’t matter. In fact, a fever of 101F degrees does not make more difference to me than a fever of 103F degrees.
I have kids running and playing in my office with high fevers. I have other children who look sluggish and sad with a reasonably mild fever. Every kiddo reacts to a fever differently. So regardless of the actual numerical value, look for signs of serious illness in your child. Observe his level of discomfort, level of activity, and ability to maintain adequate hydration. If you are concerned, call your pediatrician to discuss the next steps.
3. Fevers do not have to be treated with medication. Fevers help the body fight infection. Treating a fever is only necessary when you think your child is uncomfortable. The goal of administering antipyretic (anti-fever) medications is not to get a high temperature back to “normal.” They are simply medications to make your child feel better.
Fevers can make kids feel pretty lousy. Children can have altered sleep, unusual behavior, and poor oral intake. If these symptoms are upsetting to your child, please give a fever reducing medication. Treating fever does provide comfort, and may decrease the risk of dehydration.
As an aside, if you are coming to the pediatrician’s office because your child has a fever and her or she is uncomfortable, please give your child a fever reducing medication prior to coming to the office. You do not have to wait until the doctor “sees them with a fever.” A comfortable child is much easier to examine. And a good exam will often determine the cause of the fever, allowing for accurate treatment.
4. Half of you are dosing fever medications incorrectly. As many as one-half of parents do not administer the correct dose of fever reducing medication to their child. This includes both under-dosing and over-dosing. Medications should be dosed according to your child’s weight, not age. Always use the measuring device that comes with the medication. If you lose the dosing device, use only a standard measuring instrument (syringe, medicine cup) as a replacement. Household spoons and measuring spoons are not always accurate.
I often hear parents deliberately under-dosing their child. They say, “I didn’t really want to give him medication, so I just gave him a half-dose.”
A “half-dose” will do nothing. Don’t bother.
If you feel that your child needs medication, give the correct dose. If you have questions about your child’s dosage or the proper measuring device to use, call your pediatrician.
5. Fever does not cause brain damage. In a person with a normal functioning brain, and the ability to cool oneself, fever is normal response to infection. Every normal brain has a internal “thermostat” that will prevent a person’s temperature from getting high enough to cause brain damage. It is only when hyperthermia, or heat stroke, occurs when damage to the brain and other organs will occur. Hyperthermia happens in the rare instances when an individual’s brain cannot regulate temperature well (as in a rare case of brain injury) or when an individual is not able to cool oneself (as in a closed car on a summer day.) Fever due to illness in a normal child will not cause organ damage.
Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Something to teach my kids about...

18 English Words You Should Use With Caution (When in Ang Mo Countries)

Here are 18 English words that have a slightly different meaning in Singapore. These words should be used with caution when travelling to English speaking countries.

1. Stone

Singlish Meaning:

Conveying either a lack of any activity, a state of stupor or stunned bewilderment. While it may owe its origins to it, the local use of the term seems to lack any connection with drug-use.

English Meaning:

A state of mind which occurs after smoking enough marijuana to the point where the user stares blankly into whatever catches his/her attention, and giggles.
If you say you are stoned in the UK or the USA you may be hassled for some weed.

2. Stay

Singlish Meaning:

To live (in a place). From Malay “tinggal”. – “My grandmother, my aunt and uncle also stay next door.”

English Meaning:

Live somewhere temporarily as a visitor or guest. Live is permanent – if you live somewhere, that place is your home, that is where all your things are. If you go away on holiday or on a business trip, you will stay somewhere, most likely a hotel. 
You go on vacation and stay at a hotel, but you live in Tampines.

3. Spoilt

Singlish Meaning:

Broken down. From the Malay word ‘rosak’, which means both ‘broken’ (computer, door etc) and ‘spoilt’ with regards to food.

English Meaning:

1. To ruin. For example: ‘She spoilt the movie by telling us the ending’.
2. To pamper. For example: ‘That boy is so spoilt. His parents buy him everything he asks for’.
3. (Of food) To go off or become bad. For example: ‘That food will spoil if you leave it out’.
Toys break; equipment gets damaged; but food spoils and children are spoilt

4. Send

Singlish Meaning:

To take (i.e. drive) somebody somewhere - “I’ll send you home”.

English Meaning:

Send – cause to go or be taken to a destination. “Send” is used when something (or someone) goes away from you, but you don’t go alongWhen you send a letter, you don’t get into the mailbox and go with it.
Be careful, the assumed ending to the phrase “I’ll send you home”, is one of the following:
  • “in an ambulance”
  • “in a body bag”
  • “in little pieces”


5. Last time

Singlish Meaning:

Any event previously, in the past – “Last time, in kampong, we are very poor.

English Meaning:

“Last time” refers to a specific occurrence of something, not something that happened long ago, nor something that happened continually in the past. It cannot refer to a general time in the past. For that we use “previously” or “in the past”. For example, “Last time in class we studied algebra”.
If you said “Last time Romans wore shorts”, you are obviously a time traveling Time Lord. 


6. Keep

Singlish Meaning:

Put in order or tidy up. For example “Keep your books” (which means “put your books away”)

English Meaning:

To hold or retain in one’s possession as one’s own. “Please keep the mats” (Take the mats away, you now own them)
Don’t be surprised if someone takes, whatever you asked them to ‘keep’, away with them.

7. Help

Singlish Meaning:

Do something for someone else. “Can you help post these letters” (which means “Can you post these letters”)

English Meaning:

‘Help’ in this form is to give aid or assistance. “Could you help me carry this table.”
The casual phrase “can you help me buy…” or “can you help post these letters” would seem a little strange in native English speaking countries. This sounds like you need assistance or aid, rather than you need someone to do something for you.
If you asked someone to help you buy water, they would think you were unable to perform the task on your own and need assistance in simple shopping transactions.

8. Follow

Singlish Meaning:

To accompany or go with someone. “You follow me” (which means “You can come along with me”)

English Meaning:

To go after someone, to proceed behind or to come after as in pursuit of.
If you said “I’ll follow you”, this would imply that you will walk behind them like a mad stalker.


Keep, Follow, and Help misuse explained 

More Words and Phrases

Word / Phrase

Singlish Meaning:

English Meaning:

9. Bath / Bathe“Go and take your bath! Or “Go and bathe”. To mean go take a shower.To have a bath or bathe in a bathtub.
10. BoringPeople use boring instead of bored. “I think you are boring”To say someone is boring or you are boring has negative connotations regarding personality (uninteresting person).
11. BungalowA detached two or three story home.A type of single-storey house
12. MarketingWhen we go to the market or
Marketing is used to describe what companies do when they promote a product
13. Off dayA day when people do not go to workA day in which you are not at your normal level of performance
14. OutstationWhen you are out of town, or away overseas.You are going off to a station in a remote or sparsely populated location.
15. Pass UpTo give in something to someone. Example “Pass up your homework”Pass up is used when talking about chances or offers to do something
16. RevertReply. “Revert to me at this address.”To regress or go back to a former condition. “Revert to me” literally means they are asking you to become them.
17. TakenTo eat; to have a meal – “Have you taken your lunch?”Taken my lunch where?
18. You know how to eat?Do you eat this kind of dish, and do you like to eat it?Do you know the method or art of eating (e.g. open mouth, insert food, chew, and swallow)?