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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Book Recommendation: Who Was Helen Keller

I am so grateful that Andrea's not into princesses. She once told me that "Princesses are boring they don't do anything but stay in the castle. I want to be a knight and keep the kingdom safe"

Unfortunately most books available for young girls involve either princesses or girls who are obsessed with fashion or being fancy and prissy. While I see no problem with these characters in moderation I do wish for better role models for my daughter. 

I was beyond excited therefore to find this series of books:

It is a biography of famous people in history written for kids.  The language used is simple enough to understand: 

The spacing between words and paragraphs make it perfect for early readers. The biography is also broken down into short chapters that would be easily digestible by young kids. 

There are also lots of illustrations to help kids better understand the concept being discussed.  I personally highlighted words I knew my daughter would struggle with in order for us to remember to discuss them with each other.

There are also pages focused on discussing or teaching various concepts related to the story.

At the end of the book they present a timeline showing the important events of the person's life.  

Amazon claims this book is for 8 years old and older but I think younger kids who are voracious readers would also appreciate and love this book. My daughter's crazy about it and couldn't put it down. 

I purchased this book in Fully Booked For 210 pesos and I think it is well worth price!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Family of Eggs

One of the concepts I was fascinated by while taking up my undergraduate in psychology was the difference between a hard-boiled egg family and a scrambled egg family. 

We learned that some families are like hard boiled eggs in a sense that each person respects the other's boundary. They are able to maintain their individuality and their identity while being member of the family.

Some families on the other hand are Scrambled Eggs in the sense that their lives are forever enmeshed in one another. What happens to one person is known by everyone, is felt by everyone. 

One is not necessarily better than the other, the best scenario I suppose is a healthy middle between the two kinds. I suppose a sunny side up that doesn't have a hard outer shell yet is still able to maintain its shape. 

It fascinated me because our family was on the extreme side of being scrambled eggs. My grand parents knew even about the lives of my classmates, my colleagues, we are just so enmeshed in each other's lives and we spend so much time together just talking to each other. I didn't know that there could be a different way of living. I thought the way I grew up was the normal way. Imagine my surprise when I married Ruy whose family was on the other extreme side of the spectrum. 

It took some adjustment. Some hemming and hawing before we found a life that fits us and makes us both happy and comfortable. A life where I can happily and comfortably keep my family of origin in the dark of some aspects of out lives for the sake of privacy which is important to Ruy, and also be able to share everything with Ruy to have hat connection I needed and I grew up with.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Obedience: Punishing the Behavior v.s, Influencing the Heart

When people talk about discipline people automatically think of how to "punish" a child for certain behavior. Is there really a difference between the two? In today's world most people don't seem to think so. Discipline has become almost synonymous to punishment in such a way that when you ask a parent how hes/she disciplines his/her child the response would most likely be:

"I spank."
 "I give time-outs."
 "I withhold certain things they like."
 "I make them sit on a corner. "

These answers don't really show discipline, they talk about what you are supposed to do to reinforce discipline.

Punishing may successfully curb behavior but it doesn't address the root issue...the attitude. Let's say for example that your child screams at you when she's angry. You can give her time out and say "Don't shout at mommy". But what does that teach? Does that address the issue of respect? Does it teach her how she can better deal with her anger? Maybe, just maybe, your child would stop shouting at you but unless the root issues are addressed the behavior would just manifest itself differently. Maybe your child would start hitting, or talking back, or slamming the door to show her anger. If a heart problem is not addressed, it is sure to show itself again in again in different ways.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

FAQ - Time Out

Parents who come to me for help or advise usually want to know how to discipline kids. Disciplining is such a broad topic and covers a wide-array of things but for the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on time outs.

  1. What is time out?
  2. Time out is a tool used to aid in disciplining.It is NOT a magic tool that will somehow magically transform your kid into an extremely obedient child in one go. Time out is one small part of the disciplining process that aims to reinforce what you should have already taught your kids.
  3. Who can use it?
  4. It can be used by parents with kids who are around 2-6 years old. You can gauge if your kid is ready if they can at least understand what you are saying already and can respond accordingly, even by grunts or nods. I personally introduced the idea of time out a little before my daughter turned 2 but I never had to use it until she turned 2. While it may still work for older kids, it will be harder and would take longer to see the effects. It might be best to consider alternative tools for kids who are 7 and up. 
  5. When do I use it?
  6. You use it when: 1. You have previously established a rule, 2. You have given a warning, 3. You are not upset or mad, rather you are calm but authoritative, 4. You are not in public (the goal is not to embarrass your child)
  7. How does it work?
  8. It works because kids use attention from parents as a sort of reinforcement. Kids value attention from their caregivers so much. Be it positive (like praise, and affection) or negative (shouting,anger directed at them); they will keep dong things that get them attention. Time outs remove attention from the kids and create a strong correlation between the "bad" thing they are doing and the lack of attention. The beautiful thing about the time out is that it ends with a hug so we are not withholding love from our kids...we are just removing attention away from the negative behavior.
  9. Okay, I'm interested. How do I do time out?
  10. Here is my daughter giving herself a time out. This was taken when she was 4.
    First, you give one warning/reminder like "Please stop hitting your brother". Then if the child doesn't obey, kneel in front of the child so that you are eye-level with your child. Speak in a calm but firm voice and say "I told you to do this...but you didn't. Now you need to go one time out", hold your child's hand and help him go to the designated time-out chair. No need to say anything else at this point. I assign one minute per year of the child's age as a general rule and it has so far worked for us. I set the kitchen timer and put it in front of my child (to avoid the repeated question "Is it time yet?") and then I leave. Most people stop at this point, but this is not enough. You need to go back to your child when the time is done, talk to your child kindly and ask "Do you know why you were on time out? Why?" and discuss it in simple terms with your child. Then ask the child to say sorry for the specific behavior. Say "I forgive you", then hug your child. 
  11. Why doesn't it work for me?
  12. When parents say it doesn't work for them these are the normal culprits: the rules aren't clear yet, the parents are not consistent, they didn't follow all the rules of the time out.
  13. Are there other options?
  14. I personally spank (biblical spanking okay, not beating) but I don't suggest this to my clients as I'm always afraid of them going to far with this. Withholding things kids like also works for older kid.
  15. What if my kid doesn't sit still?
  16. You have to patiently keep bringing the kid back to the time out space without talking until the kid finally sit stills. You need to keep your face and expression calm. This may take a long time specially for kids who don't understand instructions too much. They will eventually get it but the first couple of times might be challenging.