Sophrosyne

How do you want to live your life?

Maintaining Objectivity

As parents, it is absolutely normal to see our children in our own special way; because they are very special to us! A word of caution here; don’t overlook their faults. Treating their faults mildly is not helping them; instead you could be creating a bigger monster!

What started off as cute when young can very quickly become annoying as they grow older. And it is very important for parents to be aware of where these behaviours are heading. Take for example, confidence; every parent’s wish is for their children to be confident so that they have the guts to achieve their dreams. So, we try to boost their confidence whenever we can. We give them positive feedback and reinforce positive behaviour. Hopefully, over time these tactics work and we have a confident child. Here is the tricky part, some children might take this a step further and become boastful and arrogant.

At this point it will take a parent with a keen and objective eye to pick this up. There’s a fine line between being confident and arrogant; and we need to decide which direction we want our children to be heading. Some parent embrace arrogance; while others prefer quiet confidence. It is a matter of preference, so take your pick. If you choice is quiet confidence, please read on. Otherwise, just keep feeding your child’s ego, that is the fastest way to keep feeding his/her arrogance.

The theme for today’s post is maintaining objectivity; my challenge to you as parents is to keep an open mind when viewing your children. Love them with all that you have and all that you can but stop once in a while and take off those rose-tinted glasses so that you can truly evaluate their development. You will be doing them a big favour by nipping bad attitudes and behaviours at the bud before it can take root and become a permanent bad habit. Do not view them through parent lens; use a projected view. See them as who they are going to be when they grow up and whether these traits will aid or cripple them in the future.

Trust me! It is much easier to mold them while they are young. and it is our duty as parents to do the best we can to equip our children with skills necessary for them to be successful in the near future.

I leave you with this today: ‘We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.’ –  Stacia Tauscher

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Our inner voices

As you know by now that my posts are inspired by events or personal experiences. The post today was the result of a conversation I had with a friend awhile ago.

Admittedly, not everyone had the most supportive or positive parents when they were growing up. Some of us rise above it to become better people; while others find it difficult to pick up their crushed self-esteem to move on. As a result, they live their lives with a constant inner voice that sounded very much like their parents; constantly telling them that they can never achieve their goals or that they can never be good enough. We all know how we become who we are today. We learn through modelling the people around us from the day we were born. One may not have positive influence at home but sometimes, their turning point comes when they meet someone later on in their life who believes in them. And again, not everyone is so lucky.

How did we learn to parent then? Yes, you’ve got it! From our parents of course. As well as parenting books, friends…..etc. But the main style, if I may will be from our parents.

Right, you are thinking, okay, what is she trying to drive at? I am simply saying this; yes, we parent the way we were raised because that is our learning style. But it is possible to change if we teach ourselves to recognise the signs. I am sure people did not have children so that they can inflict pain on them because they were not treated nicely when they were children. We all want to do our best for our children.

The main aim of this post is to draw attention to your parenting voice. If it is positive, then please carry on the good work. But if it is always negative; ask yourself why do you sound like that? Was it habit because that was what you grew up with? If yes, then ask yourself, is that how you want your child to grow up? Having this negative inner voice for the rest of their lives.

I agree that habits die hard; but I have seen many great parents who overcame their personal obstacles to become wonderful. loving, and supportive parents! It is a matter of choice and intention. It is all up to you to break the vicious cycle.

Remember this: “The way we talk to our children will become their inner voice.” – Peggy O’Mara

 

 

 

 

 

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Teaching children people skills

I have been asking myself this question: At which point in my life did I learn how to ‘fix situations’? By this, I mean that when I cause someone grief or have upset them in any way, how did I know what to do? The reason this question came to mind was because a few days ago, my son did something to upset me and of course, I told him off for that. He reacted like any normal child; he was hurt that I was upset and went to hide in his room. Well, did that make me feel better? NO! Because he was the one who was in the wrong, and now he had turned the tables around. Instead of him pacifying me; now I have to go and make sure he is okay.

Yes, I did the ‘right thing’, I went into his room to make sure that he was alright. I know that he hates it when I get upset. That was when I realised that he needs to learn how to ‘fix the situation’. This was what I told him:

“When you upset someone, you do not get to be upset. The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that the other party is okay. Apologise for your mistake, then ask if there is anything you can do to make it better. You need to sit on your pride because that is the reason why you are upset when someone gets angry with you. Hiding and shutting down because your pride is hurt does not make it all better. Instead, it makes things worse. Swallow that lump of pride in your throat. Even if there is nothing you can do, people will appreciate the effort.”

As adults, we somehow instinctively know what to do. I do not quite recall if my parents taught me these skills. But I have witnessed children lacking in the basic manners department, and I suspect that it is because their parents never really reminded or taught them any. Human beings may be born with some survival instincts. I doubt being empathetic is one of them. Even manners, I had to remind my children to use nice manners every once in a while. Eventually, it becomes a habit. I believe that the ability to admit one’s mistakes and willingness to make amendments are the same. It is something that we need to instill in children, over time it becomes natural.

I am not sure what your hopes and dreams are for your children; but at the very least, I hope my boys will grow up humble and caring. I hope that this post will give you something to think about. I leave you with this quote from Ann Landers:

It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”

 

 

 

 

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Barriers to communication

This may seem like a rhetorical post to some but I’m sure many will appreciate this reminder. We just don’t talk as much to one another anymore. It used to be that children stop talking to their parents when they become teenagers. But it seems that these days, parents do not communicate with their children much any more anyway.

Yep, you know where I’m going…. The pros and cons of technology. I am not against using electronic devices to keep children occupied when you are doing food shopping or just shopping. But when you are sitting down to have a meal together; is it necessary to be on your mobile devices all the time? I see this scene all the time – the father is checking his email, the mother is either playing a game or watching some programme, the children are, of course, playing on their itouches, DS….etc. The only time they look up is when the food arrives, and they will be concentrating on eating and it’s a race to finish eating because whoever finishes first, can continue doing what they were doing before they were interrupted by the arrival of the food.

Can you see what is happening? Technology is supposed to enhance our lives and make it easier. It is not supposed to reduce human contact. Then what is the point of going out for dinner but nobody is talking to anybody? It is a big problem! People are too attached to their mobile devices! So much so that they are unable to communicate with each other anymore! I have friends who would send texts to family members who are in the next room rather than just going into the next room to talk to them! What is this world turning into??

I have mentioned in previous posts that relationships; all kinds of relationships takes effort and communication. It is nice to receive a text when your friend is unable to see you but if you are there in front of them, then be present. Whatever your phone needs to tell you, it can wait. I find it so important that people become aware that they are addicted to their mobile devices. Experiment it! What do you automatically do all the time? Do you take out your mobile phone and check if there are any updates? I bet you do. I am guilty of it!

I make it a point not use my mobile phone when I have actual company. What is the point of catching up if we would rather fiddle with our phones? I mean, how long does a lunch or dinner take? 1-2 hours? Be there, put the phone away and enjoy the company! Technology can do alot for us but it can never replace the human factor. Why do you think that Singapore Airlines is able to remain at the top for so long? Yes, they have a very young fleet of aircrafts but they also understand the power of personal touch. Things are handed to you, the stewardesses communicate with you. They sell the human factor.

In my humble opinion, if you want to improve or maintain your relationships; you need to pack away your mobile devices when you have company. It takes conscious effort to do that. Check it if you must but don’t spend more than 10 seconds doing that. Besides missing out on valuable time with the people you care about while they are in your presence, it is rude too. . You are telling them using your actions that I would rather fiddle on my phone than talk to you.

Simple suggestion for the day, be present when you have company; resist the lure of your mobile device, you own it, don’t let it own you!

 

 

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Mind your manners!

If I have OCD (Obessesive Compulsive Disorder) about anything; it is about manners and social awareness. Perhaps it was due to my upbringing and influence during my earlier years. I pay special attention to being polite and considerate. Unfortunately, not many people think or behave this way.

Here is the irony, the very people who are inconsiderate will be the ones who will demand for attention and respect. Never mind that they are unable to reciprocate; they have the audacity to demand for the very consideration they lack. I am sure you have met people like that. The obvious ones are rude and demanding to the service staff; the not so obvious ones fiddle with their mobile phones when someone else is speaking.

It amazes me that there are so many people who lacked social awareness or understand the basic laws of reciprocity. Nobody likes to be treated rudely.  The outcome of an unpleasant encounter will be unpleasant as well. Isn’t it basic knowledge that if you would like someone to do something nice for you; you treat them well and ask them nicely?? Unfortunately, we live in an age of entitlement where many feel that it is their right to demand; without using nice manners. What happened to those days where we used “Thank you” and “Please”?

I have always felt very strongly about this topic and have been wanting to do a write-up on it. It is disappointing to see that the level of mutual respect among fellow human beings deteriorate. We no longer value common courtesy. If this continues, then how different are we from animals?

This post will be linked to the life category as well as the parenting category in the hope that this article will serve as a reminder to parents that nice manners and common courtesy is not so common anymore. It is our duty as parents to raise our children to be respectful of others. We are not born polite; it is a habit, best instilled while young. We many not be able to change the world; but at least it is within our capacity to add one more socially aware and responsible global citizen to this world.

Like the saying goes: “Individually we are a drop, but together we are an ocean.”

 

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Support their dreams

The message behind today’s post is simple: Support your children’s dreams and projects. Many parents often feel that it is their duty to present different perspectives to their children so as to soften the “blow” in the event that they fail. True for some matters; but in my humble opinion, not in the case of their dreams. You may call me the eternal optimist, because I truly believe that you can achieve anything you set your heart on. I mean, of course if their dream is to become the next American president, that is too far fetched. But if their dream is even remotely possible, please give them your full support!!

I am a mother, I know and understand the need to protect your children from harm and disappointment. However, it is more devastating to have your dreams denied by the people whom you thought love you the most. The very people whom you think will give you the most validation; denied you even that. Instead of telling them how hard or impossible it is to get there so that the disappointment will not be too great if they fail. Why not try to build their resilience in another way. Teach them discipline and determination. There is no need to give them the bad alternative; they will learn that outside. Don’t let them face rejection at home. Home is where they feel safe; not attacked. Build them, not crush them. There is a huge impact in the words we use and the actions we take. Your intention might be good but it may not come across that way.

Trust me, I have seen many great people who could have achieved big things; but unfortunately they never got the support they needed from their parents. As a result, they constantly second guess their capabilities and never achieve their full potential. Don’t do that to your children. All they need from us is for us to believe in their dreams. You now have the power to mold their minds and self-confidence. Don’t underestimate their abilities; instead encourage them to dream even bigger.

 

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Parenting status

There’s something about parenting that I am learning: “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better”

Parents with older children will attest to this fact. I used to tell my friends with younger children; ‘it will get easier’. Hang on… I am not contradicting myself; all I’m saying is that some parts of it get easier but the emotional part of it never does.

As the children grow older; they become more self sufficient. They are able to do more and more things for themselves (this is the part I am referring to that gets easier), but the worrying does not lessen. Fortunately, as parents we get better at dealing with tempers and non-compliance. We learn to allow our children more room to grow; we ‘get better’ at not hovering around them.

Perhaps a more appropriate example would be this; parents with more than 2 children will confirm that the second child is much easier to handle than the first one. You already had experience from the first one, so when the second one comes along, it is a more like a breeze than a storm. But is the second child really easier? Not really, they still have the same demands. The only thing that is different is the parents. They have gotten better.

But no matter how much experience you have; I am sure it is still takes a lot of control to not run to them when they fall or for that matter allowing them to fall so that they might learn the lesson themselves. I believe that I will still continue to worry about my children no matter how old they are.

This is the reason why I now choose to say “it doesn’t get easier, but you will get better.”

 

 

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Choose your battles

As parents, we hope and want our children to be the best that they can be. So, how do we achieve that? Through constant reminders or more accurately; nagging. That doesn’t really work because after a while they don’t hear you anymore. Worse still, your ‘reminders’ can be misread as criticism. Think about it this way; how would you like it if you get told “NO” or “Don’t do that” all the time!! Frustrated right? That’s it. Don’t pick on everything; choose the important ones for the day and just correct on those. They cannot be expected to remember everything anyway.

By only voicing out the key points; your children will learn that if it is not important to you, you won’t say it. Then they know when to take note; rather than them tuning out every time you speak.

I have chosen to put this post into 2 categories today because I am also applying it to the other parts of life. Do not nit-pick. In any situations, choose your battle. How exhausting will it be if you were to partake in everything that needs ‘fixing’?? So instead of living your life; you are busying finding and fixing faults all the time. Where is the joy in that?? The only thing eventually that you will end up achieving is upsetting yourself; because you are constantly unhappy about something. Learn to let some things go. The smaller ones that is an eyesore but does not really affect the overall outcome.

Try it sometimes, you will find that people tend to accede to your requests more because they are less frequent and you feel much happy because you stoppped banging your head against the brick wall.

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They grow up really fast…

I can totally understand that parents with young children cannot appreciate this statement; but I would still like to stress it strongly. I know how hard it is because I have been there and I remember my friends who have older children telling me that the children grow really fast. Ermmm… I used to say:”I wish they would grow up already! I’m so tired!” Sounds familiar? Yes, they are hard work when they are little, but trust me before you know it, they are all grown up already! My two boys are 7 and 10 years old. Lucky for me, I realised it early. There are many parents out there who missed the opportunity to truly enjoy their children. Soon, they will become teenagers; have their own friends…..

You know how it’s like, you were there once. You do not need your parents as much because you are older and would rather spent time with your friends. Then you meet your life partner, get married, have your own family…

What I am driving at is this: I know that it is really tough to even be patient with them when they are screaming and behaving like little brats. But they will grow up. This toughest period of time is also the only time that they need you and most importantly WANT to be with you. As much as you want them to grow up quickly; rest assured that it WILL happen, try; I’m saying just try to see this time as a period that once passed can never be repeated again. Time progress in one direction; once it’s passed, it’s passed.

Therefore I urge you to enjoy them as much as you can. It is challenging for me as well and I struggle with it. But my reminder is stronger as I can see them grow bigger everyday. Scares me that they will outgrow me soon…. But that is life. The only thing I can do now is to enjoy them while I still have the opportunity to.

 

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Children learn what they live

Today’s post might seem rhetorical, but it is something that I have experienced too many times. As parents, we are aware of our impact on our children’s future; we know that what we do today will affect them in the future. Yet, many forget the impact. Perhaps, it is because they are trying to look into the future through their children’s eyes, and because the ‘slate’ in front of them is still fairly clean, they are unable to visualise how it will look like when it is fully coloured in.

Allow me to give you a different perspective. How about looking at your own past. Was there any thing that your parents have done that made you who you are today? Be it a current habit? Or a way of thinking? Got the picture?

When we try and imagine how our actions will affect our children, it is often difficult. But if we are able to reflect on our personal history; you will find evidence of your parents impact.  Parents do play a very huge role in their children’s lives, and it is never too late to become the role model they need you to be. You don’t have to be perfect, (I am far from it!! ) but you owe it to them to at least try.

With that, I leave you with this beautiful poem which I am sure you have encountered at some point. But this time, read it, ponder on it, digest it, and finally act on it.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.

If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval. they learn to like themselves.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith with themselves.

If children live with friendliness, they learn to find love in the world.

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