Saturday, July 18, 2015

We Should Stop Teaching Our Children to Say "Sorry"

I made a decision to stop telling my children to apologize anymore. This decision arose from 2 incidents that happened the past 6 months.

The most recent incident happened a month ago.

Incident (1)
My son was a victim of a bicycle accident. He was walking on the pedestrian pavement when a boy came dashing right into his back. We wanted to let the boy's parents know about the dangerous act. The boy was riding very fast. The grandmother (not the old auntie that you are imagining. She was young for a grandmother and conversed well in English) came over and asked the boy, "did you say sorry?" The boy answered yes and the grandmother spoke indifferently to us, "he said sorry already...". Well, it turned into an ugly episode when she started blaming my son for not moving away when his grandson rang the bell. And she even told her grandson, "Don't worry, it's ok. You did nothing wrong." Well, does a driver has a right to knock a pedestrian down because he had sounded his horn? And in this case, the pedestrian didn't hear the horn? A young child doesn't understand this maybe but what about an adult?  

I digress. I'm not going to discuss about the safety issue here. The right and wrong in this incident is not even debatable at all. The point that I'm driving is, is the word "sorry" so important after you hurt someone? Shouldn't the well being of the person that was hurt the first to come to mind? That kid never knows what he did wrong and what he should have done. All he knows is, whatever I've done, it's ok so long I've said "sorry".  

Incident (2)
I was in the queue with my son waiting for his turn to wash his brushes after a calligraphy class when the boy in front of him sprayed black ink all over his face and clothes. My son lost his cool and shouted "How dare you?!" Though I can understand the frustration of being sprayed ink all over, shouting back at the boy was inappropriate and I reprimanded him. I apologised to the kid on my son's behalf and explained that my boy was too upset. What I didn't expect was, the boy went crying to his mother and accused my son of threatening to beat him up! His mother confronted us. I explained the situation to her and the first thing she asked was "did my son say sorry?". Her son didn't and I wasn't even interested in an apology. Is the apology so important? How about the child who had ink all over his face and clothes? The child that I had a hard time cleaning up? The child that was so upset that the ink may never be washed off his favourite t-shirt? Anyway, the mother was only concerned of her own son. After she knew he didn't apologise, she brushed it off and said that he is only a child. I totally understand that it may be an accident (which I'm not too sure now as it happened again the next day) and that was why I didn't even pursue the matter. She just continued to complain how my son had scared her son.  

From the above 2 incidents, I noticed that today's parenting and discipline stops at "SORRY". Whatever you do wrong, you MUST say SORRY. Any misdeeds stops at SORRY. You are ok so long you have said your SORRY. But sorry, "sorry... no cure". That's what we used to say to our friends when we were a child ourselves.  

When a child's action cause hurt to others, saying sorry isn't helpful. An apology doesn't wash off all the responsibility from them. In my opinion, the hurt child's well being should come first. 

"Are you alright?"
"Is there anything I can do to help to make you feel better?" 

Forget about the "sorry",  teach the child to ask themselves what they have done to another kid. How would they feel if they were hurt. Look at his/her face, is he/she alright? How can they help? Young children does not know how to react, so we, as parents, should teach them empathy. If we can show our concern to the hurt child, our children will learn. At the same time, we should stop being overly defensive and protective of our own children and disregard other people's children. Bear in mind that it can happen to your own children as well.   

We should stop teaching our children to say "sorry" and as a result, teaching them to use it to escape from the situation instead of being responsible for their actions. 

We should also stop using the excuse "children are too young to understand". They may not understand but we, as adults, should know better. We should model the right behaviour to our children so they can follow. Treat other people's children like how you want your children to be treated by others. 

So, my dear fellow parents, let's forget about saying "sorry" and rethink how we can teach our kids to be responsible for their actions, to empathise with others and to treat others with respect.   

Thursday, November 20, 2014

1 Year Absence

Wow... I didn't realize I haven't blog for a year long! 2014 marks a big change for the family as I embarked on a full time job early this year. It was hard to juggle between work and family. It's actually mission impossible to balance both. You either fail at both or you can only concentrate on one and let the other just float on.

The children can never recieve the same amount of care and attention with a working mum. I lost many precious moments and time with them while I'm out working and many times, I wonder if it's even worth it. Here are some very precious moments that we lost that I felt was very important.

The Morning Greetings
With my new work, I have to be up before dawn and I don't get to wake the children or see them when they get up in the morning. I felt quite unsettled for the first month. It was only much later that I got to know that the kids were very affected that they don't get to see me in the morning. When asked how he felt when he wakes up in the morning, Y answered his teacher, "My mummy is not there." My heart broke when his teacher shared this with me. I then made arrangements so that I can still go home to see the children before they go off for school. I'm lucky that the work place is just 5 mins away and I can make arrangements for someone to take over while I steal some time to go home. My husband also made arrangements to go to work later so he can have breakfast with the children before leaving for work. These arrangements take a lot of effort to make. But I think it's really important that we are with them. The morning sets the mood for the whole day. With the parents around to greet them and prepare them for the day ahead, the children will feel more secure to handle the day.

The Journey to and fro School 
I missed the walk to school with them in the morning. There were mad mornings but the morning walks with them were very enjoyable as they get older. They could handle the walk with no complaints and they would talk so much about things they are going to school and what they have planned to do for the day. Sometimes they totally excluded me from their conversation but I get to know so much from them. I used to cycle together with them to school and their happy faces on their bike melt my heart.

After not sending them to school for a few months, I find myself so out of touch with the happenings in school. I think it's also quite important for us to send them to school. We get to see the teachers, meet the other parents so we will know what's going on in school.

Our Weekend Outings
I used to look forward to the weekends for our weekly outings. But since I've started work full time, I'm exhausted by the end of the week and I find it so hard to go to parks with them. For many months, we have joined the malls like many Singaporeans parents do. I finally understand how many city kids could hate the parks and would opt for a air conditioned mall anytime. It's too convenient and comfortable. Bye to sunscreens, wet shirts, sticky bodies, hi to air conditioning, toy stores, restaurant.

These are the things that matters to me and I'm glad that after settling into my new work, I managed to get them back on track. I try to send them to school these days and we try to have at least 1 outdoor outing each month. I was concentrating too much on my new work the first half of the year and now the work is more stable, my attention goes back to them. One thing I know is that I will still choose to be a stay home mum if I have to choose between one, our family's priority will still be them.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cardboard Car

Both my boys were down with HFMD last week. But I'm happy that other than the few dreadful days of very bad ulcers that's affecting meal times for K, we had been busy creating and learning. It's been a while since we did so many activities. Our no school mornings are spent creating and playing. The activities were all child directed and I became their slaves.

On this day...

K: Mummy, let's build a cardboard car.
Me: (thought bubble: "Let's"?? You mean "me" Nooooo....) Let's do some other things, how about watching the Cars movie? (wrong move)
K: I want to build Lightning Mcqueen! Ka Chow!
Y: I want to build The King!
Me: (thought bubble: Ok, we have cardboards... maybe it's not that difficult to do afterall) Alright, let's see what we need.

Their persistence paid off and once I got my butt off from the sofa, we were on the roll.

What You Need:
Carton Box
Pen Knife
White Paper
Construction Paper

I got 2 carton boxes and cut off 3 sides of the flap for the top, leaving one side for the car front. All 4 flaps at the bottom are removed.

   Cut a small rectangle at the sides as a handle for the kid to hold.

Then it's time to get the rascals to work.

I printed out the car number 43 for The King and got the graphic online for Lightning Mcqueen. Cut them out and paste it at the side.
My "designers" had a hard time deciding on the design of their car wheels. They had an even harder time trying to express what they want to me. But we sorted it out in the end and I thought they looked good. I kept the cardboard pieces that I cut out earlier for the wheels. Cut the circles and parts out of construction paper and the boys were responsible for putting them together.

For the front of the car, I cut a piece of White paper to paste over to draw the eyes. Y wanted a "serious" look. He drew a dinosaur (looked nothing like one) for the Dinoco sign and we found a Rusteze stickers for Lightning Mcqueen. I drew the eyes and mouth for Y while K drew everything on his own.

The boys were so happy with their cars and they wanted to bring to school as their Chinese learning theme is Cars. K asked his teacher for permission to bring to school. She agreed and so I let them drive to school today.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pattern Making with Glue and Paint

I knew I had to do this when I saw this beautiful picture on Pinterest.

What You Need:
Container Lid
Paint or Food Coloring
White Glue
Toothpicks or Sticks

Spread the glue on the lid and drop the paint on the glue. Use toothpicks to draw on the glue, making beautiful pattern. The glue may take 1-2 days to dry thoroughly. Once it dried, peel it off the lid, hang it up or cut it into other shapes.

It's so easy and my boy who is down with HFMD liked it very much. Instead of spreading the paint, he mixed them, making marbled like patterns. I limited him to 3 colors as I knew that any more will just result with a patch of Brown.
He is learning to smile and pose for the camera. Quite unnatural but it's better than his usual face covering pose.
Here's his masterpiece. I love it!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Best Friends for 10 with Egg Cartons

It's very important for children to understand the number combinations to make 10. I call them Best Friends for 10. Having a good understanding will be beneficial to them when they do bigger number addition problems for Primary level mathematics.

What You Need:
Empty Egg Carton
Pom Poms (2 colors)

You can use Beans, Colored Pasta, etc. In fact, anything.  

The boys weren't too interested in this activity as they weren't keen on learning Math that day. They knew this is "work" in disguise. But I managed to fool one of them into playing "Raining Pom Poms" They grab a handful of poms poms, throw them into the egg cartons and tata... we have raining pom poms. Sort them out a bit and we can have a 3D ten frame.

I did this activity with my P3 student who is still weak with simple addition and subtraction. I was worried she may find this too "childish" but to my surprise, she enjoyed it. This activity satisfy the Kinesthetic part of learning and allows her to "see" the number combination.

Being able to "see" the numbers helps the children to understand better. Once the children understand and know the number combination for 10 very well, addition of bigger numbers will be a breeze. Daily repetitive drilling works too but isn't this much better?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Pirate

During the eye check conducted in school, Y was referred for further examinations. My husband and I were devastated when we knew about it. Outdoor time was our top priority to protect their eyesight. We even changed the lights in our home and are very strict with their screen time.

We received both good news and bad news when we went for further review. Good news, he is not short sighted and the bad news, they noticed he has a Squint. To put it simply, one eye is not looking straight. It's also commonly known as the Lazy Eye. We noticed it since he was very young but we did not know that such condition can be corrected. My heart sank when I read that the corrective measures is most effective before the age of 4.

The doctor advised eye patching, that is, to patch the good eye to train the lazy eye to look straight. The patching has to be done daily, for 2 hours a day.

I was filled with guilt that I didn't bring him to the doctor earlier but my husband comforted me that there's only so much we could do and we can't know everything.

Well, let's just hope this tedious patching can help to correct the Squint.

Graphing with Preschoolers

I had introduced graphing with the boys last year when we got a pack of sea animals eraser back from the Underwater World field trip. They are excellent manipulatives for Math activities! Since then, we touched on it through books. Recently, we are learning Subtraction and the concept of "fewer than" stumped them. They could understand "more than" easily but I don't think they truly understood "fewer than" though they know they need to subtract.

Today, they came home telling me that they learnt graphing in school and were very excited about it as they recalled a book we read about Graphing.

Since I didn't prepare any materials and they couldn't wait, I took out the pack of sea animal erasers again. They remembered what they did before and proceeded to do up the graph on their own. I'm glad to see the great improvement in sorting and they were able to follow instructions to do up their own graph.

Y wanted to draw his own graph and he came up with this.

K got a little upset that the graph we did is not the same as what his teacher taught. He said I don't listen to his teacher... duh...  So I got him to show me what he did in school. He had his own idea of how he wanted to create his graph. He asked for a stencil to draw his sea animals.

Graphing is a simple basic Math concept to introduce to young children and can be a lot of fun.

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