Of Wolves and Dragons

What kind of a person will our child grow up to be?

We saw a live Ninjago performance at our recent visit to Legoland Malaysia. The story was about the ninjas rescuing a dragon from the forces of darkness so it will be a dragon of light and do good instead of a dragon of darkness and wreck havoc.

The thing is, it’s the same dragon with the same power. But what it would use its power for will depend on what it has been trained to do. 

Was it reared with love, kindness and encouragement? Or was it reared with darkness, hatred and resentment?

Obviously the environment will shape the type of dragon it would become.

It reminds me of the Cherokee story of the fight between the 2 wolves inside us, except in this version, the fight between light and darkness is internal.

You see, inside each and every one of us resides an “evil” wolf and a “good” wolf. The wolf that wins the fight is the one we feed. 

If we feed our wolves with anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and/or ego, the evil wolf will win.

But if we feed our wolves with joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith, the good wolf will win.

While our environment plays a role in shaping who we are, it is we who determine what we allow into our system. 

As parents, we not only control the environment which our children grow up in, we also serve as their teachers and guides. Subsequently, when our children grow up, we become the inner voices they hear when they process their thoughts. Are they capable enough? Are they good enough? Are they loving towards others? Are they showing empathy to those who have been mean to them? Are they kind? Are they resilient? What would they do when they encounter difficulties?  Their answers to these questions depend on what we teach them and what we say to them. 

Recently, A had a difficult time with another child and was repeatedly reduced to tears. I could take the easy way out and reduce interaction between that child and A. I could paint A as a victim and the other child a target for negative labels. But I see a higher purpose in their interaction. I helped A see how she could be a teacher to that child, to help that child learn gentleness and generosity. And at the same time, I felt it would help A build her resilience so she wouldn’t be so easily affected by what others say or do. Amazingly, she agreed to be a teacher. In fact she said, “I can stand up for myself because I am resilient. And I still love XYZ and I will be a teacher to help him be nicer.”

That really warmed my heart bcos she sees herself as a learner (in self-defence) and a teacher (in guiding the other child). When she grows up seeing adversities as opportunities to learn and teach, nothing will fazz her. Her blueprint in dealing with adversities and “difficult” people will be a positive one.

We, as parents, help our children build their blueprints: blueprint in dealing with setbacks, blueprint in dealing with difficult people, blueprint in dealing with abundance, etc etc. Our children carry these blueprints with them unconsciously. 

Many people live with negative blueprints without even realising their thoughts were “imprinted” from young. For those of us fortunate enough, we realise the existence of our negative blueprints and do our utmost best to undo them and create a new set of positive blueprints.

Hence it is very important that we remind our children they are capable (even when they make mistakes), that they are good enough based on the knowledge and skills they have at that moment. We show them how to empathise, love and be kind to others. We encourage them to get on their feet when they fall and help them see obstacles and challenges as opportunities for growth and development. 

Which wolf our kids will feed subsequently when they grow up really then depends on what we say to them and what we teach them when they are young.  Whether they will grow up to be dragons of light or dragons of darkness too will depend on the environment we provide for them.

While it may seem a scary thought with overwhelming responsibility, we can choose to see it in another way.

In order to build an environment of light for our children and be the voice that will feed their “good” wolf, we too will end up feeding our good wolf and become dragons of light. Now wouldn’t that be wonderful?

We may not be able to motivate ourselves to become better, but for the sake of our children, we will be able to do it. That’s why our children are our best teachers.

Happy Parenting!!

3 Reasons Why Our Children Are Worth The Investment…


… of resources taken to upgrade our parenting knowledge and skills.

1) Our Children Are Our Future

I believe we can all agree that our children are more than the grades that they get. We invest everything we have in their education and development not just so they can get excellent grades. We invest in our children because we love them and we want them to be the best that they can be. We invest in them so they can become the ones who lead, shape and create our future.

When our children grow up, they are going to be the movers and shakers of our society. The children we have at home are going to be the leaders of tomorrow, the creators of our future. They will be the ones who will shape humanity in one way or another. They are our future. Not just the future of our families. They are the future of humanity.

And because we are responsible for bringing them up to fulfill their roles in society, we need to sharpen our saws and upgrade our parenting knowledge and skills. It doesn’t matter whether it’s through reading books/websites/blogs on parenting, or listening to podcasts, or attending parenting programs, our children are worth the investment in time and money. But why should we improve yourselves, you may ask.

2) Our Children Deserve The Parents That We Can Be

Given that they are the future of humanity, we want to do our very best to help them develop. We pour in so much resources ensuring they do well in school, that they are exposed to music, sports, and all other enrichment programs so they are mentally, socially, emotionally and physically developed. We do everything we can to help them be the best that they can be. And that is great! What if I tell you, we can do even better?

It’s not just the children’s job to be the best they can be. We can’t outsource everything. There are things we need to do as parents. How do we parent them? How do we communicate with them? How do we express our love to them? How do we encourage them? How do we discipline them? There is a whole ton of studies and research out there on how these seemingly innocuous interactions have a HUGE impact on the development on our children. We can’t send our children to enrichment classes for that. After all, these are “parenting skills”, meant for parents. To help our children be the best they can be, we need to invest in our own parenting education.

We want the best for our children. They rely on us to give them the best exposures, the best learning opportunities, the best environment to grow and develop, based on our abilities of course. They also rely on us to know how to parent them well. They deserve the parents that we can be for them, and to be able to do that, we can learn and upgrade our parenting knowledge and skills.

3) When We Work Together, We Achieve More

Parenting cannot be outsourced. If our children “misbehave”, we can’t just send them for a program or camp and hope they can change their attitude and behavior. That might work for a while. But imagine if we ourselves learned enough to understand why they behave the way they do. Imagine if we arm ourselves with the skills and know-how on how to deal with those “challenges”. How would it be like if we, with proper understanding and know-how, work TOGETHER with our children? How much more growth and development can our children achieve? How much closer our relationship will be with our children?

It is my deepest desire that parents take the leap, make that investment in themselves and upgrade their parenting knowledge and skills so they can be more attuned to their children. When parents are attuned to their children, they will develop strong connections with them. With strong connections, they will know how to communicate and motivate their children. It is when connections are strong and communication links are opened that the children will be willing to listen to their parents. It is through learning more about parenting that parents can achieve all that and help their children be the best they can be. More importantly, they can still remain in loving relationship with their children.

When more and more parents do that, we can bring up a strong generation of leaders, movers and shakers. We can co-create a future that will bring mankind to another golden age.

Are you willing to invest in yourself so you can bring out the best in your children? If you are, one of the options available to you is to check out our Decoding Your Teen Seminar. I look forward to seeing you!

– Vivian –


Sleep Training Then and Now

Looking back on my 14 years of parenting journey, I realised I have come a long way. Yes, I had started my parenting journey reading a ton of books, and I am still reading a whole lot now. However, in my early days, many of the books I read were “how-to” books. In particular, I read a disproportionate number of books on how to get babies to go to sleep on their own, how to get babies to sleep through the night etc etc. Why? Because I was exhausted by the demands made by my firstborn every single night.

Ferberising #1

For those who are unfamiliar with Dr Richard Ferber’s sleep training, the idea behind Ferber’s sleep training is to help the baby learn how to soothe himself to sleep. However, to do that, it also means he needed to be left on his own so he can learn how to self soothe. The books warned that some amount of crying was to be expected and if I wanted my child to learn how to self soothe, I needed to leave him alone for increasing intervals of time and if he cried, I should not attend to him until the time interval was up. The theory is after a while, the child would figure that there was no use crying and would go to sleep on his own. That is how Ferber’s sleep training has become synonymous with Cry It Out method. Of course, this is a very simplified explanation and I am not doing justice to his work. If you want to know more, please read “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber.

Even now, as I am writing this, I wonder how on earth I could ever subscribe to the idea of Ferberising my baby. Don’t get me wrong. There are many families who swear by it but it just does not fit the mom that I was. So why did I do it? My excuse was I was beyond exhausted. I so wanted to regain my independence and stop being a mom at night. I wanted a good night’s sleep without waking up every 2-3 hours to attend to him. So against my better judgment, I decided to Ferberise R.

I Failed Again and Again…

The first time I tried it, R was 6 months old. My poor son would cry and I would wait anxiously for the designated time interval before attending to him and when I left, he would cry harder and longer. This would go on for two hours or more each night and my heart broke every single night. By night 4 or 5, I would be in a wretched state. I would be sitting outside the door crying with him. I struggled between not wanting the previous nights’ efforts to go to waste and trying to convince myself he was not ready to be Ferberised. And in the end, I chose to give up. I told myself I would try again next month.

The next month came. I was more tired than before having been sleep deprived for yet another month. History repeated itself. He cried, I waited for designated time to go in to soothe him. I left, he cried harder and longer till I went in again at the next designated time. After 4 nights of him crying for two hours or more before he collapsed in exhaustion, I could not do the fifth night. I gave up and waited to try again the following month. This went on two more months. Each time, no matter how hard I resolved I wanted to reclaim back my sleep, my maternal instinct won my ego EVERY SINGLE TIME. I just didn’t have the heart to hear him cry and not do anything. I felt like a failure as a mom for having made him cry so much and a failure as a mom who couldn’t sleep train her child.

My husband had been supportive of my decision to Feberise R. He was supportive when I decided to give up because I couldn’t take the crying. But when I gave up the 4th time, he asked me, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” No reproach of me making our son cry. No condemnation of my lack of resolve. Just love, acceptance and an attempt to understand me.

Suddenly, something inside me clicked and I was no longer conflicted. I accepted that my son needed me. I accepted that I was ok with him needing me. I accepted that being sleep deprived when I had a young child was ok. I was no longer so attached to the notion of having early nights to myself after putting my child to sleep on his own. So the next night, I laid down on my bed which was beside his crib and let him hold my finger till he fell asleep. It still took 2 hours for him to fall asleep, but this time, it was peaceful. And I did this every single night for the next 2 years.

No Need to Sleep Train with #2

2 years after I gave up Ferberising R, C arrived. She could not have been more different than R. She didn’t need me or anyone with her to go to sleep. As an infant, as soon as I put #2 down in her crib, she would turn away from me and talk to the shadows on the wall. Even as I left the room, she would look away from the dancing shadows to watch me leave and turn her attention back to the wall. I had my early nights to myself and my uninterrupted sleep. There was no traumatic cries or bleeding hearts.

#3’s Turn

Now, we have A. Like R, A needed me with her to fall asleep. Unlike R, she would scream whenever we put her in her crib.  Still traumatised by R’s crying when I had tried to Ferberise him, I could not bear A’s cries whenever I put her in the crib. So we got rid of the crib and put her on the bed with us. For three years, she slept right next to me on my bed. In the past 6 months, she started developing acrobatic sleep stunts. It became increasingly difficult sleeping next to her and I yearned to move her out of my bed as soon as possible. Still I kept Ferber away with a 10-foot pole.

Exhibition of Readiness

The opportunity came after A turned 3. She started asserting she was no longer a baby. She would correct everyone, family or stranger, who called her a baby. “I am a big girl,” she would assert instead. So we got a bed for her and told her as a big girl, she needed to have her own bed, like her older brother and sister. For the first few nights, I laid down with her on her bed till she fell asleep. Then one night, after she nursed, she said, “Goodnight, mom,” and turned her back to me. I asked her gently, “Can mom leave now?” She rolled over, gave me a hug, and said again, “Goodnight, mom.” Then she rolled over with her back to me. I left her bed and she did not protest.

Some nights she would still want me with her, some nights she was ok being on her own. To me, that was progress. She was weaning herself off me. She was growing up at a pace she was comfortable with, not pushed into growing at a pace I wanted her to. Each morning, she woke up happy because she had gone to bed happy. As my family always says, “Happy baby equals happy mommy. And happy mommy equals happy family.”  How true!


While I may not subscribe to Ferberising for sleep training, by all means Ferberise if it works for you. It is not my intention to judge moms who Ferberise. It doesn’t matter how we sleep train our children, or if we sleep train at all. As fellow moms, we can all do with some support and understanding of the methods that we use, no matter how different they may be. What matters is we understand ourselves.

For me, I realized over the years that I prefer peaceful parenting.   After all, love is peace and parenting is all about love.

What about you? Would you care to share your insights on sleep training? What worked? What didn’t? Was there something you learned about yourself in that process? Share with us on the comments page so we can all learn from one another.

If you have found this post useful, please share it with your friends.  Thank you!

– Vivian –