Tending Our Gardens

It is really not easy being parents. Many of us struggle daily with parenting, with the various challenges we face with our children, more so if our children have special needs.

Many times we feel we have failed as parents because our children are “too sensitive”, “too insensitive”, “too active”, “too inactive”, “too loud”, “too quiet”, and “too clingy”, “too independent”, and the list goes on. We feel others judging us for the behaviour of our children. We feel (dare I say it?) embarrassed by what our children do or how they behave.

Such feelings are normal. Having such emotions do not make us less worthy parents. We do not need to feel ashamed of feeling embarrassed. What we need to do, however, is to recognise the emotion and remind ourselves we are doing our best. And, more importantly, remind ourselves that our children are doing their best. They are who they are. We cannot change that. What we can do is to change the level of our acceptance to their quirkiness, their uniqueness. At the same time, we can gently guide them, with the patience to know it may take hundreds, if not thousands of repetitions before our guidance sink in. 

Many parents lose faith and patience because they do not see results. Unfortunately, that negatively affects the children who may end up feeling unloved and unaccepted. That then causes them to act up even more, not because they want to, but because unmet needs trigger tantrums, outbursts and all sorts of behavioral challenges. 

As difficult as the journey may be, one thing I have realised in my own parenting journey is that challenges yield growth. The more challenges I face with my children, the more I grow as a person. I become more loving, more patient, more accepting, more creative. They are NOT a problem I need to fix. They are helping me identify MY gaps so I can grow, so I can guide them without spirally negatively downward in anger and frustration.

A few days ago, I was commenting to my teens that I feel so blessed they are so easy-going, accommodating and pleasant to be around. They did not become rebellious, argumentative, rude or dismissive towards me or their dad. I’m grateful they are able to respectfully discuss the differences in their desires from what we, the parents, have in mind for them. 

My teens concurred. Indeed they rarely, if ever, felt the need to rebel or fight us. “You are really blessed,” they agreed wholeheartedly, pleased with themselves.

But I said to them, “Maybe the way you were parented had something to do with it. If your dad or I had constantly forced you to do what we want you to do, you would probably rebel and fight us at every point. If we had shouted at you or hit you to get you in line instead of explaining and getting buy-in from you, you wouldn’t be so respectful towards us. So while we are blessed to have teens like you, you two are blessed to have parents like us.”

The teens thought for a moment and nodded. “Yes, mom. You are right.”

Parenting is about building relationships. What we put into the relationship is what we will reap from it. Sow respect and we will gain respect. Sow love and we will gain love. Our garden is dependent on the seeds we sow. The earlier we plant the seeds, the sooner we see the harvest.

What kind of “harvest” would you like to have? 

Happy Parenting!

Mastermind for Teens

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on 4 September 2019)

My sharing of our weekly mastermind sessions with our teens yesterday has generated some queries from parents on what mastermind sessions are and what they encompass. I would like to thank those parents for PM’ing me to ask. For the benefit of those who may have been too shy to ask, let me share a little more about our “Masterminds”.

Mastermind sessions are essentially mentoring sessions. 

Part 1: Review

In terms of the structure of our Masterminds (and different groups can have different structures), we always begin with a REVIEW of the previous week.

Some typical questions we would ask are

1) What went well?
2) What could be done better?
3) What goals have been achieved?
4) What goals have not been achieved and why not? 
5) What kind of support would have been helpful? 
6) What lessons have been learnt? 

We would celebrate successes mentioned in 1).

If there is guidance/teaching to be done based on the review, my husband or I would do a short teaching session. These usually pertain to mindsets, values, habits, systems, etc. For example highlighting the growth mindset my daughter had when she decided to enter into a race where her competitors were stronger than she was, or the willingness to learn exhibited by my son when his internship required him to learn new programming languages, or the strategies to combat procrastination, or the importance of being on time, etc.

Part 2: Looking Ahead

After our review, we’d plan for the upcoming week. Typical questions would include

A) What SMART goals to set? (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Time Bound). Usu 3-4 goals per week.
B) How to achieve them?
C) Any extra support needed?
D) What activities/events are coming up? 

As to what kind of goals the children should set depends on the children themselves. One of mine wants to be more physically fit, so the goals are more fitness oriented. Another loves the arts and sets goals to complete more work in those areas. Sometimes, they have projects to complete and would set goals that will push them towards the completion of those projects. Sometimes, I may find a child lacking in an area and urge that child to think about a goal that will help him/her grow in that area. Most times, my main role when it comes to their goal-setting is to ask them how they plan to achieve it and whether they need any extra support to complete it.

After goal setting, we would synchronise our calendars and lock down slots throughout the week to do family activities together. If the kids have specific requests on activities they would like to do together or foods they would like to eat, we would pen those down in our calendars. If they have a upcoming performance, we will be reminded to attend. That way, our family time is always pre-fixed. 

After going through the calendar and factoring in all their activities, I’d disburse their allowance for the week. If they have excess savings from previous week(s), they’d pass to me to put in their banks. Usually, that’d be the time we talk a little about financial prudence and financial planning.

By the time our mastermind session is over, we would have learned what our children have done the previous week and what they have learned (if any ;p). If any corrective measure needs to be taken to prevent similar mistakes from happening, we would be able to identify them and make the necessary corrections. In addition, everyone is up to speed on the plans everyone has for the coming week. And we all begin the week with great clarity and purpose.

I hope this sharing on our Mastermind sessions is helpful to you. While I had thought Masterminds were more suitable for pre-teens and teens, my little 6-year-old has shown great interest in it. She wants to set goals and has been reviewing her goals throughout the week to ensure she meets all of them. She also wants to share her successes and the challenges she faced. And she most definitely wants to participate in the collection of allowance and counting of savings. So I guess as long as the child is keen, even a Primary 1 (First Grade) child can participate in a mastermind.

Do let me know if this is a process that will be helpful for you. Or if you have a different process, I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Parenting!

A Different Look at ADHD

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on 8 August 2019)

Why does ADHD cases seem to be on the rise?

There have been causal links between trauma and ADHD. The trauma could be from violence or abuse in the family. It could even be from harsh and punitive parenting or simply neglect and lack of loving attention. Any form of prolonged stress (including emotional, psychological, physical) could also be deemed as trauma.

While it is more convenient and easier to put the blame on the child and say he/she is suffering fr ADHD and need medical intervention, it might be more helpful to take a step back to see if the child is suffering from trauma or undergoing immense stress. 

What has been deemed “normal” in our society, like tuition/enrichment classes and over-emphasis on exams, is actually extremely stressful for a child. As parents, we may think we are helping our children when we ensure their time is “well spent” on enriching activities. Unfortunately, the brain chemistry of our young ones are not equipped to handle the incessant structured activities. They need a lot of down time, to explore, to play.

So instead of blaming our children for having ADHD or trying to suppress their “condition”, it may be more helpful to see those behaviour as a manifestation of some stress or trauma that they cannot process. And then address that stress or trauma.

The article in link below is a good read:
How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD

Happy Parenting!

Best Way to Teach

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on Jul 22, 2019.)

I observed role-modelling at its best today.

My little 6-year-old had been unwell the past 2 days. Fatigue caught up and I slept way past my normal waking time today. My husband woke me up and told me the Little One was crying beside me and I was shocked to realise it was already 9am.

It appeared the LO was very hungry and had been trying to wake me up to no avail. Normally, if she woke up before I did on weekends, she would take care of her own breakfast. But since she was still unwell, I figured she needed me to help her. So I got up, pampered her a little, prepared her breakfast and sat down with her while she ate it.

LO: You know, I woke up at 7.32 and I have been trying to wake you up.

Me: I’m so sorry I didn’t know. Did you shake and call me to wake?

LO: No. I wanted to wake you kindly by hugging and kissing you. 

I was so touched by the gentleness she exhibited when attempting to wake me. Even though she must have really wanted me to awaken, she was mindful to be kind and loving.

How did that happen? Is it because she is a loving child by nature? Or is it because she is nurtured with love?

Probably both, but I suspect the latter played a HUGE role.

You see, for the last 2.5 years, I have been waking her up gently, with hugs and kisses, to get her ready for school. As it is, it is difficult enough for a young child to awaken when she is not ready to. So I did my best to make the process more palatable by waking her gently, with lots of hugs and kisses. I would also carry her to the bathroom so she could use the toilet and brush her teeth. 

There were times she refused to cooperate, especially during the beginning of each school year, and especially more so when she went to Primary One because she had to wake up before the sun rose. Those times, I had to struggle to remain gentle. I would tell her I understood she wanted to sleep more, but that it was not an option and I would love for her to wake up happily. I would explain that I chose to awaken her gently and lovingly so she could start her day joyfully and I asked her for her cooperation. We had had some rough days, but by and by, it got easier.

Now, it’s always a joy to awaken her and see her smile even before she opens her eyes. 

There are many who may think I have been blessed with awesome, loving and helpful children. Indeed I have been extremely blessed. But I firmly believe the environment they grow up in and the behaviour they observe and experience will have a huge impact on them. The reason why my little 6-year-old attempted to awaken me “kindly with hugs and kisses” is because that was what she had been experiencing.

So parents, our children are our mirrors. They practice what they have seen and what they have experienced. If we feel they need to change their behaviour, perhaps we need to reflect on the behaviour they see and experience and change that instead.

Happy Parenting!

Being An Awesome Parent: The Power of A Tuning Fork

I learned to play the guitar more than 30 years ago. If there is one thing I need to do regularly, it is to tune my guitar. While technology has advanced and there are digital tuners for sale, I have kept my old-fashioned tuning fork.


Because it serves as a constant reminder that I am a tuning fork.

What do I mean by that? How does that help me become an awesome parent?

What is a Tuning Fork?

A tuning fork is a fork-shaped acoustic resonator. It resonates (or vibrates) at a specific constant pitch. That resonance is almost inaudible unless we put the tuning fork close to our ears. Another way for the resonance of the tuning fork to be heard is if it is placed against something that resonates at the same pitch. When that happens, that resonance will magnify the sound.

In the case of my tuning fork, it resonates at 440 Hz, more commonly known as the A note (or “la” note). To tune my guitar, I strike the tines of my tuning fork and place the base of the fork on the spot where the A note is supposed to be on my guitar string. If my guitar is in tune, there will be a resonance when the fork touches that spot and I will HEAR the sound of the A note resonating from my guitar. If the resonance happens above or below the point where the A note is supposed to be on my guitar, I will need to either release or increase the tension in the string so that the A note will be at the right spot. 

The interesting thing is this. If I move my tuning fork further away from the A note on the guitar string, there will be no sound produced. 

Think about it. A guitar string is capable of producing all the musical notes in an octave. But it will ONLY resonate or make a sound when the frequency of the tuning fork is the same as the frequency of the note on the guitar. 

So now if I were to get a different tuning fork, say a G note tuning fork, the A note in my guitar string will remain silent when I place the new fork there. Instead I will need to place the fork on the G note to get a resonance.

How is this relevant to anything not related to the tuning of musical instruments? How is it even related to becoming awesome parents??

We ARE Musical Instruments

Like a guitar, or any other musical instruments, we have the full “octave” in us. We are kind and unkind, generous and miserly, loving and harsh, patient and impatient, and everything in between each end of the spectrum. Of course some traits are more pronounced in us than others, but we do have all the traits in us, both positive and negative ones.

But, we are not only musical instruments with a full octave within us. We are also tuning forks.

We ARE Tuning Forks

What “frequencies” do we emit? What “notes” are we playing?

By that I mean what kind of thoughts do we normal have when we think about ourselves? What words do we use to describe ourselves? Are they positive or negative? What about the words we use on our loved ones, our children? Are they positive or negative?

What has thoughts and words got to do with our frequencies?

Thoughts are energy. How do we know that? Thoughts are electrical impulses that are measurable. There is currently “mind reading” research going on in renowned colleges like Carnegie Mellon University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Researchers are able to transcribe thoughts into words.  

That means each thought has a specific energy signature, a unique frequency.

Hence, the thoughts we have have energy, a vibrational frequency. What more about words? Words, when spoken, have sound energy. Latent in the words are thoughts that are triggered when we hear or think those words. Hence, words weld immense power.

When we bear that in mind, we realise that whatever we keep referring ourselves to will have a stronger vibrational energy. And since within us reside the whole “octave” of abilities and emotions, that which has a higher vibrational energy will cause the same thing to resonate, and therefore “physicalise”.

In other words, when we repeat something over and over, our entire beingness becomes aligned with what we say, think and believe.


The words we use affect the way we think. That is why self[affirmation is very effective in helping us make positive changes in ourselves. For example, if we want to become better parents, we can affirm, “I am an awesome parent.” The more we say it, the more our brains pull up instances when we are awesome parents and we begin to think, “Hey, I AM an awesome parent.” And when we think we are awesome parents, we start to believe we are awesome parents and we start to behave like one. Our thoughts affect our behaviour. And because we behave like awesome parents, we become awesome parents. Our behavior shapes our being.   

But if we pause to think about it. Everything, from the words we use, the thoughts we think, the beliefs we hold and the acts we do, they define who we are. They define our being.  

Therefore, we need to remember to keep telling ourselves, “I am an AWESOME parent.” This is important because it takes effort and time to be an awesome parent. The more we can resonate the awesome energies in us and help those physicalise, the easier it will be for us to do what awesome parents need to do.


We are tuning forks. Our thoughts form the pitch (or frequency) that we resonate with. Hence, we need to let go of all those disparaging thoughts we have of ourselves. We must stop causing the “gunk” in us to resonate and physicalise into laziness, impatience, etc.  

This one concept will help will understand how powerful our choice of words and thoughts are. When we consciously “tune” ourselves to resonate “AWESOMENESS”, we will become more and more awesome parents. And our children will thank us for it.

Happy Parenting!