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!!

Bringing Motivation Back To Our Children

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on 31 May 2019)

If there’s something I hear most from parents, it is their frustration at their unmotivated teens, esp their boys. 

It is very interesting to note that motivation is not something we inculcate in our children. Like creativity, motivation is actually something we and our children are born with! (Just watch how fast a baby crawls towards his favourite toy!)

Unfortunately, along the way as our children grow up, we parents start to put up a lot of boundaries. We start dictating what they need to do. We start telling them a lot “no”s. And research shows that boys tend to get more “no”s than their female counterparts. 

The more persistent the child, the more vehement our “NO!” gets and the more demoralised the child becomes. For every “no” a child receives, a part of him is stifled. Of course I’m not saying we cannot say no to our children. But if our kids receive mostly “no”s for every request they make, they start to realise they have no say in their lives and they STOP to think about things they want to do or brew up interesting ideas they have or activities they want to pursue. THAT is how we kill BOTH their creativity and their motivation. Why motivation? Because they are no longer doing things they enjoy or want to. Because they are doing things that we tell them to do ALL THE TIME. And we know how extremely difficult it is to stay motivated doing something that someone else tells us to do. 

Hence if we want our children, esp our boys, to be motivated, give them room to pursue their interest. Give them back control over their lives. The more control they have over their lives, the more motivated they would become. 

Slowly but surely, we will see the spark of motivation and creativity rekindled in their eyes.

The school holidays are upon us. Do give as much time as possible for your children to chill, play and do what they like. It’s a time for them to recharge so they can fill THEIR cups and have room to find motivation within themselves.

Happy Vacation and Happy Parenting!!

Positivity Builds Resilience

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on 18 April 2019)

If you had a date with someone which you were really looking forward to and plans had to change at the last minute due to circumstances outside anyone’s control, what would you do? How would you feel? What about your child?

I have been very busy the whole of last week with seminars to prepare for and deliver as well as a business trip away from home. And though I came home yesterday fr my trip, I had a class to attend. So for the past 7 days, I had hardly spent any time with my little 6-yo.

To make up for it, I asked her yesterday what she wanted to do after school the next day (which is today) and she excitedly replied she wanted to go swimming. She was telling me everything she wanted to do at the pool, what skills she wanted to show me and what games we would play at the pool. I could tell she was really looking forward to it.

Today, after I picked her from school, the sky was grey…?. And I asked her what she would want to do if it rained. Her reply warmed my heart.

She said, “Well, if it rains, it’s good! Then everyone will feel cooler. And we can stay at home and play games.”

Not only was she not upset she wouldn’t get to go swimming, she was able to give a positive spin to a supposedly “bad” thing where her swimming date with me got rained out.

I feel so heartened and at peace, knowing this girl of mine is resilient . Nothing will get her down. She is able to look at anything and look for a positive spin. She will live a happy life. For that I am contented and grateful.

This is something ALL parents can help their children achieve. When we model positive thinking, look for silver lining in every dark cloud, our children will learn to do that. Then nothing will get them down. They will still be able to feel joy even when it rains. 

Happy Parenting!!

From Being Depressed To Being Inspired

(As shared on Decoding Your Child Facebook post on 9 March 2019.)

Many years ago, after a few years of being a stay-at-mom, I had felt my self-worth diminish. 

There I was a university graduate w a good Honours degree, previously doing an amazing job, discussing about high level intellectual stuff, but now reduced to being a cow constantly nursing a baby, constantly dealing with toddler tantrums and constantly changing diapers and cleaning up my 2 little ones. 

And having a husband who is a man of few words meant I ended up having conversations with MYSELF. Sadly, my most “intellectual” conversation with myself on a daily basis was to debate the healthiest meal I could make in the shortest possible time given what I had in the fridge and pantry.

I was, to be honest, feeling rather sorry for myself. But I had put on a brave front for my family, for my kids. For several years, I felt unaccomplished as I watched my peers rise up the organisational hierarchy and my sister’s business grow from strength to strength. No, I wasn’t jealous, but I had felt a little defeated. I had felt I wasn’t maximising my potential. 

Yet I wouldn’t change what I chose to do (be a stay-at-home mom) for anything because I really wanted to be the one who raise my own kids.

I shared that with my sister one day when we met and she had told me that what I was doing was extremely important. That I shouldn’t measure my success with that of others’. She had told me, “Perhaps the greatest work you do is in the adults you raise in your family.”

That was a HUGE inspiration to me. While I had always wanted to be a good parent, I was now fired up to be the best parent and bring up my children who will make a positive impact on earth and who would help many people. 

So to all you stay-at-home parents, be heartened that the work you do is extremely important. You literally leave a legacy with the work you do in parenting. 

And to working parents, my absolute salute to your dedication to not take the easy way out. The fact you are following and reading Decoding Your Child shows you are working on parenting your children positively. And trust me, it’s harder to parent positively than to parent using fear and pain. You having to balance that with the stress you feel working is no mean feat. So should you stumble, it’s ok! Just pick yourself up, and try again, and again, and again.

Sure, some days are extremely hard, and they never seem to end, but they will. All the investment of time, energy and emotion to parent your child(ren) lovingly WILL YIELD adults who are kind, loving, empathetic, and most importantly, resilient. They will have higher self esteem and will persevere through difficulties as you have. THEY will become the adults who will thrive and who will have the heart to help others.

I don’t really know what kind of impact my children will have in the future, but I am really happy with the way they have turned out thus far. I am comforted that my years of effort have been yielding sweet fruits for me and my family all these years.

When the going gets tough, just remember that muscles grow when they are stretched. So we are ALL growing. Yes, I am constantly being stretched too!!

Happy Parenting!

A Lesson On Competitions

Entering into a competition is all about winning, isn’t it? Otherwise, what is the point of competing?

What happens if your child enters a competition and does not win a medal? Did she fail? Was the competition for naught?

The Race With Multiple Medals

C had participated in three events at the National Junior Sprint Canoeing Championship (NJCC) in March this year. She did not have high hopes for winning any medals as she did not even manage to get into the semi-finals last year.

But we worked on psyching her up to have fun and simply do her best. Despite facing stiff competition, she persevered. At each race, we cheered ourselves hoarse. Amazingly, she won medals for ALL three events, including a gold. Understandably, she was elated. The medals were totally unexpected considering her performance the previous year.

As usual, we celebrated her success. More importantly, we debriefed on what she did well and what she could improve on. We concluded that the biggest gain from NJCC was not the medals, but the camaraderie and sportsmanship exhibited by the entire team. Even though they had several team members competing in the same race, they still cheered one another on and congratulated the winners who moved on to semi-finals, and subsequently, finals. They helped one another launch the kayaks before each race, and brought them ashore after each race. Even those who did not proceed to semi-finals and finals were all there to help out. It was such a heartwarming sight to behold.

The three medals C had won were but icing on the cake.

The Race With No Medals

Fast forward a month later. C participated in two events at the National Canoeing Sprint Championship (NCC). This time, she harboured hopes of winning at least a medal. After all, she had won three at the last competition the previous month.

Again, we reminded her to have fun and do her best. At the last light of the first day of the competition, she succeeded in clinching her place in the finals for both her events. She knew she had beaten her personal best (PB) timing twice that day, once during the heat, the other during the semi-final. She went home excited about the prospect of the following day.  The next morning, the race started bright and early. Despite giving all she had, she came in fourth in the singles event, and sixth in the doubles event.

Understandably, she was disappointed. But her recovery from disappointment was swift. Why? Because the top 3 single kayakers in her event were her team mates. She was so happy for them and marveled at their timings. Instead of being a sourpuss for not winning any medals, she displayed great sportsmanship and congratulated her team mates.

What is a Competition Without Medals

There are some for whom medals are all that matter in any competition. For us, medals are an icing on the cake. What mattered more was the relationship within the team. And to me, what mattered more was how C fared against herself.

Even though she did not get a medal this time, her timing from her heat on Day 1 of NCC was faster than her PB from NJCC a month ago. Not only that, she had beaten her PB from the heat the day before with her timing during the semi-final. To top it all, her timing for her finals was her fastest ever.

This was a competition with no tangible medals. But to us, she had won 3 gold medals for beating her own PB 3 times in one competition.


The best races are those we run against ourselves and win. When we help our children understand that, we help them eliminate envy or jealously of others. We can help them overcome disappointment by teaching them to aspire to be better and not beat themselves up. I told my daughter that she could hold her teammates who had won the races as inspirations to aspire towards. But at the end of the day, her true competitor, the one who will never ever leave, is herself. As long as she strives to be better than her previous self, she would have won the “competition”.

This is a competition with no medal. And it is the single most important competition we can take on a daily basis.

A 1% improvement on a daily basis will yield a transformation in no time.

Happy parenting!

– VIvian –