Discipline #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?

I was caught off guard when Kate’s teacher informed me that she had told a lie. I have to admit that in my earlier years of parenting, when faced with such an awkward situation, I would have either fumbled for a reply, made some excuses or doubted the teacher. My kid? No way! There must have been some mistake.

Instead, I remained calm and wanted to know the whole story so that I could figure out how to deal with it. This was how it went.

Uh-oh

Kate had taken a new activity to play with, and her Chinese teacher asked if she had been taught how to work with it. Kate immediately replied, “Yes.” Her Chinese teacher knew it was not the case and asked who had demonstrated it to her. Kate responded, “Ms Sha”, without batting an eyelid. Ms Sha overheard the conversation and walked over. Kate knew her lie had been exposed and looked down, afraid to look into Ms Sha’s eyes. Her teachers took the opportunity to teach her that lying is wrong.

The thing was, we were shocked that a 2.5 year old knows how to lie so blatantly!

On the way home, I reiterated that it was wrong of her to lie. However, I knew deep down in my heart that the problem lies with us, not her. After all, little kids imitate and absorb what they see and hear.

At dinner, I told the rest of the family what had transpired that day. The kids were old enough to point out that “adults also tell white lies, even you and daddy, so that must have been where she picked it up from”. They recounted many instances where the truth was not spoken.

  • You always say, “Everyone is going”. (to a child, everyone would literally mean every single person. Ok, I’d better wipe that one off my list of constantly used words.)
  • Dad tells whoever we are meeting that “We are almost there” when we had just left the house. I heard Uncle T say that last week too.
  • Aunt J always promise us that she’s coming to visit soon. But she never does.
  • You said you’ll be back in 15 minutes. You lied.
With 5 “witnesses” to our daily behavior, the examples came fast and furious.

I had nothing so say. The kids were right.

The next day, I was on high alert to what I was saying and what others around me were saying to Kate.
  • Kate spotted the Crocs shoes her cousin passed down to her and wanted to wear it. As we were going to the mall (we try not to allow Kate to wear Crocs on escalators), our helper said, “Cannot”. Kate persisted. “I want”. She quickly replied, “Cannot. Got lizard poo poo.” Kate said “Where? Let me see.” (of course, there was none.)
  • The girls were eating sweets and when Kate asked for some, they replied, “No more.”
  • I went home and found #5 quietly giving Kate his snacks (which are too salty for her) and when I boomed, “Why are you giving her the pretzels?”, he said, “Just a few.”. I’m sure she had way more than a few.
  • There were countless instances where words came out of my mouth before I realised they were not the absolute truth.

I noticed a pattern here. We instinctively try to shade the truth to avoid her whining or crying, so that we don’t have to deal with it. Unknowingly, we taught her to lie.


It’s not about her.

It’s about us.

It’s about me.

So. Where do I go from here?

I’ve decided that I’ll start focusing on improving one parenting skill at a time until I conquer it. Then I’ll work on the next one.


Here’s the first:

SPEAK THE TRUTH.

Anyone joining me?



Here are some good tips on how to help your child deal with lying, over at Life’s Tiny Miracles blog.

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #23: To measure our lives in love

Last weekend, I went for a semi-silent retreat. I finally found the answer to a question that had been bugging me for a while now. After volunteering at the hospice, I knew that at the end of the day, all that mattered in life was people, not wealth, nor status. But how to go about my day loving those around me? With Kate entering the very (and that’s an understatement) challenging ‘terrible two’s and #1 moving full swing into the unchartered teenage years, I found myself living in compartments of ‘loving them’ and ‘not loving them’ moments. I was only able to love them when they were well-behaved, showing love to one another or being really cute/looking angelic while fast asleep (that applied to Kate). And for the past few weeks, it seemed like the ‘not loving them’ moments greatly outnumbered the times when I could really look at them and feel great love for them. And our house definitely didn’t feel like a haven of love and peace.

Beautiful quiet grounds

At the retreat, I learnt to ‘measure our lives in love’. That sentence spoke to me immensely. I realised that I was measuring my life by all sorts of yardsticks, so it was no wonder that at the end of the day, I was frustrated and felt like I had been a horrible mum. Especially if the siblings fought a lot that day, or if the whole day had been ‘wasted’ and we didn’t do anything productive. And I was really drained at the end of most days.

As I was writing this post, #4 came and wanted to show me how she braided her hair in a new style which she just learnt. Normally I would be annoyed because I was interrupted, and even though I would talk to her, deep inside I wished she would hurry so that I could go back to what I was doing. However, this time, I gladly stopped what I was doing because now I saw it as another opportunity I had in that day to love. So I turned to her and gave her my full attention. She gayly demonstrated her new technique, gave me a kiss then skipped away.

Just a tiny paradigm shift, but it has transformed the way I relate to the children and to everyone around me. With this sentence as my guiding principle, everything became crystal clear to me. If I could love them with all my heart each moment of the day, in all the good AND the bad, then those moments would become days, and the days become years and the years would become a life lived with love and in love.


Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.    –Humphry Davy



Other Thursday lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

School Stories #4: Things teachers say

I wrote a post last week about #5 getting complained by his teacher almost daily, and her suggestion that I should limit his play time and start him on tuition since he is already in P2. I didn’t expect all the negative comments I received on my Facebook page regarding the teacher.

Before you think she is some mean monster, I have to say this in her defense. In the 2 years that she has been teaching #5, she has never treated him maliciously and I believe she said all those things in his best interest (even though her views may be wrong). The reality is that the majority of his classmates do have tuition (I guess it’s because he’s in one of the top schools and the parents are generally wealthy AND ultra kiasu) thus the teacher was quick to suggest engaging a tutor.

Photo Credit: Sheknows/JGI/JamieGrill

If you think her comments were shocking, my other kids have come back with worse things their teachers have said to the class:

“There is no way I will ever like anyone of you.”

“You are all not of normal stupidity. Your stupidity is extreme.” 

(translated from Mandarin)

“I don’t care what you all do, I will get my salary anyway.”

And things some of their teachers did…

One teacher made the whole class sit on their textbooks on the floor, and if you refuse to do so, she will fling your textbook out the door and chase you out along with it.

And finally, this one takes the cake.

#3 was in P1, and she was day-dreaming during Chinese lesson. The teacher must have told her to pay attention, but she did not hear (she was day-dreaming, remember?) The teacher stormed over, and with herculean strength, she flipped the entire desk over and it crashed to the floor with a loud thud that shocked the entire class. (I reported it to the form teacher and she told me that this was not the first case and the teacher was being counselled).

Sometimes I really wonder what do teachers expect from these P1s. Just 2 months prior, they were still little kids in kindergarten. Almost overnight, they are expected to morph into mature, sensible, silent little robots who will obediently pay attention during 6 hours of school. Poor kids. Especially the active boys.

I must admit that the first time I heard about such unexemplary actions from the teachers, I wanted to storm straight into the principal’s office to sort it out.  Thankfully I’m not a hot-headed person. However, after having 5 of my kids go through this stressful, competitive rat-chase-rat education system, and after speaking to so many teachers, I can see that it is not easy being a teacher.

So why am I writing this post?

For the parents, so that when your darling child comes home and tells you what bad things her teacher said or did in class, you won’t jump out of your chair and head straight to the principal’s office. Take a deep breath, try to get the whole story from your child, and imagine yourself in the same situation.

Now that I have desensitised you, you can gently and gradually prepare your child that sometimes the teacher might say mean things out of frustration, but tell her not to take it personally. Kids do look up to their teachers, and they might hold what their teachers say in their hearts for years (both the positive and negative things). It might be good to let your children know that if there is anything bothering them which the teacher had said, they can discuss it with you.

And to all the dear teachers out there, most times, I can totally understand why you say what you say or do what you do (except the flipping of the table). Already with 6 kids I yell at them things which I regret later. Don’t ask me what I will do with 40. However, may I humbly remind you that your words are powerful, and they can either be uplifting or demoralising to the children.

Having said that, I am still utterly grateful to all the teachers who have taught my kids over the years (especially those who have touched them in one way or another), and to all teachers out there. Because being a teacher these days is no walk in the park. For you to do what you do year in, year out, I salute you.


School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

~ www.mummyweeblog.com –  a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~




Discipline #1 – Don’t scream at your child

My life as it is now is the best that it has been since I became a mom.

I can think clearly, function properly, and I am in the right frame of mind to enjoy my children.

I have come a long way.

I wanted to share more of my stories but have been busy writing about day-to-day happenings and never got round to writing about those challenging years.

I was reading a fellow mum blogger’s post on Life’s Little Lessons and was prompted to pen these lessons down which I have learnt over the past 15 years of parenting 6 kids.

Bit by bit.

Perhaps it would be cathartic to let it all out and slowly re-build the fragmented pieces of my relationship with the girls, especially #4.

She has such a sensitive soul that she was the one most affected by my horrible parenting.

As my words flow, I start to recall little incidences.

What was our discipline style back then?

It was a let’s-scold-them-when-we-can’t-take-their-nonsense-anymore style.

We didn’t know we had to be consistent.

As they misbehaved, I would tolerate and wait for their nonsense to stop. Which of course any mom could tell you, that’s just an absurd notion.

As a result, my anger would escalate and suddenly, boom!

I reached my threshold and unleashed my full anger on them.

I would rant on and on, and once, a neighbour even peered into my window to see if everything was all right.

Because you see, I have always been a very patient person. My old friends would tell you that I was the calmest and most patient person amongst us.

Somehow having the responsibility of taking care of 5 little people under the age of 9 turned me into a monster mom.

I was so busy trying to survive from day to day that I never stopped to think if there was a better way.

We had no siblings nor friends with kids to learn from or discuss things with.

Obviously I didn’t have time to read books nor surf the internet to gather some insight. Heck, I didn’t even know parenting blogs existed.

I just plodded along in my own crazy world. 

I vividly remember one incident.

I was driving the kids home after an evening out.

I started scolding #4 about something, and got so carried away that I was literally screaming at her.

Yes, in the confines of the car.

She recoiled from me and shielded her face.

My words were like bullets firing at this poor little child.

My child.

I must have been so exhausted and frustrated that I took it all out on her.

She must have been traumatised.

It was not the first time I had yelled at them, and definitely not the last.

And when you get into the habit of screaming at your kids, it just gets worse.

The first time you scream at them, it seems to work like a miracle.

They are momentarily stunned and would be on their best behaviour for the rest of the day.

I would finish yelling at them, then send them all to bed (it didn’t matter what time it was).

They would promptly fall asleep, probably in fear, and I got my hour of peace.

Subsequently, they got so used to my screaming that they did not fall in line immediately anymore.

What happens next?

I have to scream even louder thinking that somehow what I was trying to say would get into their little heads if I yelled LOUD ENOUGH.

It became a habit and I was yelling at them constantly.

So.

Please don’t scream at your children. Except in a dangerous situation.

Let peace prevail in your homes instead.

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’

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