Discipline #3 – Never, ever, tell your child that you will go away

The early days were crazy days. As we live with my in-laws, it didn’t help that there were a total of 13 people living in our small condo apartment, so there was no space to take a breather and calm down. There were some days where I told them (and probably meant it then) that if they didn’t stop misbehaving, I would just go away. I was that near losing my sanity that I felt I had to walk away. I kept dreaming of rolling hills and green fields. There were days when I wanted to run away and be alone. I was dumbfounded when #3 told me recently that she remembered me saying that to them. She was probably only 4 or 5 then. I can imagine what those words would have meant to a child. It probably brought out all sorts of insecurities in them. It probably made them so afraid that one day they would wake up and find their mummy gone.

So no matter how difficult things are and no matter how much you want to escape from it all, don’t ever, ever, threaten your child that you will go away if they continue to misbehave.  It is better to remove yourself from the situation, tell them you need to go for a walk to clear your mind. If you don’t have the option of leaving the house, lock the bathroom door and have a soak in the tub. No tub? Sitting on the floor with some chocolate works too. But the best place I found to take a break from the screaming kids? The stairs right outside my house. I realised that if I locked myself in the room, I can still hear them quarrelling outside which doesn’t help me to calm down. Worse, they would sometimes keep on banging on the door (I’m not sure if it was to irritate me more or to see if I was still alive in there). So I would leave the house, shut the door, and sit at the stairs. That way, I got a chance to get away from whatever was driving me nuts and yet I was still close enough to know what was going on in there. And you know what? The kids will immediately stop their nonsense when they see mummy leaving. But before you walk out the door, tell them that you need to take a 10-minute break so they don’t think you are going for good. 

It is very important to take time out to care for yourself. We tend to keep on sacrificing and putting the needs of our kids above our own. Before we know it, we have turned into grumpy old women and I realised I was constantly simmering just under the surface. #4 who is very sensitive, gets upset when I’m in a bad mood. Now, we make a pact and she would tell me “mum, you are getting very grumpy” and that’s her sign that I need to chill. I have a good friend who goes away by herself once every year while her wonderful husband takes care of the kids. That is one smart husband, if you ask me!

But not everyone is so fortunate to be able to take a few days and scoot off. If you do have enough family support, checking into a hotel for a night would be a great option too. That was my birthday wish for many years, which never materialised. I felt that I couldn’t leave them and because there was always a child who needed me in the middle of the night, I never gave myself permission to put my own needs above theirs. And in the end, I was like a wound up toy that would jump at any slight provocation.


So what do I do when things get really bad? Like when you are pregnant and 4 other little kids are sick or/and misbehaving and you are about to go mad? I take one day at a time and keep reminding myself that “This too, shall pass.”


And above all, always keep love in your heart. Only if you love yourself, can you love your family well. To all the mummies out there, you are doing the best you can, so give yourselves a pat on the back!

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 6 kids):

Discipline #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Discipline #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’
Discipline #10: 6 Tips to stop tantrums in toddlers

Discipline #11: Who has the energy to discipline our kids

 

Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt

Discipline #2: Don’t go overboard in your punishment

Another terrible thing I used to do was to mete out punishment that was way beyond their crime. We had no consistent rules and their punishment was gauged not so much by their wrong-doings but by our disposition at that point in time.

When they misbehaved, initially I would punish them by taking away their toy or making them stand just outside our main door. I would tell them, “If you don’t want to listen to me, stand out there so I don’t have to see you or hear you. On some days, nothing I tell them worked and they will keep misbehaving, quarrelling over toys or throwing tantrums. By evening, I would be up to my ears and out of desperation, I will warn them, “You do this one more time and I will lock you in the bathroom”. 

So when they misbehaved again, I would take the child by the arm and put her in the dark bathroom. I forgot which child it was, but she was extremely afraid of the dark and pleaded with me not to put her in there. I was so angry, shouting at her that I had already given her a warning while dragging her to the bathroom. I closed the door and could hear her wailing inside. She was trying with all her might to open the door from inside but I was holding it tightly shut from outside. All the while, she was screaming and begging me to open the door. Thinking back, I can’t believe how barbaric I was. 

At other times, when they disobeyed me, for example, by watching TV for hours when I told them they could only watch for an hour, I would get mad and bark out a ridiculous punishment like “No more TV for a month!”. Which of course will not be enforced, which sends the message to the kids that mummy doesn’t mean what she says, so subsequently they will not abide by my rules because they are just idle threats. And it totally confuses them because they do not know when the rules will be enforced and when they won’t. And to make things worse, we both didn’t agree on the same rules. I would tell them that they can’t watch TV, but a few minutes later, daddy will say “Can watch, but just half an hour.” Poor kids. When clear boundaries are not established, the kids feel confused and insecure and they will keep trying to push the boundaries to see how far they can go. Till today, #5’s teacher tells me that he has behavioural problems and he will keep challenging what she says. Just last week, she told them that since they use their hands to draw, their mouths must be shut and they are not allowed to talk. He took the pencil and put it in his mouth and started drawing, and when she scolded him, he told her that since he can draw with his mouth, he can also use his mouth to talk. I feel so sorry for his teacher to have to deal with him day in, day out.

Now, I try to match the punishment to the misbehaviour and I will lay out the rules first so they know what is coming. For example, if they use their iPads past the specified time, I will confiscate it for a week. And I try to be consistent in the rules, the punishment, and the enforcement. (Still not easy, though). Because it is only when kids try to push the boundaries and know that mummy and daddy will always say no, only then will they grow up to be confident, secure, and happy.


Just because we can punish them in any way we like doesn’t mean we should. Power comes with responsibility and should be executed with justice and compassion. 

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 6 kids):

Discipline #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Discipline #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’
Discipline #10: 6 Tips to stop tantrums in toddlers

Discipline #11: Who has the energy to discipline our kids

Linking up with:
mamawearpapashirt

~ 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 6 kids):

Discipline #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Discipline #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’
Discipline #10: 6 Tips to stop tantrums in toddlers

Discipline #11: Who has the energy to discipline our kids

Linking up with:

mamawearpapashirt

Please take care of your children’s teeth

The National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS) has been reaching out to parents in a bid to educate them on the importance of good dental health. A survey showed that 7 in 10 parents polled had not taken their children to the dentist before. The number of children being treated at NDCS for early childhood caries has doubled in the last decade. Many of these childhood dental problems are a result of parent’s ignorance in this area. I was one of those ignorant parent, and the state of my children’s dental health was terrible. I am determined to inculcate good dental hygiene in Kate.

Kate loves brushing her own teeth

A couple of years back, #1 had a tooth infection. There was some swelling on her gums (like a bubble) and we took her to Pacific Healthcare at Paragon. As she was already about 11 years old, the dentist decided to extract her baby tooth. The swelling disappeared and the problem was solved. The dentist enquired about the other family members and asked us to check the other childrens’ teeth. True enough, we found out that #4 suddenly had a cavity in one of her back tooth. We took her to NDCS and they said that the infection was most likely passed from one sibling to the next due to the sharing of food. As she was only about 5 years old at that time, they didn’t want to extract the baby tooth as the space needed to be saved for the adult tooth which will appear a few years later. So she had to do a crown. She was scheduled for a crowning to be done under general anaesthesia (G.A.). Even though it was done at NDC, it cost me more than $2,000 to fix that tooth!

About 2 years ago, we noticed that #5 had ‘rotten teeth’. Several of his teeth started getting discoloured and we could see that they were decayed. We took him to The Kids Dentist at Camden and Dr. Rashid shook his head after examining him. He said that many of his teeth had started to decay badly and he needed some pulpotomy treatment, 5 crowns and a couple of fillings. 5 crowns?! Wouldn’t that cost me $10,000? This was a nicely set-up private clinic at Camden, so I was sure it would cost me an arm and a leg. As it turned out, Dr. Rashid said we had 2 choices. If #5 manages to be cooperative (meaning sit still in the chair for about 1 hour for 5-7 sessions and open his mouth big) he wouldn’t need to be sedated. A big chunk of the cost for #4’s crowning was for G.A.

Before Dr. Rashid could start, #5 needed to do an x-ray. He was very uncooperative and Dr. Rashid said that there was no way he could do any treatment without G.A. if he behaved like that. I knew I had to convince #5 to be a willing patient. He loves Lego, so I told him that if he did what he was told, we would go and buy 1 set of Lego after every session. That worked like magic! He cooperated fully and after every session, I would allow him to buy a $9.90 box of Lego of his choice. (That was a steal compared to paying more than a thousand bucks for G.A.). In the end, I paid about $3000+ to fix all his teeth.

After discussions with Dr. Rashid, we realised that the cause of his rotten teeth was a combination of factors. When he was young, he would go to bed with a bottle of milk and not brush his teeth prior to falling asleep. Our previous helper also used to give him a bottle of ribena several times a day as he lay on the couch watching TV. It was easy for her as there was no mess (compared to a cup) and he wouldn’t bother her for a long time. His teeth was also not brushed properly and there were times when he was tired and I didn’t insist on having him brush his teeth before he went to bed.

Baby gum cum tooth brush

That was indeed a very expensive and painful mistake to make. Now I am more careful with Kate. From the time she was 3 months old, I got her this tooth/gum brush. It’s bristles are really soft. I instructed my helper to brush her teeth every evening and she replied rather incredulously, “Brush her teeth? But she has no teeth!” I explained to her that it was just to get her used to having her gums cleaned. I will definitely not let her drink any other sweet drinks out of her bottle besides milk. I will also try to wean her from her bottle when she turns 1… or maybe 2 😉 That’s already a big improvement. The other 5 of them drank from their bottles till they were about 4 or 5! ( I seriously thought milk was meant to be drank out of a milk bottle).

Dr. Rashid also told us that if we really wanted to give the child a sweet drink, it was much better to drink it all up in one go, than to take sips of it over a prolonged period of time. It will just be a sugar bath in there. And although we all know that sweets are bad, the nasty ones to really watch out for are those sticky ones. One surprising thing we learnt was that rice, left on the teeth for a long time, will also break down into sugar!

Later on, I asked a dentist friend why #4 had to do her crown under G.A. at NDCS, when #5 could have an option of local anaesthesia if he was cooperative? She used to work in NDCS and told me that they were seeing patients back-to-back there and did not have time to cajole the child to be cooperative. It was more time efficient to just send them all through G.A. I personally will not choose the option of G.A. if I can avoid it, not only because of the cost, but because there is a slight risk in getting a G.A.

Sane tip: Start taking your child to the dentist when she is about 1 year old. It is more to get her used to the dentist and the environment so that she will not protest next time. Also, it is good to start getting their teeth checked from a young age as the dentist can point out any early problems, and it is much easier to prevent problems than to seek treatment. 

Save tip: Taking good care of your child’s teeth will definitely save you a ton of money on dental treatment in future.

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

Don’t babies naturally fall asleep when they are tired?

When my eldest was 3 days old, the midwife came over for a home visit to check her weight and height and to see if I needed any help with breastfeeding. My baby yawned a few times, which I thought was completely normal. I mean, how many times have we seen cute pictures of babies yawning, right? The midwife said ‘poor baby, she is so tired’ and she looked very concerned. My hubby and I exchanged looks and we were thinking ‘What’s the problem? When she’s tired she will just sleep. She is sleeping most of the time anyway!’ We didn’t know about bedtimes, routines or sleepy signs. Some days she would cry incessantly and we had to put her in the car seat and drive around. She would promptly fall asleep. However when we carried her out of the car she would wake up and cry again! When she was 1+, she would sit and do jigsaw puzzles till 10 or 11pm while I did my assignments and she would just take her bear, get into bed and fall asleep almost immediately.

Her first pair of sandals

When she started to walk, I went to the mall to get her some shoes. I couldn’t believe it when the saleslady told me that the cheapest pair of sandals cost $50! Made of leather. Leather? Why in the world would kids need leather shoes? Mummy needs a new leather handbag… In the end, she convinced me how important it was for toddlers to wear the proper footwear with good support.

What a great fashion sense… red socks with sandals!

During winter, I just pulled on a pair of socks with the sandals as I was definitely going to let her wear that pair of sandals till she outgrew it! I honestly didn’t notice that the other toddlers were togged out in closed-toe shoes and some even in boots. Her toes must have been freezing most of the time. Oh and our pram was a $40 one which my mum got from OG and brought over to us, and I used to wonder how come the other babies looked so snug in their ultra bulky and comfortable strollers which were covered on all 4 sides, while my baby looked so exposed in her flimsy pram.

Her favourite toy

She used to play with our phones, the remote controls (don’t ask me what it is with babies and the most important gadgets in the house) and even my spectacles. Of course we told her not to touch those things but we were not consistent or firm enough and many gadgets were spoilt by her. As she grew up, I thought she would just know how to behave and how to be a good girl. Ok, I must have been the most naïve parent in the world. But of course she didn’t, and the other kids just followed suit, both the bad and the good.

Her next favourite toy

I have since come a long, long way. I now know how important sleep is for children (and mummies too!) and I know for certain that babies or children will not just go to sleep when they are tired. In fact, when they are over-tired, they become hyperactive (as some hormones are released) and will find it even harder to sleep. Kate goes to bed at 7pm, and the 3 other kids in primary school go to bed by 8.30pm. I also know for certain that we definitely, positively, without a doubt, have to discipline children. And it should be done as early as possible. With Kate, from the time she was 6 months, when she wanted to take our phones to play, we will say no and take it away from her. Consistently. It saves us a lot of money on replacement specs, phones and whatever else that she may decide to destroy. I will share with you my journey on all the different aspects of parenting in my million mistakes as we trail Kate’s development.


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