Tag Archives: parenting

Book review: How Are You Feeling Today?

Emotions are tricky things to handle, even more so when you are a young child. For someone like C, who tends to internalize her emotions, it takes a fair bit of coaxing in order to get her to discuss how she feels and identify ways to cope. The phrase “I’m upset” could mean anything, ranging from jealousy, anger to just plain old grumpiness.  

We’ve read stories about dealing with emotions, and discussed how the character should react in the different scenarios, but somehow, I found this method somewhat lacking. I needed a quick go-to book about emotions, something that C could use as an aid to help her deal with all the feelings that were going on inside her.  

A few weeks ago, I was browsing through an online book sale when I came across How Are You Feeling Today? by Molly Potter.

I was drawn by the description of the contents:

Providing children aged 6 and above with straightforward, entertaining and (most importantly) appropriate ideas to help them deal with a selection of significant emotions that might not be so easy for them to decide what to do with, the book lets children choose a feeling that relates to them and offers child-friendly strategies for dealing with that emotion. 

This book sounded like just what I needed!  

There were no look-inside pages available online but I knew C would definitely be enticed by the illustrations (yes, the cover is so very important!) So I went ahead to buy the book!


How are you feeling today?

When the book arrived, I knew that I had made the right decision. Done in picture book format, the first few pages quickly summarized the range of feelings covered by the book. The first two pages worked like a quick index – the reader could simply refer to the correct page based on what they were feeling that day.
IMG_7581 IMG_7582 Age-appropriate strategies for dealing with each emotion were suggested. For example, if C was feeling worried, she could choose from the serious (confiding in a trusted person) to the not-so-serious (imagining a giant machine sucking worries away!) IMG_7583 IMG_7584     IMG_7585 C’s review 

Almost-8-year-old C really liked the illustrations, as expected. She started flipping through the book as soon as she saw it. I know that she appreciated some of the suggestions given because she was chuckling to herself and mumbling “a giant bubble, really?!” When I asked what she thought of the book, the immediate answer was “It’s really easy to read!” Well, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be in the mood to read a chunk of words when she was in a bad mood. ūüėČ 

My review 

Most of the children’s books I’ve read dealt with emotion handling using a storyline. I appreciated that this book was presented as a self-help book, and went straight to the point to identify different emotions. By giving suggestions to the child to deal with each emotion, it empowers them to handle their emotions in a constructive manner. Using illustrations, the author also helped to provide pictorial clues to identifying more complex emotions, such as jealousy. At the end of the book, there were also tips for parents on how to improve emotional literacy. 

This book helped me deal with some difficult times when C was frustrated. I would point to the book, “Please read the book and try some of the suggestions!” – even if the suggestions didn’t work, it still bought me time and gave C a cooling off period! I would definitely recommend getting this book for 6 to 9 year olds. 

Do you have any recommendations for self-help books for kids? 

You can buy the book here: 



Linking up with:

Growing with the Tans

Entering P1 – what did I forget to pack?

Two weeks¬†have passed since C started Primary 1. As a first-time parent of a P1 student, anxiety was (and still is!) inevitable. There were lots to prepare, and I benefitted from tips by experienced parents. Besides the usual school textbooks, school bag and water bottle, there were some items that I would have overlooked if not for friendly reminders ūüôā

For those who might be in the same situation, here’s a list of some items that might be useful:

1. Label printer – for labelling all belongings. C received this as a thoughtful gift (many thanks to E and C!)

Label printer

Label printer

2. A small wallet with change – it’s easier for children to give the exact amount.

3. Spring clip to attach the wallet to the belt hoop. I bought this from Daiso (it’s actually a hat clip, but works perfectly with a wallet too)


Spring with clip for wallet

4. A small lunchbox Рsome parents prefer packing lunches for the recess break. I let C buy from the canteen, but I pack her daily portion of fruits for snack time.

5. Handkerchief/a packet of tissues

6. Wet wipes РI put some in a Ziploc bag together with her lunchbox. In case of accidental messes.

7. A change of underwear

8. A watch

9.¬†List of emergency contacts – I’ve placed copies in her wallet and school bag.

10. Hair accessories (for girls with long hair) – I almost forgot to buy the dark blue/black clips and hair ties for C. Most of hers were brightly coloured ūüėČ

Here’s a checklist that I’ve compiled (so that I wouldn’t forget when it came to G’s turn!) => Checklist for first day of school¬†(let me know if I’ve missed anything!)

Do you have any tips for the first day of school?

A timely reminder

I’ve been under the weather the past week, down with an eye infection (I’m now sitting in front of the pc with one swollen eye), and a throat infection leading to a high fever. Today, due to the throat infection, I completely lost my voice – all that comes out is a pitiful squeak when I try to speak.

Obviously, I’m not feeling on top of the world, but not all is bad.¬†A¬†Chinese idiom¬†goes “Śõ†Á•łŚĺóÁ¶Ź” (literally translated, it means to profit from a misfortune). I actually benefitted from this bout of illness.

Being down under the weather forced me to slow down, to take life at a slower pace. This in turn allowed my children (especially C) to take a break without me breathing down their necks. In an earlier post, I had written about letting my children play, to let them have the time and freedom to explore freely, but in the course of the year, I had reverted to be quite the tiger mum again. Sitting down and taking a rest gave me a reminder to let it go (there is really not much energy left after dealing with a raging fever).

Today, my voice was non-existent. For the kids, it meant no nagging, no screaming, no instructions. Forced to remain silent, I was shocked surprised to find out just how much I nagged spoke each day, and how many times I would have scolded the kids for minor infringements. Because of the sore throat, all I could do was to squeak my disapproval, but no harsh words could come out of my mouth. The kids actually started giggling when they heard me, and at that moment, all my anger disappeared.  I laughed (noiselessly) together with them.

Perhaps, I really needed this reminder.

p/s: I’ll get back to completing that draft on my Bali trip soon (right after that eye gets better).

Happy birthday dear C

Dear C,

Today is the day that you turn 6! You’ve been looking forward to this day, because it means that you are one step closer to adulthood. It also means that you’ll be able to drive that car in Legoland, and take the rides by yourself. You can’t wait to grow older, because you want to be an adult just like me. Trust me, when you come to my age, you would wish to be a child all over again!

As I write this letter, I’m looking through all the photos and videos of you taken over the past 6 years. You’ve grown so so much.

I remember the day you were born. Two failed attempts to induce, and¬†16 hours of active labour – the gynae said that you were too comfortable inside and didn’t want to leave my tummy. I guess you had a mind of your own, even back then.

When you finally decided that it was time to see this world, you were the quietest baby in the whole ward Рonly one loud cry to announce that you were out, followed by immediate silence when you heard our voices. Right from the start, you were an alert and observant little lady, preferring to remain silent while you took in your new surroundings. As you grew older, I am constantly surprised by the casual comments which reveal the detail with which you perceive the world around you.

You’ve always been independent. I recall the first day of pre-school¬†–¬†while the rest of your classmates clung on to their parents, you sat right in front of the class by yourself. There were no tears, simply a smile and a wave when I said that I was leaving. During the recent camp, I knew that my worries would be unfounded, and that you would do just fine (although it doesn’t mean that I would not worry).

Many times, I’m in awe of your determination, perseverance and bravery. I watched as you practiced playing¬†the violin for over three hours, trying again and again until you got it¬†right. I watched you¬†climbing up a rock wall, ¬†a petite little girl going up and up until you reached the top. I watched as you cried in fear¬†when asked to jump into the deep end of the pool, but gritted your teeth and did so anyway. Many times, you showed me that there was a tough little girl beneath that sweet exterior.

Yet, you have a kind and gentle heart, always willing to forgive, always generous. You display a maturity beyond your years, so much so that I tend to forget that you are only six. You are a fantastic big sister to G, and it warms my heart to see how much you care for your little brother.

My dear C, I want you to know that I’m terribly proud of you. Know that I love you simply for being who are.¬†Remember to believe in yourself,¬† and to be kind¬†not only to others, but to yourself too. Remember the way you climbed up the wall, slowly moving up despite the scrapes on your knee. Remember that your favourite rainbows appear after the rain.

Happy birthday my little princess.

With love,

First overnighter

C attended her first overnight camp last Friday.

On Thursday night, as I packed her bag, I couldn’t help feeling a tinge of reluctance to let her go. This would be the very first time that she would be spending the night away from us.

I knew that she would be safe, as they would be sleeping together with the teachers within the school compound. But still, I was apprehensive – would she be homesick? Would she be crying for us to pick her up? I remember that I attended my first camp when I was twelve. She is only almost six! I had a sleepless night on Friday.

I needn’t have worried. As you can tell from the happy face when we picked her up from school on Saturday, she enjoyed herself thoroughly. Apparently, she had too much fun to miss us (a fact which she admitted to with much enthusiasm). If she could, I think she would have gladly stayed a few more nights.

My little girl has grown up.

Happy C back from camp

Happy C back from camp

When was the first time your child had an overnighter?

Great Expectations

1. A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
2. A belief that someone will or should achieve something.

No, this will not be a review on the book, nor the movie.

Rather, it is about a nagging thought that has been at the back of my mind since the weekend.

Last Sunday, C was scheduled to perform at a concert. Prior to the performance, the teacher had arranged for a quick rehearsal on the piano in a practice room. There was another mother-daughter pair waiting for their turn when we arrived.

This post was triggered by something that I overheard when it was the daughter’s turn to play at the piano. Just before she went up, her mother said this to her: “You’d better play well, do not disappoint me and your daddy.”

My immediate response was to look at her daughter’s reaction, then at C. The little girl (I guess she should be about seven or eight years old?) froze for a moment, and the smile on her face was replaced with a look of concentration. I guess C heard it too, because she went quiet and serious. The mother’s words had the desired effect – the little girl played beautifully.

So why did this incident leave such an impact on me? Because I could easily have been the one that said it! When it was C’s¬†turn to go up to the¬†piano, I held my tongue, and simply gave her a smile and a little pat.


I’ll admit that I have high expectations of my children. I do not expect them to be the best, but I always expect them to give their best at whatever they do. As they grow older, my expectations increase accordingly, and sometimes I have to¬†keep reminding myself that¬†they are still children.

I’ve always found communication of¬†expectations a tough area to navigate. When expectations are set too low, there is no motivation for the child to drive herself harder. When expectations are too high,¬†I risk damaging the child’s self-confidence. If the expectations are misunderstood, it leads to frustrations from both parties.

So how do¬†I know where to set the bar? Parenting guides advise us to set it realistically, based on how well we know our child. In theory, it sounds perfect. In reality? I’m doing it based on trial and error. Am I doing it correctly? I don’t know. I always have the fear that my expectations will be too much for my children and myself to handle.

Great expectations = successful children? What do you think?

Parenting test

This is a hilarious post I saw on my Facebook wall (author unknown). Enjoy!

Ready to have kids? take the test!
Test 1: Preparation
Women – To prepare for pregnancy:
1. Put on a dressing gown and stick a beanbag down the front.
2. Leave it there.
3. After nine months, remove 5 per cent of the beans.

Men – To prepare for children:
1. Go to a local chemist. Tip the contents of your wallet on to the counter and tell the pharmacist to help himself.
2. Go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to its head office.
3. Go home. Pick up the newspaper and read it for the last time.

Fake belly anyone?

Permanent baby belly anyone?

Test 2: Knowledge
1. Find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels and how they have allowed their children to run wild.
2. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child’s sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behaviour.
3. Enjoy it. It will be the last time in your life when you will have all the answers.


Test 3: Nights
1. Walk around the living room from 5pm to 10pm carrying a wet bag weighing 4-6kg, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious sound) playing loudly.
2. At 10pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight and go to sleep.
3. Get up at 11pm and walk the bag around the living room until 1am.
4. Set the alarm for 3am.
5. As you can’t get back to sleep, get up at 2am and make a cup of tea.
6. Go to bed at 2.45am.
7. Get up again at 3am when the alarm goes off.
8. Sing songs in the dark until 4am.
9. Put the alarm on for 5am. Get up when it goes off.
10. Make breakfast.
Keep this up for five years ‚ÄĒ and LOOK CHEERFUL.

In-built alarm in baby

In-built alarm in baby

Test 4: Dressing small children
1. Buy a real life octopus and string bag with holes in it.
2. Attempt to put the octopus into the string bag so that no tentacles come out of the holes.
Time allowed: five minutes.

Octopus baby?

Octopus baby?

Test 5: Cars
1. Forget the BMW. Buy a practical five-door wagon.
2. Buy a chocolate ice-cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there.
3. Get a coin. Insert it into the CD player.
4. Take a box of chocolate biscuits. Mash them into the back seat.
5. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car.

There could be treasure underneath that pile...

There could be treasure underneath that pile…

Test 6: Going for a walk
1. Wait.
2. Go out the front door.
3. Come back in again.
4. Go out.
5. Come back in again.
6. Go out again.
7. Walk down the front path.
8. Walk back up it.
9. Walk down it again.
10. Walk very slowly down the road for five minutes.
11. Stop, inspect minutely and ask at least six questions about every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue and dead insect along the way.
12. Retrace your steps.
13. Scream that you’ve had as much as you can stand, until the neighbours come out and stare at you.
14. Give up and go back in the house.

Every little detail...

Every little detail…

Test 7: Conversations with children
Repeat everything you say at least five times.


Test 8: Grocery shopping
1. Go to the local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a pre-school child ‚ÄĒ a fully grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat.
2. Buy your weekly groceries ‚ÄĒ without letting the goat(s) out of your sight.
3. Pay for everything the goat eats or destroys.
Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.


Test 9: Feeding a one-year-old
1. Hollow out a melon.
2. Make a small hole in the side.
3. Suspend the melon from the ceiling and swing it from side to side.
4. Get a bowl of soggy cornflakes and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon while pretending to be an aeroplane.
5. Continue until half the cornflakes are gone.
6. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure most of it falls on the floor.


Test 10: TV
1. Learn the names of every character from the In The Night Garden, Barney, Teletubbies and Disney.
2. Watch nothing else on TV for at least five years.

I love you, you love me...

I love you, you love me…

Test 11: Mess
1. Smear peanut butter on to the sofa and jam on to the curtains.
2. Hide a fish behind the stereo and leave it there all summer.
3. Stick your fingers in the flowerbeds, then rub them on clean walls. Cover the stains with crayon.
4. Empty every drawer/cupboard/storage box in your house on to the floor, then proceed with Step 5.
5. Drag random items from one room to another and leave them there.

Test 12: Long trips with toddlers
1. Make a recording of someone shouting ‚ÄėMummy‚Äô repeatedly.
Important notes: there must not be more than a four-second delay between each Mummy, and include occasional crescendos to the level of a supersonic jet.
2. Play this tape in your car everywhere you go for four years.

kids in car

Test 13: Conversations with adults
1. Start talking to an adult of your choice.
2. Have someone else continually tug on your skirt hem or shirt sleeve while playing the Mummy tape listed above.


Test 14: Getting ready for work
1. Pick a day on which you have an important meeting.
2. Put on your finest work attire.
3. Take a cup of cream and put one cup of lemon juice in it.
4. Stir.
5. Dump half of it on your nice silk shirt.
6. Saturate a towel with the other half of the mixture.
7. Attempt to clean your shirt with the same saturated towel.
8. Don’t change (you have no time).
9. Go directly to work.

Wear that spill

Spill-inspired chic!

End of test – you are now ready to have children. Enjoy!

In my opinion, I think the author forgot to add the bathroom test:
1. Go to bathroom and close the door.
2. Have someone knock on the door the moment you step into the shower.
3. Repeat knocking every 15 seconds (playing afore-mentioned mummy tape)
bathroom knock

Sounds familiar? Let me know what you think! ūüôā

Childhood fears: advice needed


Last night just before bedtime, C burst out crying suddenly for no apparent reason. Worried, both of us (my husband and I) asked her what the matter was. “Mummy, please don’t throw me into the sea! I don’t want to die!”

Shocked, both of us asked her what happened. She only cried and shook her head. I could only hug and reassure her until her sobs subsided.

Me: “Who told you that they will throw you into the sea?”
C: “No one. I don’t want to die!”
Me: “Did you watch any shows on tv?”
C: “No.”
Me: “Don’t worry mummy will protect you. Why would you die at sea? You can swim, right?”
C: “Because there is a lot of salt in the water. I will die if I fall into the sea and I drank the seawater!”

I literally saw the lightbulb switching on in my head. She must have heard something during science class yesterday. My guess is that her teacher mentioned that sea water is not potable due to its high sodium (salt) content. The poor little girl heard “sea”, “salt”, “die” and linked the the facts together.

While some may find this funny, I was concerned. This fear was obviously very real to her. Imagine a 5year old thinking about dying at sea? It seems that her fears are linked to natural disasters -she has similar worries about earthquakes and floods. I’ve no problems about the boogeyman though(she tells me matter-of-factly that he doesn’t exist).

I’ve explained that earthquakes do not occur in Singapore due to our geographical location and that floods do subside after a while (she asks each time it rains heavily). As for the sea, well, I’ve reminded her that the last time she was at the beach she had a good time in the water, and that she survived. Eventually she was pacified after I told her that we will all protect her from harm, but I’m sure that the same issue will crop up again.

I need some advice. For fear of the dark, and creatures of the imagination, I can deal with. However, in this case I cannot simply say that these issues don’t exist, nor that people don’t die from natural disasters. Factual explanations on how we can prepare ourselves for such incidents don’t help either.

Have you encountered this situation? How would you deal with the issue?



Credits: jimbenton.com

When I saw this picture on my Facebook wall, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. This is EXACTLY what I am facing with 5 year-old C.

Typical conversation when I get home from work:
C: Hi mummy, you’re back!
Me: How was school today? Did you enjoy yourself? What did you learn in class?
C: I don’t know. Nothing much. *shrugs shoulders*
Me: You had science class today, right? What did you do?
C: we played games and sang some songs.
Me: Sounds fun! Can you sing me the song?
C: I cannot remember… Mummy, I saw a funny looking bird today! (and goes on to describe the bird)

Don’t get me wrong. C loves school and she chatters on in detail about other things (about how she saw a leaf skeleton, about the ants that crawled in a row, about white flowers she saw on a tree on the way back from school…)She just chose not to report her activities in school (probably because she didn’t see the need to)

I’ve come to realize this: for C, the discovery of a pretty flower weighs far more in her mind than the phonics that she learnt in class. And that she is telling me about the things that matter most to her right now.

So I’ll just listen to what she has to say, instead of hearing what I want to hear.

What did your child tell you today?

Letting my children play

It’s December. Time¬†of the month-long vacation at the end of the school year. For the past few years, it was also the time when C would be busy attending holiday enrichment classes – art, drama, music, and so on. I would do research¬†to find¬†the “best” programs, in order not to “waste” any time that could otherwise be put to better use.

Time for play

‚ÄúPlay is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.‚ÄĚ -Friedrich Froebel (Father of modern kindergarten)

This year, I did things a little differently. No commercial holiday programs for G and C. Inspired by a parenting book that I’m currently reading, I’ve decided to allow more time for free, unstructured¬†play.¬†By free play, it means that there are no parents sitting beside the child to “guide” or “direct” the play.¬†The child is given¬†free rein to explore and do whatever they wish, with¬†a simple guideline: no damage to people or property. Given the freedom and time, children are then able to engage in real play, where more complex models of interaction and role play take place.

Stepping out of my comfort zone
For some, this could be a natural choice, but not for me. It’s a conscious effort not to interfere when they are playing, not to dictate how play would be carried out, or to¬†interrupt with¬†some comments when an “educational moment” presented itself. When I made the decision late November, I felt¬† hesitant – will it be a total waste of time to let the children play all day (ok, maybe not the whole day, but two to three hours at least) instead of¬†knowing that they had picked up¬†new¬†knowledge like¬†making mosaic art? I was definitely out of my comfort zone here.

A happy result
It’s almost the end of the month,¬†and I’m¬†happy to report that my worst fears were not realised. The kids¬†did not sit around doing nothing the whole day (I think that happens only to adults!). Instead, they found ways to entertain themselves¬†– pretending to be explorers with Dora (complete with a flag and treasure map), learning acrobatics, or simply running around and having fun! C¬†took on the big sister role naturally, teaching G¬†and modifying the play when he was not able to catch up. G tagged along and also initiated games. I sat and watched from a distance – there was absolutely no necessity for me to step in (much as I wanted to!)

Over the course of the month, I noticed a change in the behaviours of both children. Being allowed to play and experiment by themselves gave them more confidence to try new things, and they surprised me with their creativity and their focus during play. In addition, the quality time spent together brought them even closer to each other.

G having fun!

G having fun!

I think I need to step back and relax a little. And let my children play. Will you?