Good morning ladies and gentlemen. I am Chong Cia Ling, the founder of Brainy Montessori. I am so grateful to have such an honour standing here to deliver my speech entitled “What does it take to be good parents?”. I am sure all the parents here will agree with me that being parents is tough. Bringing up children is a very difficult task. Everyone wishes to be good parents. However, sometimes we could be so discouraged and helpless when we get the feedback that we are not good parents although we have done our upmost to provide the best for our children. What is the cause of that? Today, let us learn how to be good parents together. A parent is said to be a good parent only after seeing how he has brought up his children. They should bring up the children in a very good discipline. However, we need to bear in mind that discipline does not mean that they have to punish their children for every wrong doing. Recently there is a famous video of a Texas judge hitting his teenage daughter repeatedly with a belt. This father justified his actions as “discipline.” I beg to differ. According to the video, the father is not disciplining his daughter.
He is engaging in an act of punishment intent on hurting, humiliating and controlling her! Well, it is common that children do mistakes. Yet, what a good parent must do is he has to teach him how to differentiate what is good and what is bad. We need to understand that giving punishment especially physical punishment will not help children in a way instead it will create new problems. Indeed, it hurts. For instance, children will become rebellious as they have already got used to the corporal punishment. Eventually, they will develop hatred towards their parents. Deborah Sendek (2011) also claims that physical punishment is ineffective in parenting. It can easily escalate and cross the line to abuse and serious injury, particularly when an instrument is used. Children become emotionally alienated from parent who hits them frequently.
Research also shows that physical punishment makes it more likely that children will be defiant and aggressive in the future. These research findings have been endorsed by many prominent organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, Voices for America’s Children, the National PTA, and the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect that advocate against corporal punishment. We cannot deny that children need guidance and discipline but what works? Effective discipline helps a child to develop self-control by teaching, guiding, modeling and explaining what is wrong and what to do instead. Effective discipline starts with our attitudes about children and their behaviour. Redirection, discipline or punishment must include an explanation of why a behavior is unacceptable and what behavior is expected. Many times a child’s misbehavior is a mistake in judgment. In contrast, we hope our own mistakes serve as learning opportunities.
We need to apply this same rule to children. We must curb our anger and allow time to think about what we want to teach. Positive and proactive discipline strategies work from toddlers to teenagers. In today’s society, parents always have no time for children and thus, they hire maids to take care of children and give them what they want. In this way, parents feel that they have fulfilled their duty but it is not true! According to Duncan, making a child feel cherished is the single most important quality of an effective parent. It is also proved that in child development, kids who feel loved and cherished thrive. Duncan recommends spending time with your children doing what she wants to do. Every child needs to feel a sense of love and parents must love wisely. For example, play your child favourite game and read together. Besides, parents should be like friends to their children.
They have to discuss everything and spend quality time with children. Only if then, children can feel the parental love. When children go to school they will see so many others’ parents. They should not a get a feeling that their parents are not taking care of them as his friend’s. Eventually, they will feel rejected and low self-esteem. In this case, parents must be very careful. However, we as parents need to note that every child is unique so it takes a different approach for that child to feel seen and loved. The hard work for us as parents is accepting who our child is and cherishing her for being that person, even while guiding behaviour. Parents need to use a positive lens and celebrate every step in the right direction. One of the ways is to show affection through warm words and physical touch. You will have no idea how a gentle cuddle, a little encouragement, appreciation, approval or even a smile can go a long way to boost the confidence and well-being of your children. For instance, when you must correct a child, do it in love. It can avoid criticism and blaming. It is important to avoid using negative vocabulary like “bad” because your child may internalize the label, thinking she is unacceptable instead of just the behaviour.
When you love your child wisely, she will learn and love you back. When your child fail the test, analyse the reasons of failing the test with her, encourage her to try harder next time instead of scolding, blaming and hitting. Good parenting is much more than just teaching your children right and wrong, good or bad. It is also about ‘respect’. I am not talking about your children necessarily respecting you. It is about you having respect for them, particularly for their privacy. Always bear in mind that children also have human right. Give them a chance to voice their opinions, listen to their suggestions and give them some freedom. In fact, parents need to respect children’s privacy as you would want them to respect yours. For example, if you teach your child that your room is out of boundaries to them, respect the same with their room. Allow to feel that once they enter their room they can know that no one will look through their drawers or read their diary.
By respecting your children, they will be more open and respect you. As children hit adolescence they invariably begin to separate from their parents as a natural part of growing up. Ironically, it is also a time when parents have concerns about their son or daughter’s safety as they venture out more into the world on their own. Undeniably, this is quite a difficult time for most parents. It is a time of change, a time of testing. On one hand you are frustrated because your child is not as close as they once were and you keep pushing and pushing to know more about what going on in their life. You cannot be close, yet you need to be close to keep them safe. Balancing your desire to know all the details with your children’s right for privacy and the respect implied when you acknowledge that right, is a very tricky feat to accomplish indeed. However, it is a balancing act that is well worth the effort, especially for those of you who want to be the best parents that you can be.
Thus, parents need to bear in mind not to be nosy parents. Do not dig around your teenager’s belongings. Never try to listen in conversations and avoid trying to keep children away from friends or activities out of spite to try to keep them safe. Of course as parents we have to be cautious and watchful but we must use common sense also and give them room to grow, the last thing we want to do is drive our children away from us. Remember what is like for a young boy or girl to be entering that stage in life where new feelings and experiences are happening to them on a daily occurrence. On the other hands, good parents must be flexible. Having standards does not mean you are rigid. As your child grows from infant to toddler to teen, her needs change along with her body. Kids Health reports that parents should not compare one child to another.
Parents nowadays tend to compare their children’s behaviour or progress with other children of the same age. Indeed, they are causing stress for themselves and their children. Comparing your children with others is an ultimately useless activity! I understand that it is hard to resist as we tend to assess our progress in any area of life by checking out how we compare with our peers. But come to think of it, when you were a child in school, you probably compared yourself to your schoolmates. Your teachers may not have graded you nut you knew who the smart kids were and were you ranked in the packing order. Now that you have kids of your own, do you still keep an eye on your peers? Do you use progress and behaviour of their kids as benchmarks to help you assess your own performance as well as your child’s progress? Children develop at different rates. There are early developers, slow bloomers and steady-as-you-go children in every group. So, comparing your child’s results or performance can be completely unrealistic. What does this mean to you? Focus on your child’s improvement and effort. Use your child’s results as the benchmark for his or her progress and development.
You can tell your child like this:“Your spelling is better today than it was a few days ago” instead of getting frustrated at them for not able to score as well as other children. Encourage them to take a step at a time; they will grow up as a fine man one day. Parents, give your child some time. They need you in this learning journey. Besides, children have different talents, interests and strengths. Well, your eight years old child may not be able to ride a bicycle even though your neighbour’s child can. Avoid comparing the two as your child may not care about bicycle anyway. At this point of time, you as a parent should help your child to identify his or her own talents or interests and help them to be exceled in it. Recognize that his or her strengths and interests may be completely different to those of his peers or siblings. Sometimes parents can have unrealistic expectations for their children. We all have hopes and dreams for our kids, but they may not be in line with their interests and talents. Thus, parents need to keep your expectations for success in line with their abilities and interests.
If expectations are too high, kids will give up. If they are too low, they will usually meet them! Parents should take pride in their children’s performance at school, sport or leisure activities. You should also celebrate their achievements and milestones, such as taking their first steps, scoring their first goal in a game or getting great marks at school. In addition, rules should shift to match the age, needs and development of your children. For instant, you might expect a child of two to throw temper tantrum but not a teen. An effective parent takes cues from her child, whether an infant’s cry or a teenager’s moods to know what will work best in a particular situation. So parents, stay tuned to your child’s evolving needs by keeping involved in her life. Furthermore, parents need to teach emotional intelligence to child. For instance, you teach your child to self-soothe. According to research, little ones do not learn to self-soothe by being left to cry. That just creates an over-active amygdala and panic response later in life. While soothing is a physiological process.
For instance, when a baby cries and we soothe him, his body responds by sending out oxytocin and other soothing biochemicals. What you see is that he calms down and later he develops the ability to soothe himself when he is upset. Parents also can give them the message that their full range of feelings is understandable, even while their actions must be limited. Upmost, parents need to listen to them when they have feelings to express. Occasionally this will take the form of words, and it helps to give children kind words for their feelings: “You’re so mad!” but more often, children just need us to give them the safety of our loving presence while they cry or rage to vent their feelings. Often they will not be able to articulate what they are upset about, and it is not necessary. However, this helps children to learn to accept and process their emotions, so they can move past them rather than having to act on them. What does “acting out” mean? We act on our feelings rather than simply tolerating them as they sweep through us and dissipate. While you are teaching your child about emotional intelligence, you need to set as a good example too. If you are easily lose tempered, then you cannot blame of your children of throwing temper.
They are learning from you! Sometime your emotional unstableness will affect the development of your child. Never argue with your spouse in front of the children. If they are sleeping, argue quietly. Modern divorce rates have children feeling insecure and fearful when they hear parents bickering. Eventually, children will learn to argue with each other and become a hot tempered person. Show them that when people disagree, they can discuss their differences peacefully. Most of the children will get disappointed when their parents gave empty promise. There are so many cases whereby children do not even believe a single word that their parents said because the parents never put those promises in heart. Please imagine the feeling when someone that you trust and admire most always gives you a false hope. How you need to react? All of you are adults so you may know how to deal with it but hold on, how about our little children? They can be so disappointed, helpless, frustrated and even fall into depression! Some may even become rebellious as they thinking the parents are keep giving excuses of unable to fulfill the promises and never concern about their feelings. So, parents, you should do as what you have promised!
Lastly, every parent should accept the truth that everyone is not perfect. Dr. Sears also reminds parents that it is fine to be imperfect as long as you set a good example most of the time. You may did some mistake in bringing up your child. It is not an unforgiving mistake. Learn the lesson and apologise to your child if it is necessary. All in all, in any case, even the most effective parents cannot genetic traits or the outside environment. Trust your instincts as parents but don’t confuse effective parenting with perfection. Practice showing love and flexibility towards yourself, as well as towards your children. Before I end my speech, I would like to wish all the parents the best in this journey of parenthood. Thank you for listening.
Deborah Sendek. (2011). Physical Punishment Doesn’t help, It Hurts. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/09/opinion/sendek-corporal
Don’t Compare Your Kids to Others. Retrieved from
Respecting and Giving Kids Their Privacy. Retrieved from