August 13, 2008

PILES development in my child, I am not referring to the haemorrhoids-like swells that may appear in that area where the sun don't shines. This acronymn is used in certain preschools for the physical, intellectual, language, emotional and social development of the child.

Many Singaporean parents put their efforts behind the 2 areas of of focus; intellectual and language development. After all, living in a system of meritocracy, an education, degree or certification is the social currency needed to survive in Singapore.

I remember hearing things like that from my grandparents and parents, "You better stop being so lazy or you end up as a road sweeper / toilet cleaner." Most parents have good intentions for their child's future and will want their child to have a good headstart in life. It will be truly heartening for them if their child is well ahead of their peers in our language and cognitive abilities, before they enter formal schooling.

The two other areas of physical and emotional/social development of the child and physical development are often neglected in a child's development. Possibily with the emergence of sports stars like Tiger Woods, some parents have started to change their mindset in the area of physical development. It is afterall great to be able nurture a child's potential in the area of an active/spatial intelligence.

So what about emotional and social development? There may be many parents, including myself (prior to my early childhood education), who do not know how to go about managing this part of our child's development. In fact, many have totally ignored that aspect and assume that the child will be able to grow out of certain traits naturally. If you believe in the nature and nurture argument, nurture's role in a child's emotional development is very crucial.

I hope that there are not many parents left who still think that a child should be seen and NOT heard. It may be still rather prevalent in a society like Singapore, where there can be a tendency to put down our children's esteem. When they misbehave, these words are often spoken in frustration, 'You always give me trouble, you are such a troublemaker / rascal.' When they get overly enthusiastic, 'You are so irritating, why can't you just sit down and listen.' and the classic, 'See XX son, so hardworking and smart, why can't you do better in your studies,' etc.

It is human nature to state things as you see it, and be envious of the ones that are better of. However, we do need need to sit back and listen to how we react to our kids behaviour and the things that we say to them. This is especially paramount during the preschool years, where an emergence of self esteem starts to form in the child. Greater are the words we use, because these words will speak volumes to them. As parents, we are our child's memory maker and we should speak positive thing into their lives.

I have to watch what I say to Kyle, especially during those times when he gets hyper or overly enthusiastic and when I am not being my patient self . Words like 'irritating' need to be replaced by 'full of energy or zest', 'stubborn' with 'assertive' or 'persistant, 'nosy' with 'curious' and 'distractible' with 'perceptive'.

Read more about how you can positively nurture your child's emotional and social development in my post here

A paradigm shift in mindset may be needed to embrace these concepts. I was surprise at how much impact that can have on my child, especially in those little things that we often overlook.

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