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This Giraffe’s too Groovy – Singapore’s first online remainder bookstore

February 19, 2014

Growing up, I would make my father take me to the bookstore and leave me there to read for hours. My favourite hangout was the MPH at Robinson Road, where I had spent many hours of my childhood devouring the Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl classics.

There’s something about holding, touching, feeling and smelling new books that thrilled me then. The best part about going to a bookstore – and not the library – with my dad was that it was almost always a given to return home with new books to add to my book collection. (Dad, I’m sure you knew I always pretended I couldn’t put down a book so you could buy it for me, right?)

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’d know that I am on a quest to make avid readers of my kids. I’ve shared that we should by all means borrow, but nothing beats being able to have our own books  so that we can read and reread them.

Last year, I discovered The Groovy Giraffe, Singapore’s first official online remainder bookstore which sells heavily discounted new books that are overprints. The prices of books here are discounted up to as much as 85% and this giraffe is oh-so-groovy alright. So groovy that buying new books ain’t going to be burning a hole in your pocket anymore.

TGG

I recently shopped at The Groovy Giraffe again with the credits that the kind folks at The Groovy Giraffe gave me and managed to find the Read at Home First Experiences Series. The series is written with the aim of introducing young children to new situations and I am glad to have found them because these books are great starters to get the kids to talk about their feelings of their first experiences:

TGG_First Experiences Early Reader Books

We’ve been on a plane and to the pool, so these readers will be used as a springboard to get the kids to talk about how they felt.

The books arrived promptly within 3 working days after I checked out and paid, and I can’t wait to share them with the kids.

There is a decent variety of books for babies, toddlers, children and adults at The Groovy Giraffe. They even have assessment books and educational guides that are heavily discounted and sections for bargains and gift ideas. I particularly enjoy browsing at the Children’s Early Reader Books Section to check out titles that would interest the older kids, as well as the titles under Activity Books to see if I can find anything that wouldn’t cost me a bomb for the youngest to work on to keep him meaningfully occupied.

A screenshot of some of the bargains under Activity Books for Children - I'm thinking of getting 100 Stickers Series for some sticker fun for Nat!

A screenshot of some of the bargains under Activity Books for Children – I’m thinking of getting the 100 Stickers Series for some sticker fun for Nat!

There are also tips under ‘Babies’, ‘Toddlers’ and ‘Children’ to help you choose titles for children of different age groups and reading abilities, which is definitely helpful before you begin shopping!

TGG_Early Reader Books

Tips for choosing books for Preschoolers and Young Readers

If holding, touching, feeling and smelling new books thrill you – as it still does even now for me – you may want to consider popping by The Groovy Giraffe to shop for your books. Check out using the code “MOTHERKAO” to get a 5% off your purchases (except for Bargain books). There’s no expiry date to this code, so you can use it any time, whenever.

TGG_Motherkao blog button

My dad would have loved to meet this giraffe when he had an avid reader of a little girl that was me. I’m pretty sure it would have saved him so much money buying me new books so often.

Disclosure: I received credits to purchase some books from The Groovy Giraffe for the Kao kids. All opinions here are solely my own.

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At Home with bilingualism! [Read With Me Mommy’s “My Home (我的家)” Book Review]

February 13, 2014

I’m always searching for bilingual books with local content so my children can learn the vocabulary that’s associated with their daily lives. I mean, how many books can you find in the market that can effectively teach preschoolers names of items and places found in a typical home and HDB neighbourhoods in Singapore? Places like the community centre, HDB void deck and sports complex are unique to our country and hardly feature in Chinese or English picture books and graded readers for preschoolers.

So when Read With Me Mommy, a local online Chinese bookstore approached us to do a book review for this made in Singapore book-set, I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Finally! A book my children can identify with:

My Home_Book Set

My Home (我的家) is a set of bilingual books written by local authors, Rayne Ngoi and Cheng Pei Yee, and illustrated by Wang Lu Bo. It comes in a set of 2 books – a picture book and an accompanying activity book. The book follows Jason, an adorable boy who is looking for somebody to play with him (haha, it really is Ben in disguise – always looking for someone to play with!). But everyone at home is just too busy. And so together with his dog, Jason investigates every room in his HDB flat to find a playmate.

I got Ben to review this book with me during one of our once-a-week ‘Chinese Day’…

My Home_Ben the Book Reviewer

As we followed Jason through each room as he sought a playmate (and Ben seeing so much of him in the book as Jason, hurhurhur), we started discovering the many items and places that were all too familiar to us – places like the kitchen, the bathroom, the living room, the void deck and the HDB-neightbourhood playground.

My Home_Picture Book

My Home_Around the neighbourhood

And so we learned how to name items and places in both English and Chinese while enjoying the story (written like a poem) with vivid illustrations that were oh-so-very engaging. Ben particularly enjoyed lifting the many little flaps in this 40-page book which is beautifully illustrated.

The bilingual activity book complements the picture book and is specially written for children aged 2 to 6. The activity book contains vocabulary practices, hanyu pinyin learning aids, picture cards, interactive games, DIY handicraft, and sticker matching activities to make the process of learning fun and enjoyable. Here’s a sneak peek of some pages in the activity book:

My Home_Activity Book

My Home_Activity Book Game

This book-set is such a wonderful resource for keeps, and I would definitely introduce both the picture and activity books to the younger ones as soon as they are ready. The gem of a book retails at Read With Me Mommy for SGD$32 and is great to be read again and again especially with those  flaps that would keep little hands busy!

And I have a giveaway here on the blog!

I have 5 book-sets of My Home (我的家) to give away to 5 readers! To qualify for the random draw, all that’s needed is FOUR SIMPLE STEPS:

1) Like Read With Me Mommy on Facebook

2) Like Zenru Publishing on Facebook

3) Like Motherkao on Facebook (if you haven’t already done so)

4) Leave me a comment here telling me who you’d like to win the book-set for

Giveaway closes on 20 Feb and winners will be randomly picked and announced on the blog.

Do also check out Read With Me Mommy for more Chinese and bilingual titles!

And the winners are…

My Home Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! I hope the people you’d like to win this book set for would have a smashing time reading!

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An Alphabet Zoo by Julia Gabriel [Book Review + Giveaway]

December 3, 2013

Phonics plays a very crucial role in helping a child build his literacy skills. Phonics teaching is very important because it teaches a child the links between the sounds of speech and the letters, and letter groups which are code for those sounds. Systematic and incidental phonics learning help equip a child with alphabetic code knowledge and forms the basis for the technical skills needed for reading, spelling and writing.

Here at the Kao household, besides getting their phonics instruction through the lessons in their kindergarten, the older kids also learn from watching educational programmes like Word World and LeapFrog. I don’t exactly know how to deliver phonics instructions, and so I usually outsource this part to the experts.

Last month, the folks at Julia Gabriel Education very kindly sent us their very own book and CD set titled An Alphabet Zoo Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear. In true Julia Gabriel style, this book was created by her to teach children aged 3 to 4 the most common sounds of each letter in the Alphabet and to give them a start to phonemic awareness and decoding letters into sounds with lots of songs and story telling.

An Alphabet Zoo Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear

An Alphabet Zoo Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear

The CD is voiced by actors and teachers representing characters in the book who use Standard English, and is a good resource to play even on its own, like in the car. It has catchy tunes and familiar refrains with carefully distinguished sounds pronounced clearly and proficiently.

The book can be read with the CD or without the CD, and Julia Gabriel herself provides a guide at the beginning of the book to help parents use the book and CD set with suggested activities and prompts. Each page in the book is like a huge hide-and-seek activity, with captivating  illustrations by Kathy Creamer of animals and things related to each letter in the Alphabet.

JGE_ Alphabet Zoo F

Captivating illustrations of things starting with the letter F

The older kids love the book, especially for the fascinating pictures which allow them to find and identify. They talk about each page with me and between themselves when we read it together, which also allows them to develop their language proficiency.

JGE_Reading the Alphabet Zoo

Lots of things to look for for each letter!

JGE_Reading the Alphabet Zoo together

Check out the letter S with Santa and a woman in sari!

An Alphabet Zoo Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear is a great book that takes the little ones on a lively journey through the Alphabet Zoo and making the letters of the Alphabet come alive for young minds that are ready to get acquainted with phonics.

*And we’re hosting a GIVEAWAY on the blog!*

Julia Gabriel Education is giving away THREE sets of An Alphabet Zoo Phonemic Adventure with Rainbow Bear book + CD set to three of Motherkao’s readers, so you and your child can journey through the Alphabet Zoo too!

To stand a chance for the randomised draw, simply leave me a comment here telling me who you’d like to win it for, with your name and email address. Giveaway closes on 16 December 2013. It’ll be a neat Christmas gift for your little one, that’s for sure!

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

Alphabet zoo winners

Thank you everyone, for participating! Congrats to the winners! You’ll hear from the folks at JGE soon!

Disclosure: We received the book and CD set from Julia Gabriel Education for the purpose of this review. Motherkao received no monetary compensation for reviewing this and all opinions here are my own. 

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Learning with ‘Today I Am…’ [Book review + Worldwide Giveaway]

August 13, 2013

I had the wonderful opportunity to expand my children’s emotional vocabulary recently using a book with drawings of fish.

Titled “Today I Am…”, the picture book is the Southeast Asian English version of the award-winning Dutch children’s book “Vrolijk” by Mies van Hout, which shows all the emotions a young child would encounter. Each double page spread is devoted to one fish showing a particular emotion, along with the word that expresses the same feeling. Mies van Hout’s drawings are characterized by strong, clear lines and radiant colours, and this school of fish has made a big splash in international waters, bagging awards and accolades aplenty.

Today I Am

Cover page of the award-winning book “Today I Am…”

I ran a couple of homelearning lessons with the book. When we first got it, we flipped to look at all the fascinating expressions of all the fish in the pages. Admiring art together was an enriching activity in itself. Subsequently, I read to each child one-to-one and identified common emotions and feelings like ‘glad’, ‘angry’, ‘shocked’ and ‘sad’ with them. We talked about things that made us feel glad, angry, shocked and sad. I listened to their stories. And it was amazing how much each of them, when given a listening ear, would say about how they felt and when they felt what they felt.

Emotions

Becks doing some dramatisation here with the fish

In addition, with Ben, I also took the time to provide scenarios to explain more complex emotions like ‘confused’, ‘jealous’, ‘content’ and ‘amazed’.

Explaining Jealousy

Explaining what being jealous means

For Becks, since she loves to draw and colour, I asked her for the emotion she was feeling after we read the book and went on to “copy” the fishes on drawing paper and had her fill the white spaces with colours. She was feeling glad and happy that day, and this was what she did:

Colouring fish 1

Colouring fishies

Colouring fish 2

Happy fishies get a splash of rainbow!

She’s into drawing and colouring fishes now, thanks to the book! Another Mies van Hout in the making, perhaps!

Drawing more fish

Becks asking to draw and colour more happy fish

Today I Am...” is certainly a good resource to have in my homelearning stock and I am really glad that we received it from Fish Book Co., a publishing company passionate about providing parents and teachers with tools to develop happy, healthy children. The team at Fish Book Co. has plans to create more educational materials and original content with the school of fish found in Mies van Hout’s book, and that I can’t wait to see!

*Giveaway: I have 5 copies of “Today I Am…” to give away (and open to international readers)!*

To take part, simply LIKE Fish Book Co.’s Facebook Page and Motherkao’s Facebook Page (if you’ve not already done so), and leave me a comment here by filling in the blanks:

“Today I am __________ because ______________”

The 5 most interesting / creative entries win! Have fun!

Giveaway ends 20 August and results will be announced on 21 August on this same space. Let’s hear how you’re feeling today!

Disclosure: We received a copy of the book “Today I Am…” from Fish Book Co. All opinions here are my own.

P/S: Fish Book Co. is inviting budding artists below the age of 12 to participate in Singapore’s biggest children’s drawing competition, “Colour My Feelings”, on 28 September 2013 at 1 pm at the Rise & Shine Expo. “Colour My Feelings” is a drawing competition that encourages kids to express emotions through the use of oil pastels. Kids are invited to pick a feeling and illustrate a fish bursting with their chosen emotion. Get ready to see a wide gamut of emotions with a lively and vibrant school of expressive fish that day at the Rise & Shine Expo! More details of the competition here.

**So, who’s won the giveaway?**

I’d love to have everyone win this and would like to say a big thank you to all of you for participating and sharing with me how you feel! But I only have 5 copies of the book and am gonna give it to…

A very hungry SereneGawd’ I know how it feels to have your kids want your food! Why didn’t you eat her burger instead?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidociously-Mary Poppins-Sue Now, that’s such a bubbly happy emotion!

Ecstatic Christine who actually looked forward to spending time with monkeys – Haha, fortunately, the monkeys belong to her!

Tired Jus who’s growing a baby for the third time – And I can identify with how tiring that is!

And Drained CandyHope this book will teach Junior how to express himself instead of screaming at you, babe!

There are more giveaways on the blog coming up! Thanks for taking part, everyone!

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Lynn’s Money Adventures [Book review + Giveaway]

June 25, 2013

If you have kids between 7 and 14 years of age, you can teach them about financial literacy and how to manage their money with this book that’s new in stores:

Book-3D-FINAL3-242x300

Written by Kelvin Ho, a local author and educator for 10 years, Lynn’s Money Adventures is a guide for tweens and pre-adolescents to help them take charge of their financial future by learning how to manage money in a smart and practical way. This book follows Lynn and her sisters as they explore issues of money and how to manage it. Lynn learns about her own money attitude, how to allocate her allowance wisely so she can buy an iPod Touch, how to be cured of the “common money disease” and what’s the difference between her needs and wants.

At the end of each chapter, there are  tips and activities called Money Workout so your child can relate to the story and develop essential lifeskills to make, spend and save his own money.

The book also comes with online Parents’ Notes which parents can use to explore and further simplify big money concepts for their kids. Kelvin believes that when it comes to teaching financial literacy, the parents’ role of modeling is extremely important. If parents and caregivers are able to inculcate, encourage and reinforce positive mindsets and values about money, they will be equipping their children to make good, informed decisions about their finances.

The book is easy to follow and thoughtfully written for the local context, and is a good way to introduce money sense to the young who are already exposed to and aware of the concept of money, especially if they have their own allowance to manage. A lot of financial literacy books are not pitched at this level and are not contextualised for the Singapore reader, so Kelvin does a good job introducing good money habits and the right money mindset to his target audience.

Lynn’s Money Adventures is available at Popular bookstores and retails at S$15. Visit Kids’ Money Adventures to read a sample chapter, or check out the very informative and educational resources available on the website. (The last I checked, I learned about the history of credit cards and watched a cartoon MTV telling me where money comes from. Economics 101 for me!)

*Giveaway*: I have 3 sets of Lynn’s Money Adventures to give away to 3 readers! Simply leave a comment here with your name and email address by 1 July if you wish to receive a complimentary copy. We’ll be picking 3 winners at random on 2 July.

**UPDATE**: And… EVERYONE’S A WINNER IN THIS GIVEAWAY! Kelvin has kindly agreed to sponsor ALL 17 copies of his book to all of you who commented! Thank you for participating and hope this book would help guide your kids along as they learn how to manage money!

Disclosure: I received the book from Kelvin Ho and interviewed him for the purpose of this review. All opinions are Motherkao’s own.

Reading fun

Good reads #3: Grace Based Parenting

March 19, 2013

If you’re overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of parenting books out there, and don’t know where to start choosing one to read and learn from, I urge you to read only Dr Tim Kimmel’s Grace Based Parenting. Of all the books I’ve read and devoured, this is the book that matters, the book that I read and reread, the book I flip frequently, randomly for insight, the parenting book I seek advice from, and the devotional I use to study together with the Bible. I believe this is one author and literature that’s inspired by the Lord Himself – because we worship a God of grace, we can be grace-based parents.

Grace Based Parenting Book CoverThe book deals with the heart of grace-based parenting, and provides help in which we can develop a grace-based style of parenting on a day-to-day basis. Grace-based parenting processess all actions towards the child through the filter of meeting his three driving inner needs. A child’s three driving inner needs are:

1. A need for security

2. A need for significance

3. A need for strength

Our role as parents is to provide our children with a love that is secure, a purpose that is significant and a hope that is strong through our everyday interaction with them, and understand – above all else – that this is how God raises His children. One thing the author said struck me and resonated deep within; he mentioned that our children’s needs will NOT be met as a result of reading his book but “meeting these needs will be the result of your putting what you learned into practice in your life first”. In other words, we need to know that we are loved by God, we have a purpose and we have hope, and that we are secure, significant and strong in Him – knowing this and living this will enable us to meet our own children’s inner needs.

Here are some key takeaways from the book:

1) All children are born with a need to love and be loved, a need to live lives that have a meaning, and a need to believe that tomorrow is worth getting up for: God designed the home, a grace-based home, for our children to find that fulfillment in Him who created these needs.

2) You can’t have grace when you have rules and little relationship: rules without relationship is the ideal formula for raising rebellious kids. On the other hand, relationships without rules will result in resentful kids too.

3) Grace-based parents enjoy the child just the way he is. They create homes of honour. Homes of honour see the other person’s time, gifts, uniqueness and dreams as gifts to be cherished and stewarded. They are generous with affection, and as parents, understand that God loves them more than they can ever know.

4) Grace-based parents worship the God of purpose and help build significant purpose into their child. They regularly affirm them, give them their attention and admonish them gracefully with guidelines and consequences. Grace-based parents train their children and groom them for greatness (Hebrews 12:7, 9, 11) and grow the “peaceful fruit of righteouness” by planting the seed with consistent and graceful discipline.

5) If our children want to have any hope as adults, they’ve got to harness their potential, discipline their desires, regiment their strengths and face their weakness with courage. And they’ve got to follow our lead.

6) Grace-based parenting works from the inside out; fear-based parenting works from the outside in.

7) Grace-based families are homes where children are given the freedom to be different, the freedom to be vulnerable, the freedom to be candid, and the freedom to make mistakes.

God knows we need security in our hearts, significance in our lives and strength for the future, and this is how he parents us. This is how we can respond to our children, as the recipients of His undeserving mercy and love towards us in our every day. Reading this book opened my eyes, and reminded me of God’s unconditional and personal love for me. I encourage you to get it and read it, and make grace-based parenting your lifestyle and your way of raising kids.

Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training Reading fun

Good reads #2: How to Really Love Your Child

January 18, 2013

Our copy of this book is pretty dog-eared and crumpled. It’s also been tagged much, with a fair bit of highlighting. Since Ben was born, fatherkao and I have been reading and rereading this book, which was given to us by a dear friend who was blessed by it.

Layout 1This book is loaded with plenty of useful and practical information on how to genuinely love and discipline our children so that we can establish a love-bond relationship with them.

Here are some of my key takeaways from the book:

1) On the foundation of all parent-child relationships: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – real love is unconditional and must be our guiding light in child rearing.

2) How to put feelings of love into action #1 – showing love through eye contact. Eye contact is one of the main sources of a child’s emotional nurturing. Use eye contact to convey unconditional love.

3) How to put feelings of love into action #2 – showing love through physical contact. Don’t touch your children only when necessity demands it. Physical contact goes also beyond hugs and kisses. It’s in simple everyday things like gently poking the ribs, tousling their hair and patting their shoulders. These are ways to assure a child’s emotional security. Dr Campbell says we need to “incorporate physical and eye contact in all our everyday dealings with children” and this can be done naturally and comfortably. Children growing up in a home where parents use eye and physical contact will be comfortable with themselves and other people. These two gifts of love are the most effective ways to fill a child’s emotional tank and enable the child to be the best he or she can be.

3)  How to put feelings of love into action #3 – showing love through focused attention. Focused attention is giving a child full, undivided attention in such a way that the child feels without doubt completely loved; that the child is valuable enough in his or her own right to warrant parents’ undistracted watchfulness, appreciation and uncompromsing regard. In short, focused attention makes a child feel like the most important person in the world in his or her parent’s eyes. How can we do that? Prioritise, watch for unexpected opportunities, schedule and plan. These moments are “investment in the future, especially the years of adolescence” and is the “most powerful means of keeping a child’s emotional tank full”.

4) On discipline: Discipline is done in love and it’s about training the child in the way he should go. How well a child responds to discipline depends primarily on how much the child feels loved and accepted.

5) On loving discipline: When our child misbehaves, we must ask ourselves, “What does this child need?” The tendency is for us to ask, “What can I do to correct this child’s behaviour?” Only when we we ask ourselves the first question can we proceed logically from there. Only then can we take care of the misbehaviour, give what the child needs and permit the child to feel genuinely loved. The next step is to ask ourselves, “Does the child need eye contact? Physical contact? Focused attention?” In short, does the emotional tank need filling? We must first need these needs and should not continue to correct a child’s behaviour until we have met these emotional needs.

Here’s what I caught from the heart of the author:

There’s a lot to digest and understand from the nuggets of truth and advice shared in this book – and they all have to be understood at the heart level and not the head level. I know a million and one things what to do and what not to do in my mind; but this book cannot be read with the mind alone.

Three things from the book really stuck with me. Number one, the marriage must be ok. The “prerequisite of good child rearing” is the most important relationship in the family, which is the marital relationship. “Both the quality of the parent-child bond and the child’s security largely depend on the quality of the marital bond.” So often, this bond gets weaker as the demands of child rearing intensify through the child’s growing years. Yet, it is this very bond that provides the most effective setting for raising a child.

Number two, children are much more emotional than cognitive. They, therefore, remember feelings much more readily than facts. They remember how they felt in a particular situation much more easily than they can remember the details of what went on.

Number three, seize moments of opportunity to love. If you’ve missed one, you’ve missed one. So always be on the look out for more and try not to miss any!

Learning all these have helped an often guilt-ridden, frustrated, task-focused and controlling mother like me to transfer the heartfelt love in my heart to little seemingly insignificant actions to love my children. I’m still learning, and there’s so much more to learn. May this year be a year of greater learning to really love them all.

Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training Reading fun

Good reads #1: The New Strong-Willed Child

January 11, 2013

Throughout the short four years I’ve been a mother, I’ve devoured a couple of parenting books. Some were forgettable, and some stuck with me and influenced, in some ways, the way I’m parenting. I’d thought I’ll review some of these books and start a series on good reads that can serve as a resource for myself (and you out there) who’d like to revisit some Parenting 101. In each review, I’ll share my takeaways and more importantly, the things that I’ve caught from the heart of the author.

A dear friend and colleague learned that I was struggling a fair bit with Becks as she entered her Terrible Two stage. Some time last year, I was pleasantly surprised to find this book on my desk at work!

Cover_The New Strong Willed Child

This book, The New Strong-Willed Child, by Dr James Dobson, not only gave me a clearer understanding of my daughter, it also took me through a (rather painful) journey of uncovering and knowing myself all over again. Undoubtedly, in terms of the strength of the will, both Becks and I score on the high side. We are the assertive, aggressive and independent breed of people whose temperaments are “prepackaged before birth”, as Dr Dobson puts it. I was looking for answers and help to deal with my strong-willed daughter (who is very much like myself) and I was so blessed by the godly advice and encouragement provided by Dr Dobson in his book. Thank God for this man and his ministry!

Here are some key takeaways from the book:

1) On shaping the will: “If the strong-willed child is allowed by indulgence to develop ‘habits’ of defiance and disrespect during his or her early childhood, those characteristics will not only cause problems for her parents, but will ultimately handicap the child whose rampaging will was never brought under self-control.” That is why it is of utmost importance that we must begin teaching respect for authority while our children are very young.

2) On protecting the spirit: As parents, we need to shape the will without breaking the spirit. Dr Dobson admits that “hitting both targets is something easier said than done”. This is accomplished by “establishing reasonable boundaries in advance and then enforcing them with love, while avoiding any implications that a child is unwanted, unnecessary, foolish, ugly, dumb, burdensome, embarrassing, or a terrible mistake”.

3) On the most ineffective approach: Anger only “emphasises impotence”, “does not influence behaviour unless it implies that something irritating is about to happen”, and should “never become a tool to get children to behave when we have run out of options and ideas”. Authority, which is conveyed mostly by confidence and determination, is what creates respect.

*Note to motherkao from Dr Dobson: You don’t need anger to control children. You do need strategic action. You need to exhibit an attitude of confident authority. You have the power to decide on a logical course of action without needing to be exasperated or frustrated.

4) On child-rearing: Healthy parenting can be boiled down to two essential ingredients: love and control. Children tend to thrive best in an environment where these two ingredients, love and control, are present in balanced proportions.

5) On attitudes: Good attitudes are modelled by parents and then reinforced in the every day, not during a brief bedtime prayer or pep talk.

6) On sibling rivalry: “Recognise that the hidden ‘target’ of sibling rivalry is you.” True that. Now, whenever Ben and Becks fight, I bend down, look at them in the eye and say, “Guys, I don’t want to watch this. Can I please ask you to go into the room now and fight? When you’re done, come out and tell me who won, k?” This always works. Always.

Here’s one thing I caught from the heart of the author:

“Keep the tenor of the home pleasant, fun, and accepting. At the same time, however, parents should display confident firmness in their demeanour. You, Mom and Dad, are the boss. You are in charge. If you believe it, the tougher child will accept it also.”

I’m learning every day to do this. I’m also laying hands on my daughter every night and praying that the Holy Spirit conquer her strong will without destroying her spirit, and that I’d be a mother who will lovingly guide her with understanding and the appropriate kind of discipline. Not an easy job, but with prayer and practice, I shall soldier on.