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To a well-regulated child

I headed to Penang for a short family trip over the holidays. We had dinners with my dad’s friend and his families every night - this helped me create a nice bond with the little girls of their family, a 8-year-old and a 5-year-old. 

During dinners, we would discuss about their favourite character from Hello Kitty to the nicknames that they have for everyone in the family. We took some pictures and it sparked an idea to draw on them. That started our drawing time using iPhone’s Notes app. 

We met again on the second night and they had so much fun drawing me (so sweeeeet!) in all funny forms. On the third dinner, the drawing session started with the 8-year-old and I waiting for the younger one to finish her dinner. When the younger girl finished her dinner, she walked towards her sister and started tugging her dress. This led to a commotion of shouting and hitting, leaving one angry and one crying. All of this happened in one minute. 

Depending on parenting styles, there are different ways to respond to this situation. As the situation happened before me, I took the lead and sat them aside, acknowledging the younger’s emotions (she was crying because she got hit) and also calming the older who was defending her action. The truth is, there was no right and no wrong. The older girl told her sister to stop tugging (in her mind, she was focused on drawing and wasn’t ready to share. Thus, the tugging frustrated her and she was not able to regulate herself. Her sister’s yelling added onto her frustration, making her respond by shouting back and hitting her sister. 

As the adults, we can either take this event as one of the many “usual” events and rub it off by scolding them, or it can be a learning opportunity. It definitely requires time to make this a learning opportunity: giving both children time to breathe and regulate themselves, and time for them to be ready to listen and understand what has happened. Before all of these, the adult has to set him/herself ready to listen to both parties without putting blame. 

Regulating emotions, having the ability to express our perspectives and thoughts, having self-control of our responses and knowing others’ boundaries are all part of executive functioning skills. These skills are crucial for us to become functional and, I believe you would agree with me, happy human beings. Recognising this, over at FUN Commune, we started researching and based on past research, crafted our own curriculum named ITOTA (Important Things Other Than Academic) to guide children in building these skills. With stronger foundation in these skills, we can then manage ourselves better and eventually, work better with others too!

So if you’re a parent who would like to help your child build a strong foundation in their executive functioning skills, or to nurture a growth mindset and be motivated in learning, give us a call and I’d be more than happy to share~!

Miss Kei

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