Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaching My Toddler Manners

Kids, especially toddlers, are like sponges. They absorb so many new skills and knowledge amazingly fast. I’ve been teaching my son so many things since he was a baby and it never fails to amaze me whenever he starts saying or doing what I have taught him. It could be because I’m a first-time mom. But then again, I suppose it goes beyond that. Raising kids, I believe, is one glorious task. Many times challenging; but nonetheless, glorious and fulfilling as a whole.

My son has brought us so much joy when he first recognized the letters of the alphabet and when he started counting. Today, at 23 months old, he has already mastered counting from 1 to 10 and he can count really fast. He’s now ventured into counting from 11 to 20. And judging by the pace by which he learns, I wouldn’t be surprised if he learns to count up to 20 on or before his second birthday which is less than a month from today. He already knows the alphabet. He recognizes all the letters and knows a number of words that begin with each letter. He has yet to master its correct sequence but he has begun a new pursuit... spelling! He started with his first name (GIAN) then he spelled the word BIG. Talk about setting BIG goals at a young age. It’s truly rewarding for a parent to see progress in his/her son’s learning and development. But the joys of seeing your child learn and take on good manners that you have just recently taught are much more fulfilling.

I was pleasantly caught by surprise when slowly my toddler son began doing the things that my husband and I had been teaching him in the past months. He first learned to cover his mouth when coughing or sneezing. He wipes his mouth with his bib after eating or drinking. He also covers his mouth at times when laughing. He now knows how to say “thank you” and “excuse me.” He knows how to take the hand of his parents and elders to ask for blessing. He knows how to say his prayers before meals and before going to bed. He knows how to show reverence for the images of Jesus and Mary. He sometimes says “please” and returns things when you ask him. He cleans up the floor or the table whenever he spilled something on it. He also greets people “good morning” or “good night” wherever he sees them – be they strangers that he just saw or family members he know. He also says “goodbye” even to security guards and elevator operators when he’s about to leave. He knows how to share his food or drink not only with family members but even to people he doesn’t know. Lately, he has been slowly learning how to use the quiet voice which would prove to be very helpful when we are in church.

I used to wonder before if it’s possible to teach a toddler manners. Now, I know it can be done. I have learned from my experience of teaching my son that parents can sometimes underestimate their children’s capabilities and that it would help to always take some time to pay close attention on their progress to gauge if we are setting the bar too low. I also believe that it’s good to start teaching manners and values while they are young so that they would form a good habit of practicing them. I have also learned firsthand that kids learn not only by telling them what to say and do but also by having role models around them whom they can emulate. Repetition and frequent reminders are also vital. Today, I‘m happy to witness my toddler slowly form good habits of practicing good manners. These accomplishments encourage me to be persistent and patient in continuously molding his character. He may still have a lot to learn but his current achievements inspire me to aim to be the best teacher I can be both in words and in action. May God’s wisdom direct me and His grace sustain me!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mommy’s Me Time

The house is finally quite... with only the sound of the electric fan near the couch and the keyboard as I type my thoughts. I’m done cleaning the house, washing the dishes, bathing the baby and putting him to sleep.

Moms like me -- especially those who do not have maids or who do not have nannies – can be so wrapped up with countless tasks at home that we may sometimes forget to save some “me” time for ourselves. As I grow in experience as a full time mom, I have learned how important it is to carve out a “me” time for myself every now and then. I try to squeeze in something I like into my busy schedule everyday... something that renews me or invigorates me after the many tiring stuff I do at home. It can be as simple as browsing through my favourite magazines on parenting or interior design. It can be a quick shower or nap. Then, when our schedule permits, I try to do something that would require longer periods of time at least once a week. It also helps to have a spouse or a mom who pitches in every once in a while so that I can take some time to recharge.

Looking back, I have realized that no matter how simple or short a “me” time was, it always gave me greater strength to do more for my family. It gave me a greater sense of joy and peace. It restores me not only physically but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It empowers me to be more loving and caring. Oh, the wonders that a “me” time can do!

Here are some “me” time activities I do daily or weekly that enable me to be the superwife/mom that my family knows me to be.:) Hope my list inspires you to come up with your own list and to set aside time for yourself.

1. Reading the Bible and a devotional.
2. Having a quick, relaxing shower.
3. Listening to relaxing music.
4. Reading a book or magazine.
5. Writing.
6. Getting in touch with friends through phone or the internet.
7. Taking a nap.
8. Meditation.
9. Listing my to-do’s in my planner.
10. Planning family times.
11. Going to the salon for a haircut or pedicure.
12. Enjoying a home-cooked meal.
13. Doing an arts and crafts project.
14. Window shopping.
15. Shopping for small things that we need.
16. Reviewing my personal dreams and goals.
17. Meeting up with friends.
18. Watching a tv show I like.
19. Whipping up a fruit shake on a warm day/evening and enjoying every sip of it.
20. Planning home improvements for our condo and sketching my ideas.

Let’s take time to take care of ourselves so that we can do a better job taking care of those we love! Enjoy your “me” time, moms!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Reading, Repetition and Finally Recitation!

I’ve been reading to my son, Yanthy, since he was a baby. I love reading and I would love to pass on this passion to him. I think I have been successful. Reading has become part of our daily routine. We read the Bible and a devotional (Didache) every morning. We read books throughout the day. We read a book before bed. Sometimes, when we have already turned off the light, I or my husband simply recites the lines from his book entitled The Going to Bed Book.

Last Friday night, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Yanthy has almost memorized the lines from his copy of The Going to Bed Book. It happened by accident. I forgot what to say next while reciting the lines from the book. Yanthy finished the next lines for me. I was amazed! I felt so proud and fulfilled to know that he has followed and understood the story we’ve been reading to him since he was small. And he already knows most of the lines. I’ve seen and heard him do this before (like a month earlier) with his Level 1 Cars book entitled Old, New, Red, Blue. Since the book is for Level 1 readers, the lines or sentences are very short. Yanthy was able to memorize them easily. Sometimes, he would recite the lines even without looking at the pages of his book. We were already impressed when we witnessed him do that. We were impressed even more when he recited longer lines from his bedtime book. I guess it wasn’t really accident that I discovered Yanthy’s new skill. I think it was God’s way of rewarding me after a long and tiring week running the household and caring for my child.

And yet the surprise did not end there; for while in the car last Saturday, Yanthy amazed and amused me by singing nursery songs such as the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It was the first time I heard him sing these songs with him leading me in the singing. I purposely delayed singing the next lines to test if he knows what will come next. He knew! He has almost memorized the Alphabet song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Then it dawned on me that repetition has helped us a lot. We’ve been playing nursery songs to him since he was a baby every morning. We did it to help him become familiarized with the songs. I must have underestimated my son’s ability because it surprised me last week when I discovered that not only does he memorized some of the lines of the nursery songs, he also knows the stories in each of them. Amazing!

Moreover, I realized at the children’s party we attended last Saturday that Yanthy is truly more gifted in music than me. He can easily identify the songs by simply listening to the first few notes or the introduction. During the game where I was one of the contestants last Saturday, I had to wait until the chorus or refrain to identify the songs. No wonder, my team lost!

It was another action-packed weekend but fun-filled nonetheless. I thank God for the many pleasant surprises He gave me. Yanthy’s accomplishments and milestones were my biggest blessings. They gave me great joy. Motherhood, parenting and teaching a child basic skills can be challenging. But last weekend, God showed me how rewarding it can also be when you start reaping the fruits of your labor.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What a day!

Day 2 without a maid: another busy and exhausting day at home. I had to juggle between domestic concerns and business concerns. At a certain point, I had to chase Yanthy as he goes around grabbing different objects unfit for his clumsy hands and at the same time talk to Powerbook’s Accounting staff on the phone about remaining stocks and number of books sold. Sigh. And my list of to-do’s seems endless even at this time of night (9 o’clock). But I’m not frantic or sad. In fact, I’m happy and at peace.

I’m happy because I know I have served my family well. I made mistakes along the way... like I forgot to add cheese cubes to the Italian sausage and macaroni soup I prepared for George’s packed lunch. I hit Yanthy’s hand back when he hit my hand while he was having another tantrum. I shouted at Yanthy when I was having a hard time getting him out of the bathroom after giving him a bath out of fear that I might drop him on the floor. And I guess there are still some more that I could not remember now.

In spite of all the mistakes I’ve made today, I’m still at peace for I know that I have done the most important things required of me today. I know that God sees my heart and He knows how much I’m trying to follow Mama Mary’s example in being a good wife and mom. I admit that I’m still far from being as gentle and loving as she is but I don’t lose hope. I’m confident that with each new day full of challenges comes God’s immeasurable grace. I will simply keep on availing His grace and hope that one day I would serve my family as lovingly as Mama Mary did.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Terrible (Not Yet) Two

I have just read a number of articles about the Terrible Twos stage and I thank God I took the time tonight to sit down and learn more about this stage. Yanthy is a month and a half away from his second birthday. If I have not chosen to read the articles I read tonight, I wouldn’t know that the Terrible Twos stage can start as early as 18 months or right after a child’s first birthday. Now, I understand better where my little one is coming from.

My son, Yanthy, is terribly cute and adorable most of the time. He’s been one source of joy and pride for me and my husband. I love it when he smiles, calls me “Mommy,” hugs and kisses me without a reason, tries to help me with my chores, sits on my lap and asks me to read to him, prays with me, plays with me and so much more.

But this little boy also upsets me and frustrates me countless times during the day. There are times when he would ignore me when I ask him to do simple things like clean up his mess after he has played and scattered his toys or books on the floor. There are times when he would do the opposite of what I’m telling him like when I tell him not to jump on the bed because he might fall. To my dismay, he would jump repeatedly. And he would even try to jump even after I have removed him from the bed. There are also instances when he would ask for water or a certain food and after I’ve prepared it and about to give it to him, he would suddenly turn his head away and say “No!”

I sometimes wonder, “Where did my sweet little boy go?” whenever he does these things. His behaviour sometimes confuses me and makes me feel helpless especially when he repeatedly makes tantrums. I also sometimes wonder if I’m doing things right in raising him up because he sometimes does not show positive or agreeable behaviour.

I have read books and other materials on disciplining toddlers before but it was only tonight that I felt enlightened and less guilty. I learned that it’s a normal stage that any loving little boy can still go through and that like a lot of terrible (in the negative sense) things in life, it will come to pass.

I guess that the most important lesson I learned from the articles I read tonight is learning to empathize with my son. Like him, I sometimes feel troubled whenever I want to do something that others especially those close to me do not approve of. Like what the author in one of the articles said, my son at this point wants to assert himself and learn to be independent. His personality and character is being formed as he discovers and learns many things and applies these learning in his everyday activities. My role as a parent is to support him as he finds his way through life. He may be too young and too clumsy for his ambitious pursuits right now but the manner by which I respond to him as he deals with his current pursuits can have impact on his long term behaviour.

I also liked one advice from another author. He encouraged parents like me who are dealing with Terrible Twos behaviour in our children to focus more on the good times than on the bad and to make the most of our time together now our children are young. Like most parents who have already passed this stage and who have already raised their kids, he said that children grow very fast. And I couldn’t help but agree. I have chosen to be a full time stay-at-home mom since I got pregnant because I want to witness my baby’s milestones and closely monitor his progress. I want to capture and document as much as I could. But even as a full time mom, there’s so much that escaped my attention. Time really flies so fast and before I knew it, he’s almost two. He has grown to be so tall, strong and intelligent. He has learned and mastered a number of things.

Two things I like about having a terrible (not yet) two in my life right now: first, I’m humbled; second, I’m sharpened like iron. I’m humbled to realize that no matter how educated or informed I am, there’s still a lot I need to learn as a parent. I’m sharpened like iron because a lot of times, my character is tested whenever my son throws a tantrum. And for these two benefits alone, I am most thankful to God. I pray that I would always be open to God’s grace and wisdom so that even when times are challenging, I would be able to handle my son’s behaviour with gentleness and grace.