Positive parenting and sports

A month ago, Jia took part in a swimming competition. That was a first for her (joining a competition) and for me as a mom. Jia goes to a Montessori school and they don’t have grades, quiz bees, tests, and homeworks. They do not even have books and notebooks. So the concept of a competition was known to Jia only through her books. 🙂 When Jia told me that her Coach was inviting her to join a competition, I very subtly encouraged her because I wanted her to experience the discipline of being in sports. I did not expect to learn so much as a positive parenting mom from that experience. Ang dami kong natutunan, feeling ko I grew so much as a parent. So am blogging the things I learned here.

But first things first, I have to just say that I do not believe in pressuring children unduly. They will get much more pressure than they would ever need as adults so I do not see any sense in pressuring them now. Oh, but just in case you are wondering, I am also definitely not a coddling parent. 🙂

Go with child-led activities

positive parenting - child led

I think every parent faces the very difficult task of finding the balance between pushing (like a tiger mom) and being chill (like an elephant mom). What I have learned though is it’s always better when activities are child-led and child-decided, or at least, perceived as child-decided. 🙂

Learning how to swim was a non-negotiable for us. Aside from swimming being an important life skill, all our kids have asthma so we really want them to learn how to swim. Two summers ago, I kept on asking Jia if she wanted to take swimming classes. She said no and so it was just Joya who took lessons. She eventually decided to take lessons (nakulitan na yata sa akin) but the whole cycle flew by and she did not even learn how to do freestyle.

Since then, whenever I brought up swimming classes, she would say no until, because of positive parenting, I just stopped bringing it up. Then last February, while we were in Potipot Island in Zambales, Jia said that she loved the water so much, she might as well learn how to swim. Hallelujah! Because it was her decision to take lessons, she took it seriously.

Set expectations

positive parenting - set expectations

Before we enrolled in a cycle (a cycle is composed of 12 days / 2 weeks), I talked to her (and Joya, who was also taking the class) about how it would be. Since the class was everyday and it would take a toll on their bodies, they needed to be extra conscious about their diet. I also stressed to them the importance of sleeping early because their swimming class was in the morning.

Ang galing nung effect nung conversation namin. Because I explained everything that was expected of them, we did not have a single problem. Because THEY decided to take the class, they meticulously followed our agreement (be more conscious about sleep and diet) and even though I knew there were times that they did not want to go to class, they still did.

Before that first cycle ended, I asked them if they wanted to enroll in the next cycle. I explained their options and what was expected of them should they continue with the classes. They both said no. I did not push them. I knew the classes were tiring. They decided instead to rest for two weeks and then enroll in the cycle after that. I was so proud of them; they were deciding for themselves and in positive parenting, this is super important.

Strike a deal! (And prepare to live up to your end of the bargain.)

positive parenting - deal

Three days into their second cycle, Jia came home one day saying that she did not have a good day because she was being transferred to a male coach the next day. Honestly, I was also not comfortable with the idea so I told her that we would talk to the Head Coach so she would not have to transfer. At mali ako dun, maling mali. I should have investigated and asked first (This is a cardinal rule in positive parenting.) and not be the typical enabler parent. 🙁

The next day, when we arrived, the Head Coach informed me that Jia was indeed being transferred to a male coach. Coach Roel (the Head Coach) explained that Jia was actually being promoted to the advanced group. Jia, however, vehemently refused to transfer. She probably even felt I betrayed her because I told her that she did not have to transfer. So while the clock was ticking (read as: yung oras namin sa swimming class ay nauubos), Jia and I talked. She was crying and I have to admit nase-stress ako na yung oras umaandar (sayang pera!). We probably talked for more than 15 minutes but I knew that she needed to do it on her own accord, so I consciously ignored the time. I knew that ordering her to get into the water will NOT work at all!

She was saying that she did not want to attend swimming classes anymore. I reminded her, in a kind and firm voice, that we already paid for the whole cycle and to not attend would be wasting money. By that time, I could see the Head Coach signalling to me that she could just stay with her current coach. It was the easy way out but I knew that I needed to convince Jia to go to the advanced class.

In the end, I struck a deal with her — she would try one class and if she did not like it, she was free to go back to her old coach . I did not have to cajole nor order her. It was a deal we both decided to go into. Thankfully, after the class, she told me she wanted to stay in the advanced lane. Had she decided to stay in her current class, I would have had no choice but to fulfill my end  of the bargain.

Be your child’s advocate… ALWAYS!

positive parenting - advocate

When Jia decided to try the advanced class, I explained to the Head Coach how uncomfortable Jia felt. I think it made all the difference because the Head Coach (with whom Jia was very comfortable with although he’s a male) watched out for her. I think the fact that I did not discount Jia’s feelings worked out really well. She felt validated.

Interestingly, Joya was also being asked to transfer to another coach during that time and he also did not want to. In his case, I knew his reason was because the new prospective coach had a tendency to raise his voice. Now, at our home, we do not condone shouting. In fact, one of Joya’s “favorite” issues to raise during our family meetings is shouting. He abhors shouting and absolutely hates being yelled at. (Well… who does?) The coach he was being transferred to would shout at his students. Some people might think that what I did was meddling but I would not want anyone to shout at my son (but I am sure you know how, in sports training, shouting at kids is just so common, it’s not a big deal anymore). So I talked to the Head Coach and said that I was aware that the new coach had the tendency to raise his voice but Joya would not like that. It worked! Joya was given to a soft-spoken coach instead. The transition was so easy!

Validate feelings (A very important positive parenting tool!)

positive parenting - validate feelings

I was very busy the week before the competition and was frequently out of the house. Exactly one week before, a Saturday, I got home at 10:00 p.m. and Jia was still awake. She said that she waited up for me because she needed to talk. When I lay down beside her, she confided how tired she was and how pressured she felt. She was crying and my heart was breaking. I could imagine how physically and mentally exhausting their training was. I could not even do two laps in their pool and she, my seven year old daughter who did not even like attending her PE class, was doing laps after laps. She was a little above one meter in height and was swimming possibly half a kilometer every training session.

I listened to her. At one point, she was trying to blame me for joining. She said that she knew I wanted her to join. I pointed out to her, very kindly, that although I wanted her to experience the discipline of being in sports, it was her decision and something she committed to. I did not tell her that others have it worse (something I might have done if  I were not a positive parent). I did not point out to her that other kids are more tired because they have to work. I did not cite other kid athletes. I did not tell her that she is blessed. I just listened and validated that what she was doing was indeed tiring.

Because I felt how exhausted she was, I started to doubt the wisdom of letting her join. I did not realize the toll it would take on her. I talked to my husband and told him I would have Jia take the next training days off. He agreed. The following day, our whole rested and just bonded at home.

The next day, Monday, I told Jia she could skip training but to my surprise, she refused. I realized that she was merely letting out steam and exhaustion. There I was, panicking, and I did not realize that what my daughter needed was just validation. She felt that she was listened to and that was enough.

Expect more from your kids

positive parenting - expect more

You know the expression “With high hopes but low expectations”? Well, I went to the competition with low hopes and low expectations. Jia’s classmates have been training much longer than she had. A few have trained for more than a year. Jia trained for a few weeks. I thought I was doing her a favor by not expecting her to win. After all, I felt like I already won since Jia was already benefitting from being in the sport. On hindsight, it was the worst thing that I did.

Because I did not expect her to win and I was just after the experience, I did not even clarify the mechanics. It was our first time in a swim meet and had NO idea what was happening. Jia was included in eight events. This is embarassing but I did not even know that she was just competing with other 7 year old girls; I thought she was competing with all girls 11 years old and below. The way I encouraged her seemed insincere. 🙁

In her heat, she would come out second or third and she was starting to lose hope. It was only after the sixth event that I talked to the Coach. He assured me that Jia was doing really well and was way exceeding his expectations. I was surprised! He explained to me how the whole thing goes. When I explained to Jia, she felt super motivated! When she felt better, she did better!

positive parenting - swimming
Jia got a Bronze in the 25 meter Freestyle event. This was the event after we talked.  When I expected more from her, she felt it and also expected more from herself. Ang galing! Positive parenting for the win!

I encouraged Jia to join the competition to learn from the experience. I ended up getting more from this experience than Jia did.

DIY Wooden Nativity Set

This brought me so much happiness.

While I was growing up, my mom’s dream was to have a nice belen. Because we did not have much money, it was not a priority. Eventually, when I was already in college, she was able to buy one. It was a simple ceramic set but point is, we had a belen.

For the past years, I, too, have been wanting our own set at home. Pero masyado ako namamahalan sa super magaganda. Ayaw ko naman ng ceramic na matatakot lang ako na baka mabasag. This year, I realized I can DIY one. My requirements were simple – not so stuffy and stiff (in short, cute) and is not breakable.

When I saw this set, I knew I had to make this. I scoured the net for the images and ang saya kasi nahanap ko! I was losing hope in ever finding these. In fact, I had the blocks sized for a different nativity set images because I did not think I would be able to find this set. Then one night, around 1am, while waiting for the beef I was pressure cooking, I tried again and found it in Simply Fresh Designs. Wooohooo!!

Jia helped me make it and we spent a great time talking while doing it. Joya, who knew I was planning to make it, was just so happy that he has a nativity block set to play with. He recreates the birth of Jesus using the blocks. Ang galing kasi ang lapit sa kanya ng istorya at hindi yun tipong pwede lang tignan pero hindi hawakan.

Ay, ang saya ko talaga! 🙂



Toilet Paper Roll Cars

After weeks of the whole family staying at home because of illnesses, Jia finally went back to school and J went back to the office. This means that Joya and I are left at home (with Iana, of course). This morning, Joya has been feeling his Ate’s absence and wanted to do something with the toilet rolls that I have been collecting. To release his creativity, we did toilet paper roll cars. We had so much fun and I am happy to realize that when asked to get things, Joya can now remember up to three things. I was actually gunning for four but Joya pointed out to me that the fourth thing was just beside me. Haha! Because Joya tends to not focus on stuff, this is a small victory for me! Yay!

Joya did much of the work. Anything that did not involve the cutter was done by him. He was even the one who cut the number sign circles using his scissors.

tissue paper roll cars

Our toilet paper roll cars! Tadaaaah!!!!

tissue paper roll cars

Another proof that kids do not need expensive toys. 🙂

tissue paper roll cars

Montessori at home: Kids’ room

When I was in high school, my Mom took a class on Montessori education and her constant kwento of how Montessori schools do things piqued my interest. I enjoyed the reasoning behind the Montessori practices as explained by my Mom. And now that my kids are attending a Montessori school, I try to apply the principles, too, at home (that is why I train my kids early on to be independent as this is a basic tenet of Montessori).

One of the most basic Montessori principles is to have a place for everything and for everything to be in its place (oh yeah, that line – though I have edited it a little – is actually from Benjamin Franklin). For me, this is especially important when it comes to toys and books as these two are the most frequently used by my kids. I have already blogged about how I have organized our home library so this post focuses on how we organize toys.

My kids have lots of toys… well not as many as my friends’ kids but they have enough. Because I want each toy to have a specific place, I rotate the toys. At any one time, I only have less than 20 toys in their room — the rest are kept in the storage area. Why? First, I do not have enough space for all the toys to have its specific place. Second, I have realized that kids appreciate their toys more if they have not seen it for a while. Third, in my opinion, it is not healthy for kids to think that they have so many material things as I feel it promotes a sense of entitlement. So every three months, I rotate toys (keeping what is in the room and taking out some from the storage) and the joy in their faces when it’s rotation time is priceless. It’s like they have new toys every rotation time! Imagine, the joy of new toys without spending a centavo! How’s that for cheap?! Hahaha!

We have a couple of (kid-sized) toy shelves in their room and we do not have a toy chest. Why? Because toy chests make it easy for kids to just dump everything inside it without order. On the other hand, a toy shelf encourages a kid to put back a toy in its proper place. In their classroom, the same principle is applied and their class does not have an “Ate” or a teacher’s aide to help clean the classroom; all kids are expected to pack away the materials on their own.  I know this is getting off the subject but once, while having a chat with Jia’s teacher, one of her classmates spilled her baon (rice and viand) on the rug inside the classroom. The kid promptly got a broom (the small handheld one) and a dustpan and cleaned up the mess. She did not have to be told by the teacher what to do nor she needed help from an adut. Ang galing di ba? It just shows that kids, if they are taught how to do things properly, will be able to do so much without helicopter parenting. Ang galing talaga! 🙂 But anyway… 🙂


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Kids Activities: T-Shirt Art

While I was on the computer, Jia, who wanted a “kids activity” (her term for anything we do together), started browsing her tv-free activities book for things we can do together and shortlisted T-Shirt Art. When I asked her if she had a shirt we could use, she immediately went to her closet and came back with a plain white shirt. Owwww-kay I could sense her excitement. Hahaha! I cautioned her that even if we had a plain shirt, we may not have the other needed materials (as I was not sure yet what was needed to actually put art on the shirt). She excitedly read aloud the things we needed (shirt, fabric crayons, tea towel (optional), white sheets of paper, iron). Luckily for her, because she has a mom who is fond of shopping (LOL!), we actually had fabric crayons onhand! (Fabric crayons are available in National Bookstore. A box of 8 colors is Php65.00.) So on to our impromptu project!

Jia drew her design on a sheet of paper using fabric crayons. I reminded her to color the design thickly so the color will transfer well. She drew a butterfly, diamonds, and hearts.

kids activities

While she was drawing, we discussed how it was more important to do one’s best than having a perfect product. Jia said that it was okay for the shirt not to come out perfectly as long as we do our best. 🙂

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Montessori Approach: Home Responsibilities for Kids

I got a lot of requests following my blog post on Teaching Kids Independence for our list of Home Responsibilities. I could not upload it right away because I had to ask permission from Abba’s Orchard where Jia goes. 🙂

A brief background: I school-hopped when I was scouting for schools for Jia. I have a friend who teaches in UP Diliman’s Family Life and Child Devt program and she gave me a list of schools around our area that she knew were good. I checked out almost all the schools plus some more. Then my friend Ting (Directress of Speciabilities) told me to check out Abba’s Orchard. She said it was a good Montessori school (and not just like those who use the name Montessori for the sake of). By then, we have narrowed down our school choices to Learning Tree, Multiple Intelligence School, and Miriam but I still asked J if we could check out Abbas (thank God I have a supportive husband!). One school tour was all it took to convince J to attend the Parents Orientation. After the Orientation, we were hooked. There was no question about where we were going to send Jia. (I think J was hooked when the owner of Abba’s explained to us the concept of the binomial cube (a + b)2 using blocks.) Montessori is an amazing approach! It is progressive education at its best. It gives the child the responsibility for her own learning. I also love the fact that the teachers of Abba’s undergo a two year training before they can handle students on their own as the teacher’s mastery of the Montessori approach is very crucial.

In a Montessori school, kids have what they call Practical Life Exercises. These are daily activities and includes sitting down properly, carrying sharp objects, rolling mats, carrying a chair, sweeping, cutting vegetables (Jia tells me that her Casa 3 classmates cuts up cucumber and carrots and serve it to all the kids in the class), etc.

Needless to say, to be “successful”, the home and the school must be aligned when it comes to values, responsibilities, etc. So I researched and read about Montessori and have adopted their approach at home (well, our home environment still needs a lot of improvement but I think I have done fairly well). 🙂

Anyway, here is Abba’s Orchard’s list of Home Responsibilities for kids. Just click each “page” and it will open up a page where you can save it by right clicking. Print it out, tape it to your bedroom wall, magnet it to your ref door, make a kid’s chart using the list… put it to good use. 🙂 Don’t forget to read the Introduction. 🙂

Favor! If you are going to save any one of the pages, please leave a comment just so I know the time I spent scanning and reducing the pages was put to good use. 🙂


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Teaching kids independence

My kids grew up with yayas. Jia’s yaya was the old school type who did everything for her. When Jia was 23 months old, she had to go to Occupational Therapy and her OT, Teacher Alta, was very firm with the rules: Jia may be accompanied by a parent or a yaya inside but she has to do things on her own. When Jia went in, she had to remove her shoes by herself and put the shoes in the rack. When it was time to go home, she had to retrieve her shoes and put them on.

That Jia can actually do that by herself was a revelation for me. Soon after, I made her eat by herself, dress herself, etc.

When Joya came, I was more conscious of making the kids do things by themselves. I think it is just part of good training to do this. After all, us parents and their yayas will not be around forever to pack away their things for them, feed them, change their clothes, etc. For me, the goal of parenting is to raise God-fearing, responsible, society-contributing individuals, and teaching kids independence (which is a basic thing) should start as early as possible. Kids don’t wake up at 13 years old very much willing to launder clothes or wash the dishes or have neat rooms; they have to taught how to do it and they have to be taught the value of hard work. Admittedly, there were are times that I would forget (or sometimes I would just be plain lazy to go on with the training) but something would remind me and I would trudge on.

A very significant factor in all the training is Jia’s Montessori school. Jia’s class does not even have a teacher’s aide who helps them pack away. Each kid is responsible for his mess and the materials he works on. Everyone is expected to pack away properly. The teacher is not a helicopter teacher; she works with one student at a time while the rest works on their own.

I realize that though my kids are nowhere near the independence that I wish they have at this stage in their lives, they are pretty independent. Nakakatuwa! The other night, Jia and I were downstairs and because it was getting late (around 9:00p.m.), [Read more…]