The Happiest Toddler on the Block

I’d like to recommend a book written by a pediatrician called Harvey Karp. This book is packed with a bunch of clear and easy to follow techniques to raise a respectful, happy and strong toddler.

I have been working on how to cultivate good habits in Bella without yelling, spanking or any demeaning ways. This book suggested a fun and easy way to manage toddler’s behaviors by building respect and love between parents and children.

I have been using the first technique called FFR and Toddlerese for a while. It reduces a lot of conflicts and battles betwee my little one and I. FFR is the fast food rule, which means when talking to the kid, we need to acknowledge her feelings by repeating what she was expressing in 10 seconds. When the kid calms down, we can state what we want her to do and give her an option to choose from.

So let’s say Little Johnny wants ice cream before dinner, but mommy says no. And he starts throwing things. His mommy can kneel down until a little bit lower than his eye level. Then she says, “Johnny just says ‘ice cream, ice cream now’. But mommy says, ‘no ice cream now. Then Johnny feels mad… Really mad.” She can stomp her feet a few times to show the proper way to express anger. When Johnny calms a bit, his mommy says, “But no no… We don’t eat ice cream before dinner. Let’s eat dinner now. Do you want fried rice or noodle soup?”.

The more I practice, the easier this way of communication gets. I strongly recommend it to other moms. 🙂

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We are free when we make choices

Every moment is a choice.  When we realize that we have the freedom to make a choice in every moment, we are free.  We cannot choose what feelings arise, but we can choose which path we want to follow.

We can choose the path of love rather than fear,

the path of forgiveness rather than anger,

the path of trust rather than suspicion,

the path of expression rather than shutting down,

the path of connectedness rather than loneliness,

the path of hope rather than despair,

the path of courage rather than apathy,

the path of letting go rather than control,

the path of gratitude rather than neediness,

the path of wisdom rather than blame.

Yet we have to experience both the bright side and the dark side of life in order to make a conscious decision.  Rori Raye calls this the soup of emotions.  She said if we stuffed down anger or sadness, we cannot experience the rest of the emotions in the soup.  But once we have experienced all of the tastes in the soup, we can distinguish the emotions better and evolve to be a stronger person.  The path of our life is paved by our choices.

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Change by Conpassion

I have been following the news from Hong Kong, my homeland, for a month. Hong Kong has never been so divided before. I think the conflicts were caused by the growing discontent towards the government policies towards the mainland Chinese, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor, the keen competition of resources, the PRC apathy towards the public voice for a more transparent government and growing corruption.

People have been using bad language yelling or cursing each other. They have so much anger and fear about the future. They don’t listen to each other anymore. We all want the same things, like freedom, justice, prosperity, stability and fairness. But our means are different.

The older generations want the teenagers to accept the constraints within a dictatorship and be considerate to the needs of the general public. They know how hard it is to earn a living and raise a family. They feel sorry for those families whose income depends on small businesses that have been badly affected by the protest.

Yet most teenagers in HK have a strong yearning for a better future. They are idealistic because they are young. They have a dream. Their future still have infinite possibilities. Many people said that they are “useless teenagers”. But if they are useless, they wouldn’t have concerned about democracy. Maybe some of us don’t agree with their extreme means. But calling names or yelling at them will add more violence and confusion among the protestors.

The adults and elderly need to model a calm, reasonable and mature manner for the younger ones. We need to be compassionate and understanding towards the young people. We need to guide them gently how to communicate their ideas logically. Do you think cursing them to respect the police is the way to teach them how to be respectful? No. They cannot give what they don’t get.

Constructive change can only happen when we use loving speech, active listening and compassion to relate to each other. Everyone in Hong Kong, no matter old or young, really need to learn that right now.

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The Eigth Life Lesson: Wisdom about Marriage

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Dear Isabella,

Although it is not necessary to get married, I do hope that you will have a good husband if you choose marriage. Choosing a good husband is a personal thing. But there are some basic criteria, like hardworking, generous, kind, honest, polite, faithful, caring and no addictions involved. Once you have found the right partner, you are about to start a new journey.

Marriage is not the happy ending of your life. Marriage is just the beginning of a new life. Whether a marriage is good or not depends on the seeds that you have planted in yourself and your relationship before. If you are a happy single before, you will more likely to have a happy marriage. If you always respect and care for your boyfriend before, this guy will be more likely to respect and care for you when you two get married. So we always have to invest our energy and love in ourselves, family, friends, and other relationships in order to have a happy marriage.

Marriage requires a lot of work. But working hard for your marriage is the fun part. The key is to give and give all the time. Love your husband like loving yourself. It is because once you only focus on your needs and expectations, you will not be able to appreciate another person and enjoy the present moment. Moreover, once your husband senses your selfishness, he will be less likely to commit and work hard for the marriage. Remember, no matter how you try to justify your expectations or thinking how right you are, desires cause suffering. No one can ever meet all of our expectations and be exactly the kind of person that we wish him to be. If you hold on to your fairytale dream about your marriage and refuse to truly understand your husband, you will definitely feel disappointed. But once we let go of our expectations and see that person as who he is, we will discover a lot of wonderful qualities in him that we have never expected. With this attitude, marriage will be filled with excitement and wonderful surprises. Trust, appreciation and generosity are the keys to a successful marriage.

Marriage is not about right or wrong. The priority of a marriage should be the quality of a relationship, not what is right or wrong. Sometimes you lose even you win a battle, if both of you got hurt deeply. When you disagree with your husband, use an open, fair, and calm attitude to express your ideas. If anger comes up, observe your anger and take some time out to calm yourself before speaking to him. Planting violence and anger in a relationship is never the wise thing to do. Disagreement can be a golden opportunity to understand each other and strengthen the bond. Do not make it like the end of the world and lose your cool. If you and your husband do fight, be forgiving and courageous to say sorry first. Saying sorry first does not mean that you are weak or giving in. Saying sorry first is for apologizing for the suffering that you have caused during the argument and tell him that you would like him to help you understand him better. By doing this, you open the door for a peaceful and genuine conversation. We cannot truly love without understanding.

For me, marriage is a great learning experience and the beginning of true love. 🙂 I wish that you will find your true love and have a heaven like marriage.

Love,
Mom

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