Men's Articles

Fearless Toddler

The year-end kindergarten report from the teacher reads, "Tim is a diligent boy who thrives well in a secure environment. He will certainly grow to be a successful student when he aims for greater heights." Read between the lines for the encrypted message: Little Tim needs to step out of his comfort zone and set up for himself new challenges that will enhance his pleasant disposition.

That needs courage loads of it! The preschool years mark the age of wonderment. Dexterity of mind and physical attributes are being developed and the child is quite happy to explore his own world and create larger social circles of friends. It is crucial that the parent should encourage rather than hamper his attempts to discover freely. Step back and stay clear. Hold back the urge to become too protective. Help him

Confront Fears

Cloistered from all kinds of imaginary or real dangers and fears in the early part of his growing years, this is now an appropriate time for a child to confront all the bogeymen in his life. Take, for example, Justin, who had an unpleasant encounter with the clown at his two-year-old party. Use rational reasoning to expel a bad experience and help him grow in maturity and understanding.

Ask him leading questions like, "Do you remember that clown that scared you? Why do you think you were scared? Do clowns make people happy?" Such reality-orientated thinking is also the key to acquiring new coping skills which are essential to surviving the uncertainties in life. This brings us to the next point.

Scale The Peaks

Moving out of comfort zones and embarking on fresh challenges, be it new sporting activities or wanting to grow a papaya tree, are signs that junior is ready to venture to bigger things in life Never undermine his attempts to scale greater heights, even though it may seem impossible from your point of view.

Be as affirming as you can, and your child will learn to accept the outcome, knowing that you were there alongside with him from the start. Support can also come in other ways, even at bedtime. My boys were enthralled by my `ant stories' - improvised tales of two ant siblings searching for an elusive candy-coated mountain.

These are what American psychologist Joseph Strayhorn, Jr, calls "positive modelling stories" that address a child's real problems. The protagonist has a different name but traits similar to the child, and the scenario becomes the learning platform for the day, anchored on the themes of perseverance, courage and integrity.

This is an excellent tool for the wide-eyed dreamers aged three to 10, when the child's emotional level still hinges on magical fantasy with a touch of builtin realism. Lofty thoughts can then be explored and dreams can be reenacted through balmy nights of tall tales, but at the end of it all lies my personal agenda - to challenge my boys to aim for greater heights, that is, the candy coated mountain.

Build On Social Capital

Social scientists claim that the most valued asset in the age of globalisation is that of social capital - the emphasis on social networking and the stocking up of social credibility to gain leadership skills. So, while instilling a strong entrepreneurial spirit in your child, make attempts to teach him manners, grace and poise; in return, you'll have a respectful and polite child.

Such self-confidence does not come naturally. It has to be taught and experienced. Your preschooler may appear introverted, but he can still be encouraged to socialise if he finds the right setting and the courage to make new friends. Bear in mind that courageous acts in a preschooler are not like apples that should be counted and recorded.

Rather, they are captured as moments of personal growth in maturity and wisdom. A courageous child is a responsible child. He practises self reflection and good moral judgment. There will be moments when even you will be astonished by his resourceful nature, simply because he dares to be different from the rest of the herd!


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