Five things you can do to help your child build better habits

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Any task you’re giving him to do, make it fun for him.

Character building for your child can be summed up into these two habits: when your son or daughter is repeating a positive course of action and the other one is when you as a parent allow him or her to misbehave. You are in charge of the steering wheel here so that wherever your child may end up with, it’s all because you are in full control of it. The following are five of the things you as a parent can do to help your child build better habits:

REWARD HIM OR HER FOR THE GOOD THINGS HE OR SHE HAS DONE

When it comes to TV viewing, I and my three-year-old son are like mouse and cat that refuse to agree or reconcile with each other. I like watching informative or news channels on TV as much as my son hates them. Of course, he likes the cartoons or the nursery rhymes action songs which can be good for him.

It has become his habit to switch it to his favorite channel just when I’m into the deep of watching news attentively. What I did to resolve it was simple. I offered him chocolates every time he asks permission first before switching it to other channels.

It started just like that and now I’m reaping the results. He learned to say “Excuse me” each time he wanted to do something that may distract other people’s attention. And yes, he will do it, even without the chocolates now.

INVOLVE HIM IN WHAT YOU’RE DOING

When your child is showing interest in what you’re doing, then let him be. Explain to him in plain and simple language why it is necessary to clean the room or the surroundings. When he saw you praying before going to bed and imitate what you’re doing and even murmuring something he can only understand, let him do it. Explain to him afterwards that what you’re doing is praying to the Almighty God and that he might as well can start doing it.

FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE BEHAVIOR INSTEAD OF PUTTING EMPHASIS ON WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE HIM TO DO

Your child’s character is like a written document on a Microsoft Word. Once you highlight a particular character, word, sentence, or paragraph and click Bold Type or Italics, only then will it become most visible to the eyes than the rest. Any negative comment about a bad behavior may only serve to reinforce it.

ANY TASK YOU’RE GIVING HIM TO DO, MAKE IT FUN FOR HIM

A child who is enjoying in what he does can do it better. It makes him feel good about himself. And because he feels good about himself, he builds up self-confidence. And because he’s confident of what he’s doing, he becomes productive in a positive way. Actually, he should be seeing it first in you.

GIVE HIM THE FREEDOM TO EXPRESS HIMSELF

Character building for your child is not always about you doing everything for your child but it’s also about your child slowly transforming into what is the version of his own self. When your child disagrees with you on a particular situation or thing, you have to respect his freedom of expression for that matter. You are not a father to become dictator. Assigning your child to a task is the best discipline he can ever have, but not as something to be used as a form of punishment.

Four important things fatherhood has taught me

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Nathaniel at one week old.

Seeing your child mature before your very eyes and start returning the investment you have put into him is perhaps one of life’s greatest rewards to you as a parent. It has been three years ago when I first took a glimpse of my firstborn and only child Nathaniel’s face as he triumphantly opened his eyes that locked with mine as if to proclaim my fatherhood.

And who would have thought I have come this far to learn a lot from it? I know it will take time to be an effective parent, but it’s good to enjoy every moment of it while you learn at the same time. The following are just four of the important things becoming a father had taught me:

IT IS IMPORTANT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF FOR YOUR CHILDREN

You are the role model for your children who will mirror everything you demonstrate before them. If you show them love and compassion, they would grow up to be loving and compassionate persons as well. If you have low self-esteem, they would feel the same way about themselves.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH STRONG FAMILY LEADERSHIP

As the head of the family, a father should be taking full responsibility for guiding and directing his family members. He must be respected as a leader, or else the family would most likely suffer from emotional issues more than when his authority is missing.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO BECOME SUFFICIENTLY MATURE TO THINGS THAT NEED TO BE UNDERSTOOD WELL

A good father should be a good husband in the first place. He must learn to understand the complexities of a marriage and to do the things that simplify them. He must love his children, not to compete with the feelings he has had for his wife or vice versa, but as a way of strengthening such a bond that ties a family together. Your child needs two parents who love each other more than just two parents who are only there to love him.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO CONSIDER THAT IT’S OKAY TO BE NOT PERFECT

Forget about perfection as there’s no such thing as a perfect parent. There will always be problems to face along the way and things that need to be addressed. A good parent will recognize the problem, willing to find a solution, and accepts shortcomings or failures fairly. For him, these are but just an opportunity to learn something new and as a part of the growth process.

How my son’s curiosity is helping me to prepare his way to self-reliance

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Nathaniel is learning how to loosen the screw of his toy car.

When Nathaniel started to learn to walk, his curiosity also increased as he can now move from one place to another. I noticed he was a keen observer and often learned things on his own. He disliked it much when you’re going to teach or demonstrate right before him how a particular thing should be done unless he will ask you how to do it for him.

So you have to wait and let him do it all by himself first. He’s going to ask you many questions though and even test you with a reverse psychology method. Like, for example, one time he asked me about the image of St. Michael the archangel I pasted at the main door.

I told him that’s an angel. He continued to ask me about some other objects and I patiently answered him one by one. Then he asked me again about the image of St. Michael.

This time I told him he’s St. Michael. He asked me again if who was that winged creature in the picture.  I told him he’s St. Michael. Until the third time he asked me about it and I told him the same.

He then said to me, “That was an angel”. While such an attitude may be right for my son, not all children are the same. Each child is unique so you as a parent must use a different approach for each child.

You cannot just use the same method for all your children but you have to find the right formula for each one of them. The following are what I’ve come up which I may share to other parents as well, base from a personal experience, on how my son’s curiosity is helping me to prepare his way to self-reliance:

BE THE GOOD EXAMPLE YOU WANT TO SEE IN YOUR CHILDREN

Children, especially toddlers, are great imitators. So that even when you don’t care exerting an effort teaching them anything, they will still learn from what they see in you. You may or may not notice it, you’re teaching them by your examples.

Every little facet of what is your behavior will be copied and infused into their system. So it is very important for parents to set as good examples before their children. The way you want your children to behave, act, or think, depends a lot on you. Showing them how self-reliable you are, they, too, will.

LET YOUR CHILDREN BE, BUT BE THEIR GUIDE

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My son learns how to light a candle all by himself.

Give your children the freedom to explore what’s around them, but see to it that you’re always there ready to guide and protect him or her. This is where I’m learning most as a father to my son who just turned three years old a little over a week ago. Before, I’m always particularly conscious so that I would become so hesitant of what my son was stepping on and what he’s grabbing up in his hands.

It’s easy to say the word “no” or “don’t” without knowing or being aware of the fact that he’s yet to learn to know everything. Every effort I exerted to restrict him, I would only get a feeling of disgust in return. I decided to change the way I’m doing it.

So every time he grabs a spoon to feed himself now, I let him do it. I realized that if I always do it for him or if I disallow him from doing so, he will never learn it by himself at all. Yet, in the long run, it is important for a child to develop the ability to choose between right and wrong.

It will take time. It is to start in the delicate process of character building. You don’t have to rush on it.

EXPOSE YOUR CHILD TO A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT SUITED FOR HIS OR HER AGE

It is important to know that a child gets his or her first education at home. You, as a parent, are his or her first teacher. Teach him how to draw using a pencil and to color it with crayons.

It’s a good sign that your children wants to do it all by themselves. Read him bed time story books. Teach him nursery rhyme songs.

Take a walk with him or her in the park where some children are playing. Sing with him or dance with him. Let him play with other children but make sure you’re there to monitor his every move lest he gets into the trap of being influenced by a bad company.

ACCEPT YOUR CHILDREN AS THEY ARE

It is not enough to say you love your children. You have got to find ways to make them feel it. It all starts in accepting them for who and what they are.

They must feel your acceptance of them. You must appreciate their individual worth as a person. When you learn to accept them unconditionally, you’re giving them something both of you would truly gain from: self-respect.

When your child learns to respect himself, only then he is capable of reciprocating the kind of love you have for him.

Five important life lessons I’ve learned from a nursery song, Row Your Boat

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The boat my son requested me to draw for him.

The famous nursery song Row Your Boat was one of my three year old son Nathaniel’s favorites. Each time I allowed him to use my laptop to watch nursery songs videos, the Row Your Boat was among those he would have found playing with great interest. He sings along to the tune of it, although some of the lyrics he couldn’t yet fully pronounce.

He would come to cheer the animated object in the video rowing the boat, and claps his hands when the song ends. That’s how my son liked the song so much that he even wanted me to draw a boat for him. He would often say, “I want to ride a boat”. Of course, he has ridden a boat a couple of times already during our travels by sea to visit my parents in my hometown.

But then, little did I know that the song Row Your Boat has a deeper meaning. I tried to write down each line of the song on a piece of paper and contemplate. It was fun singing it with kids really but that’s not all there is to it. The following are five important life lessons I’ve learned from the Row Your Boat nursery song:

WHEN LIFE GETS TOUGH, KEEP ROWING ON YOUR BOAT

To live is like riding a boat alone and to row it gently down the stream. The stream is unpredictable, sometimes chaotic, and difficult to cross. There may be times when the boat you’re riding on will be tossed upon, back and forth. But you have to keep on rowing until you reach your destination.

KEEP YOUR BALANCE, STAY FOCUSED

It has been said that the water that can sink a ship is all around it. Your boat will not get sunk until you let the water to come inside of it. Keep your balance and stay focused on the things that inspire instead of the ones that can only discourage you from continuing on.

BE FULL OF HOPE

When it comes to a point when everything seems to become a failure, never lose hope. Keep your composure intact. Find ways to overcome adversities. Remember the old proverb that says, “While there is life, there is hope”.

THE NEED FOR DIVINE INTERVENTION

It is important to think that someone out there will be there for you to help you out. It is a natural human reaction to seek refuge from in times of great danger or distress. This is where a prayer plays a very significant role in your life. It will condition your mind so you would be able to do and accomplish the things you once thought were impossible. It is the belief of a God that would make all the difference to it.

BE JOYFUL

The song encourages you to be joyful through this line: “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Life is But a Dream”.  Life may not always be fair, but it’s not to be such a disgusting one either. Just enjoy the ride, and keep on rowing.

How to become a better parent

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Nathaniel shares quality time with his mama.

Ever since Nathaniel, my firstborn and only child, was born I was never the same again. Fatherhood has taught me many wonderful things and it has never stopped from there. Each passing day has become a new learning experience for me, a new way to improve, and an opportunity to express unconditional love and compassion.

Becoming a parent is, of course, never an easy task. In fact, it’s one of the toughest and most important jobs in the world. As a parent, you have got to be more patient. You have got to truly understand. You have got to love unconditionally. You have got to take responsibility for your actions and learn from past mistakes.

Becoming a parent is how you would treat yourself in the first place. You have to feel comfortable how it is like being a parent and understand why it was so. You have got to commit by and through it. It is through this commitment that you would be able to learn to take care of yourself and to stay focused so you can become the best parent that your child deserves.

Another one to consider is to keep in touch with reality. You have to accept the fact that there are no perfect parents in this world in the same way that there are no perfect children. Children will make mistakes. You make mistakes too. But that’s okay. For every mistake you’re making, it’s okay to offer yourself total compassion and to apologize to your child. Take such a mess into a learning experience that will lead both of you to doing things better next time.

Be a good role model to your kids. Stay connected by spending more quality time with your spouse and kids. Teach your children good manners and right conduct. Introduce him or her to the worship of a God as early as possible into his life. Empathize with their emotions. Listen to what they say as well as what they’re not saying.

When your child commits mistakes or disobeys you, it is important to substitute punishment with guiding words. Talk it out to your child in a positive way and make him or her understand why it was important to be obedient. This is where your patience as a parent should also prevail.

This and more will, for sure, make you a better parent. I’m not saying I’m a flawless one because I’m sharing these things to you. But I always felt like, as a parent, I could do a better job. And, each time, in a quest to become a better parent, it will always take me back to how I treat myself.

The importance of instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life

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Nathaniel kneels down to pray inside Basilica del Sto Nino de Cebu church.

The first five years of your child’s life are very crucial years for his learning. Whatever he will learn during this stage of his development will become the foundation of the attitude he will be carrying throughout his lifetime. So if you want your child to become God-fearing when he grows up, or obedient, honest, faithful, kind, unselfish, and helpful to others, you have to start it early.

Here are few of which I can share to you, from personal experience, about the importance of instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life:

YOU MUST EXEMPLIFY THEM FIRST IN YOUR OWN

Before my son turned three years old he already know how to make the sign of the cross. I never taught him how to but he just learned from simply observing us. I and my wife make sure we have one day of the week spared for attending the church mass and that often falls on a Sunday.

On working days, if we still can make it, we would have found time at the church spending a few minutes praying. Nathaniel would imitate us kneeling before the church’s altar like an adult one.

READ YOUR CHILD BIBLE STORIES OR FROM OTHER GOOD BOOKS FOR CHILDREN

There are times when Nathaniel becomes so curious that he would ask so many questions for everything he wants to know. And when it comes to the point when the name of Jesus Christ was tackled, I read him a chapter in Bible about the life story of Jesus. I noticed that by doing so, I gained two things: One, I have answered his question and number two, I have given him time and companionship.

MAKE IT A HABIT AND BE CONSISTENT

From waking up in the morning, eating breakfast, and to the time he goes down to sleep at night, make it a habit that he saw you praying. Once he gets interested in what you’re doing, this time teach him the proper way on how to do it.

Be consistent and make sure you’re shaping his understanding of God in a positive way through your influence. Instilling a passion for worship early into your child’s life is important. You don’t have to be perfect at all though to gain or maintain your child’s respect.

What everyone should know about fatherhood

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Spending quality time with my son.

Fatherhood, for me, is a gift that comes with love and understanding. He may not be perfect (as no one’s perfect), but what he lacks in perfection he sure will make up for in his unconditional love and an eagerness to make you understand in spite of all the flaws and to always think of ways how he could have done it better. It took me a very long time to understand it all what I had with my father until I became a father myself. I felt so special and blessed nurturing this wonderful gift of fatherhood from God.

To become a father is to discover, or rather, re-discover yourself through your children, but not without the challenges and tests you have to take and overcome along the way. It is a process by which you have to allow yourself to fully commit with and from, and spend more quality time with your kids and wife.

It is, of course, all about commitment, sacrifices, and responsibility. In return, you will experience joy, love, and a good sense of self.

Fatherhood should not stop from where its function has been proven best already. It must continue to provide people with a new sense of understanding the subject. It must evolve, change throughout, but only for the better.

A good father should take the lead, and to the best of his ability, to guide and direct his own family. He must be a loving husband, having known that the foundation of a family lies in the relationship he has with his spouse. He does things that encourage each member of the family to participate in the creation of a positive family culture.

This and more will make a good father. But let me remind you he is far from being perfect. There are times he gets things messed up, behaves badly, and moody. And these are why fatherhood is a means by which you can do something to improve yourself for the benefit of everyone involved.

Nathaniel’s first five years of life will have to make a difference

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Nathaniel was about to enter the Basilica del Sto Nino de Cebu church in this picture.

The question as to when does the specific time a child begins learning new things has become the subject of debates for many. Child experts said that a child is already capable of learning something while still in the womb and that the first years of his or her life could have significant impact to his or her lifelong growth and development.

Of course there are lots of factors to count on leading to a child’s growth and development. But the way you nurture your children in their earliest years, in my humble opinion, will be crucial for their intellectual, emotional, and social development. Nathaniel’s first five years of life will have to make a difference.

It was one gloomy Sunday afternoon when I found myself wrestling with an idea. Watching my little boy walked through the concrete pavement that led to the main door of one of the oldest of Philippine churches, the Basilica del Santo Nino de Cebu, with a backpack as if he was heading for school, and his mother keeping an eye on him so he would not be lost in the crowd, I already know how to portray about what I was thinking at that very moment.

I took a shot of my son using my cellphone camera. That was it, the Eureka to my not-so-long-ago query. That picture has become one of my simple depictions for learning.

A parent’s or guardian’s hand is steering the little child towards the right path which was represented by the light-colored pavement in contrast to the darker shades surrounding it. Along the way, the child will experience an influx of knowledge through interactions with different kinds of people, ideas, circumstances, and events as represented by the walking human lower legs facing him.

Whatever the outcome, learning is when a child develops the ability to learn on his own. The first five years of life is important: early interactions and experiences don’t just create a context but, most importantly, directly affecting the brain’s development as well.

Yet, these dictate not what your child will become. But they serve as the foundation for what he or she will be very best at doing later into his or her life.

I want you to meet my son, Nathaniel

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Nathaniel flashes one of his best smiles.

I have a good looking son. His name is Nathaniel Harris Nalcot and he just turned three yesterday. He was a very jolly boy, sometimes hyperactive, moody, but he’s always a source of joy for me and my wife Emelliana. He always have questions to ask about just anything.

His curiosity triggers all of that I guess. Like one morning when I brushed my teeth he asked me about what I was doing. I told him I am brushing my teeth.

Then he asked me what I was holding in my right hand and putting inside my mouth. I explained to him that it was a toothbrush and what I am doing is cleaning my teeth and mouth. He flashes one of his best smiles and it was infectious.

It was always like that since he learned to start talking. I do not find it annoying but I had to lengthen my patience in some occasions. I am making sure I had the right answer to his every question.

I know it is a good sign when toddlers ask so many questions. That means they were eager to know and have that desire to learn. And the more curious they become, the more they would learn.