Wednesday, December 24, 2014

My 10 year-old daughter feeling teased by other children

I don't think this is bullying... it's more like "getting picked on"  without physical violence.

And my 10 years old daughter doesn't know how to handle the situation.  Being the youngest, but more like an only child because of her age gap to elder siblings,  she is a bit emotional when it comes to teasing.  

Recently,  according to her,  she cried because someone said she and one boy in same group like each other. 

I think she didn't mind it at first, but the person ( or group of them, I don't know) didn't stop saying it. 

I think regardless of age,  sometimes people like to say things which others don't like to hear,  and just repeat it many times so to see the reaction,  and it may be fun for those who like to enjoy seeing the reaction. 

It is a sign, to me,  the person is seeking attention,  and although it's not a healthy kind,  nor healthy way,  it might be healthy for the person who's doing it,   because he /she needs to feel loved.  

Getting attention is pretty similar feeling as being loved.

Suppose parents give full attention to children,  and make sure we give unconditional love.  

But sometimes parents are working,  or busy with something else,  or they don't know how to express their love to children,  so some children are lonely. 

It is easy for us to just scold the child and tell him / her not to do it, but it won't solve the real problem,  specially the one who's making fun of others.  

Though allowing them to continue doing it won't solve the situation, too.

Almost the same psychology exists in domestic violence or power harassment, too.  They are taking advantage of weaker one who don't really fight back,  or don't know how to fight back. 

Fighting back I mean is not really the real fight,  but how to deal with it without physical violence or having argument.  Because that is the thing they want if they are seeking for attention.

This is one of websites I found "how to deal" for your children. 

SPECIFIC STRATEGIES TO TEACH YOUR CHILD TO DEAL WITH TEASING (by the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project )

But for now,  I just simply try to listen to her more than giving specific advises.  

To me,  if a child can express his / her feelings to others, then he /she will feel much better and look at it more objectively.  

And since it's not at her school,  and easy for me to be around,  I'll try to stay closer,  so I can monitor her better.  

I once was a bullied child,  back in Japan.  In my case,  it involved physical and verbal violence and destruction of my possessions.  In my daughter's case,  it's not this kind of bullying.   But it has to stop as well.   

One thing I know is that,  you can't change the children who do this.   Parents might listen, but it's unlikely that they come up with good solution.

And I know I shouldn't tell my daughter to be stronger because it is her limitation already.  

It is hard for her to rely on other adults involve in the place,  because I don't think they can see what's really happening.   If it happens in front of adults,  they know they will be stopped and warned.  So they are good at doing it not seen. 

Though at school,  my daughter likes to tell teachers when she sees teasing.  She also boldly tell the bully to stop saying thing like this or that.  But she is shy to tell when it comes to her.

Anyway one important stance that parents could take is ( to me) is that we need to give assurance to our children that if it hurts him / her so much,  it is okay to be absent from school,  change school,  or leave certain group.   There is alway a way not to be teased, which is to stay away from those people.   It might be the last option,  but giving assurance would give certain peace to children.  

But for now, I don't think it's in that level yet.  They seem to be playing together happily when I see them.  They might even forget about it soon after this new year vacation. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

My run away house hold helper

My house hold helper (in the Philippines, we call them maids) run away without proper resignation.

She came to work with us on November 25, 2013,

and  told my driver on her first day that she plans to run away once she is allowed to have a day off.

The people belong to lower class have a kind of strong bonding or unity here in the Philippines, and they have a tendency to keep secrets among each other, so my driver didn't tell me.

It turned out as if my driver protected her, but actually he didn't mean to protect her.  There is a culture here that it is not a good act to report someone to authority or boss, because a person will be facing some kind of consequence, or punishment.   It's considered betrayal and Filipino community has a way to make them outcast who reported, or attack them verbally.

Not all are like that, but there is a culture like that among some people here in the Philippines.

That is one of the reasons many companies are experiencing stealing from employees and yet hard to catch them.

Anyway, my maid who run away lives in Las Piñas, Metro Manila, and she has 5 children from high school to 9 years old.  Her husband is a family driver, but I think currently he is out of job, because he had an affair with someone's wife,  and the girl is an employee in the office of his boss who has a beauty salon.  The husband of the girl (so SHE is married!) threatened him, so he couldn't go to work or something.

So it is my guess that she thought about working just for December when kids have no school.

Although she said she wants to work to save college tuition fee for her eldest who's soon graduation high school. 

She didn't have a day-off since she came to my house on November 25, told me she wants to go day-off on December 31,  but because my family traveled from Dec 29- Jan 1,  she took advantage and left on Dec 30. Yet,  she asked me to pay for her day-off she didn't take. (They are allowed 2 times a month, and I normally pay for a day-off if they don't avail it).

Her starting salary was 5000 pesos (around $116 USD) per month,  plus food allowance of 500 pesos per week (free seasoning and basic vegetables, etc). 

For the month of December, she received around 8000 pesos (around $186), it is because of Christmas bonus and tips we gave when we had parties at home. 

I don't think her salary is considered low in Metro Manila for maids, I give Social Security, Philippine Health, and Pag-ibig, too.

When we came back from vacation trip, and found out that she is unlikely to come back, and I tried to call her mobile phone, but she changed her sim card, thus we can't contact her anymore, I felt annoyed.

If she really told me honestly, and begged me, I could have allowed her to leave.

In fact, during her stay with us, I kept telling her that I allowed all the maids who wish to leave, and never stopped them, and she agreed that proper resignation is important.

And if she told me earlier,  I could have a chance to find her replacement, too.

But she didn't care.

I wasn't to obliged to give Christmas bonus under the law, but it's Christmas, you know, and I wanted her to have little additional for her family.  I also gave her Christmas ham (in the Philippines, they call it Hamon de bola), and she all took them, though I was wondering why she was no smiling when she received them.  

And all of these were just taken it for granted.

She just didn't care for us, and she didn't care for the other maids who will have hard time without her.

She also stole her contract of employment.

We are supposed to inform each other 15 days notice in case of termination, but she didn't want to follow from the start. (Her 6 months contract, too) 

And in the Philippines, a lot of people don't follow laws, but they don't get caught, or they don't face the consequences.  

I'm not generalizing Filipinos,  but many people belong to lower class are used to do what they want to do,  and they call it "freedom of choice". 

(Again, not all the Filipinos are like her. There are more sincere, honest  people than those who are not, I think. But it's true that there are some like her.)

It's a freedom without responsibility, but those people are not taught that one has to act with responsibility.

Since she got a lot of cash because it was December and we had many home parties, she had enough cash for a month or two.

And by the time she run out of cash, probably she must be hoping for her husband to get a good job.

But my concern here is the honesty.

She got away from me by lying.
And that's the attitude she has to everything. 

I’m not just talking about a lie.
I’m talking about her principle in life or philosophy she has, or how she holds herself to society. 

Her kids learn her attitude, too, by looking at her.
Even she doesn't tell her kids that she lied to me, 
every word, every action shows how she thinks. 

A lot of Filipino parents want their kids to get good jobs, but if they are not sincere to others,  if parents are not honest, if their attitude is selfish, then kids learn that way, too.

In Japan, we say "Spit toward heaven (sky), it falls on to your face".


For your information:

My maid who run away is 
Maunag de Espiritu, Elma y Lamila

Here is the copy of her NBI clearance.
(you can click to enlarge the image)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My husband is the most important person in my family

May be I didn't think this way from the start,  
you know,  during 23 years of my marriage life,  there were ups and downs.

Though we were so much in love with each other when we got married... and love was everything we had that time.

My husband didn't have a job when we got married.
We had no place to stay,  but his friend offered one of the rooms at his house, because his parents were in America.

He was taking master's degree in Filipino,  and may be he wanted to be a teacher,  or translator like his dad.

Though when we decided to get married,  he wanted to be a farmer!

And I agreed.

We had a baby girl a year after our wedding,
and when the baby turned one year old,  he suddenly wanted to go to law school.

So he entered law school,  and became a working student,  and  I started to look for part time job.

I started to teach small Japanese kids here in Metro Manila.
I used to be a kindergarten teacher back in Japan,  so that was something I was good at.

Later on,  I franchised Kumon learning method, and started my Kumon Center in Ayala Alabang village.
My students were mostly Japanese.

That was around the time I happened to meet this Japanese Kumon teacher when my 2 kids were still small,  and my youngest wasn't born yet.

She taught me so many secrets about education and teaching skills.

And one day she told me:

"You should love your husband the most,  2nd your husband, there is no 3rd, and 4th,  and 5th will be your children."

She didn't mean to say we neglect taking care of children.

I think what she meant was the relationship between husband and wife is the most important in family.

In Japan,  we have a saying 

" Children grow up looking at the back of parents."

It means children look at our attitude and how we relate to others including spouse and children,  and they learn from that.

Not only what parents say to children.

Kids are very smart,  and they observe deeply.

If they see husband and wife ( dad and mom) trusting each other, then they learn what it means to trust.

And there are times mom and dad have some problems each other.
And kids are just there,  so often it's a temptation for parents to share the problems to kids.

"Haay,  you dad /mom never helped at something."
"Don't be like your dad /your mom who never learned to bla bla bla..."

But your kids are not counselors.
They are not a sand bag that you can pour your anger.

If you got some problems,  solve it among each other.
Never share those problems to your kids.

Never put down your partner in front of kids,  too.

We say in Japanese that 

"If someone gives negative comments about you,   true or not,  you lose credit and trust."

It's same thing in family.

If mom or dad talks about each other's negative sides,  and kids happened to listen to it,
children think the dad or mom is not trustworthy.

If you have an opinion to tell,  talk about it with your spouse when kids are sleeping or when they are not there.

Let's see...

There are many things so good about my husband,  and one of them is his gratitude to me.

He doesn't forget to tell me "thank you" all the time.
And he never complained about food I cook,  too.
If he doesn't like it,  he may not eat so much,  but he won't say a word.

So you see,  if I write something like this,
you know how wonderful my husband is!

And it's same for children.

Talk to your children how wonderful your husband / wife is.

Children love their parents.
In fact,  they think mom and dad are the best male / female person in the world.

Don't disappoint them.

Everyone has weaknesses. 
One can't change that easily.

But I think it's better not to look at the weaknesses of a person.
Not to expect your partner to change is my advise.

(unless domestic violence or some psychological disorders are involved)

Instead,  mom and dad can help each other and do the things other can't do.

And that's called Love.

There was a time,  my husband was commuting (taking bus and jeep ) going to work to Muntinlupa from our house in Diliman, Quezon City (around 40km),  so he left 5:30 in the morning, and in the afternoon he went to law school until 10 p.m.  My son was one year old that time,  and every night,  I used to pick him up at law school at Makati, because he still had to study before he went to work next day.

Everything is a choice we make.

There's no right or wrong,  and you can't blame anyone if your life is tougher than others.

And I started my life in the Philippines with my husband,  and it was the best thing happened in my life. 

He didn't be a farmer, though...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

When Filipino kids are grounded by parents

I recently read a web article saying that in Finland they don't have tests or homework but they maintain the academic level number 1 in the world.

Here's the link of the article, though it's in Japanese.


According to the article:

- Kids in Finland don't go to school until they are 7 years old.
- There's almost no homework or test until they get to middle school.
- No academic evaluation until they are 13 years old.
- Mandatory exam required by government is once when they are 16 years old.
- All kids regardless of academic level take same classes together 
- Rate of going to university is 66% which is the highest in EU nations
- Science laboratory is done with maximum of 16 kids so that everyone can join.
- Break time of kids in elementary school is 75 min ( 27min in USA).
- All the educational expenses are paid by government
- All the teachers are required to have master's degree

Anyway, I'm not going to talk about education in Finland today.

I want to talk about "Grounded kids"
because I used to wonder why and what is "grounded"  everytime I hear about it from my kids or from Filipino parents.

In Japan, most of the kids are just playing until they go to school when they are 6 years old.

But I found out that it's not the case here in the Philippines.
My eldest entered the nursery,  kids study!

Well, studying is okay, I guess.
Kids are capable to learn anything when they are young.
They can learn academic, or other things such as motor skills during play.
Discover nature and learn to observe, etc.

But I think generally speaking, Filipino schools or Filipino parents focus too much on academic and grades they get from school.

And I happened to hear from my kids' friends often that they are grounded sometimes, thus they can't play with my kids for how many days, or how many weeks. Sometimes they are not allowed to go out to watch movie, or play computer games.

And here I am.
I never really focused on grades or results of tests my kids brought home.
I looked at test papers, and find the mistakes, and since it's in English (except Filipino subject), I tried to find the correct answers, or try to find out why my kids made a mistake.

Learning something is always fun to me and to my kids.
Finding the reason of mistakes was fun, too.
And they learn from their mistakes quickly.

I wasn't a smart mom, and that was a good thing, too.
I forget so easily, such as things to submit to school, the payment due, etc.
So my kids learned to remind me, instead of I reminding them.

I know most of Filipino parents like to tell their kids to study well, so get good grades, and sometimes they offer rewards, or condition or punishment.

But then I want to ask those parents.
What do you think they learn if you tell them to give either rewards or punishment?

To me, the kids learn to work to please their parents, because they want to be acknowledged?
All the kids want to get the attention of parents and it hurts if they know parents won't like them if they don't get good grades. 

Parents may not mean that way, but kids take it that way.

Or kids learn to work because they get rewards.
So for whom or for what are they really studying? 
What is the goal of their study? 
Though kids often like to achieve that goal so that rewards can be given.
That strategy works often.
They know they want some material such as expensive games, or trip to abroad, etc.

And here's my experience I want to share.

I once was teaching and there was a time I had some rewards to their achievement.
Some small item such as pencils or erasers.
While the rewards were attractive,  kids did achieve so fast, 
but when it wasn't attractive anymore,  they lost interests, and became lazy. 
They started to demand me nicer prizes, too.

So what I made kids learn was to have a mind to work if only something was given.
They weren't studying because the learning was fun.
They were simply aiming for the rewards.

And I felt so guilty.
Because kids were capable,  as it was proven through the rewards system,
 but I failed to teach the fun part of studying.
Just because I connected to rewards.

And lastly, what if you connect it to punishment, such as grounding kids, not make them play with friends, or not make them go out if they get low.
Do they learn to find the love for studying that way?

I don't think so.

In fact, they might start lying to parents if they get low in tests just so that they can avoid the punishment.

They learn to hide things,  and if they can get away with it, they try to get away.
And that habit will continue even when they grow up.

They also learn to work because they fear the punishment.
So it's same as the rewards.
They don't work that hard if they are not punished, or threatened.

Because in the first place, the purpose of the study was mislead to kids.

It is the message those parents gave them indirectly.

"Study because I scare you."
"Study because I give you rewards"

Later on the messages will be like 

"You are good because you got good grades"
"You are not good enough because you didn't get good grades."

But here's my question.

If kids get good grades, can you really say kids learned well?
What I mean is that how perfectly you could evaluate a person (or a child) how much he/she learned from the grades given by some teachers?

For me learning is important, 
but getting good grades is not important because it's only part of what they learn.

Learning is something like you read, understand, digested, and it becomes part of you.

Sometimes my youngest and I study our weakest subject which is social study in Filipino.
And even she memorized everything, she gets low in tests because often she can't understand the instructions in Filipino,  or exam came out in different way. 
Sometimes there is a question which was not taught.
Like last time, teacher showed the Ateneo de Manila school logo, and wanted her students to name it.
Very few got it because it was not in hand out given by the teacher.
It's just that my daughter often play in Ateneo, so she knew it.

So if you look their test paper closely, 
you can see the weakness of teachers, too.

My daughter can answer those social study questions if I ask her in English.
It's just that it is given in Filipino,  and I don't speak Filipino well,  so she can't understand the questions often.

But to me,  if she can answer in English,  I think she learned it well.

And there's even more.
Kids who are scared or threaten by parents think they are not good enough.
Or they think they can't really show their true self,  or true feelings to their parents.

They value themselves low, because the ruler parents use is valuing by grades.

We know that what matters in life is not only grades.

Parents may not mean that way. 
But that's what kids think.

And they also develop a habit of working on it because they are threatened.
Or that's how I feel often.

Because once I talked to high school teachers, and they said it is important to fail some of students in the first exam,  so they get serious and study better.

I wonder why.

Is it same as my house hold helpers (stay-in maids) who don't work if I don't scold them?
I often ask them "So which do you like? You want to be scolded or you do work without being scolded?"

They say they don't want to be scolded,   but they can't work without being scolded.
As if they are waiting to be punished.

I think they got so used to be threatened that they became very passive, 
and lost interest or lost self esteem,  lost the ability to think on their own, 
and they are simply want to follow what parents say, so that they are safe.

And those kids tend to value others by grades, too.

Growing up is about making mistakes.
There're many things parents want to tell them,  because we know how to avoid trouble.

But I think we need to trust them,  and allow them to make mistakes.

Though I admit that I am a mom who really look at their studies.
Mainly because I feel fun to learn what they are learning.
And I normally research some more and share what I find out with my kids.

I don't care if it's not related to their current studies.
I just want to know,  and I feel excited if I find something new.
My kids enjoy what I find out most of the time,  
or occasionally they are just amused to see how excited I am.

But what ever I do,  I don't say anything to their grades, or results of their test papers.
I look at the mistakes and that's all.
I look at mistakes and ask them why it was wrong.
If they don't know why, then I tell them.
But first I ask them to think about it.

Sometimes they didn't see part of instructions, 
sometimes they read one number wrong because the way of writing number zero looks like 6.
Or they didn't memorize everything and it came out in exam.
I just want them to realize why it got wrong, and that's it.

So what I want to happen is that kids can learn by themselves,
in the future,  even I don't guide them anymore,  they can find the reason why something went wrong, think about it,  and learn to correct it.

That's called responsibility.

And each child is gifted with something.
Not all kids are gifted in academic.

And to me,  it is not true that if they get good grades,  they can get high paying job, and be happy.
Sometimes those who get low grades are also successful in life.
Sometimes people get a job they like, and even they don't get paid well, they are happy.

To me,  it's not just by chance that they are successful or happy.
Tomorrow is about today.