Thursday, December 24, 2015

5 Thoughtful Blog Messages to keep for the New Year!

By Anna M.*

So here we are almost in the end of the year. I would like to celebrate 2015 with you sharing a selection of thoughts, quotes and posts that made part of our blog's half year of life. Better Family Conversations had a great start in June and we are hoping that many of our contributions will help to build more relationships in 2016 ! Happy new year!

Lim's inaugural writing about how she conceived POVI is one of our top posts. My favorite quote is about how she candidly shares how she had to leave her Asian Mom person behind and build everything from scratch again: "However, when my son was in his 6th grade, my perfect life fell apart. I was called in to meet with his school counselor. She looked into my eyes and said: "Your child is very smart but he is not happy". How painful could that be? I couldn't stop asking myself why I failed. I worked so hard to be the best mom ever. What mistakes had I made in the process?". This, for me is the fracture, the moment when she decides that a new mom is on the rise.

Self- Esteem:
"Supporting children’s self-esteem and self-concept also promotes the development of specific emotions that are critical in helping the child have positive interactions with others.", wrote Daphna Ram, Ph.D Psychology Cornell, who utilizes her Developmental Psychology expertise on Povi Family Connectapp. On her post she shares good strategies and understanding to help parents to raise caring, confident and secure children. Very good reading!

"To encourage a growth mindset, or to raise children who will get up every time they are knocked down, we need to praise the process, not the outcome. By praising the effort needed, or steps taken, to achieve the outcome, we can help our children understand that it is the effort that results in success." wrote Trish Schaefer, a very special collaborator to our blog. On her article, How to Raise a Resilient Child, she brings knowledge with great enthusiasm, on a very helpful tone. I always go back to it when I come across challenging issues with my sons.

"It's when motherhood kidnaps the best from me and transforms me into a monster mom and even a yelling woman on the verge of a neurotic breakdown. I am sure I am not alone. When I talk to other moms at school they all agree it's a tough time to be a parent.". The post 5 Tips to Be a Better Parent before 8 AM helped me to identify the source of my struggle, and also how to develop ways to solve it. But the reason I chose it is deeper: my 8 year-old son illustrated it, and for that he had to read the article. Since that day he understood how their behavior affected me, and both boys are behaving so much better. One more sign that communication and emotional skills are important and can be shared.

Yes, I believe that any kind of tool _ including interactive, screen and even other types of digital entertainment can help parents to understand their children and build up a dialogue including the electronics. For that reason I recommend the following posts: Tired of Asking your Kids How was School? , The Big Connection and, of course, the non-brainer hug, on this candid post about how important it is to hug, for both parents and kids.

Thanks for reading our blog, and we all hope that 2016 brings lots of love and good feelings to our big family of parents and educators.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reading List 2016: 9 Emotional Intelligence Books

By Seow Lim*

If you had asked me 2 years ago, do you read parenting books? I would have told you, yes, I read What to Expect the First Year and had 'memorized' it when my first child was born, and then memorized it again when my 2nd child was born six years later. I needed to know every details, when exactly do you babies start opening their eyes, when do they sit, how much milk should they drink, what should they eat at every stage etc. 

The book was recommended to me by a very nice co-worker years ago, and I am forever grateful to her. In the early 2000, you couldn't 'google' or 'facebook' for parenting information, hence, I had to read the book multiple times in order to have the information at the 'finger tip', i.e. my brain.I love reading. I have a habit of reading for 30 minutes before I fall asleep every night. It is such a strong habit that if I don't read, I can't sleep. I tend to read novels. They calm me down. 

After that, I had been very busy parenting my children that I didn't have time to read any more parenting books, nor I thought needed it. However, 2 years ago, after I realized that my parenting hadn't develop my first child into a 'happy' boy (read about my transformation here), I had to find resources to help me be a better parent. I realized that I put too much stress in academics, so the first book I bought I searched for keyword 'Well balanced child' and that led me to 'The Well Balanced Child' by Sally Goddard Blythe. I like the book because it discussed how movement, physical activities help our kids with brain development. It made me realize that 'Wow, I didn't think that I had to take neuroscience into consideration when I am parenting. This is so interesting.'

Out of curiosity, I then went to search for Amazon parenting best sellers. I picked up a few other books, that I now can recommend as very good for anybody interested on EQ:

I was concerned about my kid spending too much screen time and I was putting too much stress on him. So I also bought:

With these books, I was introduced to the world of 'Emotional Intelligence' , 'Character Skills' and the power of parent-child conversation. Children develops better when they learn to manage their emotions, establish positive relationships, develop caring and concern for others, make responsible decisions and constructively handle challenging situations.These are my keywords to what I was searching for - the wholesome, well-balanced, happy and healthy child. 

I had since found a lot of other online resources, such as the Heckman EquationThe Character LabThe Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning. and many others that drive the research and values of emotional learning.

Although there are many different words and ways that people describe social emotional skills, like character skills, emotional intelligence, EQ, executive function etc, they mostly mean help kids develop skills such as motivation, self esteem, perserverance, resilience, empathy, perspective taking, emotional sharing, emotion recognition etc. And these are critical skills that balance their brain, how they deal with life.

And the most important finding or realization for me personally was that such skills can be taught, and they can be taught by teachers and even by parents; and best taught through play, conversation and quality time together. With these skills, I want to raise my kids to be caring, confident and capable.

*Lim is CEO of POVI.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Survey Result Redefines Parents and Children Quality Time

By Mallika Sankaran*

These are the results from our “100 Moms” Survey on Quality-time, Conversation and EQ.
The good news: moms and kids are playing and talking, a lot! Half of the moms surveyed tell us that they spend 2 or more  hours of quality time with their kids every day! Despite the fact that over two-thirds of our sample are moms employed outside the home.

These were parents (mainly moms) from across Facebook’s diverse parenting groups, including our discussion group Emotional Intelligence for Kids, where we asked them questions to help us understand how parents are thinking about developing their childrens’ emotional intelligence. We’ll share the rest of the results with you over the next few weeks.
Moms’ top three choices for ‘quality time’:

  • Playing together – 93%
  • Chatting with their kids – 87%
  • Reading together – 83%

I was very surprised by the amount of quality time reported. 2 or more hours a day, when parents are are busy and stretched, that’s a lot of time. My kids are older now but I tried to think back to when they were younger and how I spent time with them. Our favorite activities were: going to the park (we checked out a lot of parks for the novelty of their play structures!) and reading at bedtime (our favorites were Bernstein Bears, Rainbow Fish and Teddy Bears Picnic.  By the way, the first two were great books for our discussing social-emotional issues. We also did a lot of building together activities. like Lego, race cars and tracks and trains.

For me now, quality time with my 15 year old is mainly chatting in the car, eating dinner or watching TV together. I count TV time as quality-time because we take turns picking the shows and chat while we watch – right now we are watching Season 2 of Gilmore Girls.

Please share with us what you do for quality time, how much quality-time you manage to average per day and give us your suggestions of books and products. More next time!

*Mom, researcher and community builder

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

How Hugging My Kid Helps me to Be Healthier and Happier

Clay art by Lim's Son

By Seow Lim*

Every evening, when I pick up my kid from his after school, he runs towards me, and gives me a big tight hug. “Mommy, I missed you so much.”, he says. It feels so good. It fees like the entire day of tiredness drains away from me, and I have this little guy who is so attached to me. Scientifically, I have learnt that hugging helps release oxytocin (also known as the cuddle hormone), the chemical that’s linked to social bonding, promoting devotion, trust and bonding.

Our hug usually re-energizes me. Instead of drifting back to my problems at work and the tasks I need to complete, I make sure that I focus my thoughts on my boy, making sure that we use our 15-20 minutes ride home as high quality time together. It is usually not easy to tear your mind away from all those complex problems or addictive emails that need to be answered right away, but holding my son’s hands help me focus on him and my conversation with him.

After the big hug, I hold his hand while we walk back to the car. I ask him about his school and his friends. He loves to share his day with me. I also try to find an opportunity to ask him a different question each day, about his thoughts and feelings.  Questions like:
_  “Is there someone in your class whom you see trying hard to do something that seems hard for him/her?”
_ “If you could invent something today, what would you make?”
_ “Have you been left out in any games at school?”

Being 7, he sometimes returns my question: “I don’t know. What do you think?”. That gives me the opportunity to share with him my daily experience and feelings too, letting him see that sometimes things are hard for me as well, and how I also need to try hard to learn or ask for help to solve my problems.

He is a very sweet and empathetic boy. There was once a time when I told him about a difficulty I had met with and that I didn’t know how to solve. He actually said: “Mommy, it’s ok. I am sure you will find a solution. Just keep trying.” After we got out of the car, he gave me another big hug. I had tears in my eyes. My stress level had gone down at that point.

Was it the effect of the hug that activated the Pacinian pressure receptors on my skin, and that sent signals to my vagus nerve, the area of my brain that’s responsible for lowering my blood pressure? Or was it the empathy I had received from this young child of mine? We deliver positive and encouraging messages to our kids, and how nice it is for them to have learnt that and deliver them back to us when we need them the most?

Every night, at bed time routine, my boy holds his hands up and says, “Mommy, you haven’t hugged me yet!” We then hug each other tightly for 30 seconds and he always says, “Mommy, I love you so much.” And I say, “I love you too.” I can always see the big grin he has on his face when he hears me say that, and that’s true happiness!

Once I asked him why he wanted me to hug him every night.“I don’t know, but I think I feel safer if you do.”, he replied. According to research results, children who are frequently hugged grow up to display fewer stress symptoms as adults. That’s a similar effect to kids hugging teddy bears or other plush toys to sooth their fears sometimes.

Our connection continues after the hugs. I often read with him, and I’ve also made a habit of asking him more in-depth questions related to the stories we read. I’ve found out that just reading to him is not enough, I need to encourage him to discuss the perspective of the characters that we read about. That helps him to see the perspective of others, and definitely helps him with expressing and communicating his thoughts more coherently.

For example, when we read a story about a child being left out of a game, I followed-up with questions such as:
“How would you feel if you were that child?” which is  ‘perspective taking’
“What would you do to ask to be included in the game?” which is  ‘problem solving’
“If you were to design a game, what type of game would you design?” which is ‘creativity’.

With my older child, I read many books and focused on reading to increase his vocabulary. Yes, I was a first time mom, a Tiger mom.  However, I’ve learnt that using reading time to connect, communicate, understand each other; and have your child express his feelings and opinions is a lot more important than just building vocabulary. I know now that how I’ve used reading time and bedtime routines differently with my two sons, might have effected their development. They are both great boys, just different.

*Seow Lim is the creator and CEO of Povi. She is also the starter and admin of Emotional Intelligence for Kids Facebook Group.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

5 Reasons to Teach Kids to Say Thanks

By D.M.F, 8 years old.

By Anna M.

A few weeks ago I volunteered to be a chaperone in my oldest son's 5th grade science camp. During the day I would help the naturalist teach while making sure the group was safe and following instructions. At night I shared a cabin with 5 kids, doing my best to make sure they followed their shower schedule, brush their teeth and sleep enough. During the meals I was there too, again reassuring that they would wait for their time to eat, behave and clean their tables. Yes, I was exhausted and drained, and after 3 days I felt absolutely invisible. Last Friday I received many thank you notes from the kids I was caring for, which made me feel extremely grateful and rewarded. And that made me remember how powerful a "Thank You" can be.

So why is it so important to teach children to say thanks and, most importantly to be thankful?

1. Olya G., Professor in Community Psychology says: "It is important to me that my kids are not only polite, but that they also understand the importance of valuing people and things in their lives. I want them to be grateful for what they have and not take for granted the many privileges that they have".

2. "Saying thank you reinforces to children that no one owes them anything _ no one has to hold open the door for them, or pick up after them, or give them something just because they asked for it. These are all things that others do in large part out of their own sense of generosity, and children (and many adults!) should learn to appreciate that. Relatedly, this shows children that they are not better than  anyone or deserve something more than anyone else. They should be grateful for whatever they receive, no matter how small.", says Daphna Ram, POVI's Developmental Psychologist.

3. Malika R, Social and Communication specialist says: " I want my kids to be polite, humble and appreciative - that they need others in their lives to for some things (not just material) and they need to acknowledge that."

4. POVI"s CEO and Creator, Seow Lim explains: "I feel that it is important for our kids to be thankful of each level of needs that they are in, so that they can strive to be better. If they don't appreciate what they have, they take things for granted, they assume what they have is what they deserve, they won't strive to be better, and their level could deteriorate without them even realizing it.".

5. For me, being able to be thankful is just a way to be on the making of for a happier adulthood. It is a sound recognition that someone cares about you, so you also care in return. It entails sympathy, empathy and kindness. And that's why I always want to reinforce the absolute value of thanking people from opening doors to doing something awesome for you.  That's at least a way of promoting good communication of sentiments, and being able to share them can be the beginning of a fruitful conversation. 

* Anna M is POVI's Content Manager. She loves saying thanks and also receiving thank you notes. She wishes all who are celebrating today, a happy thanks giving. And thank you for being a reader!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Parenting in Adverse Times, from NY 09/11 to Paris 11/13

The symbol, by Jean Julien, became an icon of the conflict. How do we explain for the kids?

By Anna M.

"Mom are they going to try to do the same here?" _ asked my 10 years old son. My answer was that because the country has so many people taking care of our safety, there's no immediate evidence of risk. I measured every millimeter of my words, so not to engulf him in too many details, but yet to offer him some sense of control, but not deceptive answers. His response was positive; "Yes, I remember all the airport safety procedures when we travel abroad", he said.

It breaks my heart to write this post. Yes, it would be better if it never ever happened, so that we wouldn't have to share the news with the little ones. But the truth is... that a fact is fact and a fact. We are far from the Dark Ages, so, I thought, there's no judgement or misdoing involved on sharing the news with them. But that was my gut feeling at the very moment I received a news alert in my laptop warning about the attack in Paris.

When the towers of World Trade Center towers were destroyed, I didn't have children. I watched the news paralyzed, in despair, in a newsroom where I used to work. Minutes later my thoughts were blinded and frozen by interrogations and the difficulty of absorbing the size of the tragedy. My thoughts, a day later, were about how kids would grow up under that shadow. And how we would reinvent the concept of safety. It took me so many years to get to accept the dimension of that. Even being raised in one of the most violent countries in the world  didn't make me feel at ease about any act of terrorism that kill civilians with no right to defend themselves.

Both of our sons, 8 and 10, are highly interested in the news. As a journalist, I couldn't refrain from reading all the papers online, from Le Monde to the NYT, including all news agencies I used to consult while being a foreign correspondent. The boys were curious, and while I was checking if our Paris friends were safe, they  also were relieved when I said they were fine. My husband, also an experienced citizen of the world, also defended that they should have access to what was happening. And, weirdly enough, we both caught ourselves sharing our impressions of what we knew about the Paris attack, telling them mainly about the facts, and not the graphic details about the carnage.

That said,  I enlisted a few ideas on how to deal with adversity with my kids, and being sensitive enough not to cross any lines that would steal childhood from the boys and also open a new possibility of family dialogues that could add depth to conversations. Because,  _ as I wrote before, _ facts are facts _, I could not ignore that there's a sense of responsibility in on our side to inform them.

They will find about it anyway _ That was the main reason I immediately told them about what was going on. I want to raise kids who are able to belong to the world we currently are living in. I would be totally worried if they had to ask someone else at school and who maybe have had different ideas or prejudice embedded in their ideas. carrying some prejudice embedded in it. So I am glad I did. I asked  Daphna Ram, PhD Psychology at from Cornell, and POVI"s psychologist, what were her thoughts about it: "And I think sometimes parents have this idea that they're protecting their kids by not sharing things with them, but how can your kids trust you if you're not going to be real about what's going on?", she says.

Bring your Warmest Feelings  _ Children are persons on in the making, and I think in difficult and harsh situations, reassurance is a very good thing to bring up. A child who is loved, has a strong foundation of a well build self-esteem and resilient resilience has more of a chance son of becoming a fair and balanced grown up. So by any means, make them believe that you are doing your best to protect them: "I can't think of a necessarily appropriate age to talk to kids about these things, but I do think that whenever these things are discussed, warmth + reassurance + care + calming are necessary. If the parent isn't freaking out, the child won't freak out.", adds Daphna Ram.

Bad Guys do Exist _ This is a hard one. It's is ultimately indisputable that that was the work of not very kind people, who believed that, unfortunately, that was the right thing to do in their own terms and beliefs. And that's nothing I can arguedispute with. Both my husband and I intuitively avoided to labellabeling the sources of violence, and went through a brief explanation of the history from the WWI to WWII. We also wanted to answer their questions about some conflicts.

That's Why we don't Play with Guns _ I took the opportunity to explain to the boys why we don't have toy guns in the house, and would never consider having a fire arm. For me, fire arms (one they are here to stay up to the end of civilization as we know it) should be restricted to the Army and Police. I didn't have to go further. They all had visited the eerie Winchester Mystery House, built by the heiress of the rifle company, and know that in Brazil, where most of our family is, the guys who use guns are drug dealers and the police.

Tell them You Love Them _  That one is between me and you. I don't want to say that openly so they won't fear that I am saying this just because the end of the world is near. What I am talking about is that children who feel loved and appreciated will talk. They will know they have someone to talk to about their fears. Sometimes, that love doesn't have to be explicitly stated  but will be shaped in the form of a dialogue, a conversation, time for attention.  That's when we will probably be the best parents ever, even in the times of adversity.

*Anna Muggiati is POVI's Content Manager, and helps to keep the Emotional Intelligence for Kids Facebook Page. She lives in the Silicon Valley with her husband, 2 sons and 5 cats. She is a journalist and Master in International Studies by The University of Birmingham (UK). She is passionate about the environment, cooking healthy food, and music.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

5 Tips to Be a Better Parent before 8 AM

By D.M.F, 8 years old.

By Anna M.*

The hour that I fear most on week days is 7:45 AM. It's when I have to get my 8 and 10-years-old sons ready to go to school.

But there's more. I figured that my heart pounds faster (for the wrong reasons) all the times I have to make sure that they will get ready to go anywhere on time! From birthday parties to music classes... It's when motherhood kidnaps the best from me and transforms me into a monster mom and even a yelling woman on the verge of a neurotic breakdown. I am sure I am not alone. When I talk to other moms at school they all agree it's a tough time to be a parent.

Well, before I share my latest strategies to avoid the daily drama, I had to outline the reasons for my stress. The main one is the frustration of having to repeat the same thing over and over again. Really? I have to repeat every day that they need to eat breakfast, brush their teeth, etc etc etc. It kills me slowly up to when I totally lose my patience. So that's the first thing I have to solve. The second thing that drives me nuts is basically their easy way of getting distracted, either playing with the cats, talking about some new strategy on Minecraft or even about the weather! And the third is the fact they forget to put their snack into the backpack or something like that.

So, here are a few ideas I am developing to make this moment easier for our family:

Sharing the Reasons _ As I always tell other people, parents and educators can explain the reasons why we are asking the kids to follow instructions, so that each action has a deeper meaning. That said, I sat down with them when we were are tranquil and explained the reasons for each of the things they have to do before leaving home. As basic as why leaving their shoes close to the door will make your life easier, to why we brush our teeth before leaving for school.

To Do Lists _ We wrote down a list of things to do before the morning after. Such as picking the clothes to wear and organizing homework in the backpack. That is helping them to  organize their mind and be aware of smart time management. If I get to solve this and be consistent, maybe I will be able to eliminate one more angle of our morning drama.

Menu Planning _ I found that my boys like predictability. So I am working on a weekly planning for their school lunch, so they know what to expect. Once they prefer to bring lunch from home, as opposed to eat from the cafeteria, they are keen on sharing their opinion and wishes. But they also know that if I am working on that morning it might be difficult to make everything ready, so they might have to cope and eat an "emergency" lunch at the cafeteria.

Empathy _That's probably the hardest one. I remembered when I was a 10 year old trying to figure how to be efficient and catch the bus school on time. I remembered that wearing a uniform helped a lot, so I just had to ask for my mom to have everything ready and clean. But then there were all other things: homework in the bag, etc etc.  The main thing was not to get distracted by something which would make me loose track of time. So I have to remember everyday that children sometimes have other interests and might be easily distracted. Even my boys...

It's all about love _ Kissing them goodbye, hugging them and being warm. That's by far the best part of my morning: They feel appreciated and it gets easy to find that all I do is because I love them and want them to grow up being able to manage their schedule, because that will make their life easy.

* Anna Muggiati is a mom of 2 boys. She's energetic, but not a morning person. She is a journalist, chef and currently POVI's Content Manager. She cares about the environment and loves cooking, and extends her advocacy to EQ. She joined Povi mission to develop better conversation for families for the social good; also help admin the EQ for kids group at Facebook.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Teen Son's 'Ideal' Girlfriend

I enjoy going on a date with my teenage son. That's often the time when he is not distracted by his gadgets at home, nor by his chatty little brother. That's the time when he and I could sit across the table from each other, that we could have each other's attention, and talk as equals.

Last Friday was his school teacher's learning day, so he was off. I let him wake up 'naturally'. Well, I thought, kids need their sleep replenishment. He got off bed at 11 AM, and right after that, we started off to our favorite hotpot restaurant, and we have to be there at 11:30 am when they open, or else we have to wait. 

In our date on the previous Friday, he told me about his school essay on Sexism Against Boys. This subject seems to be his favorite research topic for the last two weeks. So this time, as soon as he sat down, he started telling me more about why men need to be laborers of the world taking on hard and dangerous jobs that make them suffer from 93% fatalities versus women spend 70% more than men in household spending. As a feminist, I gave him the example that women are usually given the responsibility to take care of the family, so they make purchases on behalf of the family, not just for themselves. I gave him examples that I do the household groceries most of the time, I book all the flights and hotels for our vacations, I buy him his books, his shirts, his phones etc; of course on the 'record' I make more spending! But I don't usually spend on myself, I spend on all of the family. So he needs to look deeper beyond the plain statistics.

With that said, I told him that's the reason why women-driven 'Family technology' forms the next segment of high tech that will take off! Women are the most appropriate people to define and design these solutions for the families because they are the ones who will spend money buying them! Yeah for

He then asked me, "So why are guys always expected to pay while they go on dates?"

Interesting question. So I asked him back, "What would you do if you were to go on dates?"

He said, "I expect that we both will split the bill. That's how I can filter out the type of girls I will continue to date or not. I want a girl who can be my equal, not a girl who thinks that I am a walking wallet."

Oh my goodness. I was thinking to myself. "Walking wallet!" That's a very serious term to use. Very insulting to a 'feminist' like myself. I must educate my son to be respectful...but what's the right way to do that?

"Where did you learn the term walking wallet?". He answered: "I read in some article when I was doing research about this topic." 

"You understand that there is a big difference between splitting up family responsibility between a man and a woman right? The society started with men being the bread earner and women taking care of the kids and household, except that in recent years, more women are educated, so they also go out and work. Different families and people make different decisions about how they split the responsibility for what's best for their family. Families who decide that men go out to work and women stay home just mean that they think at a certain time, with their situation that's the best arrangement", I said.

I then asked him, "Well, assuming if there is this girl, you marry, and then you have kids. Who do you expect to take major responsibility of taking care of the kids?"

He gave me an unexpected answer, "We will share responsibility." How? "You are going to need to go to work. When you are both not there, who takes care of the kid?" He said "We work at different times. One person works in the morning, one person work in the afternoon."

Hmmm, I thought... "Flexible schedule. That's sounds good. But easier said than done. Your employers will most likely want to see you follow the regular 9-5 work schedule, and worse still 9am - 8pm work schedule, how do you cope? Somebody will have to make the sacrifice, and usually from social norm, women are often the ones to make the sacrifice to quit their job and take care of the kid."

He gave me a very different response: "If I ever get married and have kids, that's probably the time when I am quite established in my career and a very important contributor. My employer will need to accommodate my flexible schedule request for me to want to contribute to them."

"But your employer will think that you are home taking care of your kids rather than working.", I pondered.

"No, I just need to show them the result of my work.", he said.

"I like your self-confidence. It sounds like a good plan, but you got to work hard to achieve that."

What he said has really got me thinking. Is this an employment policy issue that there isn't a more flexible work arrangement, or most employees just haven't asked for it, or just more self-limiting expecting that employers just aren't that accommodating. Should employers spell it out? Or employers as part of wellness program, to offer more confidence to employees whose identity are parents?

I love to speak with more employer HR people to explore the possibilities. After all, that's could the the family/work life balance of our next generation.

But at this time, I became a lot more curious about what his 'ideal' girlfriend is like or rather whether he has thought about that at all since he is talking about dates.

"So what's the type of girl that you are looking for?"

"I want a girl who can be my equal, who does not expect me to do this or that for her. We share responsibility in everything we do. And someone who understands me, shares my interests so that we can talk about the topics in common. She does not need to be very pretty, I prefer her to be kind and understanding.", he answered.

"So you like a girl who is more independent?" 

"Why do you use the term independent? Boys who can do things you think that it is just their natural responsibility and girls who can do things you use the term more independent? No, it is just natural, normal."

"Okay. I like it that you have thought about this by yourself and have your own opinions of the type of girl you are looking for. And it sounds like pretty good qualities. I like it that you are discussing it with me. Have you been noticing such girls yet?"

He got a bit shy. "I just have been thinking of that while doing research for my essay. I don't think it is easy for me to find the girl whom I will like because most girls are not brought up to think that they should not rely on guys."

That I disagree. "I disagree. I think most girls these days are brought up to believe that they are equal. I truly see it." We then went back to the whole circle of discussion about why school P.E has different scale for boys and girls - that he believes that already bring girls up to think that they are naturally weaker, and boys to think that they are stronger. On that, I think he has a good point.

My boy is really growing up. He is even thinking about the type of girlfriend he might be looking for. He has his own mind, his own opinion, his own preference. I respect it. I am glad that I can be his guide, someone he is willing to share and discuss his opinion with. That's most important to me, not to control what he thinks, he needs to be able to think as an independent human being. I just want to have the opportunity to discuss his thoughts and feelings and guide him if he is not going in the right direction. I feel that I have it.  

By the way, yes, I did ask for my teen son's permission if I could publish our conversation. 

*This blog is the 4th story in the sequel of From Tiger Mom to Emotional Intelligence Advocate.
Read more here:
1. From Tiger Mom to Emotional Intelligence Advocate,
2From Tiger Mom to Emotional Intelligence Advocate (II): 5 Learnings on How to Let a Child Fly
3. A Date with My Teen Son

* Seow Lim is POVI's creator and founder. 

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Baby Has Social Emotional Development Milestones

By Dr. Jin Lee*

Social and emotional development is the progression of a child’s need to understand and connect with others. The child’s social- emotional ability will impact how much and how well she learns, builds, and maintains relationships throughout her lifetime. Unlike motor and sensory developments, social-emotional skills are harder to spot, yet they require more time to develope and more involvement from caregivers.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, here are a few important social-emotional milestones to look out for in the first 6 months:

  • Month 1: primitive grins and grimaces
  • Month 2: genuine smile to express what she likes and doesn't; he will also start looking at you for a longer period of time to absorb all your facial expressions
  • Month 3: exhibiting “smile talk”: waiting for your cue to smile, or smiling on her own and mimicking your facial expressions
  • Month 4: expressing interest in other people: She will turn her head to find the source of a voice when others are talking
  • Month 5: recognizing her own name, laughing aloud
  • Month 6: likes to play peek-a-boo; expresses more emotions

Studies have shown that the more you practice “responsive care”- promptly and consistently comforting your baby’s needs, the less demanding and more emotionally secure she will be at a later age. The first six months are especially critical for you to attend to your child’s need so that she can develop a sense of security, trust, and confidence.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and developmental psychologists recommend that parents recognize and accommodate to their child’s unique behavioral style rather than resisting it. In addition to POVI that focuses on creating better family conversations with kids in pre-school to teenage ages, another good tool to help track your child’s unique social-emotional development is my company, Qidza Inc.

Our first free app, babynoggin, translated critical milestones (such as those listed above) from peer reviewed clinical and scientific research into step-by-step video and written instructions so that you can play and measure your baby’s progress anywhere, anytime. As your child’s temperament will affect how you parent and feel about yourself and her, our goal is to provide an easy tracking tool so that you can understand more about your child and flag any potential issues along the way.

* Dr. Jin Lee is an Oxford- trained developmental psychologist and the Founder of Qidza. Follow her @drjinlee. Get exclusive access to babynoggin app by signing up today at

Join us in Emotional Intelligence for Kids Facebook group for more social emotional development discussion around our kids.

We would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

From Tiger Mom to Emotional Intelligence Advocate (III):
A Date With My Teen Son

Art by Lim's son, when he was still a pre-teen

By Seow Lim*

I was a full time high tech corporate employee for over 15 years in the Silicon Valley. A very ambitious product strategy executive. I worked very hard. I was a classic tiger mom. In my world, there was no room for failure. I was very strict. No compromise. Everything, for me, had to be perfect. I was always busy running around - juggling work and kids. My kids were always busy driven around - to lessons, classes, mostly by the nanny. We were all so busy.

When we sat down for dinner or after dinner, the conversation mostly evolved around accomplishment of tasks. "Did you finish your homework for lesson A, B, C?",  "When is your next belt promotion test for your martial art lesson?",  "How did you do for your tests this week?", I would ask.

Then, something happened. It was November 2013, and it marked a significant turning point for me and my family, as you can read on my first post on this blog. That's no longer me today.

As a 'transformed' mom, I make time to have one-on-one time with my teen son, without the interruption from his chatty little brother who is always fighting for attention. That's our mother-and-son- dates. That's our time alone. No screens, no other family members present.

We usually go to his favorite snack bar, to have a snack and a cup of his favorite tea, and sit and chat. Sometimes we go walking. There's something about favorite food and drink, and music TV in the background that appeals to teenagers. The environment is conducive for him to want to talk. I like to choose Friday afternoons because that's when we are both more relaxed.

Just last Friday, I went to pick him up after school, brought him to the cafe, and started spending high quality time having conversations, discovering his thoughts and feelings.

We talked about many things. First, as soon as he got into the car, he was excited about how he did a Math proof that got him a special compliment from the Math substitute teacher.  I was listening carefully, looking into his eyes, showing lots of interest in my body language. But, frankly, I had returned a lot of my algebra back to my teacher from so many years ago. While he was talking, I wasn't really paying attention to what exactly he said about the Math facts. I was carefully thinking about how should I craft my response to this conversation? Do I praise him? Do I encourage him? Do I ask him to tell me more about the different Math topics that he knows?

I reminded myself that my husband kept telling me that "you can't compliment him too much for results, have to praise him for efforts and hard work; or better still challenge him to do better". I also went through my mind what I learnt from reading about Professor Carol Dweck, Stanford University, Mindset, and re-affirmed by Trish Shaffer's "Raising a Resilient Child".

After all that has gone on in my mind, I delivered a positive response, "That's great. That's because you always work hard and interested to learn more".

Before I picked him up, I was thinking about what topics I should be talking about. I had opened my Povi app, and picked one question. Well, my memory now can only memorize one thing at a time. The question I memorized was "How're you silly?"

He was nodding and thinking about my response, while I started on the next topic. "Do you have any teachers in school this year that act silly or funny in class? ". He then told me about his Language Art teacher who likes to joke a lot. He then started sharing with me that he had written an essay recently that he thought was awesome.

It was about "Sexism against boys". He felt that in today's world, boys and girls should be equal but girls are given too much advantage that's it is unfair to the boys. An example he gave was with physical fitness education grading scale in schools being different for boys and girls. The grades of girls on the scale, are one entire one above the grades of boys with the exact same performance, on the same scale.

The next example he told me was that it’s considered immoral for a man to evacuate a sinking ship before all the women and children are off. “If a man is ever out on the water on a large boat, there's a chance that boat might sink, and if that happens he might be encouraged to wait before he gets on a lifeboat.”

Another example he gave was that most war and work casualties applies to male soldiers. According to American government statistics: “Men accounted for more than 97 percent of the combat deaths and
a similarly high proportion of combat injuries.” Furthermore, “93 percent of workplace fatalities are males.”

I listened carefully to all his points, nodding my head. Once in a while, I added positive comments like you do seem to have done a lot of research on this topic, I believe in the facts you have provided, but I disagree with you. I think there are bigger problems that cause inequalities against women that you haven't seen from your viewpoint.

This subject is interesting to me. I am a 'feminist'.  I turned this conversation into an active debate. I gave him a lot of my own examples including women get paid less for doing the same job, women are expected to do more household chores even if they work etc.

It got pretty heated, but was a lot of fun. In the end, I have taken this opportunity to tell him that, "I respect your viewpoints. I also appreciate that you have listened to my views as well. Everyone has their own opinion. It is important that you respect other's opinions because you can always learn from them. Taking other's perspective is a critical skill you can learn."

It was time to go home. We went back to the car.

He said, "Mommy, you had really changed. Now I find that I can really talk to you without you getting mad, or surprised, or negative about what I tell you. You are calmer, positive and receiving about everything. Can you tell me what made you changed?"

I took this opportunity to tell him, "It is because of you. I had spent more time with you. I had read a lot of parenting books. I want to make sure that I am open enough to have conversation with you like this so that you would continue to share your thoughts and opinions with me. You have improved greatly. I prefer to let you fly".

He replied: "Mommy, I think your expectation of me has also changed. You used to just want me to follow a very strict schedule before. It was really stressful. Now I get a lot more time to do a lot of things that I really enjoy."

I took the opportunity to ask, "Are you happier now?"

"Yes, I think so."

That made my day.

* Lim is the CEO and founder of

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

8 Ways to Succeed on Positive Conversations With Children

By Seow Lim*

Conversation is a personal connection. It is how we share ideas and learn from one another. It requires listening and talking in equal degree. We would benefit from having an open mind when we interact and talk to children, and also be prepared to show empathy. Kids want to be heard. To listen to them - really listen- and be able to understand their needs and concerns.

Here at POVI, we want to constantly encourage our kids in our daily conversation. That's how we help them to develop their self-esteem. Development of self-esteem needs to start very early in life. We also want to teach them that success comes from effort and persistence. We want to give our kids the opportunity to try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed. They can also develop ideas about their own capabilities. While they are learning fro trial and error, they're creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people, including us. Hence, making sure that we are giving our kids the opportunities to develop such self-perception regularly is also key to their development.

The way that I would like to approach this topic of how to use positive conversations to encourage our kids is through examples. All questions are elaborated by our Developmental Psychology PhD Daphna Ram, and are part of POVI Family Connect app.

The Orange Case (Scenario 1):

"What fruit do you think is really weird?" ( Question for Development skill: critical thinking. Age: <5 or 5-10)


Parent Response A:

"What? Oranges are so common. They are not weird at all. Find something more special."

This answer discourages children from thinking critically. It also is likely to end the conversation rather than promote more conversation and exchange of ideas between parent and child.

Parents Response B:

"Your idea is interesting. Why do you think it is weird?"

Kid might say:

"Because the skin has tiny holes in it. Sometimes it is rough, and sometimes it is smooth."

The discussion can go on:  "I agree; why didn't I think of that? I thought 'durian' is really weird. Do you know what it is? Do you want to know?"

This example illustrates how one can use the questions as a springboard for further conversation and promoting curiosity. This encourages your child to constantly be seeking new knowledge and asking questions.

Flying to the Sun Case (Scenario #2)

"Where would you want to go if we go could go anywhere at all today?" (Development skill: Imagination/Creativity. Age: <5 or 5-10)

"I want to take a rocket and fly to the Sun", says child.

Parents Response A: 

"That's not possible. You are going to melt before you arrive to the Sun. Answer my question properly. Pick some place on earth", says parent.

Though the response is accurate, this answer discourages child’s creativity and may prevent him/her from sharing creative answers with you in the future.

Parents Response B:

"Wow! That's very far that you are planning to go. Further than I had imagined. Why do you want to fly to the Sun?" _ Parent replies to child's answer.

"Because I want to build a big solar panel in space close to the Sun so that we can generate all the electricity we need on earth with it."

Perhaps parents might say something like:

"That's really creative. You have made me think of things in a completely new way. But isn't the Sun really hot? How are you going to prevent the rocket and the solar panel from melting?"

This is another example illustrating how to use these questions as a springboard for further conversation. This shows the child that you are interested in his ideas. Furthermore, continuing the conversation may also promote other skills in your child; in this example, asking the child how he will prevent the solar panel from melting promotes critical thinking.  

The Bee Scenario (Case #3)

What is something nice you did today? (Development skill: Altruism. Age: all ages)

Kid says:

"I helped my friend chase bees away by throwing soccer ball at them."

Parents Response A:

"Why did you do that? Don't you know that bees sting? That's dangerous. Don't ever do that again."

The child in this example seems excited about how he helped his friend. This particular parent response overlooks the child’s positive intention.

Parents Response B:

"You are a good friend.  I am proud of you. I have heard that bees sting though. How did you prevent the bees from chasing you back? They are good for the environment though..."

"We threw the ball and we ran really fast in the other direction.", says child.

"But what about other kids in the playground. They might not know that bees might come chasing?"

"You are right. I didn't think of that. I should have told everyone to run as fast as they can."

"Yeah, maybe that’s something to think about next time. But it’s good you helped your friend. You know, even though bees sting they actually do a lot!"

This response can also further promote conversation and educate your child about different aspects of the world.

Lonely Recess Time Case (Scenario #4) 

"Where do you usually play at recess?" ( Recommended for Development skill: Social Convention. Age: all)

"I don't play with anyone. I do all my homework at recess.", kid answers.

Parents Response A: 

"Why are you such a loner? You need to go make some new friends."

Parents could use this opportunity to find out if there's a reason that he is not playing with anyone at recess and is doing his homework instead.

Parents Response B:

"I always enjoy your company. I am sure your friends do too. Why are you not playing with them anymore?"

"Friend Z has ganged up with other kids to bully me. They tease me all the time. I rather be by myself than to be teased." answers child.

"I am so glad that you have told me. I wished you had told me about this earlier. I will do my best to keep you safe, anytime anywhere. Would you want to tell me more about the situation in school?", replies parent.

Hopefully, with responses like these, the child will eventually feel that he can trust the parents and will begin to understand that he/she truly want to help him solve his issues. 

Freed the Sadness (Scenario # 5) 

"Do you think this is an appropriate amount of time for someone to be sad when something bad happens to them?"(Development skill: Emotion recognition. Age: Teen)

"Yes, when my best friend got into an accident, I just kept crying and crying. I didn't know if she was going to recover. I was sad the whole time until she got out of the hospital and got back to school.", kid answers.

Parents Response A:  "She is well now. Back to school. No need to be sad anymore."

This response would cut off the conversation about your child’s feelings.

Parents Response B: 

" I know. You were really sad at that time. I had to comfort you a lot but I didn't have a chance to really talk about how you truly felt at that time since you didn't even want to talk."

"I felt like my world was going to end. This person who truly understands me was going to disappear from my life and I was going to be left all alone. I was so scared.", says kid.

"Yes, that's truly scary. I am always here, always by your side at times like this.  I felt your sadness. I am happy to talk with you.
 I am glad that you have handled it really well", parent replies.

Parents are connecting with their child emotionally by listening to her discuss her emotions. Hopefully she will begin coming to you in the future when she is having emotional issues.

Baby Talk Case (Scenario #6)

"What do you think young kids/ babies talk about? (For developmental area: Perspective taking. Age: 5-10, teen)

"Babies say I am hungry, I want milk. Young kids talk about their toys and games. They don't have to go to school, how lucky.", he/she says.

Parent Response A: 

"You are lucky that you get to go to school. Look at those kids who don't have the opportunity to learn."

It is good to make kids be thankful of how lucky they are and not always take things for granted, but this response takes away from the point of the question; to have your child take someone else’s perspective.

Parent Response B: 

"Yes, babies and younger kids spend more time sleeping and playing because that's their phase of growing up. I see you working and learning every day."

This response encourages perspective taking and how they may be different from others. 

The Self-Care Case (Scenario #7)

"Why is it important to take care of yourself so that you can be good to others? (Developmental area: Self esteem. Age: 5-10, teen)

Kid response: "I want to take good care of myself so that I don't get sick. Then you don't have to get tired taking care of me."

Parent Response A: 

"That's great to hear. You don't want to get sick so that you won't miss any important classes or tests."

This too dismisses the main point of the question; having your child think about themselves in relation to others. This also may make your child think that you think classes more important than health. 

Response B:

"I love you, I want to take care of you when you are sick. I am so glad that you care so much about me. Like I always tell you, my world is so beautiful because of you."

I rather take this opportunity to thank my kid for wanting to take care of me. Encouraging his values of taking care of his family. Letting him know that how much I love him and will always be there for him. He can feel my love, and I boost his self esteem that he can also take care of me in return.

Teacher's Talk (Case #8)

"Of your teachers who do you think cares the most about the students? Why?" (Development skill: Perception of others. Age: Teen)

"I think Teacher X really care most about the students. She invites us to her classroom during lunch time. We are free to share our problems with her. She often wants to help us in anyway she can. I do go and talk to her once in a while and talk to her."

Parent's Reaction A:

"If you have problem, you should tell me your mom. Not your teacher. She is not your family. I am."

This may be somewhat discouraging to your child as teens sometimes simply have issues that they don't feel comfortable discussing with their parents. In that regard, it’s probably good that the teen is talking to the teacher. 

Parent's Reaction B:

 "That's really nice of her. I am so glad that you are sharing your thoughts with her, and she has been helpful. I am always here to lend you my hands or ears if you like to discuss with me. I trust that you are asking for the right help at the right time."

This response is more encouraging. For their emotional well-being, we should support our kids to seek help from the people they trust, yet also allowing them to feel that we are these to listen and share their worries.

Having conversations with kids can be really fun. Especially in the process we get to discover their curiosity, creativity, fear, opinion, their pride, our kids are like 'diamonds in the sand', we got to discover them. Or 'onions' that we need to peel. Lots of fun in such discovery.

*Lim is Povi CEO whom through hard way has realized the importance of positive conversation w kids : her story can be read on this post here.

I would love to give you a heads-up that we will be running a Kickstarter campaign on Tue, May 24, 2016. We would greatly appreciate your help to be one of our early backers to make Povi a reality.

You can choose to back our project for your family, a school, your team members at work or even non-profits.

We would greatly appreciate you also sharing this important message with whom you know will benefit from joining our community!

Thank you very much! Do email me at to catch up anytime!