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 Qidza.com.

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 help@povi.me 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 Povi.me.

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 seowlim@povi.me 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 seowlim@povi.me to catch up anytime!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Big Connection - Technology As a Tool for Interaction Between Parents and Children

By Anna M.

Times in the Age of Balance: non-digital homemade clock madeBy D.M.  at 2015 Galileo Summer Camp
If you are here reading this is because you have a computer, are online, and probably have a smart phone. Also, if you are looking at this screen now it is because the web is where you frequently search for useful content that might help you to be wiser in any front of your life. Including about all challenges that parenting entails in a digital loaded system with easy access. Also, if you are _ at this moment _ connected, it's because you are fully living in our Digital Era.

At this very moment my children are connected too. One of the boys is online researching documents for a project on the fantastic movie Back to the Future while the other is watching a PBS show which I happen to love, Wild Kratts. We all talk about our "surfing trips" to the web and also about what we are searching online. But we also disconnect and enjoy life going camping and walking on the forest. While I am writing this post, I share the news with them:  the American Academy of Pediatrics just released a new document revising its standards about digital exposure, confirming what I was always suspecting.  "In a world where “screen time” is becoming simply “time,” our policies must evolve or become obsolete. The public needs to know that the Academy’s advice is science-driven, not based merely on the precautionary principle.", says the document Beyond ‘turn it off’: How to advise families on media use., released last week by the AAP.

The point that really caught my attention is the Academy's interest in improving quality parent-child interaction using technology, and not pretending that it is solely an evil thing, lurking on to capture our children and turn them into screen-zombies, if goes out of control. And it points out that who is really responsible to educate the kids about the conscientious use of technology are really the parents: "Experts agreed that parents can model appropriate technology use to their children. Parent-led family media plans should include clear boundaries about children’s media content (including TV) from an early age as well as sound time management practices fostering life balance. Parents should let their children teach them about media and participate with them. Media should be viewed as a tool rather than a babysitter, reward, or punishment. Parents’ ability to connect with their children offline is crucial, as well.", points the whole document written after many specialists got together, see the whole document here:
Growing Up Digital.

We believe there are lots of possibilities when using technology to facilitate the parent-child dialogue, like what POVI app does (download the app from here) does. And we are positive that the app can help parenting with creative technology, once they assist their children to make the best use of it.  This might sound difficult for some parents who grew up having to learn and adapt to all that happened in the last 40 years. Mostly, it's a generation of people who witnessed a fast revolution that moved us from the typewriter to the computer screen, the landline telephones to the wireless phones, etc etc etc. It's a generation who had to learn that the  hard way that TV was not a babysitter and that interaction is the key for new entertainment.

According to Common Sense Media,  more than 30% of U.S. children played with a mobile device when they were still babies. Also, 75% of 13- to 17-year-olds have smartphones, and 24% admit using their phones almost constantly, according to the Pew Research Center. "All of us, including children use it as a resource for their education. Multimedia data - text, voices, videos allow knowledge to be stored, shared and absorbed in the most optimal ways. With the connected world, from the comfort of our home, by the beach, anywhere, we can learn anything we want, as much as we want. ", says Seow Lim, POVI's Founder and CEO. She shares more about her own family: "For example, my teen son is very much into computer hardware recently. By self-teaching himself, he built his own PC, he helps others build PCs, he has figured out how to remote lock in to his desk top from his smartphone when he is in school by hacking the BIOS of his computer. Yes, my son had flourished in technology because he loves it, and now spending lots more time on it without having extra reading, writing and vocab classes that I used to send him to (read about my change of parenting that allow my kid to fly)", says Lim.

POVI Psychology PHD, Daphna Ram explains about the difference in the understanding we have about the digital media: " I don't think the problem is screen time per se, but more the way the screen time is being used. The problem isn't with the devices themselves.", she writes.
"My initial thoughts are for parents to use the technology as a way to get close to their children; use it as a way to learn together, to bring up points of discussion, etc. I think the key is to use apps and screen time not necessarily always as a way to "babysit" the children, but perhaps as a tool to make it easier to interact with your children.".

That said sounds like we are, at the end, just looking for balance. I remember the first pediatrician I met in New York, who was caring for my first son in 2004. He always told me the key for a successful parenting would be to try to have balance in everything, and not depriving my child of any of the mainstream treats (being candies, TV or constructive games), so to avoid that he would grow resentful and therefore prone to overdo any of the things when he would leave home for a dorm. I am sure he is right. As Lim sums up, there's time for everything while we are spending quality time with our children: "Technology and our daily lives can be balanced. We must take advantage of all the convenience, the vast knowledge that technology brings to our fingertips and make us more efficient. At the same time, we can also ensure that we have time to unplug, disconnected from the electronics world, and simply connect with each other. Povi is here to give a little help, a little tip, a little reminder when you need it."

More about the good technology:

1. Don't miss this article: "Don't beat yourselves up about how much TV your kids watch : Computer games and TV shows are a vehicle for conversation and interaction and are a worthwhile endeavor for the skills and cultural literacy they impart", by Lauren Apfel Guardian UK

2.The CDC (Center for Disease Control) issued a very simple document to help parents who are concerned about their children online life: read here.

3. Common Sense Media has a myriad of resources to help on guiding parents about the digital era and education. Check it out 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 anna@povi.me to catch up anytime!