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!