My Daughter Kelly & Her Friend
I would like to share one of the proudest moment in my life. This year, my older daughter turned 6 and became old enough to attend my Adam Khoo Learning Centre‘s English and Math enrichment program. After helping thousands of other people’s children to improve their grades and develop winning mindsets, it feels good to see my own daughter benefiting from the powerful strategies my team and I have created.
What I am also most proud of is how my daughter has grown into such a confident, expressive, disciplined and intelligent child. All this did not happen by chance, but it is the result of 6 years of nurturing her using all the parenting strategies that my wife and I have learnt.
To be fair, my wife did 95% of all the work and I am responsible for 5%. Ironically, I have been spending most of my time helping other people’s children to excel while my wife has been focusing 100% of her time helping my own children.
I thought I would like to share some of the lessons we have learnt as parents and how we have done our best to bring out the winner in our children.
Nature or Nurture?
There has always been a debate about whether nature or nurture plays a part in determining a person’s character, behaviour and intelligence. As a father of two children, I can tell you from first hand experience that the answer is BOTH.
We are all born with different personalities, behavioural traits and different forms of intelligence. Although my wife and I treated our two children in exactly the same way: sang the same songs, gave the same milk, read the same books, they are really different in the way they think and behave.
My older daughter started out EXACTLY like the way I was when I was young. She is a typical right-brain dominant child with an Introvert/ Intuitor/feeler/perceiver (INFP) personality. So, by nature, she loves music, drawing, playing but is slow in learning language and Math (in fact, she started speaking only at age 2.5…which is really slow).
As an introvert, she was very quiet and shy to talk to other people. As an intuitor, she was always dreaming in a world of her own and would only do something if she FELT like doing it. My wife jokingly said that she got all these genes from me…which is actually true.
Obviously we were worried as it was this personality that caused me to be an underachiever in my life. I failed all the way in Primary school and got expelled at age 9. I only ‘woke up’ and ‘changed my life’ in my teens. Seeing the possible future if she continued the way she was, we were determined to nurture her strengths and help her to re-conditioning her shortcomings.
So, my wife and I used all the success conditioning and accelerated learning techniques that we knew to encourage, stretch, challenge and nurture her. It was definitely not easy but we are really happy that she has transformed into an outgoing, expressive and confident 6-year old, ready for primary 1. In fact, she is now an avid reader and talks non-stop. She is way ahead of her peers in her Math abilities (after alot of training from my wife). In fact, her English and Math abilities are probably at age 8 level!
On the other hand, my younger daughter Samantha, is a typical left-brain child with an extrovert, sensor, thinker, judger personality (ESTJ), the total opposite of her older sister and exactly the same as my wife! She got my wife’s genes. It is amazing to see the difference.
My younger daughter started speaking at age 1 and is naturally fast with numbers (being left-brain dominant). She loves to go up and say hello to strangers and is not shy at all. She will notice my wife’s new hair-do and can recognize directions to her school while my elder daughter will be oblivious to everything. She was naturally wired to excel in school! So, we focused on nurturing her in the areas of music, drama and art.
Being a parent so far has been an AMAZING journey, and these are some important lessons that I would like to share that have helped us raise our kids and I hope it would help you too.
Some parents think that they when children are still young, you should give in and let them do as they please. They believe that you should only discipline them when they are older.
My wife and I have seen time and again that this does not work. If you do not condition kids to be obedient and disciplined from young, it is very difficult to control them once they grow older. ‘Once you give, very hard to take back’.
We have seen nightmares of kids not listening to their parents and even shouting back with disrespect. We have seen our friend’s kids refusing to eat if the food is not to their linking, spitting out their vegetables and throwing tantrums. All this behaviour is not the kid’s fault, it is because their parents have allowed them to turn out this way.
My wife and I believe that discipline and obedience begins on day 1, age 0. Once they are conditioned to be disciplined, half of all your future worries will be over. So, while we how all our love to them and go crazy in play, when it comes to discipline, there are NO COMPROMISES and ZERO TOLERANCE.
We teach our children to come immediately when we call them. In fact, if they don’t respond or ignore us, they will face the consequences. When we put food on the table, they are not allowed to complain. They have to finish every last grain. If they refuse to eat, they go hungry. They learn that choices have consequences.
If they do not finish their homework, they do not sleep. If they spill something on the floor, they clean it up themselves. Even though we have two maids in the house, my children have to carry their own plates and wash it themselves. This, we found also builds up their independence and self-confidence. They are also taught to say thank you and please to everyone, including my maids. If they don’y say ‘please’, they know they will face the consequences of being ignored.
This may seem harsh, but after 4-5 years, our children are now extremely self-disciplined. We hardly have to scold them or tell them what to do anymore. When we go out with other families, they are amazed that our kids will sit down quietly and finish their meals and behave well, while their own children create havoc.
On Making Learning Fun….
Many gifted children and teenagers are not motivated to study because they have learnt to associate PAIN and BOREDOM to learning. So, while we are strict on discipline, we do our best to make learning really fun…into an adventure camp.
We cultivate their love for English and Math by reading to them everyday and have them read to us. To make it exciting and fun, we read to them while acting out the story with drama! We play music, use facial expressions, funny voices and body language. They love it.
My wife also uses alot of accelerated learning techniques and whole-brain learning strategies to help them remember tough words really fast and spell accurately. To get them to love math, we play Math games and puzzles. We also, get them to order the food when we go to restaurants and to count the money for payment and the change as well. They see the real value in Math and build the confidence to use it as well.
On Building the Right Habits…
We realize that having the right habits play a crucial part in determining a person’s success in life. Some people have the habit of lazing around, others have the habit of watching TV or playing computer games.
Successful people have the habit of reading and feeding their minds.
At the same time, most habits start from young. So, we were determine to help our children cultivate winning habits at a young age.
One of the things I believe is that we are the ultimate role models of our children. They may not follow what we say, but they will always tend to follow what they see us do. So, my wife and I hardly ever watch TV. We are always sharing ideas and debating about current affairs and will always be reading books and newspapers when we are free.
Sure enough, our children have modeled us and are practicing this habit. Whenever they are bored, they don’t reach for the TV or any kind of computer game (which we don’t allow anyway). Instead, they will read a book, perform dance/drama or draw.
In fact, our kids always love to create and put up drama or dance performances for my wife and I. We don’t ask them to or even rehearse it for them. They do it out of their own spontaneity! Here’s a really cute performance I filmed recently.
On Building the Winning Mindset…
Some people are born with a strong character and outgoing personality.
I was NOT like that when I was young and my older daughter was also like me. She was very shy reserved and was afraid to take on anything that seemed to difficult.
Whenever she ‘tried’ something and failed, she would cry and not want to do it again. She was afraid to ride on the bicycle when we removed the training wheels. When we finally convinced her to learn how to ride a bike, she fell, cried and did not want to do it again.
We knew that for her to grow up and become successful, she had to learn to have confidence to take on challenges. She had to learn how to fail and get up again. We had to build within her the ‘never give up mentality’. So my wife and I would never allow her to run away from her fears. We would never allow her to give up.
Whenever she cried and avoided the challenge, we would use NLP (neuro-linguistic Programming) techniques to teach her how to calm down, visualize herself succeeding and find the confidence to go again. Of course, this took alot of time and encouragement.
Again, all that conditioning paid off. Today, she is alot more daring to take on challenges and would never say ‘I cannot’ when she falls the first time. She has learned to develop the resilience to take on bigger and bigger challenges. We are really proud of her.
Of course at age 6 and 5, our children’s are still at the beginning stages of their life’s journey and they are so much more lessons to be learnt and mountains to climb. Our job as parents are far from over. Anything can happen from now. However, we are happy that so far, we have steered them in the right direction.