Issuu on Google+

WWW.familyandlife.sg

Your FREE guide

Season’s Greetings &Happy New Year facebook.com/familyandlifemag

SINGAPORE issue 4 DecEMBER 2013 / january 2014

Published by cogent media

MCI (P) 114/08/2013

World-renowned horologist Dr Bernard Cheong’s love advice There’s more to your children’s brain than just IQ! Pain-free childbirth? It’s possible with hypnotherapy

Falling In Love With Singapore Luxury jeweller SARA TASEER finds sanctuary in Sentosa


Contents 4

SNIPPETS 4

Choice Products, Interesting News and More!

COVERSTORY 8

Luxury jeweller Sara Taseer reveals a tragic tale of pain and hope

8

Tragedy & Triumph: Sara Taseer’s Story

Happy Holidays!

n we can finally wear t’s that time of the year again whe streets because it’s “cold the on fashionably thicker clothes ures of 26°C due to monsoon erat temp n out” (and by cold, we mea purses and wallets are feeling season). It’s also the time when our constant abuse as we buy gifts for the strain, having been subject to friends and family.

I

ember the good and a good time to take stock and to rem As we bid goodbye to 2013, it is also tly the philosophy exac s that’ and on go t the holidays) mus the bad. Nonetheless, the show (and life. Despite having her jeweller Sara Taseer, adopts in her that our Cover Personality, luxury y wrested away from politician Salmaan Taseer, tragicall father, renowned businessman and (page 8). ly sanctuary in Singapore for her fami her, Sara soldiered on, and found

FOCUS

10 Method In His Madness

World-renowned horologist Dr Bernard Cheong entertains us

essed eccentric Dr ion of life and we talk to self-prof The festive season is also a celebrat most. He shares his than large g livin and e about living life Bernard Cheong, who knows mor ion (page 10). boyfriends and following one’s pass advice to his daugthers on choosing

12 Standing Tall

She’s standing tall and proud despite being in a wheelchair

of corporal punishment team delves into the murky world In Nurture and Health, our editorial tkinson about using ide-A hypnotherapist Jonathan Gars (page 17) and talks to experienced affair (page 22). ble sura plea say, a painless and some hypnosis to turn childbirthing into

15

NURTURE

14 Power Your Child With

There’s a lot more to your brain than just IQ

r your gifts from the crowds? Go online instead and orde Sick of battling the crazy shopping we’ve found (page 30). four of the most interesting retailers comfort of your own couch. We list party, we recommend Year prepare for your Christmas or New And if you do need to step out to 28). e n in the heart of town (pag And . A, a new, luxurious hair salo

Can your kids handle stress well? Or are they overwhelmed without you knowing about it?

est that you would like azine with us or any topics of inter Share your thoughts about the mag dlife.sg or leave your us an e-mail at editorial@familyan us to consider covering. Just drop m/familyandlifemag. comments on our Facebook at fb.co

Multiple Intelligences

15 Building Blocks For Happy Kids

16 If Theatre Be The Food Of

Happy reading and happy holidays!

16

Learning, Play On!

Teach your children about life with the power of the stage

Managing Editor Gerald Woon

17 Let The Punishment Fit The

Crime To cane or not to cane your kids?

That is the question

Discover suitable pets for your children at different ages

18 Happiness Is Just A Howl Away

HEALTH

20 Under The Sea, Darling

It’s Better

familyandlife.sg

18

Managing Editor EDITORIAL

Deep diving into the world of hydro-birthing

CREATIVE

22 Pain-free Childbirth?

Hypno-possible! Using hypnotherapy in childbirth 24 Beat The Bug

It’s flu season again, so get ready to go to war

Organic diets for children

25 Are You Going Organic Yet?

RELAX

27 The Nursery Room

Makeover! 26 Help! My Toddler Won’t Eat! Revamp for the festive season Handling picky eaters 28 The High Art Of Hair Styling

25

There’s a new luxurious hair salon in town

Online Christmas shopping

30 Avoid The Christmas Crowd 32 Christmas Pampering For The Families There’s something for Mummy,

Daddy and the kids

BITES

34 The Festive Christmas Tree Pizza

36

A fun recipe for the family

EVENTS

36 What’s Happening

A list of upcoming family events

OP-ED

38 My 2 Cents On...

2

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Explaining loss to children

SALES & MARKETING CONTRIBUTORS ADMINISTRATION & FINANCE

Gerald Woon gerald@cogentmedia.sg Writer | Farhan Shah farhan@cogentmedia.sg Designer | Zach zach@cogentmedia.sg Senior Marketing Executive| Emily Choo emily@cogentmedia.sg Chef Derrick Ang Eliza Hamizah Jacqueline Bodnar Jade Tan Nasri Shah Neu Weetee Sherlin Giri Manager | Jessica Ong jessica@cogentmedia.sg

CONTACT US Editorial Enquiries editorial@familyandlife.sg Advertising Enquiries Tel: +65 6704 9279 Email: sales@cogentmedia.sg MCI (P) 114/08/2013 Colour Separation & Printed by Times Printers Private Limited 16 Tuas Avenue 5, Singapore 639340 Tel: +65 6311 2888 Fax: +65 6311 2801 Licence No. L021/09/2012 Distributed by MediaWheel Singapore 31 Toh Guan Road East #07-01 LW Technocentre, Singapore 608608 Tel: +65 6560 5272 Fax: +65 6560 4090 All materials printed within Family & Life are Copyright 2013 © and protected under the Copyright Act. All rights reserved 2013.

Family & Life is published monthly by Cogent Media Pte. Ltd. 100 Beach Road #32-01 Shaw Tower, Singapore 189702 Tel: +65 6704 9266 Fax: +65 6396 3045 Registration No: 201231255H No material of this publication can be reproduced in any form or means – graphic, electronic, mechanic, photocopying, recording, videotaping, etc. – whether in part or in whole, without the written consent of the Publisher. Family & Life will not be held responsible for any infringements of Copyright material in articles submitted by contributors. While every reasonable care has been taken in the compilation of information contained in this publication, the Publisher, editors or their employees and agents shall not be liable for any errors, inaccuracies, and/or omissions howsoever caused. All views expressed in all articles are solely those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Publisher and editor. Family & Life reserves the right to refuse any advertisement or advertorial for any reason and are not liable for claims made by advertisers. The information provided in this publication is solely for reference only. Readers are advised to seek the professional advice from the appropriate advisors, professional or institution for advice and instruction with regard to their personal health issues.


The Family & Life

Giant Festive Giveaway!

Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s great to be a Family & Life reader when Christmas rolls around. With the festive season just around the corner, we’re giving away massive, massive prizes to a few lucky readers and their families! Here’s what you stand to win. Tell me how to win!

Grand Prize

It’s very simple. Here’s what you have to do: 1. Open your browser and point it to www.familyandlife.sg/ register 2. Register an account with us 3. Our friendly Internet gnomes will give you a referral link after you’ve successfully registered 4. Get as many as your friends as possible to register with us because the more referrals you have, the higher you climb on the leader board 5. If you’re at the top of the leader board at the end of 31 January 2013, you win the grand prize!

Two-Night Cruise to Tioman or Malacca for you and a partner in a Superior Ocean View Stateroom on board SuperStar Gemini worth S$1,300

Simple enough? So, what are you waiting for? Head on over to www.familyandlife.sg and register today!

(4 family vouchers to be given away!)

(2 cruise packages to be given away!)

Second Prize A Two-Night Stay with a partner at an Unlisted Collection: Boutique Hotel of your choice worth up to S$800

Third Prize S$80 MegaZip Adventure Park Dragon Voucher

Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

3


SNIPPETS A list of choice products, interesting news and cool developments, handpicked by the Family & Life team that will interest parents and families!

Shower SINGER Turned Music SuperStar! Instead of singing in the shower, let your talent shine on the worldwide stage instead! As the official digital life FIFA partner, Sony and friends are giving music enthusiasts and soccer fans the chance of a lifetime – to be featured on the official album of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Whether you’re a soccerloving Dad or aspiring singer Mum, SuperSong, the global music contest, wants you! Submit your original song proposals (videos with original lyrics) on the official website and if you’re picked as one of the top 20 songs by the judging panel, which includes international pop star Ricky Martin, you’ll have a chance to travel to Puerto Rico to watch Ricky himself shake his bon bon and

Finally, A Washing Machine That Cares Top load washing machines are more popular than front load washing machines because they can clean a larger volume of clothes. Unfortunately, these modern cleaning miracles can be quite rough on your clothes. We’re sure you’ve always had to untangle your clothes to dry them after your top load washing machine is done with its business. Those tangles will be a thing of the past with Singapore’s first warm wash top load washing machine by LG, otherwise known as the LG WFT1771DD, thanks to its impressive-sounding 6 Motion Wash Direct Drive. This technology emulates hand washing techniques, quite possibly the best way to wash your clothes sans damage, while delivering a powerful washing performance at the same time. The LG WFT1771DD is also the only top load washer in Singapore that features the Warm Wash function. Want to remove stubborn stains on your clothes in one wash? The machine will ensure the water temperature remains at the optimal level. Allergic to dust mites instead? The machine will run your clothes through 60°C water, resulting in more than 90% of allergens being removed.

The LG WFT1771DD is available in two models – 17 kg and 14 kg. Discover the future of this ubiquitous household item at Audio House, Best Denki, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Mega Discount Store and other LG authorised resellers.

4

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

record the final version of your song for the album. You can also travel to Brazil to be one of Sony’s VIP guests for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final! Go ahead, break out the guitar and pen your best ditty for the contest. You might just be the next global music superstar.

Visit www.supersong.com to submit your song proposal or find out more about the contest. Additionally, point your browser to the SuperSong Facebook page at www.fb.com/SuperSong to get the latest updates about the campaign. The winner will be announced in February 2014.

Kids STOP: Adults Not Sometimes Allowed Imagine, experience, discover and dream. Welcome to the new facility by the Science Centre Singapore created for children between 18 months and eight years of age – Kids STOP. Scheduled to open in June 2014, the centre will expose children in the pre-school and lower primary age groups to science through interactive play in a safe and guided environment. Furthermore, the exhibits and galleries are designed to promote and foster parent-child bonding through interactive exhibits and programmes. “Kids STOP will be a place where kids stop the real world and embark on a journey into an imaginative one. Imagination helps children build self-confidence, boost intellectual growth and develop social skills. Kids STOP will provide them with ample opportunities to explore and get inspired,” Chief Executive of Science Centre Singapore, Lim Tit Meng, says. Consisting of four themed zones, Kids STOP is a great place for curious young minds to find out more about the world around them while nurturing their appetite for knowledge at the same time.

Check out Kids STOP’s official website at www.kidsstop.edu.sg to find out more about the centre and its myriad of offerings.


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

5


SNIPPETS Rejuvenate Your Hair Seven years ago, a state-of-the-art, plant-based hair spa sprouted up at Wheelock Place, treating common scalp problems. Today, Phyto Hair Science has built a name for itself in the industry as the trichologist of choice, thanks to its signature three-step DSR (Detox, Stabilise, Regrow) programme. Rejuvenate your scalp with a concoction of plants and fruits, customised for the problems plaguing your hair. We also suggest that you go for the excellent optional massage. Now, Phyto Hair Science has a new innovation – DermoPlus. Using a machine, the therapist painlessly introduces the bespoke serum into your follicles, ensuring that your hair receives the ampoules it requires to become the talk about town again. Discover why this salon has won 14 beauty awards in five years for

a festive price during this holiday season! Phyto Hair Science is offering first-time scalp treatment customers with a choice of either the complete detox therapy or organic colour reform packages for only S$98 and S$128 respectively! The complete detox therapy package consists of a scalp analysis followed by a detox scalp and hair therapy, while the organic colour reform package offers a precision haircut, botanicare scalp treatment, botanical hair colour, and colour savers treatment. Furthermore, everyone who signs up for either of these two treatments before 31 December 2013 will stand a chance to win a fully paid 3D2N trip to Hong Kong for two! So, make your way to Phyto Hair Science today to experience a luxurious scalp revolution. Your hair will thank you.

Phyto Hair Science is at Ngee Ann City, Plaza Singapura and Wheelock Place. To make an appointment and find out more about its various treatments, visit www.phytohairscience.com or call 6692 0662.

Purveyors Of Fine Barbering Treat the man in your household like a king this Christmas season with a series of gift packs from home-grown luxury barbershop Sultans of Shave. Each gift pack has been painstakingly curated with only the best brands a contemporary gentleman would enjoy, and appealingly packaged in cigar boxes or limited edition dopp kits.

Toby Wants a Home! Meet Toby, a stray dog saved from the streets who is now living in a shelter and has big dreams of finding a loving home and family. The heart-wrenching story is actually inspired by a reallife dog named Valli that was adopted earlier this year by the SPCA, and is aimed at entertaining and educating children between the ages of four and 12 about the life and times of animals in a pet shelter. Written by Low Hui Ching and illustrated by Antonija Gross, Toby Wants a Home! makes a great bedtime read and is filled with valuable life lessons for both you and your children about commitment and compassion.

Toby Wants a Home! is available from SPCA’s HQ and online at www.spca. org.sg. A copy retails at S$5 and all proceeds go to SPCA to continue its mission to help animals. SPCA’s HQ is located at 31 Mount Vernon Road and is open between 10 am and 4 pm on all days except Thursdays, Sundays and public holidays. The SPCA is closed on Thursdays and operates from 11 am to 3.30 pm on Sundays and public holidays. 6

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

We personally love the Sultan’s Christmas Cigar Box Set, which comes with a PGS THICK parabenand sulfate-free shampoo and organic thickening conditioner, a PGS RACER shave cream, a PGS ALPINE shave jelly, a PGS WHISKEY sea mineral aftershave splash and a Vulfix Old Original shaving brush. These luxury grooming items come in a beautiful refurbished cigar box, guaranteed to send you back to a Mad Men-esque time. All of the gift packs also come with a S$50 Sultans of Shave voucher that you can use at the barbershop or to purchase products fit for a Sultan. The specially priced 2013 Christmas gift packs start from a very affordable S$99 with the most expensive set setting you back S$199.

To purchase its gift packs or discover its barbering philosophy, head on over to its website at www.sultansofshave.com.

A Touch Of Christmas Tissue Magic

While you’re enjoying this festive season with your family, spare a thought for the disadvantaged children struggling with the obstacles of their daily lives. Then, go a step further and bring a touch of Christmas magic to the lives of this needy children with Watsons! This year, Watsons has adopted the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home as its official charity and as part of its fund raising efforts, the health and beauty giant are selling limited edition box tissues, mini hankies and travel packs featuring colourful artwork specially designed by children from the home. When you purchase one of these products, you’re not only buying a work of art but also helping these children to have a better life, so go ahead and make that difference today.

The limited edition box tissues, mini hankies and travel packs retail between S$2 and S$4.50. Watsons aims to raise S$20,000 for the Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home through this Helping Hands initiative.


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

7


COVERSTORY

s e c n e F t u o h Living Wit

In Sentosa Cove Her home, a beautiful three-storey bungalow that has received a lot of attention in international publications, boasts a much sought-after postal code – 098098. That’s the number you need to write on the front of the envelope if you want to mail a letter to the denizens of Sentosa Cove, quite possibly one of the most desirable addresses in the world.

Sara Taseer’s home in Sentosa Cove has no fences, a decision she made because of the trust she has in Singapore. Discover more about this luxury jeweller, her unique family philosophy and her storied past.

Yet, Sara Taseer, 43, and her husband, financier Salman Shoaib, chose to not ring their abode with a security fence. In fact, as Sara was sitting on her plush couch and sharing her story with us, a golfer was rummaging in the shrubbery looking for an errant golf ball, some ten metres away from where we were seated. We were separated only by a glass door.

Does it not bother you? “No, it doesn’t. It’s actually one of the reasons why I love Singapore – the safety. The country is one of the few places in the world that allows us to live without fences and boundaries, which adds to the quality of life and our peace of mind.” Sara has every reason to put her family’s safety as her one of her top considerations when deciding where to live. Her father Salmaan Taseer was a prominent and outspoken Pakistani

By Farhan Shah

businessman and politician who had been viciously gunned down in 2011 by one of his bodyguards. The reason: the assassin disagreed with Salmaan’s vocal opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. And just seven months later, the Taseer family was rocked again by another tragedy. Sara’s brother, Shahbaz, was kidnapped by unknown abductors. According to Pakistani police, a group of armed men forcibly commandeered Shahbaz’s vehicle at a busy traffic intersection and took him away. Two years later, Shahbaz is still in their hands.* Sara admits that those were really dark days, which left her emotionally and mentally shattered. “No one has any action plans when something terrible like this happens; I just had to learn to cope with it,” says Sara.

The permanent resident and mother of three would set emotional milestones for herself. Every week, she would ask herself how she felt and if she was feeling better than she did the previous week, she knew she was recovering. There were multiple setbacks during her personal journey but slowly, she began to feel better and more alive again. The excellent support provided by her husband and children also helped immensely and now, Sara feels

strong enough to re-start her annual pilgrimages to Pakistan, which she had stopped for close to two years, to visit her family. “The children and I go at least two to three times a year and while we’re there, we take precautions. I still love Pakistan after all,” says Sara, smiling. Indeed, Pakistan was where Sara made a name for herself. She was the country’s first female brokerage house owner to work in the stock exchange, a significant achievement back then when one considers Pakistan’s non-existent women’s rights. Her workplace was also where she first met her future husband, Salman. They were first introduced to each other in 1996, and after interacting regularly at corporate events, the both of them decided to take their relationship to the next level. In 1997, after dating for a year, Sara and Salman reached a crossroads. Salman had accepted a job offer from Credit Suisse in Hong Kong and the both of them had to decide how they wanted to bring the relationship forward. Their conundrum was solved when Salman proposed and soon, the both of them embarked on their nomadic global lifestyle, largely influenced by Salman’s burgeoning banking career. The lovebirds stayed in Hong

If we don’t make a concerted effort to spend time with the children… then, before you know it, our children have become adults and we would wonder what happened during their growing years. 8

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014


Kong, London and New York for the next 13 years and along the way, had three children – two daughters, Meera (14) and Sonia (5), and a son, Faiz (10). Although Sara’s own career aspirations were extinguished due to the constant moves, it laid the seeds for her current business – designing luxurious jewellery pieces for the eponymous Sara Taseer Fine Jewellery. It started out as a fun and lucrative side-line but when the jewellery designs she created for her friends in New York started selling well, her passion soon consumed her life. “My designs started selling very well, not only in New York but also in other countries. So, it was only natural that I progressed into this field, learning as much as I could and even going for an accredited course in gemmology.” So, when the family moved to Singapore in 2010, Sara started hunting for a suitable place to set up a physical shop front for Sara Taseer Fine Jewellery and found it at Raffles Hotel. A year later, she relocated her store to the Hilton Hotel. Juggling the roles of being a successful business owner, a loving mother and a dutiful wife can take its toll not just on her but on the relationships with her children and husband as well, which is why Sara says that the family makes it a point to have dinner together as a unit when everyone is in Singapore. During the meal, which is usually at 7 pm, everyone must put away their digital devices – smartphones, tablets, etc. – and concentrate on being physically and mentally present at the dining table, participating in conversations and sharing what they did during the day. “No one can get up and leave even if they’ve finished their food! They have to sit down and wait until everyone finishes before they are allowed to leave,” Sara shares. “I think it’s important to allot family time or otherwise, everyone would be too caught up with their busy schedules. If we don’t make a concerted effort to spend time with the children, too much time passes by and before you know it, our children have become adults and we would wonder what happened during their growing years.” Sara and Salman adopt a very unique philosophy when it comes to raising their children. While most parents build their new lives centred on their brood and occasionally losing touch with what brought them together in the first place, Sara and Salman decided that their children would have to build their lives

It’s actually one of the reasons why I love Singapore – her safety. The country is one of the few places in the world that allows us to live without fences and boundaries.

around Sara and Salman instead. It might seem somewhat selfish on Sara and Salman’s part, and Sara admits that their viewpoint does appear self-centred to the casual observer. However, dig a bit deeper and you’ll realise that it is their way of inculcating independence, responsibility and a certain sense of awareness in their young ones. Sara is especially proud that her young children are standing up for issues that they believe in (all three kids are fervent environmentalists), just like she once did when she was their age. She once spent a night in jail for demonstrating with her schoolmates on the streets, demanding for gender equality. However, the social activism landscape has dramatically altered now due to 9/11, and Sara is not as gung ho as she used to be. “There are bigger risks now if you get involved in a protest or demonstration. I want my children to stay safe (as any mother would), but I hope that their passion to be part of a worthy social cause doesn’t die when they get older.” What has not changed is Sara’s focus on her children’s education. Sara’s

family boasts a strong lineage in the academic world – her grandfather Dr. Mohammad Din Taseer was the first person from the Indian sub-continent to obtain a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University – and Sara similarly wants her children to excel in school. It is partly one of the reasons why Sara decided to settle down in Singapore; she was impressed with the education system. She had studied at the United World College of South East Asia in her teenage years and upon graduation, made it her life mission to enrol her future children in the same school. “My youngest one, Sonia, was just accepted into the school this year, so I guess you could say my mission is completed!” Sara says with a laugh. Interestingly, Sara doesn’t believe in sending her children for excessive enrichment classes, tuition or otherwise. For example, Sonia only takes tennis and ballet lessons on top of her school schedule. “At her age, I think children need to do what children should be doing – running around with their friends, playing at the beach, etc. – instead of going for class after class after class. I want her to be a child!”

Her children also rarely see the doctor unless absolutely necessary and the household avoids antibiotics. Vaccinations too are few and far between. Sara is a certified homeopath and believes in treating illnesses with as little synthetic interference as possible. And when it comes to money, she believes in keeping her children on a tight budget. She shares a humorous story when she took Sonia to the toy store for the first time. “When she was three, we brought her to the toy store for her birthday. It was her first time visiting the shopping outlet and naturally, she was excited. Funnily enough, she didn’t know that she could bring home the toy that we bought for her! At school, she was so used to playing with and subsequently, returning the toys and was, therefore, quite shocked that she could bring the toy home,” Sara says with a chuckle. Ultimately, she wants her children to understand that the wealth they see every day around them was not the result of a large inheritance but diligently created through hard work. “I tell them that their Dad and I have worked hard to build whatever they see around them. I don’t give them any expectations that their lives will be taken care of by us when they grow up. We tell them that they have to work for their own money.” After all, both Sara and Salman are self-made people who had to battle family tragedies, an unwelcoming home environment and multiple moves around the world to get to where they are at now. But, they’re not kicking up their heels yet. There’s still the rest of their lives to look forward to with their most desirable possessions in the world – their children. *Information correct as of press time.

Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

9


FOCus

Madness

Method In his

Founder and CEO of Lifeline Medical Group, world-renowned horologist, rollerblader, husband and father. We’re probably missing out a few other adjectives but it’s almost impossible to fully list Dr Bernard Cheong’s achievements and passions.

It’s my belief that a man who marries his first serious girlfriend will eventually get the sevenyear itch because he didn’t explore.

There are six longboards stacked neatly on one of the walls of Dr Bernard Cheong’s house, remnants of the time when he would head to East Coast Park and cruise along the shoreline to enjoy the sea view and breeze.

His study resembles the stereotypical unintelligible handwriting of a doctor, if handwriting could be translated into an interior design blueprint – a messy yet intriguing hodgepodge of furniture, paintings and collectibles. “The chair you’re sitting on right now is actually the pilot’s seat on a fighter jet,” Dr Cheong says. He notices the look of concern on my face and lets out a hearty laugh when I look down at the hunk of metal I’m on. “Don’t worry, the plane didn’t crash and the pilot is still alive!” The longboards and the chair, extracted from a multimillion-dollar flying machine, are the perfect personifications of Dr Cheong’s approach to life – an intense, donothing-by-halves attitude. As he admits, when he throws himself at a hobby or issue, he becomes consumed by it. Then, the people around him get pulled into his orbit by the strong gravitational force present in his personality, most notably his wife, Dolly. “When I was into roller blading,

By Farhan Shah

every time I bought a pair of roller blades for myself, I would also buy one for Dolly, whom I was still dating at that time. And I’ve bought 12 pairs for myself, which means I purchased 24 in total! Then, I would force her to blade with me at East Coast Park!”

Twenty-six years of marriage have not dulled this passion for the unexpected nor their affection for each other. After all, it takes a special woman to be able to love a self-professed eccentric personality like Dr Cheong, and the founder and CEO of Lifeline Medical Group admits that he struck gold with Dolly. The both of them met at a family dinner in 1984; Dolly’s cousin had married Dr Cheong’s uncle. At that time, Dolly was studying accountancy at the National University of Singapore, thanks to a government scholarship, while Dr Cheong had just begun his medical journey. Noticing the unassuming lady with the pretty girl-next-door looks, the good doctor chatted her up and invited her to dinner with his friends the following day. This is when each party’s version of events gets relatively fuzzy. Dr Cheong says that Dolly did join him for dinner whereas Dolly insists that the dinner never happened and she was the one who finally had to ask him out. Nevertheless, after three years of courtship filled with forced rollerblading dates and long walks by the beach, Dolly Ong became Mrs Cheong. She was 26 and Dr Cheong was 29. “For the both of us, it was a case of opposites complementing each other. If two strong-headed people marry each other, it would be very difficult, so it’s good that I am quite the relaxed person,” says Dolly, sharing what makes their marriage tick. For Dr Cheong, he enjoys the thoughtful conversations they have every day. “For me, it has always been brains over beauty and I would never marry somebody whom I can’t talk to or who doesn’t understand things beyond a certain level. My contemporaries,

10

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

I became a General Practitioner, or GP, in the 80s, when it was the least popular time to be one! In our circles then, if you became a GP, it’s as good as you failing your medical examinations and getting kicked out into the boondocks.

who are similarly philosophical and reflective, either stay single or end up divorced. So, I consider myself quite blessed to have found someone smart, yet who can still put up with me!” 1990 was an eventful year in the Cheong household. They welcomed a new addition to the family, their daughter Patricia, and also moved into their current residence – a four-storey semi-detached in the idyllic Hillview neighbourhood bought for S$800,000 at that time. Now, in comparison, a similar house in the area goes for roughly S$7 million. With a newborn to look after, it was time for husband and wife to decide whether the both of them would continue furthering their livelihoods and leave the upbringing of their daughter to strange hands, or live on a single income. The choice was clear; the only question was deciding which of them would be the one inking a full stop on their burgeoning careers. Dolly graciously chose to stay at home and bring up Patricia. It was a monumental decision that Dr Cheong would always be grateful for. In return, he decided not to specialise in a medical field so that he could return


underestimated her academic abilities. She’s a way better student than I ever was,” he says proudly. As for their second daughter Cheryl, she’s following in her mother’s footsteps and majoring in business and accountancy, albeit at the Singapore Management University instead of NUS.

with each other and with their two daughters, and they’re glad to share that they’ve had many of these. And the Cheongs are unlike many Asian “I became a General Practitioner, parents. “We actually don’t push our or GP, in the 80s, when it was the daughters hard or send them for least popular time to be one! In our enrichment classes,” says Dolly. circles then, if you became a GP, it’s Dr Cheong chimes in, “In fact, before as good as you failing your medical their examinations, we would head to examinations and getting kicked out the beach for a picnic. Our daughters into the boondocks.” would bring their school books so Dr Cheong even turned down two civil that they could study while still having service traineeships, which, according fun at the same time. After all, it was always great to get their minds out of to Dr Cheong, made him really the dining room where they usually unpopular with the then Permanent studied in.” Secretary. “He told me to not expect to show my face in the government sector ever again!” says Dr Cheong, They must be doing something right. laughing heartily, clearly unaffected Their oldest daughter is currently by the civil servant’s words. studying medicine (like father, like daughter) at the prestigious But, the Cheongs have never been King’s College and, to Dr Cheong’s bothered with money or keeping up surprise, is doing very well. “I was with appearances. To Dr Cheong, worried for her because it is such a reputation and status were, and still are, the least of his concerns, quite an competitive environment but I clearly home from work on time every day, a rather significant move considering the climate of his sector back then.

irony considering his almost reverent standing in the horological world. Dr Cheong is a world-renowned watch collector and has Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey, two of the biggest giants in the watchmaking industry, on his speed dial. The timepiece enthusiast also holds a weighty place in history as the world’s “first non-industry, civilian chairman” of the Asian chapter of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, a contest pitting high-end watch manufacturers with each other for both recognition and bragging rights. He’s even managed to convert his wife into a watch aficionado. Instead, what Dolly and Dr Cheong are more concerned with is creating wonderful, treasured memories

Their two girls’ current successes in life can be attributed to the Cheongs’ willingness to invest a substantial portion of their money on their children’s education, sending them to the best pre-schools, primary schools and finally tertiary institutes. At the same time, to share with their daughters how lucky they have it in life, Dr Cheong and Dolly would bring the two of them to spend time with poor watchmakers who scraped by, living in rented rooms while creating works of art that they could never be able to afford in this lifetime. And it clearly has made an impact on Patricia and Cheryl. For example, during one summer holiday, Patricia boarded a Christian medical missionary boat that was headed to Peru, giving out medicine and providing healthcare services for the inhabitants in the impoverished villages, much to the distress of her parents. “All of those areas are territories of drug lords!” Dr Cheong exclaims, half-serious.

And with both daughters being in their early 20s, the topic of boygirl relationships is something that Dr Cheong and Dolly have to grapple with. It is quite a prickly issue among many parents, with two dominant schools of thought. The first group of parents tend to skirt the topic as much as possible while the other camp demands full, undisclosed access to the goings-on of their daughter’s relationships. So, Dr Cheong’s and Dolly’s somewhat relaxed (some might say nonchalant) attitude towards their two girls’ romantic dealings with boys is quite refreshing, although Dr Cheong is slightly concerned with Patricia’s rather exacting standards for her future significant other. However, he knows best not to interfere. He does have one peculiar piece of relationship advice, which he’s shared with both of his daughters. “We told them to not get too serious with a guy whose first girlfriend is them! It’s very dangerous if the both of them decide to take their relationship to the next level and get married.” My quizzical, raised right eyebrow encouraged Dr Cheong to elaborate. “It’s my belief that a man who marries his first serious girlfriend will eventually get the seven-year itch because he didn’t explore and, shall we say, ‘play’ when he was young and single.” And Dr Cheong wants his two daughters to beat the odds in a society that is becoming increasingly blasé about divorce. At the end of the day, Dr Cheong and his beloved wife want only the best for their daughters, just like any other parent. And this even includes sacrificing their beloved watch collection, valued at just slightly below S$10 million, if that means their two girls will have a better life. Dr Cheong is already planning to pass on his much-valued assortment of timepieces to the both of them, “to do as they please”. Eventually, Dr Cheong and Dolly hope that their daughters will continue the legacy that the both of them have started, neither in medicine nor in accountancy, but in making a difference in people’s lives, just as they have done for the patients, the poor watchmakers and everyone else who came to them to seek help and counsel. But, most of all, they hope that their daughters will live life to the maximum, whether they’re sitting down on a chair formerly warmed by a pilot or scooting along the beach on a longboard. Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

11


FOCus

StandingTall By Farhan Shah

For most of us, it’s a time for celebration. For Noraini Adnan, a lady with cerebral palsy, she’s just thankful to be alive to enjoy this time together with her family.

Speaking with Noraini over the phone is quite the treat. The enthusiasm in her voice is infectious, as though it’s the first time she’s having a conversation with someone over Bell’s invention. We met on a searing afternoon at The Fabulous Baker Boy Café, a cosy hideyhole at the bottom of The Foothills.

As I opened the glass doors of the place, I immediately recognised Noraini, not by the motorised wheelchair that she uses to get around in, but by the radiant smile that broke out when she saw me. I would imagine it’s the same grin that appears on her face each time she uses her mobile phone.

Any lesser mortal would have been crushed by the immense pressure. Noraini’s parents, spurred by a combination of love, devotion and responsibility, persevered.

Noraini Adnan is 41-years-young with a healthy head of hair with eyes that sparkle when she talks about the different responsibilities that she’s currently handling. Noraini also has cerebral palsy, the result of a severe case of jaundice that struck her down when she was only three days old. “My parents had to rush me to the hospital for an urgent blood transfusion and were sick with worry. They were incredibly thankful when I survived,” says Noraini. During the next few months following the scare, Noraini’s parents went about with their lives, working hard in the day before happily returning back home in the evening. It was everything they dreamt of: the HDB equivalent of white picket fences. It was not to be. A year after she took her first few breaths, Noraini was still finding it difficult to sit up without the assistance of her parents. Speaking also proved to be hard and when the doctor diagnosed Noraini with cerebral palsy, her parents’ world crumbled.

The word “cerebral” refers to the area in the brain or the cerebrum that is affected while “palsy” means complete or partial muscle paralysis. The cerebrum is responsible for memory, ability to learn, and communication skills, so when the cerebrum is damaged, it might lead to cerebral palsy. Scientists have discovered that cerebral palsy usually occurs in the first six months of the pregnancy and is due to three possible reasons: 1. Damage of the brain’s white matter 2. Abnormal development of the brain 3. Bleeding in the brain due to stroke

12

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

“But, they picked themselves up off the ground and carried on, trying to give me a normal life as much as possible,” says Noraini. It was a long and uphill trek, punctuated with three painful surgeries – physically for Noraini and mentally for her parents. Any lesser mortal would have been crushed by the immense pressure. Noraini’s parents, spurred by a combination of love, devotion and responsibility, persevered. And they never believed in hiding Noraini from the world. Instead, they brought her grocery shopping, took her on short holidays and allowed her to play with her cousins. “My cousin Juwanda dropped me once,” says Noraini, giggling at the roughhousing memory. She was eight, her cousin just a year younger, and they were on a grocery run at the neighbourhood supermarket. “Do you remember that incident, Juwanda?” Noraini asks her cousin, the fabulous baker boy. Juwanda, one year younger than Noraini, mocks a sigh. “She IS such a drama queen. The truth is, I was pushing her wheelchair, and we were running around and having fun, when she fell off the chair onto the ground. Instead of helping her, I just laughed. And she, too, started laughing!” “You see! He didn’t help me immediately!” It was an exchange that no one else would have dared to have with Noraini, for fear of being offensive. But, the bond the duo has developed with each other since young gives Juwanda an insight into Noraini’s life that no one knows – he understands that ultimately, Noraini just wants to be treated normally like everyone else, good-natured insults included. The both of them share a longrunning vacuum cleaner gag, when Juwanda first told the café’s staff that Noraini would be attaching a hoover to the wheels of her motorised wheelchair and would begoing around the café to clean the floor. The employees were, according to Juwanda, slightly aghast and momentarily thought that the

bespectacled baker was dead serious. “She has to earn her keep! She can’t keep coming here to eat my cakes for free,” Joowanda said to me. Noraini breaks out into riotous laughter upon hearing that. These moments of levity with her close family member during the interview indicates how Noraini approaches life, despite being thrown a multitude of setbacks that she’s had to overcome. The three major operations that she was subjected to, the passing of her biological mother when she was 18, the numerous stares she received from the members of the public when she headed out with her parents – they’re experiences that have shaped her into the independent and spirited woman she is today. Noraini too was in a position to create history when she was 14, after she was selected to be the first student with a disability to be admitted into the mainstream school system. At that time, she was studying in the Spastic Children’s Association. Unfortunately, during that period, she was suffering from excruciating back spasms that would leave her immobile. The condition meant she was unable to accept the offer. It was only two years later that she met a renowned paediatric neurologist who managed to keep the spasms under control with medication, some of which she’s still taking now, almost 30 over years later. But, Noraini is not one to dwell on the past. Instead, she attacks the present with gusto and has kept herself busy, involving herself in a laundry list of activities to champion the disabled cause. And when she’s not busy scooting around in her motorised wheelchair to be the voice of the less fortunate, she meets her father, whom she’s still very close to, for a spot of coffee and heads to her cousin’s café to scare the new employees with made-up tales of the wheelchair-hoover hybrid. The enthusiasm never wanes and, of course, the smile never leaves her face.


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

13


NURTURE

Power Your Child with By Neu Weetee

Multiple ntelligences

IQ is not the only indicator of intelligence! Family & Life speaks to Julie Viens, a leading expert on the theory of Multiple Intelligences and discovers that all children are smart, just not always in the way you think.

For a parent, understanding how your child processes information is becoming more important now, especially since competition for places in prestigious schools gets more heated. With this ever-escalating emphasis on academic results, focusing on your child’s innate talents seems to be an option that will pay off in the long run. The traditional measurement of intelligence – psychometrically (i.e. IQ) – may just fall short on shedding light on how your child actually processes information. And that is where the theory of Multiple Intelligences comes in. The theory of Multiple Intelligences, or MI, was first proposed by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. MI suggests that human beings possess many cognitive capacities, in contrast to the common understanding that we are only endowed with a single intelligence. To date, there are eight distinct intelligences expounded by the theory: linguistic, logical-mathematical, visualspatial, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal and the ninth, naturalist intelligence was added in 1996.

So just what is MI and what can it tell us? Perhaps it would be easier to start with understanding what MI is not. MI does not mean personality traits, learning styles or other psychological constructs. It is particularly easy to confuse MI with learning styles. The latter involves how we prefer to take in information while MI deals with the ways we process information and the types of information we are designed to process. For example, being spatially intelligent doesn’t mean you need graphic organisers to learn – that is a visual-spatial learning style. It just means having the ability to manipulate images and space in the mind to complete work and process information. Artists, surgeons and athletes have high levels of spatial intelligence. 14

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Logical-mathematical intelligence is not only about numbers but is also about our ability to understand logical relations, causality and critical thinking. People with well-developed logicalmathematical intelligence markers tend to use hard logic to process and solve different problems. One may be tempted to think that each intelligence is like a separate section of the brain, working on its own to process information, but the truth is that while each intelligence is relatively autonomous from a biological perspective, they work in tandem. For example, to play in a band, you need more than musical intelligence alone. You’ll require bodilykinaesthetic, interpersonal and so on. In short, all tasks need a combination of different intelligences to be successfully completed. The theory of MI has a few detractors who claim that there isn’t enough

A Primer on Intelligences

Linguistic Word wizards who enjoy reading, playing word games and writing stories. They have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. Logical-mathematical Problem solvers who enjoy exploring patterns and abstract relationships. They love experimenting and are great at solving complex computations. Visual-spatial Visual thinkers who are very adept in interpreting pictures and charts and enjoy drawing and painting. They learn best through drawing and physical imagery. Musical Rhythm lovers who are sensitive to sounds in the environment and may study better with music in the background. They are good at remembering songs and melodies. Bodily-kinaesthetic Coordination masters who have excellent hand-eye coordination, dexterity and physical control. They remember by doing instead of hearing or seeing. Interpersonal Social butterflies who are good at interacting with other people. They are sensitive to non-verbal communication signals and are great at resolving group conflicts. Interpersonal Introspective introverts who have excellent self-awareness. They are independent learners who usually have high confidence and hold strong opinions. Naturalist Nature people who are attuned to the environment and enjoy the great outdoors. They find it a joy to catalogue and categorise information.

evidence to support the research. However, it has also had considerable success around the world. Project Zero, an educational research group at the graduate school of education at Harvard University, launched a study in 1992, which led to findings that suggested MI helps schools in several ways. It offers a vocabulary for teachers to use in discussing children’s strengths and in developing curriculum, and it promotes or justifies education in diverse art forms. Because of the different forms of intelligences, schools are encouraged to devise rich educational experiences for children from diverse backgrounds.

But is it viable in exam-oriented Singapore? According to Julie Viens, a leading expert on MI theory and its applications,

certain things should happen to create opportunities for children to learn; we must expand how we approach children’s learning materials while still teaching testtaking skills. This means that we must increase the things being taught and how they are taught, and more importantly, observe each student and see which intelligence they show promise in. Opportunity is the key word here and educators are instrumental in providing the proper ones so as to let the children naturally gravitate towards their specific strengths. While exams in Singapore are generally not related to the MI theory, slight tweaks to the education system, which includes adjusting the learning process to leverage on the different multiple intelligences, would see more children in Singapore benefitting from MI theory.


Building Blocks for

Happy Kids!

Are our kids too stressed? Is the relentless pursuit of excellence resulting in unhappy children? Family & Life sits down with Associate Professor Chang Weining and finds out the answers to these questions and more.

Singapore is a stressful place to be a child. Being a kid here means you’re subjected to multiple stressors – having to perform well in school, a schedule chockfull of tuition and enrichment classes, peer pressure and more – that would overwhelm even most adults. And when these kids fail to reach the sometimes impossibly high standards set by their parents and schools, they might become depressed and start harbouring negative thoughts. It’s an unhealthy situation to be in for any kid, which is why the Health Promotion Board has launched a

Why is it important for parents to take note of their children’s mental well-being? AP Chang: Good mental well-being helps a child thrive and flourish in different settings, be it at home, at school or in the community. Studies have shown that kids with positive mental well-being are able to achieve better outcomes in life such as doing better in school, having meaningful and more productive relationships, and being less susceptible to risky health behaviours.

In my opinion, Singaporean parents place too much focus on achievements such as getting good grades, making money, etc.! Instead, they should respect the child’s individuality… rather than mould the child to fit their own ideal image.

Inversely, when a child feels rejected, long-term depression and anxiety can set in which, in extreme cases, might result in substance abuse and an inability to hold on to healthy and productive relationships at work or in his or her personal life. What can parents do to improve their children’s mental health? AP Chang: In my opinion, Singaporean parents place too much focus on achievements such as getting good grades, making money, etc.! Instead, they should respect the child’s individuality and provide enough room for the child’s natural development rather than mould the child to fit their own ideal image. What parents can do is to focus on why certain behaviour is unacceptable. For example, if the child does something wrong, instead of labelling him or her a “bad child”, focus on pointing out why that behaviour is not acceptable.

new initiative to nip this problem in the bud. Playfully named Colours of the Mind, this mental well-being scale aims to strengthen a child’s mental resilience and encourage a positive state of mind. We speak to the principal consultant responsible for conceptualising the scale in Colours of the Mind – Associate Professor Chang Weining from the Department of Psychology in DukeNUS Graduate Medical School – who explains the importance of mental well-being in children and shares her own thoughts of a kid’s life in Singapore today.

It can be damaging to the child if he or she is pigeonholed as “no good”, or worse, that “nobody wants you”! We want children to feel accepted and supported by their parents, so that they’ll develop a positive state of mind. Achievements will naturally follow from there. Isn’t the pursuit of achievement in Singapore’s competitive society to blame for creating stressed-out children? AP Chang: Well, there are many reasons why children experience stress but it’s more important that we, as parents, concentrate on building the strengths of children early so that they are able to overcome setbacks and challenges, rather than just focus on merely alleviating stressful situations. Having said that though, I wish our students would be given more time for self-reflection, which helps with the children’s growth and awareness. Our Asian society also doesn’t take too kindly to failure, unfortunately. Any thoughts on this? AP Chang:Thinking that a single mistake could potentially derail a child’s future is not healthy. Our children should be confident that there always different ways to be successful and life always offers seconds chances. They should also be encouraged to think of options in their lives, and that they have the power to create the life that they want for themselves.

The Building Blocks Your child’s mental well-being comprises three factors:

1

Positive Functioning “I can solve problems and I value myself!”

Children with high positive functioning value themselves. They are able to learn well, make good decisions, and can adapt to different situations in school and at home.

2

Social Intelligence “I get along with people.”

Children with high social intelligence are able to build and maintain good relationships with their family and friends. They share their emotions with others and also provide a listening ear. They’re able to cooperate with others and are able to seek advice when making major decisions.

3

Emotional intelligence “I know my feelings!”

Children with positive emotional intelligence display mastery of their feelings when in different situations. They are able to maintain positive attitudes and are able to better manage their emotions in difficult times. They have no problems sharing, expressing and discussing their emotions with others.

Colours of the Mind Head over to www.coloursofthemind.sg to access the quick and easy guide that helps you to assess your child’s strengths and current state of mental well-being. The questionnaire, available to parents with children aged between 6 and 12, helps them to look out for positive behaviour in children and promotes the frequency of positive behaviour. After completing the questionnaire, parents can try the different activities proposed to help incorporate positive skill building in their child’s daily activities. After all, a happy child is a positive one! Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

15


NURTURE

If Theatre Be

The Food Of Learning, Entertainment, education and exhilaration in one package! Family & Life goes backstage and discovers how theatre can be used to not only delight but teach our young ones about the world.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. What Shakespeare accidentally omitted from his famous line was that the stage is also a great educational tool for young and impressionable children! Okay, we’re kidding about the Bard’s mistake. However, the latter is definitely true – theatre is an alternative and fun learning platform for kids, and is slowly gaining popularity in Singapore schools, thanks to the efforts of drama production companies like the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT). In the past, theatre was perceived as a luxurious and pricey experience and although such mindsets have slowly changed in the past decade, there’s still a lot of work to be done to convince parents that theatre is an educational and accessible form of learning. However, SRT’s Education Manager Claire Yang is optimistic about the future. “We’re working together with different academic organisations to make theatre a part of children’s everyday life, the way they would go to the Science Centre or the Jurong Bird Park,” she explains. The key, according to Claire, is to select themes like bullying or sibling rivalry that would resonate with children of different age groups. It’s also important that the young audience can relate to and are familiar with the stories being staged, although most theatre companies like to keep things interesting by adding a few twists and turns to the plot. And despite the rise of digital educational tools, SRT’s Executive Director Charlotte Nors strongly believes that theatre is still a relevant and cost-effective teaching model. “Theatre has the magical element because it is live and is happening right in front of you! And the shows we stage for kids are very interactive. For example, during one of our plays titled Upstairs In The Sky, we passed around cloves and oranges among the audience when one of the cast members remarked that his grandfather smelled of cloves and oranges,” Charlotte says. On top of that, theatre is also an excellent tool for cultivating a love for the humanities in children. Executive Producer of ABA Productions Pte Ltd Matthew Gregory, one of the folks

16

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Play On!

responsible for bringing in KidsFest 2014 (a festival featuring nine worldclass kids’ theatre productions), highly recommends theatre to families. “It’s a wonderful platform for family bonding and at the same time, nurtures a child’s interest in literature and language,” Matthew says.

struggle to fill the seats for a week’s run to now having little problems packing in the crowds for a few weeks at a time. And despite having seen almost everything that theatre has to offer, she still loves the moment when she sees a child’s face light up as the red curtains start parting. “There is nothing like sitting in the front row and seeing the kids go ‘Woah!’ when the play begins. And when you see these kids coming back again with their parents to watch the same play again, you know that theatre has touched their hearts and minds,” Charlotte says.

Finally, theatre provides children, whether as an audience member or as a participant, with an outlet to act out and experience important issues that are rarely talked about with their family or friends. Theatre organisations like SRT are making inroads into the schools by holding drama workshops and providing The theatre scene for children is set to get teachers with extensive even bigger with KidsFest 2014, which takes teaching materials, so that place in January and February 2014! the lessons that the children learn from the workshops “KidFest is an exciting festival for the whole remain with them even after family where compelling characters are the workshops are long over. brought to life and scenes from well-loved books are enacted vividly on stage.” Matthew Timeless stories such as The Gregory, Executive Producer Ugly Duckling, which touches on the issue of bullying, What’s Showing! let children temporarily • What The Ladybird Heard experience a different • The Gruffalo’s Child person’s world. This develops • Private Peaceful the quality of empathy in • The Snow Dragon young minds, a valuable trait • The Gruffalo to have in an increasingly self• The Boy Who Cried Wolf centred society. • Horrible Histories: Awful Egyptians • Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors Charlotte, who has been • We’re Going On A Bear Hunt working in Singapore’s theatre scene for close to 12 years, For more information on ticket prices and reveals the heartening progress show synopses and timings, do check out of the Singapore arts scene, www.kidsfest.com.sg. from when many plays used to


Let The Punishment

Fit The Crime To cane or not to cane? That’s usually the question a lot of parents face when they want to discipline their children. We talk to Dr Penny Tok who explains whether caning is ever justifiable and what are the types of appropriate punishment for children in different age groups.

Disciplining your children when they’ve done something wrong is a bit like walking on a tightrope – one mistake, accidental or not, and the repercussions are almost irreversible. Furthermore, with the amount of conflicting information out there regarding the appropriate level of punishment for children of different ages, especially about the merits and demerits of corporal discipline, it’s understandable that most parents will be confused and unsure about whether they’re doing the right thing. Experienced child psychologist Dr Penny Tok reassures parents that, by and large, disciplining your children when they have done something wrong is good parenting. The key, according to her, is to understand the differences between the concepts of discipline, which is good, and punishment, which can be bad.

DISCIPLINE Focuses on teaching the child new skills such as knowing how to manage your emotions Instils in the child ideas of what is appropriate and inappropriate behaviour Fosters a positive relationship between parent and child Teaches the qualities of responsibility and independence in the child One of the enduring issues that many parents grapple with is the use of corporal punishment, or caning. According to a study released in July and conducted by Elizabeth Gershoff from the University of Texas, the overwhelming evidence points to spanking being a bad tool for discipline. One of the main reasons why caning or spanking is ineffective is because “spanking does not convey positive guidance on how to behave in a particular situation, only how NOT to behave if a threat of punishment is at hand”.

A child is defenceless and corporal punishment does not explain to the child what he has done wrong and why.

Dr Tok reiterates this, stating that “many children around the world have been raised without the need for physical punishment and they have mostly turned out to be welladjusted adults”. She explains, “Children need to learn appropriate behaviours and to stop inappropriate ones due to an inner motivation and understanding to do so, and not because they are afraid of being hit! A child is defenceless and corporal punishment does not explain

VS

PUNISHMENT Often a physical intervention that is the result of frustration and desperation from parents Only tells the child that he or she is “bad” without being told the reason why Creates a hostile and testy household environment Tells the child that their opinions don’t matter and they lack the ability to make any decisions on their own to the child what he has done wrong and why.” However, she stresses that parents must understand that not using the cane does not mean the child goes undisciplined. There are still appropriate disciplinary methods that parents can employ to get their message across and to teach the child what is right and what is wrong. Having said that though, “a smack on the bottom or the hand as part of overall good parenting will not emotionally harm the child in any way”. So, what exactly is good parenting when it comes to the topic of children’s discipline? The keys are to remain consistent when meting out the punishment, to explain to the child the reasons why the behaviour warrants disciplining, and to enlighten the child with the correct and appropriate behaviour. This, however, depends on how old the child is. Dr Tok details a few appropriate disciplinary methods for children in two age groups.

From a few-months- to threeyear-olds At this age, toddlers and infants are still mentally immature and will have trouble understanding the reasons why they cannot continue with their inappropriate behaviour. However, this does not mean that you cannot discipline your child; it just means that lengthy discussions over the reasons why his or her behaviour is inappropriate will probably not get you very far! Remember that they do not yet have a very good grasp of the spoken language, so keep your vocabulary and sentences simple. Use short phrases and focus on the key points while using real objects to demonstrate your point of view. For example, say, “Dylan made a big mess. It is dirty now and the ants might come” while pointing to the mess that your child has created. Using exaggerated facial expressions and voice tones can also help them to better comprehend the situation. One of the best ways to correct your child is to ask him or her to “undo” the wrong such as cleaning up the mess or to apologise and give a hug if he or she hurt someone. This will teach the child that even if he or she has made a mistake, there are ways that he or she can make up for it. From four- to eight-year-olds At this age, time-outs are an effective method of discipline. They should not be viewed as punishment but as an opportunity for the child to be removed from the (overly) stimulating environment and to calm down and reflect on what they have done. Deliver realistic “sentences” – for a young child, only two to five minutes of solitude will suffice. Finally, time-out will only be effective if an adult discusses with the child the reasons for the timeout. This is best done after he or she has “served time”. Using visuals (e.g. drawing cartoons) will also help the child understand why the action was inappropriate and how it negatively affected others. Conversely, praising children for appropriate behaviour signals to them that their behaviour is appropriate. It also helps to ensure that your child continues behaving well!

Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

17


NURTURE

Happiness Is Just A Howl Family & Life chats with SPCA Education Manager Selina Sebastian and discovers what pets are suitable for your child and how animals teach your child about the world.

Animals are adorable, make wonderful additions to the family and can teach your children valuable life lessons. However, with great power (over a life) comes great responsibility. Selina Sebastian, Education Manager at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Singapore (SPCA), reveals more.

Three- to Seven-Year-Olds Selina: At this age, it’s important that parents be heavily involved in raising a pet with their children because most kids have not fully developed their mental faculties for the heavy responsibility of owning a pet. It’s also vital that both parent and child must want a pet because it’s very natural for a child to lose interest in the pet over time, which might result in him or her abandoning the pet, and we wouldn’t want that!

Photographs @ SPCA

Within this age range, most animals are suitable starter pets, as long as the parents are also mentally and emotionally invested in caring for the animal as well. However, I wouldn’t recommend:

Learning About Responsible Pet Ownership Ready for you and your children to take the first step? Before taking the furry plunge, Selina recommends that you and your kids interact regularly with animals first, whether it’s at a pet shelter or even the house of a relative who has a pet. Learning about animals from books, the Internet and perhaps this article also helps prepare you and your children for the complexities of owning a pet. And lastly, Selina highly recommends adopting a pet rather than buying a new animal from the store! “When you adopt, you’re teaching your child the value of a life, as you’re saving an animal and giving him or her a home! There are so many homeless animals. Why would you buy one when there are so animals that need a place to stay?”

18

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

• Small animals such as hamsters and guinea pigs Many people have the misconception that small pets are easy to take care of but in reality, most tiny animals are skittish creatures and tend to run away when facing something bigger – all the more pertinent because young children tend to be more exuberant and might accidentally hurt or even lose the pet if they’re not careful.

Away

• Rabbits These furry, cute animals are prey animals, which means everything is a threat to them. Loud noises scare them and most of them actually don’t like to be carried. They also prefer being as close to the ground as possible due to their nature and being hoisted high up in the air makes them incredibly uncomfortable. A young child who is not experienced with the nature of rabbits might find them boring.

Seven- to 12-Year-Olds Selina: At this age, your school-going children will have begun developing a stronger sense of responsibility. This is good as it means that they will likely take the initiative to feed the pet and make sure it’s well taken care of. Some wonderful starter pets for children at this age are: • Hamsters Unlike other small animals such as guinea pigs and mice, who are better in pairs due to their social nature, these furry critters are solitary animals who are completely fine with living alone. Hamsters are also easy to look after, only requiring clean sand, water and seeds or grains. This might also sound a bit morbid but it bears saying – a hamster’s lifespan, on average, is between two and three years, which is emotionally beneficial for your young child, who will not be too badly affected when the hamster does pass away. • Dogs and cats These animals are understandably popular options because they’re hardier and interact more with people. Your children will have a great time bonding with the dog or cat, whether it’s taking the dog out for walks, cleaning the kitty litter tray or just playing with them. However, they will live a long time and require a lot more effort to take care of, so it’s important that you and your children are ready for the responsibility. Generally, I would not recommend keeping birds as our flying companions are happier in the wild and caging them up is a very stressful experience for them.

Qualities Children Learn From Pets

Compassion and Consideration Caring for another living being, whether it’s a small hamster or a large dog, inculcates the qualities of compassion and consideration in your children. Being responsible for another life that’s reliant on the child for companionship and food is a wonderful learning experience for him or her. Handling Death Better Unfortunately, a beloved pet will usually meet its demise before the owner, and while the death of a furry member of the family is a tragic time, it also helps to teach children the idea of death and that it’s a natural cycle of life. This helps them to be better prepared if and when they encounter death again. Moral Lessons Gandhi once said that “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Taking care of an animal, big or small, teaches young children the power of love and kindness. They become more conscious of how their actions affect not just the animal but the world around them at the same time. The result: children grow up to be nicer and warmer adults. Happiness It’s a great feeling to return to a home at the end of a tiring day, whether you spent it at the office or at school, into a loving embrace of an animal who is excited to see you just as you are excited to see him or her!


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

19


HEALTH

Under The Sea,

Darling It’s Better

Sebastian, the talking crab from The Little Mermaid sang this little ditty about how life underwater was better than on land. And he might just be right! We talk to gynaecologists about the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth in water, also known as hydro-birthing.

By Neu Weetee

Giving birth is often associated with the proud joys of attaining parenthood. Sometimes, however, the fear of pain and complications may get in the way. Water birth, which refers to childbirth that occurs in water, is said to provide a less painful and stressful experience with a key benefit of reducing the need of epidurals.

Benefits The several benefits that mothers receive from hydro-birthing revolve around the change in environment water brings about.

1

Relaxation According to Associate Professor Chong Yap Seng, senior consultant of NUH Women’s Centre, the warm water helps mothers cope with the discomfort of labour. The water also provides buoyancy so that mothers are not stuck in one position during childbirth. They can float around and adopt positions that are comfortable for them in the tub. Warm water also relaxes the pelvic floor muscles, leading to lesser resistance from the birth canal during delivery and helping to facilitate labour during the second stage of delivery. Water births also reduce the risk of the perineum, the area between the vagina and the anus, tearing during labour.

2

What can you expect from a water birth? There are various pre-requisites to fulfil and preparations to be made before you can attempt a water birth. “It is not just simply going into a bathtub filled with water and giving birth. There must be adequate preparation. It’s a personal choice that’s totally dependent on the individual and their expectations of childbirth,” Professor Chong says. Unsuitable candidates Mothers who: • Have pregnancy-related complications such as preeclampsia or toxaemia • Have health problems such as high blood pressure, hepatitis B or viral infections • Are carrying twins or other multiples • Are giving birth to a baby in the breech position (baby’s bottom or feet ready to come out first) Dr Tseng also emphasises that the amount of pain mothers can tolerate is

20

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

a key consideration, as drugs are normally not administered during water births.

Drug- and trauma-free Dr. Paul Tseng of Thomson Medical Centre explains that a water birth is usually drugfree since hydrotherapy relieves pain. The benefits for the baby are less clear, but some feel that it is a smoother and less traumatic transition from the mother’s Possible Risks womb into the world for the Critics of water births say that the benefits infant due to the liquid are not supported with concrete evidence and that environment. there are risks involved.

“Medical literature reveals several reports of concerns A mother who associated with water birth, including inhalation of the wants to attempt a contaminated water by the baby, risk of infection and temperature water birth will go regulation issues,” Professor Tan Kok Hian, Chairman of the Division through a thorough of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at KK Women’s and education about Children’s Hospital, says. the procedures and the risks However, Dr. Tseng maintains that these disadvantages and risks are involved as well possible only in the theoretical sense. “By not using a spa, bacteria as the necessary collating in the recycled water is prevented. In all my years of preparations she conducting water births since 1995, I haven’t had any infections needs to undertake, and complications.” which includes engaging the services of A common concern is over the risk of infant drowning. a one-to-one midwife or However, Dr. Tseng asserts that he has never doula, attending antenatal heard of a properly conducted water birth classes, and discussing the locally that resulted in procedure with her obstetrician. an infant drowning. What happens if something goes wrong during a water birth? Don’t panic! The doctors are trained and know what to do in the event anything significantly life-altering occurs. Mothers must also realise the obstacles and signs that might emerge, which will render them unable to go

on with their water birth. If the baby shows signs of distress, the water birth will be called off and a vaginal delivery in bed or a Caesarean section will be performed.


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

21


HEALTH

Pain-Free Childbirth?

Hypno -possible!

No epidurals, no Caesareans and minimal discomfort! Childbirth can now be an exhilarating and natural experience with hypnotherapy. Family & Life talks to a clinical hypnotherapist, a mother and a doctor to find out more about hypno-birthing.

...it’s about getting the conscious mind out of the way so that the body can get on with the birthing.

Giving birth to a child is one of the most joyous life experiences a woman can have. However, at the same time, the idea of going into labour scares a lot of women due to the pain and uncertainty they’ll be experiencing. What if we told you that the discomfort of childbirth can be dramatically minimised and the agony transformed into bliss? That’s the magic of hypnotherapy, according to experienced clinical hypnotherapist Jonathan GarsideAtkinson of The Hypnosis Clinic. There is no mumbo-jumbo involved; hypnotherapy is just used to “encourage the mother and her body to do what it already knows how to do, without the need for any medical intervention”. With the painful portrayals of childbirth in the media and the horror stories from well-meaning friends, a lot of mothers are, quite naturally, afraid of opting for a natural birth without the assistance of a cocktail of drugs. Yet, the thought of losing control of the process is also a discomforting consideration. Hypnotherapy does away with this dilemma by empowering the mother and letting her take charge of the entire pregnancy journey, from when she is first aware of the new life gestating in her womb until the actual childbirth itself.

Medical Opinions on Hypno-birthing

“Hypnotherapy gives you the tools to not only minimise the pain of childbirth but can also help you with managing your morning sickness, getting attracted to the right diet for you and your unborn baby, and even helping you maintain the elasticity of your skin!” says Jonathan. He continues, “Women are genetically programmed to be able to do this and a lot of the time, it’s about getting the conscious mind out of the way so that the body can get on with the birthing.”

How does hypnosis and hypnotherapy work? s in the The common consensu that hypnosis is scientific community conscious bypasses the analytical, mmunicates part of your mind and co rtion with the subconscious po e for ibl ns po instead, the one res as ch autonomic processes su . breathing and swallowing therapist During hypnotherapy, the and as plants suggestions, ide scious of thoughts into the subcon or her to the patient, allowing him te pain or overcome a fear, elimina tive that jec accomplish any other ob ve. he or she wants to achie

So, does hypnosis and hypnotherapy actually work? dy done in A Stanford University stu sis alters 2000 suggests that hypno world. the s how the brain perceive su ed bjects In the study, the hypnotis even though observed seeing colours d white, and the image was black an the parts t PET scans showed tha ponsible of the subjects’ brains res owed for processing colours sh ty. tivi ac of increased signs t, science So, yes, to a certain exten y does work! proves that hypnotherap

Essentially, hypnotherapy helps mothers to relax, remain calm and enjoy the experience.

Nicole, one of Jonathan’s patients, share with us her hypno-birthing experience.

Every hypno-birthing programme is tailored to the specific needs of each mother, based on her expectations and fears. As part of his programme, Jonathan also provides each of his patients with a memory stick that they bring home to listen to on their own.

When the contractions came, I was amazingly calm but at the same time, overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of seeing my baby. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any pain at all, just mild discomfort – like pins and needles – while I was getting myself into position.

According to Jonathan, all of his patients report that they are not the only ones reaping the benefits of hypno-birthing. Their babies too are happier, more relaxed and demonstrate higher Apgar (a simple method to quickly summarise the health of newborn babies through complexion, pulse rate, reflex, activity and respiratory effort) scores.

Hypno-birthing worked incredibly well for me and I would recommend it to other mothers. I feel that birth is too often over-medicated, which means that the mother is not in control of the situation. Appreciate the extraordinary event that’s taking place! Without drugs, you’ll be able to move around better following the birth and you’ll be properly alert to enjoy the first moments of your baby’s life.

“Hypno-birthing techniques are effective when used for pain management in childbirth. The techniques teach mothers-to-be to go into deep relaxation during the contractions so their bodies do not try and fight them. Removing the fear of pain allows the body to relax and get on with labour and birth successfully. I would recommend hypno-birthing as one of the modalities of pain management in labour.” Dr T C Chang, W C Cheng & Associates, Thomson Medical Centre “Hypno-birthing is a safe technique with no side effects. I have cared for many women who used hypno-birthing during labour and in many cases, it helped them achieve a normal birth with minimal or no intervention. However, there are no guarantees as sometimes other medical factors come into play that are not the woman’s fault (e.g. the baby is in the breech delivery position). It’s just nature sometimes.” Deborah Fox, EMMA Care Co-ordinator, NUH Women’s Centre

22

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

23


HEALTH

Beat the

Bug

It’s the season of feasting and having fun with the family, so make sure the flu bug doesn’t keep you or your children down with these Family & Life tips.

By Nasri Shah

When was the last time your holiday to-do list began with “A Vacation to Machu Picchu” instead of “Cleaning Snot in the Playroom”? Save yourself a repeat of last year’s vacation (yes, the one where you exchanged homeopathic flu remedies with a fellow parent) and keep these handy tips in mind to counter the flu season for a worry- (and phlegm) free year-end celebration.

Good Habits for Staying Flu-Free

• Influenza is spread through three ways 1. By direct transmission from an infected person via the eyes, mouth or nose 2. Airborne 3. Through contact between the hands, eyes, mouth or nose. • Practise good hygiene Because of the way the virus is spread, practising good hygiene such as washing your child’s (and your own) hands regularly with soap or alcohol-based hand sanitizers will greatly minimise exposure to the virus. The flu often displays • Stay healthy symptoms similar to the A good immune system is your body’s defence against the virus, According to the Health common cold such as so a balanced diet, a healthy intake of vitamins, a good dose of Promotion Board, the flu season fever, a runny nose, sore exercise and a substantial amount of rest will help keep your body in Singapore typically falls between throat, muscle pains and in tip-top condition. May and July, and December and fatigue. Both, however, • Put that alcohol to good use February, which coincide with are caused by different The virus survives for as long as two days on non-porous surfaces the school holidays and festive viruses, with the flu such as children’s toys and doorknobs so clean the house regularly season. We suppose the crowds causing more severe and with sanitizers like bleach or alcohol. and close proximity to other longer-lasting symptoms, • When heading out people play a part! with the risk of developing into Keep a wet wipe with you when going out with your children to clean complications such as pneumonia. their hands so they don’t unknowingly introduce the virus into their drooling mouths. Derived from the Italian term for • Invest in a flu vaccination “influence”, the influenza virus was Studies done at the University of New South Wales suggests that named to reflect the way the disease the vaccination, which lasts for a few years, is one of the most infected others aerially and through cost-effective preventive treatments for the family and the people human contact. around you. • Keep away from children’s parties! Children are unfortunately the most vulnerable Myths about the Flu victims and most resilient carriers of the disease. • A face mask is all I need While adults are typically most infectious for a period Whilst surgical masks reduce transmission of the virus when caring for, or in contact with, of five days starting from before they exhibit any the sick, a study by the World Health Organisation in 2006 suggests that such masks are symptoms, children continue to be infectious even up inadequate in countering the virus independently, particularly in public and open spaces. In to two weeks after recovering from their symptoms. other words, a face mask should always be supplemented by the good habits we’ve listed! • And if you have to go that party… • The use of antibiotics Keep informed about each other’s health by staying Antibiotics and analgesics do not treat the flu infection as it is viral and not bacterial. These in contact with other parents, colleagues and friends medications may, however, be used to treat or relieve select symptoms or secondary in the event that any of them contract the virus. infections, such as bacterial pneumonia. So once again, check with your family physician on the appropriate medications. • Getting vaccinated during pregnancy Treating the Virus Getting a flu jab will not have any effects on your pregnancy. On the contrary, a flu jab will help • Stay home. You are not doing anyone any favours by keep you and your baby vaccinated even after his or her birth and the first months following going to work with the flu or having your children that. In fact, pregnant women are advised to get a flu vaccination as getting the disease during attend school when they have it. Resting at home pregnancy can, according to Dr Christopher Ng, increase the risks of preterm labour, low birth reduces transmission of the virus to others, whilst weight babies and, in severe cases, even miscarriage. giving your body ample time to recover. • Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids to support your “Vaccinations play a major role in reducing the risk of pregnant women getting the flu, as body’s recovery, and avoid consuming alcohol or pregnancy is an immune-compromised state. However, pregnant women should be vaccinated using tobacco. using an inactivated vaccine instead of a live attenuated vaccine.” • Get treated! Antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu and Dr Anita S. Kale, Consultant, NUH Women’s Centre Relenza are commonly prescribed medication to treat the flu by reducing the length of time that “The antibodies in maternal vaccinations from mothers can pass through the breast milk to give you are ill. On average, Tamiflu reduces the some protection to the baby until the baby completes the vaccination programme too.” duration of flu symptoms by one and a half Dr Christopher Ng, GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic days if treatment is started within 48 hours of the start of the symptoms.

Did you know?

24

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014


Are You Going Yet

Organic ? By Jade Tan

The organic food movement has been gathering steam in recent years and many parents swear by it, not just for themselves but for their children. We cut through the clutter to tell you whether organic food is everything that it makes itself out to be. As the health and eco movement gathers momentum in Singapore, so has our consumption of organic produce. Many local organic food and health stores report seeing their clientele grow from a primarily expat market to a significantly more local one, with more young parents adopting an organic lifestyle for their whole family. It’s easy to see why these parents have jumped onto the organic bandwagon – they want the best for their families, especially if their children are still developing, and organic produce, defined as food produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or ionising radiation, is as good as it gets. Even animals products can be organic, derived from livestock that live under humane conditions, consume organic feed, and are not injected with antibiotics and growth hormones. However, one of the main concerns with organic food is its prohibitively high cost, which begs the question: do the benefits they purportedly offer justify their retail price?

Let’s find out.

Some organic foods contain higher amounts of antioxidants, substances that aid in child development and boost immune systems. Also, organic fruit have been found to contain more flavonoids and up to 90% more Vitamin C! In addition, organic food might be able to prime your child’s body to better absorb nutrients by helping it build resilience against illnesses. This is because a healthy body that spends less energy battling bacteria is able to focus more on reaping the nutritional benefits of its food intake! However, it is vital to acknowledge the distinct difference between food safety and food nutrition; safe, organic food does not automatically mean a wholesome meal. Also, although organic food might be superior to conventional food, that doesn’t mean that it is always healthy. Many of us overlook the fact that there are some organic snacks that contain very high sugar, salt and fat levels! To ensure that your family gets the most out of each meal, consider the following factors: • Freshness • Cut (fatty vs. lean meat) • The nature of its nutrients (foods containing heatsensitive nutrients should be cooked differently from ones that contain water-soluble nutrients) • Meal composition (are all nutrients well-represented?)

Chemicals in Food – Acceptable or Not? Conventionally bred livestock produce contains antibiotic residue, which can lead to the emergence of strains of bacteria that are resistant to the antibiotic. As such, antibiotics will be less effective in treating a person whose body comes under attack of such bacteria. Moreover, antibiotics can disrupt the natural balance of our intestinal flora by reducing both bad and good bacteria, ironically resulting in higher vulnerability to harmful ones. Children especially become more susceptible to illnesses since their immune systems and body organs are not fully developed yet. Besides antibiotics, a University of Washington study revealed that children who maintained a conventional diet were exposed to six to nine times more pesticide than their peers who ate organic food. And since children usually consume more food than adults, they ingest relatively higher amounts of chemicals, which puts them at a higher risk of ailments

such as developmental delays, behavioural disorders and motor dysfunction. However, there is no need to panic as the amount of chemicals a child consumes is not dangerously alarming. Scientists have yet to discover any negative health effects that are due to the low-level chronic exposure of pesticides – the amount that our children eat every day – in our conventionally farmed produce. Says Joel Forman of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Environmental Health, “Although we know that children, especially young children whose brains are developing, are uniquely vulnerable to chemical exposures, at this point, we simply do not have the scientific evidence to know whether the difference in pesticide levels will impact a person’s health over a lifetime.”

The Dirty Dozen Organic food is often sold at a premium (up to twice the price of its conventional counterpart!), which can take a toll on those on a budget. Fortunately, the Environmental Working Group has sieved out the different types of food, known as the Dirty Dozen, which contain higher amounts of pesticide and which they recommend should be bought organic: 1. Celery 7. Spinach 2. Peach 8. Cherry 3. Strawberry 9. Kale 4. Apple 10. Potato 5. Blueberry 11. Grapes 6. Bell Pepper 12. Nectarine Presumably because of their delicate structure and thinner skins, these foods tend to absorb higher amounts of pesticide. Conversely, hardier foods such as papayas and avocados are less likely to absorb as much pesticide. Their thicker protective layer also means that less pesticide might be required to begin with! Here’s a penny-savvy tip: babies and toddlers are known to have strong preferences in food, so make the most out of this by choosing the organic option of your children’s favourite foods. Even if bulk buys don’t get you any discounts, your children will be more likely to finish these foods within their short shelf life.

At the end of the day, the most important thing for your child’s nutrition is a consistent, well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, whether or not these foods are organic. It is wiser to purchase a few strategic organic foods than to compromise on their overall nutritional intake by buying smaller portions of every ingredient just for the sake of cooking an all-organic meal. Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

25


HEALTH

Help! By Jacqueline Bodnar

Have mealtimes become a constant battle between you and your child? Are you resorting to hiding the vegetables in the rice to make sure your child eats his or her greens? Family & Life explains what’s exactly happening in your toddler’s tummy.

My Toddler Won’t Eat!

“He refuses to eat vegetables and meat. He likes to eat fruit and bread, and he used to like to eat yogurt, but even that has become hit or miss,” explains Sara Krull, a mother of two toddlers. “People always say that if children are hungry, they will eat, but it is still worrying to have your child eat so little, and not eat from all of the food groups.” She shares these same nutritional concerns about her 14-month old son as many other parents do. Toddlers can leave you wondering how they have the energy to keep going all day and yet eat only a few bites of food. The more you know about why toddlers have the eating habits they have, the better you’ll be able to handle the situation. “Picky toddlers are an interesting but complex topic,” explains Lucille Beseler,

a registered dietician, president of the Family Nutrition Center of South Florida, and co-author of the book Nurturing with Nutrition. “Toddlers normally will go through periods of being picky eaters.” Beseler, who specialises in paediatric nutrition, points out that a child’s appetite usually decreases after they turn a year old. Because of this, people often think they just aren’t eating. One major concern is that parents often evaluate a child’s eating habits based on their own. This can become a problem because adults are often used to eating by the clock, out of boredom, or for emotional reasons. Toddlers, on the other hand, are still in tune with their body’s hunger cues. They are more apt to skip meals if they aren’t hungry. Parents often mean well but, in an effort to make sure their toddlers get sufficient nutrients, they ultimately teach their children to ignore the hunger signals and simply eat by the clock, or by how much is on their plate. Experts today are urging parents against this, as it may lead to weight management problems later on. The decrease in appetite that happens during toddlerhood is normal. According to the University of Michigan Health System, there is an appetite slump that happens between one

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to feeding picky toddlers. While we can’t make them eat, we can take steps to make the process a little easier to take.

Picky toddlers are an interesting but complex topic, toddlers normally will go through periods of being picky eaters. 26

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

• Nutrients. Be cautious about what you give them to eat. If your toddler is going through a period of not wanting to eat vegetables, try to give them a fruit that contains the same type of nutrients. And add shredded vegetables to dishes that will make them less noticeable. • Consistency. If you offer your child something once or twice and they don’t like it, don’t give up. It may take more than twenty attempts at offering that food to them before they acquire a taste for it. • Avoid Grazing. Some people advocate grazing, but if a toddler eats throughout the day, it’s unlikely that they will have much of an appetite when it’s time for a meal. Children do, however, need a couple of small, healthy snacks throughout the day.

and five years old. They explain that this happens because children are growing at a much slower rate, during that period, and simply don’t need as many calories per day. Rather, they eat what their brain signals to them that they need in order to meet their nutritional and energy needs. Many parents can relate to the possibility that a child will have a huge appetite one day and then, for the next two days, eat like a bird. This is considered “tanking up”. Says Beseler, “It’s when they fill their ‘gas tank’ and go for periods of time without eating as much.” Another common toddler eating situation is a food jag, when he or she insists on eating the same thing over and over. Food jags are normal for young children, and are usually temporary. The important thing is to not to allow the child to just eat that one food. If parents let the situation continue, they could run into problems when the child no longer wants that particular food. For example, if all they want is macaroni and cheese, tell them that today they have to have something else, and tomorrow they can have that meal.

• Liquid Calories. Juice, milk and other liquids all add to the caloric intake and can decrease appetite at meals. Monitor liquid intake. It’s best to offer water during the day, which won’t ruin their appetite. • Portion Control. Often, parents have a distorted idea of what a toddler’s portion size should be, and so they pile a lot of food on the plate. Keep in mind that a toddler’s portion will be about a quarter to half of an adult’s portion size. • One a day. Be sure to give your child a daily vitamin, if they are old enough. • Control. Put your child in control by letting them feed themselves. By a year old, they should be able to pick up small pieces of food and feed themselves. • Don’t Push. As much as possible, avoid pushing the child to eat, and never force them to eat anything. • Seeking Help. If their lack of appetite is prolonged, they are losing weight, they are not energetic, or they seem ill, consult your paediatrician.


RELAX Start the new year with a new coat of paint in the nursery room! Lene Liew, Marketing Manager of Nippon Paint, gives a few timeless colour tips.

Putting together your child’s nursery can be very exciting, or stressful. While each of us has our own taste and style, there are some things to keep in mind to help you welcome your child’s arrival with an ideal environment: 1 Location Matters Pick a room that is near the master bedroom so that you will not need to walk across the house in the middle of the night. The amount of sunlight that gets into the room is important too. A room that is too sunny may not be ideal for a child to rest. 2 Mapping the Layout Have the crib near the door so that you will not have to trip over things just to get to your baby at night. Setting aside “activity zones” for changing, playing and sleeping, can be helpful in planning out what you need. Plan for enough storage as your child’s toys and things will grow very quickly.

Top: @ courtesy of Whites D’zigno Pte Ltd Bottom: @ courtesy of Blackjack Interior

3 Baby-Proof Your Walls It’s time to paint those walls. Developing a theme or a colour scheme can help you get organised very quickly and identify what you need to have a complete room look. However, bear in mind that a pretty wall should be safe for you and your child too. Look for paints that are near zero VOC level (Volatile Organic Compounds), antibacterial, and free from chemicals such as lead, mercury, or ammonia that might harm your baby.

4 Don’t Forget the Ceiling Decorate the ceiling, too! Remember, your child will spend a lot of time on his or her back. 5 It’s a Joyful Occasion Take your time and have fun - plan and progress on your nursery design project one step at a time. It should be a fun exercise. If you find it too stressful, get creative and let your spouse help or get a professional painter to take over. Colour psychology, which is the study of colour and how it affects human behaviour, is believed to be a primitive instinct and reaction to the specific colours. For example, we know to avoid the danger of a bee’s yellow and black stripes, while grey skies can make us feel down, and brightly coloured flowers can often cheer us up. When choosing colours for decorating, always remember that each colour incites an emotional reaction. Depending on the usage and mood that you desire for your home and rooms, you can use the emotive impact of colour to your advantage. Blue A bold shade of sky-blue invigorates the bedroom of a young child. Different shades of blue serve as the backdrop for fun prints and accessories. An all-white wicker

bed adds to the casual and carefree hideout for the kid. You may pair Jewel Blue (1197) together with the use of Raindrop (1160), a lighter shade of blue to provide a cool and fresh vibe. Blue is a cool colour with low reflective value, so it diffuses and softens light, making the room feel cool and comfortable. Purple Deep purple shades can seem overpowering, but knock them back with white, and their mood becomes refreshing and serene. A combination of various purple tones creates the perfect ambience. When purple is used, its varied shades can be calming in a bedroom. A musky shade of Violet Shadow (8186) with its quieter shades of Persian Silk (8187) emphasises serenity in the bedroom while soothing the senses and spirit. Yellow The beauty of yellows is that it works almost in all spaces. Warm yellows with browns and creams relay a country touch and are great for dinings or kitchens, while softer cream yellows are a contemporary and clean touch to family rooms. Avoid overly bright yellows in children’s bedroom; go for a milder shade of yellow instead, as excessive exposure to it may cause fatigue. You may try various shades of light coloured yellow such as Lime Tint (5077) or Odour-less Premium Allin-one Moon (1106) for the walls which will create a sense of calm and serenity in the household. Pink Different shades of pink are a great way to add a dash of drama or liven up your home. The colour for cotton candies and little girls’ rooms, with the right shade, it can also be spirited. Transform your child’s room into a playful retreat with hues of pink and lilacs with the use of the combination of Raspberry (5044) and Liliac White (5064) on perpendicular walls.

The Nursery Room

Makeover!

Neutrals Notably, earthly hues are known to be soothing and calming in nature. Neutrals can also create an air of sophistication. Bringing about a mood of serenity and abundance in nature, earth neutrals are also known to work very well with other colours. Warm neutrals like Beige (5029) and Whisper Grey (5009) can be used for the walls to give a warm and relaxing mood to your child’s room.

For more colour suggestions, visit Nippon’s Colour Paint Chart at www.nipponpaint.com.sg. Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

27


RELAX

The High Art of

Hairstyling

Receive an unmatched pampering experience at the new And . A hair salon, opened by coiffure enthusiast Angela Lee. With the salon’s fastidious attention to design and details, it has thrown down the gauntlet to other hair salons in Singapore’s fashion street to up their game.

...a lot of attention has been paid to every single detail to ensure that a patron gets only the classiest service possible.

Everyone deserves a little pampering. That’s the philosophy of And . A, a new, luxurious hair salon in the Orchard Road shopping belt. Conceptualised and designed with the comfort of the patron first in mind, And . A promises to revolutionise the hair-styling landscape in Singapore. While other salons focus mainly on getting as many customers as possible sitting and leaving their chairs each day, And . A wants to treat every customer the same way the founder of the salon herself would want to be treated when she goes for a hair appointment. “Everything you see in And . A has been designed with the consumer’s experience in mind. From the waiting room where patrons can enjoy a fragrant cup of gourmet coffee before their treatments, to the spacious salon chairs and individual glass-walled hair washing areas, a lot of attention has been paid to every single detail to ensure that a patron gets only the classiest service possible,” founder and director Angela Lee says. Indeed, And . A has spared no expense in attaining coiffure service perfection. In the spacious waiting room, there are plush Ligne Roset couches for patrons to sit on. The piece de resistance is the limitededition Pierre Paulin Pumpkin red wool armchair, two of only 150 in the world. While waiting, take your pick from an experienced crop of hair stylists, all of whom boast more than 10 years of experience each in the industry. Whether you’re inspired by the latest

28

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Japanese trends from the runway or prefer a more down-to-earth yet stylish cut, And . A has a stylist for your needs. At the moment, there are three hair artistes on the roster – Japanese, Malaysian and Singaporean – but Angela reveals that there are plans afoot to hire more stylists from South Korea, Hong Kong and other countries to cater to different tastes.

before sending them back home or to their next social engagement where they can show off their carefullycoiffured mane.

Every patron’s space also comes with a small see-through cabinet for patrons to safely store their luxurious Hermes Birkin or classy Chanel bags while being pampered. Each cabinet has been painstakingly measured and designed to ensure it fits most handbags perfectly. Once that is done, your stylist will lead you to your private glasswalled hair washing stations, a deluxe enclave that provides you with maximum elbow room. Sit down on the state-of-the-art Takara Belmont shampoo chairs to enjoy the private avant-garde hair-washing experience. Once your indulgent session is complete, you’ll be presented with the bill for the services, not over the counter, but at the posh waiting room where you can relax in. Angela, who is married with two children, also understands the amount of waiting that fathers and children go through when waiting for Mum to complete her hair treatment, which is why there is more than enough space in the waiting room for everyone to relax in. And . A is also exploring the idea of a limousine service for its patrons, picking them up from their homes

otts Road, Far And . A is at 14 Sc /30/31, Singapore East Plaza #02-29 blow begins from 228213. A cut and g treatments S$50 and colourin 0. Book your starts from S$16 nce by calling pampering experie 1230. the salon at 6235


h ll A

A

ir

15%

eS

Se

off

Photography @ Derrick Ong

rvic

And . A Salon

we pamper you.. ••

Far East Plaza 14 Scotts Road #02-29/30/31 Singapore 228213

T: 6 2 3 5 1 2 3 0

E: and_a@singnet.com.sg


RELAX RELAX

Avoid The

Christmas Crowd! By Eliza Hamizah

Do you have to shop for Christmas presents but dread jostling with the maddening crowds and the traffic on the trip back home? Fret no longer with Family & Life’s online shopping guide. Whether you’re shopping for your spouses or your children, we’ve scoured the Internet to bring you a curated selection of excellent online stores for your festive buying needs.

Shopping for the family is a huge battle. Doing so with kids in tow is an entirely different kind of stress for both new and seasoned parents. The perennial problems of stuffy crowds and time constraints are compounded with the sleepy toddler, the tantrum-throwing child and the struggle to lug your buys back home. Needless to say, despite your good intentions, festive shopping can be unbearable. Shopping on the web lets you peruse a selection of goods ranging from apparel to home décor to skincare products. Family-centric web stores

HipVan (www.hipvan.com)

HipVan is a design-focused web store that aims to bring good design at good prices. They stock a wide selection of products from high-end home furnishings to ethical and eco-friendly fashion labels. They also promise to expand their categories to books and groceries, so keep a look out for that. Spend more than S$75 to get free shipping! For Mums: Their emphasis on great design means even kitchenware looks great. Serve HDB flats for dinner with this ceramic collection designed by Chang Shian Wei. For Dads: The Star Wars films are a common favourite among the men. Evoke some nostalgia with this Pikselmatic poster of Luke Skywalker squaring off against Darth Vader. For Kids: This multi-purpose Tablet Walnut Stand is perfect for the kids to pass time on their tablets and books while ensuring that they maintain proper viewing distance and posture.

30

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

make this one step easier; you can shop for everyone – dad, mum, and the kids – at just one store, all from the comfort of your home.

Here are four online stores that have something for everyone and every home. We have also selected some interesting items to consider for mums, dads and the kids.


Not In The Malls (www.notinthemalls.com) This online store was born out of frustration – malls sell the same thing, and shoppers have a hard time finding what they want. Run by two mothers, Not In The Malls sources for and supports talented individuals with small businesses. They provide a go-to platform for shoppers to find gifts, ethical and organic products, travel items, among many others. For Mums: Great for travelling mothers, the allpampering Faust’s Essential Travel Kit is dubbed “the ultimate travel accessory for discerning night owls” and includes earplugs and a revitalising face spray. For Dads: Dads who love picnics and barbeques will appreciate this handy insulated pixel stripe family cooler by Lou Harvey. For Kids: This child-sized apron from LouBeLou with appliqued cupcake pockets makes an encouraging gift for young bakers with astute taste buds.

Kwerkee (www.kwerkee.com)

Kwerkee is a knick knacks paradise; they pick out “the queer, the peculiar, and the bizarre”. So if you’ve got your essentials and want to add flavour to your home, Kwerkee is the place to go. They don’t only cater to adults; there also have kid-friendly products like quirky children bath mats with seats. For Mum: This pair of Komono sunnies is an essential accessory for mothers who are going for a catch-up session with her friends or running errands. For Dads: This Tevise black watch with a brown leather strap with its large 45 mm face will make a great addition to any man’s wardrobe. For Kids: Aptly named Ez Sox, these cute socks will help any toddler to be independent. Plus, they’re adorable!

Babatude Boutique (www.babatude.com)

Babatude Boutique started as a brand that offered handmade clothing for kids. Based in the UK, they have since expanded into a retail site that brings in family-friendly labels by independent and individualistic designers like themselves. The designers will directly mail the items you order to you. For Mums: The Oxford Changing Handbag is timeless and spacious. Made of leather, it comes with a very useful pop-out (and detachable) baby organiser. For Dads: Babatude Boutique sticks to their promise of individuality with this masculine yet sentimental personalised sterling silver and leather bracelet. For Kids: This “How Tall Am I?” reusable wall decal height chart is interactive, educational and most importantly, fun! Your kids will have a great time tracking how fast they’re growing with the help of a few friendly animals.

Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

31


RELAX

Christmas

Pampering for the Family

Everyone in the family For The Dads deserves a little There was a time when the men had exclusive enclave – the barber – to pampering during the an relax, get a shave and be pampered Christmas season. Dads, in a discreet setting, away from the Mums and kids, we’ve hustle and bustle of city life. Slowly, found the best spots these understated barbershops in Singapore for you disappeared and were replaced with modern yet bland hair salons that to get a little rest and didn’t understand the intricacies of relaxation this month so men’s grooming. that you’ll start the year with a bang. Gentlemen, you’ll be happy to know

that the art of understated barbering is coming back and one of the luxury barbers leading the charge is Sultans of Shave. Opened by three discerning males, Sultans of Shave offers a stable of services and products designed for the contemporary father who understands the importance of his crowning glory and how it should be treated. From stockbrokers to art directors, many a powerful

For The Whole Family man has graced its barber chairs and left the place a better man. So, if you’re just looking for a simple shave and haircut (instead of the female blow and cut) or the more quintessential sultan experience, you’ll find what you’re looking for, and more, at Sultans of Shave. It’s time to be groomed properly for the festive season men.

Sultans of Shave (www.sultansofshave.com) is at 11 North Canal Road #02-01 Singapore 048824.

For The Mums

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

However, exercise is always enjoyable when done in a group and what better group is there than the family! The Moving Body Group, a fitness centre that offers classes in as mainstream as Pilates to as obscure as the GYROTONIC method, wants the whole family to move and have fun together as a unit while sweating it out.

Juggling a career, the children and the household can be an arduous affair. Our society expects ladies to carry out Herculean tasks while still maintaining their feminine side, and that can take its toll. Janice Choo understands this more than most and created PortaSpa, Singapore’s first and probably only foot hydrotherapy spa for today’s busy professionals who desire a quick perk-me-up, whether during the middle of the day or after clocking out from the office.

produces lots and lots of negative ions, or anions, which have purported healing qualities such as neutralising free radicals, enhancing your immune system, purifying blood and promoting healthy digestion. Although we cannot check the veracity of these claims, we definitely were refreshed after the treatment while our feet looked whiter and felt less fatigued despite all the walking around.

Unlike other spas, PortaSpa promises a satisfying foot spa experience within 15 minutes, thanks to its cuttingedge hydrotherapy machine. Relax in the centre’s comfortable chairs while your tired feet is gently assaulted, prodded and massaged by millions of therapeutic ultrasonic bubbles in the foot bath.

So, Mums, leave the household to the men for one afternoon and check yourself in to PortaSpa because sometimes, it really is all about you.

So, put on your workout gear and work up a sweat! All of you will have a great time together and perform better in the office and at school. Now, who says exercise isn’t a lot of fun?

PortaSpa (www.portaspa.net) is at Blk 333 Kreta Ayer Road #0115 Singapore 080333.

The Moving Body Group (www. themovingbody.com.sg) is at 11 Unity Street Singapore 237995.

PortaSpa is offering 50% off its relaxing foot hydrotherapy treatments to Family & Life readers. Just bring a copy to the centre and show this article to enjoy the offer!

The Moving Body Group is offering Christmas exercise packages for the entire family. Find out more by giving the friendly consultants a call at 6235 1051.

During the experience, Janice also claims that the machine 32

One of the best parts of the upcoming festivities is all the delicious feasting that will be going on. From delicious log cakes to everyone’s favourite turkey, the entire month will be filled with rich and sinful food at the dinner table. Unfortunately, food that is great for the taste buds might be less than desirable for the heart and the tummy, and although exercise is one of the recommended cures for controlling over-feasting, it’s not exactly a lot of fun.

Besides being a great way to bond with one another, the British Journal of Sports Medicine has discovered in its study that regular exercises boosts grades. The more active children were, the better they performed in school.


BITES

The Festive

Christmas Tree Pizza At Family & Life, we believe that cooking can, and should be, a family affair! This month, with the festive season just around the corner, we present the Christmas Tree Pizza, everyone’s favourite Italian cuisine given a celebratory twist.

Everyone’s favourite time of the year is here again, when the cool temperatures are a welcome respite from the normally scorching afternoons and everyone is looking forward to an extended break from work and school. It’s the festive season, and what better way to celebrate this occasion than by gathering all the family members in the kitchen to help create a festive feast. We’ve collaborated with Chef Derrick Ang of the Mount Faber Leisure Group to bring to you and your family this delicious and Instagram-worthy Christmas Tree Pizza. Simple yet well-loved by everyone in the family, the Christmas Tree Pizza can be easily baked by your children while you stand on the sidelines and oversee the preparation. Your kids can help to spread the tomato sauce on the pizza based and litter the pizza with their favourite toppings (it doesn’t have to be cherry tomatoes and smoked turkey ham!) while you take control of the chopping and baking. Have fun with this recipe and do share your Christmas Tree Pizza pictures with us!

Serves: 2 persons Degree of difficulty: Easy Preparation time: 20 minutes Total cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Christmas Tree Pizza Frozen Pizza Base.....One eight-inch piece Tomato Sauce........Three tablespoons Smoked Turkey Ham........................ 80 grams Cherry Tomato.........................10 pieces . Baby Spinach...................... 100 grams Shredded Mozzarella Cheese ..................... 100 grams 34

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Preparations 1 Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base 2 Lay the cheese on top of the tomato sauce 3 Arrange the baby spinach such that it’s separated over six equal triangles 4 Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves 5 Top the pizza with the sliced cherry tomatoes and smoked turkey ham 6 Bake in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes 7 Cut the pizza slices into a shape of a Christmas tree, as shown in the pictures above

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

35


eveNts

WHAT’S

HAPPENING

Christmas with Thomas & Friends Guess who’s chugging into town for Christmas? It’s every child’s favourite train, Thomas, together with his friends from the right side of the tracks. This month at City Square Mall, Thomas and Friends will be performing in a never-before-seen worldwide production, created especially for children. Join Thomas and his friends as they embark on an adventure in Sodor and pick up some eco-tips along the way as they teach you and your children how to segregate waste for recycling. Who knows, it might just snow along the way! Christmas with Thomas & Friends is a great way for your kids to be entertained while learning about the joys of recycling. So, make time to swing by City Square Mall this month for some festive recycling fun!

The Ant & The Grasshopper Once upon a time, there lived an ant – a hardworking and busy ant who never seemed to have time for play or relaxation. And then there was a grasshopper, with time on his hands and nothing much to do at all. Yet, the both of them were steadfast friends. The ant would work all day and all night, and the grasshopper would laugh and ask the ant why he was working so hard.

Where: Level 1 Atrium, City Square Mall When: Now until 15 December 2013 (daily except Mondays) Price: Free. Meet and greet Thomas and his train buddies if you spend a minimum of S$50 at the mall. There are only 50 passes each day, so be quick!

Where: Jubilee Hall, Raffles Hotel When: 26 February 2014 to 15 March 2014 Price: From S$30 Early bird discounts are available if you purchase your tickets before 15 January 2014.

Get set for a sugary time at Gardens by the Bay and come away with some sweet memories that will be savoured for years to come!

Where: Drama Centre Theatre When: 21 November 2013 to 14 December 2013 Price: Tickets start from S$12 for adults and S$8 for children As part of the celebrations, the Gardens is giving away multiple treats on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GardensbytheBay.

Ice Art 2013/2014 This holiday season, experience a winter wonderland in sunny Singapore at Ice Art 2013/2014! Renowned ice sculptors have been flown in to produce freezing works of art, carved out from massive blocks of ice. Snap shots of an icy Eiffel Tower, climb a freezing replica of London’s Big Ben and if you prefer something a little closer to home, check out the iconic Merlion, or shall we say, Icelion. If it gets a tad too cold for your liking, set your pulses racing and take part in the treasure hunts and educational games, held throughout the day, with your children. There are lots of learning lessons to be gained about the ice and the world in general. If racing around isn’t your thing, warm yourself up with a beverage served in an environmentally-friendly Ice Mug at the Ice Bar. Once you’re done, the bartenders encourage you to throw the mug away by smashing it against the wall! Now, that’s what we call a smashing good time. So, go ahead, have a rip-roaring icy time in the warm climes of Singapore with your children at Ice Art 2013/2014.

36

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

Who knew plants could be so fun? This Christmas, pineapples, strawberries, tomatoes and capsicums are among the stars at Gardens by the Bay, thanks to the creative, award-winning mind of Kazuyuki Ishihara. The international landscape designer has transformed Gardens by the Bay into Christmas Sugar Mountain, a story between a pineapple and a strawberry who cannot be together until one day, they stumble upon a garden with a special mountain that provides for all their needs. While the children are enjoying the stupendous visual display, they’re also learning about the role plants play in the food they eat. Featuring over 5,000 plants, Christmas Sugar Mountain is an excellent activity for a family day out.

Of course, soon, the bone-chilling winter came. The ant was prepared for this period of time. But, what about the grasshopper? Discover a heartwarming tale based on the famous Aesop’s fable, as colourful characters sing and dance their way into you and your children’s hearts! The musical explores key themes of friendship, the rewards for hard work, time management and more using the magic of theatre, and we’re sure your kids will love it.

Christmas Sugar Mountain

Where: Sheares Link, Bayfront Avenue When: 20 November 2013 to 31 December 2013 Price: Standard tickets are S$32 while children between nine and 12 can get in for just S$26 Gloves are provided and winter jackets are available for rental at S$5 each. Last admission into the exhibition is at 9.15 pm.


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

37


OP-ED

My 2 cents on...

…Explaining Loss to Children By Sherlin Giri

In this exclusive series, our guest columnistsparents weigh in on the issues that are closest to their hearts. This month, a mother shares with us how she explained the idea of death to her young children, when the man in their lives suddenly passes away.

The death of a loved one is possibly the most devastating thing that can happen to anyone. It is all the more painful when death comes suddenly and tragically to take the life of a beloved. What is left is a gaping hole in the heart and psyche, for which no amount of consolation and comforting can suture.

When death claimed my husband in a car crash in July this year, I was left not only widowed but suddenly, the sole parent of two young children, my daughter Samara, aged seven and my son, Shiraz aged five. It was not just the life we had built as husband and wife that had crashed in that accident. Along with it, my children lost all possibility of growing up with Daddy, with whom to witness and experience life’s milestones and to co-create the story of our lives. As adults, we can still grasp the stark reality of death and knowing that we will never see Daddy again in this life. But try explaining that to a child, who does not even know where heaven or what a soul is. A child who asks, “Does that mean that Daddy can fly now?” Therefore, when people ask me how the kids are handling it, it’s a tricky question to answer. For adults, we’ve had a lifetime of socialisation and experience to understand the concept of death. Children, on the other hand, do not understand death the way we do. So, when Daddy died, there was a lot of explaining to do. During the wake, I took them to the coffin and explained to them that this was Daddy’s body that was left behind while his soul departed to be with the angels. I felt it was necessary because, due to the accident, his face was somewhat disfigured and heavily made up. It did not look like Daddy. I explained that Daddy had make up on to cover the lacerations and to look presentable in the coffin. But it was okay because his body no longer feels anything as his soul has left. I made a conscious decision to involve the children whenever I could during the funeral. After the eulogy, Samara sang I Have A Dream by Abba, as friends and family paid their last respects. It was Samara’s request to sing and thankfully, many voices joined us heartily to lend

38

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014

support to her little, unwavering voice. It was a magical moment in the bleakness of our loss and an experience that gave us a ray of hope just before we saw Daddy for one last time. They were not present when I collected the ashes to be scattered in the sea either. I felt that they had a healthy, wholesome memory of Daddy as a robust, sturdy man who loved life and was full of vitality. So I did not want them to see him reduced to a pile of bleached white bones and ashes stored in a plastic box that Mummy could carry in her very small two hands. My daughter has cried with me once since Joe’s passing and my son, several times. I comforted them, as any mother would. However, I was somewhat concerned that Samara did not cry any more than that. Troubled, I had a talk with her one day and what she told me came as a surprise. She said that when Daddy was alive, she was happy and now that he’s gone, she wanted to remain happy in honour of his memory. I hugged her and told her she was the best daughter any mother could ask for.

Of course, it would be foolhardy to throw on blinkers to reality and assume all is well too soon. Therefore, I am grateful that her primary school has a brilliant care programme. I also encourage her to write about her emotions (see extract below) to help her process her thoughts. We talk about Daddy all the time – of the wonderful outings and holidays we have had, of his passion for cooking and the great meals we enjoyed, and even of the things about him that annoy and irritate us. We talk about how Samara loves cooking like Daddy and has his broad forehead and chin, while Shiraz is cheeky like Daddy, raises his eyebrows like him, and has his facial expressions. We have all dreamt of Joe since his death and every dream has been a picture of hope. Joe is smiling and bathed in an aura of light, happily eating his favourite meal or doing his favourite thing with us in all our dreams. Perhaps it is our way of coping - of making sense of death and what happens when someone dies. Perhaps it is also our way of coming to terms with the fact that death is very much a part of life and that we can continue celebrating a person and the life we have been blessed to spend with him, no matter how brief, even if he is no longer physically with us.

ra Hi, I’m Sama o talk about I would like t en my father how I felt wh n Saturday past away. O t to know morning I go er died. that my fath up my aunt When I woke dmother and my gran d they were woken up an y d a hey said e r l a d a h y house. All t m n i h c r o p had in the t quiet. So I p e k sitting down y e h t d n a le’s rning Samara then my unc d n was good mo A . f f u t s e m I t and I did so my house. So o t g my breakfas n i m o c d rte g. So cousin’s sta started cryin y e h aunties and t n e h t d An t’s going on. wrong. was like wha mething was o s t a h t k n i h g to t I was startin o when e hospital. S h t n i s a w e h s amara not at home ther and I “S o r b My mum was y m o t d i a rash” e home she s ay in a car c d my mum cam r e t s e y y a w tand. ather past a id not unders d r Shiraz your f e h t o r b y m unday o much. But turday and S a S and I cried s n o e k a w s go to o my father’ not have to d i So we went t d I d n A . l as the funera on Monday w school. r went d grandfathe n a a m d n a r g , y sad. day my mum eally sad ver r And on Tues m ’ I . a e s e ashes into th to throw the ited en left uned *Text has be


Dec 2013/Jan 2014 • Family & Life

39


40

Family & Life • Dec 2013/Jan 2014


Issue 4