What our children really need

Our children need more of our time

Today’s modern and ever-connected world means that all sorts of responsibilities and distractions are eating away at our leisure time and mental space.

We need to take charge of the things that come into our daily lives and set aside some time every day, just to spend with our kids. And try to keep that time unadulterated from the worries of their academic progress, or other concerns.

One way is to let your child know this is his/her time, and ask what they would like to do together.

More of our attention

Our children are practically fighting for our attention with gadgets, screens, and work. I know because it happens in our household too. I know the inertia, the amount of willpower it takes to turn off the screen and answer the cry for attention from one of my kids.

As a work-from-home mum, it is even more of a struggle because physically you’re there but mentally you can be miles away.

But we need to make a conscious effort, and start with small pockets of time to play, bond, and assure our kids of our love.

More play

In my teaching and intervention work, I come across students who have their schedules packed from Mondays to Saturdays.

They often sleep late (past 930/10pm) and have little free play. And they start to exhibit signs of inattention, an inability to focus, tiredness and irritability.

If we don’t make changes to the input (rest, nutrition, play, strong bonds), we are not going to see that much change in the output.

Children need time and space to play, tinker and explore. And I think we all need to constantly re-examine and re-calibrate the balance of play versus work in our children’s lives.

child tinkering with lego

More nature

We recently took a family trip to a forest resort in Malaysia. I wrote about the lessons we learnt from nature on Channel NewsAsia, so do have a read!

My son, who has some behavioural issues, remains calm and engaged throughout the trip. And I believe nature (as well as the presence of his cousins as playmates) had a big part to play in this.

children in nature

Less hovering, more autonomy and problem-solving

On our nature trip, there was a river that wholly captured the imagination of our kids. They spent many marvelous hours there navigating it, splashing around, and also working together and solving problems. It was a wonder to witness.

During the three days, I did not hear the usual cries of “mummy, can you help me….(fill in the blanks).” They did most of the things themselves and roamed the resort grounds freely. It gave me a glimpse of the kampong life of yesteryear.

While I cannot bring the river home, I can certainly allow them the chance to let them hone their independence and autonomy.

It takes a conscious effort to deliberately sit back and not do a thing. (Especially hard for mums…)

Just try it the next time you visit a playground. Don’t rescue your child from every sticky situation, but coach them through it and remind them that you are near to help. (This, of course, does not apply if they’re about to hurt someone or themselves, or hurt by others.)

The end result of a confident and can-do spirit is worth it.

More affirmation

I will be the first to confess, I’m not particularly great at this. I come from a family where my parents were not very expressive in their show of love.

But I use my strengths in writing to compensate where I fall short of in the physical affection department. I write little notes of love to them, highlighting the efforts I see them making, or any admirable qualities that I see them demonstrating.

And I try to not let a day go by without lavishing a single hug, smile, or word of affirmation to each of my kiddos.

They need us to call out their strengths

The words we speak can either be life-giving or destructive. They can either add or take away.

Our children need us to identify and call out their strengths, as well as give them opportunities to use their strengths to serve or bless others.

Instead of focusing on or harping on their weaknesses, take the opposite approach and help them use their strengths in their studies, or for friends and family.

If it is in music, play a song to bring cheer to an elderly person. If it is in cooking, give them a chance to plan the family meals. If it is in writing, encourage them to write positive notes to friends, or to craft stories to share about a recent outing or holiday. If it is in helping others, get them to help coach a classmate who is struggling in a subject.

The possibilities are endless once you start to think about it. But the impact is great, as our children start to see that they are given different gifts for a purpose. That they aren’t just chasing academic or sporting excellence for a medal or an award, but the achievement will one day enable them to be in a position to give.

As they grow, they will start to think about how to contribute and give back to society, rather than just be focused on themselves.

Is there anything you feel your kids really need at this stage of their lives, or any ideas on how you meet those needs in your own special way?

Please share in the comments!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. says

    Hi June,
    What a refreshing post, it’s rare that mothers talk about giving their kids more play – instead one often hears them retort, “they already played so much today!!”. Especially for school-going children. No wonder children enjoy vacations so much, they don’t have to stick to their usual after school routine, which has more learning/imbibing information than play and relaxation.
    I’m so glad you and kids went away on holiday. The place sounds just magical, and what a great idea to get away from the city! Even the air must have felt fresher out there in the villages. With the exception of protection from mosquitoes I don’t see how parents should not bring their kids outdoors more. Even pets get their walks three times a day. I hope more parents spend more outdoor time with their kids as well.
    The other thing I love about what you said is giving our kids more of our time. Kids want more of us, not more things. I hope more parents hear this message loud and clear. I have a colleague at work who does not let her children play with anything that’s not originally constructed as a toy bought online or from shops. Sure she can namedrop brands like Little Tikes and Lego much better than I can but my personal experience with my 2 year old is that he can engage himself hours on end with barley grains and a variety of containers and funnels. Which tells me that kind of play where it is up to him to construct the rules, the framework and what goes on inside that framework, is so much more fun.
    Not that I’m judging – she’s really good at rotating those toys so their kids don’t get bored. That’s something I can’t do!
    Lastly, I honestly think you’re great at showering your kids with love. Don’t beat yourself up. Do I know many moms who handwrite little love notes to their kids? Do any of us!
    Thanks again for the honest post. Love it.

  2. Mrs Darin Cheong says

    👍u r correct only temporary move of school wah so call parents oreadi put on visible and invisible armours. So fixated. How to teach our kids abt being resilient. No wonder so many neng ka peng kids around

  3. says

    Hello June,

    Fellow mummy of a 3 year old here and I love nature play with my kid too. I think nothing is better than spending quality time watching them playing water or simply enjoying themselves by building sandcastles at the beach. Reminds me of my child hood where there were no gadgets but there’s still lots of fond memories 🙂

    • June says

      Hi Eva, I have fond memories of my childhood too, where we basically did nothing much but play, haha…thanks for leaving a note!

  4. Serene Sia says

    Been there, done that but my kids turn out differently though the stimulations are the same. Now they are in their late teens and young adults. Proper values are inculcated since young, however, the peers whom they mingle with plays a vital role, besides proper parenting, in shaping the person that they will eventually become. Self-entitlement is something which I am constantly struggling to grapple and reason with, given all the tech gadgets and what-have-yous that pervade our/their lives. Parenting is a life-long and ever-learning skill which I have yet to master.

  5. says

    As the mother of a child with special needs i can say that all children need is love and a sense of stability. My son will never excel at school and I have accepted the fact that he cannot be in a mainstream class. There are far more important things to be worrying about than school grades.

  6. Zalma says

    Yeah very true. Previously I had very little time to spend with my kids as my workplace was far, now we have relocated with the help of a packers and movers to a flat near my office. So I have enough time to play with my children and I have seen a unique bonding between us now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge