Parenting Parenting en Out of the box
They started Atom & The Dot, a subscription box business based on education for children. Founded for kids aged between five and eight, each box is filled with materials and instructions for arts and science inspired activities and experiments. Kids can do each of the activities by following the instruction book provided.

"Parents are sending their children to tuition centres at an early age, but they also need fun, so we came up with this idea of activities that mix education and fun," Moh said.

Children would normally feel learning is difficult and boring, but Moh and Teo challenged themselves to curate activities that help kids explore the wonders of the complicated world in the simplest way.

Coming from different backgrounds, both of them have set their minds to ensure their self-funded business will have good results by giving their full attention to it.

They both believe kids should appreciate how art and science work together and be curious of how problems are solved through their subscription box.

"The idea was already founded in US and Japan as they wanted to distinguish the importance of developing art and science together, in order to bring up better-thought students. This is the first time we are bringing it to Malaysia," Teo said.

"We should be thinking about our kids' future in a different way; to grow their skills to be equal to our technology and lifestyle," Moh added.

The 33-year-olds decided to have a little fun with their business since most of the businesses nowadays are related to fashion. They believed that early childhood education is important to develop different ways of learning, and that was how they founded the subscription box.

"Kids don't really know about magnets and how they work, for example. They just read it in textbooks, but if they see it in the subscription box, they can use the magnet to experiment with some coins, and how they work with each other," Teo said.

Through this, kids will be surprised to see the results allowing them to think further and question how does it work.

"Although this is a new platform, we are happy we started it. Our aim is to alter the way people think of education for kids," Moh said.

To bring the business further, they are now planning to do roadshows and promote their subscription boxes in schools.]]>
Parenting Wed, 06 Sep 2017 02:58:14 +0000 Helis Halan 478699 at
McDonald's invites entries to its storytelling contest
Conditions and requirements

McDonald's Storytelling Contest 2017 is open to children aged between six and nine, who are Malaysian citizens living in the country. Parents of contestants are required to visit, read the terms and conditions before filling in the form with their child's details and a one-minute child's video telling a story. Contest period is until Aug 31, 2017. Late and invalid entries will not be entertained.

Employees of McDonald's Malaysia, their immediate families, affiliates, subsidiaries, related agencies and suppliers, and/or persons living in the same household, along with last year's contest winners, are not eligible to enter.

Participants are allowed to send in more than one entry but each must be submitted with a completed entry form and a one- minute video.

Storytelling video

Your child's storytelling video must meet the 60 second/one minute requirement. Simply video your child telling a story as best he or she can. Facial expression, intonation, imagination, creativity, body language – these and more will surely engage an audience.

Upload the video on Instragram using the hashtag #McDStorytelling2017 (ensure your account is set to "Public"). Complete your registration form at and hope your child will be called for a live audition. Winners at each live audition will then compete at the Grand Finals.]]>
Parenting Mon, 21 Aug 2017 05:01:43 +0000 theSundaily 473217 at
10 gifts for your children that money can't buy
Below is a list of intangible gifts we can give our children, which help nurture healthy children, so they can reach their full potential. These gifts will help children develop the best qualities: being respectful, responsible, resilient and compassionate.

1. Your time, presence and connection

You may spend a lot of time with your children and still not really be there for them. Children need your presence. This means "tuning in", listening, responding from your heart rather than your head and observing your children with no agenda. In other words, being present and experiencing their beauty and the joy they create in your life. When you are truly present, they will feel your love.

2. Feelings

Feelings are not right or wrong – this especially applies to uncomfortable feelings. Expressing feelings is healthy and allows a child to get support and to learn problem solving. When parents don't accept their children's feelings, there is a consequence: Children disconnect from themselves, and this creates unhappiness as well as misbehavior.

3. Unconditional love and acceptance

Make sure your child knows that if given a choice of all the children in the world, he or she is the one you would choose, quirks and all.

4. Empathy

Empathy is one of the most important parenting tools, and it's essential for healthy relationships.
Parents need to communicate empathy at every age, especially in the difficult moments. Empathy means letting your child know that you understand how they feel (even when you don't "like" it).

5. Limits and boundaries

Despite their protests, children need and want limits. Clear, consistent limits and rules based on
your values, provide safety and security. Setting limits teaches children the critical life skill of setting healthy boundaries for themselves.

6. Boredom

When children are given the gift of down time and even boredom, they have the opportunity to look inward, to discover themselves, their feelings and their needs. Down time creates an opportunity for them to "take action" in their lives rather than have "action" come to them. It is through down time that creativity emerges and children learn how to be alone without being lonely.

7. Struggle and disappointment

While it is natural for parents to want to protect their children, it is important for them to allow children the freedom to make their own decisions. They need to experiment, make mistakes and fail (yes, fail). If we jump in to solve their problems or rescue them, we deprive them of critical learning opportunities. Through struggle, confidence is built, self-discovery deepens, and perseverance and problem-solving skills develop.

8. Conflict

Conflict pushes many parents' buttons. Because limit-setting and discipline often cause anger and conflict, many parents find themselves avoiding it altogether. However, conflict is part of life and it is OK. In fact, it is through conflict that children learn to understand their emotions, control their impulses, take responsibility, express themselves authentically, move towards solutions and develop empathy.

9. Chores and responsibilities

Chores and responsibilities help children feel valuable to the family. They learn that they are accountable and that there are consequences when they don't keep their end of the bargain.

10. Mistakes and imperfection

Teach and model for children that everyone makes mistakes and that it's okay to be imperfect.
Children learn more from what we do than from what we say. When we make mistakes, it is important to apologise, take responsibility for our actions and repair the mistake.]]>
Parenting Tue, 25 Apr 2017 08:54:44 +0000 Karen Jacobsen and Lauren Bondy 441410 at
Teach your child the charity habit
Many parents are using the destruction delivered by the disaster as an opportunity to help children learn about charity and the importance of reaching out to others in their time of need. They have made generous family donations, often involving their children in picking out the charity, writing the check, and preparing and mailing the envelope. They have allowed their children to witness turning the pain and grief of unimaginable loss into a time of extending love and compassion to unknown people half way around the world.

Clearly the recent tsunami provides an opportune time to teach children about charity. But what if parents want lessons about charity to be more than a one time occurrence? What if they want the spirit of giving to be a way of life for their children? What if they want charity to become a habit?

To help your children acquire the habit of charity, consider implementing as a family the strategies which follow.

1.) Periodically go through your closets rooting out clothes you haven’t worn in awhile, clothes to be given to the Salvation Army or Good Will for distribution to the needy. Encourage your children to do the same. Allow them to select which clothes or toys they wish to donate. The value of this activity is diminished greatly if you go through their closets for them without their presence. For maximum benefit, get your children involved in choosing the appropriate items. Take your children with you when you drop the items off at the charitable destination.

2.) Regularly engage in a service oriented project. Rake the leaves of an elderly couple. Bake cookies for a serviceman or servicewoman. Bake bread and deliver it to the homeless feeding station in your community.

3.) Give blood. Take your children with you so they see you as a model for giving. Talk to them about why you choose to donate blood and what you hope it will accomplish by doing so.

4.) Set up birthday parties as a time for giving to others. At your child’s first school age birthday party, ask guests to bring a gift of a book (new or used) to be donated to a local charity. Talk to you son about the books he has and about children who have no books. Explain that one way to celebrate a birthday would be to give to those who have less. Involve the birthday boy in the decision of whether not to give the books to a woman’s shelter, a doctor’s office, or some other appropriate organization. When you deliver the books with your son, record it on camera.

5.) At regular intervals, buy dog or cat food and take it to the humane society. Allow your children to spend some time with the recipients of the gift.

6.) Build food baskets around the holidays and give to a needy family suggested by your church or school. Involve your children is selecting canned goods, fruit and other treats to include. Decorate the gift package and deliver it together, as a family.

7.) Create a charity jar to be used by the family when allowances are distributed. Invite children to share some of their allowance with others through donating to the jar. As the jar fills decide as a family where to contribute the contents. You may choose to save a whale, buy gloves for needy children, or contribute to a cancer charity among others. Read about various charities on the internet and share this information with your children to help them make an informed decision.

8.) Do things for the elderly they have trouble doing for themselves. Pick up sticks in your neighbors yard after a big windstorm. Mow the grass for grandma. Wash grandpa’s car. Clean their windows in the spring. Help them plant flowers.

9.) Get on a regular service schedule at your church or synagogue. Sign up for a time to mow the grass and trim the bushes. Take your turn ushering and allow your child to assist.

By implementing some of the ideas above or others like them, you will be teaching your children that charity is not reserved only for emergencies. You will be helping them appreciate that reaching out to others in need is a way of life, rather than a moment in time when a catastrophic disaster occurs. Remember, while you are giving to others, you are giving your children important messages about your beliefs concerning the spirit of giving.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The Abracadabra Effect: The 13 Verbally Transmitted Diseases and How to Cure Them.]]>
Parenting Mon, 20 Mar 2017 11:00:00 +0000 Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller 434367 at
Bullying at school: 'children can redirect insults to their advantage'
Ten years ago, she founded France's Chagrin Scolaire centers, which work to help children face up to bullies and deal with schoolyard confrontation. Kids learn defense strategies in a course of three sessions, based on role-play activities.

Is bullying becoming more of a problem in schoolyards?

Yes, I have seen a "popularity syndrome" growing in recent years, beginning at primary school. Kids must certainly not be friendless or uncool or they risk being marginalised.

They must absolutely be in with the "right" crowd, be very popular or benefit from the aura of a popular friend.

A more recent phenomenon is parents becoming increasingly concerned about their children's social relations at school, sometimes even more than their grades.

Mothers, for example, closely count birthday invitations, fearing that their children might be left out.

These worries are passed on to children, who fear finding themselves alone on a bench in the playground.

What types of violence are most frequently encountered by the children you see?

Isolation is what comes up most often.

Being the child who no one plays with, no one speaks to, no one wants to hold hands with.

Next, there is a kind of token bullying that involves giving mean nicknames, or giving labels like being "too good" at school or "not good enough" .

There is no typical profile of a bullied child.

Any child can be in a situation of vulnerability like, for example, when a parent loses their job or a grandparent dies. The bully is more likely to be a child who is quick-witted and has a sense of humuor, which usually makes them popular.

How can a child stand up to a bully?

We first of all help children let go of the idea that they can't do anything to change the situation.

Next, they can learn to use the bully's insults and attacks to their advantage.

Humuor and self-deprecation are infallible arms when it comes to breaking the popularity and power of a bully.

For that, children must learn to accept an attack and to use it.

The aim is to ridicule the bully in the act of bullying and in public, without getting personal.

Sometimes looking the bully in the eye can be enough to diffuse a confrontation.

Can you give an example?

Social networks can often be the source of attacks and mocking, but they can also be a powerful means of defense. We had one young girl that the other kids called Zlatan [Ed.: in reference to soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimovic], which isn't very nice when you're 16 years old.

This young girl therefore changed her profile picture to a photo of Zlatan. It was a way of saying "Go on, bring it on, I find that funny too." That soon calmed the bullies down. It's not fun anymore when the victim stops rising to their jibes.

What advice can you give to parents?

You shouldn't take any action without the agreement of your child, so as not to reinforce their vulnerability.

Don't ask too many questions in the evening to avoid creating anxiety-inducing situations. If the child lacks the self-confidence to stand up to bullies or to talk back, you can try role-playing at home, with mom or brothers and sisters playing the bullies, so that the child gets the hang of replying. — AFPRelaxnews]]>
Parenting Sun, 18 Sep 2016 19:56:02 +0000 theSundaily 395451 at
Children who play 'make-believe' perform better in creativity-related tasks finds new research
Carried out by researchers from Oxford Brookes University, the team presented their findings at the British Psychological Society's Developmental Psychology Section annual conference, currently taking place (Sept 14-16) in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Using interviews the team assessed the play of 70 children aged 4-8 years old, and to what extent their play involved the following make-believe situations:

» pretending in a way that mirrored real-life (e.g., having a tea party or pretending to be a teacher);
» pretending in a way that involved events that were improbable in reality (e.g., fighting a lion and being unharmed or going to school in a helicopter); or
» pretending in a way that involved impossible events (e.g., going to wizarding school or playing with an elf).

The children were also asked to complete three creativity tasks.

In the first task the children had to think of as many things as possible that were red, in the second task they had to think of as many ways as possible of moving across the room from A-B, and in the third task they had to draw both a real and a pretend person.

The team's analysis of the play and the tasks revealed that children whose play involved higher levels of fantasy also received higher creativity scores across all three tasks, however creativity was found to be stronger on the first two tasks rather than the third drawing task.

Lead researcher Dr Louise Bunce commented on the results saying that although fantasy play is linked with higher levels of creativity, the team do not yet know the direction of this relationship – children who engage in more fantasy play may already be more creative, or higher levels of fantasy play may result in higher levels of creativity. However she concluded that, "None the less, these results provide encouraging evidence for parents and teachers who could consider encouraging children to engage in fantasy play as one way to develop their creative thinking skills."

Meanwhile a 2014 study out of Michigan State University in the US found that outdoor play could also stimulate creativity. The small study of 10 children found that those who spent five to 10 hours a week playing outdoors showed strong imaginations, creativity, and curiosity, as well as a deeper appreciation for nature. In addition the team also found that the children were also more peaceful, thoughtful, and expressed feelings of happiness, while research out of Canada's UBC in 2015 found a similar positive impact of outdoor play on creativity, and social development. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Parenting Sat, 17 Sep 2016 19:56:42 +0000 theSundaily 395303 at
Creating healthy sleep habits in infants could help prevent childhood obesity
The new study, conducted by Penn State College of Medicine researchers, could lead to a new intervention technique to help tackle the growing levels of obesity worldwide.

The team studied the use of the intervention using data from the INSIGHT study (Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories), a longitudinal trial study which looks at how responsive parenting intervention can prevent obesity.

A total of 291 mother and baby pairs were recruited, with the mothers randomly assigned to one of two groups.

One group was given obesity prevention education that covered sleep-related behaviours, bedtime routines, improving sleep duration and avoiding feeding and rocking to sleep.

The other group, a control, were given safety education about preventing sudden infant death syndrome.

The study showed that the infants of parents who had learned the bedtime techniques went to bed earlier, had a more consistent bedtime routine, and slept for longer than the infants whose parents had been given safety education.

The infants were also more likely to self-soothe to sleep without being fed, and were less likely to be fed back to sleep when they awoke during the night.

And at 9 months infants who both self-soothed and went to bed by 8pm slept for on average 80 minutes longer or more than those whose bedtimes were after 8pm and did not self-soothe.

In addition, the team saw that the intervention also had a positive effect on obesity as well as sleep, with the babies in the bedtime techniques group gaining weight more slowly than the control group, and less likely to be overweight by age 1.

Commenting on the findings lead author Ian M. Paul had this advice for parents, "A lot of parents try to keep their babies up longer, thinking that then they'll sleep longer at night and they won't wake up. We found that's not true. When parents keep babies up longer, they just sleep less."

"If you want your baby to sleep longer and better, put them to sleep earlier. Regardless of what time you put babies to sleep, they wake overnight. If we don't set the expectation that they're going to be picked up and fed, they learn to soothe themselves back to sleep."

In addition to helping prevent obesity, better sleep habits also have added health benefits for both parents and children, with lack of sleep previously shown to have a negative effect on a child's development and parents' psychological well-being.

The results of the study can also be found online in the journal JAMA Paediatrics. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Parenting Sun, 03 Jul 2016 19:57:28 +0000 theSundaily 378427 at
Study suggests mothers of young children should cut down on screen time
A recent study, published in the journal, Plos, has linked the amount of time spent on screen-based sedentary activities to the risk of developing anxiety. Women aged between 25 and 34 present the highest risk, since this age group is more widely connected to the internet and social networks.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia studied 528 Australian mothers with an average age of 37 and with children aged between two and five years old. Almost 30% of them showed signs of anxiety.

The mothers were given a questionnaire asking them how many hours they spent using screens (TV, computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.) during their leisure time and at weekends. Their anxiety level for the previous week was measured using a predefined scale of anxiety criteria.

The results showed a clear link between long periods of leisure time spent on a computer or handheld device and higher anxiety levels. What's more, anxiety levels were found to increase with every hour spent using such devices. However, the study found no link between watching TV and anxiety symptoms.

The researchers also found that physical exercise did not counteract the negative effects of these new technologies. Even mothers getting plenty of physical exercise, but spending long periods on a computer or handheld device, were still at higher risk of anxiety.

It can be difficult to change behaviours in a population with such strict time constraints. However, the researchers suggest that mothers could try a "digital detox" to limit their screen time. This could even be made into a challenge among friends to give moms more of an incentive to switch off.

The scientists suggest breaking up sedentary lifestyles that include too much screen time by going for a walk or doing a few stretches, for example. It can also be useful to set a maximum time limit for using handheld devices, such as 20 to 30 minutes, before switching to another activity or taking a break.

Finally, to reduce stress levels and improve the quality of family life, experts recommend banishing tablet use in bed, at mealtimes, on trips or excursions, or when on holiday. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Parenting Wed, 25 May 2016 19:54:19 +0000 theSundaily 369636 at
Teens who switch between TV and phone could be more likely to underperform at school
The study, by the University of Toronto, also found that "media multitasking", which is using different forms of media at the same time – for example having the television on in the background while texting on a smartphone – is also linked with greater impulsivity and a poorer working memory.

The team believe that despite the growing rise in media multitasking in the last two decades, theirs is the first study to examine its effect on cognition, performance at school, and personality.

Researchers questioned 73 eighth grade students on how many hours per week they spent watching television or videos, listening to music, playing video games, reading print or electronic media, talking on the phone, using instant or text messaging, and creating crafts or writing.

Participants then rated how often they combined these activities with another activity.

The team assessed the students' school grades in math and English with previous test scores and also tested the participants on working memory, manual dexterity, vocabulary, and levels of 'grit,' conscientiousness and impulsiveness.

Overall the students reported exposure to a large amount of media, including watching around 12 hours of television per week.

Students tended to multitask between different media 25% of the time, with those who spent more time media multitasking performing worse academically than those who spent less time media multitasking.

Such students also performed worse on working memory tests, were often more impulsive, and also believed that their intelligence level could not be changed.

Amy S. Finn, one of the study's leaders, commented that a decrease in certain cognitive processes and an increase in impulsiveness has previously been found to be associated with both an increase in media multitasking and poorer academic performance.

However Finn also added that it is not yet clear whether media multitasking is causing the cognitive changes, and improving academic grades may not simply be a matter of regulating the amount of time teenagers spend watching television, playing video games or using their phones.

She advised future research with larger groups of participants to better understand the cause and effect relationship.

The research was published in Springer's journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. — AFP Relaxnews]]>
Parenting Sun, 22 May 2016 09:35:58 +0000 theSundaily 368773 at
Music helps babies learn speech, says study
US researchers compared nine-month-old babies who played with toys and trucks to those who practised banging out a rhythm during a series of play sessions.

They found that the musical group showed more brain activity in regions involved with detecting patterns, an important skill when it comes to learning language.

"Our study is the first in young babies to suggest that experiencing a rhythmic pattern in music can also improve the ability to detect and make predictions about rhythmic patterns in speech," said lead author Christina Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS).

"This means that early, engaging musical experiences can have a more global effect on cognitive skills."

The study was small, enrolling just 39 babies and their parents, who took part in a dozen 15-minute play sessions over the course of a month.

Twenty of the babies listened to recorded children's music while they sat with their parents and helped pound out drum beats to music that included waltz rhythms and tunes like Take Me Out to the Ballgame, a baseball classic.

The other 19 babies also attended active play sessions that used toys and blocks, but without music.

"In both the music and control groups, we gave babies experiences that were social, required their active involvement and included body movements – these are all characteristics that we know help people learn," Zhao said.

"The key difference between the play groups was whether the babies were moving to learn a musical rhythm."

When the babies underwent brain scans – known as magnetoencephalography (MEG) – at the end of the month, researchers wanted to see how they differed.

So they had the babies listen to speech and music sounds that occasionally contained a disruption in the cadence, or flow of sound.

Babies in the music group showed stronger brain responses in both the auditory and the prefrontal cortex, which are involved in controlling attention and detecting patterns, the study found.

"Pattern perception is an important cognitive skill, and improving that ability early may have long-lasting effects on learning," said co-author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS.

"Schools across our nation are decreasing music experiences for our children, saying they are too expensive," added Kuhl.

"This research reminds us that the effects of engaging in music go beyond music itself. Music experience has the potential to boost broader cognitive skills that enhance children's abilities to detect, expect and react quickly to patterns in the world, which is highly relevant in today's complex world."

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal. — AFP]]>
Parenting Tue, 26 Apr 2016 02:52:49 +0000 theSundaily 363260 at