Sunday, December 12, 2010

Smart Parenting: Taking the longer view


A MOTHER recently sent me an email to share her frustrations about her daughter’s UPSR results. The daughter scored straight As in the trial exam a month earlier, but “only” managed three As and two Bs in the actual exam.

The mother was upset because she had put in so much effort, including taking extended leave to make sure that her daughter had proper care and attention.

Many of us have experienced pain and frustration, especially when things don’t happen the way we intended. After all, after putting in much effort and time, it’s only natural to expect things to turn out well.
Effort or results?

Instead of feeling down, the mother and daughter should feel satisfied that they had given their best. Presumably they had tried everything they possibly could and had left no stone unturned. Imagine if they had not done so. The feeling of regret would be worse. They should feel relieved that they had done their best. We just have to continue to put in the extra effort as that is the only thing we can control.

Failure can happen at any time. In fact, the earlier it happens, the better — because we will then have more time to fix it. It will also give us greater opportunity to re-apply the learning process into the journey of life. In this case, the UPSR exam is just the beginning. It serves as a warning that the student will have to work harder in future.
Imagine if this failure comes at a later stage of her life, for example, during the SPM exam. The impact would have been worse and the chances of recovery lower.

Her journey is long and many bigger challenges will come her way. Scoring straight As doesn’t guarantee success in life. It’s an important element, but not the only one. Many successful adults today didn’t do well in school, yet they were able to achieve great milestones in life by facing one challenge at a time.

Life as a marathon
Sprinting may get us to our destination quickly, but we may not have the time to enjoy the journey nor the energy to enjoy the destination. It’s better to run at our pace than push hard to overtake another at the first few milestones.

We may not win at those milestones, but by no means is the journey over. In fact, it gives us the opportunity to restrategise and start anew. We can analyse what we did right or wrong and take action accordingly. We must continue our journey and not let our failure keep us down.

One way to re-energise ourselves is to be grateful with what we have. Scoring three As and two Bs is no small feat. Many others would have rejoiced with such results.

And if our children are not behaving in the way we want, we can still take comfort in the fact that we still have time to work on them. Parents should try new ways to mould them and never give up because the marathon is just beginning.

Don’t stop believing
We should teach our children to pursue their dream and never stop believing. Tell them that God works in mysterious ways. We may not get everything that we want today because we may be snowballing downhill and building more success.

Stop worrying about the things your children have missed and instead channel their energy to continue trying. Have faith that God is listening and their time will come. Life won’t be fair all the time. We can work hard to change what we can, but for those we can’t, we just have to smile and move on.

• The writer is a certified parental coach and author of two best-selling books, Smart Parents, Brighter Kids and Smart Parents, Richer Kids. Log on to or write to him at

Can we speak to animals?
A LITTLE boy excitedly exclaimed that a cat just spoke to him. His mum asked: “Are you sure? Cats can’t talk to humans.” He said: “Yes, it can. Just now when I said, ‘Meow’, to him, he said, ‘Meow’, back!”

Adults would have laughed at the idea. But little kids with no predefined concept of “impossible” would be looking at the world in a whole new way.
Nobody said speaking to animals has to be in human language. Communication can happen using the animal’s language, too, as demonstrated by the boy!

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