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Friday, April 27, 2018

Friendship in Kindergarten

For the third time, my five-year-old daughter came to me with a sad face and said:
Linda: My friend Helen (not the real name) is going to give me Math Card today. I don't want to do it. She said this time is about Minus (Subtraction). She told me I have to do it by myself, I can't ask help from my parent.
Mummy: No worry. We just see it first. I'll teach you to do it and then you do it by yourself.
Linda: She said that I can not use my fingers to count.
Mummy: It's okay to use your fingers to count.
Linda: But Helen said I can't. She can count without using her fingers.
Mummy: Perhaps she joins Kumon, therefore she can do that. She practices counting every day so now she can count without using fingers. But you are still learning so it's okay for you to use your fingers now.
Linda: But how if she asked me how I count? Can I tell her a lie?
Mummy: No, you shouldn't tell a lie. Just tell her you count using your fingers.
Linda: But I'm afraid she will be angry and scold me. (She started to cry).
Mummy: I don't think she will be angry.
Linda: Yes, she will.
Mummy: Then you find other friend. She shouldn't scold you and you shouldn't be afraid with your friend.
Linda: But I want to be her friend (she was crying again).

It is interesting to see how my daughter evolves day by day. From the tiny little baby who was fully dependent with her parents to a toddler who explored the world with her curiosity and now a pre-schooler in kindergarten who begin to be independent. She has started to have a circle of friends and she tried to adapt with many kids with different personalities. She told me that she and her three friends made a noisy girl gang and apparently Helen was the leader of the gang. Like other kids, she liked and adored Helen. She was very happy when Hellen gave her a card with her handwriting "I love Linda. You are my good friend." But she was very sad and worry when Hellen gave her Math card with many questions to do.

Sweet letter from Helen.

Math card from Helen.

Her problem above might be a small problem for us as adults. But for a five-year-old, it was a big problem. She was worried to go to school because she was afraid that her best friend would give her difficult tasks to do and she couldn't do it. She dared not say no because she didn't want her friend to be angry with her and stop being her friend again. She felt sad when her friend said she couldn't do Math as good as her or spoke Chinese properly. I guess peer pressure started to happen in Primary School but apparently it came sooner.

As a parent, as much as we want to help her directly, we need to teach her to solve the problem by herself. She will be the one who faces her friend everyday at school, not us.  Hence we try to help her by encouraging her three main things:

1. To have confidence
We convince her that she is a smart girl and she can do Math and Chinese as good as her friend (or even better) if she keeps practicing. Her friend joined Kumon and practices counting everyday. She also come from the family who speak Chinese at home. Of course, she will be better in Math and Chinese now. But if Linda learn Math and Chinese harder, one day she'll be as good as her friend, too. It may take a longer time for her without the help of tuition course, but surely she can count and speak Chinese well.

The fact that there are many parents who put their kids in tuition centres increases the expectation from the kids. Sometimes tuition centres teach subjects earlier than school. Kids who do not join tuition might seem "left behind" but actually they are just on the right track in school.

2. To have courage
Some kids have strong personality. They are dominant and a bit intimidating, especially to the sensitive ones like my kid. It may be difficult for Linda to reject her friend's request but she needs to have the courage to say no. When she continues her next chapter in primary school, she will meet more friends with all sorts of characters. She needs to be flexible but also stand her ground.

3. To be honest
Honesty is one of our family value. Whatever mistakes or problems one has, the person has be honest and dare to admit it. It also works the other way round. If we as parents make a mistake, we also admit it to them and say sorry. We hope it could give them a good foundation in life. As they grow older and face many problems, they will always remember to be honest with themselves and with other people.

Parenting is a long journey. We are still learning and trying to do our best. To keep the balance between showing them love and discipline. To teach them good values and implement them in our life because action speaks louder than our words. It is not easy but we believe it is worth the while. At the end of the day, we realise we can't control our children's future but we play a crucial part in shaping it...

That smile that brightens our world!

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