The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Leveraging on Samantha’s love for fish, we bought her this book.

the rainbow fish

The Rainbow Fish is about a proud rainbow fish who was the most beautiful fish in the sea. She had no friends so she sought the advice of an octopus, who told her that she had to give away her beautiful scales to other fish, in order to have friends.

It’s to no surprise that the reviews of this book are polarised at both ends – you either love it or you don’t.

For me, I chose not to analyse the story too much and interpret it as purely to promote sharing among children. Among the book’s haters, some don’t like how it suggests socialism, while others feel that friendship that is ‘bought’ (with scales) is not true friendship.

However complex the interpretation of this book, it is beyond Samantha’s level of understanding now. For now, she enjoys looking at the beautifully drawn pictures of fish and other sea creatures, and hearing the simple story of how a fish shared her scales with the other fish in the sea. Perhaps we can re-read the book when she is older and engage in a more philosophical discussion on whether the rainbow fish made a mistake in giving away her precious scales.

The strength of this book is in the pictures (the rainbow fish’s scales are glittery). The story is written in simple language, with no attempt to use words that rhyme. Nonetheless, we found it a good read and will continue reading this book for a while…


5 Ways To Decrease Your Urge To Be With The Phone Instead Of Your Child

Keeping away from your mobile phone is getting much harder to do these days, with the phone becoming smarter, more versatile and taking on more day-to-day tasks, resulting in our increased reliance on the device. I did an audit of the reasons why I picked up the phone in the presence of Samantha and I found that the 3 top reasons were:

  1. To check an incoming whatsapp message
  2. To read an incoming email
  3. To answer an incoming call

I’ve picked up my mobile phone enough times in front of Samantha for her to learn to mimic me saying ‘hello’ every time she can get her hands on my phone.. .

I’m sure you have seen parents out with the kids, where the parents are glued to their mobile devices and not paying any attention to their child at all. Families of 4 sitting at restaurants and cafes, with each family member looking down at their mobile devices is also a common sight these days.

While I acknowledge that it may be impossible to go 100% phone-free, here are 5 suggestions (ludicrous as they may sound), that may help reduce your time spent with the mobile phone, and thus increase your time (and attention) spent on our child.

  1. Turn your phone to silent mode, and keep it in your bag. Check it only when another caregiver has taken over care of the child.Without an audible alert tone every time an email or message comes in, or when someone calls, you will not be distracted and have an obsession to check your phone when they come in.


  2. Pass your mobile device over to someone else who is not spending time with the child. Ideally, this person should help you to ‘triage’ your calls and messages and only alert you to ones that require immediate attention (which should be rare). 
  3. Give up your smart phone for one with the most rudimentary features (just phone and text functions). I know of someone who did this. Honestly, it got a little irritating for me because he never seemed to reply to any emails or text messages at all. 
  4. Wean yourself off the multiple functions of your smart phone by using more ‘traditional’ devices (in front of your child), like the corded telephone, calculator, desktop/laptop computer. 
  5. Surrender all your digital devices at the door. When you get home, just leave all your devices at at door. It’s rather drastic, but very effective.

Hands Free Mama has a great article with more pointers on how not to miss your child’s growing up years.

What the Ladybird Heard and One Ted Falls Out of Bed by Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson, the famous children’s author who wrote ‘The Gruffalo’, has many other great works. Here are two of our favourites.

what the ladybird heard

‘What the Ladybird Heard’ is the story of a little ladybird who overheard the conversation of two people who were plotting to steal the prize cow from a farm. The ladybird, together with the farm animals, cunningly foiled their plan, resulting in their arrest. This book introduces children to farm animals and the sounds they make, and repeats these several times throughout the story. Samantha also likes looking for the tiny glittery ladybird on every page!

one ted falls out of bed

One Ted Falls Out of Bed tells of a teddy bear who falls out of his bed one night, and his journey to get back in bed. During his little adventure, he meets mice, frogs, dolls and even trolls! This story introduces the young readers to counting (both forward and backwards). The story is a nice one to read during bedtime, as the teddy bear ends up back in bed with its owner.

6 Tips for Positive Parenting

I attended the Early Childhood Parenting Conference in late 2013 and was lucky to attend a talk on how to deal with challenging behavior in children.

During the talk, the speaker highlighted that the most important thing to remember is to have positive parenting. This will reduce the incidents where the child will behave poorly.

Here are 6 tips on Positive Parenting:

  1. Be a good role model! Children have ‘mirror neurons‘  which allows them to rapidly pick up and imitate what the adults around them do.
  2. Spend quality time with your child – It’s not the quantity, but the quality of time that is important. A parent spending quality 15-30 minutes with her child, on a daily basis, is more effective than a distracted one who spends the whole Sunday every week with her child. By quality time, I mean that you should devote all your attention to your child (keep those phones locked away please!), listen, and respond to your child.
  3. Give generous doses of physical affection. It will no only help to comfort your child, physical affection can help your child to modulate his/her emotions in time to come. Reference
  4. Teach problem solving skills. When the child comes across a problem (for example, a difficult puzzle, a bully at school, etc), help to identify what is the problem, brainstorm for solutions together, and try out the best solution.
  5. Keep routines and structure. Have a daily routine and stick to it. If necessary, you may impose some ‘house rules’, and stick them up somewhere prominent. Of course, the parent also has to abide by these rules! Reference
  6. Avoid physical punishment! Physical punishment is defined as physical contact that causes pain (for example, caning). Punishment without physical pain, such as the withdrawal of privileges can still be imposed. Reference

Happy positive parenting!

Ten Little Monkeys illustrated by Tina Freeman

ten little monkeys

This book illustrates the children’s song ‘Ten little monkeys’. Each page is beautifully illustrated and reflects the mood of the song well. The pictures depict lots of action (monkeys jumping on the bed) in a messy bedroom with items strewn everywhere (nothing less to be expected for a family with ten little monkeys).

Samantha enjoys the book a lot and plays along as we read the book – she pretends to be in pain when a monkey bumps his head and later pretends to be the doctor. There are some cut outs on every page that allows you to peep into the next page, just for fun.

This book teaches children to count backwards from 10, as the monkeys fall off the bed one by one. You could also use it to teach your children not to jump on beds, and the likely consequences for doing so!