I’m starting to wonder if expectations are the downfall of effective parenting.

Of cos, there is over-expectations and there is under-expectations. Where do you draw the line? ‘Good-Enough-Expectations’ that can motivate your child to move forward and yet not too over-consuming that he can’t even breathe. I’m finding that line…I’m struggling to find that line fast….

Its been a really tough year for us to handle the 4year old Keatkeat. Now that he is already 5+years old, we don’t see improvement, we witness deterioration.

Do you have a kid who develop ‘backwards’? I’m facing one everyday and by having another younger child who advances so rapidly, beyond his peers’ abilities, it just makes the retrogression of the elder child that much more significant.

From Motor skills to Habits to Learning abilities to Storing what was learned in his memory files, I see him moving the opposite direction. Below are just 4 examples out of many others:-

  • He used to be able to semi-control his chopsticks, now he can’t even maneuver his fork and spoon!
  • He used to put his milk bottle back on the table after drinking; now he just leave it lying beside his pillow and walked out of the bedroom.
  • He used to be able to understand a concept with one simple explanation, sometimes even completing the unfinished sentence for me; now even after going through elaborate explanation several times over, he still can’t see the picture.
  • He used to be able to absorb what was taught weeks or even months ago, now he has even forgotten how to write certain alphabets or write them in mirror image! Yes, it was NORMAL when he was in Nursery, but the whole year of K1, he had NEVER repeated such mistakes. Now that he is in K2, his standard has slipped back to where he was in Nursery.

How come? We (Allan and I) constantly question ourselves. We STRONGLY believe there is NOTHING wrong with him because there were still random occasions where he did the above the right way; So we believe its just another WEIRD transition period to test our parenting skills.

I’ve always believe parenting tactics SHOULD CHANGE as our children grow. What works on a pre-schooler may NOT work on a teenager. They are human, they are NOT robots; Antidote to one could be poison to another.

In the beginning, we thought it might be a way of ‘stealing’ our attention from the loud rooster brother. So we changed DELIBERATELY, giving him more one-to-one time with us. Hugged and kissed him twice as much. But it never seemed ‘Good Enough‘, in fact it made him wanted such favoritism that much more; so much so that he started to put his brother down with sentences like, “Mommy loves me more than you!” No matter how many times we corrected that sentence the very next second.

As times passed, we changed our view, we thought he might have lost interest in what used to capture his attention. So we tested. But the more we conduct trials, the more we realized his couldn’t-be-bothered attitude magnified in multiple areas.

We amended our methods again, we were determined to find back the ever-so-keen-to-learn son. To our shock, we discovered he had mastered a powerful skill known as ‘I’m NOT Listening’.

You can tell him “Keatkeat, it should be done this way.” coupled with reasons, examples and even demonstrations. THE VERY NEXT MINUTE, he did the WRONG thing AGAIN! And this can be done as many times as my fingers on one hand BEFORE he did it right. Unbelievable!

We were heading nowhere. We sat down and discussed when they were sound asleep. My motto is ‘Understanding Your Child Eliminates Frustrations in Parenting’ and now I’m frustrated, ‘cos I don’t understand my Keatkeat anymore. When I don’t understand the cause of it, how then can I cure it?

Having a Scorpio-Goat son is a double dosage of indolence, jealousy and secrecy. It can be extremely strenuous to the boiling point with constant persuasion, with never-ending reassurance and continuous probing before you finally get him to be on the go again, to accept that his parents DO NOT belong to him and him alone and for him to tell you exactly what’s on his mind.

Having a son who gets sick so easily just made the challenge that much more intense. Envy me don’t you? ‘Surprises that increases my creativity’ are gifts from my Keatkeat every day.

What REALLY gets on my nerves is Persistently doing things that he KNOWS is NOT Likable.

From an eager-to-please boy, he has become an Irritating one now.

“Keatkeat, do you think we like what you are doing?” Often the very first question.

“No.” With a little guilty expression written on his face.

“Keatkeat, by doing ‘that’ how do you think we feel?” We questioned further.

“You don’t like. You will be angry with me.” Answer without hesitation.

“And you like us to be angry with you?” Seeking confirmation.

“No.” Affirmative.

“Why do you still choose to do it then?” Needing a good explanation

“I don’t know.” as he shrugged his shoulders.

We reasoned, we pleaded, we coaxed, we handed out punishments, we took away privileges. Nothing worked so far. He still does it when the mood-to-irritate comes knocking on his door again.

Exhaustion made me broke down a couple of times. Frustration made me flare up too often. Sense of helplessness made me said words I’ve yet to regret.

I’ve STOP expecting my ‘old’ boy to come back.
I’ve STOP expecting my boy to perform what a 5, 4 or even 3 year old can.
I’ve STOP expecting my boy to do things that he KNOWS is Right.

I realised the cause of all the frustrations was due to the mismatch of expectations to performance.

Am I giving up? I wish I could but I can’t, ‘cos if I – THE PARENT give up, who else will give my boy another chance? Many say I’m too skinny. When you exert so much energy every single day I guess its hard for the fats to stay for long. So even if it means to leave me with skin and bone, I’m not giving up.

Purpose of recording this down is with the hope of having a triumphant post in future….