Nurturing/ Teaching Courses
How to raise a GENIUS child
by Dr. Alex Tang
As a paediatrician in private practice, parents have always asked me for advice on good parenting. This is as it should be because as parents, it is our responsibility to raise healthy children. But on careful questioning, what these parents seem to be asking is “ How do I raise my kid to be the cleverest kid around? How do I raise a genius?” In my many years of practice, I have yet to meet a genius child. Neither did my own parenting have produced any geniuses. I am sure Einstein’s mother would have some problem recognizing a genius as Einstein was reported to have failed in many of his exams in school and after leaving school was only able find work in a government post dealing with patents. My advice to all these parents are to be more relaxed in their approach in parenting and to consider my approach in raising a GENIUS child.
G is for growing normally. We, as parents, must first make sure our children are healthy and growing well. For babies and toddlers, they must be given their scheduled immunizations on time and be assessed regularly by a doctor. Prevention is better than cure. We need to teach our child basic health care like personal hygiene. You will be surprised to learn how many parents spent hundreds of dollars on branded clean clothing for their children yet did not teach them how and when to wash their hands.
When a child is sick with a fever, a doctor should see him or her as soon as possible and treatment given. Here must be mentioned the Malaysian tendency for ‘doctor hopping’. I have seen a child who has had fever for 6 hours and the parents have, before bringing the child to see me, already brought the child to 5 doctors! The parents brought the child to see one doctor, took medicine and when the fever did not subside, brought the child to see another doctor. Medications take time to take effect. My pleas to parents is to be patient and if the fever does not subside in one or two days, go back to see the same doctor. Another problem with some patients is that their parents stop their medications too early. The moment the fever subsides, they stop the medication and then wonder why the child become febrile again. Another tendency is to mix Western and Chinese treatment. First to a doctor, then to a sinseh for ‘mau tan’ and back to a doctor again on a regular merry-go-round.
E is for emotional quotient (EQ). For a long time psychologists have been studying why some persons, when all things being equal, are more successful than others are. Some people seem to thrive on challenges while others are destroyed or burn out by the same challenges. In 1995, Daniel Goleman published a book titled ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in which he detailed that all people have EQ. Emotionally mature people have high EQ. EQ is the ability to know how to distinguish healthy from unhealthy emotions and how to turn negative emotions into positive ones. Emotionally healthy children are generally better learners with fewer behavioral problems, better able to resist peer pressure, better to resolving conflicts and better at building relationships with others. The good news is that we can improve our children’s EQ. We can improve our children’s EQ by bonding and building good relationships with our children. Breast-feeding is good for bonding between mother and baby. The basis of our relationship must be based on respect for the child, acceptance for who he or she is and affirming them. We must also encourage our children to mix with other children but need to supervise their interactions and help them to develop good social skills. Another important factor in increasing EQ is role modeling. Children learn from what they see, not what they are told. If, as parents, we cannot control our emotions, our children will definitely have difficulty with their emotions.
N is for nutrition. It is important that our children have a balanced diet. But somehow, most parents seem to be fixated on supplements. Some parents think that chlorophyll (good for plants for photosynthesis but what use is it for humans?), goat colostrum (good for baby goat) or queen pollen (good for bees) is essential for child’s well being. It did not seem to matter that there has never been any scientific studies done proving that these supplements really work. Anecdotal stories are good enough for them. Another increasing problem with nutrition is that many of our children are becoming obese. Do not blame it on McDonald! Blame it on the number of meals we feed our children every day, the amount of food we gave to them and the type of fatty, starchy food we feed them. It is important that as parents that we stick to a balanced and sensible diet for our children.
I is for intelligent quotient (IQ). It may be surprising to learn that over the last century and in spite of the improvement in nutrition, education and healthcare, the IQ level of the general population has increased by only 2 IQ points! There was some excitement a few years ago when a study done on college students, reported that the student’s IQ jumped 7-8 IQ points after listening to Mozart’s Sonata for piano in D-major, K448. Unfortunately these results were never duplicated and an analysis of many similar studies showed that the average increase after listening to Mozart is only 1.4 IQ points. For some unexplained reason, there was a leap of faith and some people started to claim that exposing an unborn child to Mozart will increase his or her IQ. Again there is no scientific evidence that Mozart will increase IQ but it may help to calm the mothers. As parents, we may not be able to increase our child’s IQ but we can enhance their existing IQ by exposing and stimulating our children in challenging games, hobbies or art. Leaving our children parked in front of the television does not help their IQ.
U is for utmost potential. We are to give our children the opportunities to develop to their utmost potential. Please note that it is to develop to their utmost potential and not to our utmost expectations. Just because some parents did not have opportunities to learn to play the piano when they were young, they now insist that their children learn how to play the piano. So their kids were given lessons and advanced from grades to glorious grades. I wonder how many pianos are now gathering dust at homes! Many children’s day are filled with tuitions, piano lessons, swimming lessons, art appreciation classes, ballet and dancing and then one day, these children would wonder what happened to their childhood. Children should be allowed their childhood. Children should be allowed to learn what they are interested in and given the opportunity to learn and develop in their areas of interest so as to develop into their full potential. As, parents, we must be careful not to impose our expectations unto our children.
S is for spiritual quotient (SQ). As with EQ, SQ can be developed and improved. As parents, we are to teach our children about God, the Bible stories, to pray and to love other people. As in EQ, we are role models for our children. Our children cannot see God but they can see us. Our children’s conception of God comes from their perception of us, especially of the fathers. If the father is cold and distant, their perception will be that God too is cold and distant. A warm and loving father will help his children to perceive a warm and caring God. True happiness and fulfillment comes from having a high SQ.
In summary, the GENIUS approach to parenting produces an emotionally and spiritually maturing healthy child. Children are a gift from God and they are ours only for a few years. Then they will leave home to start their new lives. In these few years that we have, we must make good use of the time to be good parents and to raise them well. It is not easy to be parents in this busy, consumer-orientated and materialistic world. There are many strong and compelling forces that will steal our children away from us. But it is our responsibilities to raise our children well. So let us do the job and do it right the first time.
Soli Deo Gloria
"treat, heal, and comfort always"
"spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"
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