learn to say ‘no’ to their children
|Young mums attend a
parenting meeting in Ha Noi. The 10-week programme is sponsored by the
Swedish Save the Children Society and the Centre for Community
Empowerment and is designed to help young mothers and fathers be better
parents. — VNS File Photo
HA NOI — "Mum! I
want a Superman!" demanded a five-year-old boy when accompanying his
long-suffering mother on a shopping trip.
"No! You have one at
home," said the mother. "I have a red Superman, I want a blue
one!" the boy persisted. The mother relented when the boy burst into tears.
She’d gone to the
supermarket to buy much-needed rice and yoghurt for the family, but instead
ended up buying the blue Superman for the boy and a fishing rod set. She had no
money left for food.
The above scenario was
played out before around 20 young mothers and fathers at a parenting club
Learning to say
"no" to their children was one of several topics discussed during the
ten-week training course – the first of its kind in the capital. The programme
is sponsored by the Swedish Save the Children society and the Centre for
As the sketch ended, young
mothers and fathers were divided into two groups and they were asked to comment
on the mother’s reaction to her young son’s demands.
The parents unanimously
agreed that the mother had given in too easily. They said the boy should have
been taught that he can’t have everything he wants, and that he should have
behaved more respectfully to his mother in public. By giving in to her son’s
persistent demands she was in effect teaching him that tears and tantrums would
always get him what he wanted, they said.
Some parents suggested
that the mother should have taken the boy outside and calmly explained that she
only had enough money to buy food, and that eating was more important than
having a new toy. If he continued to throw a tantrum, some suggested that the
mother should have taken him home and banished him to his room.
Pham Thi Khanh Linh, the
mother of a 21-month-old boy, said the mother should have been far firmer with
her son. "Although the theory is always easier than the practice, we need
to know the proper time to say ‘no’ to our children," she said.
Tran Thu Phuong, one of
the course instructors, said that when her four-year-old daughter asked for a
doll when she was out shopping, she said that she would think about it and took
her to a food stall instead. "As a result she forgot all about the
doll," said Phuong.
Some parents said it was
better to anticipate their children’s demands before they went shopping. They
said it should be explained beforehand that toys were not going to be on the
During the course, parents
also discussed ways to teach their children not to eat sweets before going to
bed and of the importance of going to school. Unanimously, the parents agreed
that they should not shout or beat their children.
Cao Phuong Dung, the
mother of a 21-month-old boy, confessed that she easily lost her temper and
smacked her baby when he did not eat his food or refused to sleep.
However, she said the
course had helped her control herself.
"Once my child
refused to take his medicine for vomiting. I was about to fly off the handle and
smack him but then I managed to control myself using techniques learnt on the
course," she said. "Instead of getting angry, I asked him to go
outside and to forget about the medicine. A moment later, he drank the medicine
without complaining. I felt so happy," said Dung.
Now that she could control
her temper she said their child was much happier – as were the rest of the
Le Khanh, a psychologist
from HCM City’s Tan Dinh Clinic, said parents should try hard to better
understand their children’s behaviour.
One way of getting to know
their children was by playing games with them. Khanh added that there was
nothing wrong with computer games. He said parents worried needlessly that
computer games made children lazy or damaged their eyesight.
"I am very busy but I
still sometimes play internet games with my children. It has helped my children
learn the difference between good and bad," said Khanh.
Aside from the parenting
club, Khanh said there were online forums where young mums and dads could
exchange experiences with other parents, such as yeucon.com, webtretho.com
Chu Anh Tra, another
instructor on the course, said she had attended workshops organised by the
Centre for Community Empowerment (Cecem) and the Committee for Population,
Family and Children.
"I used to think that
parents said and children obeyed. This is very much part of the Vietnamese
culture. But I learnt that a child is a self-contained individual and that it is
our responsibility as parents to listen to them," said Tra.
"People always invest
a lot of time in gaining qualifications, but they should realise that children
are the most important thing in life. That’s why we need to spend time
learning parenting skills."
Ngo Thi Thu Hien, the club’s
head, said almost every parent encountered difficulties feeding and caring for
their children. Many did not know how to make their children do as they’re
told, she said.
Hien added that the club,
which started life as the web forum www.lamchame.com, offered free weekend
courses to young parents, and that it would equip them with all the skills they
needed to raise their children properly.
"The club [in Ha Noi]
only recently opened. We hope to receive more financial support to open more
clubs in other provinces," said Hien. — VNS