What are the essentials to instill in our children?

Towards the end of summer 2017, we received a flyer of a pre-school advertising its approach of engaging children in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, abbreviated as STEAM; it seemed that STEAM is the new trend, previously it was STEM. Although they missed the s for the mathematics in their flyer, I was impressed by their initiative to teach coding/programming and robotics little children (toddlers to those before starting primary school), in addition to the classics including gym, musicmovement.

Since I will have more opportunities to solely direct the growth of Little Prince from autumn 2017 (InShaAllah), I have brainstormed on what are essentials for him.

“Grown men can learn from very little children,
for the hearts of little children a pure.
Therefore, the Great Spirit may show children
many things that older people miss.”
Black Elk via Ross Greene, the author of Raising Human Beings.

Personally, I view that, we (as parents) should love our children without expectations. Asian parents often view their children as investment and they have been disappointed when the ROI is lower than expected, or negative.

At the other end of the spectrum, we do our best, let the Universe does the rest, instead of excessively worry for our children. As the saying goes, 儿孙自有儿孙福,莫为儿孙做远忧 [1]。We just do our best to instill good values in them, ensure that they stay safe and healthy.

Love ourselves.
Love our parents.
An Arabic proverb goes that “paradise is under mothers’ feet (الجنّة تحت أقدام الأمّهات)
Be kind to people.
As the saying goes, 世上有两件事不能等:一、孝顺 (filial piety)。二、行善 (charity)。

Loving ourselves entails being responsible for ourselves.
Be aware of the double-edge nature of love-bombing [2].

Say more positive words (良言胜金玉) to ourselves and our children.

Believe on ourselves.
Believe that good things will come to us.

On 20170602, while patiently waiting for our turn to see a pediatric dentist, Little Prince played happily and a taller boy came to talk in a bossy manner to him. He calmly answered with a smile, and the boy ended up liking and playing with Little Prince. Thank you Little Prince for being a self-confident in the face of a potential bully, making friends instead of playing a victim, and smiling for my camera phone (see 20170602*jpg).

It is essential to be humble. Humility prevents humiliation.
Humble people can always learn from others (三人行,必有我师焉).
As parents, we must encourage more learning by being a role model of lifelong learning (活到老,学到老).

Self-discipline, and lenient towards others (严于律己,宽以待人).

In summer 2017, there were days when we lived in Little Prince’s paternal grandparents’ home. Since there were so many toys, I observed that Little Prince was less interested to read his encyclopedia books, unlike in spring 2017. This phenomenon made me wonder:

  • does the lack of toys make children more keen on reading books?
  • does the lack of toys make children less creative (as they have not much to play with, build (e.g. lego)?
  • does the lack of toys make children more creative? In spring 2017, I told Little Prince that “everything can be a toy as long as we imagine it”. For example, he imagined empty 1.5 l water bottles as aeroplanes.

For autumn 2017, I plan for Little Prince to nurture the following habits:

  1. affirm positive messages to himself [3].
  2. drink milk thrice a day.
  3. eat an egg daily.
  4. learn at least two encyclopedia articles.
  5. prepare for tomorrow e.g. pack his bag [4].
  6. brush teeth before sleep.
  7. pray to say thank you and be hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.

Hopefully, Little Prince could pursue his firs MOOC course in autumn 2017, especially something that is relevant for his current life stage, given that he has only learned to read few words (including his name, baby, big) as of 20170703. For example, child nutrition by Maya Adam of Coursera (see ref2017*/plans_autumn2017*txt).

One of the greatest ways to develop general knowledge on a subject is to be genuinely interested in something. Curiosity, fascinations on particular matters, and imagination will ensure that we never run out of ideas.

Resourcefulness is the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties.
Creativity can help us to become more resourceful than ever.
We must capitalize what we have for betterment of our lives and others, and resourcefulness allows us to do so.


[1] As parents, I often ponder on the future of education.

In 1914, Oxford Philosophy professor John Alexander Smith told his student, “nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you.”

When I was an undergraduate, I heard a piece of advice: “don’t event think that a degree from a top university is a passport to a successful career. Reality is very different from campus life.”

[2] Love bombing can be defined as an attempt to influence another person with over-the-top displays of attention and affection.

Love bombing was a technique recommended by British author and psychologist Oliver James for parents to get their children to improve their behavior.

Love bombing was also a strategy used by the malicious to encourage loyalty and obedience. I was surprised when my intellectual Mexican friend, an economist and an educator, made a public confession of his past sins at a church where we lived during our graduate studies.

[3] Some affirmations that Little Prince has said to himself since spring 2017:

  • I live happily everyday.
  • I love myself, my baby sister, mama and papa. Note: healthy self-love is a prerequisite to love others.
  • I love to learn, learning is good for me.
  • Every thing can be a toy as long as we imagine it.
  • I can tell stories anytime and anywhere.
    • I can tell beautiful stories anytime and anywhere.
    • I can tell inspiring stories anytime and anywhere.
  • Every problem can be solved.

[4] In autumn 2015, I was surprised to receive a praise from my critical father that I packed my work bag at night so that I did not have to rush in the mornings.

When Little Prince started his kindergarten (his first day was 20170910), he could self-help by preparing his snack box of bread spreaded with peanut butter. I encouraged him to do it the night before, hence we would not have to rush in the mornings. Hopefully, he could cook his lunch box of pasta in the near future!


  1. […] play as a form to nurture the essentials. […]


  2. […] Little Prince and I would live together in our adventure in the desert, in addition to the essentials, I would like to share survival and practical lessons to allow him to be independent early in […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: