Monthly Archives: September 2013

How I (Really) Raise My Kids

Becoming a parent 18 years ago caught me unawares and unprepared (but that’s another blog post), and so I always question my skills as a mom. Everything I know came from observation (my parents) and trial-and-error (me). However, I always want to be better in what I do and so I have become an avid reader of ANY and ALL parental advice articles. The most recent ones I came across included something about how American parents are doing it wrong (poor American parents–they always have it bad) and one about how to listen to your teen-age child.

Although reading these articles do instruct me on how to become a better mother, many times I feel quite inadequate when I can’t practice everything they preach. “5 Keys to Raising Smart Kids,” “10 Steps to Giving your Child More Confidence,” “8 Best Kid-Healthy Tips,” “12 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Your Kids Start a Sport.” Really now, aren’t those titles a little too intimidating?

I have, therefore, learned to accept my own strengths and weaknesses as a mom, and have developed my own strategies in bringing up my kids to become the adults I want them to be.

Here are my own parenting practices in no particular order of preference or prominence (Whew!  That was a lot of Ps!):

  • I feed the kids as much healthy food as they can swallow. In my case, that would be two strands of kangkong, followed by a full glass of water, and a banana for dessert. When they eat chips or drink soda, I just close my eyes and pretend it’s not happening. I also try to be a good example by eating vegetables in front of them (I should stop with the brownies though).
  • I ALWAYS remind them speak to and treat people–any people–with the utmost respect. (“Any people” includes their own siblings.) They have to greet elder people–mom, dad, lolo, lola, tito, tita, teacher, priest, doctor, yaya, driver, etc–every time they enter a room. This is a non-negotiable, and non-compliance usually means a slap in the face (I’m kidding Bantay Bata!).
  • Using of the computer, iPad, iTouch, iPhone, X-box during school days is not allowed. But truthfully, I pick my battles. How can you win against a child telling you, “But I neeeeeeeeeed the computer to do research for my homework,” OR “I have to keep my iPhone on!  That’s how my classmates get in touch with me so we can do our project together”??? Sometimes, I do feel my head explode.
  • Team sports is a must! (Physical health, cooperation, and perseverance–what more can you ask?) We attend all the games to cheer for them, shout out things they should do to their opponent, groan out loud when they lose the ball, and hug them whether they win or lose.
  • I train my kids to study independently (fact: my husband has forbidden me from tutoring my own kids lest I “accidentally” strangle them), yet when they need help I am there for them. I sharpen their pencils, help them with the printer, or buy art supplies. But I will NEVER: write a paper, answer math problems, draw the digestive system, or research the gross domestic products of the Central Asian countries. Oh, I also tell them everyday when they arrive home from school: “Do your homework. Study na!”
  • I teach my kids to live within their allowance. If they want a new shirt, bag, toy, musical instrument, or iPad game, they have to either save their money, work for it, or wait until their birthday comes around (because that is the only occasion we allow them to go to their grandparents to ask for anything). And if they’re hungry because they don’t have enough money to buy food, I just tell them to eat less (again, I’m kidding Bantay Bata!).
  • I allow them to experience new things without us. Sometimes, the first soiree, camping trip, or non-animated movie is best enjoyed with their barkada.
  • Their friends are always welcome to come over to the house, but they have to make sure that they greet us when they arrive. That is our kids’ most important responsibility when they host. And we expect that they do the same when they visit their friends’ houses.
  • I constantly ask them what went about in their day, and encourage them to tell stories about their friends. And I always (try to) listen without judgement and laugh with abandon.
  • I hug and kiss my kids as much as they allow me to–when they wake up, before they leave the house, when they arrive at home, after taking a shower (to check how clean they are), and before they go to bed. Sometimes, I also try to do this in public but I’m usually met with some a lot of resistance.

In the end, whatever it is I do, I just hope and pray that they grow-up to be good and happy people.  That’s all a mother (like me) could ask.


When Kids Don’t Listen (A Very Simple Guide to APD)

Browsing through the website, I noticed an article about APD (Auditory Processing Disorder), also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).  It defines the condition as:

“a complex problem affecting about 5% of school-aged children.  These kids can’t process the information they hear in the same way as others because their ears and brain don’t fully coordinate.  Something adversely affects the way the brain recognizes and interprets sounds, most notably the sounds composing speech.

Kids with APD often do not recognize subtle differences between sounds in words, even when the sounds are loud and clear enough to be heard. These kinds of problems usually occur in background noise, which is a natural listening environment. So kids with APD have the basic difficulty of understanding any speech signal presented under less than optimal conditions.”

Many times, APD is not really treated as a serious problem because–let’s get real–children do have a tendency to misunderstand parents and teachers when they don’t feel like listening to things they don’t want to hear.  Case in point, my conversation with my son Basti, regarding the need to brush his teeth every night.

ME:  “Did you brush your teeth?”

BASTI (not looking away from the TV):  “Hmmm?”

ME:  “Did you brush your teeth?  If you haven’t, I will turn off that TV until you do.”

BASTI:  “Mom, I don’t understand what you are saying to me.”

Pilosopong Basti aside, consider the five problem areas (as described in the same website) that affect a child with APD:

1.  Auditory Figure-Ground Problems: when a child can’t pay attention if there’s noise in the background.

Gino belongs to a class of 23 students.   While their teacher is giving them instructions on how to write an expository essay,  Gino’s seatmate is whispering to him about the new iPad game he got last night.  Two boys behind him are chatting about football, and so are the two classmates in front of him.  The air-conditioner in the classroom is making loud, clunky sounds; and younger kids outside are shouting while playing frisbee.  Gino is so overwhelmed by the myriad of noises that he is unable to focus on what his teacher is saying, and just covers his ears.

2.  Auditory Memory Problems: when a child has difficulty remembering information such as directions, lists, or study materials.  

Lauren’s mother is telling her to pack for her class camping trip the next day.   “Lauren, go to my room and get the duffel bag in the closet.  You will find the sleeping bag under your brother’s bed.  Go pack your clothes after.  Don’t forget to bring sun screen, insect repellant, a jacket, cap, flashlight, and your allergy medicines.  Did you get all that?”  Lauren nods and goes to her mother’s room.  She searches around but can’t find what she is looking for.  After ten minutes, she shouts, “Mom where is the sleeping bag?  What do I have to bring again?”

3.  Auditory Discrimination Problems:  when a child has difficulty hearing the difference between words that are similar.

Jaime noticed that she got one mistake in her spelling test.  She approaches her teacher and says, “I spelled this word correctly.”  The teacher shakes her head, “I’m sorry, Jaime, it is wrong.  Color is spelled C-O-L-O-R.”  Jaime looks dismayed, “But I heard you say the word ‘collar.'”  The teacher explains, “I used the word in a sentence–The newborn puppy was color brown.”  Jaime looks confused, “I thought you said–The newborn puppy wore a brown collar.”

4.  Auditory Attention Problems:  when a child can’t stay focused on listening long enough to complete a task or requirement.

Rally’s teacher is explaining how to make a camera obscura.  “First, tape up the box to ensure that no light can penetrate it.  Then cut away part of one end of the box and fix a screen of tracing paper across it. At the opposite end cut a 25mm hole in the box, cover this with kitchen foil, tape down the edges and bore a neat round hole through the foil that is no larger than the lead of a pencil.”  While his teacher is talking, Rally’s attention is caught by the sound of a car passing by.  When he realizes that his teacher has finished talking, Rally looks at his cardboard box and then asks his friend beside him, “What are we suppose to do?”

5.  Auditory Cohesion Problems:  when higher-level listening tasks are difficult, such as drawing inferences from conversations.  

Mateo was being interviewed by a therapist about his family.  He was asked, “Mateo, do you like going to school?”  Mateo answers (with a smile), “Yes, I like school.”  The therapist asks further, “What do you do when you’re in school?”  Mateo says, “I play with my friends and I learn new things.”  The therapist continues, “What is it you most like about school?”  Mateo answers (with a little frown), “I like to go to school.”  The therapist rephrases her question, “What is your most favorite thing about school?”  Mateo says, “My favorite thing is school.”

Tomatis PhilippinesAPD can affect a child’s performance and behavior in school and at home if left unidentified and unmanaged.  And if so, it may lead to more serious concerns such as speech and language delays and academic problems.

Tomatis and APD

The Tomatis Method can help children with APD by retraining the auditory system and decreasing hearing distortion. This allows them to listen and focus on the important sounds and efficiently process the information in the brain, greatly improving a child’s receptive listening skills.

Dr. Deborah Swain, former Chief of Speech Pathology at the University of California, Davis Medical Center and current director of the Swain Center, explains in her study:

The Tomatis Method is based on the evidence that the neurophysiological construction of the auditory system has important connections with entire body as well as the cortex and sub-cortical structures, which are stimulated when stable and normal auditory perception occurs.

The Tomatis Method serves as an auditory stimulation/re-education intervention to stimulate listening and processing as opposed to hearing.  It reproduces the developmental steps of listening, language acquisition and use, and learning.

As a matter of fact, her study entitled  “The Effects of Auditory Stimulation on Auditory Processing Disorder,” describes the positive effect of the Tomatis Method as a form of intervention for APD.

The study’s purpose is to determine the efficacy of the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation as a therapeutic intervention for Auditory Processing Disorders (APD).  Forty-one subjects (18 females, 23 males; 4.3 to 19.8 years old) were evaluated for APD.  Performance on standardized tests indicated weaknesses with auditory processing skills.  Each subject participated in a 90-hour Tomatis Method protocol and, once completed, each subject was re-evaluated to measure improvement.  All subjects demonstrated improvement with skills of immediate auditory memory, auditory sequencing, interpretation of directions, auditory discrimination, and auditory cohesion.  Pre- and post-treatment comparison indicated statistically significant differences in the aforementioned skills.  These findings suggest that the Tomatis Method of auditory stimulation can be effective as an intervention strategy for APD.

If you would like to find out more about how the Tomatis Method can address Auditory Processing Disorder, please email us: