Category Archives: Communicating with Children

The Power of Storytelling: 10 Reasons Why Stories Are Such Powerful Tools


We’ve heard a lot about it. Speakers use it. Politicians love it… But Storytellers started it.

What exactly endears an audience to stories? And what makes it such a powerful communication and learning tool that has stood the test of time?

Here are 10 Reasons Why Storytelling is Such a Powerful & Effective Learning Tool.

Continue reading The Power of Storytelling: 10 Reasons Why Stories Are Such Powerful Tools

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Public Speaking Boot Camp with Yuan Ching Sec


I had recently concluded a successful training session with the Students from Yuan Ching Secondary School.

And how did it go?

Well, let’s just say that it was… absolutely BRILLIANT!

I must say that this workshop was probably one of the best training experiences I’ve ever had in my career so . The students were simply phenomenal! I loved their energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and participate!

It was simply amazing!

Here are some memories taken from the Public Speaking Boot Camp!

Yuan Ching Secondary – The Super Fun Group!

It’s memories and experiences like that these that make training all these students worth it. Nothing beats training to make a positive difference! Talk about job satisfaction!

Well, here’s a big THANK YOU to all the boot camp participants from Yuan Ching Secondary School! You guys have certainly made a difference to my life too!

But remember – The Best is Yet to Come!

What Lies in a Spark?


What lies in a spark? That tiny, insignificant burst of energy. That little glimmer of light that flashes and lasts for that split second. What good does it make? And what power does it have?

It’s just an insignificant spark.

Or is it? Continue reading What Lies in a Spark?

Your Dimension Only – The Danger of Seeing Things in 1D


I just caught a show on a local television network. What’s interesting about the show is how a couple has to contend with dealing with kids from two households while their parents are away. This week’s episode focuses on the role of the uncle as a disciplinarian in the family.

His role and his relationship is put under the microscope when the kids, two teenagers from one family, two pre-teens from another and a toddler get themselves into various sticky situations in life.

What was most striking about this week’s episode was how the man, a firm believer in the need for scolding and punishment when it comes to disciplining a child. Interestingly, his firm and zealousness in doing things “his own way” puts a strain on the relationship between him and his wife, as well as that between him and the kids.

In one scene, the second eldest teenager, a girl by the name of Niu Niu plays basketball in a competition. At the death, her opponent charges into her during a last ditch tackle, but accidentally falls backwards and fractures her arm. This was the same rival that taunted her earlier during a routine practice match in the neighbourhood.

Though Niu Niu had no intention of fracturing her marker’s arm. She gets reprimanded by her uncle at the dinner table.

Taking into account the circumstances, and remorse that her niece is feeling, the wife feedbacks to him that he may have went overboard with his reprimands. Undeterred, he accuses her of spoiling the children and suggests that she has “no idea of how to discipline the kids”. Hurt, she declares that she washes her hands off helping him with the kids.

Guilt stricken, and also acting on the wishes of her uncle, Niu Niu proceeds to apologise to her rival at the hospital the following day. However, she is taunted by her jealous opponent again and leaves shortly in the wake of snide remarks.

Embittered by what happened earlier at the hospital, Niu Niu snaps while her uncle is driving her and her brother home. Under the impression that his niece is refusing to take responsibility for her actions and no knowing about the hospital incident, the uncle further reprimands her for being over-competitive, sparing no regard for her opponent’s safety. He suggests that she stop playing basketball if she cannot get her ‘priorities’ right.

Her brother tries to reason with his uncle, but ends up with an earful for trying to shield his sister and not living up to his responsibilities as an elder brother.

Frustrated, Niu Niu declares that she will quit basketball. Both siblings storm out of the car immediately when they get home.

* * *

Have you ever come across a situation similar to the one above? Guys, take note especially!
We can all be very stubborn sometimes. And often, we are so focused on only seeing things from one point of view (ours) that we are blinded from seeing anything else! We get so carried away that the balance is tipped – Our sense of justice becomes the only scale for justice.

Yet, we all know that that cannot be further away from the truth. We all know that there are more than one way to look at a certain situation. In order to get the full picture, we should all examine a particular issue from several angles, and reflect on our course of action.

Some questions for everyone to consider when reflecting on our actions are:

1. Are our “instinctive” responses the right reaction to the issue?
2. Is it the best way?
3. Is there a better way?
4. Are we able to do it differently?
5. And, how can I minimize the risk/damage that may be arise?

Being extremely stubborn, I’ve realised over the years that my way need not necessarily be the best way. Quite often, it’s good to hear out the concerns and suggestions of others, and implement those that are good, or seek to utilise the strengths of others to achieve the result.

In many instances, I’ve also come to realised that, by seeking out the views and concerns of others, I’ve managed to plug the loopholes and build beyond the what was originally expected.

Acting a mono-listic perspective is a dangerous measure. And when it comes to ‘dispensing justice’ or disciplining children, it can have adverse effects, if not backfire on you since your justice can hardly be counted as fair. And it can also really hurt relationships (as depicted in the case of the husband and wife above) when you’ve only the mind that your way is the best way.

So, the next time you’re eager to react and see things in your dimension only, take some time out to go through the 5 questions above before making a decision!

Remember, the world is round! There is always more than on perspective to a particular situation! Embrace views for harmony!

Speaking to Sell


Sales and Selling has often been linked with the concept of persuasion and “getting people to spend money”. The idea of selling has therefore been tinged with a dose of negativity and skepticism.

However, despite the dictionary definition of the term “selling”, and the occupation that’s associated with it, the “salesman/salesperson”, selling is a universal activity that’s not confined to the ordinary sales associate that you see at our shopping malls and shops. A closer examination of the concept of “selling” however, reveals one thing:

WE ARE ALL SALES PEOPLE!

Consider this, when you’re making a presentation to your boss on why you should receive your promotion, aren’t you actually trying to sell him an idea? And when he rejects you, isn’t he trying to sell you another idea on why he won’t be promoting you (yet)?

How about the times when you’re trying to coax your little one to eat his/her vegetables? Or go to school? Aren’t you trying to sell him/her the benefits of (or the pain of not) eating vegetables?

What about social situations? Aren’t you trying to get people to like you when you meet someone new? Hey, what about that cute girl/guy that you meet at the party? `Nuff said!

Selling is a universal concept. Like it or not, we are all sales people in our respective fields and domains in life. Everybody is selling something everyday!

So, regardless of what you do, whether you’re a professional salesperson, a parent, a teacher, trainer, student or whoever! You’ve got to sell!

Well here are some pointers on how to sell effectively. In reverse order of importance:

3) Understand the specialties of your product/service.

How does it differentiate from the other similar products/services/ideas around?

2) Is your product competitive?

What are the advantages of using your product/service/idea?

1) How will it BENEFIT the your “customer”?

The benefits of solving the problem are fundamentally the key reasons why your “customer” is looking for something at the end of the day. Be it an idea/product/service – the “sale” should revolve around how your customer will come up tops by getting what he/she wants.

Therefore a key tip to your presentation/negotiation success would be to revolve your presentation around the benefits your “customer” would be getting!

So, what’s going to be your next big sales success?

The ‘Art’ of Sincerity


Art: [noun] a superior skill that you can learn by study and practice and observation

Sincerity: [noun] a quality of naturalness and simplicity ; the quality of being open and truthful; not deceitful or hypocritical

Sincerity is a key element in the interpersonal relationships and communication. It’s only with sincerity can one TRULY click and integrate him/herself into the world of others. Nobody likes being lied to. We all delight in the truth. No doubt a person may lie with flattery and make one happy for awhile. But sooner or latter, the hypocrisy shows and the relationship will be broken.

As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Honesty is the solid foundation upon which a sturdy platform is established for relationships to grow. Falsity and lies are then like floating platforms. It’s wobbly and unsteady. When put to the test, it flips and flops and lands the owner into trouble!

So then, since sincerity is so important in our successes in relationships with others, how do we learn it? Can it even be taught?

Unfortunately, to many, sincerity is an extremely abstract concept. Despite it’s simplistic definition from the dictionary, I believe many people receiving so much information from so many sources that many don’t even know what they really think and feel anymore! In fact, many don’t even know what to believe in the age where the mass media and our schools are bombarding us with so much information on how we should think and feel!

So how do we differentiate what’s real and what is not to us? In it’s simplest sense, one can begin by seeking from within. For example, consider some of the following:

What are your values and beliefs?
What are the things that are important to you?
What are the things that delight you and what upsets you? What’s the range of acceptability of standards – expectations on yourself and others?
How strongly do you believe in those standards?
Have you been following up on achieving those standards? Have you been working hard on them?

(No, don’t even think about what others think about you. The focus is on you and only on you! Recall my post on Self Love – How well we treat others are a direct reflection of how well we treat ourselves! So forget about others for awhile and concentrate on knowing yourself better!)

Remember, these are values and beliefs! Not material and physical benefits that you can enjoy, but values and beliefs that define you as a person!

For example, one my values and beliefs in life is to actively become a better person, through continuous growth, learning and understanding. I believe that there are many challenges in life that cannot be solved based on our current capabilities, and through active learning, these puts me in a better position to handle those challenges. And I believe the skills that I learned would be of value to people who’ve similar interest in bettering themselves where communication and public speaking is concerned!

What’re my values:
1) Continuous learning
2) Self Growth

What’re my beliefs?
1) Learning makes me a better person
2) I can help make a difference in other people’s lives through sharing
3) My skills are valuable etc

These are some examples of my beliefs. And now that I’m fully aware of them, I’m allowed to actively pursue them during my contacts with people! Heck, I’m even doing it now!

Sincerity is a state of being. Unfortunately, these states cannot be taught effectively with mere words – they can only be achieved through experience. But hey, I’ve already given you some insights on how to pursue it! So at least there’s a start!

Sincerity is a solid foundation. It’s the truth and cannot be defeated. Flattery, lies and hypocrisy are hollow. You can built on them. But with time they would cave in. So why go through all the trouble building an a shell/mask that wouldn’t last?

Now then, go think about what are some of the things are deeply important to YOU! Tell yourself, you’re going to actively pursue it! What are some of the things that matter to you deeply in communication and inter-personal relationships? Tell yourself, you’re going to be true!

Let everything come from the bottom of your heart and soul! Do that with tact and diplomacy, and I will guarantee you success with people!

Kids can Feel


Kids are highly intuitive creatures. What they lack in knowledge and experience, they make it up with their excellent sense of intuition.

Kids know their parents are angry or upset even though they’re parents say they’re not.

Kids can feel if their parent’s are genuinely elated about achievements such as getting that B+ or if they’re parents are just merely humouring them.

Kids know whether their teachers are genuinely interested in them or in their grades.

As a trainer, one of the things that I’d always like to prepare myself prior to working with a class of children or teenagers, is my heart. The same is true too when I work with adults.

While adults are pretty much focused on the content besides delivery, they don’t really care about what you know until they know that you care. While adults can be won over pretty much with sufficient reason and logic, kids really operate on a certain level of trust and intuition.

Work on the trust and show that you care through action and patience. Smile more and laugh more!

Let the kids play – that’s how kids learn best!

Play with the kids – that’s how you bond, and help them learn best.

Communicating with Children


As a trainer, I’ve been previledged to work with hundreds of school children in various schools throughout my career. Together with being an uncle and elder cousin to several younger members of the family, I’ve been blessed with being in the unique position to work and empower children in both my professional and personal capacities.

Although young and impressionable, working with young children does not come without it’s own set of challenges. Like most adults, many children can be stubborn and deeply set in their mindsets as well. As the saying goes, habits once formed are hard to change. There’s even a saying in the Bible that relates to habits and their influence in our lives. The book of Proverbs (22:6) even states that “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Lots of books have been written by adults on how we should discipline and teach our children. I think many of them are useful. But there are two things which I read which stood out as particularly useful, and I’ve used to great effect in teaching children. The key, I feel, does not necessarily lie on what we do. It’s HOW we do it. It’s all about communication!

A close friend and psychologist friend of mine once shared with me about his work with parents. Now most kids dislike (to put it mildly!) going to school. But of ccourse, they go anyway. My friend told me that most children aren’t really going to school because they want to learn. Why do they go to school for then? Perhaps I should rephrase that question: Who are they going to school for? For whom are they working their hearts out for to achieve better grades?

Themselves? Perhaps. But do you suppose a 7-year old child who’s just begun going to school thinks that? No. As most of you would have guessed it, it’s for their parents.

Now most parents would protest by saying that they’re doing it for “the child’s own good!” I can’t protest with that. As a matter a fact, I support that with both hands up! But, is there a better way to do it? Is there a better way of getting children to do what we’d like them to do?

Definitely!

I think A lot has got to do with how we communicate our ideas to them.

1) Think about what THEY want!

I recalled a story of how a man once faced extreme difficulty in getting his second son to start going to nursery. No amount of threatening and coaxing was enough to get a ‘yes’ out of his son. Alex, the father wondered if there was something else he and his wife hadn’t try. He begain wondering about what were the things that could make his son want to go to school… and came up with an idea.

Alex gathered his wife and elder son together in the kitchen and begain playing with paint and painting. They laughed and had pretty much fun with the activity. Curious about the laughter, Brian (the second son) sneaked to peek around the kitchen wall to see his entire family having loads of fun with paint! When he requested to join in the fun, guess what was Alex’s reply?

“No! You’ve got to go to school to learn that!”

No prize for guessing who got up extra early the next day in his school uniform.

The technique/principle could be applied in educating children to follow positive behaviour too.

There was a time when my niece disliked going to school because of a selfish friend in her class. She told me of how her friend hoards all the toys in class and demands that others play with her whenever she wants.

I asked her if she like her ‘friend’. Not surprisingly, She replied no. I followed up my question by asking her if she’d like to be as unpopular and disliked by other people like her ‘friend’. ‘No’ came quickly too. That set the stage for my main message “do not be selfish if you do not want to be unpopular” and “good people have good friends”!

Everybody wants the good things in life. Understanding what children (and people even) perceive and accept as good is a fundamental key in helping us change behaviours.

2) Respect

The second useful and powerful tool which I often use is respecting my young learners.

I know sometimes it could be difficult to place importance on items and behaviours which we deem insignificant and immmature. But there’s a difference between disagreeing with the means and disrespecting the person. No doubt we can disapprove of negative behaviour, but we should always respect the person – even if they’re just 10 years old!

Showing respect to children can be tough, as mentioned above. However, there are subtle methods which we can utilise to emphasize their position of importance in our lives. And these are welcomed gestures!

As an uncle dealing with exceptionally young children, there’s a routine I’d like to do, and that is I’d always take the trouble to match myself physically to the child’s height. I ususally do this in two ways. The first is by lifting up the child in my arms. The second, and most frequently used, is to bend my knees to squat or kneel.

Talking to a child at eye level takes work. It takes away our physical superiority and dispels any sense of apprehension that the child may have towards us. This induces a sense of comfort and security and allows the child to better express his ideas and thoughts with any fear of attack or rebuttle. In addition, the fact that it takes work on our part, is a subconscious signal to the child that they are important people in our lives and that in turn, fosters an invaluable sense of trust that will form the bedrock of the parent-child relationship for years to come!

Lastly, the following method I frequently use is a hybrid between showing respect and knowing what the child wants. .

For example, if I expect the class of ‘young leaders’ to lead and make the right decision for their group, I’ll leave the decision making to the leaders. My role as a trainer and adult would be merely to explain the pros and cons of the various options available and allow them to make the choice. Of course, they make the wrong ones sometimes. But hey, that’s part of life isn’t it? The most important thing, however, is that they learn the most out of it! Better still if we’re around to guide them… and that they would be WILLING to listen to us.

And it’s obvious! Any rational human being will select the options which are most advantagous to them! More importantly, it’s the need to live up to the trust and expectations that I’ve placed in them that motivates the child to function.

The two principles and techniques which I’ve mentioned above are useful skills which I’ve utilised in my dealings with children and young adults. For me they have worked wonders in in my coaching career.

Interestingly however, in my observation knowing what children want, explaining and bestowing the sense of importance and respect on them seems to be excessively inadequately done by adults.

It’s time to do something about it. And it begins with YOU!!!

Try it!

What would your success story be?

Constant Communication


I just returned home from running an errand, but there were 2 events that caught my attention. One happened on the bus. Another happened in a supermarket. Both involved 2 young girls and an adult.

The my first observation on a bus was when a lady and her two young daughters boarded the bus. The daughters were very well behaved and spoke softly when they needed to talk. More importantly, they were very willing to share with their mother, to the extent that they enquired what was the meaning of pointing the various fingers on one’s hand [yes… that includes the middle one!]

The mother’s reaction? She was patient at listening and offered her piece in an equally soft, calm and lovely manner. All the while, her gaze was fixated on her daughters while they spoke. No wondering eyes. No indifferent stares at the other passengers. Only a warm smile and patient heart.

Fast forward to the supermarket. There was once again, two young girls and another mother. This time round however, the young girls were shouting and relatively boorish as they went down the aisles looking for items that their mother needed. And what did the mother do? Instead of correcting them, she shouted her orders to her two young kids too.

It’s intriguing isn’t it? Both events involved the same mix of people. And yet there were such distinct results! What does this tell us?

Some would argue that children learn what they need from schools, from their teachers. However, I believe that children learn the most from their parents. Children see and learn from what they experience. If it’s ok for their parents, then why can’t it be for them?

Some parents would argue again that they know their behaviour is bad, and that their children should do better. But hey… if it’s hard for the parent, what’s more for the kid?

Education begins at home, and continues at home. Schools and teachers will come and go, but parents are the ones that stay the longest, and have the biggest influence in their children’s life. It’s important to note then, that whatever you do and say, your children will be looking and learning. Every word spoken and action done, whether consciously or not, you are constantly communicating ‘educational’ messages to your children.

Therefore, always seek to set a good example for your children!

Trust in Relationships


An cohesive family unit is an effective one.

It all begins with the husband and wife – partners of a marriage.

A strong relationship between both parties fosters harmony and stability. Like all relationships, it’s strength is built on trust. The one thing that differs in a romantic relationship and one of platonic friendship, is merely the level of intimacy shared by both parties.

A strong relationship which fosters harmony and stability has a higher chance of withstanding the knocks of time and trials of life. It is difficult to achieve that, but definitely more rewarding than relationships with partners who compromise trust.

A strong relationship between the mother and father also serve as a reliable base for children to learn and grow. It is secure and nurturing, and therefore allows children to experiment without the fear of irrevocable failure, with the assurance and presence of his/her parents.

The best school or best teacher? Where should a child go to learn best? At home. A child primarily draws his/her inspiration from his/her parents. The the ability of a child to learn increases almost geometrically when he/she learns from parents who share strong and sturdy relationships as compared to a children who benefit arithmatically from the ‘normal’ relationships. Research has show than children who come from dysfunctional families are very much more likely to get themselves into dysfunctional relationships later on life too. Real education starts at home. It is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, primary source of influence in a person’s life.

A strong a sturdy relationship is one that’s healthy. It is one that is built on trust. Trust does not seek to hurt. It seeks to protect, and serve. It seeks to love. There’s hope in love.

The following’s a way to develope and build trust in relationships:

Be competent
Be good at what you do, if not better. Being good at something increases your reliability in other people’s eyes.

Be responsible Take responsibility of your actions, especially your mistakes and change them!

Be sensitive
Be aware of the feelings of the other person.

Be respectful
Know and UNDERSTAND what are the things that a person places importance on. Seek to place equal importance on them. Do not belittle them.

Be Honest
Do not lie! Lying compromises one’s integrity and trustworthiness. It erodes your reliability. Don’t even think of telling a white lie!

Temper honesty with a little kindness. Look at the positives of the situation and deliver them. Avoid being too judgemental!

Communicate!
Communicate your ideas and concerns to the people that you care. Don’t criticise or condemn OTHERS! Doing that will only put others at a defensive and nothing can be done when a wall has been put up. FOCUS on the issues that are you are concerned with and how do they make you feel. ie: what do they mean to you. Do not be afraid to elaborate.

Share your ideas and feelings. Daring to expose your vulnerability to others show how much you trust them, and they would be honoured to see that you’re bestowing them with that priviledge. [Of course, where it comes to really sensitive stuff, do share only with people whom you really can trust!]

Also, dare to share your ideas and thoughts to those around you. Dare to make a difference and help with the progress of work projects and or discussions of interest during meetings. You’ll never know if you mention something of immense value or support from someone who share a similar perspective! Having common ideas/perspectives build trust too!

The list above are merely some of the ways one may seek to strengthen trust, and is by no means exhaustive! I will share more when inspiration strikes!