Book: Beyond the Tiger Mom

I can’t believe it, I’m finally done with reading the 1st book of the year! I found myself so tired every night that I have no energy to pick up my Kindle to read. But I’m quite glad I have read this book and manage to finish it within 3 months (LOL, so slow).

Beyond the Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age is written by Maya Thiagarajan who was born and raise in India until her teens, where she moved to America to study and later on to teach. After 15 years in US, she moved to Singapore in 2010. Her kids were 5 y.o and 18 months when they moved over. So it is interesting to see how she compares the parenting style in the West and East, particularly for education, which she dedicated a large part of the book to.

I have never stayed in the “West” before, so I do not know the parenting culture “there”, though I have read some of the styles before while trying to be a better parent myself. So I was presently surprised to read in her book that in the West, adults (like teachers) are often held responsible for kids performance in school. Or parents will actually come out with excuses for kids that did not do well. This is really so unlike our Eastern culture. I also agree with some the observations she made on “Eastern” parents. Like our “love” for drilling in education (particularly math) and filling our kids time with enrichment or tuition classes. She went on to explain the pros and cons of both style in education (reading, math and exam preparation), playing and resiliency.

However, I think a lot of Eastern parents are also changing and adapting more Western style parenting as the world becomes more connected and parents get to learn more of different parenting style.

For example, she mentioned that Eastern parents and preschool are not focused on reading aloud and discussing stories but more on phonics and sounding out words. Parents are reading things like Ladybird and Oxford readers to their kids so as to teach reading rather than the letting the kids explore in the fantasy world.

I do not deny many parents are making their kids read the “Readers”, especially when they reach the “Kindergarten” age. However, I think there are also many parents who read freely interesting stories to their children. Even when I was young, my Mum will try within her means to read to me and bring me to the library. In fact, I think reading is quite a common hobby in the past before technology took away our time.

Besides, there are growing number of parents who are also letting their kids go the non-tuition way for their education. An example is Christy from Kids ‘R’ Simple (hop over to her blog to read on how she is doing it).

In short, if you want to get the “best of both worlds”, you can read up this book as she makes the comparison and provide useful tips to implement.

Disclaimer: We received this book for review purposes. No monetary compensation was received and all views are my own.

Book: Milk Goes to School

The elder two love Terry Border books. I think they find it funny, and he has repetitive phrases which the kids can recite to after reading it for a few times. So they were very happy when we spotted this new title at the library last week.

The main character of the book, Milk.

The story is about Milk first day of school. It started with Milk getting a little scared of her first day. So to boost her confidence, her father told her she is “la crème de la crème“, meaning “best of the best”. Given that she is “milk”, there was probably some pun intended here. When Milk reaches school, she tried to be friendly with everyone. But her jokes were insensitive and she also told everyone that her father says she is “la crème de la crème”. This puts her friends off, especially Waffle who commented that she is “spoiled”. As with all children book, the day always ends with everyone resolving their differences and became friends.

This page shows the content of Milk’s bag spilling out. And we noticed that there was no books but lots of hair clips. From here, we realize that Milk actually changes her hair clip on every page of the book! The kids were quick to point out that this is not the right thing to do in school. LOL.

After our last book on puns, I’m actually quite glad to find another book to continue teaching the kids on “puns”. The most obvious “pun” is”spoiled”. The first time when Waffle commented she is spoiled, Milk actually “smelled” herself. I took the opportunity to explain to the kids what does “spoiled” means in this context (actually I was quite surprise the kids doesn’t know it, LOL. Maybe we didn’t read enough books!).

Chicken nuggets hatching out of eggs?

We also enjoyed the humor, such as the one above. The kids couldn’t stop laughing when they saw the nuggets hatching. I’m just glad that they know that nuggets are processed food and doesn’t hatch from an egg naturally. LOL.

And of course the different learning points throughout the story. I actually asked the kids who do they think is a better person, “Waffle” or “Milk”? I’m glad that they both came to conclusion that both are not so nice and that we should be more sensitive to others when we talk or make comments.

As parents, this book also serve as a reminder of what are the appropriate words to say to the kids. We may think our kids are very great, but telling them they are “best of the best” may not be for their best interest. But we should also not stop short of giving them praises when they indeed earned it. Its how we phrase the praises that is more important.


This book is available at our public library. Do check it out.

  • Library: Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Central, Cheng San, Choa Chu Kang, Clementi, Geyland East, Jurong, Jurong West, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Sembawang, Serangoon, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Woodlands
  • Call Number: English BOR

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Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Book: The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

“The 7 Habits of Happy Kids” is written by Sean Covey, who is the son of Stephen Covey, the author behind “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. Needless to say, this book is also base on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. However, it is written in such a way that it makes it easy for the kids to relate and understand.

The main characters in the book. Your kids may identify with some of them.

The book introduces each habit by starting with a story, usually lead by one of the kids as the main character. And ends with explaining the habit that the kids should form.

The stories are also beautifully illustrated so that it engages pre-schoolers too.

What I like about the book is that the stories are really things that happened to our kids. For example, there is a story about one of the kid getting bored and starts “complaining” about it. Which of your kid has never done this before? I think none. My kids will from time to time complain to me that they have “nothing to do”. Which really irritates me. LOL.

Or like the story, in the above picture, about choosing to learn spelling and going out to play. For my eldest who is P1 this year, this story is so timely. I hope he can really learn through the story and not make the mistake himself.


I also love the “Parents’ Corner” that is at the end of each chapter (or habit). It gives us little tips on what to do, how to facilitate the discussion should you have no idea (like me) and some tips for the kids too.

We have not finish reading the book. But the boy has already picked up and use “effectively” 2 habits. The first is “Begin with the end in mind”. The last time we were at Kidzania, he was very clear his end goal was to “buy” the snake toy which is not cheap. So throughout his entire play there, he goes only to “jobs” that give him money. And skipped those that will cost him money including his favourite “ice-cream maker job”. In the end, he manage to get the snake and was very happy and proud of himself.

The other habit he had form was the “Think Win-Win”. He started “negotiating” for terms so that we can both get what we want. He wanted more screen time (as MeiMei has it), while I wanted him to practice one more round of his spelling and 听写 (as he has made some careless mistakes). So in the end we came to a common term and both got what we wanted. Though I’m not too sure this habit should be used in such a way, LOL.

I hope both the elder kids will somehow learn and form the habits along the way. And when the time is right, I will share the book with the littlest too.

The book ends with a summary of all the habits and its relation to independence, interdependence and continuous improvements, much like the book for the adults.

If you are looking for good habits to instill into your kids do check out this book. They are available as physical copy and e-resource at our public library.

Growing with the Tans Friday Flips

Parenting: How to get kids to pack up

I used to struggle a lot in the past to get the kids to pack up. Until one day, I saw this billiant idea on Pinterest, and it worked for me too! It’s called “Ransom Box”.

I’m not sure about others. But for our family, before the “Ransom Box” was introduced, we always threaten the kids that the items (toys, books, etc) will be thrown away if the kids don’t keep it (there was one occassion that Chubby really threw some toys away ). However, this is not a good method as most times we just threaten, and it is not environmental and pocket friendly to be throwing toys away like that. So when I saw the idea of “Ransom”, I think it is a better option.

The “Ransom Box” works by putting items, that is left lying around by the kids, into the “Ransom Box”. And it will be held “ransom” until the kids do something to redeem it. Usually a household chore. But do note that chores within their “scope of work”, are not considered. For example, the kids don’t get to redeem items from the box if they say put their own dishes into the basin after meal, or making their own bed, etc. It has to be something extra.

I chose a big and transaparent “Ransom Box” so that even bigger size toys can fit in and the kids can see what is inside.

If you search around the Internet, they usually put a notice on the “Ransom Box” explaining to the kids what happened. But when I started this, my kids were barely 5 and 3.5 y.o.  They couldn’t read well. So I sat them down, told them about the rules and place the ransom box in a very obvious place as a reminder (very much like red light camera on the road).

Tip: Do remember to inform all adults (including domestic helper) about it. If there is anyone who packs up for them, or unknowingly takes out the items from the box, the method will not work.

For us, the kids’ cousin come over on weekends, so the same applies to them. If they leave the items around, I would help them pack up but they will have to do a household chore at their own house in return (I make my SIL take video as proof to show me. Oh the wonders of technology. LOL). So going home doesn’t mean they get away with it.

The first week, we implemented it, the ransom box got filled quickly. The kids got around to helping me clean up their younger brother (they particularly hated cleaning his poo) and the house too. The cousins got to help bring out the dirty rubbish to the common rubbish chute. Bascially, think of chores that they will not willingly do. So after a while, they realize it’s easier to just pack up.

Nowadays, all I need to do is say “I think I need to bring out the ransom box…”, and they will rush before me to pack up their toys. There isn’t a need for constant nagging, isn’t it great? Our ransom box has been empty for about a year already. But it is still there as a reminder.

Tip: In order for younger kids to help pack, the toys must be arranged for easy packing. 

We love these shelves as it allow us to organise the kids toys easily. Each box holds a different category of things (e.g. Peppa Pig, Cars, Poli, Musical Toys, Playdoh, Lego, board/card games, etc). The kids just need to dump them in the correct box and thats it. Something even my 3 y.o. nephew can do it easily. Ok, we don’t have the neatest or prettiest looking shelves, but it does its job and is not too messy.

So how do you get your kids to pack up after they are done?

*P.S. This is not a sponsored post. You don’t have to get the exact model of shelves or ransom box. The idea is to have a big ransom box so it can hold most of the toys. And toy storage that helps in packing.

Book Review: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

When my friends saw me reading this book, they asked if I really want to be a Tiger Mother, to which I reply “I am a Tiger Mum. My son was born in the year of Tiger, not me”.

Jokes aside after reading through this book, I really think I’m not cut out to be a Tiger Mother. I mean a real Tiger Mother, one who uses real strict parenting style. Personally, I didn’t grow up in a strict Chinese parenting style. I mean my parents never pushes us to do anything. They pretty much left us to do what we like, probably also because they have been too busy making ends meet when we were young. But whenever we request to learn somethings, they will allow us to. For example, my Mom brought me for art and ballet lessons when I was really young. I remember I started dancing at the age of 4. The art lesson was even earlier,  I only have very snapshot memories of it. But I wasn’t the arty kind, so I remember I told my Mom that I don’t like to go for art lesson and she left me at it. As for ballet, it was my love for a long time. I danced till my late 20s. However, I wasn’t the best dancer in class. I just manage to pass all my graded exams with a decent grade. I also remember that I requested to learn piano when I saw my sis learning. However, I gave it up when I was 16. Mom nags a bit but pretty much left me to it, although at times she will still nags about the money she spent buying the piano. It was a huge sum considering that we are just making ends meet at that time. My Mom hardly scold me too, I only remember a few times when I did badly for tests and it was due to careless mistakes.

So I was very surprise when Chubby told me that his Mom actually scold him using really nasty words when he was young. Always saying that he was useless and all. I know Chubby must have really hated it (no, he loves his Mom, but cannot appreciate the scolding) and went into a stage of rebellion at some point of time. So I think Chubby had a closer experience of strict “Chinese Parenting” then me.

With that I really think that the Tiger Mother style can only be applied to certain kids with certain personality traits. Some kids like Chubby and the author’s own 2nd daughter wouldn’t adapt well to this kind of parenting. Besides, I’m not an ambitious Mom, I don’t need my kids to live a glamorous life. I just wish that they are doing what they like and find a meaningful purpose in their life. So nope, I’m unlikely going to follow the Tiger Mother style, although there are still some parenting tips that I can pick up from the book. However, I have to agree with the author that this is not a parenting self-help book, but really a memoir. Its a good read of how the dynamics are between the Mom and her two kids.


One thing that really strike a cord in me is her talk about generation decline. In Chinese we always say 富不過三代, which means a wealth will not pass through 3 generations. She put it in a family concept too. According to her the first generation, which is her father, are the immigrants to US. They are not rich so they are very frugal and will ensure that their kids are successful through their strict parenting. The 2nd generation, which is her, are the successful personnel and will be richer. They are still frugal but is not as frugal as their parents. They will occasionally splurge on certain things. While the 3rd generation, which are her kids, are the ones that will enjoyed the fruits of the two generation labor. For example, they will get hard cover books, expect expensive brand name clothes and all. This is the generation that seems to be on the way to doom, which is why she is determined not to let her kids go down that path.

Well, I couldn’t say it applies exactly in my family. We are probably the .5. My grandparents are migrants from China. But they are not highly educated in the first place, which is probably why they ended in Singapore rather than the US. But they do live frugally. So I will say they are the .5. For my parents, they are better educated, but nope they didn’t become the professionals yet. They are the “blue collar” workers and still live frugally. So they are like the 1.5. While my generations are they ones who are more successful. Most of us are professionals, we are slightly richer. However, we are not as frugal as the author herself. So we are the 2.5. But I have to say our kids will be like her kids and maybe even worst.

This is because my kids are the ones who get broad books. Not only that, DVDs, expensive toys and even brand-name wears. Birthday parties are common too. I think because we are working parents so to compensate the time lost with them, we tend to splurge on them.

After reading all these, I’m determined too that I will not let my kids go down that path. I will still get them toys and all, but I will tell myself to control and not splurge. And more importantly to teach them the concept of money. Coincidentally, the boy school is holding a “food fiesta” today. Where his class is tasked to make popcorns and sell them. He may be a little too young to understand much now. But its a first step.

Last month, I also read in YP a very useful tip for his age. As they don’t get pocket money now, one way to teach them to “save” is through using their normal treats as an exchange. For example, if he wants a toy badly, we can say okie we are not eating ice-cream today so as to save for that toy. I have yet to try it on my boy yet. Cause (luckily), there isn’t anything that he wants so badly. But I will keep this in view and apply it when the opportunity comes!

So what’s your view on Tiger Mother and any tips in teaching money concepts to young kids?