Letting KIDS be KIDS

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I came across this meme wherein a toddler in the photo was messing up their living room. The meme presented the contrasting response between foreign parents and Filipinos. The photo says:

Foreign parents: “ Oh so cute! Quick get the phone! Let’s take picture of them!”

Filipino parents: (Gets the sandals/slippers) Humanda kang bata ka! (Be ready to be disciplined!)

Hmmm…. I may be wrong but most of the Filipino parents that I know have little patience in dealing with the “energy/naughtiness” of their own toddlers. Whenever kids do something “extremely playful”, parents immediately call their attention. Kids would usually stop for a while then after few seconds goes back to doing it … and the cycle goes on.

Honestly, I even catch myself having the same response at times …. especially when Ezekiel would playfully lie down on the floor and roll over it. Or when he casually removes his shoes and run barefoot. The only problem is that he does these “playful

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The glaring disparity in their respective personality


acts” outside of the house, for instance inside a bank and at a time when a number of people were transacting. Well that was “extremely playful”! The noise and

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sometimes screams (due to excitement) inside a restaurant everytime I make the promise to buy them toys gets me torn whether to appreciate their excitement or suppress their noises. Kids are kids, as they say. My wife would oftentimes remind me that it is better for us to see our children hyper active than for them to be tamed due to sickness. I totally agree. Memories of Elijah in a hospital bed were among those saddest and most painful times in the family.

Nevertheless, we do not let our kids get out of control. We have to strike a balance somewhere. We do not deprive our kids the opportunity for fun out of their playfulness and exploration. At the same time, we do not let things get out of hand.

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A normal scene when we are eating out! Ezekiel doing his Spider Man antics!


In imposing discipline, we also have to categorize their behaviour. Yes, we do discipline our kids. We believe in spanking. Oppppssss! It is biblical as long as it is done under the right emotions and intentions. I will not discuss in this article our biblical basis for spanking . However, we are conscious not to spank our children out of anger but always out of love. Before any spanking occurs, we will tell them the reason for it in a manner that our children can understand and in accordance to their maturity level. In another article, I already mentioned our two rules in the house: respect and obey. Anything in violation of that, merits discipline and even spanking at times.

Their behaviour serves as our indicator whether or not to use spanking as a means of discipline. We normally ask ourselves: Is the behaviour an issue of the heart or not? If it is, we need to correct it immediately and impose the appropriate discipline. If it is otherwise, we just let our kids be kids!

Let me give a concrete example: Elijah and Ezekiel love to playfully wrestle with each other. They also love to role play their favorite Marvel superheroes and engage in some sort of a battle (I join at times as “Starlord” or “Thanos”, hahahha!). If in

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He just laughs at his injuries caused by their playfulness!


the process they hit an item in the house and broke it, we never discipline them no matter how expensive that item is. Why is that? Their act is not a heart issue!

At their age, it is difficult to draw the line which

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Scribbles everywhere!


intentional act needs correction. They can intentionally mess up with their toys at times. Ezekiel intentionally scribbles on the wall, both with his colors or even permanent marking pens! Elijah intentionally runs around the house and breaks things at times. Nevertheless, all of their “offenses” are not issues of the heart. No need for any corrective measures. We let our kids be kids!

But if I witness them throwing things at people (whether or not they did it with intention to hurt others), directly screamed at someone else or take something that is not theirs, we immediately step in and take the necessary form of discipline to correct the behaviour. We consider those acts as heart issues that need to be addressed right away. We do not say “oh don’t mind them, they are just kids!”. As parents, we are expected to know and even draw the line if the act is either tolerably playful or might develop into a negative character.

Most of the time it is really hard to gauge whether a certain act is a heart issue or

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Our recent Book Fair trip.


not. Drawing the line of what “type of disobedience” deserves spanking as a form of discipline and what does not, seem to be difficult in certain instances. As mentioned there are two rules in our home: obey and respect. However, I sometimes find myself troubled weighing if their failure to immediately obey (they obeyed later… oh well it is still disobedience) merits tough discipline. Like not drinking enough glasses of water for the day. Or failure to take a nap in the afternoon. When they did not brush their teeth in the morning. All of those constitute disobedience! However, I do not impose my rule on spanking for disobedience in those instances. I tend to consider those acts in the light of what is a heart issue and what is not. It is not easy. It requires lots of prayers and reflection. Wisdom is essential especially in deciding the right form of discipline.

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“Mmmmwwaahhhh”


I saw a video where parents are reminded to cherish the playfulness of their children. The video tells the truth that it won’t always be like that as children will grow fast and will outgrow their antics. With the arrival of Eliakim (youngest) in the family, suddenly Ezekiel (middle) is no longer our baby! When Ezekiel was born three years ago, Elijah (eldest) appears to suddenly “mature”! Though both of our older kids are still affectionate to us, we can tell that it has changed. Nowadays , kissing their armpits would be met with resistance! Hahaha! Carrying them in our arms will usually be characterized by twitching bodies and kicking feet. Soon enough, all their antics will be gone and they will conduct themselves as grown up boys.

The other night, I had a difficult time putting Ezekiel to sleep. He was in his usual playful self, jumping and running around and it was already near midnight. I called his attention several times and it was not until he saw me upset that he stopped and went to bed. Yet, he was still engaging me to talk:

Ezekiel: Tatay, you alis tomorrow?

Tatay: Yes Anak. I have to attend to something tomorrow. Why? (irritated)

Ezekiel: I do not want alis Tatay. I want Tatay dito lang. (while pointing to his side).

Indeed, it won’t be like that always. A time may come that my boys won’t bother to ask me whether I’ll stay at home or go to work the following day. They may even be the ones who needs to attend to their own activity… and I will miss these times that they wanted to just cuddle all day and do stuff together with us. Having these in mind, I have no problem letting our KIDS be KIDS in a variety of ways.

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