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We at Baby Brunei are super excited to host the first ever Respectful Parenting Workshop here in Brunei. The workshop will be conducted by Chapter Zero, Singapore, a social enterprise that supports parents of young children in respectful/mindful and evidence-based parenting. I sat down with one of the Directors of Chapter Zero and one of the facilitators of the Respectful Parenting Workshop in Brunei, Phua Li Ling, to talk about respectful parenting, what it means, the benefits and what parents can gain from furthering their knowledge in this area.
These days, other than running Chapter Zero with her amazing partner, Shumei, who founded Chapter Zero 3 years ago with a friend, Li Ling is a homeschooling parent, and is currently undertaking a part-time Master of Education in Early Childhood. Li Ling has undergone training (at various levels) in Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE®️), Dance with me in the Heart, Pikler®️ Pedagogy and Nonviolent Communication (NVC). She is also a certified facilitator of Circle of Security®️ Parenting™, and has completed the Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T) Instructor Training.
Thank you so much for being here with us today, Li Ling. First off, the question on everyone's mind is, what exactly is respectful parenting?
If I have to summarise respectful parenting in one sentence, I’ll say it is a way of parenting that trusts that children should be treated with the same positive regard as we ourselves hope to be treated. Respectful parents aim to raise children who will choose to do the right thing because it is right, and not because they are extrinsically motivated by the fear of punishment or promise of reward. To that end, respectful parents strive to understand developmentally appropriate expectations for their children at different ages and stages, support children in understanding consequences, accept all feelings (their children’s and their own), and model the behaviours and values they want to foster in their children. There’s much more to it of course, and I’m really looking forward to sharing at the workshop!
What will the respectful parenting workshop look like and what kinds of things will be covered?
The workshop will include information and experiential exercises that will be helpful to parents/caregivers who wish to learn a respectful and mindful approach to caring for children. We will be sharing what inspires us most as parents and advocates of children. Participants will hear about the RIE and Pikler approach to caregiving and play, as well as listening and communication skills from P.E.T.
How did you personally get into this line of work?
For 7 years, I taught English and Literature at the secondary school level, then I became a mother to Hannah, and I have since become a student, relearning about life and being. Becoming a mother has been a journey into myself, which has been often uncomfortable, at times painful, and an overall humbling and rewarding process. I’m on the path to getting to really know myself, healing old wounds and breaking free from unnecessary labels and patterns.
For me, learning about respectful parenting after my daughter was born was life-changing, and I have since been on a quest to learn more from experts in the field of respectful caregiving, as well as child development. When my family was living in Auckland in the first 3 years of my daughter’s life, I took the opportunity to attend RIE®️ Foundations training, Dance with me in the Heart training by Pennie Brownlee, and training to be a certified facilitator of Circle of Security®️ Parenting™. I knew deep down that this is what I truly care about and wanted to do work that supports parents in the most important job any of us will ever have.
The stars aligned when I got connected with Shumei who founded Chapter Zero with Kasia, and we all share such similar values and beliefs in parenting. Most of all, we all want to contribute to and grow the respectful parenting community in Singapore. I joined them as soon as I moved back to Singapore at the end of 2017, and have since been facilitating workshops for parents, support caregivers, and educators.
I’ve recently really started applying some of the respectful parenting principles into my parenting and have really seen some amazing results. Do you have any examples of great success stories of respectful parenting principles at work? Either in your personal life or for families you work with.
I would love to hear how respectful parenting has improved your relationship with your children! You’ll have to tell me more one day.
I remember fondly the stories participants shared at the first parent-infant class I facilitated. This was an 8-week programme and a small group of families will meet each week to reflect on respectful parenting principles as well as observe the babies play and explore. One participant shared that she would always take time to communicate with her infant respectfully and she noticed that her mother who was used to caring for children in a very different manner was beginning to do the same, and even asked if she could learn more about respectful parenting. She came along for a few of our sessions, as did a few other grandparents, and that filled my heart, seeing families come together out of a deep love for the child.
There was also a couple who got very anxious whenever their 9-month-old baby left their laps and would follow close behind him to break his falls or to monitor his actions. A few weeks and several discussions about helping children develop trust and resilience later, along with some reassurance from me and my co-facilitator, the couple one day stayed back while baby L moved off. L displayed such confidence and joy as he moved across the circle, and only returned to his parents’ side after having met his needs for exploration and play. The biggest takeaway of course belonged to his parents who expressed surprise at how comfortable baby L is, and how perhaps he doesn’t need as much help as they previously thought.
On a personal front, we have recently moved to our new home and my 4-year-old was involved in pretty much the whole process - from house hunting, to furniture shopping, to cleaning, and finally packing and unpacking. Through this all, I’ve truly come to appreciate how much respectful parenting has shaped my family’s life. My husband and I listen and empathise with our daughter’s feelings and needs, and at the same time communicate our own feelings and needs authentically with each member of our little unit. This trust that we have built in this way of being has brought greater collaboration, peace and harmony to our lives. Sure, we have very real challenges too when we get tired and busy, but we’ve learnt also to bounce back and repair any ruptures in our relationships.
What do you think parents, caregivers and educators can come away with by attending the upcoming Respectful Parenting Workshop?
I hope participants will develop a more mindful approach to caring for children, and in that process see children with new eyes - eyes that curiously observe behaviour as a communication of the child’s needs, and eyes that seek to move away from patterns of blame, criticism and judgment that may be so deeply entrenched in some of us. I also wish for all caregivers to be able to find compassion for themselves, just as they strive to do so for the children they care for.
The very first Respectful Parenting Workshop will be held in Brunei on the 27 & 28 April 2019 for a full 2-day workshop. The workshop will be based on the Respectful Parenting Workshop Series run by Chapter Zero in Singapore, and will cover areas such as Embracing Toddlerhood, Finding Compassion and Play Matters. The workshop details are as follows:-
Dates: Saturday, 27th and Sunday, 28th April 2019
Venue: tbc (will be held somewhere in Bandar)
Early bird pricing (until 28 Feb 2019): $250 (single), $480 (couple)
Non-early bird pricing (1 Mar 2019 onwards): $280 (single), $530 (couple)
F&B: Tea breaks will be catered and there will be lunch breaks for you to go out for lunch
Contact Baby Brunei or Whatsapp +673-8288854 to register and book your slot. Hope to see you all there!