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principle of surface tension. You rub your

fingertip with some soap or dip it in mild

detergent. The detergent breaks down the

water’s surface tension so that the water

spreads away from the center pushing the

pepper with it. Teach this to your child to

surprise his friends. Only he will have the

“magic” finger!

Tip No. 27 – Animal Magic

Mothers and kids are the most dynamic and exciting learning combination

possible and have always been since mothers started that process a long

time ago. Glenn Doman

Children learn to represent things by using their bodies. Imitating the

movement of animals offers a very interesting exercise in creativity.

Ask your children to slither like a snake, hop like a rabbit or a kangaroo,

walk like an elephant and crawl like a caterpillar.

Do not be restricted to only these animals.

Ask your children to imitate the movements of any other animals that

they think of.

It is really fun, especially if you join them and play some music as well.

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Question 27: How can this nurture creativity in my children?

Response 27: Your children would be able to correlate the movements of

the animals with their body structure. It will enable them to discover that

different animals move differently.

This play will make them more alert to observe animal movements when

they watch TV shows or they are at the zoo or anywhere else where they

encounter live animals.

You can even make it more fun by asking your children to imitate a

particular animal movement and you try to guess the animal. Your

children could let out shrieks of laughter if you guessed incorrectly so do

try to deliberately make a wrong guess occasionally. This will give your

children another chance to demonstrate the movement again.

If you give up after a few tries, your children will try to explain the

movement to you. Isn’t this a wonderful way to encourage creativity in

your children?

Mind exercise 27

Ask your children for the names of some of their favorite animals. Which

animal do they like best and why?

Next, get a pencil and paper to design a new animal, a combination of two

or more animals with, for example, the ears of a rabbit, the body of an

elephant and the legs of a caterpillar.

What would they call such a creature?

Where do they think these creatures could be found?

Adapt this mind exercise to arouse the natural curiosity of your children.

Tip No. 28 – Playing with Dough

What's the matter with kids today? Their lives are so busy, structured

and infused with digital technology that they have no time for fun.

Kids today are focused on competition, efficiency and on results. One

consequence of this development is that their imaginations are beginning

to atrophy. Ted Klauber

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Next time when you are making

buns, cookies or pizza, give

your child a piece of the dough

to play with.

My children just loved to make

animal shapes with them.

Whether baked or steamed, the

results always fascinated them.

Sometimes, they liked to keep them rather than eating them. It provided

a great deal of fun and learning.

When they were baked or steamed, the final shape might be different

from what they originally created.

If you do not prepare buns or cookies, you could buy some modeling clay

for them from a stationery shop.

Question 28: How can this nurture creativity in my children?

Response 28: This is both an interesting discovery involving art and

science. Making animal shapes is the artistic part, while observing the

change is science.

You could make it even more interesting by allowing your child to paint

their artwork with food colors.

The transformation of the piece of dough into a cooked food could be the

starting point of a discussion about the cooking of food.

You could tell your child that cooking could destroy important nutrients

like vitamins. Therefore, it is good to consume fresh fruits and vegetables

in the form of salads.

Mind exercise 28

Given a knife, how do you cut the cake into 8 equal pieces with only 3


Answer 28: First slice the cake horizontally in the middle with the knife.

Then make two cuts from top to bottom making a total of 8 pieces.

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Tip No. 29 – Fun with Shadows

Creativity provides an exciting way for children to become intrinsically

motivated, to find joy in the ordinary and to discover their hidden talents.

All children possess creativity. Steve Dahlberg

You only need a torch, or flashlight, and

a blank wall for this. Switch off the

lights and get your child to hold the

torch with its light switched on. Make

different animal-shaped shadows using

both your hands and fingers. You could

also introduce other objects such as

pencils, forks and spoons to make the

shadows more interesting.

Once you child gets the hang of it, encourage him to make his own


Question 29: How can this nurture creativity in my children?

Response 29: Playing with shadows is a good way to tap into your child’s

creativity. It demonstrates to your children that they could apply their

creativity anywhere using only their hands and a light source. It also

demonstrates the principle of light traveling in straight lines.

Mind exercise 29

Is it possible to have colored shadows?

Answer 29: Yes. It is especially effective using the primary light colors of red, green and blue. The lights should be placed at different positions.

Just use a piece of transparent, colored paper over the light source and

explore the possibilities.

Tip No. 30 - Collage

Creativity includes drawing and painting, but it is more than just art.

Creativity includes having fun and playing, but it is more than just fun and

games. Creativity provides an exciting way for children to become

intrinsically motivated, to find joy in the ordinary, and to discover their

hidden talents. All children possess creativity. Steve Dahlberg

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Using pictures and words cut out from old magazines and a piece of art

paper or card board, create a collage. Ask your child what theme they

would like to create a collage about. The theme might be "My hobbies”,

“What I would like to be when I grow up” or “My dream home”.

Your child can add their own decorations to the collage by using colored

pencils, crayons or pieces of colored paper.

Question 30: How can this nurture creativity in my children?

Response 30: This exercise encourages your child to communicate her

creativity in a way that others can understand. This is a very important

aspect of creativity. There is no point being creative if the creativity

cannot be communicated to others. Tell your child to explain her

completed collage and ask her questions and listen intently to her

answers. It should be a very interesting experience for you and your child.

Mind exercise 30

How do you pack 9 photos in equal numbers into 4 envelopes?

Answer 30: You can pack 3 photos into each of the 3 envelopes. After

this, you stuff these 3 envelopes into a larger envelope.

There are other alternative answers. Could you figure them out with your


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Part II

The Creative Mischiefs of Little Kamal

Society has not given the same attention to the education of the genius

as has been given to other groups. We spend millions every year for the

mentally retarded. The unfortunate child of superior intellect spends his

time in a usual commonplace school assimilating a diet far below his

expected capacity. Josephine Concannon

One of the greatest joys of parenting is to observe our kids growing up,

especially during their formative pre-school years. During this time they

are at their creative best and delight us with their antics.

Recalling these incidents will usually put a smile on our faces for years to


A very good friend of mine, Talib Zulpilip, related to me the creative

mischief of his son whom he lovingly called "Little Kamal". Kamal was a

very active and playful little boy. He was the baby of the family and

provided hilarious entertainment but was a source of exasperation for

them. I find the stories about Kamal touch my heart as a parent and I

think they will touch yours too. That’s why I would like to share them with


Invisible Art – “Germ Warfare”

Kamal was good at a lot of things, but art was not one of them.

Knowing this weakness, his elder sister Moana and her friends teased him

to draw.

To their surprise, Kamal readily accepted the challenge without hesitation.

With a pencil in hand, Kamal bent over the piece of white paper and

concentrated on his task with the intensity of a great artist. Finally, he

completed his art and triumphantly declared “Finished!”

It was a blank piece of paper!

"We can’t see any drawing on the paper," chorused the girls.

"Of course you can’t see" replied Little Kamal with a cheeky smile, " I drew germs"

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Feline Helpers

Talib believes that getting his children to help out with household chores is

a good way to bring them up. I agree with him.

In fact, Kamal himself admitted that these chores have helped him a lot to

cope with his student days at a university away from home in Australia.

When Kamal was old enough to help out with household chores, it was

decided to assign him his roster for clearing the table after dinner.

Always cheerful, Kamal accepted his assignment without complaint.

One day, after a few weeks of doing his roster, he surveyed the table and

came up with a novel idea. Instead of cleaning the table himself, he

gathered all the cats and kittens and put them on the dining table and

then just watched.

On being asked what he was up to he put his finger to his mouth and

signaled “Shhh… .I am teaching the cats to clean the table”

“Why?” I whispered.

“If they can lick all the food off, then they clean the dishes for me”

Balanced Meal

Like most kids of his age, little Kamal simply loved junk food.

He disliked eating fruits and vegetables.

His father, Talib, always wanted to persuade him to have a more

nutritionally balanced meal. He found the right opportunity when he found

Kamal munching happily on some food in his hands.

"You know that it is important to eat a balanced meal?" Talib reminded his son.

"Yes, I do. I am having balanced meal” he replied, waving a burger on

one hand and a chicken drumstick on the other.

A Little Boy and the Sea

One fine morning, Kamal was swimming in the calm, warm clear blue sea

with Moana, his big sister.

After a while, they were told that it was getting late and it was time to go


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They asked for a bit of an extension and it was granted.

When they were told it was finally time to go, Kamal happily followed

Moana out of the water.

But, once on the beach Kamal was up to his usual antics.

After a short distance walking on the beach, Kamal stumbled and said, “I

fell down!”

He was told, “Okay, you go and wash the sand off” and he happily went to

clean himself in the sea.

After taking his sweet time to wash the sand off, he was asked to get out

of the water and he did.

After a few minutes of walking he stumbled again. “I fell again!” he


He was asked to wash and took the opportunity to have another frolic in

the sea.

Then, he had a third fall. It dawned on his father that the falls were done

on purpose - a delaying tactic.

After becoming wise to this, Talib solved the repeated ‘fall and washing’


Kamal was not asked to have a wash after a fall. Instead, the 3 year old

Kamal was carried sand and all, on his father’s shoulders.

He laughed , knowing that he had been beaten this time.


Like most parents, we hoped that Kamal would take his studies seriously.

He was encouraged to think, (i.e. use his brains - we believe he had


But, he was rather inquisitive and from an early age started questioning

the conventional wisdom of education.

Art: In his early days at Primary School, he came upon a simple

conclusion about art and drawing. Despite Talib’s effort to assist him in

the art assignment, including doing the drawing, the art teacher still saw

it fit to give only a “C”- for the fatherly love.

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No doubt, the fact that Kamal was not too good at drawing could have

prompted this discovery and the following dialog.

“Why do we have to learn drawing?” he inquired one evening

“It is good training to develop your skill” Talib replied and thought that

was a wisdom-laden answer.

“Why do I need to develop the skill to draw?” Kamal persisted

“Oh well, when you see nice things like flowers or birds, you can draw


“Won’t it be easier just to take their pictures with my camera?”

“I suppose so” replied Talib who saw some logic in the reasoning.

“Drawing was for the olden days before they invented cameras” Kamal


Little Kamal did not see it appropriate to continue art at secondary school

Why Study History? History was among the various subjects which

Kamal had to study.

He had obtained an “A” for the subject but he had flunked it at other

times. On being encouraged to study history, he stated politely that

history is a boring subject involving the past and dead people.

“Well, it is good to know the past – that’s the reason we learn history”

Talib said in his fatherly fashion.

“Good in what sense?”

“Say in the past they had wars; knowing the past might help mankind not

to repeat the mistake.” Talib tried to instill a bit of philosophy.

“Did they teach history in the past?”


“Then how did they have so many wars in the past?” came the logical


“Anyhow, when you study history you get to know historical figures”

persisted Talib.

“It won’t be much good even if I learn about them.”

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“Why not?” Talib thought it was his turn to ask a question to see if the

little fellow had any logical answer.

“Well, even if I learn about them I would not meet them.”

Kamal won that round.

* ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** * ** *

I hope that you have enjoyed reading the creative mischief of little Kamal.

I am sure you have similar stories of your children during their young

days. Why not share them with me so that I could include them in future

editions of my book? You could email me at

Copyright © 2004-2008 Dr. YKK Yew Kam Keong, Ph.D

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Part III

In Praise of Black Sheep

Rule-breaking children make the most

self-reliant and independent adults

by Johann Christoph Arnold

There's a black sheep in every flock, and there are few of us who don't

know one, or didn't know one as a child.

Every family, every class, has one: that brother or sister, boy or girl,

who's always in trouble, who's prone to stretch limits or take things "too

far," who's embarrassingly honest, who never fits in.

It's that child over whom every teacher puzzles over longest and every

parent loses the most sleep.

But, no matter how natural the phenomenon, being a misfit is never easy.

Because children are so vulnerable, and because they are dependent on

the adults around them, they are far more sensitive to criticism than one

might guess, and far more easily crushed.

And, even if their natural forgetfulness and their amazing capacity to

forgive relieves most children of much that might burden an adult, there

are those whose self-confidence can be shredded by an unjust accusation,

a cutting remark or a hasty miscalculation.

Whenever we pass judgment on a child, we fail to see him as a whole

person. True, he may be nervous, shy, stubborn, moody, or violent; we

may know his siblings or his background, or think we recognize family


But, to focus on any one aspect of a child, especially a negative one, is to

put him in a box whose sides may not really be determined by reality, but

only by our own expectations.

Obviously, every child is different.

Some seem to get all the lucky breaks, while others have a rough time

simply coping with life.

One child consistently brings home perfect scores, while the next is always

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at the bottom of the class.

Another is gifted and popular, while still another, no matter how hard he

tries, is always in trouble and often gets forgotten.

As parents, we must refrain from showing favoritism, and from comparing

our children with others.

Above all, we must refrain from pushing them to become something that

their unique personal makeup may never allow them to be.

Neither should we forget that raising a "good" child is a dubious goal in the first place, if only because the line between instilling integrity and

breeding self-righteousness is so fine.

Getting into trouble can be a vital part of building a child's character.

As the Polish pediatrician, Janusz Korczak, points out, "The good child

cries very little, he sleeps through the night, he is confident and good-

natured. He is well-behaved, convenient, obedient, and good. Yet, no

consideration is given to the fact that he may grow up to be indolent and


It is often hard for parents to see the benefits of having raised a difficult

child - even when the outcome is positive.

But, strange as it may sound, I believe that the more challenging the

child, the more grateful the parent should be.

If anything, parents of difficult children ought to be envied, because it is

they, more than any others, who are forced to learn the most wonderful

secret of true parenthood; the meaning of unconditional love.

It is a secret that remains hidden from those whose love is never tested.

At a conference in the sixties, at a time when "maladjustment" was the

educational catchphrase of the day, Martin Luther King shocked teachers

and parents by turning the supposed problem on its head.

A colleague remembers him saying, "Thank God for maladjusted children."

When we welcome the prospect of raising the problematic child with these

things in mind, we begin to see our frustrations as moments that can

awaken our best qualities.

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And, instead of envying the ease with which our neighbors seem to raise

perfect offspring, we will remember that rule-breakers and children who

show their horns often make more self-reliant and independent adults

than those whose limits are never tried.

By helping us to discover the limitations of "goodness" and the boredom

of conformity, they can teach us the necessity of genuineness, the wisdom

of humility and, finally, the reality that nothing good is won without a


Reproduced with kind permission from Johann Christoph Arnold

From "ENDANGERED: Your Child in a Hostile World " by Johann Christoph

Arnold. A free ebook & interactive website:

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The Edison Trait

Child psychologist Dr. Lucy Jo Palladino wrote a book, “The Edison Trait -

Saving the Spirit of Your Nonconforming Child” that elaborated on these

“black sheep”.

The Edison Trait” is the term she gives to these non-conforming children

who display characteristics similar to the famous inventor Thomas Edison.

According to her, there is one child with the Edison Trait out of every five


children. They are born leaders of the 21 century.

She defines the Edison Trait children as children with dazzling intelligence,

a free-spirited approach to life, and the ability to drive everyone around

them crazy.

They have the raw talent to succeed in our fast-paced, information rich,

techno-magic world. But, unbridled, their talent also brings conflict to

their lives.

Edison Trait kids excel at creative thinking , brimming over with one idea

after another.

However, schools, organized activities, and routines of daily living reward

logical thinking which tend to focus on one idea at a time. Parents and

teachers get frustrated by the Edison Trait child’s apparent intractability

and lack of focus.

A mismatch between school and the child can mask the child’s

considerable gifts for creativity and independent thinking.

Dr. Palladino distinguishes and describes the three main styles of Edison

Trait children.

1] Dreamers: These children live in their own world following no-one’s

schedule but their own. They are mind wanderers and may look dazed

or have a blank expression on their faces. They are frequently prone to

say things out of the blue. Sensory experiences of color, sound,

texture, taste and smell appeal to them. They like to start many

activities but seldom finish any one of them.

The likely career paths for dreamers are as designers, architects, artists,

photographers and entertainers.

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2] Discoverers: These children have to find things out for themselves

and do things their own way.

They are easily attracted to the sights and sounds around them.

It is vital that they be given a chance to express their opinions. They are

always ready to speak, especially when you are talking.

The likely career paths for Discoverers are as entrepreneurs, sales and

marketing people, inventors and pioneer industrialists.

3] Dynamos: These children possess boundless energy and are

constantly on the move.

They are always doing something physical such as running, jumping and


Being impulsive, they act first and think later. They are risk-takers and

daredevils, and life with them is never dull.

At times, they could be aggressive.

The likely career paths for Dynamos are as entrepreneurs and deal-

makers for high-risk ventures, athletes, fighter pilots, foreign news

correspondents and emergency personnel.

Dr. Palladino offers an 8-step process for parents to understand and teach

their Edison Trait children to enable them reach their potential.

A brief description of these eight steps is given below:

Step 1 : Believe in Your Children

Your children’s belief in themselves begins with your belief in them. Your

expectation influences your children’s progress.

If you expect the best, you will help your children to achieve the best they


When you correct your children, connect the mistake or behavior to that

particular occasion only.

Do not bring up past mistakes so as to make it easier for your children to

prevent it from happening again.

Remember, if there is anything we wish to change in your children, we

should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could be

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better be changed in ourselves.

Step 2 : Watch What You Say

Let positive statements make up at least 80% of what you say to your


Positive statements are acknowledgements of your children’s views,

efforts and right actions.

Let corrections and reminders be less than the children’s instances of good

behavior, like being on time and packing things neatly, that you comment

or act on.

Recall these positive instances to your children right before they go to


Step 3 : Build a Parent-and-Child Team

There will be many occasions when you strongly disagree with your


When this happens, walk over and stand side by side, next to your

children. Or, pull up a chair and sit right by their side.

Look in the same direction they are looking. Reflect on, and not challenge

the last thing they said. Let go of the need to be perfect, and give your

children the same freedom.

Step 4: Encourage Your Children’s Interest

The best way to identify your children’s interests is to observe how they


Take note of what he or she is doing when your children are intensely

focused or involved.

Take heart, even if the activity your children choose for themselves are

not the one you would have preferred.

Keep in mind that your purpose is to help them discover their own

individual talents and strengths.

Step 5 : Teach Your Children Self-Control

You cannot “control” your children.

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You can raise your children to practice self-control.

First, take into account your children’s age and level of maturity.

Keep your expectations realistic.

Be consistent in your actions. When a rule is made and it’s time to keep

the rule, offer your children choices but only those choices that are

consistent with the rule.

Teach your children to distinguish between feelings and actions.

Step 6: Coach Your Child To Learn How to Achieve

You can best teach your children by being a good coach.

Give your support, encouragement and (where appropriate) rewards for

their efforts and improvements.

Don’t compare your children’s achievements unfavorably with others.

State goals for your children clearly and unambiguously. Specify a time for

a task to be done. In doing so, also remember to give your children as

much choice as possible.

Step 7 : Take Care of Yourself

Parenting an Edison Trait child is a stressful job. To cope, you need to set

aside at least ten minutes for yourself every day to relax and to renew

your personal strength and energy.

Catch yourself when you feel discouraged, disheartened or self-critical.

Try positive affirmations such as, “ The surest way to succeed is to try one

more time.”

Finally, cultivate your sense of humor. Recall the funny things that your

children did that made you laugh.

Step 8 : Take Care of Your Family

No matter how focused you become on your Edison Trait child, keep your

sights set on maintaining the basics for yourself and your family:

Eat nutritious food and a balanced diet

Exercise regularly

Make sure everyone gets enough sleep

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Protect your child’s impressionable young minds – plan and

limit what TV they are watching

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High Achievers with Learning Problems

Thomas Edison, one of the world’s greatest inventors with over 1000

patents to his name, was branded by his teacher as being unable to learn

in school. His mother withdrew him from school after three months in the

first grade and educated him herself. She knew that her son was a bright

boy. It was just that he was poorly taught at school.

Winston Churchill, recognized as the greatest Prime Minister in Britain’s

history for his inspirational leadership during World war II was last in his

class at his school in Harrow.

Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest scientists who ever lived, was

considered a poor student in school. He was sent home at nine because he

read so much and he left school when he was only fourteen years old.

Gregor Mendel, founder of the science of genetics, flunked his teacher's

examination four times in a row and gave up trying.


Albert Einstein, the greatest scientist of the 20 century, did not speak

until he was four years old and didn't read until he was seven. His teacher

described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in his

foolish dreams." He was expelled and was refused admittance to the

Zurich polytechnic school

Ludwig Beethoven, the famous pianist and composer, handled the violin

awkwardly and preferred playing his own compositions instead of

improving his technique. His teacher called him hopeless.

Srinivasa Ramunujan, the brilliant mathematician discovered by

Cambridge University, failed his English entrance exam and that

effectively ended his formal education. He was the son of a poor family in

Madras. Though he lacked some of the ABC's of higher mathematics, he

was able, all by himself, to not only catch up with but even surpass a

brilliant half-century of mathematical progress.

Richard Branson, billionaire founder of the Virgin Group of Companies

and probably the richest man in Britain, suffered from learning difficulties

in school and had a problem understanding mathematics. However, he

admitted in his autobiography that he has no problems with business

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numbers and made many shrewd and successful business investments.

Tom Cruise, one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, was dyslexic and

had difficulty with his speech as a child.

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If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,

I'd finger-paint more, and point the fingers less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.