Posts

Protect, Not Shame: Teaching Sexual Body Awareness To Children

We all know children are full of curiosity. They always want to try different food, games, clothes, and many things to satisfy their imagination. One curiosity is also about their body. We often find kids putting their hands in their mouths, running around naked, smelling their poop, touching their genitals, and asking their parents why boys and girls have different body parts. This exploration is very normal as their bodies are the most familiar thing to them. They are born with it and grow up seeing changes in themselves. 

However, parents tend to avoid talking about the sexual aspect because they deem it inappropriate for their age. How ridiculous is that? There is nothing shameful about acknowledging that their kids have sexual body parts they are curious about. Moreover, talking about sex will not ruin your child’s innocence and encourage them to have an unhealthy interest in sex. It’s just basic biological knowledge. In this day and age where everything is just one click away on the Internet, information can easily turn into misinformation. Especially concerning sex, a topic that garners much scrutiny, avoidance of the issue can be very dangerous for our kids. 

One negative impact of withdrawing necessary sexual health information from our children is sexual violence. According to Indonesia’s Ministry of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, there are over 8.730 cases of sexual abuse in minorities, and the perpetrators mostly came from their family members or close adult caregivers. That is just the official data alone, and many more unreported cases are undeniably still out there. Lack of body awareness at a young age leads children to become unaware they are being harassed and touched inappropriately by the adults around them. They’ll think being touched like that is normal and eventually won’t tell their parents about it. Adolescences may also engage in underage sexual activity with their peers without understanding the grave consequences. Because of those reasons, parents need to be as honest as possible with their kids and start introducing age-appropriate sex education and body safety skills. 

You might ask, how can we know that our children’s sexual behaviors are still considered normal? The American Academy of Paediatrics listed the following as common in children between ages 2 to 6:

  • Touching genitals in public or private
  • Looking at or touching a peer or a new sibling’s genitals
  • Showing genitals to peers
  • Standing or sitting too close to someone
  • Trying to see peers or adults naked

In contrast, uncommon behaviors include inserting objects into genitals, explicit imitation of sexual activity, and rubbing their bodies against others. If these behaviors arise, parents need to interfere directly or get professional help. But if their behaviors are still largely new, distractible, and only occasional, then they are normal. 

Here are some things parents can do to support our children’s healthy exploration:

1. Use correct terms for body parts

Often parents use slang to define sexual body parts because they think their kids are too young to understand the correct biological terms. We need to stop this practice. The word ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ is NOT difficult to understand. If we can teach them how to use words like ‘eyes’ or ‘nose’, we can teach them those words as well. Making up names will only give them the idea there is something disgusting about those parts. In the process, explain which parts are usually exposed (arms or legs) and which parts need to be covered (genitals or butt). 

2. Teach consent

Let your children know it’s totally okay to reject an unwanted touch and that doing so is not disrespectful. If some touches make them uncomfortable, instruct your kids to say ‘No’, scream to alert other adults, or run back to you. Tell the other family members they should always respect the child’s consent and can only be in a close space with your children under your supervision. 

Additionally, as parents, we need to understand that some affection cannot be forced. Don’t let people kiss or hug your children when they don’t like it. Inappropriate touching, even in a trusted adult like their grandparents, can confuse children. Emphasize that they can make their own decisions regarding their bodies. You are there to support and protect them, and they can always go to you if something is wrong. 

3. Control media exposure

Media can portray sexuality in a wrong light. It can influence children’s perspective on what is and what is not acceptable in society from the movies or TV series they consume. Parents need to pay attention to the rating system in movies, shows, and games, and utilize the parental control available in gadgets. There are a lot of safer alternatives if you still want to teach your kids using media. For example, you can find many health videos on puberty and sexual development on Youtube presented by experts and professionals. 

4. Welcome any questions

Because this is a new topic for them, your kids will undoubtedly have many questions to ask you. Encourage them! Not only it can give them new insights, but it will also prepare you and your kids for future serious conversations, like for example, discussing sex later on. As the responsible adult figures in their lives, don’t laugh or get angry when they ask you strange things or repeat the same questions. Follow up your answers with a confirmation question to bait them if they still want to ask more. Then, don’t forget to listen to their responses and reactions to know if they understand enough. 

In short, kids shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed for their curiosity. Their sexual body parts are not something taboo. It’s just body parts! The key to a healthy exploration is to have open, honest, and non-judgmental communication. Parents need to be active role figures during this time and nurture them on the right path so they can feel protected and understood. 

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2019, April 1). Sexual Behaviors in Young Children: What’s Normal, What’s Not?. Healthychildren.org. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Sexual-Behaviors-Young-Children.aspx

Gan, E. (2019, September 28). Teaching children about body safety: Call genitals by proper terms for a start, experts advise parents. Today Online. https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/teaching-children-about-body-safety-call-genitals-proper-terms-start-experts-advise

Marder, J. (2020, July 16). Keeping Kids Curious About Their Bodies Without Shame. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/16/parenting/kids-body-boundaries.html

Should Parents Defend Their Children’s Wrongdoings?

Written by Zahara Almira Ramadhan, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

We all know that most parents are willing to do anything to protect their child, be it from physical or emotional harm. For example, parents tend to pick the “best” school in town for their children to study in, hoping that these children will study at peace and be away from “bad” kids. However, you can’t completely control every aspect of your children’s lives, can you? It is possible that you won’t really know how your children behave at school or at other places where you can’t directly keep an eye on them. What if they cause trouble? Should you take responsibility for their wrongdoings?

Before going further into this discussion, let’s take a look at some exemplary cases of kids’ wrongdoings. A common example is bullying. It is common for bullying to happen at schools all year round. Consequently, the school often drags the parents of both the bully and the victim onto this problem to clear out the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, the parents of the bully most likely won’t admit their child’s actions. Another popular case in Indonesia is that children tend to steal toys, sometimes expensive and rare ones, from their older cousins, but the parents refuse to consider this as a crime. They will typically tell the older cousin to forgive and forget about their toys for good.

Have you ever wondered why?

What is it with parents defending their children from wrongdoings? We could blame a psychological, cause-effect paradigm that believes children’s behavior comes from faulty parenting. According to Dr. John Rosemond (2005), this paradigm started its popularity in the 1960s. Ever since then, parents’ minds have been hypnotized by the belief that a child doesn’t have a mind of their own, thus their behavior is a direct reflection of what the parents have done or not done in raising them. This can be one of the reasons why parents tend to deny and defend their children’s wrongdoings; either they can’t accept that their children’s wrongdoing is a reflection of their parenting, or they believe these children will grow out of their current behavior once their mind is settled.

How does it affect children?

If you think defending children from their wrongdoings is a way to protect them, you are in the wrong direction. It can actually bring harm for their well-being, as they will not know what discipline is and how it works. Discipline is the practice of obeying a code of behavior, something that is used to teach children about what is right, what is wrong, and how to make things right. Without discipline, children will eventually lack important social and emotional skills (Lee, 2020).

There is a tendency that children will continue their bad behaviors that are harmful to other people as well as themselves. If this behavior continues without any corrections from the parents, how will they know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors? It can actually come back right at you. As your child drives far and further away from understanding appropriate behaviors, they will grow to be disrespectful, selfish, non-emphatical, and basically unpleasant to be around. Are you sure you want to keep defending your children regardless of their fault?

What should we do then?

You can start with a simple conversation. Correcting children’s bad behaviors isn’t always about punishment such as grounding or taking away their gadgets. Instead, take your time to truly ask them the reason behind their actions, and make sure to listen to them because the reasons may be linked to how they are feeling deep inside. Dr. Stuart Shanker (2016) wrote about managing children’s stress as a part of self-regulation. Their stress typically comes from disappointment regarding relationships, schoolwork or other purposeful activities, or having too much to do in such a short time. It can also come from other aspects such as biological, social, emotional, and cognitive aspects. Once you know what triggers them to do such behaviors, you can slowly find ways to reduce or avoid those triggers and build strategy with your children for when they encounter their stressors again.

Another thing you can do is by explaining the consequences of their behaviors. For example, if they vandalized the neighbor’s front door, this neighbor will spend hours cleaning the mess or even have to replace the door. Ask them whether or not your child would be happy if they had to go through the same thing. When you’re talking about consequences, also teach them to take responsibility for their actions, such as making amends and helping the neighbor clean the door. This way, you teach them about the right and wrong behaviors, and how to correct the wrong ones.

Once you and your little ones have set the same perspective, it’s important to also start appreciating their good behavior. You don’t want them to think misbehavior is the only way to catch your attention, do you? Deep in our hearts, we know that kids sometimes misbehave just to get our attention, so maybe it’s time to show them that good behavior is the right way to your heart! You can praise them for the little things they do, perhaps when they are being nice to their siblings or when they go to bed on time. This can encourage them to continue behaving properly as they know that they’ve got your attention as well as your praise. 

To put it briefly, you shouldn’t let your kids get away with bad behaviors. Not only does it harm other people, but it also directly impacts your children negatively. They will someday grow up into teenagers and adolescents, so it’s best to stop defending your children and start stimulating their logic and empathy to prepare them as an individual of their own. A simple conversation and appreciation for what they do are only some ways towards correcting your children’s behavior. You can always explore your own ways, be creative, and do what’s best for your family! Learn more about children and parenting at our website.

References

Lee, K. (2020, October 1). Surprising Reasons Why We Need to Discipline Children. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/surprising-reasons-why-we-need-to-discipline-children-620115 

Rosemond, J. (2005, April 18). Defending Kids’ Bad Behavior. The Buffalo News. https://buffalonews.com/news/defending-kids-bad-behavior/article_eea6ddba-591b-5189-b13c-216c2f8d5ad1.html 

Shanker, S. (2016, August 22). Five Ways to Help Miss Behaving Kids. Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_to_help_misbehaving_kids 

What’s the Best Way to Discipline My Child?. (2018, November 5). Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Disciplining-Your-Child.aspx 

Every Drop for Every Child: A Look Back at Project Child Indonesia’s Water Sustainability Programs

Written by Maria Olivia Laurent, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

Water is something we see basically everywhere around us that we often forget not all have the same equal privilege as us to enjoy it. Lack of access to clean water is one of Indonesia’s most long-standing issues. This doesn’t only happen on the environmental surface, but almost all of our sectors, including public welfare. Today, on 22 March 2022, we celebrate World Water Day and the advocacy to raise awareness on the sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s theme is “Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible”, a campaign calling us to explore and protect vital groundwater sources to adapt to climate change and use it to fulfill the needs of our people. 

The issue we’re currently facing in Indonesia

As one of the most populous countries in the world, Indonesia has suffered from water shortage and pollution for decades. We may not realize it at first as we live in big cities with more accessible facilities, but our loved ones in rural areas have struggled to live as dignified human beings without water resources, going as far as walking hundreds of miles to get to the nearest source and drinking polluted water. About 18 million Indonesians lack safe water, and 20 million lack access to improved sanitation facilities. A 2017 survey of drinking water in Yogyakarta, Central Java, reveals that 89% of water sources and 67% of household drinking water are contaminated with bacteria. This is likely because our nationwide water treatment facility doesn’t operate as well as it should be, with only 7% of our wastewater being recycled and treated. 

This horrifying fact is even made worse with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic where millions are denied access to life’s most vital resource—water. These people living in society’s poorest level are unable to afford clean drinking water, household sanitation, and hygienic healthcare. 

This has to change. This has to change now

Every person deserves clean water no matter who they are and where they come from. 

How can I help?

So, how can we reflect on this issue and help our people? This is the question that I really hope more youths should find themselves asking. With the privileges and materials that we have, how can we contribute? 

I understand we can’t really do much on a wider scale as this issue has been going around for years and demands a more serious effort from the government to solve this, but there are still things we can do. Recognizing this issue exists alone is already enough for us to spread awareness and voice our complaints louder so we can be heard by those in power. 

Project Child Indonesia exists to solve this problem on a societal level and to give you the platform to directly help those in need through our programs. So look no further! If you want to become the next pillar in our generation helping to alleviate this water sustainability issue, join us in tackling this challenge together. We welcome every help we need and more.

Here are some of our water programs we developed with the help of our amazing donors and contributors: 

  1. Sanitation and Hygiene Program

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Project Child Indonesia collaborated with Mercedes Benz in providing handwashing facilities scattered throughout 10 elementary schools in Sleman district, Yogyakarta. We also equipped the children with proper hygiene education in light of the pandemic’s health and safety measures by handing out digital booklets as well as educational posters and videos. This project is completed in December 2021 and is officially supported by Dinas Pendidikan Kabupaten Sleman. 

Read more about this on: https://projectchild.ngo/blog/2021/12/21/project-child-indonesia-and-mercedes-benz-delivered-sanitation-and-hygiene-facilities-to-10-schools-in-yogyakarta/

  1. Drinking Water Program

Answering the demands of the lack of free drinking water facilities at schools in Yogyakarta, this program was created in 2016 where we provide water filter facilities to 63 elementary school partners spread in Yogyakarta, Pacitan (East Java), Fak-Fak (West Papua), and Lebak (Banten). We hope this initiative will combat the wasteful consumption of water using single-use plastic bottles. Our team also conducts an educational and environmental campaign where we focus on helping the students understand the importance of staying hydrated and avoiding sugary drinks. Additionally, providing free water at schools will help both kids and their parents save up money! Another yay for us. 

Read more about this on: https://projectchild.ngo/our-program/drinking-water-program/

  1. Beach School and River School (Sekolah Pantai and Sekolah Sungai)

These programs are perhaps what we are most known for. Our work in the river schools in Kricak, Gajah Wong, and Code riverbanks concentrates on health and environmental campaign, community engagement, and development. We also improve the community’s local tourism, urban farming, sanitation campaign, and disaster management. 

Our beach schools around Pacitan are created as an alternative education school offering a broad field of holistic learning experience both in Indonesian and English as well as promoting ocean conversation. We also partnered with various local high schools that would send their students here to learn how to be eco ambassadors. 

Read more about this on: https://projectchild.ngo/our-program/sekolah-pantai/ & https://projectchild.ngo/our-program/sekolah-sungai/  

Our journey is still far from over. Across Indonesia, organizations and individuals are working hard to ensure that our children can get the necessary clean water supply they need for a better future. We, too, are still working hard. But we know we can’t do this by ourselves. We need your help.

Today, on March 22, we celebrate the people behind this global movement who tirelessly fight for water equality.

Today, we celebrate us and you and our will to share this issue with the world. 

References

Silitonga, A. (2021, April 13). Handwashing helps schools safely reopen across Indonesia. Unicef Indonesia. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/stories/handwashing-helps-schools-safely-reopen-across-indonesia

Water.org. (2022). Indonesia’s water and sanitation crisis. Retrieved from https://water.org/our-impact/where-we work/indonesia/#:~:text=About%2018%20million%20Indonesians%20lack,sanitation%20is%20a%20growing%20need

World Water Day. (2022). World Water Day 2022. Retrieved from https://www.worldwaterday.org/

The Mother’s Day: Recognizing Your Love to Your Mother

Written by Nathaniel Alvino Risa Prima, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

The role of a mother has not only been apparent for the physical and emotional aspect of a being. Beyond, mother has nurtured as well as caressed the deeper aspect in each of us: our souls. Its ultimate significance as ‘feminine power’ has contributed to the teachings of love and compassion towards all of us since the very beginning: the time when we were out of their womb. 

Even though the patriarchal world has not rarely denied the role and positioning of a mother – especially in the domestic household – in comparison to the father, it could not be dismissed that every human being needs the role of a woman figure in their life, which is initially familiarized by a mother. 

Reflected by the circulated popular belief, it is “doa ibu” (the mother’s prayer) that allows someone to be successful in their lives. The same goes with the inherited values by the local wisdom as consistently told in infamous oral tradition such as “Malin Kundang”. High respect and appreciation for mothers are expected to be shown by the children, or else they might be doomed!

But, how is the current situation between us and our mothers?

Along with the fourth wave feminism, postmodern movement, as well as the latest economic pursuit, it is encountered that there are so many aspects that have changed in the lives of men and women, olds and youngs, riches and poors. It includes, but not exclusively, the relationship between mothers and their children.

How so?

Well, nowadays, we encounter more and more mothers leaving their older, domestic roles, and instead, together with the fathers, pursuing professional careers. Not to mention that there are also mothers who have to be a single fighter, collecting money on their own, so that their children might survive. This kind of case usually happens in bigger, developed cities where societal and marriage issues are much more prominent and complex.

Regardless where your mother is: in the office, on the road, or inside your house – while yelling at you to pick up the dirty laundry and do the dishes – they always deserve your love and attention, as what they have always been in effort to give. 

As for some, having a good, caring mother might be “a privilege”. While for some others, the blessed presence of mother’s love might be less noticed. This situation would differ from one to another. The sad thing is this unfairness does justice to how our reality does revolve, thus, it only needs to be accepted. 

What can we do except to accept and look closely? We only might find the silver lining!

And no, I wouldn’t tell you to suddenly approach your mother and tell them that you love them. 

Love is a strong word. Sacred, I’d rather say. So, use it wisely and correctly. Make sure that you really know what storms behind its meaning. A word that is said without knowing the meaning would be futile. It goes along with the fact that everybody’s approach and understanding of love is diverse. 

Same goes with the seconds you tell your mother that you love them – as sacred the mother’s love is. 

It’d be much better to sit a little and remember the good things and nice memories that your mother has left to you since the very beginning. (But hey, if you’re sure that you can’t find any, it’s okay! Don’t be too hard on yourself, everyone has their own life multitudes, including their relationship with their mothers). 

Ah, and sometimes, the best things are hidden under what appears as complicated things. In other words, some occasions leave us as if it’s only meant to be some bad remarks firstly. While deeper, after further questioning and realization, it’s actually done for the sake of good, positive things (e.g. sacrifices that your mother has done to you).  

Now, for those who have recollected one, ten, or even two hundred thousand positive aspects of your mother,  you’re now ready to take your pen and notebooks. Make your simple list and it would do justice! Then, read and absorb those things in your mind and heart. I repeat, in your mind and heart! Put reflective questions such as: Why did my mother do it? How do they bear all of those things? What can I do as her son/daughter?

This kind of reflection is a deep emotional journey. Therefore, a tranquil period at night would do better. Reflective journaling, followed by personal questions would be the initial step, but the next step now depends on you! As you are the ones who involve yourself in the connection with your mother. Figure and do the things that would serve your mother’s love the best. 

Remember, the biggest realization doesn’t equal the biggest things that might be seen with one’s eyes. Same goes with love. You can’t see it, but you can always feel it somehow! Beyond thoughts and material possessions, recognize what does truly matter to your mother from your heart within. 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Family as the Safe Place for Children

Written by Juhandi Dwi Putra Lyana, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

“I wish I grew up in a house where I wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, or where I could approach my parents without fear of being judged or disgraced.”

How many times have you heard those words? Or how many times have you said those words? Growing up in a good family is such a blessing for us. It can also be said as a privilege. Some of us have it, and others don’t. 

Family is the most fundamental element of our society. It can be said that life begins in the family, for example, we learn how to write, to speak, or to behave. It has been proven that children acquire a variety of experiences in varied family situations by participating in various activities and are constantly exposed to a range of influence and expectations from the people with whom they live. Therefore, it is really important to realize that we, as someone who will build a family or have children, need to create a good environment for the sake of their development. 

A good environment in this context is a “safe” place for children to grow. They learn and explore their potential. They feel safe to ask and to experience something without any pressure. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget about this and blame the outside environment for the bad influences which happen to children. So, at this moment, I want to share about what we can do as an adult in the family. 

What can we do?

Let’s start by choosing our words wisely. The voice we use to talk to our children will be the voice they take with them for the rest of their lives. What we say and feel about them forms the foundation of their self-esteem. We need to reflect with our family, “Is this family a positive place for them to thrive in or a family that is full of hurtful words and actions?”. A voice of encouragement, love, and patience, support, and acceptance. This is the voice we should instill in our children. No other person will have as much of an impact on our child as we who live with them in one home.

Next, don’t forget to give our child praise and proper encouragement. For example, when we help children to learn about mathematics. They usually feel pressured because we insist them to count it right. If they make a mistake, we get annoyed and snap at them. Children will feel defeated and afraid to try. However, if we try to support their way in learning by giving them feedback when they make mistakes and praise their efforts, children want to keep trying because they get our encouragement. When we encourage children through compliments, constructive praise, and feedback, they connect with you. When we critique their abilities without commending them for their hard work, effort, and a job well done, they shut down.

The other thing, Show your affection for the children. When children are hurt and have done something wrong or broken rules, it is critical to show them affection. This demonstrates to them that even when things go wrong, we love them unconditionally regardless of the situation. 

Last but not least, spending quality time with children is the best and most efficient strategy to develop them and teach them that their home is a safe and loving environment. We can do basic things like share family dinners or go for a walk around the neighborhood and talk. It’s about spending time with them without electronics or distractions and letting them know how special they are. Simple things like taking a walk together or grabbing a cup of ice cream to just sit down and talk is all you need.

We can build a child-friendly environment that will prepare them for the future by providing them with access to relevant information, community treatment, and the realization of their goals. What we need to remember is that no house is perfect, and no day is perfect. There will be hard times in the family, but we have to make it as the stepping-stone for a child-friendly environment.

Reference

The Pragmatic Parent. Set the Tone for a Happy Home: Create a Positive Home for your Kids. (2015, August 3). The Pragmatic Parent. https://www.thepragmaticparent.com/positivehome/

Encouraging Creativity in Children

Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia

One of my most vivid childhood memories was sitting on my mother’s lap one evening, with the noises from our square-box TV fading into nothing more than white noise as we read a book together. The book’s binding was already frayed, due to age, and it had several of its pages missing. But instead of finding another book, my mom suggested that we fill in the blank ourselves—pick up where the protagonist last left off, and rewrite the story however we like.

I suspect that moment was when I first discovered my love for reading, which then morphed into a whole other passion (writing!) later on.

That experience led me to believe that children’s freedom to create something—anything—has the power to shape their minds and leave an everlasting impact on their lives. Whether it breeds into a lifelong passion, or molds the way they perceive the world, or even simply as their first form of self-expression… Having an outlet in which they could channel their boundless imagination would be an invaluable and unforgettable experience for children.

This is not a mere personal opinion, fortunately. The World Economic Forum, the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the Ministries of Education around the world value creativity as one of the most essential skills for children.

There are a variety of reasons for this; through creativity, children can develop their problem-solving abilities, practice their fine motor skills, aid muscle growth, and foster their cognitive development, to name a few. Furthermore, O’Connor (2012) stated that children would remember activities they experience through senses on a deeper level, which is why developing such a wide array of skills and exposing them to brain-stimulating activities is so crucial to do at an early age.

If you ask me, though, what I think the most important part of letting children be creative is how it’s simply fun!

The reason is not only because it can lead to a better psyche, and therefore nurture the well-being of the children themselves, but also because I believe everyone deserves a happy childhood. Every child deserves a chance to explore the world, to see how things are while everything is still basked in a golden light of childhood innocence and naivety. Because once that light dimmed, usually through the jaded lens of adulthood… There’s no turning back. The least we could do is give the children around us happy memories they can smile at whenever they reminisce about their early days.

So, with this in mind, I’d like to show you a few ways we can encourage the children around us to be creative!

Create, Create, Create

The classic answer people think of when posed with the idea of ‘being creative’: creating things! Be it a crayon drawing, watercolor painting, folding origami to create animal shapes, or any other arts and crafts project, can boost the development of children’s sound fine motor skills, and improve their hand-eye coordination.

Research shows that by the age of three, children have entered Piaget’s preoperational period. What this means is that children now have the ability to use symbols and representations to conjure words, images, and ideas! It might be good to let them pour these thoughts into the world through creativity, and it can be so rewarding for children to see their creations being displayed out in the world!

Being Kings and Queens (or, really, anything we want to be!)

Other than creating things with their hands, we can also encourage children to create things with their minds. A mind is a powerful place, and children’s imagination is a vast and uncharted territory waiting to be tapped into—so let’s tap into it!

Playing make-belief where children get to be whoever they choose to be can do wonders for children’s development. Whether they want to be a king, a queen, a knight, or a hero, the choice is theirs, and they will have the liberty to set off to a magical land of their own choosings. This can help them in practicing language and communication development, and enhance their social skills and heighten their emotional senses!

Befriending Technology

In this modern age, having children engage with technology is inevitable. The good news is, technology can be our best friend in encouraging children’s creativity! It’s portable and convenient, so children can be creative while on-the-go, or when we simply don’t have the time and space to do any artsy activities or play make-belief.

We can utilize technology to our benefit. There are a lot of good educational shows on Netflix or YouTube that you can watch with children! Maybe it’s a children’s show, or maybe it’s a documentary, or maybe it’s even games—the media form almost doesn’t matter. What matters more is that children can interact with it! You can ask them questions about the show (what they think of it, who are their favorite characters, what’s their favorite part). This allows them to think critically, and not to mention that it’s an excellent way for you and the child to bond!

When encouraging creativity with children, always remember: they’re children. Sounds obvious, but it’s a reminder we have to constantly remind ourselves. They’re children—which means they can be messy (spilling things all over the floor, getting paint on your clothes…), and they might not always be cooperative. While it’s important to encourage creativity, it’s vital to remember to not cross a line and force them into anything they’re not comfortable with. Always have their best interest in mind! Let them explore, let them be creative, let them mess up, and most importantly, let them be kids.

So, let’s encourage children to be creative! As Albert Einstein says once:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”

References:

Creativity Matters. Legofoundation.com. Retrieved from https://www.legofoundation.com/en/why-play/skills-for-holistic-development/creativity-matters/.

Nurturing Creativity & Imagination for Child Development. Brighthorizons.com. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/nurturing-creativity-and-imagination-for-child-development.

O’Connor, D. (2012). Creativity Development in Early Childhood: The Role of Educators. Educational Tales Of The Unexpected: Children And Creativity, 41-51. https://doi.org/10.1163/9781848882942_005

Piaget’s Preoperational Stage of Cognitive Development | Lifespan Development. Courses.lumenlearning.com. Retrieved from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-lifespandevelopment/chapter/piagets-preoperational-stage-of-cognitive-development/.

The Importance of Pretend Play. Scholastic.com. Retrieved from https://www.scholastic.com/parents/kids-activities-and-printables/activities-for-kids/arts-and-craft-ideas/importance-pretend-play.html.

Raising Happier and Healthier Child: What is the Best Parenting Style?

Written by: Louis Budiman, Grants Researcher Intern Project Child Indonesia

Family is a fundamental and primary agent of socialization for every human being to grow. Creating a happy, healthy, and safe family environment for children requires a proactive role by parents. To achieve this, good parenting is essential and the very basic aspect that shapes not only child behaviour, but also their likelihood to be a responsible and successful adult in the future. Every parent surely loves and cares for their own kids, but we might want to wonder and ask: what is the best parenting style?

Most researchers and experts agree that there are four major parenting styles (Morin, 2019): authoritarian (focus on obedience and punishment over discipline); authoritative (create positive relationship and enforce rules); permissive (do not enforce rules; ‘kids will be kids’); uninvolved (provide little guidance, nurturing, or attention). In fact, most parents do not necessarily fit solely into one of the categories as they often adopt combined approaches (Lloyd, 2016). This is because every parent and the child have different characteristics and family background, which makes generalization a little bit tricky. Nevertheless, most studies as well as parents agree that authoritative parenting style is the most common way to raise happier and healthier children (Morin, 2020). Such a parenting approach can also mitigate negative consequences that other parenting styles often create. Moreover, the truth is that everyone can be a more authoritative parent. 

There are some starting points for parents to be more authoritative in parenting. First, parents should be aware of their child’s emotions and feelings. This is crucial particularly when children cry or get angry. Telling them to stop crying might be the reaction by most parents, but it is also important for parents to acknowledge what their child is really going through as it might be a big deal to them. To do so, parents can start by considering their child’s feelings, validating their child’s emotions, and being a good listener. This can help parents to provide positive attention and prevent behavioural problems. 

Enforcing rules is also essential in raising children to be responsible. Permissive or uninvolved parents tend to put a little effort on this aspect, while authoritarian parents can be too intense in establishing rules and too excessive in giving warnings. Authoritative parents often set clear rules and explain the reasons behind them to their child – and this could be an ideal way to not only enforce the rules but also to help children understand and expect consequences by following or not following the rules. When children make mistakes, parents must avoid shaming, guilt-tripping, and imposing corporal/physical punishments to their child. Instead, give children consequences that teach life lessons and learning opportunities. This is necessary to maintain child’s anger management, conflict resolution skills, and sense of responsibility. In addition, incentives or rewards could also help and motivate children in getting used to good behaviours. 

Last but not least, parents shall build a positive and healthy relationship with their child. Instead of aiming to control children, it is better for parents to encourage their child’s self-discipline. Parents need to be a good role model and give enough quality time to preserve their child’s mental health. Being a more authoritative parent needs compassion, affection, and patience – and these are the keys to raise a happier and healthier child.

References

Lloyd, C. (2016). What’s your parenting style?. Retrieved from https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/types-of-parenting-styles/#:~:text=Studies%20have%20identified%20four%20major,academically%20strong%20and%20emotionally%20stable

Morin, A. (2019). 4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Kids. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/types-of-parenting-styles-1095045.

Morin, A. (2020). 12 Ways to Become a More Authoritative Parent. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfamily.com/ways-to-become-a-more-authoritative-parent-4136329.

Thompson, H. (2018). What’s the ‘best’ parenting style to raise a successful child?.  Retrieved from https://www.mother.ly/child/whats-the-best-parenting-style-to-raise-a-successful-child.

Volunteer dan Internship, Why Not?

Ditulis oleh Vina Dina, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

Pernahkah kalian bergabung menjadi volunteer saat kuliah? atau menjadi anak magang? Hmm, mungkin sebagian mahasiswa bertanya-tanya, kenapa harus menjadi volunteer? Apa sih pentingnya magang? Unpaid pula. Nanti juga setelah lulus juga kerja.

Okay, so, we will talk about those topics yang juga merupakan tema dari PCI Talks vol.2, College Experience: Volunteer and Internship, bersama dengan Kak Abie dan Kak Fajar yang merupakan “alumni” volunteer dan internship Project Child Indonesia. Singkat mengenai PCI Talks, PCI Talks merupakan program webinar yang diselenggaarakan oleh Departemen Partnership Project Child Indonesia dan disponsori oleh To My Doughter (TMD). PCI Talks vol. 2 yang dilaksanakan pada tanggal 26 Maret 2021 lalu, membahas mengenai pengalaman-pengalaman Kak Abie dan Kak Fajar saat menjadi volunter dan menjalani internship di Project Child Indonesia serta pentingnya pengalaman tersebut untuk dunia kerja yang tentunya bisa menjadi bahan pertimbangan untuk kita semua.

Mengapa harus menjadi volunteer?

Semua yang manusia lakukan, kecerdasan yang manusia miliki bisa digantikan oleh mesin, terkecuali empati.

-Abie Zaidannas Suhud

Mengapa harus menjadi volunteer? Jawabannya mungkin akan berbeda untuk setiap orang. Namun bagi Kak Abie dan Kak Fajar, dengan menjadi volunteer kita diajarkan untuk lebih berempati, solutif dan merupakan proses untuk dapat membantu orang lain sekaligus mengenal diri sendiri. 

Rasa empati sangat diperlukan untuk membangun hubungan sosial. Dengan empati, kita bisa ikut memahami dan merasakan apa yang orang lain rasakan sehingga kita bisa lebih tepat dalam memberikan masukan dan solusi. Ketika kita menjadi volunteer, besar peluang kita akan bertemu dengan orang-orang yang tidak mendapatkan privilege sebesar yang kita peroleh sehingga dapat memunculkan keinginan untuk berkontribusi membantu meringankan beban-beban yang mereka miliki seperti yang dirasakan oleh Kak Fajar. Keuntungan lain ketika menjadi volunteer adalah bertemu dengan berbagai macam karakteristik individu, baik yang berbeda agama, budaya, bahkan bahasa. Hal tersebut meningkatkan kemampuan kita untuk beradaptasi dengan orang baru dan menjadi lebih toleran.

Apakah wajib mengikuti kegiatan volunteer saat kuliah? Tentu tidak. Namun, menjadi volunteer bisa menjadi salah satu alternatif untuk menemukan apa yang kalian sukai, atau sebaliknya, kalian bisa menjadi volunteer karena hal-hal yang kita sukai. Sebagian dari kita mungkin senang bertemu dan bermain dengan anak-anak seperti Kak Abie dan juga memiliki ketertarikan pada pendidikan, sebagiannya lagi memiliki ketertarikan menjadi relawan untuk korban bencana alam seperti Kak Fajar, dan sebagian lainnya mungkin belum menemukan apa yang disukai, but it’s okay. Kita bisa mencoba banyak hal baru untuk memperluas zona nyaman kita bukan? Coba saja dulu, siapa tau kita temukan hal-hal menarik dan menyenangkan saat menjadi volunteer?

Selagi ada kesempatan dan kalian memiliki privilege untuk mengeksplor banyak hal, lakuin aja dulu. Karena saat menjadi volunteer, selain kalian membantu orang lain, kalian juga berproses untuk semakin mengenal diri sendiri.

-Septian Fajar

Apakah internship itu penting?

Penting atau tidaknya suatu kegiatan tergantung pada skala prioritas dari masing-masing individu. Internship atau magang bisa menjadi penting untuk sebagian mahasiswa karena ketika kita mengikuti kegiatan magang, maka kita akan mendapatkan pengalaman bekerja langsung dilapangan yang tidak bisa kita peroleh di kehidupan kampus. Ketika kita terjun langsung dilapangan, kita tidak jarang menemukan masalah-masalah yang harus segera diatasi dan dicari solusinya sehingga dapat meningkatkan kemampuan problem solving seseorang. 

Kemampuan tersebut sangat penting karena seperti yang Kak Fajar ceritakan dalam PCI Talks vol.2. Saat menjalani wawancara untuk melamar pekerjaan, pertanyaan yang ditanyakan bukan hanya pertanyaan umum seperti “kamu akan melihat dirimu 5 tahun lagi seperti apa”, akan tetapi lebih sering pertanyaan-pertanyaan mengenai problem solving. Untuk dapat menjawab pertanyaan tersebut, dibutuhkan pengalaman nyata yang setidaknya hampir mirip dengan masalah-masalah yang ditanyakan oleh perusahaan dan dapat kita peroleh ketika kita pernah terjun langsung dilapangan seperti saat menjadi volunteer atau internship di suatu organisasi atau perusahaan.

Selain itu, tidak menutup kemungkinan jika pekerjaan kita di masa depan akan sesuai dengan apa yg kita kerjakan saat menjalani internship, seperti yang dialami oleh Kak Sabrina, salah satu “alumni”  internship di PCI sekaligus audience di PCI TALKS vol. 2.

Sebagian perusahaan atau organisasi memang mengadakan program internship secara unpaid dan hal tersebut menjadi pertimbangan untuk beberapa orang. Tentu saja karena semua orang di dunia ini membutuhkan uang untuk bertahan hidup. Namun, adakalanya mendapatkan pengalaman lebih berharga dari pada mendapatkan gaji. 

The keys are earning, learning and networking. Learning dan networking akan mengarahkan kita ke earning.

-Abie Zaidannas Suhud

Seperti pesan dari Kak Abie, 3 hal yang paling penting untuk dipertimbangkan ketika memilih sesuatu adalah earning, learning dan networking. Namun learning dan networking akan mengarahkan kita pada earning di masa yang akan datang. Ketika kita mengikuti program internship, mungkin kita tidak akan mendapatkan sisi ‘earning’ apabila perusahaan atau organisasi yang kita pilih tidak memberikan fasilitas tersebut. Namun ‘learning’ dan ‘networking’ akan selalu bisa kita peroleh asal kita mau mengetuk pintu serta belajar dan menanyakan pertanyaan yang tepat. Kita mungkin tidak mendapatkan hasilnya secara langsung, tapi siapa yang tau apa yang akan terjadi di hari esok, bulan depan, atau 10 tahun lagi? The tree takes time to grow and bear fruit, isn’t it?.

Tak perlu tunggu hebat, untuk berani memulai apa yang kau impikan

-Terhebat, Coboy Junior

Beberapa dari kita mungkin ada yang merasa ragu untuk mencoba bergabung dalam kegiatan volunteer dan internship karena merasa tidak memiliki basic yang matang. Tapi, siapa orang yang tidak pernah merasa ragu di dunia ini? Just start today, mulailah melangkah melakukan sesuatu yang bisa mendekatkan kita ke impian kita karena kita tidak perlu menjadi sempurna saat memulai. Nikmati prosesnya serta belajar dari kesalahan dan lingkungan sekitar. Sejalan dengan apa yang diungkapkan Kak Abie, ketika kita masih muda, resiko yang kita dapatkan saat membuat kesalahan akan lebih sedikit. So, jangan takut untuk mencoba banyak hal yang kalian ingin coba!

Just do it! Kalau tidak sekarang, kapan lagi? Mumpung masih ada kesempatannya. Bisa jadi, saat menjadi volunteer, kita bisa menemukan hal yang benar-benar kita nyaman dan sukai. Kita juga bisa mendapatkan kenalan baru, sahabat baru dan mungkin saja mereka yang kita temui saat volunteer dan internship adalah rekan kerja kita di masa yang akan datang seperti yang dialami oleh Kak Abie dan Kak Fajar. Selain itu, tidak menutup kemungkinan ketika kita menjadi volunteer dan intern, secara tidak langsung kita membantu orang-orang yg tidak seberuntung kita untuk mendapatkan sesuatu yang tidak mereka dapatkan sebelumnya, seperti pendidikan, kesehatan, rasa aman dan lainnya.

Just do good then you will get good. 

Untuk teman-teman yang memiliki ketertarikan terhadap bidang pendidikan dan senang bertemu dan berinteraksi dengan anak-anak, Project Child Indonesia bisa menjadi wadah yang tepat untuk memulai langkah baru. Project Child Indonesia membuka pendaftaran volunteer dan internship yang terbuka untuk seluruh Indonesia. Kalaupun internship dan volunter bukanlah hal yang teman-teman sukai namun ingin berkontribusi untuk membantu pendidikan anak-anak, kalian juga bisa mendonasikan sebagian uang saku kalian di kitabisa.com. Everyone can do good, no matter what you are interest in or how big the impact that you bring. The choice is yours.

Teach Tolerance, End The Violence

Written by Vina Dina Fitriana, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

Have you listened to a song titled Heal The World? If you’ve never listened to that song, then you’re definitely missing out! It’s a peaceful and heart-warming song, written and sung by Michael Jackson to persuade the listeners to create a more peaceful world with compassion and tolerance between religions, ethnicities, and countries.

Tolerance is the key to creating a peaceful and safe environment for the human race. Tolerance between religions, ethnicities, and countries are important to prevent discrimination and civil war. How many cases of bullying occur because someone is perceived as different? How often is an ethnic or race being discriminated because of their skin color, religion, or because of the past mistakes of their ancestors? Those who are different and a minority because of their ethnic, religion, skin color or appearance are frequently bullied and treated unequally.

Bullying and discrimination are not a new case, but why haven’t they been resolved?

“Tolerance, like any aspect of peace, is a forever work in progress, never completed”

-Octavia Buttler

Tolerance is a forever work in progress because humans are social creatures who need each other and always live side by side. So, we need to be tolerant since we were young until we become elderly and it’s become necessary to teach tolerance from a young age in order to make children get used to being tolerant, because tolerance is an important behaviour and attitude. According to Rady Children’s Hospital’s page, tolerance means respecting and learning from others, valuing differences, bridging cultural gaps, rejecting unfair stereotypes, discovering common ground, and creating new bonds. Children need to be given the understanding that The Creator created humans in a wide variety and always live side by side. There are many possibilities for them to meet friends who are different from them, and they need to accept the diversity.

We can teach tolerance to children by giving examples of how to live with tolerance. Children learn by imitating and listening to people around them. Hence, we urge ourselves to be tolerant first and pay attention to our attitudes or what we said, so we could be a role model for our children. Moreover, with the development of technology, we can teach children through books, music, films or games. If it’s possible, we can prepare children to live side by side with a diverse environment by sending them to schools which have many ethnicities and religions. Perhaps it could be a good idea if we can choose two or more children as a representative to lead a peer group discussion about tolerance and remind each other as Project Child Indonesia did.

“We do not need guns and bombs to bring peace, we need love and compassion”

-Mother Teresa

It’s already 2021, the diversity among us is getting wider. While things are dynamic and fast, there is no need to point a gun to make others obey us, no need to use violence to make others agree with our opinion, and no need for hate speech to tell someone is wrong. What we need is mutual understanding, love and compassion for others to create peace.

Isn’t it great to live peacefully? Live with the feeling of safety and sound to grow and develop according to what we want, believe, and what we truly are. No matter where we are from, what race we are, how much money we have, what religion we trust, we are one. We are human. Together we bring peace to our universe, we create a safe place for our children to grow up and be themselves. We don’t have the capacity to judge others and tell them they did wrong. Let’s embrace cultural tolerance and make the world a better place to live.

Picture by: Era.id

February: A Month of Love for Vitamin A

Written by Vina Dina Fitriana, Content Writer Intern Project Child Indonesia

February is known as the month of love because on 14th of February some of us celebrate Valentine’s Day. But in Indonesia, especially in the medical field, February is not only a month of love. This month also commemorates the supplementation of vitamin A for children in the age of 6-59 months and postpartum mothers. Administration of vitamin A capsule is one of the public health strategies to prevent and overcome vitamin A deficiency in toddlers. The delivery of vitamin A capsule is a routine health service, given every six months in February and August.

Doses of Vitamin A Capsule

Supplementation of vitamin A capsule is given every 6 months in a large dose because vitamin A is well-absorbed, can be stored in the liver and able to be used as needed for approximately the next 4 to 6 months. There are two types of capsule, the blue capsule which has 100.000 International Units (IU) of vitamin A for infants 6-11 months of age, and the red capsule has 200.000 IU of vitamin A for children 12-59 months of age. The capsules are delivered in health care services like integrated health care centres (posyandu), hospitals, public health centres, etc.

Why Children Should Take Vitamin A Supplementation Every 6 Months

The aim of vitamin A supplementation is to prevent vitamin A deficiency which might cause visual impairment (night blindness) and increase the risk of infections and mortality. Vitamin A has many important roles for children. It is essential to help their vision process when adapting from a bright place to a dark place, avoid children from having xerosis conjunctiva and bitot’s spot and plays roles in the immune system, growth, and development. Hence, parents need to pay attention to the adequacy of vitamin A and take vitamin A supplementation every 6 months for children in the age of 6-59 months.

Vitamins That Our Children Need

Besides vitamin A, our children need 12 other types of vitamins which are important for their bodies. There are 13 types of vitamins that the human body needs, and they are divided into 2 groups, fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamin consists of:

  1. Vitamin A

    Vitamin A can be found in liver, egg yolk, green vegetables and yellow or orange fruits. Vitamin A has many important roles for our body and has been mentioned before

  2. Vitamin D

    Our body can get vitamin D from sunlight and food such as egg, butter and fish liver oil. Vitamin D plays a role in bone formation and builds strong bones.

  3. Vitamin E

    The main function of vitamin E is as a fat soluble antioxidant and mostly found in plant oil, especially seeds oil like soybean seed oil, corn oil, sunflower seed oil, etc.

  4. Vitamin K

    Vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting and bone formation. It’s found in liver, green leafy vegetables, peas, chickpeas, and broccoli. 

The second group of vitamins is water soluble vitamins, it consists of:

  1. Vitamin C

    Vitamin C has so many functions for the body such as in wounds healing, helping the absorption of calcium and iron, preventing infection and as an antioxidant to prevent cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C is most common in fruits and vegetables, particularly those which have sour flavor.

  2. Vitamin B

    There are 8 kinds of vitamin B, vitamin B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic Acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), dan B12 (cobalamin). Each of them has different functions for our body.

A human’s body has a complex mechanism to survive and carry out its functions as it should. Vitamins themselves are substances that are slightly needed by the body but have many important roles. Vitamin adequacy in children needs to be highly considered because children are prone to infection which can cause mortality and still in their growth and development. Therefore, parents are expected to pay more attention to what their children consume and how their food is made. In this month of love, let’s give attention to our children’s health and nutritional needs as a gift to express our love!

Sources:

Adriani, M & Bambang W.  2012. Pengantar Gizi Masyarakat. Jakarta: Kencana

Almatsier, Sunita. 2010. Prinsip Ilmu Gizi Dasar. Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka

WHO. Guideline: Vitamin A Supplementation in Infants and Children 6–59 Months of Age. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011