The Importance of Making Sustainable Parenting Choices


Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Earth & Me

Malaysia’s landfills are filling to capacity, putting the country in danger of running out of space for the disposal of solid waste by 2050.

In fact, about 38,000 metric tonnes of solid waste on average are sent to more than 100 landfills in Malaysia daily. In Kuala Lumpur alone, there are about 2,500 metric tonnes of solid waste produced daily, which could pile up to the height of the Petronas Twin Towers in only one week!

This amount of waste is set to continue increasing in tandem with population growth.

Most babies using up at least 7,000 diapers in the first two and a half years alone.

How does this affect parenting, and how do we navigate trying to steer away from this for both the current and future generations?


In the realm of parenting, particularly with baby products, there’s a notable trend towards single-use or disposable items.

These products, though convenient, often contribute significantly to environmental degradation.

Take traditional diapers, for instance, which are predominantly composed of plastic materials. The sheer volume of disposable diapers being discarded annually staggering, with a global average of 300,000 disposable nappies sent to landfill or incinerated every minute. Their decomposition process can take hundreds of years, exacerbating landfill overflow and pollution issues.

To address this environmental concern, it’s crucial for parents to consider alternative options that are not only safe and nontoxic for their little ones but also eco-friendly.

Making a conscious switch to products that are multifunctional, reusable, biodegradable, or a combination of these attributes can significantly reduce waste generation.

By conducting a bit of research and exploring sustainable alternatives, parents can play a pivotal role in minimizing their family’s ecological footprint and fostering a greener future for their children.


Celebrating your child’s milestones is a joy, but it’s crucial to consider the environmental impact. Many traditional practices contribute to waste and pollution, but there are eco-friendly alternatives.

For example, zero-waste celebrations are gaining popularity, with parents opting for reusable decorations and tableware instead of disposable items.

Second-hand gifts and hand-me-down outfits are also becoming more common, reducing waste and adding sentimental value to celebrations.

Another idea could be simply borrowing resources from friends or participating in swaps, which would minimize waste while creating memorable experiences for children.

Through making these mindful choices, parents can still mark special occasions, just in a more sustainable way.


As your child grows up, instilling eco-conscious habits also becomes increasingly important.

You can encourage them to take part in activities that promote environmental awareness, such as sorting trash into different categories like plastic, paper, and kitchen waste.

Potentially, these lessons can be turned into a game or a fun family activity, perhaps by organizing a beach clean-up day where you collect and dispose of rubbish together.

In addition, introduce your child to the concept of the 3Rs: reduce, reuse, and recycle. This lays the groundwork for a sustainable mindset. Teach them the importance of reducing consumption, reusing items whenever possible, and recycling materials to give them a second life.

Once these principles are a part of everyday life, you have essentially empowered your child to become a responsible steward of the environment.


Granted, the journey towards sustainable parenting presents its challenges, but every small step taken today contributes to a brighter future. We must continue to make conscientious choices in our daily lives, such as reducing waste, conserving resources, and prioritizing environmentally friendly products, so that together, our collective actions can lead to a healthier planet and a better quality of life for all.

Expert Advice for Moms That Are Juggling Breastfeeding and Work



Student of Master’s in Clinical Nutrition
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Lecturer and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Centre for Community Health Studies (ReaCH)
Faculty of Health Sciences
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for infants from birth until at least 6 months of age.

This is defined as providing an infant with just breast milk—no other foods or liquids.

For the first six months of life, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other health organizations highly advise this practice, as it can contribute to many advantages for both mother and baby.


In addition to its balanced nutritional composition, breast milk contains important substances such as immunoglobulin A or Ig A, lactoferrin, cytokines, enzymes, growth factors and leucocytes. These substances provide the baby with protection against infections while also promoting intestinal adaptation and maturation.

Breast milk also contains numerous prebiotic substances such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), which support the growth of non-pathogenic probiotic microorganisms, primarily lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, while removing the potentially pathogenic bacteria. This high concentration of HMO is unique to humans, and studies have shown that breastfed infant has a more stable and constant population of oligosaccharides compared with infants fed with formula milk.

Furthermore, the composition of breast milk is unique, as the concentration of both energy and protein in expressed breast milk is highly variable throughout lactation stages, between mothers, and even from the same mother.

Breast milk feeding also has been linked to improved long-term neurocognitive development and cardiovascular health outcomes.

Additionally, numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of breast milk in offering protection even to preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).


For many working mothers, balancing work and breastfeeding can be challenging.

If you’re one of these mothers, you can choose to breastfeed exclusively or partially once you go back to work.

If you choose to exclusively breastfeed, you should express your milk while you’re on your work breaks. You can use this expressed milk to build up a supply for the feeding of your infant by a caregiver while you’re at work or for moments when you face a shortage of breast milk.


The following may be useful for working mothers that still wish to breastfeed as well as to support needs of their infants.

Don’t stress yourself out!

While it’s always ideal to aim to complete your breastfeeding journey until 2 years, you and your health matters too.

Studies have shown that the benefits of breast milk on babies are dose-dependent, so the more and the longer you give, the better the beneficial effects are.

With that said, it also means that some breast milk is better than none.

Every drop matter, so while you are trying your best to pump your milk within your capacity, do not be discouraged by the amount. You might get to express more in some days and just a little in other days, and it’s totally fine.

Seek help whenever necessary.

Being a new mother is overwhelming with both love and new responsibilities, so it is very important for you to prioritise your mental and physical well-being.

Also, go for consistent health check-ups and give yourself ample time to rest.

Know your employment policies.

Nowadays, many companies provide reasonable breaks for breastfeeding employees to express breast milk. Certain companies even provide special rooms or areas for pumping the breastmilk, which comes with a refrigerator to store breast milk as well as a wash area. These venues are kept out of sight and away from public or coworker intrusion.

You can request for such an area at your workplace if such a space is not available.

The location to express your breast milk, the number of breaks available for you, and the length of each break likely differ from company to company. You should get a better understanding on your employer’s company’s policy when it comes to expressing breast milk at the workplace. This way, you can incorporate breast milk expression into your work schedule without negatively affecting your work performance or your ability to get enough rest.

You have the right to ask for permission, explain about your timetable routines to express milk, and enquire about any accommodations to improve your ability express milk more conveniently, so don’t hesitate to talk to your supervisor or human resource department.

You can do this early, such as before your delivery date, so that you can transition from your maternity leave to back to work more seamlessly.

Manage your expectations.

Know how much you need to pump, how many sessions you need to spare your time for, and how much breast milk your baby needs.

How much does your baby need? While it is quite difficult to estimate how much a baby receives from direct breastfeeding, Recommended Nutrient Intake for Malaysia 2017 states that:

  • Babies need around 500 to 600 kcal/day during their first year of life.
  • This amount increases to around 900 to 980 kcal/day at the age of 1 to 3 years.

The number of breastfeeding sessions is reduced as the baby ages, but the amount of milk needed by the baby is increased, from 6 to 8 sessions and 60 to 150 ml.

So, the number of pumping sessions and amount of milk needed to be expressed could be tailored to that.

The amount of milk consumed by your baby is usually reduced once you start them on complementary feeding, but they can still be breastfed on demand, with direct breastfeeding done at home.

Estimated daily milk requirements of babies from 0 to 6 months old. Click image for a larger, clearer version.

The recommended nutrient intake for infants from 0 to 3 years old. Click on the image for a larger, clearer version.

Invest in a good breast pump and breast milk storage.

There are many innovations and developments in the design of breast pumps and related accessories.

Hence, before purchasing a breast pump, take time to research by reading reviews or talking to your healthcare about the necessary equipment to meet your breastfeeding needs. You can also opt for trial or rental period to determine whether a breast pump is suitable for you.

Don’t just choose based on design and brand—you must also choose based on your needs also your budget. Local brands are usually more economical while still having comparable good quality to imported brands.

If you have a busy schedule, there are certain brands that offer quiet, wearable, or hands-free option which could accommodate your routine.

You will also need specialised storage bags made specifically to hold breast milk for safe transportation and storage.

  • Look for BPA-free bags that are strong enough to be kept in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Consider bags with double zipper seal, the ability to stand alone for simple pouring, and a write-on section to record the time and date you expressed the milk.

Also, after each use of the breast pump, you should clean every area that came into contact with your breast milk or breast tissue. It is not always possible to use soap and water, particularly at work when you might not have access to a sink or have limited time. Cleansing wipes prevail for these instances!

Breastfeeding sanitizer spray is another useful consideration for quick or last-minute cleaning.

To make breast pump cleaning easier when you are on the go, make sure the supplies you buy fit compactly inside your pump bag.

Maintain proper hydration.

Have a bottle of water ready every time you pump your breast milk as well as every time you breastfeed your baby.

Water is essential, but it’s especially critical for working breastfeeding moms to stay focused and energised throughout the day.

Studies have shown that consuming more fluids than normal does not result in an increase in milk production. However, drinking too little water can lead to dehydration, which can harm your health and the quality of your breast milk.

Therefore, to ensure that your body is functioning at its best, it is crucial to consume enough fluids as to stay hydrated, which can range from 1.5 to 2.5 litres per day.

Some mothers rely on coffee to stay awake— which makes sense when your baby decided to play at 3 am! —so consuming low to moderate amounts (around 2 to 3 cups per day, or less than 300 mg of caffeine) is still considered acceptable.

Balanced meals are always key!

Recommended Nutrient Intake for Malaysia 2017 recommends that lactating mothers should consume about 2,400 kcal/day in the first 6 months of lactation, which is approximately 500 kcal more than normal adult women (1,800 to 1,900 kcal for a moderately active individual).

For mothers that want to lose some of their pregnancy weight, make sure to have adequate calories and protein according to your needs. Schedule an appointment with a dietitian if you need help to plan your meal.

Make sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your meals as they are a great supply of important vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates, especially from whole grains, is a great source of energy and fibre that can support the ability to feel full for longer.

Healthy snacking is encouraged in between meals. Go for fruit smoothies, toast, crackers, yogurt, and nuts.


Exclusive breastfeeding is one of the essential components of early childhood nutrition, but every breastfeeding mother’s circumstances are different. Therefore, it’s critical to identify a schedule and strategy that are most effective for you and your baby.

Furthermore, practice self-compassion while you manage this delicate balancing act, and don’t be afraid to seek for help and advice from your loved ones, coworkers, family members, and friends.

A Physician Explains How You Can Have a Safe and Happy Vacation with the Kids


Consultant Emergency Physician
Sunway Medical Centre

Make sure that you have at hand essentials such as the following:

  • Paracetamol for fever or pain
  • Oral rehydration solution for dehydration due to diarrhoea
  • Cough and cold medications
  • Inhalers if your children have asthma
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Band-aids, adhesive tapes, and gauze for wound care
  • Thermometer
  • Your child’s existing medications, if any

“I would also advise to bring some topical medication such as antiseptic cream, mentholated or medicated topical ointment – anything you’re used to, from home,” Dr Nur Elayni Borhan adds. “You know your own children, so bring the things that you know would benefit them. Try to avoid bringing things that are new to them.”


Diarrhoea and vomiting are among the most common illnesses that affect children while they are on holiday.

Dr Elayni advises parents to ensure that their children are taught to follow safe food and water precautions.

Her other tips are:

  • Frequently wash hands to prevent foodborne and waterborne illnesses.
  • If you are breastfeeding your child, continue to breastfeed during the vacation.
  • Make sure that vaccinations for the whole family are up to date, as there is generally a higher risk for most vaccine-preventable diseases when travelling.

If your child—or any other family member—develops diarrhoea, Dr Elayni recommends consuming plenty of fluids.

Oral rehydration solution may be used to prevent dehydration, especially if the child is also vomiting,” she further adds. “If your child appears to be dehydrated and/or has a fever or bloody stools, seek medical attention immediately.”


Dr Elayni says, “Planning ahead is the key to making your trip safe and enjoyable.”

  • Always stay alert, take every necessary precaution, and carry all essential medications.
  • Bring a medical kit with your child’s medications, including their epinephrine pen. Do this no matter how near or short the trip is.
  • Not everyone can understand English or Bahasa Melayu, so get information about your child’s allergy translated to the native language of your destination. Written information about your child’s allergies, for example, can be very useful when ordering food for your child.
  • Take note of the allergy policies of the airline and at the hotels you will be staying at. Every airline or hotel is different, and they need advance notice to make accommodations.
  • Research restaurants or grocery stores at your destination that would carry products safe for your child.
If your child suffers from motion sickness:
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Let them eat and drink in small amounts regularly instead of having heavy meals.
  • Avoid letting them read or us screen devices while traveling in a vehicle. Instead, encourage them to sleep or engage in conversations with other family members.
If your child experiences uncomfortable pressure in the ear:
  • Encourage them to swallow their saliva. Younger children can breastfeed or suck on a thumb while older children can suck on lozenges or chew gum to equalize the pressure,

General tips for a fun and safe vacation:

  • Bring along your child’s comfort toy or blankie.
  • If your child has an existing chronic condition, consult a doctor before traveling to destinations with different climates and altitudes. You may need to take special precautions, such as dressing your child appropriately for colder destinations and apply sunscreen at hotter destinations.
  • Discourage your children from swimming in non-chlorinated bodies of water (rivers, ponds, lakes, etc), as there is a risk of your child swallowing contaminated water.
  • Pack safe snacks and meals in case there are no appropriate restaurants for your child.
  • Identify important healthcare facilities at your destination. You can also seek advice on available local medical services from hotels or tour company representatives.
  • Include your child in any travel insurance policies bought for the trip, which should include medical repatriation if necessary.

15 Facts & Tips That Moms & Dads Should Know When It Comes to Dengue & Their Kids


Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Cardiologist
Klinik Pakar Kanak-Kanak Junina
  1. According to Dr Yong Junina, young babies with dengue may not show specific symptoms—they may not even exhibit fever.
  2. Furthermore, fever is also a symptom of many other childhood illnesses. Thus, even when a child has fever, it can be challenging for a doctor to identify the exact cause of the fever.
  3. Also, a child’s condition may worsen quickly if left untreated.
  4. Hence, Dr Yong Junina advises parents with a child of under 6 months of age to promptly seek medical attention when their child appears unwell.
  1. “Older children may still experience difficulties in communicating their conditions to their parents,” Dr Yong Junina shares.
  2. Generally, unwell children tend to consume less fluids, and severe dengue can cause fluid leakage from blood vessels, resulting in reduced urine output. Dehydration, regardless of the cause, can be perilous, especially in young children.
  3. Hence, bring the child to see a doctor promptly when they show such signs of being unwell.
  • Lethargy.
  • Body ache.
  • Pain behind the eyes.
  • Headaches.
  • Parents can check whether their child’s hands and feet feel cold. They can also press on the child’s fingertips to observe how quickly the fingertips regain their normal colour.
  1. Dr Yong Junina tells us that young children are more likely to develop severe dengue and related complications, such as dengue shock syndrome.
  2. Dengue shock syndrome is the result of dengue-causing viruses triggering a chain of reactions that cause one’s blood vessels to leak. Eventually, the person experiences sudden drop in blood pressure, internal bleeding, and even organ failure. This is a serious medical emergency that can lead to death if not treated quickly!
  3. Dr Yong points out that children with severe dengue will need to be admitted into the hospital. There, they will undergo repeated blood tests and possibly be put on drip.
  4. “Throughout all this, parents would need to stay with them, affecting their work and ability to care for the rest of the family,” she says. “Among daily wage earners, the loss of income would be significant.”
  1. “There is no preventive method that is 100% effective,” says Dr Yong Junina. Hence, it is important for parents to practice vigilance.
  2. Keep the house free of potential mosquito breeding grounds by ensuring there is no stagnant water.
    • Aedes mosquitoes, the ones responsible for infecting us with dengue, breed in clean water, so make sure pails are covered and use larvicide in any places that water may collect in.
    • Remember to check aquariums and containers of aquatic pets (such as terrapins), receptacles for catching residual water from plants and dishracks, and containers of water-based plants such as money plants and hydroponics.
  3. Keep windows closed at dawn and dusk, as these moments are when the Aedes mosquitoes are more active, and sleep with long-sleeved clothing.
  4. Use mosquito repellents. There is a wide range of products available, including chemical-free products infused with lemongrass.

Experts Explain Why Thumb Sucking Can Be a Damaging Habit for Children Over 5



Lecturer and Specialist Orthodontist
Centre of Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Studies Faculty of Dentistry
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
Lecturer and Specialist Orthodontist
Centre of Paediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Studies Faculty of Dentistry
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
  1. Thumb-sucking—a repetitive behaviour of sucking the thumb—is one of the behaviours referred collectively as non-nutritive sucking habits (NNSH).
  2. This behaviour has the potential to adversely affect the dentition, occlusion, and facial structures.
  3. It is prevalent among young children, particularly girls, and its occurrence tends to decrease with age. Approximately 70% to 80% of children exhibited this habit before the age of 5, with the incidence reducing to 12.1% and 1.9% beyond the age of 7 and 12, respectively.
  4. Interestingly, a higher percentage of mothers with thumb-sucking children had received some college education in comparison to mothers of children that don’t have this habit.
  5. It was also reported that the prevalence of thumb-sucking was least common among children that had favourable breastfeeding opportunities.

The thumb-sucking reflex is one of the first sophisticated patterns of behaviour in infants, appearing around the 29th week of age.

Such reflex is considered normal, harmless, and comforting.

It helps infants to fall asleep easier as well as provide a sense of comfort, happiness, and security when they feel distressed.

  • Fatigue.
  • Boredom.
  • Hunger.
  • Anger.
  • Fear.
  • Excitement.
  • Tooth eruption.
  • Insufficient sense of satisfaction.
  • Physical and emotional stress.

Because thumb-sucking is a comforting coping mechanism, a child may eventually develop a strong attachment to this habit that persists at an older age.

This is the point at which problems begin to arise.

There is a direct link between the destructive effects of thumb-sucking habit and the intensity, frequency, and duration of the habit.

Having the habit for a short period will not leave much of an impact on the child.

However, continuous thumb sucking more than 6 hours daily often lead to the development of significant destructive outcomes.

Abnormal Pattern of Teeth Formation

The constant pressure and sucking motion exerted by the thumb on the teeth may interfere with a child’s normal path of tooth eruption and cause teeth to shift unnaturally. The position of the thumb within the oral cavity determines the pattern of the deformity.

A study has indicated that the incidence of tooth misalignment (malocclusion) is 3 times higher among children that exhibit thumb-sucking behaviour and other unhealthy oral habits, compared to those who do not have any such habits.

Asymmetrical Open Bite

The child’s front upper and bottom teeth do not come in contact when biting. This is usually worse on the side that the digit is sucked.

In turn, this may interfere in biting, speech, and to some extent, prevent closing of the lips.

Asymmetrical Facial Appearance

The narrowing of the palate associated with strong buccal musculature contraction and low position of the tongue can lead to the development of a posterior crossbite.

This can potentially impede the establishment of a proper bite and cause the jawbone to shift to one side, resulting in an asymmetrical facial appearance.

Increased Overjet

The tongue may push the upper front teeth forward, resulting in a ‘sticking out’ appearance while the lower front teeth is backward. The combination of these movements will result in an increased horizontal gap between the upper front and lower front teeth, a condition referred to as increased overjet.

Children with an increased overjet usually are at a greater risk of dental trauma due to the prominence of the teeth.

Speech Difficulties

Pronouncing certain words using tip of the tongue may be difficult, often with the child developing a lisp.

Skin Problems

Prolonged thumb sucking can cause skin irritation, cracked skin, and callus formation along the thumb.

Fingernail infection and eczema of the thumb may also develop.


The American Dental Association recommends intervening before a child turns 4 or, at the latest, by the time the permanent front teeth are about to erupt at the age of 5.

If the habit continues into the mixed dentition stage, past the age of 6, problems with the position of teeth might occur.

These problems can still self-correct and the child experience normal tooth growth if the habit is stopped by the age of 7.

After this age, the positions of the child’s teeth become more established and self-correction is less likely to occur. Complex orthodontic treatment is needed at this stage.

Hence, parents should aim to help their child stop the habit as early as possible, such as during preschool.

Psychological or Behavioural Approaches

Identify triggers. Determine the situations or times that would most likely drive your child to suck their thumb. By identifying these triggers, you can redirect their attention or provide them with alternative forms of comfort.

Positive reinforcement. Celebrate your child’s thumb-free moments. Consider setting up a reward system like a sticker chart that allows your child to visualize their progress and earn treats for sustained periods without thumb-sucking.

Communicate. Engage your child in age-appropriate discussions about thumb-sucking. Help them understand why they need to stop, while at the same time addressing any of their anxieties that lead them to suck their thumb.

Use visual reminders such as a band-aid on their thumb or a colourful bracelet on their wrist as a visual cue to remind them not to suck their thumb.

Distraction and substitution. Help your child find alternative ways to comfort themselves or keep their hands busy. Offer items like a soft toy, a soothing blanket, or even a stress ball. Keeping their hands occupied can divert attention away from thumb-sucking.

Seek professional help. If your child’s the thumb-sucking habit persists despite your efforts, consider consulting a child psychologist or counsellor. They can help identify any underlying emotional or psychological issues contributing to the habit and provide appropriate guidance.

Non-orthodontic Strategies

Thumb guards are devices that fit over the thumb and make thumb-sucking less enjoyable.

Other forms of physical barriers that can be used include bandages and gloves, but parents will have to monitor the child as these barriers can be easily removed by the child.

Taste-based deterrents. Apply bitter-tasting products to the child’s thumb as an immediate and often effective deterrent.

Orthodontic Strategies

Palatal crib is a dental appliance attached to the upper teeth. It prevents the thumb from comfortably resting against the roof of the mouth. Dentists often recommend the use of this appliance if the child’s thumb-sucking habit is causing dental issues.

Bluegrass appliance is designed to redirect thumb-sucking behaviour. It includes a roller or bead that the child can play with using their tongue, instead of sucking their thumb. Over time, this can help break the habit.

Quad-helix with crib attachment is recommended for more severe dental complications arising from prolonged thumb-sucking. This device corrects dental misalignments while curbing the thumb-sucking habit.

Guys, Worried That You’re Shooting Blanks? Here’s Some Advice from a Fertility Specialist!


Fertility Specialist
Director of Sunfert International Fertility Centre

According to Dr Eeson Sinthamoney, there are various possible reasons why a man’s fertility can be affected.

“Male infertility can be attributed to various biological factors, including genetic abnormalities, hormonal imbalances, anatomical issues, and underlying medical conditions,” he says.

He adds that lifestyle choices such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor diet can also negatively affect a man’s fertility.

“While body weight does not primarily affect infertility in men, activities such as engaging in frequent and long bicycle rides can have an impact,” he further states.


“A simple sperm test serves as the initial step in assessing sperm count and overall fertility health,” says Dr Eeson.

Once the test reveals that the man has infertility issues, the fertility specialist will investigate potential underlying issues that could be the cause of these issues, such as hormonal imbalances, genetic factors, and semen parameters.

“This thorough examination enables personalized treatment approaches tailored to address the unique factors affecting male fertility,” Dr Eeson assures us.


According to Dr Eeson, genetic testing allows the analysis of an individual’s genetic material, such as DNA or chromosomes, to identify any genetic abnormalities that can contribute to infertility.

For such testing, the doctor will obtain blood sample from the man and send it to the laboratory for further analysis.

A genetic counselor will then explain the results once they are available.

Consult a fertility specialist if you and your partner have been trying to conceive a child through normal sexual intercourse but are unsuccessful after 6 months to 1 year of trying. They can help identify possible causes that are keeping you from achieving your dreams of parenthood, as well as to share fertility treatment options that can help you become a parent.

A Dad Talks About Peer Pressure and How to Help Your Kids Deal with It


Fitness Coach

When I was 13, I left home for a boarding school. It became my ‘new home’ 85 days a year.

Like most boarding schools, there were a few seniors as well as juniors that would smuggle in cigarettes as well as drugs such as weed. These would be indulged in the washroom, after dinner. The housekeeper was fond of his own drinks and cigarettes—his office smelled of cigarettes all the time—so most of us assumed that he wouldn’t detect the smell of weed in the washroom!

These rebels were seen as the ‘cool kids’, and if one wanted to be a part of the cool clique, one needed to jump through hoops and conform to the clique’s often arbitrary rules and requirements.

Then, there was the ‘fun’ time, such as the birthday of someone that most people disliked. A group would surround this person and contribute a hammer fist—you put your hands together in a fist and swing at the person like you’re swinging an axe.

Likewise, a senior had the ‘privilege’ of setting up a junior to get into trouble, and the rest would pile on that poor junior.

No one wants to be the target of such bullying, so most would try to get on the good side of the ringleaders. This means playing by the rules set up by the ringleaders.

Then there were the richer students that would show up in branded clothes. New shoes every semester. They became the trendsetters and leaders of their own cool cliques, and everyone else either tried to match them or be looked down upon as inferiors.

Peer pressure was everywhere during my school days. To be popular, to fit in, and to belong; being an outsider could subject one to serious bullying and experience the negative psychological effects caused by such bullying.


I wasn’t cool enough to join any of the groups—too poor for the rich kids, too smart for the jocks, too much of a jock for the nerds, and too dorky for the cool crowd.

I was always the odd one out, along with a close friend whom I’m still in touch with today.

However, I avoided getting into much trouble by following house rules to the dot. This came with its own perks: I was chosen as house disciplinarian during my senior year, and this gave me certain house benefits that kept away those that wanted to harass me.

I also happened to stumble into the school gym. The equipment was rusty and the whole place wasn’t in the best of shape, but it became my sanctuary and safe space I started working out, and from there I discovered a whole new world of fitness options to enjoy. I started lifting weights, taking part in sports, and more.

Let’s just say that not many kids wanted to pick on the student that knew martial arts, could outrun them, and looked tougher than most of them!

Always be present for your children

This is much easier nowadays with social media, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and more.

When you have built a close rapport with your child, they will feel more confidence to confide in you on issues such as bullying, loneliness, relationship issues, and more. Having your support will allow them to better deal with these issues.

Also, when you are aware of your child’s mental issues, you are in a good place to encourage them to seek the help of a counsellor or other mental health professionals should the need arise.

Encourage your child to participate in sports and other social activities

These activities help to build confidence, improve their relationships with other people, promote team spirit, and develop other skills that can’t be learned from just schoolbooks.

Such activities will also allow your child to identify their passions and talents.

Spend time to do things with your kid

I know, some parents may find it awkward to do things with their kids, but taking time to do this helps to strengthen your bond with your kid and build a close relationship that is based on trust and love.

This kind of bond will build your child’s confidence, as they have the assurance that their parents will always be there to support and love them even through their most trying times.

Furthermore, such a bond can last for a lifetime and keep your family together through thick and thin in the coming years.

Let your kid have fun

They may not always meet your expectations. Sometimes, they stumble and fail.

Whether your kid does well or not, their experiences with success as well as failures will contribute to their learning experience and character development.

Hence, don’t discourage your kid when they fail. We all have to learn to lose before we learn to win!

Teach your kid to be themselves

Teach them to cherish values, character and effort, not material objects.

After all, no one would remember the shoes you wore in high school. Instead, people will remember your character and efforts.