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Ac­tress Joanne Peh is de­ter­mined to meet her toddler’s needs, with­out giv­ing into her wants.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - THE BABY YEARS -

To­day’s chil­dren are an en­ti­tled lot, pro­claims ac­tress Joanne Peh, who is sev­en­months preg­nant with her sec­ond child.

“At one time or an­other, we’ve all had to en­dure the an­tics of a scream­ing child in a restau­rant, de­mand­ing an ice-cream dessert un­til the par­ents are so em­bar­rassed and us­tered that they or­der it just to keep the child quiet.”

And that’s not just a Sin­ga­porean phe­nom­e­non. When Joanne spent about a month in Bei­jing, China, with her hus­band – ac­tor Qi Yuwu – and daugh­ter af­ter giv­ing birth to her in 2015, she found her­self sur­rounded by kids from sin­glechild fam­i­lies be­hav­ing with the same level of dis­re­spect.

Horried by such pro­tec­tive par­ent­ing, it made her even more de­ter­mined to raise her own 20-month-old daugh­ter, prop­erly be­cause she did not want her to feel en­ti­tled or priv­i­leged.

Now back in Sin­ga­pore, and fresh from round­ing up four months of ex­ten­sive trav­el­ling for UniqueTowns – a TV se­ries that ex­plores in­ter­est­ing places around the world – at the time of this in­ter­view, Joanne shares how she has em­braced par­ent­hood, and her strate­gies for child-rais­ing.

Keep­ing Baby Qi out of the lime­light

Joanne has never re­vealed her daugh­ter’s name to the pub­lic. On her In­sta­gram page, she af­fec­tion­ately refers to her as Baby Qi. Hid­ing their lit­tle one’s iden­tity was a con­scious de­ci­sion be­tween Joanne and Yuwu.

“She was born with both of us in the lime­light,” ex­plains Joanne. “We want to give her the free­dom to de­cide if she wants that kind of life.”

Baby Qi’s per­son­al­ity is start­ing to de­velop and her pref­er­ences and per­son­al­ity are emerg­ing. Joanne isn’t keen to im­pose any ac­tiv­i­ties or toys on her.

In fact, re­mem­ber­ing how much she her­self en­joyed cre­at­ing ob­jects out of her imag­i­na­tion as a child, she re­cently bought Lego blocks for Baby Qi to play with, but her daugh­ter wasn’t in­ter­ested at all.

Al­though dis­ap­pointed, Joanne says: “It’s her choice. I’d rather my daugh­ter choose her own in­ter­ests, so she’d be more mo­ti­vated to learn about it.”

In fact, this rst-time mum can see her­self us­ing this ap­proach when the time to in­tro­duce her to en­rich­ment ac­tiv­i­ties ap­proaches.

Un­der­stand­ing Baby’s chang­ing needs

The key to suc­cess­ful par­ent­ing is to be re­spon­sive to your child’s needs, Joanne says. “Par­ents need to be aware that their chil­dren are con­stantly grow­ing, so their ca­pac­ity to learn in­creases and their in­ter­ests may change or evolve."

Joanne shares how Baby Qi was al­ready start­ing to as­sert her in­de­pen­dence be­fore her rst birth­day: “She used to sit pa­tiently and eat what­ever we fed her. Now, she wants to feed her­self and is a lot pick­ier. She ings food she doesn’t like all over the place.”

Such be­hav­iour was ini­tially frus­trat­ing, but Joanne was keen for her to nd her own way around stuff.

“She has to learn how to do things on her own, and she must also learn that there are rules she must abide by.”

Meet­ing a child’s needs while not giv­ing in to her wants is what she learned from The Me, Me, Me Epi­demic: A Step-By-Step Guide To Rais­ing Ca­pa­ble, Grate­ful Kids In

AnOver-En­ti­tledWorld by Amy McCready, which teaches par­ents how to “un-en­ti­tle” their chil­dren.

When Baby Qi cries now, Joanne says she’s learnt to gure out whether it’s due to dis­tress or a tantrum. The lat­ter sig­nals a dif­fer­ent need, and is mostly a cry for at­ten­tion. You don’t have to take your child to Dis­ney­land. Some­times, she just wants you around her.”

She has also started mak­ing “mind, body and soul time” for her daugh­ter. That means 30 min­utes of un­in­ter­rupted time de­voted to do­ing things the lit­tle girl en­joys, like play­ing out­doors. “You don’t have to take your child to Dis­ney­land. Some­times, she just wants you around her.”

And this is ob­vi­ous when Baby Qi crawls over to Joanne and rests her lit­tle head on her lap, or hugs Yuwu from the back like a koala.

Set­ting clear rules

Joanne is no softie, and isn’t afraid to dis­ci­pline her daugh­ter. For in­stance, Baby Qi, who can feed her­self, isn’t al­lowed to leave the ta­ble un­til she nishes her food.

And she doesn’t have ac­cess to elec­tronic de­vices be­cause Joanne be­lieves that kids need hu­man in­ter­ac­tion to de­velop proper so­cial skills. “My baby has never seen an iPad or watched tele­vi­sion,” she says.

When the time for an in­tro­duc­tion to the dig­i­tal world comes, Joanne wants to en­sure her child benets in­tel­lec­tu­ally from it, and is al­ready re­search­ing cod­ing classes that can help de­velop per­se­ver­ance, imag­i­na­tion and prob­lem-solv­ing skills.

While lm­ing UniqueTowns, Joanne and Baby Qi spent as many as 10 days apart at a go.

It was hard for both mother and child, who was looked af­ter by a nanny when she was away, but Joanne says: “It helps her to learn that Mummy is not al­ways go­ing to be around.”

If that’s not enough, the young par­ents are al­ready think­ing about playschool. Joanne feels it would be a good op­por­tu­nity for Baby Qi to in­ter­act with her peers and de­velop so­cial skills, but she isn’t ready for oth­ers to set the rules for her daugh­ter just yet.

Need­less to say, she’s still think­ing about it, es­pe­cially since she’s back at work for the Chan­nel 8 drama, DreamCoder, which ex­plores the fast-paced lives of peo­ple work­ing in a tech start-up.

“It’s been two years since I’ve done some­thing like this, so I hon­estly don’t know what to ex­pect. I will just take things as they come. We try not to plan too much be­cause things change.”

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