Recent Posts

How to Parent Like a Minimalist ~ by Denaye Barahona

By Tze Yong Koh → Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had big ideas. I wanted to give my children the world. Like most new parents, I had the best of intentions.
Every generation wants to give their children more than they had themselves. My intention was no different—I wanted to give my children more. More love. More protection. More opportunities. More toys.
More, more, more.

This desire for more was rooted in love.

After I had children and they began to grow, there was a shift. This desire for more became rooted in fear.
If I didn’t play with them enough, would they be happy? If I didn’t stand at least two foot from them at all times on the playground, would they fall? If I didn’t land a spot in a top preschool, would their education be impacted?
In the words of Erin Loechner“No one ever told me how much fear is hidden in love.”
All this fear, camouflaged as love, quickly started to take a toll on me. Trying to be everything and do everything for my children left me depleted.

My desire to give my children more left me feeling less.

Less energy. Less joy. Less calm.
Then I found Minimalism.
Minimalism is more than just getting rid of all your stuff (although I am on that bandwagon too.) It’s about filtering out the noise to focus your energy on what’s important.

Families of today have noisy lives.

I know this in my personal life, but also in my professional life. I have a Ph.D. in Child Development with a specialty in Family Wellness. I work with families to find calm amongst the noise.
In families, the calm lies in balancing the needs of each individual while simultaneously tightening the strings that hold them all together.
Sounds tricky, right?
Fortunately, minimalism has a secret formula for parents—Less is More.

Here are some lessons I’ve learned on my journey toward a simpler family life.

1. Hover less and your children will live more.

We spend so much time protecting our children, we forget to let them live. When we hover over them and perseverate over safety, our fears can undermine a child’s confidence. These fears rob them of their independence. Instead of hovering, let’s instill a sense of responsibility and natural curiosity for the world.
Allow your children to live life to the fullest. Even if that means climbing to the top of the jungle gym without a spotter.

2. Entertain less and your children will innovate more.

In many ways, Pinterest is a trap. The abundance of art, craft, and activity ideas that abound leave us feeling as though we need to do more to entertain our kids. Wouldn’t it be easy if we could just flip a switch and provide unlimited entertainment for our kids?
Oh wait, we can. It’s called screen time.
When we provide endless varieties of entertainment for our children, we leave them with very little opportunity to create and explore new ideas on their own.
So hear me out—follow my lead and skip the Pinterest activities. Then cut back on the screen time. Let kids be bored. Give them space. The innovation that results will astound you.

3. Schedule less and your children will rest more.

As humans, we need to rest our bodies and minds. This is particularly true of small bodies that are growing and maturing rapidly. Research show us that childhood anxiety is a rising epidemic in this generation. A child who grows up with anxiety is significantly more likely to be plagued with mental health challenges throughout their adult years.
Do you know what our children need? Rest.
Do you know what we need? Rest.
Stop making rest a luxury—make rest a priority. The mental and physical health of your family depends on it.

4. Referee less and your children will problem solve more.

As parents, we wear many hats. One hat we need to hang up is that of the referee. Parents have the tendency to jump in and solve any disputes and challenges that children come across. It’s easier to be the referee than watch two kids awkwardly settle their own disagreement. It’s easier to jump in and help than wait ten minutes for a kid to fumble through shoe tying.
After you hang up that hat, get comfortable sitting on the sidelines in silence. Kids need a lot of practice to learn how to problem solve—so let’s give them many chances to do it for themselves.

5. Buy less and your children will seek more.

Research shows that clutter is associated with higher levels of stress in families. Have you yelled at your kids to clean up their rooms recently? If your home has less inside, it is easier to clean up. It is easier to take good care of fewer things.
You know what doesn’t have a long-term impact on a child happiness? The latest hit toy. Buy your children less, and as a result, they will be able to better filter out the noise and focus on the important things.
Studies tell us that family vacations and togetherness have a long term impact on a child’s happiness. Let’s teach our children to value “stuff” less and experiences more.


This article was originally published on No Sidebar by Denaye Barahona who is the founder of Simple Families, where her podcast and blog deliver the essentials for living well with your kids.

Watching for Signs of Distress in Children

By Tze Yong Koh →

When our children are going through distress, they send out warning signs through their behaviour, but do we know what to watch for? Are we catching the signals for help being sent out?
Being familiar with these distress signs will help us identify problems early. If these signs are present in combination, or in more extreme or long-lasting forms, it may be an indication that your child is experiencing significant distress. If in doubt, please seek help and advice from your child's School Counsellor or mental health professionals. If you suspect your child is at risk of suicide, get help immediately from SOS 1800 221 4444.

Also, find out more about how parents can talk about issues related to anxiety, distress and suicide

DISTRESS SIGNS
EXAMPLES THAT MAY INDICATE POSSIBLE MALADAPTIVE BEHAVIOUR
D
Displaying out-of character behaviour
  • Becoming quieter or more talkative than usual
  • Giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to loved ones
  • Behaving strangely
  • Talking and/or writing about things that do not make sense (including online behaviour)
  • Complaints of unexplained pains

I
Injuries that are unexplained
  • Bruises, burns, cuts or scars on bodies
  • Tendency to hurt self

S
Sudden changes in appearance, interests or habits
  • Neglecting personal appearance and/or well-being
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Poor hygiene
  • Sleeping or eating too little or too much
  • Sudden loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Sudden loss of interest in studies
T
Temperamental changes
  • Becoming more irritable, agitated, moody, stressed or anxious than usual
  • Expressions of worry, anxiety and/or fear
R
Rebellious/ aggressive behaviour
  • Display of defiant behaviour
  • Unaccountable rage, anger and/or aggression
  • Overly irritable or hostile
  • Excessive smoking and/or drinking
  • Drug abuse
    E
    Extended absence/ deliberate social withdrawal
    • Unexplained and repeated absence or truancy
    • Declining to join social activities
    • Becoming withdrawn and avoiding others
    • Having a lack of social contact
    S
    Struggling to pay attention/ increased
    lethargy
    • Inattentiveness
    • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    S
    Sending/ posting moody or morbid messages (including expressions of death)
    • Expressing frequent negative and/or illogical thoughts
    • Expressing feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness, and/or perceived loss of control
    • Threatening or expressing plans to hurt or kill themselves

    This article was originally published on SCHOOLBAG The Education News Site

    Suicide Games and Online Media: What Should Parents Do?

    By Tze Yong Koh →


    You may have heard of the Blue Whale game and Thirteen Reasons Why (13RW), or them trending on your social media feed. Such content has been circulating and may negatively influence our children to view suicide as a viable way to deal with their problems, or even romanticise or glamourise the act of suicide.
    Thirteen Reasons Why (13RW) is a fictional story released on Netflix surrounding the traumatic events recounted by a high school student who chose to end her life by suicide. The sinister but unverified Blue Whale game allegedly incites teenage players to carry out tasks involving self-harm in a 50-day period and culminates in a final task to commit suicide in order to win the game.
    While it is difficult to verify if suicide deaths are caused by online games, such games with dark themes related to self-harm or suicide are still of concern.
    Viral content about self-harm or suicide is worrying and raises important questions about media influence and the power of social media. As parents, we play a very critical protective role that can minimise the negative effects of such exposure.
    1. Teach our children media literacy to discern between fake and real events
    2. Help our children discern and avoid online gaming or social communities that could present risks of suicide contagion
    3. Take stock of the media influences that our children are exposed to
    4. Engage in conversation with our children to find out what they have been watching or playing online
    5. Encourage our children to post sensitively on social media so that they do not contribute to rumours or reports that sensationalise suicide
    As we talk to our children, we need not be hyper-vigilant or transfer our anxiety to them, but instead communicate our concern for their well-being and a commitment to support them through any struggles they may be facing. Together, we can help them build their resilience to overcome challenges without resorting to suicide or maladaptive behaviour.
    Here are some pointers on how to talk about issues related to anxiety, distress and suicide.

    1. First, know the warning signs

    When our children are going through distress, they send out warning signs through their behaviour. But are we catching the signals for help being sent out? Look out for these signs and read more about distress signs and behaviour.
    1. Displaying out-of character behaviour
    2. Injuries that are unexplained
    3. Sudden changes in appearance, interests or habits
    4. Temperamental changes
    5. Rebellious/ aggressive behaviour
    6. Extended absence/ deliberate social withdrawal
    7. Struggling to pay attention/ increased lethargy
    8. Sending/ posting moody or morbid messages (including expressions of death)

    2. Talk about your child’s thoughts and feelings

    Start with some questions to show concern for your child’s well-being, such as, “I noticed that you…. Is there anything you would like to share?” or “Is there something troubling you?”
    Take your child’s comments seriously. Refrain from minimising what they are feeling or telling them that they should not feel negative about something. That could pose a barrier for them to open up further. Instead, be open and empathetic by showing that you are trying to understand what they are thinking and feeling. Don’t judge them or their thoughts. Listen, and be caring and kind.

    3. Discuss what your child has seen or heard

    If your child shares that he/she has watched a movie or played a game that has themes of self-harm or suicide, discuss his/her thoughts and feelings. Share that while people may identify with the characters in a movie or story, there are many healthy ways to cope with the issues faced and acting on suicidal thoughts is not one of them. Most people who have distressful experiences will reach out to someone, talk to others, and seek help. They can also find other positive ways of coping such as exercising, finding ways to de-stress and doing breathing exercises.

    If your child has watched 13RW in particular, check out these points 
    you could use as you talk with your child.

    4. Don’t be afraid to ask your child a direct question about suicide

    Contrary to what we may think, asking them such questions does not put the idea in their head but invites them to share what they are feeling without stigma or shame. Direct questions could include, “Are you having thoughts about killing yourself?” or “Do you wish you could end your life?”
    If you suspect your child is in danger, get help immediately from SOS 1800 221 4444 or speak to your child’s School Counsellor. Ensure your child’s physical safety and explain that you cannot keep the secret but need to break confidentiality to get the help that they need. Remind them that the thoughts of suicide are just thoughts and that they need not act on them. The impulse to do so may pass after a while.

    5. Use the S.P.A.C.E tips

    The S.P.A.C.E tips can guide your conversation and foster resilience in the longer term.

    Space Tips 1Space Tips 2(Click to download)

    6. Encourage a healthy lifestyle and a wide range of coping strategies

    Encourage your child to develop a sleeping routine to help them get a good night’s sleep. For example, waking up and getting to bed at the same time, avoiding caffeine during lunchtime and shutting down electronics before bedtime.
    Physical activities can help relieve stress and provide a good distraction from worries. Find a physical activity to carry out together with your child if your child is struggling to get active, or play sports with friends. Eating well can also help with sleep and general health and wellbeing. A well-balanced diet helps the body and brain to function well.
    Other coping strategies include talking with people they trust, keeping a journal, drawing and expressing themselves through art, practising relaxation and deep breathing. It is helpful to build up a toolbox of a variety of coping strategies.

    7. Encourage your child to be a positive influence


    You can also encourage your child to be a voice of hope and positive influence for his/her peers. Your child can play his/her part to look out for warning signs if a peer is distressed or at risk of suicide. Encourage your child to refer the friend immediately to a trusted adult for help.

    This article was originally published on SCHOOLBAG The Education News Site

    Installing DB2 on ubuntu

    By Tze Yong Koh → Saturday, October 17, 2015

    1. Uncomment the Partner repository lines by editing the /etc/apt/sources.list file
    Look for the word "partner" in the file /etc/apt/sources.list
    Uncomment the line for (by removing the "#") character
    # deb http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu lucid partner
    # deb-src http://archive.canonical.com/ubuntu lucid partner
    
    If your Ubuntu release is not lucid, add in the two lines above into the sources.list file

    2. Update the package list
    $ sudo apt-get update
    

    3. Install DB2 using apt-get
    $ sudo apt-get install db2exc
    

    Reference:
    http://www.db2teamblog.com/2010/09/db2-express-c-packages-for-ubuntu-1004.html

    Backup and Restore DB2 to Another Machine

    By Tze Yong Koh →

    TL;DR;
    Use db2look to export DDL and db2move to export data.

    The name of the database is "mydb" as an example
    On source machine:
    $ mkdir migrate
    $ cd migrate
    $ db2look -d mydb -e -a -o db2look.sql
    $ db2move mydb export
    $ cd ..
    $ tar cf migrate.tar migrate
    $ gzip migrate.tar
    

    Transfer migrate.tar.gz to destination machine.
    Note: Make sure that the database is created.
    If not create it with the following:
    Create database [db name, eg:mydb]
    

    On destination machine:
    $ gunzip migrate.tar.gz
    $ tar xf migrate.tar
    $ cd migrate
    $ db2 -tvf db2look.sql
    $ db2move mydb load
    

    You may encounter -668 error when your application runs on the restored database. You can fix that with SET INTEGRITY.

    If you have cyclic dependencies of the tables when you are trying to do SET INTEGRITY, the solution is at this post "Solving cyclic dependency for DB2 SET INTEGRITY".

    References:
    https://www-01.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/SSEPGG_9.7.0/com.ibm.db2.luw.admin.cmd.doc/doc/r0002079.html
    http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/data/library/techarticle/dm-0403melnyk/

    Solving cyclic dependency for DB2 SET INTEGRITY

    By Tze Yong Koh → Wednesday, October 14, 2015

    While I am trying to resolve -668 error for DB2, the solution is to set integrity on the related tables.
    However, I ended up trying to set integrity on a set of tables with cyclical dependencies. So the command 
    SET INTEGRITY for <table> immediate checked
    
    does not work.

    Searching more, I found that the solution is actually the same command, but all the dependent table should be comma separated. Something like the below.

    SET INTEGRITY for table_a, table_b, table_c immediate checked
    

    Hope this helps!

    DB2 SQL Error: SQLCODE=-668. Fixed with SET INTEGRITY

    By Tze Yong Koh → Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    After I migrated my DB2 data to a new machine, I encountered "DB2 SQL Error: SQLCODE=-668".
    At first, I thought that I can do a table reorg to fix it.  However, when I issue the reorg command, the same error code -668 was returned.

    After some searching, the solution is to set integrity for the affected tables.

    1. To find all the affected tables.
    select 'set integrity for '||rtrim(tabschema)||'.'||tabname||' immediate checked' from syscat.tables where status = 'C'
    

    2. Copy and paste the generated statements into db2 console.

    3. Repeat a few times to clear all the tables so that the SQL from step 1 returns no more row.

    Note, you may experience cyclic dependency on your tables that you are not able to clear. You can check out this post on cyclical dependencies and set integrity for db2.