The ABC's of Parenting - part 1

"Parents bear the first and primary responsibility for their sons and daughters --  to feed them, to sing them to sleep, to teach them to ride a bike, to encourage their talents, to help them develop spiritual lives, to make countless daily decisions that determine whom they have the potential to become." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

My plan to finish this post on has been derailed and waiting to be edited for almost three months now since it coincided with the holiday rush and major events I was preparing for around that time last year. Finally, I can share this long overdue feature on parenting which I began to write last November.

This speaking engagement by Dr. Francis M. Dimalanta, who also happens to be my boy's doctor, was held at DML Montessori Pre-School where my boy is currently a prep student. The topic was on how to raise happy and healthy kids, and this is the second of three seminars lined up for the school year. You can also read about the first one on wellness and nutrition which I posted here several months ago in a 4-part series.

Dr. Dimalanta prepared a very straight-forward yet creative presentation, making use of all the letters in the alphabet to highlight important points. I decided to present the slides as it is, with some personal insights, so simply read through them 'coz I don't see any sense of re-writing everything when it was already well presented by the good doctor. I am just delighted to have the opportunity to listen and learn from him, and be able to share this here, with his permission. And I just realized that I have to post this now since the third talk will already be held tomorrow! So without further delay, here's the A-B-C's of parenting from one of the most sough-after developmental pediatrician in the country today.

The A-B-C's of Parenting
Talk and slide presentation by Dr. Francis Xavier Dimalanta, M.D.
General Pediatrics & Child Development Specialist

Parents are considered the first teachers of a child, and from birth, a child needed to be taught almost everything. From showing respect, love for God and family, how to work hard and pursue happiness, and how to live a healthy lifestyle. We always need to remember that each child is unique, therefore, parenting should also match the child's character, which leads to our first letter:


The first developmental milestone in children is the emergence of motor skills. These skills are expected during the first year of life which is a critical stage for every child. It is during this stage that they learn how to point, roll over, sit, crawl, and stand.  Each step is vital for the development of other skills like fine motor skills and speech, which is the second developmental milestone.
Research showed that there is a direct correlation between skipping the crawling stage and speech delay. Parents should allow the child to go through the sit-crawl-stand phase since this affects the motor part of the brain.  So don't force your child to stand up and walk without going through the crawling stage.
"Don't jump", "stop running", "don't shout"... I am guilty of always using "No", "Don't", "Not".  It is really a conscious effort to use positive words while teaching, instructing, and reprimanding the kids. An example would be saying "don't do that", or "don't jump on the bed", instead, we should say specific instructions like "please stop jumping, you might fall off the bed" with the following consequence to their actions.

As part of the daily routine, parents need to set schedules for the child so he knows what to expect during the day, and what is expected from him. The key is to compromise. Providing options will also empower the child to choose and make good decisions for himself.


Between jotting down notes while listening and taking pictures, I missed the slide for "C". So my interpretation for this is that both parents should always be united in making rules and decisions, and to follow through with what they say. There should be no "good cop - bad cop" between mom and dad as this will confuse the child. Kids are very smart and will always try to get away with things if they can.


According to Dr. Dimalanta, in order to properly discipline the children, parents need to know the "Where", "Who", and "What":
'Where is my child?'
'Who is my child with?'
'What is my child doing?'

By knowing these, parents can be in control and properly instill discipline. Again, it goes back to setting rules and expectations, and being consistent with them. 

"To spank" or "not to spank", that is the question. On this aspect, it is the parents' prerogative. The only reminder from the doctor is, if you decide to spank, "spank when not angry", and always process the child after wards. Their actions and consequences, which may include spanking, should be explained in a clear and simple manner while still acknowledging the child's feelings. I spank my kids once in a while, on their bum or on the hand, after 2 warnings. A heavier consequence awaits them after 3 warnings or a privilege is taken away.


Children have different abilities and interests. It is the parents' duty to identify and support their interests and help build their self-esteem by proper encouragement.

Nurturing the child's interest can begin at home, and the best place in the house is the kitchen. There are so many stimulants that can help develop fine motor skills, as well as analytical skills. Dr. Dimalanta made an example from using pots and pans for toddlers to pound on and create 'music'; touching grains of rice or beans for the tactile sense; and learn the use of measurements with the different cooking items in the kitchen.
Clay is also an excellent tool to improve fine motor skills.

In this regard, the doctor also discussed the current paradigm shift in giftedness.  Decades ago, identifying giftedness is broad and generalized, very academic. In recent years, it is now geared towards a specific area of interest.  So one child can be assessed as being gifted in the arts despite being weak in athletics, while another can be gifted only in science or math, in music or linguistics, or in other areas of excellence.


Nourishment is a basic human need. For kids and adults alike, we can eat anything as long as in moderation. For me, the challenge lies in sourcing and preparing the right foods to feed my family.

Here are some helpful feeding tips from the doctor:
  • Ideally, give your child at least 4oz. of water every hour
  • Provide daily supplement of Vitamin C
  • Don't force-feed your child, this may cause trauma and aversions to certain food when he gets older
  • Try an alternative way of cooking favorites, like french fries -- use carrots instead of potatoes

Quality time is as important as quantity of time with your child. But balancing this is the challenge among parents.  Do you know there is such a thing as "quality time without doing anything"? Just by "being with" the child provides solace and comfort, this is already a form of bonding.

With both parents working, some kids are left with the nanny or other guardians during most of the day, and with their friends in school.  It is inevitable that they have as much influence, if not more, as the parents. Thus, mothers and fathers should make extra effort to find their own exclusive time with the child to re-connect and establish stronger relationships.


Whether this can be implemented or not, it is recommended to allocate only 1 to 2 hours of TV or video time for school aged kids, and no TV for two-year-olds and younger. In this digital age, electronic gadget and hand-held video games abound, and parents should monitor and control what the child is watching or playing.  Set negotiables and non-negotiables. Be aware of the shows and decide what the kids should watch.
Not all cartoons are okay.  A lot of parents expressed concern over some shows that show violence, use foul words, and glorify bad characters. Some cartoon shows mentioned at the talk received a lot of negative feedback from parents, and these were not recommended veiwing for kids, or at least require parental guidance: Mr. Bean, Tom & Jerry, Spongebob Squarepants, The Simpsons.


And pray together, eat together, play together. And more!

Special mention during the talk was reading. A great bonding activity, moms and dads can read to infants as early as 6 months! Begin with a few minutes each day and extend gradually to generate more interest from the child.

Eating together is also one of the best family bonding time. Study shows many benefits for families that eat together:
  • Greater chances of children eating vegetables
  • Avoids smoking
  • Prevents pre-marital sex

(Updated) Continued here:
Parenting from "J to Z"

Time for some shut-eye for now. Our third and final DML talk is tomorrow morning, which will be all about marriage. That is definitely something you could look forward to here, soon.