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HAVE you ever locked yourself out from your home? How did it feel? What was done to rectify the situation? Certainly, it’s an unpleasant experience that can be costly too. Once experienced, we’d ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Relating this to parenting, there’s also one door that we must be careful when entering — the door to our children’s hearts. Stephen Sills once said, “Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart.” Come to think about it, there could be many doors that could lead us there.

The door to the heart serves to protect a very sensitive place. The heart is where the person’s true nature is kept. Being able to reach this place is invaluable, especially for parents to understand or even change their children’s behaviour. It’s where the most sacred information and secrets are kept. Only the privileged ones are given access to this special place.

As parents, we must strive to reach our children’s hearts. But first, we must understand the type of keys needed to unlock it. Fear, resentment and hostility would make them hide the keys. It may even be locked forever. Meanwhile, laughter, love and happiness may bring us inside.

But why do we lose it sometimes? Why do parents yell and scold their children? Somehow, children can often trigger the switches that bring out the worst in us. When that happens, both parties end up having their hearts broken. Fortunately, we can turn off the switches — changing from uncontrollable yelling to rational communication.


Author and parent educator Laura Markham said that our number one job as a parent, after assuring the safety of our children, is to manage our own emotions. Yes, we’ll feel overwhelmed and angry. We’ll raise our voices. But the effects can be devastating.

It may work in the short term to get the kids to listen, but in the long term, they may become immune to it. In short, it only serves to make them fear us rather than understand the consequences of their action. Worse, they may lock their heart to us to protect it from hurting.

Let’s be better parents who strive to find a more effective and harmonious way to get to the children’s hearts. Begin with controlling our negative emotions. Give ourselves time to cool down. View the children’s antics from their perspective. Recognise that they’re just playing. Treat those moments as opportunities to demonstrate right from wrong.

When done with a heart full of love, we’ll slowly experience a paradigm shift. Instead of viewing our little ones as troublemakers, we’ll see them as explorers who constantly test limits. Instead of having a headache dealing with their unpredictable behaviour, we experience therapeutic laughter when their efforts fail miserably. Laugh a little and love a lot. That could be just the key to unlock their hearts.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive workplaces. Reach him at [email protected].

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