On June 17, I attended a workshop with 20 other people where we had several speakers that day. The second-to-last speaker, Michael Podolinsky, brought his 12-year-old daughter who did an amazing job introducing her dad, and happens to also be cute as a button. I liked Anna Podolinsky immediately and spoke to her several times that day. These are the 12 things I said to her:
- Talk to people you don’t like. Because Anna aspires to be a CEO one day, I immediately told her that she needs to learn how to talk to people she doesn’t like and not show her dislike. I told her to practice right away — go ahead and talk to people she didn’t like in the room. She laughed.
- Local school sucks. I was surprised she was studying in a local not international school, and asked if she liked it. She felt she was enjoying school and learning lots.
- I hated school. I didn’t like the way I was taught and all the mindless memorisation involved. She assured me schools are much better nowadays.
- I was bullied and called the ugliest girl in school. Anna expressed regret and said she was sorry how hard it was for me growing up. I did start to wonder who was the adult then!
- Dance when you feel like it. I didn’t actually say this to her, but I showed her some of my dance moves. She catches on fast! Her ballet training pays off.
- Join Toastmasters. This was the second time Anna was sitting in at a speech being made by her dad. She had asked to attend it because she recently started being interested in public speaking. I immediately encouraged her to join Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a fantastic way to meet people who want to learn, are encouraging and are as real as they get. Her father had been a Toastmaster for four years and became an Area Governor. He grew his area from four to six clubs and spoke at all six clubs every week. Anna has already taken First Place in YMCA speaking contests in Singapore.
- Learning Chinese is a pain. Anna is in primary 6 and sitting for her PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations) this year. She’s thankfully exempted from Chinese.
- Study hard. I asked Anna if she was feeling pressure to do well. And when she said no, I questioned how hard she was studying for her future. She revealed she is doing well and is in the top class in school.
- Receive support. I had tuition since I was primary 1 even though I didn’t need it, and as a result was utterly bored in school. It’s great that Anna is getting tuition in areas she needs, and she can only get better.
- Enter the best secondary school she can. I expressed my own regret for hating school, cruising along and striving for pass grades. Our school and the calibre of our classmates can spur us on, and not train us not to settle for mediocrity. It’s not just about what we learn in school, but where habits and discipline or the lack of is formed. Anna is shooting for Direct School Admission as a floorball player. Her team took 2nd place in Singapore. Go Anna!
- Get used to being the youngest in the group. We grow up fast and one day, she’d be surprised she’s no longer the youngest one in a room.
- Gain different perspectives. The fastest way to learn is to hang out with people we normally don’t meet – including older people with different kinds of backgrounds.
I was amazed by what came out of my mouth when I am left in a room unattended by an adult. Hopefully most of it was good advice, and none of them scarred her for life. What would be the top 12 things that would come out of your mouth if you were left unattended with a 12-year-old? What would it say about you?
Dr Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counselling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com.
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