Tag Archives: Panyaden School Director

Teaching Children Responsibility

Panyaden Live & LearnL - teaching students' responsibility

Live and Learn

Responsibility and how to teach it

by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director

Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas pictured at schoolWhen we see that our child is not being responsible, we can easily forget that children actually love to feel responsible! Most young children feel very proud when they have helped mum or dad. But that often seems to change as they get older and as parents, we can get very frustrated. How do we encourage responsibility in our children? Here are 10 parenting tips:

  1. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, as parents we need to hand it over! Most children do not want to be doted on because, like the rest of us, they need to feel that they matter in the world and that they can make a positive contribution. Children need our help sometimes, but when we constantly dote on them they not only start to expect to have things done for them, we risk rendering them helpless, reducing their confidence. If we always clear the table after meal times, we shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t think it’s their job to help. The golden rule: don’t do for your child what he can do for himself!
  2. Draw the lines of responsibility. Be clear to your child that for some things he has full responsibility, for some you have responsibility, and for some things you share responsibility. These lines must change as she gets older and is able to take on more. If necessary, these can be written down and stuck on the fridge door. Write them together.
  3. Focus on empowering your child. Rather than a list of tasks that he ‘should do’, consider things which help him take charge of his life and then assist him in learning the necessary skills so that he actually wants to step into the new responsibility. Saying things like, ‘By now you should be able to tidy away your own toys’ leads to power struggles. If you worked out with him the areas of his life that he is fully responsible for managing, you already have a list of responsibilities he will be happy to assume.
  4. Avoid orders and instead try to make your child part of agreements on things like screen time. Ask ‘How much screen time do you think is reasonable each day (or week)?’ then agree on a sensible limit and have your child monitor the time herself. Stick to the agreement. When she feels trusted she is more likely to feel responsible.
  5. Encourage him to think for himself. Instead of, ’Don’t forget your PE shoes! Brush your teeth!’ you could ask, ‘What’s the next thing you need to do to get ready for school?’ The goal is to keep your child focused on their list of things to do, morning after morning, until they internalize it and begin managing their own morning tasks.

Teaching Responsibilty at Panyaden - students making rules sign for pool use Panyaden student responsible for collecting dishes

  1. Expect her to clean up after herself but don’t nag! When your toddler spills her drink, say ‘That’s ok. We can clean it up. We always clean up our messes’, as you hand her a cloth and pick one up yourself. By avoiding judgment or getting annoyed and by staying cheerful, our child is less likely to get defensive and will eventually be happy to clean up after herself. Lending a hand also models what we would like her to do when we make a mess!
  2. Make the job fun! At the start you may need to do chores together and it’s important that you communicate that there is a joy in doing chores and a satisfaction to be had from getting a job done. This is Chanda, one of the Panyaden Wise Habits. If you see chores as a drag, so will he.
  3. Teach a responsible attitude towards relationships. Forcing a child to apologize when he doesn’t mean it can lead to resentment and teaches him that he doesn’t have to mean what he says. Helping him to think of a way to make things better between him and his friend teaches him that he is responsible for fixing the hurt he has caused, while giving him some choice on how to do it increases his confidence and the likelihood he’ll act responsibly next time.
  4. Avoid blame! When we blame, our child will find any kind of reason to say it wasn’t his fault. Blaming is the number 1 reason why children lie to their parents. If you accept the situation as it is without pointing the finger, you are more likely to encourage a household where everyone shares responsibility. Instead of ‘Who left the fridge door open AGAIN?’ try, ‘I see the fridge door is open. Let’s make sure we keep it closed so that the food doesn’t go off.’
  5. Last but not least….Model it! If you run a red light or park in the bay reserved for elderly people, you are definitely not teaching responsibility!




Live and Learn: Household Chores for Kids


Why household chores are good for your kids

By Neil Amas, School Director

IMG_2845 Panyaden International School Director, Neil Amas
I read recently that 82% of today’s parents did regular household chores when they were young, but only 28% expect the same of their children1. Not wanting to be part of that 28%, I decided during the last school break that it was time my kids did more to help around the house. The ensuing battle was almost epic…. and is still being fought! But new research shows it is worth pursuing because the benefits to your child’s wellbeing are significant.

“Parents today want their kids spending time on things that can bring them success, but ironically, we’ve stopped doing one thing that’s actually been a proven predictor of success – and that’s household chores,” says author and developmental psychologist, Richard Rende2.

DSCF8168 Panyaden student doing chores at school in Chiang Mai during Giving WeekNo doubt the growing tendency to fill our children’s free time with play dates, outings, entertainment and after-school clubs has contributed to the dwindling emphasis on household chores. But research by Dr. Marty Rossmann of the University of Minnesota found that young adults who began chores at ages 3 and 4 were more likely to have good relationships with family and friends, to achieve academic and early career success and to be self-sufficient, compared with those who didn’t have chores. Dr. Rossmann believes that household chores help children build a lasting sense of mastery, responsibility and self-reliance3.

Learning to be kind and helpful at home builds empathy and leads to happiness. Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro points out that generosity is the cornerstone for cultivating a sense of wellbeing for oneself and between people. That is why Caga (being generous) is one of the school’s 12 Wise Habits. It is a catalyst for family togetherness because, as Ajahn Jayasaro notes, “few things enhance the sense of connection between family members as group acts of generosity”.

The theory is all well and good, of course, but many parents know that the actual practice of getting our children to do – let alone enjoy – household chores is another matter! With gentle but firm perseverance, though, it can be done. While my own kids remain reluctant and resistant at times, I have seen a growing acceptance as the routine becomes embedded and I have even noticed some singing along the way!

Here are some tips that may help get your kids to the washing-up bowl.

Make a chores schedule. A schedule of chores made by the child himself which he can tick off each day, creates a sense of personal accomplishment as well as serving as a visible reminder of what need to be done.

Are extra piano lessons necessary? Instead of scheduling another after-school club or a weekend of visits to the cinema or water park, give priority and due importance to household chores. Then your child will get the same message.

Start small. Add fun. You are more likely to get children involved if the tasks are manageable at the start and build up to bigger ones. Add tasks that your child might find fun, like learning how to use the washing machine.

Avoid rewards and punishments. We know that promising an ice cream or pocket money for completing a task does not develop intrinsic motivation. In fact, research suggests external rewards lower inner motivation. Similarly, saying: ‘Of course we can go to the park, just as soon as you finish your chores’ is better than ‘If you don’t do your chores, you’re not going to the park’. The first indicates that there is a natural consequence of not completing something on time. The second is presented as a threat or punishment which is likely to lead to resentment and doing one’s chores begrudgingly.

Benefits to all. Caga and empathy are more likely to be developed if chores benefit the whole family (like doing the family laundry or feeding the dog), not just oneself (like tidying one’s bedroom). Describing tasks as our chores instead of your chores further puts the focus on taking care of others.

Let your child know he is a being a helper rather than helping. Research shows that young children are more motivated by the idea of creating a positive identity – being known as someone who helps4.

Add choice. Involving children in choosing the tasks makes them more likely to buy in.

Don’t make chores into ‘chores’! If you yourself complain about doing the dishes or the pile of laundry that needs to be done, so will your children. Modelling a positive attitude towards household work is probably the best encouragement you can give.

Be consistent and stick to the time frame. If you don’t monitor the chores schedule or follow up every time tasks haven’t been done, your child will soon understand that she only has to do chores some of the time. Make sure that the chore is done within a time frame previously agreed with your child and that whatever was supposed to happen next – such as going outside to play – cannot happen until the chore is done.

It’s OK to help too! If your child is trying but really struggling it’s OK to say, “Well, it looks difficult for you today. Let me give you a hand to get it done before we go out”. Model such a behaviour and, who knows, our child might reciprocate one day and help us when we find it difficult to do ours!



โดย นีล เอมัส School Director

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Download Thai version here.

1See Why Children Need to Do Chores by Jennifer Wallace in the Wall Street Journal

The Nature School Visit

Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas with Lloyd Godson from the Nature School Australia. Photo courtesy of The Nature School.

Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas took Lloyd Godson, one of The Nature School’s founders on a tour of our campus recently. The Nature School Inc. is a non-profit organisation in Port Macquarie, Australia. Its vision is “a world in which all children learn from and within nature.” Here are some photos of the visit shared by Lloyd Godson who had come “to get some inspiration” from our school.

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Panyaden Wise Habit 2014: Samadhi

Composing of the mind

‘Samadhi’ by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director
Learning about mindfulness and concentration, Panyaden School

The word samadhi originates from the Sanskrit sam-a-dha, meaning “to bring together.” It is usually translated as “concentration” or composing of the mind. It is the mind that does not waver, does not scatter itself and is focused on the task at hand despite being disturbed, persuaded or provoked. When we achieve samadhi we attain the calm and collectedness needed to make wise choices and decisions.

Samadhi is the second of the three divisions of the Noble Eightfold Path, sila (moral development), samadhi (mind development ) and panya (wisdom development). Samma samadhi, ‘or right concentration’ is part of this second division and refers to “single pointedness of mind” or concentrating the mind to the point of mental absorption, leading ultimately to successively higher mind states (jhana).

In everyday actions of ordinary life we require concentration, but this is not necessarily ‘right concentration’ as taught by the Buddha. A mind of single intent is capable of doing what it does more effectively, be it good or bad. The skilled pickpocket must have a high capacity for concentrated thought; the cat waits with all its attention focused on its prey. But samma samadhi refers only to concentration that leads to beneficial thoughts and actions. In Buddhist teachings, before we can achieve samadhi, we must overcome the ‘Five Hindrances’ to a calm and focused mind: sensual desire or greed, ill will or aversion, restlessness or anxiety, laziness or lethargy and doubt. With right effort and right mindfulness these conditions begin to lose their power and the mind gets firmly established in right concentration.

A mind firmly composed by samadhi provides the foundation from which to achieve the other Wise Habits. Undisturbed by distraction or persuasion, we set the mind on persevering with the task at hand (viriya), to keep our word (sacca) or endure difficulties with patience (khanti). With a strong determination, we watch over ourselves to keep our thoughts and actions firmly in line with what is practical, logical and beneficial (yoniso-manasika). ‘’A steadfast and unwavering heart is free of apprehension, remorse and confusion concerning our actions and speech. This is samadhi’’ (Venerable Ajahn Chah).

Panyaden School Prathom student practising meditation at schoolAs parents and teachers we are always hoping our children will improve their concentration skills. We can do this by reducing distractions, such as the TV or computer, while they are working on their homework. We can set them activities that require progressively prolonged periods of concentration and offer praise and encouragement for their efforts. Basic meditation techniques to promote calm and focus can be introduced from an early age, such as counting the breath or listening to sounds around them with their eyes closed, recalling each one to you afterwards. Older children are able to sit for an increasing number of minutes in silent meditation. We can start by asking them to keep the focus of attention on their breath, raising their hand each time the mind wanders off (this is the role of sati – to call back the mind). Children often have a surprising propensity for higher states of concentration. But whatever the capacity and length of time, the calm and collectedness that result from meditation, and the enhanced thinking skills that result, are proven and hugely beneficial to all of us.

Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro writes “if we can compose our mind with sati, we have no need to depend on sleeping pills, alcohol, ‘retail therapy’ or other unwholesome ways to help us relax. When the mind is peaceful, we are better able to reflect, we increase our perseverance and patience, faith in our practice and we understand more. As we understand more, our faith increases, and so on, the cycle continues.’’

If we train the mind in a wholesome way, it becomes calm and assured, bringing a sense of peacefulness not only to oneself, but also to those around us. The mind that reaches samadhi is like the moon which has emerged from the clouds – clear, sharp and bright.


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Panyaden Budding Day 2014-5

Panyaden School Budding Day 18-19 Sept 2014

Today, the students are our teachers,” remarks School Director Neil Amas about Panyaden’s Budding Day, a 2-day celebration of this term’s learning led by our students. Each day, parents were invited into the classrooms where our students began with homeroom presentations before moving on to one-to-one as well as group activities focused on subjects like Maths and Science, to demonstrate what they have learned in class. There was lots of interaction as parents asked questions, played games, danced, painted and worked out puzzles along with their children.

This end-of-term event is an informal opportunity for our parents to receive feedback from their children themselves of their progress in school. It’s also a great way to encourage our students to keep on learning and improving in all areas of school life each term.

Panyaden School Budding Day (Preschool) Panyaden School Budding Day - Preschool student performing Panyaden School Budding Day - Preschool students performing Panyaden Prathom student presenting to parents, Budding Day 19 Sept 2014 Panayden Prathom students presenting to parents on Budding Day

Lots more photos on the blog –
Anuban Budding Day
Prathom Budding Day

On Facebook –

Avihimsa by Neil Amas

DSC_1708 Neil Amas, Panyaden School

We are currently learning about Avihimsa at school. Here is some information that we hope you find useful when reviewing this wise habit with your children.

Avihimsa session @Panyaden
Avihimsa session at Panyaden

Avihimsa (pronounced awihingsa in Thai (อวิหิงสา), is a Pali word which means not causing harm. It originates from the Sanskrit himsa, meaning injury or harm which, when a- is added, takes on the opposite meaning, non-harming (a-himsa). Not causing injury or harm has a broader meaning than simply not physically hurting a fellow human being or animal.

To practise avihimsa is not to say or do anything that creates suffering for oneself or for others and also not to say or do anything that creates or encourages the cause of suffering in oneself or others. This includes avoiding words or conduct which provoke negative thoughts or instigate harmful actions. For example, we might say something to a friend which, though not directly hurting them, may lead to angry thoughts and therefore creates negativity within that person’s mind.

Avihimsa relates particularly to the Buddha’s teaching on moral conduct. He taught about the benefits of ‘’right speech’’ and ‘’right action’’ and proposed an essential minimum of 5 moral precepts (sila) for lay people to follow:

  1. To abstain from killing any living creatures
  2. To abstain from stealing
  3. To abstain from sexual misconduct
  4. To abstain from false speech
  5. To abstain from intoxicants

These are not an empty formula dictated by tradition or religious scriptures, but rather a practical means to ensure one’s speech and actions harm neither others nor oneself. They are essential pre-conditions for the development of a peaceful mind (samadhi) and arising of wisdom (panya).

False speech is not only about whether we are telling the truth or lying. It is defined by the intention of one’s speech and whether that intention is against the best interest of the other person or is for personal interest or gain. A child who teases a classmate because she is ‘fat’ may claim she is only telling the truth and so is not breaking the sila. But if the child’s words cause the classmate to feel inferior and depressed, she is causing harm.

We are teaching our students that avihimsa means not harming others with your actions, your speech and even your thoughts. That thinking badly of others is just as harmful as saying something mean to them because it is also harming you. Thoughts of revenge make us unhappy. Gossiping about somebody else, even if they are not in the room, creates a negative mind and atmosphere for oneself and those present. We can use our children’s actions and reactions in the classroom and at home to teach them the negative impact of harming, and positive impact of avihimsa. We should point out how bad an atmosphere is after someone has used hurtful words. Or we can reflect on how much more fun it is playing with friends when there is no teasing or name-calling. We need to help children see negative thoughts as they arise and redirect them to something positive, to encourage them to see the good aspects of others instead of getting caught up in ill-will or resentment. This is using the Wise Habit yoniso manasikara, orapplying the mind skilfully.

Avihimsa means neither physically nor mentally hurting humans, animals and nature. From killing ants to polluting rivers. We want to help our children understand that harming others is unwise, not because it is a ’sin’ or breaks a ‘rule’, but because of the very direct consequences such actions, words and thoughts have on us as well as others. Practising avihimsa creates a community based on trust and good intention, one which knows how to forgive instead of blame; moreover, making it a habit in daily life will help us to reduce our own negative thoughts, making our lives lighter and increasing happiness.

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Click here for article in Thai: Avihimsa_TH2014

Panyaden School Blossom Day

Panyaden students put up a delightful show


Making props, painting backdrops, diligently practicing their lines and movement over and over again, Panyaden students from Nursery all the way to Prathom 6, have been hard at work these past 2 weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, our school presents our Blossom Day show, our annual end-of-term celebration of our children’s learning throughout the 2012-3 school year.

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DSCF2735Panyaden School Director, Neil Amas opened the show with an introduction about how proud we are of our students’ efforts. Each class has chosen its own showcase based on its students’ interests. Our teachers have sometimes motivated our students to take on tasks and roles they were not totally confident with to help them overcome their fears and try something new.

What a show they put up! An eco-fashion show displaying interesting clothes Prathom students made from recycling everyday materials, the songs and Thai dances, the moving play based on Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree, the wonderful costumes and message about caring for the environment as well as the detail in planning the scale of the planets (Space Adventure) and more deserved the hearty applause that the audience of parents, friends, teachers and schoolmates gave to each performance. Then of course, there was the bustling Blossom Market where students sold their handicraft, food, books and even vegetables they grew at school to raise funds for a charity in Chiang Mai. Thank you for all your hard work and enthusiasm!

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See more photos taken by Ally Taylor on our blog:
Rehearsals –

Today’s show –

See also photos by Steve Yarnold on Chiang Mai magazine, CityNow –
https://www.city-now.com/comment.php?cid=452413&lang=English&page=1 – rank452413

Panyaden 12 wise habits: Chanda

Doing your best in the present moment

by Neil Amas, Panyaden School Director

Students are practicing chanda (pronounced chan-ta), or enthusiasm/positive desire (ความยินดีในกิจที่ทำ (ฉันทะ) during these two weeks. Here is some further information on chanda that you may feel useful.

There is a common misunderstanding that in Buddhism all desire is ‘bad’ and leads to suffering. In fact the Buddha recognised that there are 2 different kinds of desire. One is desire borne of ignorance, an unwholesome or negative desire (tanha) which gives rise to suffering. The second is wholesome, skilful desire, or chanda, which originates from a clear understanding of the way things are. It means bringing up motivation or desire to do the very best that you can in the present moment.

As explained by Venerable Ajahn Jayasaro during a talk at Panyaden last year, this is an important principle in the education of children or in the raising of children by parents. We should not be overly obsessed with results, but, rather, look for quality of action in the present moment. There will be disappointments and things will not always work out how we want. There will be outside influences that you cannot control, so the best you can do is put effort into things that you can. This is right motivation. Ven. Jayasaro explained, ‘An over emphasis on results in the future tends to have a number of negative consequences in the present, such as anxiety, restlessness, boredom and dissatisfaction. Or this very easily can lead to dishonesty because if you feel that something you do in the present is merely a means to get what you want in the future, the temptation to take short cuts becomes very strong.’

As parents and teachers we all want our children to be healthy and happy. But if this desire is not wise it may lead to us becoming overly protective causing our children to become too dependent on us, or we may become over-controlling and create alienation and rebellion in our children.

In the classroom, as well as at home, chanda means encouraging our children to be enthusiastic in developing their own learning and knowledge, to try hard to succeed no matter the consequences and to maintain and create good behaviour. We can encourage them to focus on what interests them and help them reflect on how it feels when they put good effort into achieving something, thus helping them to generate further motivation.

Chanda arises from compassion and unconditional love. A sister who helps her younger brother get dressed for school purely out of love and a desire to help him has chanda. A group of students who are enthusiastic about learning a new subject at school solely from their love of learning and desire to work hard at it regardless of the results, are displaying chanda.

We all know how precious a parent’s praise is to a child. If we concentrate on praising effort, we will help them develop chanda, a wise habit for life.