Posted by: thaishin | May 4, 2010

Hating it

My son (age 4+) does not like reading very much. In school, he would cry with tears when the teacher asked him to do some reading and he says he hates it.

Hate is in his vocabulary. Whatever that displeases him, he would say he hates it. When it is time for him to go to sleep and he still wants to watch TV, he would say he hates it.  Sort of just casually out of the mouth kind of thing. But the fact that he would cry and refuse to read beckons something deeper?

I was discussing about it with my wife and I was already resolving not to press him to read if he does not like it. But how does discipline comes in? Shouldn’t parents develop discipline in the child by repeatedly instilling in the child the need to read. He must be interested in order to proceed or shouldn’t he? A difficult balance. Forcing him to read it will make him hate it but not forcing him will not do him good either. Maybe for a while, will just let loose and let him have his way. Not to force him to read until he becomes uninterested in it. To consistently remind him to do some reading but not forcing him to do it will be the way to go.

Any advice, anyone?



  1. Hi Thai Shin

    Check with him casually or observe why he “hates” to read. Is it because he can’t understand the words or because he doesn’t like the content. When I was younger, I don’t like to read Chinese books. But I got hooked on it through the translated classics (English to Chinese) and also the sword fighting novels. Not to mention comics as well.

    Find out what he likes, and integrate it into his learning… :-)

    • Hi Tiat Leong,

      Thanks for your advice. My son likes to watch TV and sometimes before he starts to watch, I will ask him to read a book first. Maybe because reading obstructs him from enjoying the TV. He is also saying that reading is difficult for him but when he starts reading, he is able to do it, though sometimes with help from me. I think certainly he does not like the content. It is not as fun as computer game or watching TV. Basically, it is reading is not fun. He is able to read 2 books well and he wants to only read those 2 books because he is familiar with it. Reading an unfamiliar book stresses him..

    • Hi Tiat Leong,

      an update from our side. My son is interested in hotwheels books and we challenged him to finish reading the book that we bought him so that we can buy him another hotwheels book. He managed to read the book with a few mistakes. We also discovered that he memorized the sentences from the book. He could not recognize individual words but he could recite the whole sentence from memory.

  2. Sometimes you have to read books to your son in order for them to realized that reading is fun.

  3. Is there a book on the TV program that he is watching? For example, if he is watching Walt Disney cartoons, there are story books/comics on the characters… can try this approach as a starting point.

    Does he enjoy “listening” to stories?

    • Yes, he enjoys listening to stories. You have just gave us the idea of letting him start reading by introducing comic books to him. Thanks

  4. Hi Thai Shin,

    There are 2 types of parenting that we, parents, should try to avoid, namely: authoritarian parenting and permissive parenting, both of which are extreme and self-explainatory. Instead, what we should try to aim is Authoritative Parenting based on a biblical principle that we parents are not simply friends/buddies to our children but we have God-given authority to train and discipline our children.

    In my opinion, we cannot expect children epecially at your son’s age to make right decisions. Afterall, children are not called “kids” for nothing. It is your God-given duty to guide him to do the right thing, in this case, learn to read. You can use all techniques available to do that. However, 2 scenarios that should be avoided – use physical punishment and threats to force him to read (authoritarian parenting) and just give-in to your son’s wishes (permissive parenting)

    The notion to just wait for your son to be interested in reading may not be effective because there is a great possibility that it will not happen at all. If it does, it maybe too late and it will negatively affect his studies later on.

    Thanks for sharing this blog and Godbless.

    • Thanks for your comments.

  5. All my 3 kids, 10, 7, 3, loves to read. One thing is we started reading to them at 1 month old.

    They would definitely love to read if they can understand what they are reading and the content is interesting. Now we have to stop them from reading too much because its too much for their eyes and neglecting their physical activities.

    So next time when your kids are not interested in reading, try find out the reason. It could be the books are not suitable for their age, or could be the content is not suitable. Maybe reading to them aloud will start them off getting interested in reading. When reading to them, your voice need to be expressive and sound exciting, in line with the story etc.

    i am always adverse to the method of dangling a carrot or giving incentives to make them do something they do not like. I always see a dog or animal trainer does that. They give them some nice food whenever they did something correct. It works for animals, but sorry, my kids are not animals. Also if we train our child in that way, in time to come, they will not do things that does not come with incentives. This would be disastrous because there are many things in life we need to do it, even though we may not like it. Its a matter of self-discipline.

    Once they understand what they are reading, the interests will naturally drive them on to read more.


    • thanks sin wei for your comments. We have provided incentives for him to read or punished him if he does not. Now that you have mentioned why you are not in favour of incentives method, we are considering stopping that approach. A few of our friends have suggested reading to him first. I think we will start with that first.

  6. Read to your son often and act like you really enjoy reading. Turn off the TV and do NOT let it run most of the time. TV should be a special time…say 1 – 3 hours a day. Pray about it for guidance. What a 4 year old says now probably will not be true when he gets older if both parents steer him toward books. It’s like eating vegetables. You and Ellen eat healthy food and teach him and then he will in adult life. Good luck with the little guy. A parent has his hands full!

    • thanks Bob for your comments. It is convenient for us to put him on TV because it frees us of some time. But, you are right, we should try not to use the TV so often

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