8 Ways To Be A Better Parent In The New Year

Must-read advice from the experts that have shared their views here on KSP.

Better Parenting

As we brace ourselves for another year of change, take heart that there are constants in life. For one, the key to better parenting has always been kindness: being kinder to ourselves, to our children, and to those around us.

To be a more effective parent in the new year, aim to develop good habits and make small improvements, while accepting that there will always be challenges ahead. Here are some tips to get your family off to a great start in 2018:

Get Your Priorities In Order

“Parents, do yourselves a favour and get some sleep. It can help reduce temper flare-ups,” says motivational consultant Robert Lim, who runs leadership programmes for children and their parents. “That Korean drama series or the latest season of ‘Bones’ can wait.” Read more » 

Fix Your Exam Attitude

“Children in Singapore are often made to feel that everything is cast in stone—that they only get one chance at a certain exam, for instance—and they feel trapped,” says occupational therapist Anita Leo. “Parents need to remind their children that exams, even university exams, don’t define a person’s worth. There is always time for growth.” Read more »

Accept Your Children’s Emotions

It’s tempting to clamp down on your child’s negative emotions, such as anger, but that can be unhealthy in the long run, warns family life educator Richard Cheong. When tensions arise, he advocates an “emotions first, solutions second” approach:

1. Accept and identify the emotion (if your child is unable to do so).

2. Give your child time and space to simmer down.

3. When your child is calm, ask questions to find out what triggered the negative emotion. Read more »

Be Alert To Signs Of Stress

These include headaches, stomach pains, and other physical discomforts, as well as affective disorders such as depression. Common stressors for children in the Singapore context are often related to academic performance, and stress could result from unrealistic expectations from both parent and child, the fear of failure, or a negative mindset. Other teen/pre-teen stressors that parents should be aware of are body image issues, as well as pressures arising from social networking. Read more »

Change The Way You Praise

In a 1988 US study, a group of nine and 10 year olds were given nonverbal IQ test questions to solve. Some children were praised for intelligence (“You must be smart at this”) while others were praised for effort (“You must have worked really hard”). The discovery was that kids praised for intelligence later avoided a challenging assignment—they wanted the easier questions that guaranteed success. Those praised for effort, however, saw the more difficult problems as opportunities for learning. Read more »

For Learning: Focus On “How,” Not “What”

“We used to live in a world where knowledge is king. That is passé now, as we have Google as our best friend that knows everything,” says Ryan Han of enrichment centre Happiness Makers, which runs problem-solving workshops for children. “We have become less focused on the ‘what’ and more on the ‘how,’ as the ‘how’ is what brings us ahead! For our children to thrive in this new economy, they need to be able to create innovative breakthroughs by integrating ideas from diverse fields to meet complex human needs.” Read more »

Be Cyber Savvy

Here’s a rule of thumb for online sharing, regardless of your age: if you’re not sure, don’t share it. Lead by example and show your children that content disseminators have a responsibility towards their followers—teach them how to assess if content is credible, and to focus on sharing only what they feel is useful or positive for others. Read more »

Make Helping A Habit

Anyone can make a difference, even a busy parent, says social worker Stephanie Chok, a mother of two who enjoys a fulfilling career at the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics. Here’s how you can start: “There must be something that creates an inner unease, that makes you think ‘That’s not right!’ or moves you when you read about it. Try and list five right now—GO!” Read more »