Helping your child succeed

By Minister Tan Chuan-Jin

As parents, we always want to give our children the best. I do believe that at the very least, we need to make a conscious choice to be active and present in our children’s lives. But then comes the hard part –what do we do next? 

How do we connect with our children when we can’t understand their lingo? How do we guide our children when they do not behave? I am sure we all have our own stories. Every day is a new challenge.

Let’s face it. Sometimes, we parents need a little help too. When our children came, they did not come with an instruction manuals did they?!

The journey to being a good parent

The reality is that parenting is like a running a marathon. You don’t just wake up one day and decide, “I am going to run 42km today”, and expect to complete the run in record time.

We need to learn about how we prepare ourselves. We need to spend months putting what we know into training and to consciously make changes to your diet and lifestyle. There is no ‘cheat sheet’ that will instantly transform you into the best marathon runner. Even when you are able to complete the marathon, you have to continue training to improve the time you take to finish the run.

It’s the same for parenting – we don’t become great parents overnight. Each child is a unique individual. Just because certain methods worked for us growing up, does not mean the same methods will work for our children. Parenting is an evolving process; as your child grows, you may have to adjust the way you guide them.

We brought in the evidence-based Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P) and have been running a two-year pilot here, involving over 5,000 parents. This programme has worked well in other countries, and the feedback here in our schools has been very encouraging. I was really glad to hear from the trainers directly. They were incredibly passionate and convinced by the effectiveness of the programme and had many stories to share. They were also motivated because they could see how parents were highly engaged, and had found the techniques and approaches useful.

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There was a mother whose child had a gaming addiction and she was at her wits end. Banning him from gaming wasn’t working. Triple P taught her to apply new skills to better engage and motivate her son – by setting limits, and affirming him when he kept to the agreed time.

We will be expanding this effort.

Singapore Parenting Congress

This weekend, I will be at the Singapore Parenting Congress as a guest panellist. Am looking forward to the dialogue with parents on being a Superhero to their kids. I for one am certainly not one…but am trying to be as best a father as I can be.

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Parenting is tough, with the many twists and turns, and ups and downs. But we will try and provide support and signposts to guide the way.

Let’s keep growing and learning as parents. There is no better feeling of accomplishment than seeing our children succeed in life and knowing that we had a hand in it. And there is no greater joy than in simply being a parent. This is one journey that is completely worth walking and running!