25 ways to be a better parent

Singapore Parenting Congress 2016 ended with a lively discussion on how we can parent more effectively in this tech-savvy era.


The final, almost-three-hour-long session of Singapore Parenting Congress 2016 was a bonanza of child-rearing advice and tips from the panel of parents and experts. Hosted by 938LIVE’s Susan Ng, the dialogue was attended by:

Peter Lim, parent of Ethan, 5, one of the children featured in Channel NewsAsia’s Don’t Kid Around.
Dr Khoo Kim Choo, Adjunct Associate Professor at the National University of Singapore, who teaches at SIM University.
Esther Lai, counsellor with Touch Community Services and popular marriage prep speaker
Jeff Cheong, member of the Families for Life Council and Media Literacy Council
Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development and Manpower
Diana Ser, media personality and founder of Crazy about Chinese
Steven Chia, presenter for Channel NewsAsia
Edmund Tay, daddy blogger (edunloaded.com) and member of the Media Literacy Council.

We present useful takeaways from the session…

Keep on talking to your kids
We talk about when they’re teenagers or in their 20s — but a lot of [parenting] is…in their foundational years. The key thing is you’re there to listen to them, let them talk about how they feel, acknowledge their feelings. And also to praise them when they have done well. It’s a whole conversation as you grow with your kids and you talk through each situation and help them contextualise what they are feeling, what they can learn from it. And you share with them your own lessons in life…
Tan Chuan-Jin

Teach junior to be a humble winner
[My wife and I] encourage our kids not to go around telling everyone “Oh, I did this very well”, [telling our kids] “If you did well in a certain subject, perhaps you have more of a capacity to help another student!”
Jeff Cheong

Teach your offspring how to handle failure
Children [need to] learn to deal with failure and also…know that to make mistakes, to fail, is okay. They should know that if they’ve tried their best, but somebody else did better — it’s okay.
Dr Khoo Kim Choo

Build up your child’s sense of self
Don’t be reluctant to praise your kids. Don’t be stingy with encouragement... We mustn’t think only in terms of academic areas, but things that will help our children to feel secure, to feel good about themselves, to have confidence, to have self-worth. They may be good in art, they may be good in music, they may be good in other things that may not bring them as much money but that bring them a lot more happiness.
Dr Khoo Kim Choo

Stress what matters more than getting straight As…
We see our peers, not all of us are all straight-A students — some of us don’t particularly do well in school, but we all find our own niche in time. There are a lot of other things that are important: Values, your character — which is something that I consider very important.
Tan Chuan-Jin

Recruit younger kids to help the elder
When my elder son was preparing for his PSLE, we made it a family affair. We turned off the TV — no TV for anybody — and my younger son would be “helping” his brother, reminding him “You have to make sure you clear the exam, then we all get to celebrate again!”
Esther Lai

Recruit elder kids to help the younger
My daughter in P4 likes to solve problems, so [we tell her] that the P1 daughter has a very serious problem, and how would she solve it? Then she’s say, “Okay, Janet, this is what you do… You tell your friend this …” And they are able to interact. I think translates into quite a nice relationship.
Jeff Cheong

When sibs fight #1 ― Make them take turns
I have 3 kids — 11, 9 and 8 — they squabble about everything: Who gets to sit in the corner in the car, who gets the centre seat, the TV, who gets the remote… That’s the tough part of being a parent, not only must we be the role model but we must come in and be the referee as well. But they need to understand that each one has got to take his or her own turn. And when they understand the dynamics of that, when we talk them through it, I think that really helps. It’s always part of growing up because as long as you’re not the only child, this type of squabble will always exist.
Edmund Tay

When sibs fight #2 ― Teach them resilience
I think it’s great that the kids fight sometimes because we had talked earlier about resilience and I think a part of resilience is being able to get along with other people and bounce back when your emotions are hurt as well.
Diana Ser

When sibs fight #3 ― Try this handy tactic
Both of mine were fighting over toys. And I got called in like Justice Bao, and they present their cases and I said “It’s not your fault at all. It’s the fault of the toy! See this is the one that’s causing you to have the fight. See?” I went to get a clear Ziploc bag and I put that toy in there and I said “This one, going to remand, 24 hours!” Then I told them “Any other toy that gives you a problem, just call me. I’m just in the kitchen, right?” So, no more fighting.
Esther Lai

How to be your child’s hero in four easy steps, plus, dealing with kids and tech. Did we mention tech?