Speak with them, spend time with them and understand who they are – these, said counsellors and psychologists, are several key steps in building stronger relationships with children, who will in turn be more open about sharing their problems.
Dr Thomas Lee, medical director and consultant psychiatrist at The Resilienz Clinic, said children at the age of 12 and below are still developing emotionally and mentally. He said: “They don’t know how to talk about their feelings.”
Ms Pamela See, an educational and developmental psychologist from Th!nk Psychological Services, said: “If parents are encouraging and allow open communication, their kids are more likely to share their difficulties with them knowing that they will get the support.”
Parenting coach Cheren Kwong believes parents must spend quality time with their children, instead of being “too engrossed in work or their phones”.
Psychologist Daniel Koh from Insights Mind Centre explained that communication with children must go beyond what parents deem as “important”, such as if homework is done or they have revised for tests.
Related: How to help child do better in school
Parents must show interest in their children’s lives beyond how they fare in their studies, said counsellor Madelin Tay, from Family Central, a service of Fei Yue Community Services. “If we focus on just the academic aspects, kids may feel accepted only when they have measured up or when they have achieved. Kids want to know that they are accepted unconditionally,” she added.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for youth services at the Singapore Children’s Society, said: “When children see their parents’ faces, they see a validation of love – whether they come in first or last, whether they win or lose.”
Mr Bimal Rai, an educational psychologist from Reach Therapy Services, said: “Parents need to manage their expectations and be mindful of what they convey to children.
“At the moment, the message that seems to define our culture is ‘you must do well, the Primary School Leaving Examination is very important’.”
Instead, the focus should be on helping children be more resilient when they fail and providing unconditional support.
Said Dr Balhetchet: “We have been brought up with so…