“Not again~..! Why are you making the same mistake again?…”,
“…How many times do we have to go through this again? This should be multiplication, NOT Division! Why can’t you read the question carefully…,
“I’m so tired after work.. And I still have to come home and teach you…”,
“…Why can’t you finish your work on your own?…”,
“Why are you so stupid!.. this question is so simple but you don’t understand…”
These are just a few of the many comments we hear from parents when we speak to them during our Telephone consultations. Some parents will rant, some will laugh it off and some parents, will break down over the phone.
Sometimes, it can get quite hard to listen to some of the stories that we hear from parents. Many of the emotions were raw and some of the stories are heart-wrenching. It is sometimes through these telephone consultations that we realised that we are the only outlet for a parent to speak up. Many parents share the challenges they faced when teaching their children or the problems that their children are facing in school. Parents often blame themselves up for their children’s failures or are at a loss at how to help their children.
On one hand, we want our children to have a childhood like ours – carefree and happy. On the other, you worry if they could catch up with the ever-changing school syllabus and be well prepared for their PSLEs, O Levels, N Levels or other exams. We all have expectations for our children and we do definitely wish for them to do well in life and have a bright future. It’s not a new-age thing nor is it a first-world problem. This is a very innate and natural instinct of a parent. The hardest thing to do is to strike a balance of being a loving parent but also a strict one. We understand that.
So how can you strike a balance? Here are some of our suggestions.
- Good cop, Bad Cop. This is very common in traditional families in Asia and Singapore. Our culture is less conservative compared to that of the 60’s but traditions run deep. Usually the Fatherly figure will pose as the Bad Cop while Mother, the all-encompassing figure, will be the Good Cop. If this method is already working for you, Hooray!
- Stop giving yourself pressure and manage your own expectations. Take a step back and observe at how you are reacting towards your child, especially when you are teaching them. Sometimes, you unwittingly bring your emotions or stress from a previous event or work, to the moment. When you realise that you are about to have a Chernobyl meltdown, step away to wash your face, or get a glass of water. Usually it is also a signal for you to take a break. Let your child do his/her work first and attempt the ones that he/she are unsure of. If not, skip the ones that your child is stuck on. Dwelling on stuck questions is not a good habit. Skip and we can come back to work on them later.
- You have to let your child do the work. It is not going to be perfect but that is the point. Learning from mistakes is the fastest way to learn. Helping them solve their problems for them, by directly intervening, you are robbing them of an opportunity to grow. You can show them the ropes, then let them follow-through. Guide them but not excessively. Just like how you let your child learn to walk those baby steps. Only by letting go of their hands, can they truly be able to balance on their own.
- Every child has a story to tell, just like you and me. When was the last time you really sat down and listened to your child’s ramblings or stories in school? Sometimes, all they need is a listening ear. You just need to have a strong heart to listen to some of the things they share with you.
- Have a break in between work. Do you notice or realised if your child is trying to communicate with you that they may be burnt out or overloaded? Do you see their silent expressions? Talk about other things during the break that is not related to their school work. Maybe you can talk about the latest trends. Remember all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.
- This method is really tough, especially when you realise your child is walking-all-over-you. They do not listen to you, they “bully” you into getting their way, they basically take you for granted. This is where you draw the line in the sand. You have to be firm with them. No ifs, no buts, no coconuts. Letting them know that there are consequences to their actions.
- Lastly, if you are really at a loss, and despite whatever methods you have tried, your child is still confused, we suggest you get third party help from people like your other family members, your child’s school teachers, a private tutor, tuition centres or website or self-help communities. Ask around. Do not be shy. You will be surprised when you ask for help because you realised that you are not fighting your battles alone.
In the end, all we want is for our children to grow up to be happy and successful individuals. It is very tough to be a parent in the twentieth-century. Especially when you have to juggle both your work and life. There are no fast and hard rules because every child is unique. No two children are the same, and the same goes for you and me.
Find your own unique way to communicate with your child. Do not be dismayed when it does not work immediately. Instead, keep working on it. If it does not work, try other methods.