Event gives tips on addressing the needs and challenges young children face
Speakers From left: Ms Genevieve Chye, principal of Montfort Junior School; married couple Joann and John Ooi, and psychologist Adrian Lim. Speakers From left: Ms Genevieve Chye, principal of Montfort Junior School; married couple Joann and John Ooi, and psychologist Adrian Lim. About 100 parents attended a forum which aimed to help them support their primary-school children.

According to Family Life Society (FLS) executive director Paul Long, the Nov 15 event was a “progression” from a forum the society held last year for parents with children younger than seven.

The recent forum, titled Effective Parenting in the Primary Years, was held at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore auditorium.

Participants listened to sharings by John and Joann Ooi, a married couple with six children; Mr Adrian Lim, a counselling psychologist, and Ms Genevieve Chye, principal of Montfort Junior School.

Mr Ooi, who is FLS chairman, shared that parents often see their tasks “in a certain way without being conscious of it”.

Parenting, he noted, could be done according to two paradigms – bringing up children who excel academically, or bringing up children with character.

The latter, Mr Ooi said, is favourable but challenging as “the environment in Singapore pushes parents in one direction” – that of achieving academic excellence.

To build a child’s character, Mr Ooi encouraged parents to nurture their child’s self mastery and self esteem.

Self mastery, which is the child’s ability to control his or her actions, can only come when “we show our kids how it’s done and how they should follow”, said Mrs Ooi.

One way to build this is by setting up a “duty roster for household chores”, she said.

Setting a few rules is also useful, said Mr Ooi, but added that for this to work, the rules must be “agreed upon by both parents”.

Mr Ooi also stressed the importance of nurturing a child’s self worth.

It is vital for parents to have one-on-one time with each child, “doing something that the child likes”, said Mrs Ooi. “This would help [parents] find out what the child is passionate about.”

Above all, parents should also remember that it is the “love between father and mother [that] is the foundation of the family”, said Mr Ooi.

Counselling psychologist Adrian Lim then shared about the importance of the father’s role.

He said that fathers should be present for their daughters when they are between nine and 20 years old. “If the father is absent, the girl will look for another man” as a father figure, he said.

According to research Mr Lim cited, the first critical bonding stage of a boy’s life is between 18 months and five years old, where the role of the father is vital.

The second is between 11 and 14 years when “a boy needs to ... detach from the mother”. The father should then take over and help shape his male gender identity, he said.

Mr Lim also agreed with the previous speakers and stressed the importance of the parent-child relationship in a boy’s primary school years.

“Stability of the family affects a boy’s attitude, behaviour and coping,” Mr Lim said.

Ms Genevieve Chye, principal of Montfort Junior School,  shared some of her experiences in an all-boys primary school.

Speaking about the primary school curriculum, she encouraged parents to work around their schedules and set aside family time.

She also said that parents should “attend your child’s school activities” and stressed that in a meritocratic society, parents should “never reward achievement”.

“Reward effort,” she said.
A participant asking a question. A participant asking a question.

After the presentations, there was a question-and-answer session.

One woman asked how she could motivate her daughter to achieve her academic potential.

“Target setting is useful,” said Mrs Ooi.

Mr Lim added, “Let the child experience the joy of hard work.”

Another participant asked for advice on dealing with her son’s apparent addiction to video gaming.

As parents, Mr Lim said that as all games are addictive, “You need to do your research. You must understand the whole nature of ‘cyberwarfare’,” he said.

CatholicNews asked some parents for their comments on the forum.

Mr Vinoth Pieris, 35, an engineer with two daughters aged three and six, said Mr Lim’s sharing struck a chord.

“What he said coincides with my way of thinking. I agree that it’s important that we as parents give our children good support during different stages of their lives,” he said.

Mr Koh Yong Thye, 42 and his wife, Irene, 41, said they found the forum enlightening.

Mr Koh said he “now knows more about how different boys and girls are”.

He added that he liked how Mr Lim “went into detail about the importance of fathers.”

Mr Kent Olson, 44, an American who has lived in Singapore for six years, said he liked all three presentations “as each speaker gave different approaches”.

By Lorna O’Hara
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