We all want a fruitful future for our children. However, in our anxiety to provide the “right” kind of guidance to our children, we may inadvertently impose our strong notions on them. Therefore, it is crucial to take a step back and recognise our children’s aspirations and help put their dreams front and centre.
So how can we play a more mindful role in supporting our children? Here are five tips from Mdm Choy Wai Yin, Director of Guidance Branch, MOE, which she shared at a recent transition seminar organised by the ministry.
1. Listen Before You Communicate.
It’s essential to have conversations with your children from time to time. However, parents should keep such discussions natural and comfortable for your children. Take the chance to listen to your children first about the kind of activities they enjoy. Observe their body language and emotions to understand their thoughts better, and respond to their answers with empathy. This way, parents could play an active role in their children’s wants and needs.
2. Avoid Preaching.
While it’s understandable for parents to talk down to our children because we are their seniors, just handing out solutions or advice can feel condescending and ultimately turn them off. When our children open up to us, it means that they trust us. Sometimes, they may not be looking to us to help them solve a problem – they just want a listening ear or an opinion that could help them make inferences. Preaching also deprives our children of the chance to make sense of issues and develop social-emotional competencies to manage problems on their own. Hear their views before you give yours and be open to discussions, debates – and disagreements! It provides a robust platform and experience for them to think about different approaches, perspectives and views.
3. Show, Don’t Tell.
Instead of telling your children how to solve their problems in life, show them the solution through anecdotes of your personal experiences from work to illustrate how we also face similar challenges. When we role model problem solving and decision making, our children are watching and learning. The point lies in guiding them to look for information, develop discernment and make sound decisions.
4.Explore Their Strengths and Passions.
Not all children have a singular passion or know what they want and like, or even what talent they have right from the start. In this regard, parents could instead help their children to develop a basket of strengths. Whether these strengths or interests turn out to be a hobby choice or something that influences the children in their education and career paths, parents could let them explore and enjoy the journey – but we should always be there to guide as needed.
5. Work with Schools.
It’s also essential for us to communicate with our children’s teachers to better understand their interests, strengths and aptitudes. Ask not just how they are performing academically, but also how they are interacting with their peers, how they are working with others, and how they are doing in their CCAs and other school programmes.