Using Positive Words to Resolve Your Child’s Problems


In our pursuit to ensure that our child earns the top grades, we might end up saying hurtful things that will instead affect their emotional growth and create long term anxiety. So how can parents better convey their well-meaning intentions? Three teachers are here to share their advice.

Eilina Look, Upper Primary Year Head

Parents can find ways to strengthen their parent-child relationships by knowing the child, relating to the child and influencing the child. Know your child’s problems at school, relate to them via your own experiences at work, and influence them by advising the kind of actions you would take in the face of distractions, discomfort or adversity at work. Instead of interrogating them about their school life, make your child feel like they can open up to you as an equal who also struggles with work. It’s far more effective that way to get a conversation going.

Chong Hui Hui, Secondary School Mathematics Teacher

To better relate to the child, parents should try to put themselves in their shoes. Keep practising at having open conversations and refrain from immediately overriding or dismissing their views – to show that you respect your child as an individual. This is key to establishing trust and a long-lasting relationship.

Instead of merely blaming the child for a slip-up, parents can try probing a little deeper into why, for example, they did not tidy their room. Instead of saying “Why is it so difficult for you to clean up?”, which sounds very accusatory, work with them to address the specific reasons behind their tardiness. Then ask them to propose a solution. (You could give suggestions, such as helping them to break their solution into smaller steps to achieve small goals. But ultimately, they need to agree with their solution and how to get there, or there would be no sense of ownership.) Be prepared to tweak the plan if things do not turn out as expected the first few times.

Koh Ee Hway, Junior College Chemistry Teacher

When children make a mistake in their behaviour, there are ways to guide them to see beyond just avoiding getting in trouble or getting scolded.

For instance, instead of merely saying “Don’t argue with me”, give precise feedback on what is upsetting you. Say “I don’t appreciate your tone. I know you are angry but it is not a nice thing to do. Can we talk about this at a later time when you’ve calmed down?”.

Then, at an opportune time, reflect on the behaviour and suggest ways to change it. (“Remember the time when you were upset? We agreed on how to deal with this.”)

Remember to close the loop with your child to reinforce the learning on an encouraging note. (“That wasn’t so bad! Look how far you’ve come along. You can do hard things and I’m proud of you.”.)

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