Neighbours flocked to the Compassvale Link Chapel for community event

by Lee Choi Chan

It was the first time that residents surrounding the Compassvale Link Chapel came into the chapel one Saturday afternoon last month to attend an event.  The residents, mainly young couples, had come to listen to a talk on 'How to raise thriving kids' by Ms. Yeo Sha-en, an educator, and best-selling author.  She shared five things that parents should stop doing in their effort to raise happy children.

Young parents came with children

The event was organized by the Brigham Young University (BYU) Management Society, Singapore Chapter and the Compassvale Plains Residents' Committee.  It attracted over 50 young parents from the neighbourhood; a few came with their children.  They had come wanting to know how to help their children succeed in school and how they themselves could become more effective parents. 

'Must have more community events…'

'It is so good to see young parents from the neighbourhood coming into our building to attend this parenting talk, and treating it like a community centre,' said Michael Ang, the Director of the Public Affairs Council.  He continued, 'We should offer more activities like this one so that we can get to know our neighbours and they get to know us as friends.'

Grassroots leaders' positive response

When the BYU-Management Society approached Mr. Asraf, Chairman of the Compassvale Plains Residents' Committee, to jointly organize the event, he promptly supported the idea, saying that the residents would benefit from such a talk.  He arranged for posters announcing the event to be placed on the notice boards of HDB blocks and sent flyers to pre-school centres and kindergartens in the neighbourhood.  Members of the three wards meeting at the Compassvale Link chapel went knocking on doors to distribute flyers to the residents in the neighbourhood.

Support from three Bishoprics

Patrick Tan, President of the BYU Management Society said he was very encouraged by the response of the grassroots leaders willing support program.   He remarked that the Bishoprics of the three wards meeting at the chapel also offered great support.  Bishop Jason Foo of Ang Mo Kio Ward assigned the youths to manage the car park and acted as ushers.  The Relief Society sisters from Bedok and the Fourth Ward took care of the refreshments while Bishop John Holten and wife Siow Lian of Bedok Ward acted as greeters.

Here's a summary of the talk on 'How To Raise Thriving Kids'

#1 Stop striving for perfection

Do not expect your kids to execute perfect moves in their motor skills.  Do not be upset should your children make a mess at the dining table.  Mastering motor skills cannot be developed in one try.  It takes time.  Remember, the children are doing their very best; so as parents, do your best also to appreciate what they are trying to do.

#2 Stop overparenting

'Helicopter parents' are over-protective parents, watching over every move their children make. Do not be afraid to let your children make mistakes.  Parents, it is okay to let your children fall so that they can build skills. Do not breathe down on your children.

#3 Stop being passive

Do not be bogged down by statements such as 'We have to…' and 'We have no choice….'  As parents, know what you want and what's good for your children instead of being pulled by the external factors.  In other words, you don't need to do what other parents are doing.  For example, you don't need to send your children for tuition or extracurricular classes just because everyone else is doing it. Decisions should be based on what is workable for the family and what your children need.

#4 Stop dismissing emotions

Children should be given permission to express their emotions.  Acknowledging your child's emotions is sending a message to him that it is quite normal to have good and bad feelings.  However, if your child expresses his feelings in a destructive manner, then it is not acceptable.  There should be a distinction between emotions and unacceptable behaviours.  Touching base with your children' feelings helps them to build trust.

#5 Stop fixing them

As parents, do not constantly intervene to fix the wrongs committed by your children.  Focus on the strengths of each child rather than harp on his weaknesses.  Too much focus on weaknesses can damage any child's self-confidence and development. 

To emphasize this point, Ms. Sha-en asked the participants to write down the strengths of their children and share them with another person.  Most admitted that they had not done such a simple exercise before but found it fun and encouraging – they said they would do that exercise more frequently.

Final advice for parents

The speaker offered one advice to the parents: Invest in your self.  She said, 'As parents, we sometimes neglect ourselves and forget to replenish our own reservoirs.  This is vital.  Parents need to put themselves in the best state of well-being to be able to respond to the needs of their children.'

Participants' comments

One elderly participant said he thought the advice given to the young parents were equally applicable to grandparents who spend time with their grandchildren.

Vincent Tey, a financial advisor who came with his wife said, 'The tips are really helpful, even for us with teenagers at home.'