How can we raise our children to be ready for the world of tomorrow?
Parenting is a lifelong journey, and as we strive to offer our best to our children, we also wish to prepare them for their future.
Besides a safe and loving environment, we work hard at meeting their needs and support their holistic development. Family values are also integral aspects of one’s character, and parents explore ways to impart good values to nurture responsible citizens of the world.
Let’s find out what values are important to families in Singapore, and how do parents teach their children these great values!
#1: Values are part of our daily lives
In school where Civics and Moral Education (CME) was part of the curriculum, we learned about moral values through stories and examples. At home, parents appreciate the importance of imparting positive values at an early age, as they set the foundation of one’s character which translates into how they interact with others around them.
To that, Evangeline Yang, mother of two, shares her beliefs that her kids should be “man or woman of what they say”. Through speech, behaviour and actions, children pick up these values through those around them. Leading by example is an effective way of getting their children to understand and appreciate the importance of positive values.
Through interaction with others, children may also pick up the “wrong” concepts and ideas which they may not be able to differentiate during their toddler years. As Dominique Goh, mother of three notes, “… don’t put up with those adults or kids who refuse to exhibit such moral standards.”
#2: Learn to be contented, appreciate life and others
Much has been said that the younger generation seem to have a huge sense of self-entitlement, stemming from their ‘me-centric’ mindset.
My boy is only two-and-a-half years old so he’s at the very self-centred stage. But, we are trying to teach him to share with others, and take turns. We also always stop to admire caterpillars or a yellow bird on our way to childcare, because we need to appreciate all these little things!
— Serynn Guay
To that, experts analyse that toddlers are at the phase where they are self-centred, and it is a normal part of their social and emotional development. During this period, parents can encourage autonomy, and allow toddler to have the feeling of self-control.
In the daily pursuit of wants and needs, we might forget to appreciate what we have, and lose sight about the amount of happiness accumulated. No thanks to the chase of ‘a better life’, or, ‘more things’, where it is always about the grass being greener on the other side, contentment becomes a moving goalpost.
As Andrea Kang Gruszka, mother of two under two-year-old, laments. “I just pray and hope that my kids do not spend their days comparing and always wishing and hoping… I guess I’ll just have to start with myself.”
Appreciate the simple things and being happy with what we already have allow our children to embrace the value of gratefulness and learn to be contented too.
#3: Effort and results are related
Citing examples of her five-year-old and two-year old, Janice Wong shares that as her kids watch her juggle work, home-schooling and parenting, she believes her actions speak for itself in allow her kids to understand that hard work is important. She hopes to instill in them that “nothing free falls down from the sky… don’t take anything for granted. Work hard but smart too.”
Like Andrea and Serynn, Janice is also a firm believer about having her kids dispel any sense of entitlement. The right working attitude has an impact on effort and results too. During the process, having the right manners is a behaviour Janice hopes her young children adopt.
Our P’s and Q’s are integral as they are an extension of how we treat others too.
#4: The value of love springboards to greater depth
Walking the talk is important and for Jessica Kong, she feels that children need to be respected too.
“We believe that when children feel respected and see us respecting others, they take on the same values too,”
— Jessica Kong
Furthermore, children are keen observers who learn values such as empathy and kindness through role model. As parents, what we do and say influences our children more than we might think.
She adds, “We show adequate care for them when they are hurt or when they get punished for a wrong doing. However, instead of asking my six-year-old son not to cry and be a ‘big boy’ when he falls, we offer suggestions to help distract him about the pain. When he gets punished for a bad behaviour, we will acknowledge his feelings after the incident and find out his reasons for his behaviour. We will always hug and remind him that he is loved but the behaviour is unacceptable, and soon realised that he adopts the same method when his sister gets punished. He would empathise and saying (care for her) her the same way we did to him.”
#5: Teaching children the right values need not be 100% serious work
In all seriousness, raising children with positive values may seem like a tall order, some parents find ways to do it through light-hearted manners.
Mother of two, Liang May, says of her husband “who wants to teach his children ‘others before self’ with the underlying virtue of kindness. He does so by example but is also quick to add that ‘your father is the most selfless guy! Why (are) you so selfish!’ when he speaks to our children!”
Clearly a sense of humour is a trait our kids could do with as they get ready to tackle life’s challenges.
“We do this by demonstrating it in the way we work, live and play. Being consistent in our parenting approach is also important. For example, if I tell my son not to spend too much time on his smartphone, I should do the same too.”
— Father of a teenage son, Walter Lim, sums up our effort in nurturing children with the right values
Wise words of advice indeed from fellow parents. After all parenting is a learning journey for both children and adults. When it comes to raising world-ready children, growing up with the right values help develop a person’s character and attitude, as they prepare to step into their future.