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Children need affirmation to have sense of self-security

The unfortunate suicides of students concern me as the CEO of a local family charity and a mother (Death of Pri 5 student a deliberate act of suicide: Coroner’s Court; Oct 21).

Joanna Koh-Hoe, CEO, Focus on the Family Singapore

The unfortunate suicides of students concern me as the CEO of a local family charity and a mother (Death of Pri 5 student a deliberate act of suicide: Coroner’s Court; Oct 21).

It has been noted that academic pressure is one of the most common stressors cited by those aged 10 to 19 who engaged the services of the Samaritans of Singapore (Teen suicides last year highest in more than a decade, says SOS; Jul 25).

Recently, my organisation ran Race to Praise, a Children’s Day campaign encouraging parents to affirm their children for their positive attributes beyond the classroom. This helps children to know that they are unconditionally valued and loved, and not just for their grades.

As taught in our parenting workshop, Parenting with Confidence, children have five main emotional needs, which can be easily remembered by five As: Acceptance, affirmation, attention, affection, and accountability.

This is something both parents and schools can look out for in ensuring the emotional and psychological well-being of students.

Every child needs to know they are accepted by their parents and teachers for who they are, and not for what they can achieve academically.

Affirming children helps them to have a better sense of self-security and greater resilience against discouragement and difficulties.

When parents and teachers make themselves available for them, children understand that they are important and have self-worth. Giving them full and positive attention helps children to not act out in seeking negative attention.

Affection is a vital part of children’s everyday life. Notice the ways they prefer to receive affection and warmth. Showing them love in those ways would build greater connectedness with them.

Finally, loving and firm accountability guides children to grow in independence and self-direction. Using age-appropriate and consistent discipline enables children to develop character and self-esteem, which empowers them to take responsibility for their lives and make wise decisions.

Students need to be helped to understand that life is more than just grades, in school or at home. But in order for them to know this, parents and schools need to sing the same tune and be consistent in sending this message across to them.

One suicide is one suicide too many. More than helping our children to achieve a string of As, let’s also focus on the five As of their emotional needs to help them to achieve good emotional heath, which in turn will give them a better future.

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