Teach kids skills to manage adversity, focus on their strengths

The commentary, "Don't forget the E word" (Oct 12), serves as a timely reminder to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to focus also on the soft side of a child's learning journey.

I would like to add on two more areas important to the development of our country's future leaders: managing adversity and focusing on one's strengths.

Everyone will have his fair share of ups and downs in life. All is good when outcomes are in our favour.

How one reacts to adversity, and how quickly and strongly one bounces back, determines one's adversity quotient. Managing adversity shapes one's character and serves to toughen one's mind.

Our children must learn that encountering challenges and failures is part and parcel of life and that it has nothing to do with bad luck.

They ought to be taught to take adversity in their stride, and learn the coping skills, and the difference between dealing with the "manageable" aspects of a problem and putting aside what is beyond their control.

Also, for far too long, parents and teachers alike have had a tendency to highlight to children their developmental gaps, rather than their strengths.

Studies have shown that human beings react much more positively to being told what they do well, rather than what they are not so good in.

Highlighting a child's strengths allows the child to have a positive outlook in life, and can make a key difference in having the child become a useful addition to society, or not.

The MOE has made progress, and must continue in its efforts to evolve our education system into one that is even more holistic.

Paul Heng