Forum: Power of emotional connection between parent and child

When parents cultivate a warm, supportive and loving relationship with their children, the child is at lower risk of social and emotional problems and negative risk-taking behaviours later in life.
When parents cultivate a warm, supportive and loving relationship with their children, the child is at lower risk of social and emotional problems and negative risk-taking behaviours later in life.PHOTO: ST FILE

The challenges parents face while coaching children to keep up with academic rigour have been in the news recently (Families spent $1.4b on extra tuition for children last year, Sept 7; Some parents take issue with PSLE 2019 maths paper and call it 'exceptionally difficult'; ST Online, Oct 1).

I recognise that every parent has his children's best interests at heart, and wants to provide them with the best resources to get a head start in life.

At the same time, it is key that in the pursuit to help children thrive academically, parents also invest in building up their social and emotional competencies. This is best developed when they take time to foster greater parent-child connectedness through intentional communication and meaningful interaction with children.

When parents cultivate a warm, supportive and loving relationship with their children, the child is at lower risk of social and emotional problems and negative risk-taking behaviours later in life. He is also more likely to have positive and healthy relationships in both childhood and adulthood.

As part of Focus on the Family Singapore's annual Children's Day campaign Race to Praise this year, it conducted an online survey with more than 600 parents, asking them to share their parenting styles, challenges and interactions with their children.

Focus on the Family observed that one in five parents experienced high levels of connectedness with their children. These parents spend one-on-one time with their children, say "I love you" and play with their children regularly. Most distinctively, they are also clued in to their child's thoughts and feelings.

Among parents whose children discussed their feelings openly with them, more than half of them felt that their children were also willing to tackle a challenge again after failure.

Children need their parents to tune in emotionally and not just physically. Parents' emotional connection with their children sets the foundation for the development of their emotional resilience, empathy for others, and other abilities, such as problem-solving and relationship-building skills.

These findings suggests that children need their parents to tune in emotionally and not just physically. Parents' emotional connection with their children sets the foundation for the development of their emotional resilience, empathy for others, and other abilities, such as problem-solving and relationship-building skills.

Parents cannot shield their children from every test, obstacle and challenge, but they can cultivate in them the right tools of resilience and confidence to tackle life's problems.

Judith Alagirisamy

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2019, with the headline 'Power of emotional connection between parent and child'. Print Edition | Subscribe