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Words of parents have greatest impact on kids' self-esteem

I felt compelled to write in after reading Associate Professor Teo You Yenn's findings (When kids say 'I lazy what'; Feb 4) and Ms Maria Loh Mun Foong's letter (Standards in Pri 1 can dent child's self-esteem; Feb 8).

My daughter just entered Primary 1 and received her first ever spelling test in the second week. She had moved up from a kindergarten run by the Ministry of Education, and we believed its system and learning journey to be complementary to the primary school's curriculum.

So far, she has failed all her spelling tests.

Initially, she was down in spirit and the thought of yet another upcoming spelling test would make her anxious and demoralised. However, we continually assured her that we did not expect her to ace the tests and instead encouraged her to put in her best effort.

During the weekly 30-minute spelling revisions, we sat with her while she practised, providing the much-needed encouragement and guidance.

While I am confident that the current education system will evolve for the better over time, the most important factor that affects children's self-esteem, confidence and morale is the reactions and words of the parents, which have the greatest impact in making or breaking our little ones.

Children are naturally inquisitive learners. Their inquisitiveness is an important life skill. Hence, we should focus on encouraging them to read widely and develop important character values, instead of just focusing on their academic results.

Behind every motivated and well-adjusted child are neither tuition centres nor enrichment programmes, but their supportive parents who must be good role models, provide guidance and unconditionally love them for who they are.

Tan Chin Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 18, 2018, with the headline 'Words of parents have greatest impact on kids' self-esteem'. Print Edition | Subscribe