Parent-child connection crucial to well-being of young

Research has shown that young people with a strong and close relationship with their parents are more likely to also report lower levels of depressive symptoms, suicide thoughts, self-harm and conduct problems.
Research has shown that young people with a strong and close relationship with their parents are more likely to also report lower levels of depressive symptoms, suicide thoughts, self-harm and conduct problems.PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

We are deeply concerned that the number of suicides for male teenagers aged 10 to 19 hit a record high last year (Record 19 teenage boys committed suicide last year, July 30).

Research has shown that young people with a strong and close relationship with their parents are more likely to also report lower levels of depressive symptoms, suicide thoughts, self-harm and conduct problems.

Such youth were more likely to report higher levels of self-esteem and better use of their free time.

Connectedness to parents has been found to be especially important for the well-being of the young.

Parents, therefore, play a crucial role in protecting adolescents against the risk of suicide when they invest time and effort to build a stronger relationship with their teenagers.

One way they can do this is to equip themselves with parenting books or attend parenting workshops.

Focus on the Family Singapore, for example, conducts parent-coach dialogues, in which an experienced family coach helps parents take a targeted and intentional approach to parenting their unique child.

When it comes to boys, parents can help their sons with their ability to regulate their emotions.

Parents can be mindful about how boys experience and express certain emotions. For example, when boys are anxious, it may manifest in defiant or rebellious conduct because they are acting out their anxiety. They may not know how to talk about their anxiety and other overwhelming emotions, and so, they express it through oppositional behaviour.

In these moments, instead of responding with a reprimand or punishment, it can be more helpful if parents first calm their sons down and assure them of their love for them, then teach them to identify and talk about what they are feeling, and deal with these emotions in a healthy way.

With practice, boys will be more able to regulate their difficult emotions and adopt more productive behaviour when they face challenging circumstances.

As parents build a strong and close relationship with their sons, as well as guide them to develop emotional regulation skills, they are playing the essential role of nurturing their sons' resilience and protecting them from the risk of suicide.

Raphael Zhang

Family Life Specialist

Focus on the Family Singapore