We all have come to love and embrace the show LionMums 2, and among many things, it discusses the very real problem of competitive parenting in Singapore. It shows how kiasu we can get in Singapore, especially when our children enter primary school.
Are we really more interested in how everyone else’s child is doing, rather than how our own child is progressing? And what exactly defines ‘progress’?
Actress and mummy of 2, Joanne Peh, recently revealed her own views on the issue, in an Instagram post, “My daughter hasn’t reached the primary school age, so things like enrichment haven’t found its way into our schedules yet. Right now at 2 years, I’m more focused on discovering her interests and engaging her senses through books and experiential learning.”
Has Joanne already started preparing Baby Qi for Primary 1, we wonder? She reveals, “Is the ultimate goal here to prepare her for Primary 1? Yes and no.”
“The processes she is experiencing increases her vocabulary sharpens her communication skills and helps her understand and apply simple concepts of Math. This does prepare her for Primary 1, but it isn’t the goal we are working towards.”
“My main aim isn’t just to make learning fun, but fun FOR HER. Which means I need to spend time understanding and reading her cues rather than feel pressured about what other parents are doing.”
Mummy Joanne seems to be a staunch supporter of ‘customised’ or ‘personalised’ learning. Which basically is the opposite of the “one size fits all” approach used in most schools. Every child learns differently, at her own pace, and this learning methodology caters to children based on their skills and interests.
PHOTO: INSTAGRAM / JOANNE PEH
“When learning becomes “customised”, there really isn’t room for competitive parenting because how do we compare bananas and eggplant, apples and oranges? I have always believed that we are our own competition.”
“If we don’t understand ourselves (or in this case our children), we won’t know how to unleash our (their) potential and excel in the areas we (they) are meant to shine in. So, for now, I’d walk the drain with her if she thinks it’s fun because curiosity is the key to knowledge.”
Competitive parenting in Singapore
How good or bad is competition for kids? Here are some cons of competitive parenting in Singapore:
- Lowers self-esteem: Every child is unique and special and possesses her own strengths and weaknesses. By comparing your child with someone else, you are actually belittling them.
If a child feels that he will be loved and accepted only if he’s the “first” and “best”, his self-esteem and mental health may suffer if he fails to meet expectations.
- Keeps children from enjoying their childhood: Childhood is precious. It is a journey of learning and exploration, and of developing your personality. Don’t kill it by focusing only on results.
Also, over competitiveness kills the simple joys of parenting and loving your children for what they are – your blessings from above.
- Fear of failure: If a child believes that winning is all that matters, he may avoid enriching and fun experiences for fear of failure.
Image source: iStock
Competitive parenting might however not be a totally ‘bad’ thing, and some children are known to thrive under pressure. My older daughter, for instance, seems to work much better when pushed, as compared to my younger child, who gets totally nervous when stressed.
It is unhealthy to shield a child from all competition, as failure is real and inevitable, and it’s important for a child to learn how to lose too. It’s normal to feel upset, angry and jealous when you don’t win, and children need to learn how to handle these emotions and move on in life.
Parents should perhaps foster a healthy competitive spirit in their children so that they can experience the full range of emotions, both positive and negative, associated with competing and doing their best.
As Joanne herself mentions in one of the comments to her post, “I think as parents, we all try to make decisions with our children’s best interests at heart. I do know of some kids who seem to do well and better with the competition, others are much more comfortable learning at their own pace.”
“So there isn’t a right or wrong. I think having more options available can help us discover what kind of learning is enjoyable and effective for them. And these could very change as they grow, which is really what makes parenting a life long journey.”
*This article is from our archives.
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