Parents say their number one regret is spending too much time at work during their children’s early years, according to a survey conducted by three students from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information.
More than 95 percent of parents have at least one thing they regret doing – or not doing – during their children’s formative years.
The poll of 250 parents in Singapore found spending too much time at work was the biggest regret, followed by not having a shared hobby with their children.
It revealed that 74 percent of parents spend only three to four hours on a typical day with their children, with a majority citing work as the primary obstacle to devoting more time to their kids.
The survey found that 23 percent of parents regret not developing a shared hobby with their children, such as camping or playing a sport together – activities that would help in developing a child’s problem-solving abilities and social intelligence.
Research indicates that such activities contribute to improving a child’s social and emotional intelligence, skills that are fundamental to a child’s mental development in the long term.
In response, three undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have spearheaded a social campaign to encourage parents to think about the best way to spend time with their child to improve their mental wellbeing.
Dubbed The Happiness Revolution: Best Gift for Your Child, the youth-led initiative has reached out to over 2,300 parents at community outreach events in January this year.
“We want to alert parents that a child’s mental wellbeing is just as important as her physical health; a child with a high emotional IQ is better able to cope with her feelings and forge stronger relationship with others,” said Ms. Yap, one of the students involved in the project.
In just two days, over 300 parents have pledged to provide the best gift for their children as a step towards a more successful and happier life.
“Children learn to manage their emotions by observing how other family member express and manage their emotions. So in a huge way, parents play a critical role in modelling how to respond to strong feelings,” said team member Ms. Joyce Lim, 23.
The survey conducted by the youth-led initiative revealed that work and school obligations were the biggest obstacles to parent-child engagement.
Experts have cited a culture of digital and electronic distraction as another obstacle toward parent-child engagement.
“Today there is hardly an intuitive moment for parents to engage their kids because of a culture of distraction that wasn’t present in the past,” said child psychologist Ms. Anne Chua.
In spite of the obstacles, Ms. Chua stressed the importance of initiating activities that would encourage children to think about their social skills.
“It could be something as simple as a quiz or treasure hunt where kids interact with their peers and learn how to negotiate decisions,” she said, noting that such behavior reflects the development of social skills.
“As young people enter adulthood, social literacy becomes essential in building relationships and securing job interviews in almost every career,” said team member Ms. Lee.
“Having a good foundation from the start goes a long way.”