From a young age, many children are signed up for tuition classes to score better in examinations they sit for and are pushed to develop extracurricular skills, such as coding, music or sports, that will look impressive to their next education institution and eventually on their resumes.
Often, parents do this in a bid to “keep up with the Tans” next door. While encouraging your children to be the best version of themselves can set them up for success, there’s no denying that children in Singapore are placed in highly stressful situations on a daily basis.
Successful learning often requires children to have both a healthy mind and body. This can affect their ability to focus and learn, as well as have a big impact on their attitude towards learning.
To ensure you do not neglect this aspect of your child’s development, here are five things you can do to help your child upkeep a healthy mind and body.
#1 Eating habits
In 2017, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported that children in Singapore were increasingly unhealthy, with 13% of students in mainstream schools overweight compared to 11% in 2011.
As your children grow up, the eating decisions they make in school will be based on the habits that parents have inculcated in them from young. This means each mealtime at home presents a valuable opportunity to teach your children good eating habits.
Going beyond this, parents have to be a role model by setting a good example. This could mean implementing a regular eating pattern, including waking up earlier each morning to eat a healthy breakfast, avoiding sugary snacks or heavy suppers before bedtime as well as limiting your consumption of fast food. In addition, parents should make it a priority to include as many fruits and vegetables into their meals to ensure their children consume these.
#2 Keeping active
In the increasingly digital world we live in, everything from learning to working to playing has gone online. This has resulted in many individuals leading an increasingly inactive lifestyle. In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) one in three people in Singapore do not get enough physical activity.
Your children’s future may be even more intertwined with the digital world. If you do not keep fit and active, your children will likely not adopt such habits either.
One way to encourage your children to keep active is to involve them in fitness activities with you. This way, you and your children will be staying active together.
You should also let your children just be children by getting them to interact with their peers over play time. This allows them to use, and hone, their interpersonal and problem-solving skills with other children.
#3 Going beyond the classroom
As your children grow, there will be occasions when they are confused or inquisitive. Parents should enable this expansive learning behaviour rather than confining them to only textbooks.
Libraries offer a diverse selection of topics they can pick up an interest in, as well as activities they can participate in. Bringing them to places such as the beach, zoo or botanical gardens for family outings can be fun-filled and offer a learning opportunity. You can also get your children to volunteer their time for a good cause they believe in to open them up to new experiences.
This gets your children out of classrooms and away from their electronic devices, prompting them to think about what matters to them and how they want to spend their free time.
#4 Nurturing close relationships
Spending quality time with your children can be an enriching experience for both you and your children.
Besides that, it also creates a safe environment for your children to be themselves, providing them a listening ear when they vocalise their thoughts and ask questions. This enables children to grow in confidence and leadership, and allows parents to understand their children better. You can use this setting to steer greater understanding into certain topics or situation, and get your child to understand your point of view in handling the situation.
At the end of the day, you want to build a safe environment where your children can come to you for advice if they have questions, rather than try to figure it out on their own or turn to their friends or online where they may get harmful advice.
#5 Sufficient rest
Pushing your children to achieve more and become better is for their benefit. However, we need to ensure this is balanced with giving them ample space to grow in other areas, as well as ensuring they get sufficient rest.
A regular bedtime schedule gives your child familiarity, helping him or her fall asleep more easily.
Setting up a routine around your child’s bedtime can also be beneficial to inculcate good habits and by regulating your child’s body clock. You can get your child to brush their teeth, change into pyjamas and tuck them in with a story.
Reducing the amount of stress that our children face
There are already many sources of stress in your children’s lives in Singapore. As parents, it is your duty to help them navigate the stresses while ensuring you set them up for success.
You should not be seen as another source of stress that your children have to answer to.
Inevitably stress and other pressure points in life can lead to mental disorders. In Singapore, one in seven people have suffered a mental disorder in their lifetime. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Singapore also had the highest rate of depression in Asia in 2015.
In trying to do its part to tackle mental illness, AIA recently introduced AIA Beyond Critical Care, a first-in-kind plan that offers mental wellness benefit, for five prominent mental illnesses, in addition to its primary critical illness coverage.
AIA Beyond Critical Illness offers policyholders up to 200% of coverage for 43 major stage critical illnesses, and five rediagnosed or recurred critical illness. This means that after a first 100% payout, coverage for policyholders will be restored to a full 100% after 12 months of the first claim.
Moreover, policyholders who do not make a claim will receive 100% premium refunds at the end of your policy term. In the event of death, a lump sum payout will be given to your loved ones.