At the recent CGI-Asia Conference 2010, Dr. Carol Yeo taught conference delegates how to look to the Bible for parenting lessons.
|CN PHOTO: Koh Meng Kwang
“Just as God is the same yesterday, today and forever, parenting is also the same in the past, today and in future. It is the same in Singapore and in any other country. The only difference is in the culture,” declared Dr. Carol Yeo in the elective “Parenting For Today”, held as part of the CGI-Asia Conference 2010.
Yeo, a school psychologist who has worked as a senior guidance specialist and educational psychologist at the Ministry of Education (Singapore), started the session talking about how precious children are. She laid the foundation by reminding parents that children are blessings of the Lord—meant to make one rich and not sorrowful—and how children like to boast about their fathers. Tasked with such an important role of being role models, parents must be good stewards of their children.
Throughout the session, Yeo used examples from the Bible and her research based on surveys done locally and in the West to explain how increase in affection, behavior control, home learning activities and communication with the child’s teachers are likely to have a positive influence on the child’s overall development, conduct and education success. She explained that in a survey done in Singapore, children in pre-school require more nurturing for healthier emotional development. Hugs and reassurances will help them greatly, while children in kindergarten and primary school need more encouragement for the development of healthy self-concept. As they are more imaginative and enthusiastic at that age, appropriate praises should be given to promote their creativity and develop their confidence. If children are not constantly encouraged, they will develop a fear in speaking in public, and eventually, an inferiority complex.
Yeo emphasized that just as the Bible speaks in Proverbs 22:6 of the importance of training up a child, there is a need to provide structure for the children during activities, reinforce rules consistently, and set high expectations. In a survey done among the Primary 4 pupils in Singapore, a co-relation between behavior control and results was shown. However, she made it clear that because every child is unique, the training for each child will differ. Ultimately, children need a sense of autonomy over their lives for the development of overall mental health, too much restraint or punishment will cause shame and doubt to develop in the child.
Tan Soon Yen, a mother of a 6-year-old girl from a Methodist church in Malaysia left the room feeling more empowered to raise her daughter. Speaking in Mandarin, she said, “I must be careful with my tone of voice and facial expressions. I don’t want to put her on a guilt trip.” She is also determined to constantly check on her daughter’s progress in school, to take an active role in assisting her academically and giving her any other encouragement she needs.
In the session, Yeo also addressed the concerns of parents for using alternative care-givers, child-care centers or nurseries. She put the parents’ heart at ease by showing them many examples from the Bible who were taken care of by others. She mentioned how Samuel was only nursed by his mother before being handed to the prophet Eli and how Joseph was sold to the Egyptians in slavery while still in his teens. However, she cautioned the parents against sending their children from one lesson to another which will further reduce quality time spent together.
Yeo ended the session by advising parents against exerting psychological control which has a negative impact on their child. She explained that children under those circumstances may be more anxious and may suffer from depression and are thus unable to perform.