31 August 2013, by Evelyn Tan
Last Friday, Kristen and I went shopping for some maternity clothings together and when she chanced upon clothes of the same design for mum and daughter, she immediately asked excitedly: “Mum, could you get this for me so we can be ‘twins’!” You guessed my answer right –Yes, yes, yes!
I remembered how it was the same for me when I was a little girl – how I would wish to have a sister to dress up with, in the same clothes and passes off as twins. Now, fast forward 30 years later and here I have a daughter (who probably harbours the same wish and knows full well she is not going to have that dream fulfilled) asking me to be her twin — how could I possibly deny her that request?! Anyway , isn’t this the time to get as many of these photos as you possibly can before the raging hormones kick in in the adolescent years and she starts having second thoughts about even being REMOTELY associated with you?!
Now this thought of my little girl being in her teens may seem a long way to go. But judging from what I’ve heard at the ‘Colours of the Mind Child Mental Well-Being Forum’ for parents of children 6-12, which I attended in mid-August this year, NOW is the time to start to develop that relationship with your children; to understand them better, to protect their mental -wellbeing, so that even after the first pimple rears its ugly head on our teenager’s face, adolescence need not be as turbulent as what we hear it to be!
It seems that the period between 6-12 years is a time of immense change for a growing child. For example , the child officially goes into formal schooling –the associated stress that comes with such a change will be determined by how well he or she fares under such a system (especially in Singapore where academic excellence reign high on parents’ expectations for their children).
While we desire for our children to do well among their peers, in a class of 40, there is bound to be one who will top the class and another who will end up being last. If a parent perceives his child’s standing in academics as the be-all and end-all, then for a late bloomer that might spell all doom and gloom. But if the parents of a seemingly under-achieving child can focus on the strengths of his or her child and help the child grow into his own person in his own time, there is a more likely chance that he will value his talents and gifting, which in turn will drive his success in all other areas of his life.
So, just how will protecting the mental well-being of your 6-12 year old ensure that she (and you) will have a less turbulent ride through the teenage and even adult years? For starters, because when parents pay attention to their primary-school going children’s s’ mental well-being, they are investing time and energies on their child that will translate into a trusting relationship so secure that even when peer influence reigns high later on, their valued input will still be considered. It certainly makes sense that when children feel accepted by their parents for who they are and what they say, it is more likely that they will confide in their parents, knowing that they will not be put down with their feelings and opinions.
Not only that, your efforts in building a good measure of mental wellness in your child, will equip him or her with ‘protective factors’ like good communication skills, resilience, good problem solving skills and positive thinking skills that will increase his or her capacity to cope with challenges in life! (For those of you who are keen to know more about how you can build mental wellness , here’s a website you can go to for tips and info:
I remember how it was when I was a teenager myself…. That awkwardness with self, the many questions I wished I had answers to mum and dad were more traditional in bringing us up, believing that the ‘answers will come when the time arrives ‘ –and they did! But I guess I wished I didn’t have to go through all that waiting and guesswork!).I promised myself that when I became a mother, I would have all my (communication) channels open to my children so they would know I would be there for them anytime they are ready for ‘senior’ counsel. And if building their mental well- being NOW is the way to go, I’ll do it.!
Hopefully my children will appreciate my effort and time for being there for them whenever I can. As for Kristen, I want to be your ‘twin’ and I hope you and your siblings will not just love me tomorrow…. You will ADORE me the day after as well ……..and EVERYDAY for the rest of your lives!