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In Singapore, more than two young people aged 10 to 19 committed suicide every month in 2015*. This rate might not be the highest among all age groups, but remember, we are talking about teenagers who are not exposed to the pressures faced by adults at work, in their social life and even in relationships. Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed around the world, not just in Singapore. The World Health Organisation estimates that by 2020, mental illness will be one of the top five causes of death or disability among young people. Research from around the world also suggests that child depression and anxiety – and the substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide that often go with it – are now most common not among the lower echelons of society, but among children in families higher up the social ladder, where the pressure to compete is more intense. It's not an exaggeration to describe the younger generation as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.

* Source: Samaritans of Singapore (SOS)

There are many instances where parents have pushed their children over the edge in the pursuit of academic excellence. As a result, children now keep the kind of schedule that would make a CEO queasy. In Shanghai, China, ambitious parents are enrolling their children in preschool MBA programmes where they learn the value of team building, problem solving, and assertiveness. Some are barely out of their diapers.

SuicideLonely 12-Year-Old Girl Sadly Commits Suicide Because She Barely Passed Exams

High expectations made her try to kill herself

Pri 5 boy falls to death after failing exams for the first time

This graduate’s life ends with a tragic death. After further investigation, her cause of death is even more tragic

Suicide on Campus and the Pressure of Perfection

Parents need to manage expectations of their children’s studies

It Changed My Life: How a mother lost her 11-year-old son to depression

Don’t get us wrong. We are not suggesting that you should let your children slide into mediocrity. If your children have the capability to excel, by all means encourage them to chase after their dreams (even if it means getting good grades in the process). But grades alone do not define your child’s worth. Reared on someone else’s definition of success, with failure not an option, our children end up as a generation of worker bees who are masters at playing the system but devoid of personal spark.
What is your definition of success for your child?x

To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
~ William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence”

These days, our children are so busy racing to piano lessons or Kumon classes to “hold infinity in the palm” of their hands. When adults hijack childhood, children miss out on the things that give texture and meaning to a human life, including moments of solitude and even of boredom. Inadvertently, we are drilling into our children's head the message that what matters most is not finding your own path, but putting the right trophy on the mantelpiece, ticking the box instead of thinking outside it.


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If you agree that your child's worth is more than grades (and you’re not alone, trust us), please take a minute or two to make a pledge to be a better parent on the guest-book below and help us to inspire change. Our future generations will thank you for that!

You can also share your parenting journey with our community of like-minded parents. We're not looking to showcase infallible parents with perfect kids, but people with different sets of circumstances and experiences.

Update – 14 Feb 2018:
Here is a collection of articles that you may find useful and informative. We will add more as we move along so do check back regularly.

Don’t Forget about the Myth of Childhood Depression

What Do Anxious Teens Need?

Update – 20 Mar 2018:

The downsides to Singapore’s education system: streaming, stress and suicides

What are some flaws which makes the Singapore education system so stressful?

Update – 9 Apr 2018:

China’s Cutthroat School System Leads to Teen Suicides

The Culture of Kiasuism

Update – 16 Jun 2018:

Father pleads guilty to beating up son for mistakes in homework

Pupils weep and have panic attacks over ‘hardest ever' GCSE and A-level exams

How to talk to children about suicide: An age-by-age guide

Update – 7 Jan 2019:

You should also check out Dr. Shefali's Conscious Parenting Masterclass.

Update – 9 Apr 2020:

Students with helicopter parents have a higher tendency to struggle in college, and in life.

Pledge to be a Better Parent

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Sheikh Zadi Sheikh Zadi from Penang wrote on April 9, 2018 at 10:54 pm:
Thanks for the information!

Originally posted on April 9, 2020 @ 10:00 am

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January 1, 2018 12:34 am

Here’s a great post about teenage depression:

Jocelyn Tay
Jocelyn Tay
July 16, 2018 11:08 pm

I came across this article today and I think we also get caught up in the “Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better” parenting model which is why many parents compare the grades, schools and achievements of their children. We keep telling our children not to give in to peer pressure, yet we are the ones who cannot resist.

December 20, 2017 11:53 pm

Teens — like all of us — can bolster their ability to cope with hardship. Here’s a short primer on how resilience works:

January 8, 2018 3:13 pm

Why need to provide email to write entry?

February 5, 2018 10:33 am

The social stigma is unfortunate. As a society, we need to realise that academic achievements is not the be-all and end-all of learning (or as we put it, “grades do not define your worth”). However, we have encountered instances whereby parents and educators unwittingly passed their judgement on kids who are not academically inclined in casual conversations (e.g. “so-and-so is in class X, which is for those who cannot study well/have bad grades, so their future is bleak, etc”) and kids pick up from there and assume an air of superiority for themselves.

April 9, 2018 12:30 pm

So if you want your kids to succeed in life, don’t perpetuate a fear-based understanding of success. Start with the assumption that your children want their lives to work. Then tell them the truth: That we become successful by working hard at something that engages us, and by pulling ourselves up when we stumble.

September 3, 2019 11:19 am


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