Parents' Guide

Education, Scholarships, Parenting Tips

Pledge to be a Better Parent

Mental Health

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)

Release The Pressure

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

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

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.

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”


Your child's worth is more than grades. Join our community and help to inspire change! Click to Tweet

Share and Inspire

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. While you're at it, please consider becoming our ambassador and help spread our message to like-minded parents. 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.

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

Further Reading

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?
The downsides to Singapore’s education system: streaming, stress and suicides
What are some flaws which makes the Singapore education system so stressful?
China’s Cutthroat School System Leads to Teen Suicides
The Culture of Kiasuism
How to talk to children about suicide: An age-by-age guide
Students with helicopter parents have a higher tendency to struggle in college, and in life.
The silent tragedy affecting today’s children (and what to do with it)

Make A Pledge

Make your pledge by sharing your thoughts on our guest book!

Pledge to be a Better Parent

Fields marked with * are required.
Your E-mail address won't be published.
For security reasons we save the IP address
It's possible that your entry will only be visible after we reviewed it.
We reserve the right to edit, delete, or not publish entries.
66 entries.
Mervyn Tey Mervyn Tey from Singapore wrote on January 14, 2018 at 3:43 pm
I think what’s important is that your child, at any age or stage, is making an effort and is growing into a responsible human being who may tomorrow actually end up doing very well in life, whatever the grades.
Chloe Chloe from Singapore wrote on January 14, 2018 at 3:08 pm
I am being considered a successful mother and also given the title of super mom. But I totally agree with you that there are at times I feel that our kids are not given liberty of choosing their own path.
Mira Mira from Shibuya wrote on January 13, 2018 at 10:53 am
It's so sad our children have to face all this in their life..
Stephen Stephen wrote on January 12, 2018 at 4:12 pm
When everyone else is doing one thing, it takes a lot of courage to do the other. But as adults, we have the experience and mental fortitude to do so, unlike our children who are unable (or do not know how) to exercise their choices. Stay strong!
Stephen Stephen wrote on January 12, 2018 at 4:02 pm
Thanks all for your messages! Some of you may be hesitant to leave an entry because you don't want to use your email address. Please note that your email address will not be published. If you're still uncomfortable, you can use a throwaway email address, as long as you can submit your entry with that.
Yanti Yanti from Ahmedabad wrote on January 8, 2018 at 3:33 pm
The video make me cry. Hope this will change things.
JoLynn JoLynn from Singapore wrote on January 6, 2018 at 3:49 pm
I think this is a good reminder to all kiasu parents out there who keep pushing their children to compete in the rat race. Be more observant of your child's needs or one day you will push them too far and it will be too late to regret.
Nazree Nazree from KL wrote on January 4, 2018 at 11:30 pm
Good initiative!
Arya Arya from Hyderabad wrote on January 3, 2018 at 11:32 am
I watched the video and I must say I'm getting worried. My son is taking his HSE this year and both my husband and I are quite anxious as his grades are just above average. Guess we need to engage with him more to make sure he's doing ok.
Jenny Fu Jenny Fu from Singapore wrote on January 2, 2018 at 3:58 pm
I just want to quickly get this off my chest. I used to have quite a laidback attitude for my son's education, thinking that as a boy he might be a late bloomer. But my in-laws all have kids in the top schools and only mine was in a neighborhood school so everytime we have family gathering, they will keep talking about how good the kids are doing and whether they should go to Harvard or Cambridge. My son's school also keep telling me that he must do better if he wants to go to a good school. So as parents we also get a lot of pressure from our social circles. I wish I can ignore them, but it's very hard. 🙁
Valerie Valerie from Singapore wrote on January 2, 2018 at 3:30 pm
Thank you for this! I hope more parents will make the pledge.
Alisha Alisha from India wrote on January 1, 2018 at 11:00 pm
Yes, I am concerned that my children are getting too much pressure from everyone around them, including us. Thanks for bringing this up and I hereby pledge to support this movement.
Gwen Gwen from Singapore wrote on December 29, 2017 at 11:10 am
Definitely support this! My daughter will be taking her PSLE in 2 year's time and I don't want her to go through the stressful time like so many others.
陳嘉燕 陳嘉燕 from 香港 wrote on December 28, 2017 at 9:29 am
Peter Lim Peter Lim from Singapore wrote on December 26, 2017 at 12:12 pm
Good initiative but I wonder how does this make a difference. In most families, it's the mother that calls the shot on matters regarding education. We just discipline the kids when they don't listen to their mom.
Saravana Saravana from Hyderabad wrote on December 26, 2017 at 12:42 am
I am making the pledge here. Please tell me what else should I do..
Kim Kim from Singapore wrote on December 25, 2017 at 1:08 pm
+1 to this!
Shufen Shufen from Singapore wrote on December 25, 2017 at 1:06 pm
Thanks for the reminder! I had a difficult time with my son when he took his PSLE last year. Our relationship suffered because I was really like a tiger mum, always nagging at him and scolding him for not studying. I attended a parenting talk and learned to give him a bit of space. Things got better after that.
Kristine Kristine from Manila wrote on December 23, 2017 at 11:01 pm
I support this even though the situation in my country is not as bad. Our schools can certainly be more competitive on the global stage but definitely not at the expense of our children's happiness.
Rose Rose from Jakarta wrote on December 21, 2017 at 10:42 pm
Good work! What can I do to help?
Notify of
most voted
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
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


November 23, 2020 2:35 pm

“Genetically speaking, my wife and I did not give birth to little einsteins. But they are ours nevertheless to treasure, to savour and to nurture.”

That, ultimately, is the most important thing.

June 22, 2021 10:24 am

The hospital gave the diagnosis: “Sleep deprivation for long periods, excessive mental stress, and physical exhaustion.”

We'd love to hear your thoughts about this!x
Send this to a friend