Widening perspectives, dealing with setbacks & other tips Chan Chun Sing has for S’pore parents


Education Minister Chan Chun Sing was the special guest on the last episode of variety show “Dishing with Chris Lee” – a series that features actor Christopher Lee whipping up a culinary storm for his guests in Pulau Ubin. He was also joined by actress-host Kym Ng.

Minister Chan, who has one girl (21) and two boys (13 and 11), spoke widely, touching on topics such as tuition, practical experience and the joy of learning. Here are 11 key parenting tips that he discussed during the show.

1. Gentle reminder please

“Many people want their children to do what they couldn’t. So we would often remind ourselves not to impose our image or hopes on the child. What matters is that the child makes his or her own choice.”

2. Give children space for imagination

“Every child has different gifts. So we should give them the space to discover what they like, do what they enjoy. Because if we fill every hour of their days with activities, they would have no room for imagination. That wouldn’t be good for them.”

3. Widen one’s perspectives is more important

“They (his children) take classes for things they don’t study in school. If they were already studying something in school, and they still had tuition for it, they would find it boring. Or if they’ve learnt something during CCA, they won’t concentrate in class. If you want them to have extra classes, it should be to widen their perspectives, so that they learn things they don’t learn in school.”

4. Learn beyond books

“Some things can’t be learnt from books – like how to deal with things and people, how to understand the culture of another society. With things like that, you need hands-on experience.”

5. Discipline overcomes difficulties

“To overcome difficulties, you need discipline. If you can pick yourself up and keep walking after a fall, you will succeed… I may not be the strongest or the fastest, but that’s why I can understand the soldiers better. Not everyone can be the fastest or best. So they will feel that if the officer is doing it with us despite not being the fastest, he’s giving a shot then they should do the same.”

6. That’s life

“My kids know that their dad isn’t great at everything. He has weaknesses too. So they will learn that life isn’t always smooth sailing. Even a minister has his challenges.”

7. Fulfil that potential

“For me, to be successful, you have to first discover your potential. If you can fulfil that potential, and look after not just yourself but others, that counts as success and joy too.”

8. Children reflect parents’ behaviour

“For instance, our parents wanted us to work harder. It will only work when you see your parents leave for work in the morning, come back to rest for two hours, before leaving for work again in the evening, you will know you should be hardworking.”

9. Setbacks are part and parcel of growing up

“When we were growing up, we all experienced setbacks. But they are part and parcel of growing up. If parents are overprotective, the kids will become dependent. You don’t want them to feel that whenever there’s a problem, mum or dad will solve it for you. They won’t have the chance to try and resolve or face up to the problem. After all, we can’t look after our kids forever.”

10. Have that love for learning

“So how do we help our students? The best way is to get them interested in learning. Because in the course of their lives, what matters won’t be how much they learn in school, but whether they can keep learning throughout their lives. Having that spontaneous love for learning is what I think is most important.”

11. It’s not just winning or losing

“When we play, we don’t always win. And when we win, how should we look after the feelings of those who lost? And when we lose, how do we recover from it and try again? So whether we win or lose, we’ve been though the process… How we respond to that process is what determines success.”

You can watch the full episode here.

Cover photo credit: Chan Chun Sing Facebook page and Mediacorp Youtube