Like most kids, mine are busy with school, tuition, extracurricular activities and their friends. Most days we are happy Joes with the occasional unhappy scuffles over school work.
And like most parents, I harbour great desires and expectations to see my children achieve noteworthy success. More importantly, I want them to be happy, confident and resilient kids. But sometimes this notion is forsaken in our pursuit of rankings and grades, especially during the primary school years.
Of late, we struggle more to find a balance between the fulfilment of school assignments and practice papers and allowing the kids more playtime. I feel frustrated, unhappy and unsettled about the increasing tension between us. While my kids remain largely unperturbed about our arguments, I begin to wonder how the local academic pressure is affecting their mental wellbeing.
The Singapore Health Promotion Board (HPB) announced recently a new tool to help Singaporean parents understand what’s going on in their children’s psyche.
The tool is called Colours of The Mind, a scale to help parents discover how their children think, feel and behave. While it is not the first psychological tool found online, it IS the FIRST to focus on the mental well-being of Singaporean kids aged 6 to 12.
With the introduction of Colours of the Mind quiz, HPB will host its first parent forum on 17 August to support the effort to cultivate a positive well-being in our children. Tickets to this forum were snapped up within days of HPB’s announcement.
The forum features a panel of esteemed experts led by Professor Chang Weining, an Adjunct Professor with Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate School of Medicine and a major contributor in designing the mental welling indicators for the Colour of the Mind scale will be present to answer all your queries about the scale and how it can benefit your family.
Joining Professor Chang are her colleagues in her field – Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Chair of Public Health with the Health Science Research Institute and a professor of Public Health with Warwick University, and Jim Bek the President of Singapore Association for Counselling. Celebrity mother of three, Evelyn Tan will also be present to share her parenting expertise with us.
If you missed the chance to attend this forum, do look out for more HPB workshops on this topic in the future. In the meantime, read about our experience with the Colours of The Mind quiz. Better yet, take it yourself and see how you and your child fare psychologically.
How Happy Is My Child? Is He Coping?
These are the questions most parents have. I roped in my 9-year-old to try out the Colours of The Mind quiz with me. After registering, we were prompted to a page where you have a choice to take the quiz as an adult or child. We chose child as I was curious about his thoughts.
The graphics were attractive, child-friendly and easy to navigate. There were 25 questions in all to answer. Each question comes with five options: never, rarely, occasionally, frequently, and very frequently.
Most of the questions were pretty straight-forward and easily understood. For examples: “When I feel sad, I’m able to make myself feel happy.” or “When I fail, I try to do better.” But I recommend that you sit in with your child while he or she is taking the quiz as some questions may puzzle them and you (the parent) need to decipher the meaning of the question. For instance, the statement “When I fall, I cry out/cry,” was a little vague. Does this sentence refer to a physical fall or does it apply to mental failures?
I liked that they had queries about the child’s mental affinity towards parents, friends and self, as well as their resilience towards negative social behaviour like bullying and the ability to ask for help.
Our only gripe was that there wasn’t a button to backtrack. If you missed a question, then you have to start over. A HPB representative explains that this function was not built in so as to allow “parents or kids to give an instinctive answer and not have the option to go back to a question and change their answer. This way, results are more indicative.” That makes perfect sense.
While my son’s replies to most questions came as no surprise, I was taken aback to learn that my son’s answer to the question “I can relax” was only occasionally. I kept quiet but made a mental note to myself to ensure he has the environment and opportunities to unwind.
The quiz itself took us less than 10 minutes before it directed us to the result page where it reveals your child’s well-being in three categories: positive functioning, social and emotional intelligence. We spent some time reading and discussing what the outcome meant; whether he agreed or disagreed with the outcomes and any issues that needed to be addressed.
I thought the “quick tips” were encouraging and helpful resources for my son. And I highly recommend that you download the parents’ guide, which provides a wealth of tips and ideas on how to build on the strengths of your child and how to empower him/her.
For me, the best thing about this tool is that you can do the test whenever you feel the need to monitor the stress level of your child. Watch this video to see what other parents and counsellors thought of the quiz.
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” ~ Herman Cain