Besides academic pressure, parenting experts say that children can face stress from diverse sources such as having too many enrichment classes and other activities, relationships with their peers, teachers’ expectations or bullying.
Older children and teenagers may face stress from feeling they have to keep up with their peers online, says Ms Mok Sook Fern, a clinical psychologist at the Department of Paediatrics, National University Hospital.
Besides helping them learn when to switch off from technology, “it is important to teach children that stress is normal and expected in a developed society,” she adds.
“Getting rid of stress is impossible. What is most important is how they can effectively manage their stress so that their physical and mental well-being is cared for.”
Ensuring children have sufficient exercise and sleep are among the simple ways of reducing stress, experts say.
Establishing “emotional safety” and strong family relationships is also important, says Ms Kelvyanne Teoh, a principal therapist with Morning Star Community Services.
“Children need to know that help and support are available when they need them and that home is their safe haven. Having routines and keeping promises foster stability that helps children trust their parents and the world around them,” she says.
Validating kids’ emotions – such as acknowledging stress caused by homework – and offering support, or a vote of confidence that a child tried his best in a test, are other helpful ways to reduce stress and build resilience, she adds.
Once or twice a week, their children – daughter Thaleia, eight, and son Jairus, six – break out the microphone at home to sing their favourite songs by singers such as Charlie Puth and Taylor Swift.
Ms Lee, who works in finance in the public sector, and Mr Tay, 43, who works in social services, act as the singing judges.
For Ms Margaret Amirdham, 41, simply being around while her child is studying helps. While her daughter was studying for her O levels last year, Ms Margaret, a single parent, sat beside Pearlin Benita Love, 19, while doing her own work, almost every night.
Pearlin says this helped her stay calm during the course of the examinations. “Having her present, I didn’t feel lonely.” She is now working part-time in the food and beverage industry and is waiting to enter a polytechnic.
Although her brother, Immanuel Joshua, 20, a third-year polytechnic student, has always preferred to study alone, he is thankful for his mother’s thoughtful gestures, such as her offers of drinks and snacks while he is revising.