Parenting is a journey and there is always something new to learn along the way.
To support this parenting journey, SmartKids Asia 2017 is organising a series of workshops under The Straits Times Parenting Masterclasses on 18 and 19 March. These cater to parents with children between the ages of five to 12 years old.
Conducted by experts in their field, there are six workshops to choose from. Parents can attend them individually or purchase a group pass. Each session lasts for up an hour, during which time, experts will impart tips, strategies and ideas to participants.
We asked Sha-En Yeo, one of the workshop speakers, about the topic close to her heart.
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Sha-En is the Wellness Director at Yale-NUS and has worked with more than 50 schools and over 5,000 teachers and parents on the need for well-being as priority in schools. She is a graduate of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology programme at the University of Pennsylvania and spent more than 10 years in the education sector.
At The Straits Times Parenting Masterclasses, she will be sharing on the science of positive psychology and how it can help parents raise kids that thrive in school and beyond.
Little Day Out: What is positive psychology?
Sha-En: Positive psychology is the scientific study of well-being – the understanding of what is needed for individuals, communities and societies to thrive. In the context of parenting & children, it is knowing what supports kids to thrive and how to be able to do that as parents.
It is a balance to current psychology which is focused on fixing flaws and finding treatment methods for mental health concerns. Instead, positive psychology is seeing humans as creatures of strength and fully capable of leading a flourishing & full life. It answers the question “What’s good in people and how can we build it?”
LDO: What motivated you to pursue graduate studies in Applied Positive Psychology?
Sha-En: As a schoolteacher with MOE previously, I had seen many kids who knew how to score well in their academics but sadly lacking in social and emotional skills, and didn’t know how to bounce back from challenge.
When I first read Learned Optimism (by Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology) and applied it to my students, I was amazed by how much it benefitted them.
Teaching them to do well in academics doesn’t have to come at the expense of their well-being; instead, they can go even further in life when they have the essential skills needed to overcome setbacks, set goals for the future, and truly enjoy the spirit of learning.
I went to study Positive Psychology in U Penn to learn precisely what it takes for school communities (including children, teachers & parents) to flourish. When i came back to Singapore, I set up Positive Education to share my knowledge and create positive school communities.
My other motivation comes from being a mum. All I knew about being a mum came from my own experiences observing my parents, and perhaps other parents. But times are different now – there is more uncertainty, and volatility. I felt very stressed thinking about how best to raise my child to thrive. So I went to U Penn to study also for a very personal reason – how could I best support my child to flourish in this world, to do well not only in school, but in life?
LDO: In what ways have you seen the impact of your work in children and parents?
She-En: Through my work, I’ve seen the following benefits: Parents having stronger relationship with their kids as a result of them choosing the right words, learning how to respond positively and being more present while interacting with them. More joy and love, less stress, in the home environment as a result of deeper listening, more forgiveness and overall regarding children as still in the learning stage. Positive school communities (e.g. Da Qiao Primary) creating a sanctuary for kids to believe in themselves, discover their strengths and respond to challenges more positively.
Teachers who recognise the need to also take care of themselves & each other; create a positive classroom environment, so children feel safety and trust when coming to school. Communicating positive information about students to the parents, so that both parties are working towards the same goal: supporting the kids to do the best they can. Instead of taking on a me vs. them mentality.
Sha-En will be addressing the topic The three key ingredients you need to raise thriving kids at the following dates/times:
Sat, 18 March, 11.15 am to 12 pm; or
Sun, 19 March, 4.30 pm to 5.15 pm.
For the full list of parenting workshops, visit the SmartKids Asia website here.
Each parenting workshop will last up to an hour. Tickets are available online and costs $16.05 for one session or $48.15 for a Single Day Pass.