FOTF - feature Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

Children in Singapore are more anxious about exams than the COVID-19 situation but parents' support can help. Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash,

An online survey of over 1,050 school children aged between 10 and 15 revealed that seven in 10 said they were “angry”, “worried” or “sad” about their impending school examinations.

In comparison, six in 10 said they felt positive – “calm”, “secure” or “hopeful” – about the Covid-19 situation in Singapore.

In other words, exams cause more anxiety in children in Singapore than the pandemic situation. 

The survey was conducted by Focus on the Family Singapore as part of its annual Race to Praise Children’s Day campaign. The results were release on September 18.

Parents can mitigate test anxiety

The survey findings reflect how much academic excellence weighs on children here and serve as a reminder that children may need help to manage their anxieties. Left unchecked, their concerns about their academic performance can lead to other forms of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

“They really need their parents to tune in to their emotional needs.”

On the upside, there was a significant positive correlation between how consistently parents supported their children and how strong the parent-child relationship was.

For students who rated their relationship with their parents at seven and above, 75.8% also said that their parents gave them adequate support when they are feeling down. Those who scored their parents six and below, only 14% said their parents were supportive of them when they were feeling down.

Of the three in five who reported that they were worried about their exams, 38.1% said they did not receive consistent parental support.

Consistent emotional support from parents was associated with students feeling more positively about upcoming exams.

The survey findings support research that say that parents play an important role in helping their children manage negative emotions. Consistent emotional support from parents was associated with students feeling more positively about the upcoming examinations.

CEO of Focus on the Family Singapore, Joanna Koh-Hoe said, “The survey results show that our children face tremendous pressure when it comes to their academics.

“They really need their parents to tune in to their emotional needs and not just cater to their practical daily needs. Through Race to Praise, we hope to continue to inspire and resource dads and mums to help their children grow and thrive in adversity.”

Connecting differently with mums and dads 

What is encouraging is that seven in 10 children surveyed said they are close to both their parents, rating their relationships a score of seven and above on a 10-point scale.

Age makes a difference in parent-child relationships. Younger children – 10 to 12 years old – are closer to their parents compared to teenagers aged 13 to 15.

Children also interact with their fathers and mothers differently, based on the survey. In general, they associated doing activities with dad and talking with mum.

Mums and dads have unique and specific roles to play in the lives of their children.

While boys rated “chats with me” as the top way they felt connected to and loved by both parents, they preferred “doing activities” with dad (37.2%), while for mum they appreciated that she “listens to me share what I think and feel” (39.5%) and “tells me she loves me” with mum (25.1%).

Girls preferred talking to mum than to dad, and associated physical affection with their mothers. Top of their list of what made them feel connected to and loved by their mothers was “chats with me” (56.7%). Next came hugs and kisses (38.3%), then being told they were loved (33%).

Going out with dad (40.6%) and doing activities (36.6%) with him were the top two ways girls connected their fathers. Talk came in third at 35.5%.

This supports the understanding that mums and dads have unique and specific roles to play in the lives of their children.

However, the survey also showed that one in three children may not be receiving the consistent parental support they needed when they were feeling down.

Race to Praise 

To help parents give their children the support they need to manage their anxiety and stress, Focus on the Family Singapore is organising Race to Praise.

Into its sixth year, this campaign sponsored by OUE Limited champions parents praising and affirming their child’s identity and worth.

This is part of the continuing effort to address mental health issues among children in Singapore.

The Race to Praise campaign reaches over 1.7 million parents and children through digital and onsite platforms. This includes the distribution of almost 100,000 printed resources for children annually.

Among the resources available this year is an e-guide to help parents and children manage exams effectively in a COVID-19 world. 

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About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.