Most parents regret working too much during children's early years

SINGAPORE - More than 95 per cent of the 250 parents polled here regret spending too much time at work during their children's formative years.

The survey, conducted by three students from NTU's Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, revealed that 74 per cent of parents spend only three to four hours on a typical day with their children, with a majority citing work as the primary obstacle.

23 per cent of parents also regretted not developing a shared hobby with their children - activities that would help in developing a child's problem-solving abilities and social intelligence - which are fundamental to a child's mental development in the long term.

A social campaign led by the three NTU undergraduates, dubbed The Happiness Revolution: Best Gift for Your Child, aims to encourage parents to think about the best way to spend time with their child to improve their mental well-being.

Over 300 parents have pledged to provide the best gift for their children as a step towards a more successful and happier life since the launch of the initiative in January.

"Children learn to manage their emotions by observing how other family members express and manage their emotions," said team member Ms Joyce Lim, 23.

"In a huge way, parents play a critical role in modelling how to respond to strong feelings."

Experts have cited a culture of digital and electronic distraction as another obstacle towards parent-child engagement.

Child psychologist Ms Anne Chua said that initiating activities that would encourage children to think about their social skills.

"Something as simple as a quiz or treasure hunt where kids interact with their peers and learn how to negotiate decisions," she said.

For more information, visit The Happiness Revolution's website or Facebook page.