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Comment: Parents, let your children experience setbacks

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National swimmer says turn your children's setbacks into lessons on how to be stronger in the long run

I was initially surprised to learn that pupils scoring 97 marks did not make the cut for Higher Chinese class in Primary 2 at St Hilda's Primary School. But after reading the report, I feel it was a fair decision.

To summarise The Straits Times report, some parents complained that even though their children scored 97 marks for Chinese in Primary 1, they failed to make it to the Higher Chinese class in Primary 2 as they were not among the top 25 per cent of students for the subject.

It is not that the students did not do well - they did really well. It is just that other students did better than them.

It was not the students' fault. They did their best, but it just was not good enough.

So instead of complaining, parents should educate their kids on how to not be discouraged by this setback.

The highest I ever scored was in a Primary 2 Chinese test - 98. I still remember bragging about it to my mum that I no longer needed to study for Chinese test.

But my scores dropped to an average of 60 to 70 marks for the next few tests.

Did my parents scold me? No. Why not? Was it because they did not care about me? No.

It was because they understood that there was more to life than just being book-smart.

They knew my passion was in swimming, so they allowed me to dedicate my time to what I was passionate about.

This leads me to my point on how sports can properly educate your kids on becoming a stronger individual in the long run.

In swimming, the best lessons are learnt the hard way.

The best races happen naturally and without much thought - you have probably already forgotten how it felt.

On the other hand, after a bad race, you tend to be more critical of yourself.

You will start to find ways to better yourself in the next race and try to figure out what exactly went wrong.


And that is when the most efficient learning occurs.

So do not be afraid of bad days and embrace the worst feelings, because that is when you become a better swimmer.

We tend to appreciate things less when they come easy, that’s just human nature. National swimmer Pang Sheng Jun, 24

As for the kids who did not make it to the Higher Chinese class, do not be disheartened. You merely just had a setback, so get back up on your feet and start studying hard again. You have so much potential so do not give up just because of a test.

As for parents, you should allow your kids to experience this setback at a young age. Allowing them this gives them a taste of reality, that things will not always go the way they want in life.

Because that is what life is all about. We tend to appreciate things less when they come easy, that's just human nature.

On the other hand, if you had successfully transferred your kids to the Higher Chinese class, they would grow up thinking that it is okay to not strive to be a better person, because "my parents will help me with what I want anyway".

I have seen many self-entitled kids, so let us not contribute to it.

The writer is a Singapore national swimmer. This is an edited version of his post, which can be found in his blog

The views expressed here are solely his own.