RGC Newsletter Term 1: Back to School (Quality Time)

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Back to School
Transitions into the new school year can be complicated for a teenager. Some may feel excited and happy, while others may feel anxious, sad and worried about the new school year. Most teens have a mix of both. Parental support in this period of adjustment is crucial in laying a good foundation for the rest of the year.

The need for Quality Time
As busy Singaporeans, we are hard-pressed for time. In his book, The 5 love Languages of Teenagers, Gary Chapman says that “deep within the soul of the teenager is the desire to feel connected, accepted and nurtured by parents. When the teenager does not feel connected, accepted, and nurtured, his inner emotional tank is empty, and that emptiness will greatly affect the behaviour of the teen”. Chapman goes as far to say that out of the 5 love languages, quality time is most important as without quality time, “teenagers will not feel loved even though the parents may be speaking other love languages”.

Here are some tips to foster quality time with your teenager:

Tip #1: Be Present
Being present in the same house or location as your teenager does not equate to quality time. Quality time is really about togetherness, and this has to do with both parent and child being in touch with each other. It means that your teenager walks away from the encounter feeling that he is the focus of your attention.

Your eye contact, words, touch, and body language should communicate to your teenager that he is more important than the activity itself. Try to resist the temptation to multi-task when spending time with them. We may have to put aside our mobile devices or gadgets to give our teenagers our undivided attention. 

Source: Imber, Amantha (2023). Time Wise: Productivity Secrets of the World’s Most Successful People. Penguin Random House UK.

Tip #2: Quality Conversations

For quality conversations to happen, the parent must learn to speak “with” their teens rather than “at” them. One way to achieve that is to learn to listen emphatically rather than be quick to offer advice. When children were little, parents were used to issuing instructions and commands. However, as children grow into teenagers, they must be allowed to think their own thoughts, experience their own emotions and be able to have a safe space to share all these with their parents without the fear of being nagged at or judged.

Parents can try to improve their patterns of communication by using “I” statements instead of “you” statements.  Try to begin your sentences with “I think… , I feel…., I want…” These are statements of self- revelation and would invite the teenager to consider your perspective. Conversely, “You are wrong, you don’t understand, you are misreading the situation…” are all statements of blame and accusation. They almost always lead to the teenager’s withdrawal.

Keeping an open mind and learning the art of asking questions will go a long way in fostering better parent-child relationships. Parents who learn the art of asking questions will keep their teenagers talking. These questions are not interrogative questions like, “Where did you go, who did you go out with, have you completed your assignment?”  but questions that solicit the teenager’s thoughts, such as, “How do you find your new school? What do you think of the gap day system?” Remember, when in doubt, use the handy phrase, “Tell me more…”

Source: Getty Images

Tip #3: Quality Activities 

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers do want their parents to be involved in their lives as such involvement create deep bonds of love in the present and lasting memories for the future. Parents can plan events outside their normal weekly routines. Try to choose events that your teenager likes. Discover your teenager’s interests and be creative in planning environments that will motivate your teenager to spend quality time with you. You could surprise your teenager with tickets to a concert or a trip to his/her favourite mall. It would also mean a lot when you decide to pick your teenager from hockey practice or Student Council. Stay late talking together about his/her involvement and get to know his friends who are involved in the group or team. Choose one or two board games or card games that you regularly play together.


We hope you find the suggestions in this article helpful. If you want to find out more about the 5 love languages, please visit for more details. 
If you require further support or would like to talk to one of us, please feel free to contact any of the counsellors at RGC via email: [email protected]

Warmest regards,
The RGC team

1) Chapman, Gary (2016). 5 Love Languages of Teenagers Updated Edition: The Secret to Loving Teens Effectively. Northfield publishing. 


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