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Remember those classic threats our Singaporean mothers used on us to force us to obey them? Our mums seem to have that magical ability to make us complete tasks that we dread – homework, cleaning up our rooms, household chores, etc.

The best thing about Singaporean mothers? They do not even need to lift a finger, sometimes just one look coupled with the threat is enough to scare us into action and submission.

At Discover SG, we take a closer look at some of the classic threats our Singaporean mothers have used, for nostalgia’s sake. P.S we know some of you may still be under the spell of these threats. Good luck.

Singaporean Mothers’ Classic Threats: A Recipe for Obedience

1. If you don’t behave, I will call “Mata” to catch you.

classic threats Singaporean moms use
Credit: The Straits Times

Mothers have this strange fixation with “mata” or police. Every little infraction can compel them to call the police.

Since we were young and gullible, the mere threat of police and being locked up in prison was enough to scare us into obedience. Unfortunately, this threat seems to undermine the work of our police officers. They obviously have better things to do than to catch naughty young children. *rolls eyes*

2. If you don’t study hard, you will become a road sweeper.

Classic threats Singaporean moms use - roadsweeper
Credit: Yoshi Today

We are not sure how this threat came about. Was it because a mother saw a road sweeper and opportunistically used him/her to warn a lazy child to study hard?

Regardless of the threat’s origins or whether it’s morally right to make such comments, our moms say this with our interests in mind –  they genuinely believe that doing well in school will help us become successful in life.

3. If you don’t finish your food/eat your vegetables, you will get *gasp* pimples.

Mom knows best
Credit: Style Craze

Our mothers certainly know the right buttons to push to trick us into obedience. Pimples or acne is the worse nightmare of every teenager. Who doesn’t want a complexion that is soft and baby smooth to attract that handsome boy or girl-next-door?

Other mothers have a same same but different threat in their arsenal – “if you don’t finish the rice on your plate, your future spouse will be pimply!” While that doesn’t sound as bad as us having pimples or acne, it was still enough to spur us into action and lick our plates clean.

4. I will confiscate your (insert favourite toy/game), if you don’t score 90 marks and above.

child with playstation
Credit: Youtube

This is another classic mom quote. Separation from our favourite toy/game is as bad as going cold turkey. In fact, we still see moms using this threat on their unfortunate offspring.

5. Wait till your father comes home, then you know.

While this threat does not explicitly spell out the punishment, most of us have an inkling of what to expect.

When this situation occurs, some of us will get creative by hiding all the canes in the hopes of avoiding the unspeakable when dad comes home.

Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.

6. (Insert your full name), you better…. (insert action mum wants you to take)

When mum calls your full name, you know you are in hot soup.

If you’re still not behaving as she wants, mum may proceed to the next step below.

7. I am going to count to three…you better…

Numbers have never sounded as frightening as when they came out of our mums’ mouths.



We’ve all been scolded by our mums and while we may not always agree with what they say or do, deep down, we know they mean well. So, hang in there, if you still have to endure the classic threats by Singaporean mums.

As mums always say, it is “all for your own good”.

Header image source: From movie Ilo Ilo

Also, read True Heroes – 4 Invisible Jobs Singaporeans Take For Granted