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Parents Zone

What I do is all because I “love” my child

August 2023

Written by: Education Expert, Principal Cheung Jok Fong

 

I remember one Sunday when my family and I were at the park for some leisure time. During our visit, I witnessed an incident that I would like to share with everyone through this platform.

 

I noticed a group of people arguing in the park, and one woman’s voice was particularly loud, catching my attention. Curiosity drove me closer to see what was going on. It turned out that a child was feeding the birds with birdseed in the park, attracting a large group of birds to gather on the grass for food. The park manager stepped forward to stop the child, which greatly upset the child’s mother. I overheard the parent say, “Why can’t I feed the birds here? I have the freedom to do so!” The park manager kindly explained that it could affect public hygiene. The discussion continued, and even some other park visitors joined in. The argument became too intense, and the child started crying out of fear. Finally, the mother exclaimed, “It’s just letting the child feed the birds in the park for a while, why can’t we? It’s unreasonable to be so strict.” With that, she angrily took her child and left.

 

I believe this mother’s reaction stemmed from an expression of love. Perhaps she didn’t want to see her child disappointed, so she argued with the park manager, trying to allow her child to continue feeding the birds. Her actions were undoubtedly driven by the joy of her child, but she neglected the negative impact it could have on other park visitors. Let’s take another example, some parents enjoy letting their children stand on the seats in the subway, especially when passing sections with scenic views, allowing them to admire the scenery along the way.

 

From the parents’ perspective, letting the child stand on the seat to see the scenery not only makes the child happy but also allows them to explore the world outside the window, a win-win situation. However, have these parents considered that this may soil the seats? The next passenger who sits there may get their clothes dirty! This kind of consideration that only focuses on the child’s perspective while neglecting the feelings of others is sentimental and blind. In the long run, it can have a negative impact on the child’s growth. In Chinese, the term “溺愛” (spoiling) describes overly pampering and spoiling children by parents, and what is the result of “溺愛”?  means “drowning” the child in indulgence.

It’s important to know that children have a high ability to mimic, and parents are their primary role models. Sometimes people say that a certain child is very similar to their parents, not necessarily in physical appearance, but in their words and actions, resembling their parents. If parents ignore the feelings of others in their actions, children will also become self-centered and indifferent to others, ultimately becoming seen as a “little tyrant” in the eyes of others. How can others enjoy being friends with such a child? Love for children should be rational, and while loving them, parents should also correct their mistakes in a timely manner. Taking the example mentioned earlier, if a child wants to stand on the subway seat to admire the scenery, parents should truthfully tell them that it will dirty the seat, helping them understand that they should consider others’ feelings in everything they do and teaching them how to interact with others in a group setting.

 

“People say that parents’ love for their children is meticulous.” People say that parents’ love for their children is unconditional, but unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditionally satisfying their desires; it also means correcting them when they make mistakes. This kind of love for children must be rational. “Caring” for children is not just about material satisfaction but ensuring their healthy development in all aspects of body and mind, cultivating their proper values and the ability to discern right from wrong, and making them considerate of others’ feelings. At the same time, adults should lead by example and be models for their children. I believe that under the rational love of parents, children will grow up to be individuals with sound character.

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Parents Zone

Parents need to learn the “language of love.”

August 2023

Written by: Dr. Tik Chi-yuen, Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education

 

In a study conducted earlier, it was found that nearly sixty percent of children felt that their parents did not communicate with them using the language of love, and nearly half of the parents tended to use authoritarian and indifferent approaches when disciplining their children. In fact, the mode of parent-child communication is crucial for establishing a strong parent-child relationship. In this article, I would like to share the results and recommendations related to this survey.

 

According to research in well-known psychology studies in the United States, parents’ disciplinary styles can be categorized into the enlightened type, which utilizes the “language of love,” and the authoritarian, permissive, and indifferent types, which fall under the category of “non-loving languages.” Based on the responses from children, only forty percent of parents were considered as the enlightened type in the eyes of their children, while one percent fell into the permissive type. The remaining nearly half of the parents were classified as either authoritarian or indifferent types, with the proportions being twenty-seven percent and twenty-two percent, respectively.

The survey also revealed significant discrepancies between parents and children’s ideals and realities in three different situations, with academic performance being particularly severe. Sixty-two percent of children expected their parents to adopt an enlightened approach in handling academic performance, but in reality, only thirty-seven percent of parents fell into this category. Similarly, there was a significant gap between parents’ ideals and realities. Only four percent of parents believed that they had an authoritarian relationship with their children in terms of academic performance, but in reality, thirty-one percent of parents were categorized as “authoritarian.” This reflects the difficulties parents face when dealing with their children’s academic performance and how they unconsciously resort to “non-loving languages.” Nowadays, many parents excessively intervene in their children’s studies, sparing no expense in arranging numerous learning activities and various tuition classes, aiming to keep their children at the forefront of learning. This has led to numerous conflicts between parents and children and even emotional distress.

 

As parents, we should cultivate the habit of using the “language of love” because the more we utilize positive words such as praise, encouragement, care, acceptance, appreciation, and affirmation, the more our children will understand that our discipline includes both love and boundaries, helping them grow into individuals with self-esteem and confidence. The author believes that most parents’ intentions behind their words to their children are for their children’s good. However, inappropriate words cannot only harm the parent-child relationship but also lead children to rebel. On the other hand, appropriate words can make children willingly accept and do their best.

 

When communicating with their children, parents are advised to:

✧ Use kind, praising, and encouraging words.

✧ Provide positive guidance.

✧ Praise the child when they do well.

✧ Pay attention to the child’s responses and consider their own reactions.

✧ Even when saying “no,” avoid using negative language.

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Parents Zone

How to enhance children’s resilience?

August 2023

Source: Education expert, Cheung Jok Fong

 

I attended a lecture by “Warrior of Regeneration,” Miss Yeung Siu Fong, earlier. She shared her experience of losing both hands in an accident at the age of nine. However, she did not give up and instead equipped herself more actively. With hard work, she not only became a swimming athlete in the Asian Games but also started art creation by using her feet in place of hands. She successfully enrolled in the Hong Kong Academy of Arts and became an inclusive artist. In 2011, she was selected as one of the “Ten Most Touching Hong Kong Figures” and became a “Hong Kong Spirit Ambassador” in 2013. After the lecture, I asked some classmates for their opinions, and they all expressed that if they encounter difficulties in the future, they will no longer be afraid because they believe that there is always a way to solve things and they want to face difficulties as positively as Sister Siu Fong.

 

Cultivating resilience from an early age

In the journey of life, we will inevitably encounter adversities. At that time, how should we face them with the right mentality and approach? Nowadays, parents often invest a lot of effort in their children’s academic performance, hoping that they can “win at the starting line.” However, while pursuing academic excellence, it is equally important to cultivate a spirit of perseverance. Unfortunately, some people choose different ways to escape when faced with difficulties, and some may even be so disheartened that they end their precious lives, which is truly regrettable. As educators, we have a responsibility to help students enhance their ability to cope with adversity, and this resilience needs to be cultivated from an early age.

 

Three key elements to enhance resilience

 

Experts point out that there are three key elements to enhance resilience: “optimism,” “efficacy,” and “belongingness.” “Optimism” is easy to understand literally; it means having hope for the future and believing that there is always a way to solve problems. This is the attitude one should adopt when facing difficulties. “Efficacy” includes how to manage emotions and establish problem-solving methods when facing challenges, which represents the ability needed to overcome difficulties. “Belongingness” refers to the care and support from people around the individual in question.

For children, the roles of family members and teachers are especially important. For example, when a child faces academic difficulties, if they can feel the care and support from their parents and teachers, and not be treated with disdain, scolded, or spoken to harshly because of low grades, but instead walk alongside them and seek ways to improve their academic performance, it will make them feel that their family and school are a place of “shelter from the storm.” In short, “belongingness” is the cornerstone for establishing “optimism” and “efficacy,” and it serves as the motivation provided to those facing challenges.

 

Cultivating resilience starts with small things

 

So, how can we cultivate children’s resilience in daily life? Should we wait until they encounter setbacks to teach them? In fact, we can start with some small things. Take skipping rope as an example. No child is born knowing how to skip rope. At this time, parents can encourage them and let them believe that they are capable of learning, which is the aforementioned “optimism.” Additionally, parents can assist from the side or demonstrate the correct way to skip rope, making them feel that their parents are accompanying them and going through difficulties together, which is the “belongingness” mentioned earlier. After the child experiences a taste of success after a few attempts, they can try to figure out how to coordinate their body and master the technique of skipping rope on their own, which is the “efficacy” mentioned above.

 

In conclusion, we can teach children from an early age to face difficulties with an optimistic and positive attitude and provide them with opportunities for self-challenge. More importantly, let them feel the support and care from the people around them.

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Parents Zone

Perfectionist children

August 2023

Written by: Dr. Hui Long Kit

Many parents complain about their children being careless in their actions and messy in their homework. However, if a child is too meticulous and even perfectionistic, it may not necessarily be a good thing.

Many 2 to 3-year-old children love playing with toy cars, especially boys. However, some boys don’t enjoy pushing toy cars back and forth. Instead, they prefer arranging multiple toy cars in a straight line or grouping cars with the same color and shape together. They cannot tolerate even one or two cars being out of line or not sorted correctly, insisting on having everything neat and perfect. Most of these children have meticulous thinking but rigid and inflexible personalities, and they may possibly have “Autistic Spectrum Disorder” (ASD).

When children start reading and writing in primary school, some diligent and hardworking students will showcase beautiful handwriting in their exercise books, with each stroke as neat as computer printing. However, upon closer examination, one may notice that they press their pen or pencil very hard, causing the ink or lead to bleed onto the next page. Even if they make a small mistake in writing a word, they will erase everything and start over ─ this may indicate some “obsessive traits.” As they grow into adolescents, they may even exhibit symptoms of “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” (OCD), such as repetitive handwashing, excessively long baths, or constant checking of objects. Severe cases can significantly impact daily life and social interactions, requiring medical diagnosis and treatment.

The tendency of perfectionism usually stems from anxiety. Patients’ thoughts often lean towards catastrophizing, where even neutral things appear severe in the eyes of an anxious child. For example, if a child makes a mistake in their homework, they might worry about being scolded by the teacher, losing points, and ultimately getting worse grades. The more they dwell on these thoughts, the worse they become, leading them to feel compelled to make everything perfect, resulting in a very difficult and exhausting life.

 

Perfectionist children lead particularly tiring lives, and as time goes on, they may become unhappy or even experience depression. Therefore, when parents observe their children becoming more and more serious, they shouldn’t simply assume that they are just growing up, maturing, or having a certain personality. Instead, they should pay attention to the emotional symptoms that might be present.