Parents Zone Parents Zone Parents Zone

I’m by Your Side

April 2024

Written by: Stage and TV scriptwriter Cheung Fei Fan

On a Saturday morning, I took my five-and-a-half-year-old son and three-and-a-half-year-old daughter to volunteer for flag selling for the first time. The little rascals were initially thrilled, but after the excitement wore off in three minutes, both of them started clamoring to go home. As parents, we of course understood; firstly, the weather was hot, and young children have limited patience; secondly, the streets were bustling with traffic and pedestrians rushing back and forth, and with their small statures, they were soon lost in the crowd. Passersby hurried on their way, paying no attention to them. The two little “emperors,” who are usually the center of attention, probably experienced being ignored for the first time in their lives. As a father, I secretly cheered, thinking this was a perfect opportunity for them to understand that they are not the center of the world. At the same time, it could also let them experience what it means to “every grain of rice is hard-earned.”

My wife and I observed from the sidelines, only intervening when absolutely necessary, letting the two little ones freely explore. Watching them go from being scared and disappointed to trying, failing, then helping each other, trying again, and finally succeeding, seeing the satisfied smiles on their faces when they received praise from passersby, my wife couldn’t help but tear up.

Coincidentally, that same evening, director Owen Jay invited my spouse and me to the premiere of his new work ” Distinction” The movie tells the story of a teacher (played by Jo Koo) at a special school preparing a musical with a group of special needs children, and a girl from a prestigious school (played by Jennifer Yu) who initially participates passively but eventually forms a deep bond with them.

The movie was certainly wonderful, but what moved me the most that night was after the screening, when the host invited one of the young actors to share his feelings about his performance. Without hesitation, the child loudly said in front of everyone, “I am very thankful to my mom for accompanying me during the filming of this movie.” At that moment, my eyes welled up with tears. For me, the most striking thing was the word “accompaniment.”

Special needs children may be slightly less capable in some areas compared to their peers, but they always possess an innocent heart. They are sensitive to love and can express their feelings candidly, and he just blurted out what is one of the most important responsibilities as a parent.

Sometimes, we may not need to ‘do’ something for our children; sometimes, simple ‘companionship’ may already be enough. This reminds me of when my son is at home building with LEGO, he often likes to ask me to sit beside him. Sometimes I wonder, thinking to myself, why do you need me sitting next to you while you play? But as I sit there, after a while, he suddenly turns his head, gives me a glance, and then continues to build his LEGO city with reassurance. In that fleeting moment, in his eyes, I saw panic, and then a fraction of a second later, he returned to calmness. It was then I realized that he had accidentally knocked down the LEGO building he had put together. But he did not ask for my help; he just wanted to confirm that dad was right behind him. It turns out, my ‘presence’ is his greatest pillar in overcoming difficulties. His big eyes seemed to say: “Great, you’ve been here all along, so I’m not afraid anymore.”

It’s important to know that companionship always has a time limit, and I only hope that we can live without regrets within that time limit.

How to raise children with a sense of security?

April 2024

Written by: American Association for Play Therapy, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, Registered Social Worker Chan Tsz Wai

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of security is the second basic human need, just after physiological needs. Children who lack a sense of security may exhibit many behavioral problems. Without sufficient support to confidently explore the world, and without enough confidence that someone can provide safe protection, they may send misleading signals through problematic behaviors to express their emotional needs. Often, parents think that managing behavior more strictly will solve these behavioral issues in children, but this approach can backfire, leading to even less fulfillment of the child’s emotional needs.

Years of research have found that a sense of security is based on establishing a secure attachment relationship with caregivers. Children with secure attachment relationships have a higher ability to regulate their emotions, solve problems on their own, have higher self-esteem and empathy, and possess better social skills and the ability to establish good relationships with others. However, how to establish a secure attachment relationship with children is a challenge for many parents.

Understanding the needs of children

Sometimes children need to explore the world on their own and use their abilities to solve problems, while at other times they need the help of their parents to regulate their emotions. Parents need to know when to let go and when to extend their hands to offer hugs and support, which requires careful observation of the child’s needs. Young children may wander far in the park, wanting to explore the world on their own, and older children may show displeasure when parents supervise their homework, indicating a need for parents to support their exploration. However, when a child falls and cries in pain or is troubled and in tears because they do not understand their homework, that is the time when they need their parents’ help to regulate their emotions.

Being Present with Your Child

When children are emotional, parents often try to quickly find a way to deal with it. However, being present with the child is what they need the most and is the most effective way to help them develop the ability to regulate their emotions. When children are emotional, parents just need to accompany them, accept and empathize with their emotions, and verbalize the child’s feelings to make them feel accepted and understood by their parents. This is the foundation of a secure attachment relationship.


Being a Firm and Controlled Parent

Parents might think that understanding their child’s feelings means losing control, but on the contrary, parents actually need to control and set limits while understanding their child’s emotional state to provide them with a sense of security. For example, when it’s time to leave the park and the child throws a tantrum because they don’t want to leave, parents can understand their child’s feelings but must also firmly insist on leaving. Or if a child often procrastinates on homework because they find it difficult, parents can understand the child’s difficulty but must also enforce the consequences of procrastination. Therefore, gentle yet firm parents can make their children feel secure.


Understanding How Your Own Upbringing Affects Your Parenting

We learn how to be parents from our own parents, and we also carry the baggage of our childhood. When we encounter difficulties in interacting with our children, it is often related to our own upbringing. Some parents, whose own parents were too busy with work to spend time with them, may give more time to their children when they become parents. However, when they invest time but still face emotional challenges from their children, and they themselves lack the experience of having their emotions satisfied and understood, they may struggle to meet their children’s needs due to their own unresolved emotions. Therefore, parents should first understand how their own upbringing affects them, and then they can adjust themselves when interacting with their children, carefully observing and responding to their children’s needs.

How to effectively reward children?

April 2024

Written by : Pario Children, Parenting Education Centre


Childhood and family have a profound impact on a person. How do parents influence their children’s growth? How to cultivate good behavior and character in children? Is it correct and effective to use rewards and encouragement?


Do not turn love for your child into a reward

It is often heard that parents say, “If you behave, daddy will shower you with love.” Parents think this is providing positive reinforcement, encouraging positive behavior in children, but shouldn’t the companionship of mom and the affection of dad be unconditional? Love and affection should not be contingent on being well-behaved! A child’s self-worth should not be equated with their behavior or achievements.


Do not turn existing habits into rewards

Some parents might say: “If you behave, we will go to the park on Sunday!” When the child behaves in a “naughty” manner, parents cancel the child’s original plan to play in the park, letting the child learn to bear the consequences. Although this is one of the parenting methods, if the child originally has the habit of going to the park every day, and the parents use “going to the park” as a reward, is this really a reward? This is just continuing the daily routine! Of course, if the child does not usually have the opportunity to go to the park, this reward would be very attractive to a child who naturally loves to play!

Clearly explain rewards and good behavior

Rewards are necessary! But parents must carefully design or choose them, and the most ideal rewards are those that can attract children and are different from the daily routine. For example: going to the park for only 30 minutes every day, but today they can play for an extra 15 minutes; eating only one type of cookie for a snack every day, but today they can have two types. When rewarding, parents should clearly tell the child the reason for the reward, “Because you ‘put away your toys on your own’, mom and dad really appreciate you, so today you get ‘an extra cookie'”, letting the child concretely understand what good behavior is, and also understand the relationship between good behavior and rewards, giving them the motivation to continue displaying good behavior.



Provide unlimited support and encouragement

Children often need the support and encouragement of adults to have enough security and courage to try; sometimes, parents give a lot of encouragement, but the child still does not dare to try as expected, and sometimes parents will blurt out in disappointment: “I’ve held you for so long and you still won’t try, so I won’t hold you or kiss you!” What comes next is the child crying louder and being even more unwilling to try; even if the child is forced to complete the task, there is an additional emotional scar. Therefore, parents should give children unlimited support and encouragement, telling them: “Mommy has confidence in you, try again next time, you can do it!” Believe that when children have stored enough energy from encouragement, they will step forward.



Perhaps, in the process of parenting, parents neither want to be tiger parents nor can they avoid the competition in society, sometimes they may feel lost, but remember to respect the child’s innate traits, and let your appreciation and encouragement accompany their growth.

Parents Zone

Playing and toys

April 2024

Shirley LooPlaying and toys


Child, in my memory, you rarely asked me to buy toys during your childhood. I wonder if this has anything to do with that time when I took you away from home to “Fun World.”


Do you still remember standing in front of that plush toy? I made up many stories, saying that Ning Ning wanted to take them home, and they cried, saying “they didn’t want to leave their own home.” As a result, you believed it to be true and your heart softened, and you no longer pleaded with me to buy the plush toys. But it also let us know that plush toys were your favorite, so whenever we went on business trips, we would buy one to bring back for you as a souvenir. Do you still remember Dutchess, the cute brown pony?


Aside from plush toys, my memories related to toys are quite vague. I only remember singing games around the dining table after meals, playing with paper balls when you were recovering from a fever, and building sandcastles with you on the beach and catching crabs by the rocks, none of which involved spending money on toys.



I also remember setting a rule back then: no video games at home. You begged many times, asking why we couldn’t buy an X Paradise to play at home, and my response was: “Once a week at your cousin’s house is enough!” I wonder if this kind of “persistence” made you feel uncomfortable. I hope you understand the good intentions of your mother, which was not wanting your thoughts and attention to be captured by video games. Seeing you recently bought a video game console with your husband and are enjoying it at home, you’ve finally found someone to play with, haven’t you?


Recently, your father and I browsed through a toy store for a while, seeing a dazzling array of toys for adults, children, and babies. But we still firmly believe that no matter how fun toys are, they cannot replace the time parents spend playing with their children. After all, toys are not meant to “pass the time” for children, but are tools for creating happy moments between parents and children!


Ho YingToys


When I was young and went shopping with you, I would always see children crying and screaming at the entrance of toy stores, clamoring to buy toys. However, this situation rarely happened to me, not only because I had a deep affection for every toy but also because I had you to play with me, making every day feel new even if I was looking at the same toys. The stuffed toys at home would not only perform in stage plays but also interact with the “audience” (which was me), and they would go shopping with me and chat with “friends” on the street or in the stores.


The only toy I really wanted but never got was a video game console. Every weekend when I visited my cousin, he would always play different games with me, like basketball, ones set in the Warring States period, and racing games, which made me want to own one so I could play at home. But you would always say, “It’s good enough to play with your cousin; we don’t need to own one.” Honestly, I really hoped that one day, when you came home from work, you would bring home a box of X Paradise, but that never happened.

Now that I’ve grown up, my husband and I finally bought one to take home. At first, I was very excited, thinking that I could play as soon as I got home. However, there were a few times when I was alone at home, I would play the video game for ten minutes and then do something else. It was then that I realized that what I enjoyed about playing was not the game itself, but having someone to play with. So, what’s important is not the toy, but the interaction with family and friends.


Children of today’s generation seem to only play games on mobile apps, and toys have gradually lost their status. Whether in restaurants or on the subway, the laughter of children is less heard, replaced by people of all ages looking down at their phones, the adults reading the news and the children playing video games. Most mobile games are single-player, merely interacting with a pre-programmed system, lacking the exchange between people. If possible, why not put down the phone, take out a stuffed animal or a robot, and bring the child back to that world full of fantasy and innocence!