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Does scare-based education work

Source: Parenting Education Specialist, Ken Sir

 

“If you don’t eat well, I won’t let you watch TV tonight.” In daily parenting, we often teach children in the form of threats, hoping that they will be obedient. But is this method effective? Will it backfire?

One time when I was taking a minibus, I saw a grandmother with two grandchildren getting on the minibus. As soon as they got on the bus, the two grandchildren immediately sat in the back seat, while the grandmother chose to sit in a single seat near the door. As soon as she sat down, she turned around and said to the two grandchildren, “I’m telling you to sit back next to me right now, or else I’ll leave you two here when we get off the bus.” As a result, one of the grandchildren shouted loudly from the back. What was he shouting? “You always say that; I don’t believe you.” This incident demonstrates that many parents are used to threatening their children during their childhood.

What are some examples of this? “If you don’t eat, I’ll turn off the TV,” or “If you don’t finish your homework quickly, there won’t be any ice cream for you tonight,” etc. In fact, these methods of parenting often make children treat things as unimportant. If parents frequently use these types of threats, their children will grow up and no longer take them seriously. Therefore, parents must remember that when we ask children to do something, it is best to directly tell them what we want them to do without adding too many elements of threats or coercion.

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Jan-Feb 2024 Reminder

How can eating habits make your child’s skin healthier?

Source: Registered Dietitian (Public Health) (UK), Ng Pui-Yu

 

Many kids have dry skin or even eczema, and their parents work hard to find the right moisturizers and other skin care products for them. In fact, in addition to topical skincare products, we should also pay attention to children’s diets. The most direct way, of course, is to drink more water. How much water should be drunk?

In fact, our body’s need for water is deeply influenced by the weather. For example, in dry weather, we need more water, as well as to account for children’s activity levels and how much they sweat. The water content in food also affects their need for water. If a child urinates every 3 to 4 hours and the urine is light yellow with no strong odor and the stool is not very hard and does not cause difficulty during bowel movements, it usually means that their water intake is sufficient.

For children aged 2 to 5, they need about 4 to 5 cups of fluid a day, and water should be the main source. Unsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3, are also important for maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, which keep harmful substances out and keep the skin moist and flexible. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help calm immune responses that are too strong in people with skin allergies or eczema.

We should also avoid certain foods, such as candies, cookies, and white bread, which are refined foods. Instead, we should choose low-glycemic index foods, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, which are important for controlling sensitive conditions. Antioxidants, including common vitamins A, C, and E, are also important and can be found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts of different colors, making them great sources of antioxidants.

In summary, to have healthy skin, in addition to having enough water, you should eat high-fat fish such as salmon or yellow croaker twice a week. You can also replace some cookies and candy with plain nuts, fruits, and so on, and it is ideal to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits.

By the way, if a child’s chewing ability is not well developed, there is a chance of choking when eating nuts. Therefore, we should choose some smaller nuts, such as pine nuts, which are also a good option.

How do parents show love to their children?

Source: Parenting Education Specialist, Ken Sir

Parents may worry that expressing too much love to their children will spoil them and therefore do not know how to express love to them. Generally speaking, Chinese are more introverted and often dare not express their love. Especially when you originally wanted to express that you were very worried about your child, it often turns into another attitude.

Once, I saw a mother and her child get lost in Shatin and then reunite. What was the mother’s behavior like after the reunion? She grabbed the child’s hand and hit him while saying, “I couldn’t find you earlier; do you know how scared I was? I was so worried. What would I do if I didn’t find you?”

In fact, everyone knows that the mother loves her child, but the child doesn’t feel it. I often share an example during lectures to express love. When I was young, my father ordered a drink, but because money was tight, he asked the waiter to bring an extra cup after ordering one hot drink. He kept pouring the drink back and forth in front of me, trying to cool it down quickly so that the child wouldn’t burn his mouth and could drink it faster. But I found that when children ask their parents or when I asked many students’ parents, they would answer, “This will make it cool faster.”

When responding to children, parents should express their feelings at the deepest level: “I love you; why would I do this if I didn’t love you? Am I doing it for someone else? For another child? So in fact, there are many things in our lives that can express love, but there is one thing that must be remembered. If you are afraid of being overindulgent, remember the following two points:

First, if the child can do something, let them do it. You should not fight to do it. Second, when the child makes a mistake, we should correct them. In the process of correction, try to be gentle and firm. When seriousness is needed, be serious. But remind the child to say the solution, not just say no or that it’s wrong. Otherwise, the child will not progress.

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What parents can do when children start to rebel

Source: Founder of Family Dynamics and Marriage and Family Therapist, Rachel Ng

 

As children grow up, they begin to learn to say no and may seem to rebel against their parents in everything. This is related to the child’s temperament. When faced with a child who is very persistent, parents may easily feel that the child is not obedient or mischievous, but in fact, this only reflects some of their personality traits. If a child often says “No, no,” parents need to spend more time talking to them and mutually discussing each other’s needs.

Don’t think that just because a child is 5 years old, they are not capable of discussing it with you. In fact, we often speak to children in a one-way manner; that is, we think they are just children. When do they brush their teeth? When do they wash their faces? When do they go to bed? We all think so, and we tell them so! But when a child refuses to cooperate, parents can negotiate with them about everyone’s needs, such as if they don’t like to follow a certain routine or activity program. Parents can let the child express their own thoughts. When they have room to express their thoughts, their first feeling is acceptance from their parents, rather than criticism or rejection.

If a child hears their parents say, “Why don’t you listen to me again? Why don’t you do what I say?” They will feel accused and are likely to develop a sense of resistance, leading to a vicious cycle. To avoid this, parents should listen carefully to what their child is saying and thinking. Parents may think that if they listen to their child, they will only play and not brush their teeth or sleep. This is not necessarily the case. Children who are very persistent just want to express their own opinions and want their parents to understand, which does not mean that they cannot change their minds.

As long as the child maintains a good relationship with his parents, his needs can be communicated to them, and they are willing to listen and respond by saying, for example, “If I can do it, I’m happy to cooperate with you. If I can help you, I’ll be happy to. But if I can’t, I hope you can help me finish my work quickly and give me some rest time.”

Children love their parents very much, and because of this good relationship, they are willing to cooperate with their parents’ needs and adjust their own needs. But if parents do not listen to their children, ignore their thoughts, and do not consider what they want, it will create a confrontational situation. For example, parents tell their daughter to eat her food cleanly, but she seems to deliberately make a mess. This may have already reached the edge of confrontation. Don’t enter into a cycle of confrontation.

In fact, at this stage, the mother should not criticize her daughter too much, even appreciate or find things her daughter can do and praise her, and spend more time listening to her needs, reducing or eliminating this confrontational behavior first. Then, rebuild trust with the child. When there is trust between everyone, we can listen to each other’s needs in every aspect of life. Both sides can look for new ways to satisfy each other’s needs, reduce confrontation, and gradually teach the child to consider not only their own needs but also their parents’ needs and make appropriate adjustments.

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How do you teach children correct pronunciation

Source: Speech therapist, Miss Carley

 

When children learn a language, pronunciation is also an important aspect. There are many pronunciations in English that are not found in Cantonese and are difficult for both children and adults to master. How can parents teach children to pronounce English correctly? What are some tips to use?

The English tongue’s sounds can be difficult for children and even adults to master. We can try to use different cueing techniques to teach children to pronounce the sounds correctly. For example, parents can use visual cues, such as looking in the mirror with the child and showing him the tip of his tongue, placed between the two rows of teeth.

In addition, parents can also use verbal cues to clearly tell the child, “Put your tongue in the middle of your two rows of teeth,” so that they know what to do. When necessary, parents can also provide tactile cues, such as using a popsicle stick or spoon to touch the tongue and showing them where to place it for different sounds.

Parents can also try playing simple games with their children to train their listening skills, such as whether they can distinguish between right and wrong in terms of hearing. For example, intentionally mispronouncing a word: “Is ‘fank you’ correct? No, it’s not.” “Is ‘thank you’ correct? Yes, it is.”

This time we have to bite our teeth on the tongue or write the words “free” and “three” on a piece of paper, and then the parent reads out one of the words “three” “You show me which one” and reads “free”, “You show me which one”. If he knows how to distinguish, it will be clearer and easier for him to express himself.

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Nov-Dec 2023 Reminder 

A quick method to calm down young children

Source: Pediatric Behavioral Therapist, Yip Wai Lun

 

Many times, as parents, when we see our children experiencing negative emotions like anger, tantrums, or extreme unhappiness, we often want to quickly resolve the situation by saying things like, “Don’t be so angry!” or we may scold them, sometimes even yelling, “Shut up right now!” or using a countdown like “One! Two! Three!” to command them. Some parents may try to reason with their children, saying, “We shouldn’t behave like this; we should stay calm.” However, these methods are not always very effective. Why is this the case?

It turns out that this is closely related to the structure of our brains. Understanding the brain’s structure can be very helpful in parenting. If we are familiar with two specific parts of the brain, it can aid us in disciplining our children. The first part is called the amygdala, which is a pair of almond-shaped clusters located in the posterior part of our brain. When we are startled or feel threatened, the amygdala sends signals that prepare us for either a fight or flight response. The amygdala operates on a reflexive level.

Another part is called the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for our flexibility and empathy. However, the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex cannot function simultaneously. The development of a child’s prefrontal cortex takes place from around the age of two to over twenty years old before it fully matures. Only then can they understand your reasoning and consider your thoughts and feelings.

As a result, most of the time, children are primarily influenced by the two amygdalae. This is why you often see children experiencing various emotions, becoming easily agitated, and prone to tantrums.

How do we stop the amygdala from functioning? This is very important. The way we make the amygdala stop functioning is by helping children express their emotions, especially when they have negative emotions. As parents, we should help them speak out, for example, saying, “I can see that you’re very unhappy,” “I can see that you’re very disappointed,” or “You seem very sad.” Because when you express and describe their feelings, their prefrontal cortex will send soothing messages to their amygdala, causing the amygdala to stop functioning immediately.

Whatever you do, don’t react negatively! When you see that your child is emotional, express your own personal feelings as a parent: “I’m really angry!” “What you did is not right!” or “I feel upset!” Doing this will only stimulate the child’s amygdala and make them more resistant. So the first step in disciplining children is not to control or teach them, but to first connect with their emotions and then readjust.

Being unfocused when playing with toys, will it make it harder for them to concentrate on learning in the future?

Source : Registered Clinical Psychologist, Yiu Fong Lee

 

Some parents may notice that their children, aged 4 to 5, often have trouble staying focused when playing with toys. For example, they may play with one toy for only 2 minutes before switching to another, and they might take out all the toys in the room without cleaning up afterward. Parents may worry that if their children are so unfocused now, how will they fare in exams or when studying in the future?

It turns out that when children’s brain development is not yet mature, their attention span can be a bit short. Research has found that mindfulness can help improve children’s focus, especially by training their frontal lobes, which can enhance their attention and concentration.

There are some mindfulness games that can be used as a reference. For example, parents can use certain apps with visual cues. Children can follow these apps, for instance, there might be an image of a balloon that inflates when they breathe in and deflates when they breathe out. This way, by following their breath, children can improve their ability to concentrate. Additionally, there’s a practice called ‘Statue,’ which many parents might remember from their own childhood. In this exercise, children must sit still and watch an app or a timer for a specific duration to see how long they can remain seated calmly.

“Then, if children manage to do this, you can introduce an additional element, which is auditory distractions. For example, you can include some simple sounds, like calm music. If the children succeed with that, you can gradually introduce more challenging elements, such as cartoons or anything they enjoy, to see if they can stay focused on the app and their breathing in a more distracting environment. This helps train their concentration.

Secondly, we can try implementing some rules and visual reminders. You can tell the children that there is a rule when it comes to playing games or with toys: they have to finish playing with one thing before they start with another, and they should spend at least 5 to 10 minutes playing with each item before switching. You can use some pictures to show them one toy, then cleaning up that toy, and then moving on to the next. In between, you can indicate that they should play with each toy for 5 to 10 minutes.”

The third method is a behavioral consequence approach. When children are able to focus, parents can encourage them by saying, ‘You did a great job because you were so focused!’ or by telling them, ‘I appreciate your effort because you can sit still and enjoy one toy. You can actually have more fun while playing with your toys this way.’ If the child cannot do it, we can introduce consequences. For example, you can say, ‘You finished playing with one thing and then jumped to another and then to a third one. This means you couldn’t follow the rules, so now we need to take a break.’ This break could be, for instance, 5 minutes of not playing with any toys. You can use an app to help them sit quietly until they feel they can concentrate on one game, and then you can continue playing.

The fourth method is what we call the ‘Star Focus Reward Plan.’ For this, you can give the child a timer, clock, or hourglass, and the child watches the time while engaging in a focused activity, like 1 minute or 2 minutes. Parents can discuss with the child that for each session of focused attention, they will earn a star, which goes into a piggy bank. The child can see how long they can focus, and these stars accumulate, helping the child become more focused over time.

Does organic food always have nutrition?

Written by: Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) (UK), Ng Pui Yu

Many families choose to consume organic foods such as fruits, vegetables, and eggs. When asked about the reasons for purchasing organic food, most people respond with, “Because organic food is safer and more nutritious.” In this issue, the author will educate everyone about what organic farming is.

What is organic farming?

Organic farming refers to agricultural practices that replace synthetic substances with methods involving agriculture, biology, or machinery. It avoids using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified crops and instead relies on local natural resources while adhering to the laws of natural ecology. The scope of considerations is broad, for example: an organic production area on a farm must be at least 2 meters away from non-organic areas to prevent crop contamination.

Crop and Variety Selection and Diversity:

 

  • Seeds or propagating material used for organic cultivation should be certified as organic.
  • Farms must practice crop rotation and intercropping while striving for diversification to avoid monoculture.

 

Nutrient Management:

  • Fertilization should be applied appropriately to prevent nutrient excess and environmental pollution.
  • The sources, quality, quantity, and application methods of fertilizers used on the farm should be ecologically benign.
  • Soil fertility should be restored through fallow periods.

The use of chemically synthesized fertilizers, human excreta, sewage sludge, and chemical waste is prohibited.

Management of Pests, Diseases, Weed, and Crop Growth:

  • Implement appropriate fertilization and irrigation management.
  • Utilize physical methods, including manual techniques, fencing, light, sound frequency, heat, etc.
  • Plant crops that have pest control properties (including pest repellent and attracting natural enemies).
  • Prohibit the use of chemically synthesized herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and other pesticides.

From this perspective, organic farming emphasizes ecological conservation in the cultivation process. However, when it comes to nutritional value, there isn’t a significant difference between organic and non-organic foods. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that children who consume organic foods are healthier or more intelligent. Of course, due to the environmental friendliness and reduced use of chemical pesticides in organic farming, I also encourage everyone to make more organic choices!

Conventional Farming vs. Organic Farming

 

Conventional Farming

Organic Farming

Safety

More commonly uses chemical pesticides and fertilizers

  • Fewer chemical pesticide
  • Emphasizes ecological environment
  • Uses non-genetically modified materials

Nutrition

No significant difference

Health

Also need to pay attention to the principles of a healthy diet: low fat, low sugar, and low salt.