Parents Zone

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.

Can mindfulness also help stabilize children’s emotions?

Registered clinical psychologist, Dr. Felicia Lee

 

Recently, many people have been learning mindfulness to manage their emotions and think more clearly. However, mindfulness can also help us stabilize children’s emotions. Mindfulness, also known as “jing-nim” in Chinese, is a concept that combines Eastern philosophy and Western science. Mindfulness is about consciously and non-judgmentally focusing our attention on the present moment. We are aware of where our focus is at this moment, and we do not think about whether something is right or wrong. We just observe and describe. So how can we use mindfulness to help stabilize children’s emotions?

The most important thing is to stop first. This requires us to practice regularly, and through mindfulness practice, we will know what methods can be used to effectively stop ourselves or our children. Because sometimes children will stop when they hear their mother shout, but what can be done to stop them when their mothers are not around or when no one is around to advise them? This is an important thing we can practice with mindfulness.

The second step is observation. What kind of mindset should we use to observe? We should observe with a non-judgmental mindset. When a child has emotions, we usually see their emotional outburst, and sometimes we have thoughts or critical words in our minds. If we describe this thought with a non-judgmental mindset and also feel our own emotions, we can see the child’s real needs through their behavior.

The third step is to use language to describe your current feelings or what is happening at the moment because when you use words, it will calm down the center of your emotions.

I remember one time when two brothers were arguing, and one of them stretched out his foot, which began to provoke the other, who then slowly became angry. They would kick each other, at first lightly and then with more force. Actually, when you see this kind of situation, you will feel very angry.

First, do not stop them, because when you stop them, you are characterizing one person as wrong, and after you characterize them, one of them may become even angrier. The worst thing is that they may both become angry together and say, “We’re just playing; why are you taking it so seriously?” So calm yourself down first, and then ask them casually, “What’s happening now?” Sometimes they may answer you, which is already good. If they cannot answer and are still angry, you can separate them, which is also okay.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Three sentences of family life: Love warms within the home

Written by: Education expert, Principal Cheung Jok Fong

 

Have you ever heard the theme song of a certain TV drama called “Embrace Love”? I really like a few lines from it, as these few words capture the essence of “family.” A family is a place that provides shelter from the wind and rain, your “support.” When you’re feeling “weary,” the door of your home will always be open for you. The mentioned “love” refers to the deep-rooted bond of kinship that’s destined from the moment you were born, stronger than blood. Indeed, what could be more important than family ties? When you’re feeling down, your family will share your burdens, willing to listen to your worries and accompany you through difficulties. When you’re sick, your family will take care of you unconditionally. When you achieve success in your studies or career, they’ll genuinely rejoice and take pride in your accomplishments. This kind of “love” can’t be bought with money.

We all hope that parents and students understand the value of family love. Sadly, this love might come too easily, acquired from birth, and as a result, some don’t fully appreciate it. Sometimes, we see in newspapers that some teenagers would rather linger on the streets than go home; some families argue all day long, turning the home into a battlefield; some even resort to violence over trivial matters, leading to tragedies. The examples mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg, and sometimes I can’t help but feel saddened that a once peaceful home can turn into such a situation.

 

The Three Sentences of Family Life

How can we build a harmonious family? Pope Francis once proposed the “Three Languages of Family Life” when talking about family, which are the three phrases that should be spoken more at home: “Thank you,” “Please,” and “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you” represents gratitude towards family members. Many times, children are taken care of by their parents from a young age, and they may start to take it for granted. Consider this: do parents have to prepare three meals a day for you? Who washes your clothes and cleans your shoes and socks, providing you with a cleaner living environment? When you’re sick, who takes care of you tirelessly, even getting up at night to give you medicine? Classmates, while your parents are taking care of you, why not say “thank you” more often and help with household chores when you have the time, sharing the workload with them? In fact, when children complete household tasks for their parents, parents can also say “thank you” to them. In today’s society, the notion of elders being on a pedestal is no longer appropriate. You should know that in building a harmonious family, everyone has a responsibility. Don’t think that certain tasks are necessarily assigned to specific family members. Even when you receive help from others, even family members, you can still say “thank you.”

“May I ask” represents respect for family members and polite behavior towards others. Some may think that since we are family, there’s no need to be overly polite in our speech and we can just speak straightforwardly. However, “May I ask” doesn’t just encourage us to speak politely; it reminds us to consider the feelings of our family members in our words. Sometimes, people tend to get heated over trivial matters and believe that they should argue their point forcefully in all situations, even with their family members. But is it really worth it to act this way? As the saying goes, “Winning an argument but losing the family.” Even with close family members, it’s better to choose our words carefully.

As for “I’m sorry,” it represents seeking forgiveness from family members. When you make a mistake, it’s only natural to have the courage to take responsibility and say “I’m sorry” to the person you’ve hurt. At the same time, “I’m sorry” also signifies an opportunity to mend relationships with family members. Sometimes, right and wrong are not easily judged in a few words. Or perhaps, there is no clear right or wrong, but rather differences in values among individuals. Unfortunately, many conflicts arise from such differences. If no one is willing to compromise, relationships can become very tense. As the saying goes, “Give in a little, gain a lot.” Putting down your pride doesn’t mean you’re surrendering, nor is it about compromising on the issue. Instead, it creates a new opportunity to resolve the problem in a better way.