Parents Zone

Long bathing time, eczema will become problematic and requires a long time to heal

Written by:YEUNG Ming Ha, Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Recently, a parent uploaded pictures of their daughter suffering from eczema on a social media platform. Looking at the little girl’s red and swollen hands and feet, and her skin all irritated, indeed, it’s heartbreaking. As a result, parents all over the city are now sharing their secret remedies to deal with eczema because many of them or their children are also affected by eczema, and they often suffer during seasonal changes.

Eczema is a common allergic dermatitis and is not contagious. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), eczema is referred to as “wet sores” and is a prevalent skin condition in Hong Kong. The internal factors contributing to eczema include the individual’s constitution, emotional state, and dysfunction of the body’s organs, while external factors involve wind, dampness, and heat obstructing the skin. When a person has a weaker constitution and a lower immune system, wind, dampness, and heat pathogenic factors may invade the skin, resulting in eczema or exacerbating existing eczema issues. Eczema can occur on any part of the body, such as the ears, head, face, hands, navel, and lower legs, but it usually appears symmetrically. Patients often feel intense itching, and scratching can lead to skin abrasions, oozing of pus, and even infection. The condition tends to recur, making the skin rough and the scabs raised. To deal with eczema, it’s essential to start by addressing these three small habits:

Shorten bathing time.

When eczema flares up, patients often can’t resist scratching. Hands are the most susceptible to bacterial contact and harbor the most microorganisms. Therefore, it’s important to avoid the habit of frequently touching the face to prevent exacerbating skin inflammation. Additionally, patients should refrain from using products with high alcohol content frequently, as the chemical components can irritate and weaken the skin’s natural barrier. Furthermore, due to the itching sensation on their skin, patients tend to wash their hands and take long baths, mistakenly thinking it can relieve itching and provide a sense of cleanliness. However, excessive cleaning can actually damage the skin’s sebum layer and stratum corneum, compromising the skin’s natural protective barrier and worsening eczema problems. Therefore, it is recommended for patients to shorten their bathing time, ideally not exceeding 3 minutes. At the same time, they should choose hypoallergenic skincare and bathing products to minimize irritation to the skin. For severe cases of eczema, it is suggested to only cleanse the armpits, lower body, and areas prone to sweating.

Here, I am introducing an anti-allergic formula: The ingredients include Fang Feng (防風) 6 qian, Ku Shen (苦參) 6 qian, and Sheng Gan Cao (生甘草) 3 qian. Boil them with strong fire for 30 minutes, then use it to rinse the sensitive areas. It has excellent moisturizing and itch-relief effects.

Good lifestyle and hygiene habits.

Patients’ living environment needs regular cleaning, and they should frequently change bedsheets and close-fitting clothes. Moreover, patients should wear loose and cotton clothes, avoid wearing tight clothes made of wool, and ensure no chemical residues like detergents remain on their clothes. Regarding daily routines, patients should go to bed and wake up early, avoid staying up late, maintain a balanced diet, exercise adequately to boost their immune system, and reduce the chances of triggering eczema. After exercising, they should immediately wipe away sweat and change into dry clothes to keep the skin clean and dry. Of course, the most crucial aspect is maintaining a positive mindset to reduce stress.

Dietary Restrictions Effectively Prevent Eczema

The onset of eczema is closely related to certain food sensitivities, so dietary restrictions are essential in the treatment of skin sensitivity. During the treatment of skin diseases, patients should avoid consuming “triggering foods.” “Triggering foods” are those that can induce rashes and worsen the condition in skin disease patients. These triggering foods mainly include seafood, beef, sweets, spicy foods, and alcoholic beverages. Skin diseases are often caused by the accumulation of “dampness” and “heat,” leading to the formation of “toxins.” Patients with skin conditions usually have a constitution characterized by congenital weakness of the spleen and stomach. When they consume excessive amounts of spicy foods, shrimp, crab, seafood, and other highly stimulating foods, or when they consume a large amount of raw and cold food during the summer, it can lead to the accumulation of damp toxins in the body. This can easily cause abnormalities in spleen and stomach functions, increasing the likelihood of developing eczema.

How to use music to learn a language?

Source: Speech Therapist, Miss Carley

In order to help children learn a language, parents use various methods. Have you ever considered singing as one of the methods? Music is an international language and is highly engaging for children. We also have many different ways to use music to assist children in language learning.

One simple method is called “lyric filling.” This method can be used for children who may not yet be able to speak or can only say a few words. Parents can try using this method. Choose a familiar song that the child knows, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” However, instead of singing the entire song, use a single syllable to sing the entire song, for example, “ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma.” Then suddenly stop and wait for the child to hum or sing the remaining syllable. Parents can encourage the child to vocalize that particular syllable.

The second method is to sing action songs with children, which involve movements. For example, the well-known song “If You’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” You can sing this song with the child while performing different actions. Through this, children can learn different movements and some nouns and vocabulary.

Interestingly, music can enhance children’s memory. Have you ever noticed that there are many songs we heard when we were young or many years ago, and even if we haven’t sung them in years, we can still remember the lyrics? Therefore, we can simply sing the ABC Song with children to teach them basic English letters. We can also learn numbers with children, for example, “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians.”

If we want to teach children the English names of the days of the week, we can sing “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday” with them. By incorporating vocabulary into music, it makes it easier for children to remember the words.

The fourth method is to try singing out certain phrases, similar to singing. We can also use props to assist, such as simple flashcards. For example, if we want to say, “Chan Siu Ming is eating an apple,” we can sing it out using a musical approach, which enhances the child’s motivation and interest in communication.

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Happiness is actually simple – enjoy quality time with children

Written by: Marriage and Family Therapist, Child Play Therapist, Lee Wai Chee

Everyone hopes to find happiness, and parents are certainly no exception. Many times, parents are even willing to sacrifice their own immediate needs and happiness, hoping to exchange them for their children’s “happy life” in the future.

Most parents understand that their children’s future “happiness” is by no means guaranteed one hundred percent. However, many parents believe that not striving today will inevitably lead to failure tomorrow. In addition, the social atmosphere advocates “doing more is better than doing less,” and even considers not doing anything as laziness and passivity. As a result, all parents and children find themselves doing more and more, gradually losing their direction.

In online discussion forums, I often see some parents criticizing society and the education system for putting excessive pressure on children, stifling their growth space. However, on the other hand, they helplessly push their children to do various exercises every day, showing their helplessness and sense of powerlessness. The contradictions and dilemmas faced by parents are understandable, but these fears and anxieties can cause parents to easily miss the insights that children give us.

When a baby is born, they live a simple, direct, and natural life every day. When they are hungry, they eat; when they are full, they sleep; and when they wake up, they play. They explore the world in their own way and interact with the people around them. They laugh heartily when they are happy and cry out loudly when they are sad. Children tell us that human needs are actually quite simple, and as long as these needs are satisfied, they will be happy. It’s just that the adult world has become increasingly complex, and people’s desires have grown, causing adults to forget even their own needs and, as a result, become increasingly unhappy. Ironically, we still assume that we understand the “key” to a “happy life” and teach children how to find happiness.

Today’s society is filled with the anxiety and unease of adults who fear being marginalized by society and worry that their stable lives are threatened. As parents, they are even more concerned about their children’s future lives. In fact, children understand the essence of happiness best because they naturally live freely and at ease. However, somewhere along the way, parents hope that their children can adapt to the distorted rules of the real world as soon as possible, inadvertently erasing their natural and childlike qualities.

A child’s growth takes time. If parents can observe their lives with a calm mind, be patient, slow down, and enjoy every moment spent with their children, they may rediscover that happiness is not in the future but in the present moment.

There are various claims about eye protection. Which one is true?

Source:Specialist in Ophthalmology, Dr. Chan Cheuk Ki

Eyes are the windows to our souls, and we should take good care of them. There are various claims regarding eye protection, so which ones are true?

Claim 1 — Looking at more green scenery can prevent myopia?

To prevent myopia, we can start with environmental factors, such as cultivating good reading habits. We can follow the 20-20-20 rule, which means taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes of reading. During the break, you can close your eyes or look at something 20 feet away, like green trees. Therefore, the popular belief that looking at green scenery can rest the eyes is not about the color green itself but about focusing on distant objects. When looking at distant objects, the ciliary muscles of the eye, responsible for lens adjustment, can relax, slowing down the progression of myopia.

Claim 2 — Doing eye massages can prevent myopia?

As for eye massages, there is currently no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. However, there is a small tip for everyone: research conducted abroad has shown that engaging in more outdoor activities can help reduce the progression of myopia. Therefore, parents can take their children to the countryside or parks more often to play.

Claim 3 — Wearing glasses irregularly can worsen myopia

Firstly, myopia is the ability to see clearly up close but blurrier in the distance. If a child has myopia and needs to see clearly in the distance, such as during class, wearing glasses is necessary to have a clearer vision and not hinder learning. However, if a child has a mild degree of myopia, around 100 to 200 degrees, they can actually take off their glasses when looking at close objects like doing homework. As long as they can see close objects clearly at an appropriate distance without glasses, it is fine. However, it is important to note that if a child has amblyopia or strabismus, they must strictly follow the doctor’s instructions and may need to wear glasses for an extended period if necessary. Failing to do so may worsen the condition of strabismus or amblyopia.

How can I avoid being biased when caring for two children?

Source: Registered Clinical Psychologist, Yiu Fong Lee

Parents are sometimes overwhelmed when faced with two children. For example, when the older sibling comes to you, the younger sibling is crying. Often, we only care for the younger sibling and neglect the older one, who may say that the parents are biased and only care for the younger one. How do we try to balance the care between the two children and make them feel equally loved?

In the case of the above, perhaps when an older sibling comes to see you, your mother should tell him, “I need to take care of the younger sibling now because he may not be feeling well or he is crying. This will let the older sibling know that his mother needs to look after his younger sibling, “but mom is also very concerned about your situation, so why don’t I come back to you later, when mum has had some time to see what you need or to talk to you?”

Of course, if both parents are at home, the work can be divided. The father will stay with the older child and the mother will stay with the younger child, but Hong Kong people are busy and there may be only one parent at home, so there is a need to prioritise. When to take care of older children? When to take care of younger children?

The second scenario is to invite older brother or sister to join you in caring for younger sibling, for example, “Why don’t you come and help me and we’ll try together to see if we can calm him down together. For example, pat him, sing to him or talk to him. If the older brother or sister does this, the mother can give recognition and encouragement: “You are really doing a good job, you are a very good brother or sister, I am really happy to have such a good little helper. This makes him feel that he can be a part of it and that he can be a big brother or sister to help us out!

But after we have comforted the junior, we need to go back to the older sibling, asking him why he was coming to me. Does he want to talk to me or play with me?

Also, the most important thing is bedtime, as this is the most intimate time for bonding. If both children are also in a stable mood, we can have a nighttime routine for the three of us before bed. For example, we can sing together, listen to stories, and give each other a pat or a back massage. Mum may be able to pat both children while singing; we may pat one child with the left hand and one with the right, and invite a bigger brother or sister to join in the patting process. Maybe he pats his mom with one hand and his younger brother with the other, so that there is an intimate moment shared by the three of us, and sleep is like a relationship with the parents, but at the same time a time when the three of us are together.

We need to create regular and separate one-to-one special parent-child time, for example, mom with the older child on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and dad with the younger child on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In this way, the roles of the parents are switched and they spend time with different children, one on one, so that they can feel that their parents have a close time with them during this special parent-child time and so that the child can choose what he likes to play with, and then the parents follow the child’s suggestions and let the child take the lead.

For example, if he wants to play with toys, be with him; if he wants to play board games, be with him. At that time, just accompany him wholeheartedly. You may describe how he is feeling at the moment or what he is doing, so that he can feel that his parents are willing to give their time and love to him, and you may also plan for his siblings to have this special bonding time so that they can feel that their parents love them equally. We hope that the above methods will help parents manage the relationship between the two children so that they can feel equally loved by their parents.

Can children strengthen their limb muscles at home?

Source: Registered Physiotherapist, Hui Wing Yee

Children have a heavy academic workload and spend more time at home, losing many opportunities to exercise. However, the development of children’s limb muscles is very important, and some stretching exercises for the waist and upper limbs can be done at home.

The first set of exercises is the lunge and twist, which helps to exercise the core muscles and lower limb muscles. First, open your feet to hip width, place your hands on both sides of your body, step out with your right foot to maintain a 90-degree angle on both knees, open your hands with palms facing forward, slowly turn to the right, and hold for two seconds. Then return to the original position with hands hanging down, repeating on both sides ten times.

The second set of exercises is quadruped limb raises. These exercises help strengthen our back and limb muscles. If possible, use a yoga mat to avoid putting pressure on your knees. First, start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart. Lift your right hand and left leg straight out, creating a horizontal line. Tighten your back and abdominal muscles, hold for two seconds, then switch to your left hand and right leg. Alternate between both sides for a total of ten reps.

Is it important to establish a secure attachment with children?

Source: Specialist in psychiatry, Dr. Leung Yuen Shan

Every time the child is sent to school, they cry non-stop and have a difficult time separating from their mother. This may be a sign of a lack of security. Many studies have shown that a secure attachment is a foundation for a child’s success in life. How can parents establish a secure attachment with their children?

In fact, a secure attachment requires deliberate effort and a lot of hard work from the mother. A child’s trust in the world and their own confidence are closely related to their secure attachment to their mother.

When a child doesn’t feel safe, they usually have trouble being apart from their mother. Usually, when a child is separated from their mother, they may cry and fuss a bit but can be easily calmed down. However, a child with an unstable sense of security may become very upset and throw tantrums quickly. This is a sign that parents need to work on establishing a sense of security.

So, how can parents establish a sense of security? First of all, the mother must take care of herself. The mother’s mental health is the foundation of everything. If the mother is not taking good care of herself, she will not be able to take care of her child. If she finds that she has a real emotional problem, such as high mood swings, irritability, crying, insomnia, or the inability to eat, she should deal with it as soon as possible for the sake of the child’s future.

Children are constantly building a sense of security and trust in the world and people as they grow. Parents can continue to respond to and pay attention to their children during their childhood and establish more parent-child time through different activities to increase intimate communication. All of these efforts can help the child build confidence and a sense of security in the world.

Growing up, but not willing to walk. How to improve the children’s twisting and hugging habits?

Source: Psychotherapist, Lee Wai Tong

At the age of one, children gradually learn to walk. At first, children will be very excited to explore everywhere. But gradually, they will ask adults to hold them and not be willing to walk by themselves. Parents will be feeling headaches, sometimes the child may be really tired, and sometimes they just want to be held out of a sense of affection. What can parents do when their children ask for a hug?

Some parents have mentioned to me that their children couldn’t walk when they were one year old, but they wanted to walk very much. When they learn to walk later, they especially like to walk at that time. The parents were happy that the stroller could be left at home, thinking that the child would walk in the future. However, after the children became familiar with walking, they would want to be held by their parents, and even the parents would need to take a stroller and go everywhere in the stroller.

f you don’t have a stroller, it’s a big test of the parents’ physical strength. Of course, parents want their children to walk again, and some parents say, “If you don’t walk, we won’t go out.” Parents actually want to go out with their children, have fun, and walk around, so why not set a goal with them? For example, if you go there, you will hold them, and if you go there, you will walk, and you will make this commitment before you go out. For example, when the child is just out of the lift door and says he wants to be held, we have just said that we have to go downstairs, from the entrance of the estate down to the gate, before we can hold him. We have a goal for the child; the child moves naturally downstairs to hug, and the parents promised to carry him to the gate and place the child back on the ground.

Sometimes children would suddenly say they wanted to be hugged; parents could tell their children to walk to the other side of the light before hugging. On the one hand, we all enjoy parent-child fun, and secondly, children have a goal, know where to walk to hug, and are naturally more willing to walk a little more. Sometimes children are really tired, or the feeling of hugging is actually very intimate, so they want to hug to get the intimate feeling. So we need to let the children know that we will hug them, but there is a goal, for example, to walk there and hug them at that time, so that everyone will be happy.

Punishment or reward?

Source: Dr. Law Wai Pak, Assistant Professor of the Department of Psychology at the Education University of Hong Kong and a registered educational psychologist

 

When it comes to getting their kids to study, many parents feel very frustrated and wish their kids could be self-motivated. When it comes to improving their children’s motivation to learn, many parents first think of using rewards and punishments. But which is more effective, using a stick or a carrot?

In fact, I believe that most modern parents understand that punishment is not a very effective method because it can hurt children’s bodies and undermine their self-esteem. Does this mean that using rewards is more effective? For example, “If you finish your book, you can have a pack of chips.” However, this method also carries hidden risks.

First of all, this reward often has to be constantly increased in order to be effective. Secondly, when there are no rewards, children will not automatically be motivated to study. Besides using punishment and reward, is there a third way?

Here, I would like to introduce three treasures to everyone: “sense of competence,” “sense of autonomy,” and “sense of relatedness.” What is the sense of competence? It is the belief that a child can learn new things and handle challenges. Parents can choose some challenging learning materials or homework that is not too difficult or easy for their children. For example, when they come to the library to choose a book, they should not choose a book with too many difficult words. Children should at least understand 70–80% of the words in the book. In addition, parents should provide more positive and helpful feedback to their children, appreciate their efforts, and brainstorm problem-solving methods with them.

The second thing is the sense of autonomy. Sometimes children may have a high sense of ability, but they will not learn autonomously when they feel oppressed. What can parents do to enhance their children’s sense of autonomy? You can let them make more decisions, encourage them when they study, and only offer help when they need it. Also, don’t give them too many instructions or use rewards and punishments inappropriately, as this can erode their sense of autonomy.

Third, it’s the sense of relationship. Since birth, everyone has had a need to be loved and cared for, and when children feel loved and cared for, they develop trust in their parents. When you ask them to study again, they will take it more seriously. How can parents strengthen their sense of relationship with their children? Listen to them more often, express empathy, and interact with them with a warm attitude. The most important thing is unconditional love, which means loving them regardless of whether their grades are good or bad.

If next time we urge children to study but they refuse, we can start with these three aspects: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Stop and think: How can I satisfy the child’s needs in these three areas? When these three needs are met, children will naturally and automatically learn and grow.

Spinal problems should not be ignored. How to do the test at home?

Written by : Chiropractor, Dr. Wan Man Ho

Children are prone to sitting problems, even scoliosis and kyphosis. Parents should find out their children’s problems early and make corrections. But how can parents tell when their children have scoliosis and kyphosis problems?

For scoliosis, parents can try the Adam Test, a common test used by chiropractors, by asking a child to bend forward with his hands on the ground and see if there is a problem  with the muscles on either side of the spine. If there is, it means that there is a high probability of scoliosis.

In terms of kyphosis, it means looking from the side, the head is in front of the body, as if  the neck is stretched out, or the head is bowed for a long time and the shoulders are bent forward. Most children in Hong Kong have a functional condition, and often, as long as they are reminded to sit up straight, they will be able to sit up straight and stop having a kyphosis.

To improve the kyphosis, the most important thing is to open both shoulders, use the strength of the waist to lift the chest, and bring the chin back near the head. This is the most correct sitting posture and will improve the kyphosis.

If your child has any of these problems, you should take him or her to a professional, such as a chiropractor, physiotherapist, or even a podiatrist, to get checked out. 

Spine problems are related to the foot?

Some children have flat feet, resulting in a bit of in-toeing or out-toeing. The shape of the  foot will slowly affect the pelvis and create some highs and lows.

If a child often bumps his knees when learning to walk or even trips over himself after a    few steps, this may be a case of in-toeing or even an imbalance of the feet.