Parents Zone

What constitutes a language development delay in a child?

Source: Speech Therapist, Mok Yee Tuen

Typically, babies start making sounds as soon as they are born, such as different crying sounds to express their demands. From 4 to 8 months, they start babbling, which is part of the language preparation period. Children actually go through a ladder of language development, starting with just learning single words and ending with being able to tell stories with their words.

Babies from 9 months to 1 year generally start producing their first meaningful word, such as “ba,”  “ma,” or “ball ball.” From 1 to 2 years old, their understanding and vocabulary expression increase greatly, with the accumulation of single words forming two-word phrases, such as “mommy drink” and “eat bun bun.”

From 2 to 3 years old, children generally speak in longer sentences and can express different needs. For example, they like to add a word to the two-word phrases, forming three-word combinations, such as “Daddy eat bun” and “I want grandma.” Some children start using adjectives, such as “sister eats a big apple.”

Young children generally recognize more different sentences and start using conjunctions after 3 and a half years old, and by 5 years old, they slowly understand how to combine different sentences and use more conjunctions and start to narrate things logically, that is, by telling stories.

In fact, the language development of young children is slightly different for each person, but through empirical research, we also have some important reference indicators to see if a child may have a speech delay.

The first is that there are no words at 2 years old.

Second, no sentences appear before the age of three.

The third is that speech is unclear and hard to understand after 3 years old,

Fourth, sentences are still unclear after 5 years old.

If the child is not speaking more and more as they grow, parents should seek the help of a professional to assess and train them as soon as possible.

Why don’t children want to do homework?

Source: Senior Parenting Education Expert, Bally

 

After school every day, asking children to sit down and do homework is like sending them to war. Usually, there are several reasons why children do not like or do not want to do their homework. How can parents help their children?

First, they really do not know how to do it. How can we tell if they really don’t know how to do it? I have found that many children go home and find that 80% of the homework requires parent guidance, so they can’t handle it on their own and naturally wait for their parents to come home. From the parents’ perspective, they will feel that their children do not want to do homework.

Second, the child actually understands how to do the homework 80% of the time, but they actually want their parents to accompany them, so they will fight for time with their parents. Once the parents are together, they pretend not to understand. In fact, they are not trying not to understand but are unconsciously hoping for their parents to accompany them and do homework together.

Third, they may be too tired. The parents may not have given the children a proper schedule, causing them to do homework in an unfavorable state, which is why they don’t want to do it.

If the child does not understand how to do the homework at first, the parents should communicate effectively with the school. If the school is willing to adjust the level of homework to suit the child, the parents won’t have to worry about the level difference. If the child doesn’t like doing homework, over time they will dislike going to school and eventually lose motivation to learn. Therefore, we must communicate with the school to see if they can give him some easier homework so that the child can enjoy the process of doing homework.

If the school is unable to cooperate, then the parents need to think about how to guide from the sidelines. Let the child gradually take some courses that start from easy to difficult on weekends, or give some words that the child can recognize, or through some games, let the child understand and slowly enjoy doing homework.

In fact, the biggest concern in the education sector is that students have already resisted learning, resisting going to school, and resisting doing homework. So we must seriously face the reasons why children are unwilling to do homework. Some children love to stick with their parents, but what do most parents do with their children when they get home now in our society? It’s doing homework; this is their only parent-child time. If the only parent-child time is not good or pleasant, it will cause many problems in the family or marriage.

If the child does not want to do homework and just wants to wait for the parents, the parents can play with and accompany the child while doing homework. You can read a book or do something similar to homework near the child, such as bringing work home to do, to make the child feel like you are accompanying them and both of you are doing something.

A worrying situation is when many parents say, “Okay, you do it; I’ll be here,” but in reality, they are watching TV, using their phone, or playing games. This makes the child feel that you are not really accompanying them and that you are not doing the same thing. Even if the child knows how to do most of it, it is preferable for the parent to spend some time watching him or her do it rather than doing something else. Continuously complimenting him/her while watching: “Good job; you can really do it!” gives more praise, which is the best approach.

If the child reaches the end of the K3 school term, they have already grown up and are quite independent. Parents may believe, “They are so big now, I shouldn’t go with them to do their homework anymore.” But in reality, parents should have a schedule in place for their children to follow from a young age. For example, when the child comes home from school, they need to take a break, have a snack, and play for a while. After maybe half an hour or 45 minutes, it’s time for homework.

In K1 and K2, parents can accompany their child while they do homework. But when they reach K3, parents can use a reward system. For example, “If I come home from work today and see that you have finished your homework, I will give you a sticker.” “If you are well-behaved and take a bath after finishing your homework, I will give you another sticker.” Give the child a schedule to follow and reward them with stars or hearts for each sticker they earn. On the child’s schedule, if they accumulate enough stars in a week, the mother should make some promises, such as going to the park. The rewards are best for parent-child activities, not toys, gifts, or candy.

How should parents deal with young children who are overly addicted to cell phone games?

Source: Family Dynamic, Marriage and Family Therapist, and Hypnotherapist, Wong Shi Ming

 

Phones emit light and sound, which always attracts children to play endlessly. Some children cannot let go of their phones no matter what they are doing, whether it is eating, riding in a car, or going to school. How can parents solve this problem?

First of all, everyone should understand that the children’s reaction is inevitable. Phones can provide a lot of sensory stimulation, and there is no game over. It can be restarted, which gives a sense of accomplishment and can also distance children from the pressure and frustration of parents and school, making them feel invincible. Physiologically speaking, playing electronic games will release a large amount of dopamine in the brain, which excites and stimulates the frontal lobe, and gradually loses self-control. Therefore, many adults cannot control themselves, let alone children?

Children can also be drawn to phones without realizing it, which gives most parents in Hong Kong nightmares today. I see many parents and children caught in a never-ending cycle of struggle and frustration. If not controlled, it not only affects children’s learning but also seriously affects their focus, brain development, health, and eye diseases. Therefore, phone addiction will also be listed as a form of psychological addiction, like alcohol and drugs.

In fact, I have seen a middle school student addicted to playing the mobile game “PUBG,” where he had to pick up items on the ground, some of which could be booby-trapped and explode. What caused him to be hospitalized? He was unable to use his hands to hold objects; instead, he had to touch them lightly, which caused him to feel nervous. He was afraid of using his fingers to pick up things. Therefore, if you discover such a problem, you can handle it early and prevent situations like the one above from happening.

Parents have more experience, wisdom, and resources than their children, and you can’t lose as a parent. Your only weakness is that you love your child too much. You may be too soft-hearted, but you need to know that it’s easy to give but hard to take it back. Therefore, parents should first negotiate a reasonable and feasible plan with their children, such as allowing 30 minutes of playtime per day, but only after they finish their homework.

As for controlling children, parents should first choose an appropriate battlefield, avoiding public places, and the best place is at home. Even when taking the phone away, parents should try to avoid physical contact, such as snatching or unplugging the phone cord, which could harm the relationship with their child. Parents should first use a gentle and affirmative tone to warn their child multiple times. If the child still refuses to hand over the phone, remind him of the consequences he agreed to, and eventually, when he falls asleep, you will be able to retrieve it. But parents must firmly execute the consequences without any room for negotiation, even if it means resorting to negative strategies.

To provide a more positive approach, parents can offer opportunities for their children to engage in outdoor activities together and create a family environment that gives children options, a sense of achievement, and a chance to start over, building their confidence and abilities, all of which can help attract children away from their phones.

Finally, many parents worry that if their child doesn’t have a phone while other children do, it could lead to feelings of inadequacy and concerns about falling behind in their development. So, I know it’s not possible to keep kids away from phones completely, but I think parents should try to keep their kids away from phones for as long as possible, especially when they’re young.

At the same time, parents should be careful and not take this issue lightly. With enough creativity and interaction with their children and by remaining persistent, parents can change their children’s habits.

When there are differences in parenting, remember that “avoidance is not shameful and can be useful.”

Source:  Family Dynamic Psychotherapist, Yuen Wai Man

 

Parents’ upbringing backgrounds, education levels, or family of origin may differ in parent-child interaction, so it is quite normal for parents to have differing opinions on something.

When there are indeed different opinions, parents should find a calm environment to discuss their own perspectives and views on the problem. In any situation, we don’t want parents to argue directly in front of their children. For example, Dad can explain to Mom, “When I’m unhappy or under work pressure, I use my phone to vent and reduce stress, so I don’t think it’s a problem for kids to play with phones.”

And the wife can also express this to her husband: “Actually, I hope you can support me and understand that taking care of children is also very difficult for me.” Everyone can discuss calmly and equally in a peaceful environment. In fact, in the parenting environment, parents’ steps must be consistent.

Parents, for example, are like dancing partners in parenthood. When the father steps forward, the mother should step back. When the father raises his arms, the mother should spin around. This is a natural rhythm. If they can work together effectively, not only the dancing couple but also the onlookers can enjoy the dance. But if everyone insists on their own stance without compromise, the dance will be a mess.

In the family environment, children are often the most faithful and loyal audience, always standing in the center of the hall watching how their parents dance. So if the parents dance poorly, the audience will also be restless, the atmosphere will become tense, and more problems will arise. On the dance floor, parents will also trample on each other, causing more pain.

If there is a situation where the parents cannot see eye to eye and are in a heated argument, we would suggest that one of them leaves the scene. It’s not a matter of winning or losing or saving face, but rather allowing everyone to catch their breath and take a break. In a family environment, it’s not a competition between parents because the real victim will always be the child. So when parents are in a heated argument and cannot compromise, one of them should step back, cool down, and leave the scene. This would be better for everyone involved.

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.