Parenting Articles

Reject the Busyness: Build Parent-Child Relationships Every Day

Parents should first handle their own emotions to help their children express their inner feelings.

Whether parents are working or full-time homemakers, they are busy every day with work, household chores, and taking care of their children. After school, children are also busy with homework, tutoring, and reviewing for exams. Leisure time is limited, and bedtime comes early. Dr. Wong Chung Hin, a specialist in psychiatry, points out, “Parents and students in Hong Kong are very busy, but we need to learn to ‘preprocess’ emotions or stress before they erupt, and establish a good parent-child relationship. Parents should set aside dedicated parent-child time every day to communicate with their children. Parents should also take care of their own emotions, which will help their children express their inner feelings.”

In the midst of busy daily life, parents need to take good care of themselves first in order to better care for their children. Dr. Wong suggests, “Rather than dealing with emotional problems after they arise, ‘preprocessing’ is more important. Parents can establish healthy habits with their children, ensuring they have sufficient rest. Many students have tutoring and homework to do after school, but a moderate amount of entertainment is also crucial. As mentioned earlier, daily parent-child communication time is necessary. Doing fun activities together, such as exercising, not only builds quality parent-child time but also improves emotions.”

Dr. Wong emphasizes, “Parents should review their disciplinary expectations, adjust disciplinary methods according to their children’s abilities to avoid putting too much pressure on them. Parents need to understand that every child will grow up, want to be independent, and have their own thoughts. Parents can understand the reasons behind their children’s behavior, such as not wanting to go to school or declining academic performance. Parents should investigate whether the underlying cause is excessive learning pressure and communicate with the school to make adjustments to their child’s learning.”

In fact, children’s emotions can be influenced by the emotions of their parents. Dr. Wong explains, “When children have emotional issues, it may be partly influenced by family history. However, in many cases, children with emotional problems have parents with poorer emotional well-being. Parents should always be aware of their own emotional states to avoid expressing emotions inappropriately. For example, when parents are dissatisfied with their children’s behavior, they may burst out in anger, which not only affects the parent-child relationship, making the child at a loss and afraid to communicate with their parents, but also influences the parents’ own perceptions, negatively characterizing the child’s behavior as ‘disobedient,’ ‘pretending,’ and lazy.”

Parents most commonly face the situation of children “not listening at all” and may find it hard to refrain from getting angry. However, Dr. Wong reminds, “During these times, parents should not confront their children directly. Instead, they can find a space to calm themselves, for example, by doing some slow breathing exercises to soothe their emotions. Once the parent has calmed down, they can then address the child and understand the underlying reasons for the child’s behavior. If parents cannot control their emotions, it will only complicate things and make it difficult to have a chance to communicate with their children.”

Dr. Wong suggests, “Everyone has a different personality, and the methods for handling stress also vary. Parents can work together with their children to establish stress management methods, whether it’s through exercise, drawing, listening to music, taking a good rest, or simply relaxing. However, when parents notice that their child’s emotional issues have persisted for a prolonged period, or have started to affect daily life, and especially if there are signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, parents should seek professional assistance for their children as soon as possible.”

Dr. Wong concludes with a message to parents: “Many parents are currently juggling work commitments, but it’s important for parents to consider setting aside a moment each day, putting work aside, and dedicating time to their children to build a strong parent-child relationship and enjoy quality time together. This way, parents can also pay attention to any changes in their children’s mental and emotional well-being, detect problems early, and prevent the development of emotional issues such as depression or anxiety.”

Parenting Articles

Children Falling Ill While Traveling – What to Do?

Written by : Doctor Cheung Kit

The year-end is a season of mixed emotions, with both joy and pain. The pain may come from children having exams or working parents being busy with the year-end matters for their companies. The joy lies in having a longer holiday, providing an opportunity for travel and relaxation. However, many parents are actually anxious because they have planned a trip with their children, and the concern arises: What if the child falls ill during this time?

If it’s an accident or a serious illness, the trip will inevitably be canceled. The bigger issue is when the child gets a minor illness, and there’s a fear it might affect the travel plans. First and foremost, the author suggests “prevention.” Some may wonder, how can illness be prevented? The answer is yes, as long as strict measures are taken in the two weeks before departure. Firstly, the author recommends getting the flu vaccine for the child at least two weeks before departure, as the vaccine takes half a month to take effect. Among many fever-related illnesses, only the flu has a vaccine that can be administered.

Next, among the most common simple infectious diseases in children, such as viral gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infections, chickenpox, and acute gastritis, the incubation period is generally within a week. Therefore, parents must try to avoid exposing their children to the sources of such diseases, including indoor play centers, swimming pools, hospitals, and playgrounds, among others. Although the measures may be stringent, if travel is the goal, some sacrifices may need to be made. Moreover, if unfortunately, the child falls ill within the two weeks before departure, theoretically, there should be enough time for recovery.

If the child falls ill just before the trip, the first thing to do is, of course, to see a doctor. When it is confirmed to be a minor ailment, pay attention to the following five points:

  1. Ask the doctor to prescribe enough medication until the end of the journey.
  2. If the medication (such as liquid antibiotics) needs to be stored in the refrigerator, consider the storage between hotels.
  3. Ask the doctor to prepare a letter or record of the course and diagnosis results in the health handbook for local medical personnel to follow.
  4. If you need to bring liquid medication on the plane, inquire with the airline first. When necessary, the doctor should notify the airline in writing in advance.
  5. Inquire with the travel insurance company about local arrangements for emergency medical care.

Sometimes, children falling ill cannot be completely avoided, but there are always things that can be coordinated.

Parenting Articles

Western children’s financial awareness education

Written by: Johnny Kwan, Curriculum Director of the International Gifted and Talented Development Education Institute

Education experts in the West believe that children should start learning financial knowledge from the age of 3 and have developed educational plans for various age groups, which can be referenced by Hong Kong parents.

Age 3: Recognize coins, understand their values, and differentiate between paper money and coins.

Age 4: Learn to use money to buy simple items like crayons, small toys, and snacks. It’s best for parents to be present when making purchases to prevent businesses from taking advantage of children.

Age 5: Understand that money is earned through labor and engage in basic monetary transactions.

Age 6: Can count larger sums of money and begin learning about saving, fostering a sense of ‘my own money.’

Age 7: Can look at product price tags and compare them with their money to determine their purchasing power.

Age 8: Understand how to open a bank account and save money, as well as find ways to earn pocket money, such as selling newspapers.

Age 9: Can create their own budget plan and grasp the concept of buying and selling.

Age 10: Knows how to save and spend their allowance wisely, including buying more expensive items when necessary, such as rollerblades and scooters.

Age 11: Learn to evaluate commercial advertisements, identify value-for-money products, and understand the concepts of discounts and promotions.

Age 12: Understand the value of money, recognizing that it is hard-earned and develop a sense of thrift.”

After the age of 12, children can fully participate in adult society’s business activities, such as financial management and transactions.

From the above plan, it is clear that Western societies place a strong emphasis on children’s financial awareness education, which is related to the developed consumer economy in Western countries. From this, we can draw several insights:

Money is integral to daily life:

Children’s interest in money develops earlier than their understanding of many other things. A few trips to the shopping mall with parents are often enough to firmly establish the concept of money’s utility in a child’s mind.

The close relationship between money knowledge and character education:

When children understand that money should be earned through labor, they develop a sense of valuing and sharing money, which leads to saving and prevents wastefulness. In Hong Kong, many students show no appreciation for money and engage in reckless spending, a phenomenon closely related to the lack of financial education.

Teaching children to save money instills good habits:

This will be beneficial to them when they grow up and engage in financial careers. John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Rockefeller Foundation in the United States, received a weekly allowance of 10 cents from his grandfather during his childhood. His grandfather would check if he had increased that amount by the weekend, prompting young Rockefeller to sell newspapers on the street and cultivate the concept of earning money through labor.

In hindsight, John D. Rockefeller’s childhood not only had great significance for his future as a business titan but also offers valuable lessons for children’s financial education worldwide.

Parenting Articles

The four major preparations for enrolling in first grade

Source: Senior Parenting Education Expert Bally

In fact, preparing for the transition to first grade can be more stressful and time-consuming. If you were to ask me, I would recommend that parents should start from Pre-Nursery to “analyze first and then plan.” But how to analyze first?

Many parents are not entirely clear about the various types of schools in Hong Kong. For instance, we have traditional government-subsidized schools, Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools, private schools, and international schools. What are the differences between these types of schools? What are their educational philosophies? What is the ideal type of school for parents based on their financial situation and aspirations?

They should first understand and analyze this, which will give them a goal. Once they have a goal, we can move on to the next step, which is to personally attend the orientation sessions of each school. Why do we believe that parents should start preparing from Pre-Nursery (PN)? Because many schools often hold orientation sessions only once a year. These orientation sessions often occur at the same time. If we wait until the year of K2 to attend these sessions, and we are interested in three different schools, and all of them schedule their sessions on the same Saturday at the same time, parents may miss out.

Secondly, it’s important to note that these orientation sessions have limited spots. While many people may sign up, there are often only a few hundred to a thousand slots available. During the course of a single day, there may be over 5,000 registrations. With such high demand, it’s possible not to secure a spot, which means you won’t have the opportunity to attend. This is why we need to prepare one to three years in advance, considering whether the school’s philosophy is suitable for your child.

If you have been attending orientation sessions for your preferred schools for the first one or two years, by the final year, you should revisit your top one to three choices multiple times. This is because educational changes in Hong Kong happen rapidly and frequently. By attending multiple sessions, you can confirm your preferred school.

In many cases, the first time someone attends may be the mother, and the second time, it may be the father. It’s essential for the family to be in agreement, so attending orientation sessions together to understand the school’s philosophy is crucial. Once everyone has a shared understanding, you can move on to the third step, where the family sits down to discuss the direction of your child’s education. What kind of education do you envision for your child’s future? Do you want a very traditional teaching method, or do you want a happy one? Some schools are called “Happy School,” but many parents mistakenly think that a “Happy School” may not be effective.

In fact, there are two major categories of “Happy School” now. Some “Happy Schools” focus solely on happiness, but their curriculum may not align with the first-grade curriculum. Others combine happiness with effectiveness, and students from these schools have the ability to select their preferred schools because they can keep up with the first-grade curriculum. Therefore, parents need to understand what a “Happy School” is, what their teaching philosophy is, and how effective they are.

Once parents reach a consensus, it’s time to truly and thoroughly select the school that is most suitable for the child. Many times, parents may choose the best school for their child because it’s considered the best. However, what is considered the best may not necessarily be the most suitable. As parents, our goal should be to find a school that is the best fit for our child. For example, if a child is very active, parents may wonder whether they should choose a more traditional school that enforces discipline and expects students to sit still. But what if the child is like a “wild horse” and sitting still is not their nature? Or if a child struggles with English, should they attend an English primary school, or should they go to an international school?

In reality, consider this: if a child’s learning abilities are far from meeting the school’s primary requirements, they may not even want to go to school. If a child is weak in English and strong in Chinese but chooses an English primary school, they might not understand what the teacher is saying, and they would have no interest in English at all. In this case, you could argue that the child doesn’t need to attend school because they won’t grasp what the teacher is teaching, and their poor performance in English could negatively impact their overall academic progress and their interest in learning.

Parents often ask how to make the right choice. To analyze this, let’s use the analogy of a small fish in a big pond versus a big fish in a small pond. If a child attends a school where their learning abilities and performance are in the middle to upper range within that school, their confidence will increase, and they won’t feel inferior to their peers. However, if they attend a school considered “good” or prestigious but their abilities are not up to par, they may struggle and feel like a small fish in a big pond. In this scenario, the child is likely to be unhappy throughout their learning journey and may feel underestimated.

So, I would recommend that parents, first and foremost, understand how to choose a suitable school. You need to comprehend the school’s educational philosophy and evaluate the academic standards for students after they enter first grade to determine if your child is a good fit in terms of English, Chinese, and mathematics. If you believe that your child can handle these aspects well and is already coping with them, then this school is likely the right fit for your child.

Parenting Articles

Being a parent can be stressful, it’s important to manage anxiety promptly

Source: Psychiatrist Dr. Wong Chun Yin

As parents, we have to juggle work and family responsibilities. Under significant stress, it’s easy to experience anxiety. Anxiety is a natural, built-in response, and it can protect us when our lives are threatened. However, excessive worry can lead to physical discomforts like a racing heart, stomachaches, muscle tension, rapid breathing, headaches, trembling hands, sweating, or frequent urination. If not addressed in a timely manner, it can lead to more serious emotional issues and can also affect family relationships.

Here are three ways to reduce anxiety symptoms. First is practicing relaxation through deep breathing, using diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4, letting your abdomen rise for 2 seconds, then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 4. Pause for 2 seconds and repeat this process 5 to 10 times.

The second method is muscle relaxation exercises. Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down, gently close your eyes, and relax all your muscles. Start by shifting your focus to your feet, tense the muscles in your feet for 10 seconds, and then release. Proceed sequentially, tensing and relaxing the muscles in your legs, arms, neck, and facial muscles.

Lastly, there is imagery relaxation practice. In a quiet place, close your eyes and imagine a comfortable setting, visualizing what you see, hear, smell, and feel for 5 to 10 minutes. Gradually return to the present reality.

Additionally, it’s important to cultivate a positive thinking pattern in your daily life. Try to see the bright side of things at all times rather than dwelling on unhappy thoughts constantly, which can reduce the chances of developing mood disorders.

Parenting Articles

Everyday life is full of eye use. Adults
and children do eye exercises together.

Source : Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Chiu Shi Cheung

Many children today spend a lot of time looking at computers, phones, or reading, which can strain their eyes. There are some acupoint massages that can help children relieve eye strain.

The first acupoint we’ll introduce is the “Zan Chuk” point. It’s located at the very front end of the eyebrows, about half an inch downward, at the corner of the eye socket. Another acupoint is called the “Jing Ming” point. It’s located at the side of the nasal bridge, right in the middle between the two eyes, near the inner edge of each eye. The third point is the “Si Pak” point, which is about 1 inch below the eyes, roughly the width of two fingers apart. It’s in front of the cheekbone, and when you touch it, there should be a slight depression just below the eyes; this is the “Si Pak” point. The last acupoint is the “Shi Chuk Hung” point, located at the very end of the eyebrow. All four of these points can help with dispersing wind, clearing heat, and improving vision.

Once we know the locations of these acupoints, how do we massage the eye area?

First, let’s start with the first point, the “Zan Chuk” point. You’ll use your four fingers to hold down the eyebrows, and then use your thumb to press on the “Zan Chuk” point. The “Zan Chuk” point is right at the very front end of the eyebrows, in the depression at the corner of the eye socket. Hold it with your four fingers and your thumb, and gently rotate 64 times in opposite directions.

The second acupoint is called “Jing Ming” Point, located in the area in front of the inner corner of the eye, between the eyebrow and the bridge of the nose. We use two fingers to gently pinch the bridge of the nose and then slowly massage it up and down, repeating this motion 64 times.

The third acupoint is called “Si Pak” Point. It is located on the inner edge of the cheekbone on our face. In fact, when you touch it, you’ll feel a slight depression. Using two fingers, place them on either side of the bridge of the nose, and you will be able to locate this point. Gently press inside, and you will feel a slight soreness. After locating it, you can also rotate the pressure 64 times.

The fourth acupoint is Shi Chuk Hung Point. To locate it, use your thumbs to first press on both sides of the temples. Then, starting from the Shi Chuk Hung Point, sweep upward to the Shi Chuk Hung Point again, and then continue downward, below the eyes, to the Shi Chuk Hung Point. This constitutes one cycle, and repeat this motion 64 times.

By massaging these four acupoints, you can not only relieve eye fatigue but also improve the blood circulation around the eyes and prevent eye conditions such as nearsightedness. When we do eye exercises, remember to keep our eyes closed throughout the entire process. After completing the eye exercises, it’s also important to keep your eyes closed for 2 to 5 minutes. We typically press each acupoint for 64 times. Why 64 times? It’s because, from the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine “eighty-eight sixty-four“, we call it the “first of eight eights” meaning the most important.