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We should be grateful to others for being willing to ‘offer help’

In this era, parents’ protection of their children surpasses that of any previous generation. This may be due to the decrease in the number of children and the improvement in living standards, leading to parents spending more time and providing more comprehensive care for their children. Under such (possibly excessive) protection, children often become very self-centered and disregard the importance of others. From the parents’ perspective, they are inevitably biased and more tolerant of their own children. When faced with their children’s inappropriate behavior, parents tend to make excuses for them. This common human behavior, however, may lead to children becoming unruly. Therefore, in the difficult situation of balancing right and wrong, if someone is willing to “offer help and guidance,” parents should be grateful. The following are “important figures.”

1. Teachers

Teachers are among the people who spend the most time with children. We would prefer teachers to directly point out the rights and wrongs to children during their daily interactions. This direct message can effectively “sink in” for the children. Sometimes, facing negative criticism, children will naturally feel unhappy, but it helps them understand the boundaries. Therefore, parents should appreciate the strict guidance of teachers and avoid casually complaining about their efforts.

2. Elders

Many elders may be very strict with their own children but tend to be much more lenient with their grandchildren, sometimes even more so than the children’s parents. However, the status and life experience of elders are actually superior to anyone else’s. Therefore, their “one word of praise” can be more effective than others’ advice. The question is whether they are willing to play the role of the bad guy. If they are, parents should be grateful for their assistance.

3. Medical Personnel

Medical personnel have always been relatively respected. However, children often have an aversion to medical procedures. Therefore, during consultations and treatments, children’s reactions often present a good teaching opportunity. If medical personnel (including doctors and nurses) are willing to provide guidance when children exhibit uncooperative behavior, the children will likely understand better. Although they may not correct their behavior immediately, it will certainly help in their life learning process.

4. Passersby

Sometimes, unrelated bystanders can immediately point out inappropriate behavior in children, which can have a startlingly effective impact. For the parents present, this might be a bit embarrassing, but thinking it through, it is beneficial for the child’s behavior.

Children in their growth and learning phase need proper guidance, especially when their behavior deviates. Therefore, if parents are unwilling to play the “bad guy,” we should be grateful and appreciative if others are willing to speak up and correct the child.

 

Written by: Dr. Cheung Kit

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Encountering a ‘mismatched’ child is an opportunity for parents to grow

When a child is born, people like to discuss his appearance, using his resemblance to his parents as a topic of conversation, and talk about which attractive features he has inherited from them. As he grows older and his temperament begins to show, they also like to explore whose personality he resembles.

It is generally easier to get along with someone who has a similar temperament because similar personalities and preferences make it easier to connect. If a child has a temperament similar to their parents, it seems to make parenting easier. However, it often seems like God enjoys playing jokes on us by giving us “mismatched” children: an outgoing and lively mother ends up with a quiet and introverted daughter; a hot-tempered father faces a sensitive and sentimental son; a mother who doesn’t understand fun encounters a hedonistic son.

Parents who seek help often share the common issue of having difficulty getting along with their “mismatched” child. They cannot accept the child’s nature, do not understand the child’s behavior, and do not know how to properly guide their child.

The outgoing and lively mother “complained” to me: “My daughter dawdles, is hesitant, and doesn’t dare to make friends outside.” She couldn’t understand: “What’s so difficult about brushing teeth? What’s so scary about attending English class? What’s there to be shy about when meeting other kids?” Why is her daughter nothing like her but instead resembles her indecisive, introverted, timid, and unambitious father? As she spoke, she indirectly revealed to me that her problem was not accepting her spouse and projecting her dissatisfaction with her spouse onto their daughter. Therefore, the issue was not with her daughter but with their marital relationship.

The hot-tempered father had to come for advice because his son only got along with his mother and not with him. He deeply loved his son and did not want him to grow up being overly sensitive and tearful like a girl. The older the child got, the more anxious the father became. However, under insults and strict orders, the child did not become stronger but instead became more withdrawn, clinging to his mother and refusing to leave her side. It was only after understanding the situation that it became clear that this father had grown up amidst beatings and insults. He believed his own strength came from such an upbringing, not realizing that those painful experiences had become implicit memories affecting his relationship with his son.

The mother, who claimed she did not know how to play and did not need to play, was at a loss with her son, who was solely focused on playing. She said her son was careless with his studies but persistently focused on play. How could she change her son’s attitude towards his studies? I was curious about this mother’s claim—who wouldn’t like to play? Seeking happiness is human nature, so why did she insist she did not need entertainment? It turned out that she was also playful as a child but was strictly disciplined by her mother, who did not allow her to “waste” time. Gradually, her life lacked playmates, and when she played with her mother, her mother remained serious and uncompromising, often causing her to lose and feel sad. Over time, she grew to dislike playing games. Her mother “successfully” shaped her into someone who “did not like” to play, someone who appeared strong and focused on studies but was also rigid, insecure, and lacking in joy. No wonder she did not understand how to get along with her naturally joyful son.

It turns out that God “mismatched” children for us with a purpose. He wants us to reflect on our relationships with our spouses and parents, and our own growth experiences through the frustrations of interacting with our children, thereby sorting out these relationships and resolving these emotional knots.

 

Parents’ lack of acceptance of their children is a reflection of their lack of acceptance of themselves. A lack of confidence in their children is a lack of confidence in themselves. By taking care of “mismatched” children, parents feel challenged and then become aware of their own pain points. With the help of a therapist, they begin a journey of self-exploration. They clarify and straighten out their family relationships, gaining rebirth and growth in the process. Children are born as they are, and there is no mismatch. Let us make good use of this opportunity for growth!

 

Written by: Lai Shun Mei, Family Dynamics Counselor and Global Career Developer

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Obsession: Separation Anxiety

Around nine months of age, babies become unusually clingy. Even if the mother goes to the bathroom, the baby may appear extremely anxious, clinging tightly to the mother and even crying loudly.

Separation anxiety can lead to two different types of reactions. In some cases, when separated from the caregiver, the baby will exhibit attachment-seeking behaviors, such as clinging to the mother, trying every possible way to find the mother, or crawling wherever the mother goes (Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1971). Separation can also result in behaviors such as despair, resistance, and detachment, depending on the duration of the separation (Bowlby, 1960; Robertson & Robertson, 1989).

A child’s reaction to separation can also change depending on the environment. For example, in a familiar home environment, the child will exhibit less anxiety compared to being in an unfamiliar environment (Ross, Kagan, Zelazo, & Kotelchuck, 1975).

Around seven months of age, the concept of object permanence begins to emerge in children. They understand that even if they cannot see someone or something, it does not mean that the person or object has disappeared. When children are able to establish this concept, their separation anxiety will relatively decrease. If the mother can frequently communicate with the child, express positive emotions and feelings towards the infant, and provide appropriate stimulation and assistance, the child will more easily grasp and apply the concept of object permanence to both objects and people (Chazan, 1981).

Helping children cope with separation anxiety requires a certain amount of time, allowing the child and caregiver to develop a close, attached emotional relationship (Attachment), and waiting for the child’s own development to mature before it can be effective. For a two-year-old child, they can use photographs to alleviate their feelings of sorrow when separated from their caregiver (Passman & Longeway, 1982); a three-year-old child can even stay overnight at their grandparents’ house without their parents being present.

Whether a child can develop this kind of “resilience” depends on whether the caregiver and the child can establish a close emotional relationship. Once the mutual relationship is established, the child can soothe their anxiety caused by separation by imagining the image of their parents and recalling their parents’ love (Development Through Life, Barbara M. Newman, Philip R. Newman, Wadsworth, 2003).

 

Written by: Hong Kong Registered Psychologist, Ching Wai Keung

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Chronic cough? Bronchitis? Or Asthma?

The children can’t stop coughing, often continuing for an entire month, especially severe in the middle of the night, waking up from coughing, leading to insomnia, and then falling asleep from extreme fatigue. This is torturous for both children and adults! What exactly causes this persistent coughing? Is it sensitivity or inflammation of the trachea? Upon consulting a doctor, it turns out this is also a form of asthma!

Children are naturally more prone to having narrower airways due to their young age, making them more susceptible to nasal congestion, snoring, and even shortness of breath even with just a common cold. However, unlike bronchitis, a common cold usually recovers within a week, but the cough from bronchitis can last over twenty days, so it’s not surprising that the coughing continues for a month from the onset of the illness.

This leads to another question: Why does bronchitis occur? According to doctors, one common cause is the child contracting the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV). This is a very common virus that spreads through droplets and air. It causes the airways to constrict and become inflamed, producing mucus that accumulates and further narrows the airways, stimulating the patient to cough and creating a vicious cycle. Doctors indicate that in these cases, bronchodilator medication may be prescribed to reduce symptoms and allow the child’s immune system to fight off the virus. However, once a child has been infected with RSV, the airways are somewhat damaged, increasing the likelihood of developing asthma in the future. As the doctor explained, my eldest son had indeed been hospitalized due to RSV infection in the past, and since then, every time he catches a cold and coughs, his recovery time is longer than that of my younger son!

“So it seems your eldest son might indeed have asthma,” the doctor’s conclusion was definitely the last thing I wanted to hear. Asthma, in its worst case, can be fatal! Wait, that’s the worst-case scenario. The doctor added that asthma is actually classified into four stages.

Stage 1: Intermittent Asthma

Usually caused by respiratory viruses such as RSV or filtrable viruses, occurring sporadically a few times a year, with normal conditions the rest of the time. Therefore, it is only necessary to use a bronchodilator during episodes of airway constriction and shortness of breath to relieve discomfort without significant side effects, and there is no need for long-term medication.

However, if the airway constriction is not properly relieved, the airways can become increasingly prone to narrowing, and the asthma could progress.

Stage 2: Mild Persistent Asthma

Patients have episodes about once or twice a month, and bronchodilators are insufficient to manage the condition. Inhaled steroids are needed to “treat the root cause” and control inflammation. Inhaled steroids come in different strengths, and the doctor will prescribe the appropriate dosage as needed.

Stage 3: Moderate Persistent Asthma

Patients have asthma attacks on average once a week and need to use a bronchodilator daily.

Stage 4: Severe Persistent Asthma

Patients need to use a bronchodilator daily, three to four times a day, while also using inhaled steroids to control the condition.

Following the doctor’s advice, I should no longer be afraid to let my child use inhaled bronchodilators! Relieving the child’s coughing and asthma symptoms early on can also hopefully prevent the worsening of asthma conditions in the long run.

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Why are children always distracted while eating?

Many children aged 4 to 5 tend to look around and fidget during meals because they are not yet adept at using utensils. Additionally, their short attention spans, still-developing sense of time, curiosity about their surroundings, or even a desire to avoid eating may contribute to their lack of focus.

Short Attention Spans

Children aged 4 to 5 generally need longer meal times than adults. This is partly because they are not yet familiar with using utensils, which can lead to clumsiness, and partly because their chewing and digestive abilities are still developing, necessitating longer meal times. Furthermore, due to their short attention spans, low self-control, and lack of time awareness, they are easily distracted by their environment. When they become engrossed in something interesting, they may even forget about their meal in front of them, often requiring repeated reminders from parents to continue eating, which prolongs mealtime.

Parents dealing with children who have short attention spans can try to create a consistent, quiet, familiar, and simply arranged dining environment. They can set a reasonable time limit for meals and remind the children periodically of the time limit to ensure they finish their meals within that timeframe.

Curiosity About the Surroundings

Additionally, some children are naturally “observational” learners with strong curiosity, often learning new things by observing through their eyes. Even during meals, they might look around, continuing to learn. Although this behavior might seem like they are not concentrating, they rarely “forget” to eat; they simply continue eating while indulging in their observations. For such observational learners, instead of letting them look around, parents might consider engaging them with books during meals to foster a reading interest.

Of course, there are also “mixed-type” children and those who look around to avoid eating foods they dislike, deliberately delaying or performing small actions to draw attention. Therefore, to address the issue of children looking around during meals, parents need to carefully observe and understand the underlying problems.

No Need to Rush Meals

The pace of life in Hong Kong is fast, and meal times are becoming increasingly shorter. Sometimes, seeing children eat slowly can make parents anxious. Ultimately, if time permits, children should be given ample time to chew slowly and savor the taste of their food. Lastly, parents might consider reducing the portion sizes for their children, making it easier for them to finish their meals at the table. This approach can reduce potential conflicts at the dining table and increase the children’s motivation to eat more when they feel hungry.

 

\Written by: Heep Hong Society Educational Psychologist Team

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How to deal with a bad temper?

Firstly, we must understand that it is extremely important for children to be able to express the emotion of anger for their development of autonomy. During early childhood (around two to three years old), the developmental crisis is precisely ‘development of autonomy’ versus ‘shame and doubt’ (Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt). What we should address is the behavior resulting from the child’s emotions, not to prohibit or even negate the child’s emotions.

Additionally, anger is a common emotion, experienced by both children and parents. When children attempt to express their anger, they often model their parents’ behavior. If parents display anger towards their children, or if there is arguing between parents, children will use these behaviors as important references for developing and controlling their emotions (Bandura, 1977). Arguments between parents, malicious teasing, or even violence can heighten children’s sensitivity to anger and disrupt their normal development (Cummings, Pellegrini, Notarius, & Cummings, 1989). Therefore, for children to have a good temperament, parents must first pay attention to their own ways of interacting.”

What methods can help young children better control and reduce the intensity of their anger? Berkowitz and Thompson offer the following suggestions (Berkowitz, 1973; Thompson, 1990):

  1. Ignoring offensive behaviors: If the behavior is aimed at obtaining a specific object (such as a toy), parents should not satisfy the child due to their behavior, nor should they punish them for it; simply not responding may suffice.
  2. Use of a ‘calm down corner’: Set up a quiet area in the home, free from any stimuli or attractions, as a space for children to calm down. When a child has an emotional outburst or behaves inappropriately, they can be sent to this calm down corner. This isn’t necessarily a form of reprimand but a way to allow the child’s emotions to settle, similar to the need to use the restroom; it’s a normal requirement. If used appropriately, when children feel emotional in the future, they might naturally go to the calm down corner to soothe themselves.
  3. Evoking emotions incompatible with anger, especially empathy for the victim.
  4. Reducing exposure to situations or objects that may trigger the child’s anger: Before children have fully developed self-control, reducing opportunities for anger also means reducing conflicts between parents and children.
  5. Explaining the consequences of their behavior.
  6. Examining the causes of the angry emotions.

(Development Through Life, Barbara M. Newman, Philip R. Newman, Wadsworth, 2003, pp. 197)

The above strategies can be tailored to different situations. For instance, if a child acts violently out of anger, parents can focus on explaining the consequences and evoking empathy for the victim. If a child is throwing a tantrum to obtain an object, parents can ignore their negative behavior. Additionally, these strategies can be combined; for example, after a child has calmed down in the calm down corner, parents can explain the consequences of their actions. Ultimately, the choice of strategy should depend on the child’s capabilities; for example, explaining the consequences in detail to a child who cannot yet speak might only increase conflict.

Once parents have decided on a strategy for each situation, the most important aspect is consistency. Simply put, consistency can be divided into two aspects: firstly, the same behavior should always result in the same outcome, avoiding a situation where ignoring is used one time and scolding another, which can confuse the child. Secondly, every caregiver should use the same approach to reinforce the message that “this behavior is inappropriate.”

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How to discover hidden talents and potential?

Innate potential is an ability that everyone is born with, a genetic characteristic that is present before growth. From birth, each child possesses their own unique talents. In the process of a child’s growth, emotional intelligence, IQ, and the ability to withstand setbacks, among others, are all necessary conditions for success. Among these conditions, each child’s talents are different. Can we discover their innate talents in the innocent eyes of children? Can we be sure to capture these talents and guide the children on a path of growth that suits them?

Here is a mother’s experience:

‘Amy is 4 years old this year. As she grows up, she is becoming more and more curious about the things around her. Amy’s father noticed that she seemed to show a special interest in doodling when she was 2 years old. I casually gave her some paint, and she could use a brush, crayons, or her fingers, even a bottle of ketchup, to paint. No one knows what she is painting, maybe only she knows. Amy’s father and I both think that she should be allowed to grow freely. I found that she seems to like painting very much. If she is really good at it, I think we will definitely cultivate her well.’

Amy’s parents are wise. Each child has different talents hidden in different fields. When a child’s talent is found, if it can be cultivated and paid attention to by parents and teachers, it will save a lot of detours in the direction of success. However, the most important thing is for children to have a sense of success from a young age and grow up to be happy and confident people.

Scientific research confirms that the period of infant growth is the fastest and most sensitive period of brain development, and it is also the best time to develop a child’s talents. The cultivation of talents is time-sensitive, and scientists call this irreplaceable stage the ‘talent time window’.

Only at the most important and appropriate moments, with the right education and cultivation, can innate potential develop into real abilities. Missing these key moments of development, a child’s talents may relatively weaken, and their innate potential may no longer stand out. Here are some key moments for reference:

Key Moments for Talent Development

Memory: 12 months to 12 years old

Emotional Intelligence: 2 months to 22 years old

IQ: Birth to 13 years old

Music: 2 months to 5 years old

Drawing: Birth to 15 years old

Sports: Birth to 12 years old

‘Whether Amy can become a painter when she grows up, I can’t confirm, we are just observing. It can be said that it is completely based on feeling. Talent is hard to say, maybe she has talents in other areas, or sometimes it is not obvious, then it is hard for us to discover. We can only do our best and observe her from as many angles as possible.’

This is not just a worry for Amy’s mother. Every parent dreams of their child’s success, but the key is how to accurately discover a child’s talents.

Many parents are trying, hoping to find clues in their child’s behavior, hoping to find ways to discover a child’s talents early. Those parents who seem to have found a method, according to their own judgment and willingness, send their children to various specialty classes and youth classes to learn various skills, hoping that one day, they can become experts in this field. For this goal, parents spare no effort to invest a lot of money and time.

However, doing so seems to not only waste a lot of money and time, but also those originally intelligent children are more likely to lose their spirit in the multitude of educational directions, their talents are delayed or even obliterated. They passively move from one tutoring class to another specialty class, learning things they neither like nor are good at.

Childhood, for children, is no longer a memory of happiness and beauty, but of pressure and worry. The saddest thing is that when they grow up, they have more complaints about their parents.

Is there a better way to understand a child’s talents, personality, and traits, so as to teach students in accordance with their aptitude and cultivate them in a directed way?

 

Written by: geneDecode Genetics Education Professional Team

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For a cowardly child

Earlier during the summer vacation, I let my child participate in various extracurricular activities. My eldest son, Hei Gor, and his kindergarten classmates took part in an outdoor activity venue located in Tai Po called “Tree House,” which has grasslands, farmlands, fish ponds, and more, allowing them to get close to nature. The highlight of the activity was climbing up to the 5-meter-high treehouse. Hei Gor, known for his timidity, would get weak in the knees and sweaty hands even when standing by the glass railings in shopping malls. Standing at a height of 5 meters, he said, “Oh… I thought there would be stairs to go down from the treehouse…”

Hei Gor was afraid to descend from the treehouse and was ‘mocked’ by the coach

Under the guidance of the coach, parents helped their children put on climbing safety gear, ready to climb up to the treehouse. As the parents climbed following the coach’s instructions, the children felt reassured seeing their parents demonstrate and followed suit. After Hei Gor climbed up to the treehouse with step-by-step guidance from the coach, he began to regret it, not knowing how to get back to the ground. Having to hug the metal pole and ‘play firefighter’ to slide down (although he was suspended by a safety rope) was a huge challenge for him. No matter how I coaxed and instructed him, and regardless of how the parents and classmates on the ground cheered him on, Hei Gor just braced his feet against the tree trunk and refused to approach the metal pole.

The coach let the other children land first, one by one. Some were playing with smiles on their faces, some were crying out of fear, but all landed safely. Only Hei Gor was resolute in his refusal. The loving coach kept coaxing Hei Gor in his unique way, saying, “You are 100% emotional, be a little rational, and don’t be scared.” Hei Gor said, “No!” The coach suggested, “How about the parents below… (I thought he said: applaud to encourage him) How about raising money together to buy a refrigerator and air conditioner for Hei Gor to spend the night in the tree house.” After hearing this, Hei Gor cried out even louder, “I don’t want to spend the night here.” I thought to myself, “Education is a sacred and solemn task. If you don’t know how to teach, you’re in big trouble.”

Overcoming Fear, Parents Feel Relieved

The coach continued to Hei Gor, “You see, your aunt is heavier than you, and she landed safely. It’s okay.” Hei Gor laughed through his tears, “Dad is the fattest and heaviest!” At that moment, I wanted to jump down from the tree house. Despite several attempts, the coach talked about politics, Wong Tze Wah, the property market, and songs by Danny Chan, to which Hei Gor said, “I don’t know what brother is talking about.” When all the children had gone up and down once, and some had started their second round, Hei Gor and I were still enduring the high temperature for over half an hour, “watching”. In the end, I lied that his brother would slide down with him, and let him buckle the safety belt, Hei Gor held the iron pole and slowly descended. The process and landing naturally involved continuous crying, and the first thing he did when he landed was to hug his mother.

Hei Gor took a rest and suddenly said to me, “I was really scared.” I took him back under the tree and said, “You climbed up to the tree house all by yourself just now, which is very high, and you did a great job. Although it took some time to come down, you have succeeded no matter what, and there’s no need to be afraid anymore. Would you like to climb it again next time?” Hei Gor replied, “Yes, I want to!”

Hei Gor, you are timid, but your courage to overcome your fear of heights certainly makes your parents relieved. However, it is your overcoming of fear and expressing the hope to climb up again next time that makes me proud. (Although you might cry and make a fuss again next time).

 

Written by: Mr. Leung Wing Lok, the Octopus Parent

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Parent-child creative art creation

Everyone has creativity and artistic potential. If properly nurtured, it can enhance one’s moral sentiments and make life more perfect. In the artistic atmosphere, diverse activities inspire individuals’ creativity, aesthetic sense, and diverse abilities, promoting holistic development. ‘Love’ is the driving force of creation. In a free, democratic, safe, and harmonious environment and atmosphere, it is the expression of ‘love,’ emphasizing mutual tolerance, acceptance of different opinions, and respect for and acceptance of others. So, how can parent-child creative art creation express ‘love’? Here, the author shares his views with all parents.

The significance of parent-child creative art creation:

  • Art education starts with individuals. Parents try to engage in artistic creation to cultivate their children’s artistic accomplishments.
  • The first lesson of art education begins with ‘listening’ and ‘acceptance.’ Parents learn to accept the diverse ways in which children express their creativity.
  • Through the joint participation and experience of parent-child art creation, parents can get closer to and understand their children’s hearts.
  • Parent-child art creation helps children to understand themselves and release emotions and stress.
  • By integrating an atmosphere of mutual appreciation and respect, it reduces parental stress and anxiety, thereby enhancing parent-child relationships.
  • Making parent-child fall in love with creation, integrating art into life, and enhancing the quality of life.

Artistic Cultivation Tips

  • Cultivate a kind of knowledge in being human and enhance the ability to share, that is, ’empathy.’
  • According to the research of psychologist Hoffman on the development of human empathy, ’empathy’ is the ability to understand the feelings of others and to put oneself in their shoes.
  • The three steps of ’empathy’: (1) Imagine standing in the other person’s position (2) Identify the other person’s true feelings (3) Convey understanding and feelings to the other person.
  • Empathy’ is an important ability in interpersonal relationships. Only those with ’empathy’ can establish good interpersonal relationships, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility.
  • Children at the age of 2 to 3 can already understand the feelings of others. In order for children to be compassionate, possess ’empathy,’ and understand love and care for others, it is very important for parents to lead by example.

 

Written by: Director of Pario Arts, Lee Sou Jing 

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What should I do if my child has a habit of sucking their fingers?

According to Dr. David Levy’s research, children who finish a bottle of milk within 10 minutes (possibly because the bottle’s nipple hole is larger) are more likely to exhibit finger-sucking behavior than those who finish the entire bottle in 20 minutes. Dr. Levy also conducted an experiment feeding puppies with a dropper, preventing them from sucking while feeding. The result was that they resorted to sucking their own or other puppies’ skin, some so vigorously that the skin peeled off. From this, we can understand that the behavior of infants sucking their fingers in the first few months is due to the lack of satisfaction from sucking, it is a need, not innate, and not a bad behavior.

Breastfeeding Fosters Parent-Child Bond

When a mother can breastfeed her baby, the baby is the happiest. This is because the baby not only receives proper nutrition and warmth and security from being in contact with the mother’s skin but also enjoys the soft nipple while sucking, which provides not only sustenance but also a profound love and emotional connection between mother and child. This deep love and family bond cannot be compared to feeding from a cold bottle, especially considering the supreme satisfaction the baby gets from sucking.

However, most mothers work outside the home due to various reasons, and sometimes have to feed their children with a bottle. In such cases, special attention should be paid to the frequency and duration of feeding. Mothers should calmly allow their children to eat slowly, paying particular attention to the size of the bottle nipple hole. Only when the child is satisfied with sucking will they be less likely to develop the habit of finger-sucking. When an infant starts to enjoy sucking their fingers, it is an unconscious behavior. Their little finger moves around and unintentionally goes into their mouth, bringing them pleasure and satisfaction, leading to sucking.

Releasing Psychological Tension

However, if a child continues to suck their fingers at the age of 4 or 5, it takes on a different meaning. This may be a way of releasing psychological tension. For example, due to parental conflict, the child feels anxious; or because of a new sibling, they fear losing their parents’ love; or because the parents are too busy to care for them, they feel lonely and lack the warmth of a family; or because the child is sent to kindergarten too early and lacks a sense of security due to inadequate care. These factors can lead to anxiety, unease, tension, and fear in children, all of which are causes of psychological tension.

Like adults, children need to release psychological tension when they are anxious. This is a natural phenomenon. Adults often smoke to relax and relieve psychological tension. Children may suck their fingers or rock back and forth to release emotional tension. In this situation, parents should not only improve their attitude towards their children but also be extra patient. They should maintain a calm and gentle attitude to help the child relax and feel no pressure. On the contrary, if parents show worry, and nervousness, or are eager to correct and blame, or if they tie the child’s fingers or apply bitter medicine, it will only backfire, increase the child’s unease, and create a vicious cycle. This will prolong the habit of finger-sucking, as the child wants to quit but cannot control themselves.

Preventive and Corrective Methods
  1. Whenever possible, breastfeed, as it is the most natural and suitable feeding method for infants, and it reduces the chance of developing a finger-sucking habit.
  2. When using a bottle, parents should pay special attention to the feeding time, aiming for 15 to 20 minutes, which is ideal.
  3. Engage the child in activities with toys and dolls to redirect the finger-sucking habit.
  4. Spend more time with the child, playing, telling stories, and singing songs together to prevent the child from feeling lonely or bored, which can lead to finger-sucking.
  5. When a child sucks their fingers vigorously, parents should remain patient and calm. Sometimes, ignoring the behavior can lead to its natural disappearance.
  6. If a child has had a finger-sucking habit for several years before the age of 6, it will naturally diminish over time, especially if the child only sucks their fingers when sleeping. Parents should patiently wait, as hasty correction is ineffective. Particularly after starting kindergarten, the habit may disappear naturally due to the child’s reluctance to suck their fingers in front of peers or being occupied with other activities at school.
  7. Fingers sucked on will have an unpleasant odor. If a 5 to 6-year-old child still has this habit, letting them smell the unpleasant odor may help correct the behavior.

 

Written by: Early Childhood Education Specialist, Teacher Chan-Chen Shu-an