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How to reduce the side effects of rewards?

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Written by: Pang Chi Wah, Registered Educational Psychologist at the New Horizons Development Centre

 

Some parents have the following thoughts about rewards: “The original intention was to praise the child’s good performance, but now the reward seems to have become a bribe.” “He has become utilitarian, calculating the degree of his effort based on the size of the reward.” “Sometimes I even feel that the child has become greedy. The rewards that once attracted him no longer have the original effect. Only by providing richer rewards is he willing to make an effort.”

 

In fact, in the commercial society where adults are located, bosses also use rewards and bonuses to praise employees’ outstanding work performance and inspire employee morale. Many early childhood education experts have also proposed a reward system, using children’s favorite food, toys, etc., to train and cultivate their good behavior habits. Rewards have become our usual way, but parents’ worries are not unfounded. How can we reduce the side effects of rewards?

 

There are mainly two directions to reduce the side effects of rewards. One is that parents can change the type of rewards, and at the same time, they must not encourage children with money, otherwise it will make children prioritize money and everything will be based on materialism. The rewards given by parents can be changed from one-time enjoyment such as food, gradually transformed into long-term gifts, such as entertaining toys, academic stationery, etc., and later can be rewarded spiritually, such as parents giving certificates, applause and other non-material encouragement.

The second approach is that parents can gradually reduce the proportion of rewards given according to the following three criteria:


  1. Increase the number of expected behaviors completed by the child before giving a reward.

Example: If parents expect the child to put the toys away in the toy box after playing, initially, parents may need to give stickers as encouragement for the child to be willing to tidy up the toys; afterwards, the child should put the toys in the toy box several times on their own before the parents give sticker rewards.


  1. Raise the standard of requirements according to the child’s performance, and only give rewards after the child completes behaviors of higher difficulty.

Example: Initially, as long as the child puts all the toys in the box, they can be given sticker encouragement. Then the requirements can be raised, the child needs to put all the toys in the box, and carefully organize the toys and place them properly to get the sticker.

  1. When the child is relaxed and happy or makes a request, parents can make demands on the child without providing rewards.

Example: The child requests to watch their favorite TV show, the parent proposes that the child needs to tidy up the toys into the toy box before they can watch TV.


Through these two principles, parents can systematically dilute the function of external material rewards, let children internalize the motivation behind completing good behaviors, gradually reduce dependence on external encouragement, and make them gain a sense of success from within as the main source of their learning motivation.

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Parents Zone

Storytelling education, what can parents do?

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 Written by: Senior Early Childhood Education Consultant, Miss Mok Loi Yan


Many parents have asked me about storytelling topics that are challenging to explain to young children, such as stories involving death, like “The Little Match Girl,” or stories with violence, like “Little Red Riding Hood.” Due to the detailed depiction of events in the storybooks and lifelike illustrations, children may experience significant fear of death after listening to or reading such stories. They might be unable to express their inner discomfort, and some children even burst into tears after hearing these stories. What was originally meant to be an enjoyable parent-child storytelling time ends up having the opposite effect, triggering a heavy psychological burden on the children and leaving parents feeling guilty and unsure of how to handle the aftermath.


Fewer Characters, Positive Plot


I advise parents to start by selecting stories that are deemed suitable for a child’s mental and comprehension level from the vast array available in libraries. These stories typically have fewer characters, and a positive plot, and are easy for parents to use during interactive storytelling to help children understand causality and emotions. Stories with fewer characters allow children to focus more on understanding the transformation of the characters’ inner selves, behavior, and values within the story context.


Choosing stories with a positive plot helps build qualities such as self-awareness, problem-solving skills, confidence, and analytical ability in children. These positive aspects counterbalance stories with negative themes, bad situations in stories, or the ability to face difficulties in reality. Therefore, unless parents are certain that their children have accumulated a sufficient foundation of resilience from such stories and mental experiences, they should avoid exposing children to stories with terrifying or negative themes until these prerequisites are met.


Inspiring Cognitive Growth and Positive Character Principles

 

Secondly, starting with the educational significance that stories bring to children, it is crucial to steadfastly adhere to the principles of inspiring children’s cognitive growth and fostering positive character development! Regardless of how convincingly the storyteller portrays evil and villains, don’t forget the original intention! Storytelling education is a process of interactive learning between the audience and the storyteller, stemming from the direct description of scenes, associated information, and the shared underlying meaning. These observations, descriptions, awareness, and interactive content arise from the mental and emotional states of the audience and storyteller at that moment, as well as their accumulated personal experiences.

The role of the storyteller in education is highly important. In addition to carefully preparing and reading the story content, emphasizing key points and conveying the underlying meaning clearly, the storyteller should also be prepared to trigger children’s thinking about people and events at certain points in the story. Providing opportunities for the exchange of values in description and atmosphere creation is essential. Most importantly, observe the audience’s reactions while listening to the story and engage in interactive parts that deepen thought and sustain curiosity.

 

Dramatization and interaction should be humanized

 

Thirdly, ensure that the dramatization and interaction by the storyteller have the invigorating effect of being humanized and appealing to innate goodness. Whether in stories or the real world, children face different psychological and situational challenges that provide them with important opportunities for development. These experiences make them happier and more resilient than children who grow up in a sheltered environment. As the guiding light for children, we should equip them with the abilities needed for their journeys in life. Therefore, gradually tailor stories to children’s life experiences and cognitive levels, providing narratives of different levels, encounters, or aspects of human nature for them to hear.

 

When the storyteller portrays negative characters or delves into psychological crossroads and choices involving human nature, it is even more crucial to vividly depict the inner dialogue of conscience. The storyteller, assuming a narrative role, should provide children with positive consequences as a reference and analyze the relationships between themselves, characters, and situations. When parents engage in storytelling education with children, any decisions made in response to presented scenarios must be voluntary. Allowing children to experiment, face challenges, or find solace in the virtual world is essential. Moreover, it is important to make children aware of the parents’ stance and understand that parents are open to discussion and can be approached for communication! If the interactions spark reflective thoughts on love in children, helping them find their position in these values, the storyteller has successfully illuminated an outstanding life for the child through the story.

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Parents Zone

Dual Efforts Lead to Faster and Better Learning for Children

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 Written by: Education Expert, Principal Kenneth Law

 

We all understand that each student is an independent individual, so the speed of learning varies. However, if there are methods that can make children learn faster and better, it is undoubtedly something both parents and teachers would be pleased to see. How to help children learn faster and better is also a topic of research for many scholars.

 

One key factor affecting the speed of a child’s learning is the amount of existing knowledge they possess. Existing knowledge refers to what the child has learned and mastered, not only the knowledge acquired in school but also part of the knowledge gained in daily life.

 

Learning is like building a scaffold, gradually laying a solid foundation. Lev Vygotsky, a modern psychologist highly regarded, believes that the learning process is like constructing a “scaffold,” progressing from low to high, from small to large, using one metal rod at a time. The term “scaffold” is equivalent to the bamboo scaffolding commonly used by the Chinese. Of course, in the context of learning, it’s metaphorical.

 

Describing learning as constructing a scaffold brings several insights. Firstly, laying a solid foundation is crucial. Secondly, learning must proceed step by step; if one rushes and neglects certain aspects, the knowledge won’t be firmly established. Furthermore, as long as one diligently learns step by step, they will surely accumulate more and more knowledge. Additionally, different individuals can construct different shapes of bamboo scaffolding, and knowledge is not static; it evolves continuously with the development of the times.

 

Once the learning theory of Vygotsky is understood, the importance of existing knowledge becomes self-evident. Existing knowledge is like a bamboo scaffold already constructed, and new knowledge is added on top of the existing scaffold, making it higher and larger. The more existing knowledge one has, the more reliable it becomes, and learning new things becomes easier. There’s no need to look around distractedly, and the learning speed becomes faster.

 

Make good use of spare time to broaden the scope of knowledge

 

The content learned and the time spent in school by students may not be extensive. Therefore, making good use of spare time becomes relatively important in enhancing a child’s academic performance. Making good use of spare time does not mean participating in more training classes or doing additional supplements. On the contrary, because schools already provide comprehensive and systematic courses, it is even more crucial to focus on expanding a broader range of knowledge during spare time, making the foundation of the “bamboo scaffold” broader.

 

Reading books, visiting museums and exhibitions, and traveling along nature trails can all broaden a child’s horizons and expand their range of knowledge. Parents can allow children to have more autonomy, letting them choose activities they enjoy. Providing children with the space to make choices can also cultivate their ability for self-directed learning, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility, which are essential for their future.

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Parents Zone

Apart from having fun, what else is there in travel?

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The Christmas and New Year holidays are about to begin, and some parents choose to take advantage of this long break to travel with their children. It not only allows for family bonding but also provides a chance to relax both physically and mentally. I wonder if anyone has other reasons?

 

Some may say that travel can broaden children’s horizons. Indeed, “traveling a thousand miles is better than reading ten thousand books.” If children have firsthand experiences, it is believed that they will have a deeper understanding of the knowledge they acquire. For example, when children learn about the “Great Wall,” visiting the actual site can give them a greater appreciation for this architectural marvel in human civilization history. When choosing a travel destination, I also consider whether it aligns with my daughter’s learning content. For instance, when she is learning about different types of animals, I might include a visit to the zoo during our travels so she can interact with various animals, which is much better than learning solely from books or television.

 

I value the several days spent on a trip for the main reason that during this time, my daughter and I have an extended period of time together. If you observe carefully, you will gain a deeper understanding of your child. When my daughter was younger, I paid special attention to the following aspects during our travels:

 

(1) How the child interacts with strangers

 

During the trip, children will encounter different strangers. How do they behave? Faced with unfamiliar elders, do they initiate greetings? Can they respond politely and appropriately to the elders’ questions? When encountering peers, do they take the initiative to play together? How do they handle potential conflicts? I like to observe from the sidelines and then, in the evening, share and praise my daughter’s good behavior of the day, encouraging her to improve in certain areas the next day.

 
 

((2) Child’s Self-Care Abilities

 

As the time during travel is more ample, and there’s no need to rush against the clock, this is an opportunity to cultivate a child’s self-care abilities. For example, I would arrange for my daughter to carry her own small travel suitcase, where she manages her personal items independently. I observe whether she can handle her personal belongings properly and whether she can pack her items neatly before leaving the hotel or heading to another attraction. When necessary, I provide timely guidance or assistance from the sidelines.

 

In fact, cultivating children’s character and self-care abilities does not necessarily require taking a plane for an overseas trip. What I want to emphasize is that character development cannot be confined to the theoretical level, and mere lecturing may result in counterproductive outcomes. Therefore, character cultivation should manifest through practical daily life experiences. In reality, as long as there is ample quality time, more companionship with children, and careful observation of their daily behavior, providing guidance or assistance when needed, even just going for a walk in the countryside can easily achieve the above goals.

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Parents Zone

The “small gestures” of education make children soar in the ideal sky

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


Some people say that the diploma a child will earn in the future is at least a capital that will allow them to establish themselves in society, ensuring they do not face the increasingly competitive life ahead with empty hands. Some say that a child’s good manners and graceful behavior serve as the family’s advertisement, even if they don’t possess extraordinary abilities, at least it guarantees that they won’t go astray. There are also those who say that they have too many regrets in their own lives, that their dreams have always been washed away by the harsh realities, and with better living conditions now, they will never let tragedy repeat itself in their children, wanting to mold them into the image they desire.


However, when young people carried their university diplomas and stumbled on the path of job-seeking, when the media occasionally reported on the distortion of human nature due to trivial reasons, when children could not become the ideal image in the eyes of their parents, and the parents were frustrated by their inadequacies… Is education merely about achieving superior living conditions?


How to nurture a child’s talent lies in paying attention to the small details of everyday life.


The aspiration for one’s child to succeed is a common goal for every parent, but how to cultivate a child’s talent has become a headache for parents. In this age of technological advancement, education has become increasingly complex. Parents often find themselves at a loss due to their children’s series of “unthinkable” actions, feeling anxious in a cycle where intervening is wrong, and not intervening is also wrong.


In fact, only by walking one’s own path can one find the goals they’ve set for themselves. Education can be achieved in some “small gestures” in everyday life, and qualities can be cultivated in the details.


Sometimes, the key to success or failure is not in the environment but in the details of the process. Some “small gestures” in education, such as eye contact, actions, and attitudes, these often overlooked details by parents, are the most exquisite tools for shaping a child’s talent. Through careful refinement in various aspects like intelligence, financial literacy, resilience, emotional intelligence, moral values, and aesthetics, give your children wings so they can soar in the ideal sky!


There are no rigid theoretical knowledge or lengthy sermons, only subtle processes of imparting. Giving someone a fish can only satisfy their hunger for a moment but teaching them how to fish can sustain them for a lifetime. Quality education provides children with the means to fish, rather than just providing them with the food to survive. These methods to address fundamental issues are hidden in the everyday words and actions of parents, which had often gone unnoticed until now.


The development of character is a gradual and sequential process; it cannot be rushed or achieved in a single step. The process of building good character is essentially a series of frames fixed in a child’s memory, one after another. When a child is about to host a birthday party, they may suddenly recall an image of their mother saving coins, prompting them to consciously withdraw their bank card from the ATM. On the contrary, if a vivid image of their father gambling recklessly during a mahjong game takes precedence, any well-intentioned lectures will become feeble and ineffective.


The key is how to imprint the details of character in a child’s mind and then influence their behavior when they need guidance. It’s this internal, automatic awareness that comes from the child’s heart, which is the essence of education.

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Parents Zone

Let go of anxiety; don’t become a monster parent

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Written by Marriage and Family Therapist, Child Play Therapist, Rachel Ng

 

When my son was in the first grade, I often encountered the same group of parents at the pick-up and drop-off station. One of the parents had a son who coincidentally attended the same school and grade as my son, so we gradually became acquainted. It was also during that time that I began to witness what was called “monster parents”!

 

She would frequently ask about my child’s extracurricular activities because her son was enrolled in various classes every day, sometimes even attending two in a single day. On the other hand, I struggled to list many activities for my son. He enjoyed exploring and creating games at home, finding his own joy. I also saw that he was able to grasp the lessons taught at school, so I felt that there was no need for him to participate in additional extracurricular activities. Always, my wish for him was to be happy.

 

However, gradually, when most of the parents around you gather and chatter about what their children are learning, what levels they’ve achieved in music and language exams, and so on, I, who originally believed in the “go with the flow” approach, began to feel anxious. I couldn’t help but question whether I was a lazy, unambitious, and neglectful mother who didn’t plan for her child’s future!

 

And so, I also began to enroll my child in various courses, but the resistance I encountered was beyond what I had ever imagined. During the years from my son’s second to fourth grade, even though the number of courses he attended was not extensive, conflicts often arose between mother and son due to the insistence on him participating in additional extracurricular activities. I couldn’t bear to see both of us suffer from the results of these clashes, so I asked myself: “What is truly important for a child? To possess a wealth of knowledge but carry an unhappy heart, or to have a lively, cheerful, and positively charged life?” Even though I hadn’t yet studied marriage and family therapy at that time, I still believed that a harmonious family relationship was the cornerstone for a child to have a healthy life.


In the end, I decided to no longer “force” my son to participate in activities he disliked. By letting go in this manner, I actually created space for him to learn to take responsibility for his own decisions. He would let me know what he wanted to learn or even if he wanted to attend Chinese tutoring at the appropriate time. These exercises in autonomy and responsibility, unwittingly, became invaluable assets for my son in the future. They proved beneficial in his education and career, leading to success in every aspect.


In reality, many parents, like myself back then, find themselves in an environment of intense competition, where they see other mothers doing the same crazy things. This makes those actions seem not crazy, but rather the norm. Even if reluctantly, they feel compelled to do the same. However, children find various ways to express to us that they are struggling, that they cannot accept it! The question is, do mothers really see it? If parents have a short-sighted perspective and are anxious only about gaining an initial advantage, focusing solely on creating fleeting competitive edges for their children while neglecting to establish qualities that contribute to their long-term development, then in the end, the casualties may extend beyond just the mother-child relationship to include the child’s life itself!

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Parents Zone

How to enhance children’s resilience?

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Source: Education expert, Cheung Jok Fong

 

I attended a lecture by “Warrior of Regeneration,” Miss Yeung Siu Fong, earlier. She shared her experience of losing both hands in an accident at the age of nine. However, she did not give up and instead equipped herself more actively. With hard work, she not only became a swimming athlete in the Asian Games but also started art creation by using her feet in place of hands. She successfully enrolled in the Hong Kong Academy of Arts and became an inclusive artist. In 2011, she was selected as one of the “Ten Most Touching Hong Kong Figures” and became a “Hong Kong Spirit Ambassador” in 2013. After the lecture, I asked some classmates for their opinions, and they all expressed that if they encounter difficulties in the future, they will no longer be afraid because they believe that there is always a way to solve things and they want to face difficulties as positively as Sister Siu Fong.

 

Cultivating resilience from an early age

In the journey of life, we will inevitably encounter adversities. At that time, how should we face them with the right mentality and approach? Nowadays, parents often invest a lot of effort in their children’s academic performance, hoping that they can “win at the starting line.” However, while pursuing academic excellence, it is equally important to cultivate a spirit of perseverance. Unfortunately, some people choose different ways to escape when faced with difficulties, and some may even be so disheartened that they end their precious lives, which is truly regrettable. As educators, we have a responsibility to help students enhance their ability to cope with adversity, and this resilience needs to be cultivated from an early age.

 

Three key elements to enhance resilience

 

Experts point out that there are three key elements to enhance resilience: “optimism,” “efficacy,” and “belongingness.” “Optimism” is easy to understand literally; it means having hope for the future and believing that there is always a way to solve problems. This is the attitude one should adopt when facing difficulties. “Efficacy” includes how to manage emotions and establish problem-solving methods when facing challenges, which represents the ability needed to overcome difficulties. “Belongingness” refers to the care and support from people around the individual in question.

 

For children, the roles of family members and teachers are especially important. For example, when a child faces academic difficulties, if they can feel the care and support from their parents and teachers, and not be treated with disdain, scolded, or spoken to harshly because of low grades, but instead walk alongside them and seek ways to improve their academic performance, it will make them feel that their family and school are a place of “shelter from the storm.” In short, “belongingness” is the cornerstone for establishing “optimism” and “efficacy,” and it serves as the motivation provided to those facing challenges.


Cultivating resilience starts with small things


So, how can we cultivate children’s resilience in daily life? Should we wait until they encounter setbacks to teach them? In fact, we can start with some small things. Take skipping rope as an example. No child is born knowing how to skip rope. At this time, parents can encourage them and let them believe that they are capable of learning, which is the aforementioned “optimism.” Additionally, parents can assist from the side or demonstrate the correct way to skip rope, making them feel that their parents are accompanying them and going through difficulties together, which is the “belongingness” mentioned earlier. After the child experiences a taste of success after a few attempts, they can try to figure out how to coordinate their body and master the technique of skipping rope on their own, which is the “efficacy” mentioned above.


In conclusion, we can teach children from an early age to face difficulties with an optimistic and positive attitude and provide them with opportunities for self-challenge. More importantly, let them feel the support and care from the people around them.

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Parents Zone

Parents need to learn the “language of love.”

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Written by: Dr. Tik Chi-yuen, Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Family Education

 

In a study conducted earlier, it was found that nearly sixty percent of children felt that their parents did not communicate with them using the language of love, and nearly half of the parents tended to use authoritarian and indifferent approaches when disciplining their children. In fact, the mode of parent-child communication is crucial for establishing a strong parent-child relationship. In this article, I would like to share the results and recommendations related to this survey.

 

 

According to research in well-known psychology studies in the United States, parents’ disciplinary styles can be categorized into the enlightened type, which utilizes the “language of love,” and the authoritarian, permissive, and indifferent types, which fall under the category of “non-loving languages.” Based on the responses from children, only forty percent of parents were considered as the enlightened type in the eyes of their children, while one percent fell into the permissive type. The remaining nearly half of the parents were classified as either authoritarian or indifferent types, with the proportions being twenty-seven percent and twenty-two percent, respectively.

The survey also revealed significant discrepancies between parents and children’s ideals and realities in three different situations, with academic performance being particularly severe. Sixty-two percent of children expected their parents to adopt an enlightened approach in handling academic performance, but in reality, only thirty-seven percent of parents fell into this category. Similarly, there was a significant gap between parents’ ideals and realities. Only four percent of parents believed that they had an authoritarian relationship with their children in terms of academic performance, but in reality, thirty-one percent of parents were categorized as “authoritarian.” This reflects the difficulties parents face when dealing with their children’s academic performance and how they unconsciously resort to “non-loving languages.” Nowadays, many parents excessively intervene in their children’s studies, sparing no expense in arranging numerous learning activities and various tuition classes, aiming to keep their children at the forefront of learning. This has led to numerous conflicts between parents and children and even emotional distress.

 

As parents, we should cultivate the habit of using the “language of love” because the more we utilize positive words such as praise, encouragement, care, acceptance, appreciation, and affirmation, the more our children will understand that our discipline includes both love and boundaries, helping them grow into individuals with self-esteem and confidence. The author believes that most parents’ intentions behind their words to their children are for their children’s good. However, inappropriate words cannot only harm the parent-child relationship but also lead children to rebel. On the other hand, appropriate words can make children willingly accept and do their best.

 

When communicating with their children, parents are advised to:

Use kind, praising, and encouraging words.

Provide positive guidance.

Praise the child when they do well.

Pay attention to the child’s responses and consider their own reactions.

Even when saying “no,” avoid using negative language.

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Parents Zone

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

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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.

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How can parents help young children adapt to primary school life both psychologically and physically?

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Source:  Professor Chiu Wing Kai, Chair Professor of Sociology at the Education University of Hong Kong.



It’s already been 5 months into 2023 and summer vacation will be coming soon, followed by the start of the new school year in September. For K3 students to start their primary school life. However, these students have spent most of their 3-year kindergarten education in online classes due to the pandemic, with little face-to-face interaction. How can parents help them adapt to their new academic and social life in terms of their psychological and physical well-being.

 

Students who are promoted to Primary 1 are at most at K2 level because they have not returned to school for at least one full year. There are many things they need to adapt to when transitioning from kindergarten to primary school. These include school schedules, daily routines, and learning styles that are vastly different from what they are used to. Kindergarten classes typically last for around 20 minutes, after which they move on to another subject, but in primary school, classes can be 35 minutes or longer, making it difficult for them to maintain their focus. All of these issues can create significant adaptation problems for young students.

 

 

So how can parents explain these changes to their children? Firstly, parents should not be too anxious, as many primary schools offer simulation courses and adaptation weeks for new students, as well as school visits. Primary schools are usually much larger than kindergartens, and young students may be excited about the various facilities and opportunities available to them. However, it is best to start talking to them once they begin school, as too much information too soon may be overwhelming. Simply telling them, “Yes, this is what school is like” is often enough.


Additionally, some things that young students may not be capable of now do not mean they cannot accomplish them, they just need time to grow and develop. Parents need to remember that every child has a different growth rate. After starting school, observe their emotional changes when they return home from school, and if you notice any issues, pay close attention to them.


It takes time for young children to adapt, but sometimes parents also need to adapt. In kindergarten, we refer to it as the Homeroom (regular class location), where one teacher leads the class, and children usually only see one or two teachers. If parents need to participate or collaborate with the school, they can simply find that teacher. In primary school, each subject has different teachers, so if any issues arise, parents need to consider how to communicate with each teacher.