How to raise children with a sense of security?

Parenting Tips

How to raise children with a sense of security?

Written by: American Association for Play Therapy, Registered Play Therapist-Supervisor, Registered Social Worker Chan Tsz Wai

 

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a sense of security is the second basic human need, just after physiological needs. Children who lack a sense of security may exhibit many behavioral problems. Without sufficient support to confidently explore the world, and without enough confidence that someone can provide safe protection, they may send misleading signals through problematic behaviors to express their emotional needs. Often, parents think that managing behavior more strictly will solve these behavioral issues in children, but this approach can backfire, leading to even less fulfillment of the child’s emotional needs.

 

Years of research have found that a sense of security is based on establishing a secure attachment relationship with caregivers. Children with secure attachment relationships have a higher ability to regulate their emotions, solve problems on their own, have higher self-esteem and empathy, and possess better social skills and the ability to establish good relationships with others. However, how to establish a secure attachment relationship with children is a challenge for many parents.

 

Understanding the needs of children

Sometimes children need to explore the world on their own and use their abilities to solve problems, while at other times they need the help of their parents to regulate their emotions. Parents need to know when to let go and when to extend their hands to offer hugs and support, which requires careful observation of the child’s needs. Young children may wander far in the park, wanting to explore the world on their own, and older children may show displeasure when parents supervise their homework, indicating a need for parents to support their exploration. However, when a child falls and cries in pain or is troubled and in tears because they do not understand their homework, that is the time when they need their parents’ help to regulate their emotions.

Being Present with Your Child

When children are emotional, parents often try to quickly find a way to deal with it. However, being present with the child is what they need the most and is the most effective way to help them develop the ability to regulate their emotions. When children are emotional, parents just need to accompany them, accept and empathize with their emotions, and verbalize the child’s feelings to make them feel accepted and understood by their parents. This is the foundation of a secure attachment relationship.

 

Being a Firm and Controlled Parent

Parents might think that understanding their child’s feelings means losing control, but on the contrary, parents actually need to control and set limits while understanding their child’s emotional state to provide them with a sense of security. For example, when it’s time to leave the park and the child throws a tantrum because they don’t want to leave, parents can understand their child’s feelings but must also firmly insist on leaving. Or if a child often procrastinates on homework because they find it difficult, parents can understand the child’s difficulty but must also enforce the consequences of procrastination. Therefore, gentle yet firm parents can make their children feel secure.

 

Understanding How Your Own Upbringing Affects Your Parenting

We learn how to be parents from our own parents, and we also carry the baggage of our childhood. When we encounter difficulties in interacting with our children, it is often related to our own upbringing. Some parents, whose own parents were too busy with work to spend time with them, may give more time to their children when they become parents. However, when they invest time but still face emotional challenges from their children, and they themselves lack the experience of having their emotions satisfied and understood, they may struggle to meet their children’s needs due to their own unresolved emotions. Therefore, parents should first understand how their own upbringing affects them, and then they can adjust themselves when interacting with their children, carefully observing and responding to their children’s needs.

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Parental education, willing to learn and dare to do

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Parental education, willing to learn and dare to do

Written by: Dr. Chi-Yuen TIK, Chief Executive, The Hong Kong Institute of Family Education

 

In the journey of parental education, I love to listen to parents share their experiences and reflections on disciplining their children. Exchanging and encouraging each other is the most comprehensive content of parenting education. There is no place in the world that requires parents to pass an exam before they can have children. Everyone is learning as they go, realizing things later on, and gradually becoming “experienced” parents. Children have expectations of you, society has demands on you, and parents themselves cannot afford to be lazy, so they actively learn theories and techniques for disciplining their children.

 

I remember a father sharing how he dealt with his son’s request to buy sneakers when the son was in the eighth grade. He told his son he would give him four hundred dollars. Naturally, the son felt it was not enough, but the father told him that four hundred dollars could buy a pair of sneakers, and if it wasn’t enough, the son would have to figure it out himself. In the end, the son bought the sneakers he wanted, but the price was saving his breakfast and lunch money to make the purchase. He said although his son was happy with the new sneakers, he also experienced days of hunger, and in the future, he would think carefully before making a purchase. The father expressed that it was tough for him to see his son go through this, but he thought it was important for his son to understand the principle of living within one’s means, even if it meant letting his son experience it firsthand.

During a lecture on how to cultivate self-care abilities in young children, a mother of a K3 student shared that her son always relied on her to pack up his homework. Over time, her son’s dependence on her increased. After much reflection, the mother decided to apply what she had learned from parenting seminars. She told her son that he needed to take care of his own things and that she would no longer pack his school bag for him. She was also mentally prepared for her son to be reprimanded by the teacher for not handing in his homework. As expected, to avoid further scolding from the teacher, the son started to pack his school bag by himself every day. Although he may not yet fully understand the importance of taking responsibility for his own affairs, he has begun to take his own matters seriously and no longer relies on his mother’s “help.” The mother also stopped providing unconstructive help and care for her son.

 

After all, classroom learning is enjoyable, but practical application can be painfully insightful, with a mix of joys and challenges. While applying parenting techniques, it is also a challenge to the parents’ personal values and life experiences. Parents also need to have a balanced mindset and self-awareness. This is precisely the purpose of parenting education.

 

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Hot-tempered parents

Parenting Tips

Hot-tempered parents

Written by : Marriage and Family Therapist Rachel Ng

Children easily become timid, reticent, and lack confidence when dealing with hot-tempered parents. However, some children may learn to solve problems in an aggressive manner, mimicking their parents. Obviously, both patterns are detrimental to a child’s personality development! Can parents improve their hot-tempered nature?

Personality tendencies and life stress

It’s undeniable that a part of one’s temperament is innate, which we cannot overlook. Just like children have different traits, some parents are naturally more sensitive, react quickly, and have lower adaptability. These types of parents, when entering the stage of raising children, often coincide with a critical period in their career development. Due to their low adaptability, they easily become anxious due to changes in the environment, work demands, and their own career advancement, requiring a lot of time and energy to cope. At home, the various temperaments of children and their growing needs already pose many challenges to parents. Therefore, parents who are impatient and have low adaptability can easily lose their temper, using it as a way to vent their unease and attempt to control the situation, hoping to restore order and reduce their own anxiety.

 

Trauma from the Family of Origin

Some parents are not inherently impatient, but if they experienced neglect, abuse, and damage to their self-esteem and personality during their upbringing, these parents are likely to perceive their child’s disobedience, tantrums, and other challenging behaviors as personal rejections, triggering their own childhood traumas and leading to emotional instability and frequent outbursts of anger. Parents often fail to recognize that their anger at the moment is largely a hypersensitive reaction stemming from past hurts, attributing the cause of their anger solely to the child’s behavior, resulting in disproportionate emotional responses and excessive punishment of the child.

Conflict with Spouse

Parents who are quick-tempered find it difficult to remain calm during conflicts with their spouse, leading to strained marital relationships and a discordant family atmosphere. Sometimes, they resort to quick but superficial solutions to ease conflicts, leaving the underlying issues unresolved. As resentment between spouses builds up over time and remains unaddressed, parents may vent their accumulated negative emotions on their children when they misbehave, leading to hurtful remarks and creating more complex family issues.

 

Trauma from the Family of Origin

Some parents are not inherently impatient, but if they experienced neglect, abuse, and damage to their self-esteem and personality during their upbringing, these parents are likely to perceive their child’s disobedience, tantrums, and other challenging behaviors as personal rejections, triggering their own childhood traumas and leading to emotional instability and frequent outbursts of anger. Parents often fail to recognize that their anger at the moment is largely a hypersensitive reaction stemming from past hurts, attributing the cause of their anger solely to the child’s behavior, resulting in disproportionate emotional responses and excessive punishment of the child.

Conflict with Spouse

Parents who are quick-tempered find it difficult to remain calm during conflicts with their spouse, leading to strained marital relationships and a discordant family atmosphere. Sometimes, they resort to quick but superficial solutions to ease conflicts, leaving the underlying issues unresolved. As resentment between spouses builds up over time and remains unaddressed, parents may vent their accumulated negative emotions on their children when they misbehave, leading to hurtful remarks and creating more complex family issues.

 

Delaying Tactics for Cultivating Children’s Patience

Parenting Tips

Delaying Tactics for Cultivating Children's Patience

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

 

Hong Kong is a society abundant in material wealth, but due to the overabundance of resources, when children have needs in life, parents quickly provide them with ample supply, allowing them continuous satisfaction. However, parents satisfying their children’s needs too quickly can have a negative impact on them, failing to cultivate their ability to endure, and over time, their patience may become limited.

 

Utilizing Emotional Intelligence to Cultivate Children’s Patience

Delaying gratification or the fulfillment of life’s needs is an important part of developing emotional intelligence (EQ). If parents are accustomed to quickly satisfying their children’s needs but then complain about their lack of patience, such criticism is unfair to the children, as their patience has simply not been nurtured.

 

How can one delay the fulfillment of children’s needs? To train children’s emotional intelligence, the secret is “neither using the cane nor the carrot,” meaning that neither corporal punishment nor frequent rewards are necessary. Instead, patience and the ability to wait are cultivated through daily life experiences. Parents can try the following examples:

 

Example 1: When parents and children go to a dim sum restaurant, there is no need to let the children eat whatever they like immediately. Parents can ask the children to wait for 5 minutes after finishing one basket of dim sum before eating a second type; or they can require the children to wait until the parents have eaten a portion before they can eat. In this way, parents and children take turns eating the dim sum.

 

Example 2: When children ask their parents to buy toys, parents do not need to purchase them immediately. They can explain to the child to wait a few hours, days, or a week before buying, asking the children to wait patiently.

Example 3: When children return home from the street, do not let them turn on the TV immediately as they please. They must be asked to put away their shoes and socks, drink a glass of water, and sit on the sofa for 3 minutes before they can turn on the TV.

 

Example 4: When children go out with their parents, do not let them rush to press the elevator button immediately. Parents can ask them to wait for the parents to go out together, walk to the elevator together, and then press the button.

 

 

Parents Must Be Consistent and Credible to Train Children’s Intelligence

 

These are just a few examples. Parents must make good use of the “dragging tactic” in life’s details. Using the dragging tactic does not mean denying or refusing the children’s needs, but rather not satisfying them immediately. What parents need to pay attention to is that when using these tactics, they must follow through with what they say. No matter if the children act spoiled, throw a tantrum, cry, or scream, parents must stick to the principle of “dragging”; additionally, parents must also be credible and do what they have promised the children.

 

Furthermore, when children make requests, parents can ask the children to explain their reasons, which not only trains their emotional intelligence (EQ) but also their intelligence (IQ). By putting a little more effort into the details of children’s lives, parents can effectively help train their children’s emotional intelligence. Parents might as well give it a try!

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My child eats fruits and vegetables every day but still struggles with bowel movements. What should I do?

Parenting Tips

My child eats fruits and vegetables every day but still struggles with bowel movements. What should I do?

Written by: Registered Public Health Nutritionist (UK) and Nutritionist, Ng Pui Yu

 

Many parents have encountered the issue of their children having difficulty with bowel movements. When this problem arises, parents usually increase the fiber content in their children’s diet, but the effectiveness varies from person to person. What should be noted in this process?

 

What is an appropriate amount of fiber?

 

Many people know that eating foods high in fiber such as whole grains, nuts, beans, fruits (like prunes, figs, kiwis, bananas, apples, pears, etc.) and vegetables (like eggplants, bell peppers, daylilies, amaranth, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, spinach, Chinese broccoli, snow fungus, mushrooms, etc.) can stimulate intestinal peristalsis. It turns out that when fiber absorbs water, it becomes soft and expands like a sponge, stimulating the urge to defecate. Sufficient fiber also helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines, which can improve constipation. It is important to note that when increasing dietary fiber, it should be done gradually, increasing slowly every few days, otherwise, if the body cannot adapt, it may make the stool even harder.

The daily dietary fiber requirement for children is their age plus 5 grams. For example, a 4-year-old child should have a daily dietary fiber intake of about 4+5=9 grams. To consume enough fiber, children aged 2 to 5 years old need at least 1.5 servings of vegetables (1 serving = 1/2 bowl of cooked vegetables) and at least 1 serving of fruit (1 serving = 1 medium-sized fruit, such as an orange or apple) per day.

Is the water intake really sufficient?

 

Often, parents claim that their child drinks a lot of water, but the bowel movements are still not ideal. Upon further inquiry, it turns out that they only drink about 500 to 600 milliliters a day, which is not enough. Parents should know that fiber and water are partners; there must be enough water for the fiber to absorb, swell, and soften, which stimulates intestinal peristalsis. If there is sufficient fiber but not enough water, it can make the stool hard and even more difficult to pass. In fact, children aged 2 to 5 years old need 4 to 5 cups of fluid a day, which is about 1000 to 1250 milliliters, and at least half of this should be plain water. If the weather is hot or dry, if there is a lot of sweating, if the child is very active, or if the dietary fiber intake is increased, then more water should be consumed.

 

Additionally, daily appropriate exercise can also help stimulate intestinal peristalsis and aid in bowel movements; developing a habit of going to the toilet at regular times can also help improve constipation.

 

 

Dietary Fiber Content Chart (Source: Department of Health)

Food

Dietary Fiber Content (grams)

Grains

 

White Rice, 1 bowl

0.8

Brown Rice, 1 bowl

4.5

Whole Wheat Bread, 1 slice

3.4

Oatmeal (Dry), 1/3 bowl

2.7

 

 

Fruits / Dried Fruits

 

Apple, with skin, 1 medium

4.4

Orange, 1 medium

3.1

Banana, 1 piece

3.1

Dried Plums, pitted, 3 pieces

2.0

Raisins, seedless, small box

1.5

Dried Apricots, pitted, 5 pieces

2.6

 

 

Vegetables

 

Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 bowl

2.6

Chinese Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 bowl

1.3

Lettuce, raw, 1 bowl

0.9

Tomato, raw, 1 medium

1.5

Corn Kernels, cooked, 1/2 bowl

2.0

Green Peas, cooked, 1/2 bowl

4.4

Sweet Potato, cooked, peeled, 1 medium

3.8

 

 

Legumes

 

Lima Beans, cooked, 1/2 bowl

5.6

Soybeans, cooked, 1/2 bowl

5.2

Red Beans, cooked, 1/2 bowl

8.4

Mung Beans, cooked, 1/2 bowl

7.7

1 bowl = 240 ml

 

Note: Everyone’s health condition is different, so it is advisable to consult a dietitian for individual dietary plans and precautions.

Organic food = nutritious?

Parenting Tips

Organic food = nutritious?

Written by: Registered Dietitian (Public Health) (UK) Phoebe Wu

 

Many families choose to consume organic foods such as fruits, vegetables, and eggs. When asked why they choose organic foods, most people respond: “Because organic food is safer and more nutritious.” In this issue, I will teach what organic farming is.

 

What is organic farming?

 

Organic farming refers to agricultural activities conducted using agricultural, biological, or mechanical methods instead of synthetic substances made by humans. It does not use chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified crops, but rather utilizes local natural resources and adheres to the natural ecological order. The scope of consideration is very broad, for example: there must be a buffer zone of at least 2 meters between the organic production area of a farm and the non-organic areas to prevent contamination of the crops.

 

Crop and variety selection and diversity

  • Seeds or vegetative propagating organs used for organic cultivation must be organically certified.
  • Farms must implement crop rotation and intercropping and should diversify as much as possible to avoid monoculture.

 

Nutrient Management

  • Fertilization must be done in appropriate amounts to prevent nutrient excess and environmental pollution.
  • The fertilizers used on the farm should be harmless to the ecological environment in terms of their source, quality, application rate, and method of application.
  • Fallowing should be practiced to allow the land to recover its fertility.
  • The use of chemically synthesized fertilizers, human excreta, sewage sludge, and chemical waste is prohibited.

 

Management of diseases, pests, and weeds, as well as crop growth

  • Implement appropriate fertilization and irrigation management.
  • Use physical methods, including manual labor, fencing, light, sound frequency, heat, etc.
  • Plant crops that have pest control functions (including repelling pests and attracting natural enemies).
  • The use of chemically synthesized herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, and other pesticides is prohibited.

 

Hence, organic farming focuses more on ecological protection during the cultivation process. However, in terms of nutritional value, the difference between organic and non-organic food is actually not significant. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that children who eat organic food are healthier or smarter. Of course, since organic food is more environmentally friendly and uses fewer chemical pesticides, I also encourage everyone to purchase more of it.

 

Conventional Farming vs. Organic Farming

 

 

Conventional Farming

Organic Farming

Safety

More commonly uses chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

 

-Fewer chemical pesticides.

-Focuses on the ecological environment.

-Uses non-genetically modified materials.

Nutrition

No significant difference

Health

Similarly, attention should be paid to the principles of a healthy diet low in fat, sugar, and salt.