Setting boundaries is better than trying to prevent children from making mistakes
Written by: Peggy Ho Pui Yee, Founder and Volunteer Executive Director of Good Love Passion
Being overly critical is the most common mistake parents make in disciplining their children. The phrase “love deeply, scold severely” reflects the emotions of most parents. Parents often fear that their children will develop any undesirable behavior during their growth, which may have lifelong consequences. Therefore, when disciplining their children, parents often resort to meticulous criticism as a way to remind them. In reality, making mistakes is an essential part of a child’s growth process. As children constantly change and grow, parents need to adapt to their developmental needs and adjust their approach to dealing with their behavior, even changing the way they interact with them.
For example, when a child fails to complete their homework on time, parents should calmly handle this common occurrence, as it is an opportunity for the child to improve and grow. Similarly, when a child talks back, it may indicate their emerging independence and critical thinking skills. It doesn’t necessarily mean they lack respect for their parents. As children grow older, they develop their own thoughts, opinions, and perspectives on various aspects of life. They also desire parental acknowledgment. As parents, we may not agree with these behaviors, but even in disagreement, we can understand the underlying needs of our children. This allows us to communicate more effectively with them and utilize appropriate disciplinary methods.
“While knowledge can change destiny, attitude determines everything!” Explosive anger and harsh accusations from parents are ineffective in discipline and serve no purpose. When parents understand how to gently and firmly assist their children and incorporate respect into daily life, children will develop a better understanding of rules and boundaries. Consequently, they will exercise more self-control and establish their own standards for behavior. With these standards in place, they will naturally become more independent, responsible individuals. Therefore, parents should establish boundaries in their children’s daily lives during their early childhood stages.
Since the age of one and a half, my daughter understood that writing is done on paper. Therefore, even at the age of 3, she has never stuck a sticker on the pristine walls of our home. She knows her boundaries and understands that a responsible child should keep the house clean. It is her responsibility. Parents establish guidelines for children to follow before discussing whether they are obedient or not.
When setting boundaries for younger children, it is important to be clear and specific. For example, you can say to a toddler, “If you can’t do it, it means you’re not behaving.” However, for young children, the term “not behaving” is vague and difficult for them to grasp. In addition, when setting boundaries, it is necessary to establish the consequences of not complying. It is important to emphasize that these consequences are “results” and not “punishments.” Consequences are simply the natural outcome of an agreement between both parties, operating under natural laws, and they are distinct from punishments. For example, after playing, if a child is expected to clean up their toys, they can continue playing next time only if they tidy up. However, if they don’t clean up, according to the previous agreement, their toys will be confiscated for two or three days.
At this point, parents must make it clear to the child that this is the natural consequence of not fulfilling the agreement, not a punishment. Another example is when parents discuss with their child the time limit for watching TV or using electronic devices and set specific time boundaries. Similarly, if the child exceeds the designated time and doesn’t turn off the device, according to the previous agreement, they won’t be allowed to watch or use it for the next three days. When setting boundaries, parents need to ensure they are reasonable. Otherwise, it would be unfair to the child, making them more likely to cross the boundaries and become disobedient in the future.
While parents have the responsibility to teach children proper behavior, if the methods used are too impatient and harsh, lacking an understanding of the child’s growth process, it may lead to negative effects. Therefore, we should provide children with experiences of taking initiative to change for the better, engage in serious discussions, rather than resorting to severe punishments. Approaching the situation with a calm and composed demeanor can assist children in transforming their mistakes into opportunities for growth. Just like how children inevitably fall while learning to walk, we encourage them to pick themselves up and take another step forward.
When faced with a child’s misconduct, it is important to consider how to handle the situation in a way that fosters their ability to change. People generally do not intentionally make mistakes; the reason for making mistakes is often due to a lack of awareness. Making mistakes is not inherently frightening for children; what is truly concerning is making mistakes without understanding where they went wrong or how to correct them. If parents can approach their child’s mistakes with the right mindset and guide them towards making corrections using appropriate methods, these mistakes can become opportunities for reflection and progress. It also enhances the chance for communication between parents and children. Let us transform our children’s mistakes into beautiful errors.
How to use music to learn a language?
Source: Speech Therapist, Miss Carley
In order to help children learn a language, parents use various methods. Have you ever considered singing as one of the methods? Music is an international language and is highly engaging for children. We also have many different ways to use music to assist children in language learning.
One simple method is called “lyric filling.” This method can be used for children who may not yet be able to speak or can only say a few words. Parents can try using this method. Choose a familiar song that the child knows, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” However, instead of singing the entire song, use a single syllable to sing the entire song, for example, “ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma ma.” Then suddenly stop and wait for the child to hum or sing the remaining syllable. Parents can encourage the child to vocalize that particular syllable.
The second method is to sing action songs with children, which involve movements. For example, the well-known song “If You’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” You can sing this song with the child while performing different actions. Through this, children can learn different movements and some nouns and vocabulary.
Interestingly, music can enhance children’s memory. Have you ever noticed that there are many songs we heard when we were young or many years ago, and even if we haven’t sung them in years, we can still remember the lyrics? Therefore, we can simply sing the ABC Song with children to teach them basic English letters. We can also learn numbers with children, for example, “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians.”
If we want to teach children the English names of the days of the week, we can sing “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday” with them. By incorporating vocabulary into music, it makes it easier for children to remember the words.
The fourth method is to try singing out certain phrases, similar to singing. We can also use props to assist, such as simple flashcards. For example, if we want to say, “Chan Siu Ming is eating an apple,” we can sing it out using a musical approach, which enhances the child’s motivation and interest in communication.
Common questions about promoting to Primary School: Experts answer for you
Source: Education expert, Chiu Wing Tak
Question: In the scoring system for enrolling in Primary One, how are twins scored? If the two have different personalities, should they choose to attend the same school for convenience?
Answer: Actually, there is a system in place for twins. There are two possibilities: both are accepted, or neither is accepted. If both are accepted, both children will receive an additional 5 points. It is not a matter of distinguishing between “older twin” or “younger twin.” If the two children have different personalities, it doesn’t matter. In the school I used to work at, we often admitted twins, and if their personalities were different, we would assign them to different classes.
Each class is taught by teachers with different personalities, who can cater to students with different personalities, so parents can rest assured. It’s not necessary to enroll them in two different schools, as it would be burdensome for parents. However, in the case of direct subsidized schools or private schools, extra caution is needed, as there may be situations where one child is accepted while the other is not.
Question: Is applying to 20 direct subsidized or private primary schools the minimum requirement?
Answer: This really depends on individual circumstances, and every parent’s situation is different. Some parents apply to many schools out of concern. The key factor is how many schools you actually interview with. If you plan to apply to 20 schools, scheduling conflicts can become quite severe. However, the most important thing is not to burden the child too much. If the child is suffering, it will also cause distress for the parents.
Another question is, why are you applying to 20 schools? Some parents claim it’s to let their child “warm up.” But actually, you don’t need to apply to 20 schools just to warm up. If you drive the car a few times, you can warm up, right? So there’s no need to apply to 20 schools; around 5 or 6 would be sufficient. Additionally, if a child has to attend multiple interviews, their performance will gradually decline because they will become tired and exhausted. When they start giving up or feeling unsuccessful, it can greatly impact their confidence.
Question: If the first-choice primary school’s first-round interview clashes with the second-round interview of the second-choice school, both of which are popular schools, and the second-choice school has a higher chance of acceptance with the second-round interview, it seems wasteful to give up the second-round interview after the child’s previous efforts. How should I make a choice?
Answer: Are both schools equally liked by the parent? If both schools are equally liked, then of course, choosing the second-round interview school would be the option. Because with the second-round interview, there is a high chance of proceeding to the third round and then getting accepted. If you don’t equally like both schools, even if you have a second-round interview, it won’t be useful. So the key point is whether you equally like both schools. If you really like the first-round interview school, I think you should choose that one because if you are accepted to a school you really like, you will definitely go there. So the choice should not be based on which round of the interview but rather on which school you like the most.
Question: Do prestigious primary schools consider parents’ backgrounds? Will they discount the child’s admission if the parents do not hold prominent positions?
Answer: If it is a government or subsidized school, there is actually no place to fill in the parents’ background. They only consider whether you have hereditary status, whether your scores are sufficient, and whether you are lucky enough. So government or subsidized schools do not consider parents’ backgrounds. But if you are applying to a private or direct subsidized schools, there may be opportunities for them to inquire about your background or require you to provide such information. In the past, many parents were concerned that they didn’t have prestigious occupations, or their positions were ordinary, and they wondered if the school would reject their child because of that.
In my opinion, many educators, even in prestigious schools, do not necessarily consider parents’ backgrounds. They truly focus on the child themselves, and some schools may not even interview the parents. Of course, there are some prestigious schools that are concerned about the family’s income or support, but it may not necessarily be related to the parents’ occupation. However, parents should not decide not to apply to those schools just because they do not hold prominent positions.
How can parents solve the situation when children frequently throw tantrums？
Source: Senior Parenting Education Expert, Bally
It is easy to see whether parents are competent based on how they handle a child’s tantrums. If a child is yelling and screaming, can parents quickly calm the child’s emotions? Some competent parents simply crouch down, make eye contact, and hold their child tightly while gently asking, “Why are you crying? Don’t throw tantrums.”
Our first priority is to help the child regain control of their emotions. If they can’t control their emotions, they won’t be able to hear anything. We shouldn’t try to teach or scold them when their emotions are high because they often won’t listen. If a child throws a tantrum and we can’t control our own emotions, raising our voice and scolding them louder will only make them escalate further. Therefore, we must be able to teach children to control their emotions.
Sometimes we see children in supermarkets throwing tantrums, shouting, crying, and even rolling on the floor. When this happens, the child is already challenging the boundaries set by adults. If at that moment, we are afraid of embarrassment or concerned about how others will perceive us, and we try to compromise just to calm things down, then we are teaching the child to reach such a level in the future. We might say, “If you scream and roll on the floor, I will buy it for you, but if you don’t, I won’t.” Therefore, we must lead by example when teaching children and not worry about how others perceive us.
What would be a more appropriate approach to handling the situation? Parents should set aside everything and crouch down to talk to the child, saying, “Mom just told you earlier that we won’t be buying anything. Do you remember? If you really want to throw a tantrum, Mom won’t buy anything at all. Let go of everything, and let’s go home.” Because we need to persist consistently, the child will understand that they cannot challenge their parents, and they won’t escalate their behavior.
Many times, parents are not aware of their own language expression, and they may unintentionally encourage children to cry. In reality, if we frequently say, “Don’t!” the child will only hear that word. For example, if we say, “Don’t cry anymore,” the child will only hear the word “cry.” So what should we ask them to do instead? “You should calm down, wipe away your tears, and be calm before I talk to you.” If we stand upright, speaking loudly, and say, “If you dare to cry again, just wait and see what I will do…”, the child’s anger will only intensify. Therefore, we need to pay attention to our words and actions and encourage them in a positive manner.
When faced with problems such as a child throwing tantrums, refusing to do homework, or not wanting to eat, we often get stuck in that particular issue. How can we make the child finish quickly so that we can move on to another activity? We need to think of the next “reward” for them. For example, if the child dislikes doing homework, we can say, “How about this? If we finish within 15 minutes, we can read a book together, watch cartoons, play with building blocks, or play with toys.” These are things that children enjoy and look forward to, so we should keep emphasizing and magnifying these activities.
We need to show them the future consequences that are directly linked to their current behavior. If the child cries or throws tantrums at home during the process, parents often place them in a “Quiet Corner” where they can calm their emotions. This can be done in their familiar and safe room or on their bed, allowing them to gradually stop crying.
If competent parents have enough ability to make the child reflect and express themselves, they could say, “Mommy is really sorry. I feel like I was wrong earlier.” Assigning roles can make it easier, for example, when the mother is doing homework with the child and the child starts throwing tantrums and refusing to do it. The mother can say, “Go to your room now, sit on your own bed, and think about what you did wrong.”
Then the father or another person can enter the room and tell the child, “Do you know that you made Mommy very unhappy just now? Do you know that she will be very angry?” We share our adult world, thoughts, and feelings with the child, helping them understand and willingly say, “I really made a mistake. I was really wrong. I’m sorry, Mommy.”
How to enhance the confidence of shy children?
Source: Family Marriage Therapist/Art Therapist, Ko Wing Oi
In reality, many parents feel that their children are shy and want to enhance their self-confidence so that they can have more confidence in talking to others. This actually depends on the child’s personality because sometimes children may be slower to warm up or feel more fearful about speaking to strangers. A child’s shyness may be related to their upbringing and experiences during their growth process.
In today’s busy world, many parents have limited opportunities to take their children out to play and interact with other children due to work commitments. This can gradually result in children only feeling comfortable communicating with older family members or siblings. When they encounter peers of the same age, they may not know how to play together. Additionally, many parents tend to speak on behalf of their children, especially when they are unable to express themselves. Sometimes parents may feel impatient and quickly guess what the child wants, saying things like, “Do you want this? Do you want that?” This often makes the child hesitant to express their true thoughts and feelings.
Parents unintentionally prevent their children from learning how to express themselves or become dependent on their parents to speak for them. However, there are various ways to help children communicate with other children or adults in different environments. For example, through interactive activities or games at home, parents can ask the child questions like, “If we meet other children to play at the playground, what can you do to join them?” Role-playing with family members can also be beneficial in helping children gain confidence in social interactions.
Children primarily learn from their environment, including their parents, siblings, school, friends, and even through sources like online news, television, or cartoons, where they learn behaviors and speech patterns. Therefore, when playing games at home, it’s important to set a good example and show them how to communicate, speak, and express themselves effectively.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to give children time to think about how to express themselves instead of rushing to speak for them or completing their sentences. Even if they make a mistake, it’s important not to say, “That’s not how you do it!” as it can scare the child. It’s better to analyze the situation together and discuss how it could have been done correctly. Parents should try to engage in more analysis with the child, asking questions like, “Why is it not okay to say it that way? Because speaking like that might hurt other children. How would you feel if someone spoke to you in that manner?” Teaching them different communication methods can help them interact with strangers and communicate effectively in different environments.
2022-23 – The Big Show for Caring School
How do you teach children correct pronunciation?
Source: Speech therapist, Miss Carley
When children learn a language, pronunciation is also an important aspect. There are many pronunciations in English that are not found in Cantonese and are difficult for both children and adults to master. How can parents teach children to pronounce English correctly? What are some tips to use?
The English tongue’s sounds can be difficult for children and even adults to master. We can try to use different cueing techniques to teach children to pronounce the sounds correctly. For example, parents can use visual cues, such as looking in the mirror with the child and showing him the tip of his tongue, placed between the two rows of teeth.
In addition, parents can also use verbal cues to clearly tell the child, “Put your tongue in the middle of your two rows of teeth,” so that they know what to do. When necessary, parents can also provide tactile cues, such as using a popsicle stick or spoon to touch the tongue and showing them where to place it for different sounds.
Parents can also try playing simple games with their children to train their listening skills, such as whether they can distinguish between right and wrong in terms of hearing. For example, intentionally mispronouncing a word: “Is ‘fank you’ correct? No, it’s not.” “Is ‘thank you’ correct? Yes, it is.”
This time we have to bite our teeth on the tongue or write the words “free” and “three” on a piece of paper, and then the parent reads out one of the words “three” “You show me which one” and reads “free”, “You show me which one”. If he knows how to distinguish, it will be clearer and easier for him to express himself.
What should parents do when a 3-year-old child throws a tantrum because things don't go their way?
Source: Clinical psychologist, Yu Kwok Ting, from Caritas Rehabilitation Service
Children often have their own ideas, but sometimes when they encounter something they don’t like, they may resort to crying and throwing a tantrum to try to get their way. However, a child’s crying can often hit a parent’s weak spot and make them give in, which actually sets off a vicious cycle.
We need to understand that the frequency of a child’s behavior is related to its consequences. Simply put, if we do something and the consequence is good, we are more likely to do that behavior again; if we do something and the consequence is bad, we naturally won’t do that behavior again.
Younger children cannot fully grasp their understanding of the world and what they should and should not do. They only have a vague concept, so when parents try to explain to them why they should or should not do something, children may not fully understand even after listening.
If a 3-year-old child is upset before bedtime, parents can set up a reward plan with them. Every child in each family is different, and parents can teach their child: “I will only ask you to go to bed three times at most every night. If you can go to bed within those three times, you will get a sticker or stamp for that day. When you have collected a certain number of stickers or stamps, you can exchange them for a reward.” The reward can be a gift or an activity, such as going to a special place with the family.
When a child refuses to sleep at night and only wants to watch TV, parents need to remind them: “This is the first time we’re reminding you to go to bed.” If they still refuse to go to bed, parents should remind them that they will get a sticker if they go to bed within three reminders. At the same time, parents should bring out a notebook and stickers to show the child. If the child still refuses to go to bed after the second reminder, parents should say, “This is the second reminder; please go to bed. You can still get a sticker if you go to bed now.” If the child still doesn’t comply after the third reminder, parents should say, “We’ve reminded you three times already, and you still haven’t gone to bed. We won’t give you a sticker, and we’ll have to put things away now.”
The child may become emotional and cry, and may even demand stickers or TV. At this time, it’s important for parents not to give in and let the child watch TV or receive a sticker. If the child is able to succeed in getting a sticker or watching TV, they will learn that if they cry for long enough, they will get a good result.
Parents need to be firm and prepared for a prolonged battle at this time. They can remind themselves that this is a difficult but ultimately beneficial process. When the child continues to cry without getting a sticker or TV, they will gradually learn that being emotional doesn’t work. Not only does it not work, but it also means they won’t get a sticker or watch TV, which is not good. Gradually, they will learn not to use this method and will try to do what their parents ask them to do in order to earn stickers.
Parents often feel that using reward programs or tempting children with prizes is not good, and they feel that it is bribery behavior towards children. However, the biggest difference between reward and bribery is time. Usually, bribery occurs when the child is already uncooperative and the parent offers a sticker if the child goes to bed now. This belongs to bribery. But rewards are predetermined in advance and not given when the child is throwing a tantrum or having a mood swing to motivate them to do something good.
Reward items are a way to increase their motivation. Reward items can be gifts or food. If parents feel that it is too materialistic, it can also be an opportunity for an activity or verbal praise. Verbal praise can also increase the child’s motivation. As the child grows up, this kind of reward may not need to be so externalized. They will gradually receive rewards from their parents’ words or actions, and it will become a reward in their own minds.
When they slowly do well, they no longer need external motivation. They will give themselves motivation and think, “I have grown up, I can do it, I am smarter.” So, the reward program does not need to be done for a lifetime, but we need to give them a small incentive when they do not understand the world and their values are not very strong at the beginning, and over time we can gradually reduce the rewards.
Finally, parents need to understand that there are many factors that need to come together for a reward program to be successful. The adults in the family also need to implement the reward program consistently. It cannot be just the father giving stickers while the mother does not.
Secondly, we need to follow through. Thirdly, some things need to be done immediately. For example, if something happens at night, we need to give stickers right away and not wait for a week to do so. Fourthly, we need to be flexible. If the child wants to change the reward item every time, we should cooperate and not give the same gift every month.
If parents have set up a reward program at home and feel that it is not effective, there may be some adjustments needed in these details. If parents feel that it is not very effective, they can seek advice from teachers, social workers in the community, or other professionals to discuss how to adjust the reward program to help children do well.
How can parents help young children adapt to primary school life both psychologically and physically?
Source: Professor Chiu Wing Kai, Chair Professor of Sociology at the Education University of Hong Kong.
It’s already been 3 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.