Source: Children’s Play Therapy Instructor Lai Shun-Mei
Little boy likes princess books and models, and also likes pink.
There are many types of dolls and toys that children like, and many parents may worry that their son likes princesses and pink or worry that their daughter likes to play with toy cars. What is this worry? Do parents really need to worry? We are used to seeing girls wearing pink dresses and hats, but when we see them playing with fire trucks and swords, we feel uneasy. This is actually called “gender role expectations” in psychology.
Gender role expectations refer to the social and cultural expectations that certain genders engage in certain activities. Therefore, it is normal for everyone to have certain gender role expectations for their children. But we need to be aware that if we turn these expectations into innate views of certain types of people, it will be easy to get rid of the differences between people and what makes them unique.
“Gender role stereotyping” means teaching boys and girls how they should act and figuring out their interests and personalities based on their gender. Gender role stereotyping can limit their innate potential for development. If we want to cultivate children who have diverse interests, creativity, and a balanced and healthy personality, we must protect their freedom to explore. We especially need to pay attention to whether they are subjected to verbal bullying from others in society during this exploration process.
Parents may also worry about their children’s gender identity. Gender identity refers to the internal recognition of which gender one belongs and the desire to live and express oneself in that gender. This is a personal cognitive development issue. As children grow older and their brains develop, they learn and recognize more about themselves and society, gradually clarifying their gender identity. The choice of toys and colors alone cannot indicate a child’s gender identity difficulties, as toys do not have gender. Whether they choose to play with cars or dolls, they are expressing their imagination and sharing their stories. Therefore, as parents, we should relax and listen to our children’s emotions, and enjoy the time spent playing with and accompanying them.
Written by: Family Dynamics Psychological Counselor, Lai Shun Mei
Every time a child does homework, he or she falsely claims to have a stomachache, to go to the bathroom, or to go to sleep. Thousands of lies and excuses. Parents who value character development are naturally outraged because they have zero tolerance for dishonesty in their children. But why do children always avoid doing their homework? Why do they have to lie to cover it up?
Often, children avoid doing homework not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. Children want to be good and smart, but when they find out they can’t do their homework, they think they are not smart enough. They can’t accept this and will lie to cover it up and avoid it. Generally speaking, children with normal intelligence but learning disabilities will have their academic performance affected to some degree, but they can excel in other areas as well. And regardless of their intelligence level, as long as they use the right approach, coupled with the right amount of training, they can also build the corresponding ability.
But why do people lie? When a person feels that he or she is in an uncomfortable situation, he or she will activate the defense mechanism to protect himself or herself. Lying is one of the ways to cope with a crisis by avoiding it. If parents want to help their children, they should allow them to tell the truth so that they can understand what their children really don’t understand.
How do you instill in children the courage to speak the truth? You have to let your child know that even if he is not smart enough, you will still love him so much, take him as your joy, be patient with him, and find ways to help him solve his problems together, thus building up his sense of security and making him feel at ease to reveal his inner uncertainties and difficulties. On the contrary, if his experience makes him think that he is not smart enough, which will lead to his mother’s anger and complaints, he will not dare to tell the truth and even activate his self-protection mechanism to protect himself with lies that adults can uncover at first glance.
At this point, the child will not only fail to protect himself but will also get into more trouble because the mother will be rehabilitated and will take the initiative to admit her mistake and promise not to lie again. But in fact, his homework difficulties are not resolved, creating a vicious cycle. Therefore, we encourage parents to learn to accept their children’s shortcomings so that they will have confidence in you and feel safe to open up to you.
Source: Parenting Education Specialist, Ken Sir
Parents may worry that expressing too much love to their children will spoil them and therefore do not know how to express love to them. Generally speaking, Chinese are more introverted and often dare not express their love. Especially when you originally wanted to express that you were very worried about your child, it often turns into another attitude.
Once, I saw a mother and her child get lost in Shatin and then reunite. What was the mother’s behavior like after the reunion? She grabbed the child’s hand and hit him while saying, “I couldn’t find you earlier; do you know how scared I was? I was so worried. What would I do if I didn’t find you?”
In fact, everyone knows that the mother loves her child, but the child doesn’t feel it. I often share an example during lectures to express love. When I was young, my father ordered a drink, but because money was tight, he asked the waiter to bring an extra cup after ordering one hot drink. He kept pouring the drink back and forth in front of me, trying to cool it down quickly so that the child wouldn’t burn his mouth and could drink it faster. But I found that when children ask their parents or when I asked many students’ parents, they would answer, “This will make it cool faster.”
When responding to children, parents should express their feelings at the deepest level: “I love you; why would I do this if I didn’t love you? Am I doing it for someone else? For another child? So in fact, there are many things in our lives that can express love, but there is one thing that must be remembered. If you are afraid of being overindulgent, remember the following two points:
First, if the child can do something, let them do it. You should not fight to do it. Second, when the child makes a mistake, we should correct them. In the process of correction, try to be gentle and firm. When seriousness is needed, be serious. But remind the child to say the solution, not just say no or that it’s wrong. Otherwise, the child will not progress.
Source: Registered Dietitian (Public Health) (UK), Ng Pui-Yu
Many kids have dry skin or even eczema, and their parents work hard to find the right moisturizers and other skin care products for them. In fact, in addition to topical skincare products, we should also pay attention to children’s diets. The most direct way, of course, is to drink more water. How much water should be drunk?
In fact, our body’s need for water is deeply influenced by the weather. For example, in dry weather, we need more water, as well as to account for children’s activity levels and how much they sweat. The water content in food also affects their need for water. If a child urinates every 3 to 4 hours and the urine is light yellow with no strong odor and the stool is not very hard and does not cause difficulty during bowel movements, it usually means that their water intake is sufficient.
For children aged 2 to 5, they need about 4 to 5 cups of fluid a day, and water should be the main source. Unsaturated fatty acids, like omega-3, are also important for maintaining the integrity of cell membranes, which keep harmful substances out and keep the skin moist and flexible. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help calm immune responses that are too strong in people with skin allergies or eczema.
We should also avoid certain foods, such as candies, cookies, and white bread, which are refined foods. Instead, we should choose low-glycemic index foods, such as brown rice and whole wheat bread, which are important for controlling sensitive conditions. Antioxidants, including common vitamins A, C, and E, are also important and can be found in fruits, vegetables, and nuts of different colors, making them great sources of antioxidants.
In summary, to have healthy skin, in addition to having enough water, you should eat high-fat fish such as salmon or yellow croaker twice a week. You can also replace some cookies and candy with plain nuts, fruits, and so on, and it is ideal to eat a variety of vegetables and fruits.
By the way, if a child’s chewing ability is not well developed, there is a chance of choking when eating nuts. Therefore, we should choose some smaller nuts, such as pine nuts, which are also a good option.