Parent Zone Article

How to raise children with a sense of security?

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.

Parent Zone Article

Playing and toys

Playing and toys

Shirley LooPlaying and toys

Child, in my memory, you rarely asked me to buy toys during your childhood. I wonder if this has anything to do with that time when I took you away from home to “Fun World.”

Do you still remember standing in front of that plush toy? I made up many stories, saying that Ning Ning wanted to take them home, and they cried, saying “they didn’t want to leave their own home.” As a result, you believed it to be true and your heart softened, and you no longer pleaded with me to buy the plush toys. But it also let us know that plush toys were your favorite, so whenever we went on business trips, we would buy one to bring back for you as a souvenir. Do you still remember Dutchess, the cute brown pony?

Aside from plush toys, my memories related to toys are quite vague. I only remember singing games around the dining table after meals, playing with paper balls when you were recovering from a fever, and building sandcastles with you on the beach and catching crabs by the rocks, none of which involved spending money on toys.

I also remember setting a rule back then: no video games at home. You begged many times, asking why we couldn’t buy an X Paradise to play at home, and my response was: “Once a week at your cousin’s house is enough!” I wonder if this kind of “persistence” made you feel uncomfortable. I hope you understand the good intentions of your mother, which was not wanting your thoughts and attention to be captured by video games. Seeing you recently bought a video game console with your husband and are enjoying it at home, you’ve finally found someone to play with, haven’t you?

Recently, your father and I browsed through a toy store for a while, seeing a dazzling array of toys for adults, children, and babies. But we still firmly believe that no matter how fun toys are, they cannot replace the time parents spend playing with their children. After all, toys are not meant to “pass the time” for children, but are tools for creating happy moments between parents and children!

Ho YingToys

When I was young and went shopping with you, I would always see children crying and screaming at the entrance of toy stores, clamoring to buy toys. However, this situation rarely happened to me, not only because I had a deep affection for every toy but also because I had you to play with me, making every day feel new even if I was looking at the same toys. The stuffed toys at home would not only perform in stage plays but also interact with the “audience” (which was me), and they would go shopping with me and chat with “friends” on the street or in the stores.

The only toy I really wanted but never got was a video game console. Every weekend when I visited my cousin, he would always play different games with me, like basketball, ones set in the Warring States period, and racing games, which made me want to own one so I could play at home. But you would always say, “It’s good enough to play with your cousin; we don’t need to own one.” Honestly, I really hoped that one day, when you came home from work, you would bring home a box of X Paradise, but that never happened.

Now that I’ve grown up, my husband and I finally bought one to take home. At first, I was very excited, thinking that I could play as soon as I got home. However, there were a few times when I was alone at home, I would play the video game for ten minutes and then do something else. It was then that I realized that what I enjoyed about playing was not the game itself, but having someone to play with. So, what’s important is not the toy, but the interaction with family and friends.

Children of today’s generation seem to only play games on mobile apps, and toys have gradually lost their status. Whether in restaurants or on the subway, the laughter of children is less heard, replaced by people of all ages looking down at their phones, the adults reading the news and the children playing video games. Most mobile games are single-player, merely interacting with a pre-programmed system, lacking the exchange between people. If possible, why not put down the phone, take out a stuffed animal or a robot, and bring the child back to that world full of fantasy and innocence!

Parent Zone Article

Parental education, willing to learn and dare to do

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.

Parent Zone Article

How to effectively reward children?

How to effectively reward children?

Written by : Pario Children, Parenting Education Centre

Childhood and family have a profound impact on a person. How do parents influence their children’s growth? How to cultivate good behavior and character in children? Is it correct and effective to use rewards and encouragement?

Do not turn love for your child into a reward

It is often heard that parents say, “If you behave, daddy will shower you with love.” Parents think this is providing positive reinforcement, encouraging positive behavior in children, but shouldn’t the companionship of mom and the affection of dad be unconditional? Love and affection should not be contingent on being well-behaved! A child’s self-worth should not be equated with their behavior or achievements.

Do not turn existing habits into rewards

Some parents might say: “If you behave, we will go to the park on Sunday!” When the child behaves in a “naughty” manner, parents cancel the child’s original plan to play in the park, letting the child learn to bear the consequences. Although this is one of the parenting methods, if the child originally has the habit of going to the park every day, and the parents use “going to the park” as a reward, is this really a reward? This is just continuing the daily routine! Of course, if the child does not usually have the opportunity to go to the park, this reward would be very attractive to a child who naturally loves to play!

Clearly explain rewards and good behavior

Rewards are necessary! But parents must carefully design or choose them, and the most ideal rewards are those that can attract children and are different from the daily routine. For example: going to the park for only 30 minutes every day, but today they can play for an extra 15 minutes; eating only one type of cookie for a snack every day, but today they can have two types. When rewarding, parents should clearly tell the child the reason for the reward, “Because you ‘put away your toys on your own’, mom and dad really appreciate you, so today you get ‘an extra cookie'”, letting the child concretely understand what good behavior is, and also understand the relationship between good behavior and rewards, giving them the motivation to continue displaying good behavior.

Provide unlimited support and encouragement

Children often need the support and encouragement of adults to have enough security and courage to try; sometimes, parents give a lot of encouragement, but the child still does not dare to try as expected, and sometimes parents will blurt out in disappointment: “I’ve held you for so long and you still won’t try, so I won’t hold you or kiss you!” What comes next is the child crying louder and being even more unwilling to try; even if the child is forced to complete the task, there is an additional emotional scar. Therefore, parents should give children unlimited support and encouragement, telling them: “Mommy has confidence in you, try again next time, you can do it!” Believe that when children have stored enough energy from encouragement, they will step forward.

Perhaps, in the process of parenting, parents neither want to be tiger parents nor can they avoid the competition in society, sometimes they may feel lost, but remember to respect the child’s innate traits, and let your appreciation and encouragement accompany their growth.

Parent Zone Article

Children eating leftovers, the cost for Dad to cover is high

Written by : Octopus Parent, Leung Wing Lok


Legendary parenting KOL Mrs Mak (i.e., McDull’s mom) once said: “There was a child who told a big lie, and the next day, he died…” Teaching children about consequences and costs is an unavoidable responsibility for parents. Thus, yesterday, my little daughter Yin and I had the following conversation at the dinner table:


Yin: I’m leaving half of my meal, please, dad, cover for me.

Dad: What attitude is that, always expecting me to cover for you, do you know the cost is significant for me?

Yin: What cost?

Dad: The cost means consequences (answering randomly), the cost of eating too much is getting fat.

Yin: But you are already very fat. (Instant kill)

Dad: There’s also a cost for leaving your food; I will take away your candies, let’s see if you dare to leave your food again. (Embarrassed and angry)

Yin: Woo… I don’t get fat from eating candies, but you’re still very fat without eating them.

Dad: I’m getting fat because I always have to cover for you guys. (The more he answers, the sadder he gets)

Taking away candies for leaving food, otherwise, dad, the king of covering, will only get fatter. Since the birth of my son, Hope, my weight has increased by more than 30%, so I must immediately stop the children from casually leaving their food, or else fat dad will have to pay a heavy “weighty” price.

In fact, the garbage we discard every day also comes at a cost to Hong Kong’s environment. I’m not talking about the consequences of littering fines of $1500 or the like, but in the past thirty years, while Hong Kong’s population has grown by only 30%, the total amount of municipal solid waste has increased by nearly 84%, far outpacing the overall growth. This is because everyone thinks there is no cost to throwing away trash, but in reality, the process of waste disposal not only occupies precious land (which Hong Kong people feel most ‘painfully’), but also consumes a lot of manpower and resources… These ‘costs’ are something that Hong Kong people have not thought about bearing in the past, but many Asian cities including Seoul and Taipei have implemented solid waste charging for many years with success. Why can’t the citizens of Hong Kong bear this together?


After a long-winded explanation to my little daughter Yin… “Dad, with all the nonsense you talk on a daily basis, can I charge you a fee to help you reduce waste and bear the burden together?”