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美國著名的情緒心理學家Plutchik指出，我們有 8種基本情緒 (Plutchik, 1993)，包括接納、預期、厭惡、憤怒、悲傷、恐懼、快樂及驚訝，這些情緒會按「情緒鏈 (Emotion Chain)」表現出來，包括：（一）刺激、（二）想法、（三）情緒、（四）行為和（五）效果。
Written by: Child Psychological Development Association
Psychological Counselor, Mr. Ching Wai Keung
“Is your child deliberately engaging in behavior that challenges your limits?”
“Does your child’s behavior completely contradict your wishes?”
“No matter how you punish your child, it seems like they become more defiant!”
Do these scenarios sound familiar to you? Many times, parents worry incessantly about their child’s behavior. However, behind the child’s behavior, there may be different emotions. For example, a child might intentionally exhibit rebellious behavior due to a desire for attention or rivalry for affection. In such cases, punishing the child may result in them becoming even more disobedient.
Renowned American emotion psychologist Plutchik pointed out that we have eight basic emotions (Plutchik, 1993), including acceptance, anticipation, disgust, anger, sadness, fear, joy, and surprise. These emotions manifest in an “Emotion Chain,” which includes stimuli, thoughts, emotions, behavior, and outcomes.
For instance, when an older brother sees his mom taking care of his younger sister (stimulus), he may think that his mom now only loves his sister and ignores him (thoughts). This could lead to emotions like sadness and anger (emotions). As a result, he may intentionally misbehave (behavior). The outcome is that the mom puts down the sister in the crib and then deals with the older brother (outcome). In the older brother’s eyes, his mom finally put down his sister, achieving the desired outcome through his behavior.
Young children may not necessarily express their thoughts through language, making it challenging for parents to understand the reasons behind their behavior. However, by soothing the child’s emotions and paying attention to patterns in their behavior, we can improve their conduct.
For example, if an older brother consistently exhibits inappropriate behavior whenever he sees his mom taking care of his younger sister, it can be inferred that he is seeking his mother’s love. In response, the mom can balance one-on-one time with both the older brother and younger sister, allowing him to feel that his mother loves him too. She can also invite him to participate in caring for the younger sister. If inappropriate behavior arises when attention is lacking, it may be a skill to attract parental attention. In such cases, parents can offer attention before inappropriate behavior occurs and deliberately ignore the behavior when it does, helping the child understand that misbehavior does not garner attention.
Understanding the reasons behind a child’s behavior is immensely helpful in improving inappropriate conduct. If you’d like to know more, feel free to contact us.
As children grow up, many parents may find that their children become increasingly resistant to having heart-to-heart talks. The children may feel awkward, or perhaps the family relationships have not been very close since childhood. Dr. Wong Chung Hin, a specialist in psychiatry, points out, “It is crucial for parents to establish a good parent-child relationship from an early age. If parents suspect emotional issues in their children, in addition to observing changes in their behavior, they can guide their children to express their thoughts and understand their inner world.”
As mentioned earlier, parents and children should establish a parent-child relationship from a young age, setting aside time each day for parent-child communication and engaging in interesting family activities together. Dr. Wong emphasizes, “A close parent-child relationship helps children express themselves to their parents. Even as they grow older, they will be more willing to express themselves and have trust in their family.”
However, if a child is unwilling to reveal their thoughts and parents notice changes in their behavior (refer to: https://www.parentsdaily.com.hk/expert/4073), Dr. Wong advises parents to patiently guide their children to express their inner feelings. “When children express their thoughts, parents should listen patiently and provide them with the opportunity to express themselves. Establish a daily parent-child chatting time, allowing children to have a channel to express themselves at home. Parents should remember that once children mention symptoms related to emotional issues, parents should not criticize or constantly deny their children.”
Dr. Wong continues, “Everyone has their own thoughts and perspectives, and parents are no exception. I once had a parent tell me that their child refused to go to school and do homework, and their emotions would spiral out of control every time they were urged to go to school. However, when the child stayed home to play video games, they seemed very happy, leading the parent to think the child was just lazy and ‘pretending.’ However, parents should carefully understand the reasons behind the child’s reluctance to go to school and not dismiss any emotional issues the child may have, to avoid missing crucial moments for addressing emotional problems.” If, after parental guidance, the child still refuses to discuss their situation, parents can contact the school to learn about the child’s situation at school.
Dr. Wong recalls a case involving a high school student: “This student suddenly called the clinic one day and asked if it was necessary for parents to accompany him. Later, the student came for a consultation with friends, revealing that he had a poor relationship with his family. After sharing with friends, they suggested seeking professional advice. During the treatment process, I slowly built a good doctor-patient relationship with him, gained his trust, and hoped to help rebuild his relationship with his family.” Dr. Wong laments that not every case receives family support, so the role of schools is crucial. When young people encounter emotional or stress-related issues and cannot confide in their families, they can seek assistance from trusted adults.
In light of the recent increase in suicide tragedies, Dr. Wong advises parents to understand that a child’s holistic development involves more than just academic achievements; it also includes mental health. Dr. Wong understands that a child’s stress often comes from academic and family expectations. “Whether students or parents, I hope everyone can equip themselves well in stressful environments. Equipping oneself does not necessarily mean extra tutoring but taking good care of one’s mental health and achieving balance in life. Parents and schools should also teach students about the importance of mental health and promote the holistic growth of students’ physical and mental well-being.”