Motivating children to study hard without relying on rewards and punishments

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Founder and Volunteer Secretary-General of GLP, Lam Ho Pei Yee

Everyone already possesses an intrinsic motivation, and people have long had the desire to do things well. This is precisely why when we give children external rewards and punishments, trying to interfere with their behavior, their performance becomes worse, such as killing creativity, reducing judgment, and other negative effects, which are the bad consequences that rewards can bring. Whether it is material or psychological rewards, although they can temporarily stimulate children’s enthusiasm, they cannot help children develop long-term behavioral habits, nor can they make their performance better.

How can parents motivate children to study hard without solely relying on rewards and punishments? It turns out that by simply understanding and satisfying three basic psychological needs of humans, children can automatically and consciously enjoy and engage in learning. These three basic psychological needs include autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Every child also has a basic need to develop their abilities, to see their abilities improve, and not to let incomprehensible social standards change their children. It is dangerous to teach children things that do not fit their stage of growth. We need to create challenging yet appropriate learning experiences for children’s abilities, allowing them to feel a real sense of success, boosting their confidence in their abilities, and giving them more motivation to learn.


Parents should not limit their children’s infinite possibilities with their own limited wisdom. If parents understand how to cultivate their children’s intrinsic motivation for learning, making them recognize the importance of learning and adopting it as a life goal, children will automatically and consciously engage in learning. Therefore, by making themselves and their children more responsible, more perceptive, and better at interacting with others, parents are helping their children grow while gaining creativity and a sense of success themselves.

If these theories can be applied to children, can they also be applied to parents, thereby bringing a positive impact to the family? The answer is yes. As we ask our children to study hard, parents should also strive to change their own thinking. As Stone, the guitarist of the Taiwanese rock band Mayday, said: “What schools can teach is knowledge, is skills; what society can teach is interaction, is cooperation; and what children learn at home is yourselves, is your own way of governing as individuals, how you solve problems when you face difficulties and setbacks.”

The underlying meaning of acne

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Dr Cheung Kit

I remember watching a terrifying TV show during my college days. It was about how a virus similar to Ebola spread among residents and outsiders in a certain area, leading to everyone’s death. In the drama, people infected with the virus would inevitably develop red rashes on their bodies even in the early stages. Therefore, many people have a deep impression that rashes represent serious diseases.

In fact, this is only half true. A rash is a symptom that can be a skin problem or a reaction to a systemic disease. Skin diseases can be simple skin sensitivities, mosquito bites, shingles, sunburns, etc. Systemic reactions can be due to drug sensitivities, infections, autoimmune disorders, etc. The previous statement “half true” means that among systemic reactions, some are more severe, while others are milder.

Severe examples include:
1. Drug Sensitivity: Since a rash is only a sign, the reaction can be very severe. Therefore, if this is the case, we generally handle and observe with extra caution.

2. Infectious (Acute): For example, measles, chickenpox, hand, foot, and mouth disease, German measles, mumps, etc. These diseases are highly contagious and also present with fever symptoms. So, in addition to worrying about the complications of the disease, we also worry about it spreading to others. Therefore, special care is needed.

3. Autoimmune Diseases: For example, lupus erythematosus, allergic purpura, etc. Since these conditions can have more systemic complications, the treatment goal is not to treat the rash but to address the underlying disease.


So what are the “other half” of rashes that are not serious?

1. Roseola: This is a type of rash ‘exclusive’ to young children. It is definitely a reaction after being infected with a certain filtrable virus. Whenever this rash appears, the fever has already completely subsided, which also indicates that the condition has stabilized. Generally, these rashes appear on the torso and then spread to the limbs and face. Since they are not itchy or painful, there is no need for special treatment.

2. Heat Rash (Prickly Heat): This is the result of blocked sweat glands. It is mostly caused by the environment being too hot or wearing too many clothes. Although there may be a little itching, it is not as uncomfortable as eczema, so it is not a serious problem. On the other hand, as long as the temperature of the affected area is lowered, the condition will improve.

3. Infant Eczema: Although infant eczema can be very itchy, it is time-limited. It generally starts from one month after birth and lasts until about six months. Moreover, it responds well to medication (such as medium-strength steroid creams). So, basically, as long as parents are willing to deal with it positively and follow the doctor’s treatment, there will be a good response.

Therefore, having a rash does not necessarily mean there is a big problem. However, if a rash occurs at the same time as fever, systemic symptoms, or poor mental state, it means it would be better to see a doctor sooner rather than later.

Besides good grades and getting into a good school, what else do children need?

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Ms. Carmen Leung, Director of Curriculum Development, Steps Education

Many parents ask what holistic education is. From the perspective of the wisdom of the Chinese people that has been passed down for thousands of years, it is the cultivation of a child’s “morality, intelligence, physical fitness, social skills, and aesthetics”; from the perspective of psychologists, it is the cultivation of a child’s multiple intelligences; from the perspective of education, it is not only the pursuit of knowledge, but also the cultivation of a child’s values, attitudes, artistic and cultural accomplishments, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, and thinking abilities. To put it more simply, from the perspective of ordinary people, holistic education is about making sure the child is well-rounded, with good grades, many friends, positive thoughts, and capable in music, sports, and art. Do you want your child to achieve holistic development?

Multiple intelligences are divided into seven categories, with innate and acquired factors each playing a role.

Today, let’s introduce the commonly mentioned multiple intelligences from the perspective of psychology. The “Theory of Multiple Intelligences” was proposed by Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University in 1983. He found that intelligence can be divided into at least seven types, which are linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial-visual intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence.


When it comes to “intelligence,” parents might think of genius or innate talent. Is intelligence innate, or is it nurtured? In fact, a person’s intelligence is partly innate and partly nurtured. Every child’s innate intelligence has a range, for example, an IQ of 100-120. No matter what you do or how much stimulation you provide, their IQ will not exceed 120, and they cannot become as smart as Einstein. So, do we still need to cultivate children’s multiple intelligences? Of course! Whether a child’s IQ stays at 100 or reaches 120 depends on how they are nurtured later on!

Each type of intelligence is equally important.

So, how should they be nurtured? Through practice? Classes? Experiencing the world? Sports and music? In fact, different types of intelligence require different nurturing methods. Scholars propose the theory of multiple intelligences to remind everyone that while parents want their children to achieve good grades and cultivate their academic subjects, such as Chinese, English, and Mathematics, they should not forget that other intelligences are equally important to the child, especially interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. If a child lacks in one of these areas, how can they survive in society? Therefore, when selecting courses for children, do not just choose academic, language, or literacy classes. We should pause and think, besides academic performance, in what areas does the child need improvement? How are the child’s communication skills? Analytical skills? Introspective skills? If a child’s communication skills are lacking, should parents choose courses that provide ample space for interaction, such as drama classes, to help them express themselves more?

Remember the significance behind “multiple intelligences” discussed today. Pause and think about the development of your child beyond academics!

No matter how rich, do not spoil the child.

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Johnny Kwan, Curriculum Director of the International Gifted and Talented Development Education Institute

The family is the first environment a child comes into contact with after birth and is the earliest influencer of a child’s personality. The personality traits, parenting concepts, and methods of each parent play a decisive role in the healthy growth of their children. How can parents help children understand the relationship between money and their own growth?

The West advocates “No matter how rich, do not spoil the child”

In this regard, the approach of Western parents is quite worth learning from for Chinese parents. It is fundamentally different from the Chinese parenting philosophy of “No matter how poor, do not deprive the child,” as Westerners advocate “No matter how rich, do not spoil the child.” They have long realized that allowing children to have an innate sense of financial superiority is harmful to their growth and brings no benefits. Even in very wealthy families, parents usually give their children very little pocket money and encourage them to work for their own money. This helps children understand that obtaining money is not easy and that valuable wealth must be accumulated through one’s efforts. This process teaches children something far more valuable than wealth itself. Of course, I am not encouraging children to give up their studies to work, but rather to understand from a young age the basic concept that labor can create wealth.


Case Sharing: Son Sells Small Crafts to Help Support the Family

Two years ago, I heard a true story from mainland China. Zhi Man’s parents were ordinary workers who, like other parents, hoped their child would succeed, attend university, and thus worked overtime every day. Unexpectedly, when Zhi Man was ten, his father had an industrial accident while working a night shift, resulting in blindness in his left eye and a broken left leg, rendering him unable to work again. Consequently, his mother fell ill. At that time, Zhi Man realized that he was the only one who could fully take on the family’s responsibilities. He resolutely borrowed 50 yuan from a classmate and went to the wholesale market after school to sell small crafts. What was usually taken for granted became incredibly difficult when it was his turn. From having no business on the first day to earning 80 yuan a month later. He spent 35 yuan on a cane for his father and 23 yuan on a book he had longed for, which he couldn’t put down. Seeing this, his father’s lips trembled non-stop, and tears flowed from his eyes. Since then, he has supported himself through his studies, earned respect through his own labor, and made his father proud. Teachers and classmates admired him, and eventually, he became a well-known doctor in the area!

Not Relying on Material Wealth, Creating Wealth with One’s Own Hands

Most children today are only children and have been spoiled by their parents. For them to grow up healthy, we should cultivate their ability to adapt to various environments and the spirit of hard work from a young age. We should not overly indulge them materially but let them understand that wealth created with their own hands is truly their own!

Smart learning depends on exercise

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Ms. Fung Chi Hei, Game Therapist, Lok Sin Tong Leung Kau Kui Primary School

I previously participated in a professional exchange activity for teachers in Taiwan and was impressed by the emphasis on using exercise to cultivate children’s growth in the Taiwanese education system. This experience provided new inspiration, which I hope to share with parents. One of the schools visited during the exchange can be described as the elementary school version of a sports academy. Upon entering the school, the students welcomed the visitors with a government-promoted fitness routine. They performed various warm-up exercises in unison, exuding a lively spirit akin to tiger cubs, making me feel like they had truly entered a forest full of tiger cubs.

Exercise Strengthens Children’s Learning Abilities

Principal Liu of the Tiger Forest Elementary School stated that the school is a key focus school designated by the government, with a special emphasis on students’ physical development. The school believes that exercise can strengthen students’ learning abilities. They have adopted the “Anytime Exercise” program based on the research of John J. Ratey, MD, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. This program advocates for students to be engaged in exercise at all times, hence the name “Anytime.” During breaks, students would run to any part of the playground to exercise, some playing dodgeball, some climbing the monkey bars, and others playing badminton. All students enjoy every moment of exercise.


The Benefits of Exercise: Strengthening Brain Function

It is well known that exercise has the effect of strengthening the body, and in Ratey’s research, he pointed out more about the benefits of exercise on the brain. He described the brain as the center for processing information, transmitting messages through different pathways using various transmitters (chemicals). During exercise, the brain can effectively produce more transmitters and strengthen pathways, allowing messages to be transmitted faster and more accurately.

Applying this theory to learning, students can enhance their brain function through exercise, thereby improving their learning effectiveness. Research has confirmed that exercise can improve students’ concentration and memory, both of which are essential for successful learning. Furthermore, exercise can stimulate the brain to produce dopamine (a chemical that brings happiness), enabling students to learn joyfully, which naturally leads to better academic performance.

How to Make Children Love Exercise?

For children to enjoy the time and benefits of exercise, parents must help them develop a love for exercise. Here are three suggestions:

1. Anytime Exercise
Provide children with more opportunities for exercise, suitable time, tools, and space, while ensuring the safety of the environment.

2. Healthy Exercise
Teach children to exercise for the sake of their health and emphasize the benefits of exercise on health.

3. Exercising Together
Exercise with children more often, enjoy the moments of exercise and savor the wonderful time with family.

Parent-child creative art creation

Parenting Tips

Parents Zone

Written by: Director of Pario Arts, Lee Sou Jing

Everyone has creativity and artistic potential. If properly nurtured, it can enhance one’s moral sentiments and make life more perfect. In the artistic atmosphere, diverse activities inspire individuals’ creativity, aesthetic sense, and diverse abilities, promoting holistic development. ‘Love’ is the driving force of creation. In a free, democratic, safe, and harmonious environment and atmosphere, it is the expression of ‘love,’ emphasizing mutual tolerance, acceptance of different opinions, and respect for and acceptance of others. So, how can parent-child creative art creation express ‘love’? Here, the author shares his views with all parents.

The significance of parent-child creative art creation:

• Art education starts with individuals. Parents try to engage in artistic creation to cultivate their children’s artistic accomplishments.

• The first lesson of art education begins with ‘listening’ and ‘acceptance.’ Parents learn to accept the diverse ways in which children express their creativity.

• Through the joint participation and experience of parent-child art creation, parents can get closer to and understand their children’s hearts.

• Parent-child art creation helps children to understand themselves and release emotions and stress.

• By integrating an atmosphere of mutual appreciation and respect, it reduces parental stress and anxiety, thereby enhancing parent-child relationships.

• Making parent-child fall in love with creation, integrating art into life, and enhancing the quality of life.


Artistic Cultivation Tips

• Cultivate a kind of knowledge in being human and enhance the ability to share, that is, ’empathy.’

• According to the research of psychologist Hoffman on the development of human empathy, ’empathy’ is the ability to understand the feelings of others and to put oneself in their shoes.

• The three steps of ’empathy’: (1) Imagine standing in the other person’s position (2) Identify the other person’s true feelings (3) Convey understanding and feelings to the other person.

• Empathy’ is an important ability in interpersonal relationships. Only those with ’empathy’ can establish good interpersonal relationships, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility.

• Children at the age of 2 to 3 can already understand the feelings of others. In order for children to be compassionate, possess ’empathy,’ and understand love and care for others, it is very important for parents to lead by example.

Why do children engage in challenging behaviors that challenge parents?

Parenting Tips


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.

How to handle the awkwardness when grown-up children find it awkward to have heart-to-heart talks with their parents?

Parenting Tips


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:, 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.”

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Reject the Busyness: Build Parent-Child Relationships Every Day

Parenting Tips

Parents should first handle their own emotions to help their children express their inner feelings.


Whether parents are working or full-time homemakers, they are busy every day with work, household chores, and taking care of their children. After school, children are also busy with homework, tutoring, and reviewing for exams. Leisure time is limited, and bedtime comes early. Dr. Wong Chung Hin, a specialist in psychiatry, points out, “Parents and students in Hong Kong are very busy, but we need to learn to ‘preprocess’ emotions or stress before they erupt, and establish a good parent-child relationship. Parents should set aside dedicated parent-child time every day to communicate with their children. Parents should also take care of their own emotions, which will help their children express their inner feelings.”


In the midst of busy daily life, parents need to take good care of themselves first in order to better care for their children. Dr. Wong suggests, “Rather than dealing with emotional problems after they arise, ‘preprocessing’ is more important. Parents can establish healthy habits with their children, ensuring they have sufficient rest. Many students have tutoring and homework to do after school, but a moderate amount of entertainment is also crucial. As mentioned earlier, daily parent-child communication time is necessary. Doing fun activities together, such as exercising, not only builds quality parent-child time but also improves emotions.”


Dr. Wong emphasizes, “Parents should review their disciplinary expectations, adjust disciplinary methods according to their children’s abilities to avoid putting too much pressure on them. Parents need to understand that every child will grow up, want to be independent, and have their own thoughts. Parents can understand the reasons behind their children’s behavior, such as not wanting to go to school or declining academic performance. Parents should investigate whether the underlying cause is excessive learning pressure and communicate with the school to make adjustments to their child’s learning.”


In fact, children’s emotions can be influenced by the emotions of their parents. Dr. Wong explains, “When children have emotional issues, it may be partly influenced by family history. However, in many cases, children with emotional problems have parents with poorer emotional well-being. Parents should always be aware of their own emotional states to avoid expressing emotions inappropriately. For example, when parents are dissatisfied with their children’s behavior, they may burst out in anger, which not only affects the parent-child relationship, making the child at a loss and afraid to communicate with their parents, but also influences the parents’ own perceptions, negatively characterizing the child’s behavior as ‘disobedient,’ ‘pretending,’ and lazy.”


Parents most commonly face the situation of children “not listening at all” and may find it hard to refrain from getting angry. However, Dr. Wong reminds, “During these times, parents should not confront their children directly. Instead, they can find a space to calm themselves, for example, by doing some slow breathing exercises to soothe their emotions. Once the parent has calmed down, they can then address the child and understand the underlying reasons for the child’s behavior. If parents cannot control their emotions, it will only complicate things and make it difficult to have a chance to communicate with their children.”


Dr. Wong suggests, “Everyone has a different personality, and the methods for handling stress also vary. Parents can work together with their children to establish stress management methods, whether it’s through exercise, drawing, listening to music, taking a good rest, or simply relaxing. However, when parents notice that their child’s emotional issues have persisted for a prolonged period, or have started to affect daily life, and especially if there are signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts, parents should seek professional assistance for their children as soon as possible.”


Dr. Wong concludes with a message to parents: “Many parents are currently juggling work commitments, but it’s important for parents to consider setting aside a moment each day, putting work aside, and dedicating time to their children to build a strong parent-child relationship and enjoy quality time together. This way, parents can also pay attention to any changes in their children’s mental and emotional well-being, detect problems early, and prevent the development of emotional issues such as depression or anxiety.”

Children Falling Ill While Traveling – What to Do?

Parenting Tips


Written by : Doctor Cheung Kit


The year-end is a season of mixed emotions, with both joy and pain. The pain may come from children having exams or working parents being busy with the year-end matters for their companies. The joy lies in having a longer holiday, providing an opportunity for travel and relaxation. However, many parents are actually anxious because they have planned a trip with their children, and the concern arises: What if the child falls ill during this time?


If it’s an accident or a serious illness, the trip will inevitably be canceled. The bigger issue is when the child gets a minor illness, and there’s a fear it might affect the travel plans. First and foremost, the author suggests “prevention.” Some may wonder, how can illness be prevented? The answer is yes, as long as strict measures are taken in the two weeks before departure. Firstly, the author recommends getting the flu vaccine for the child at least two weeks before departure, as the vaccine takes half a month to take effect. Among many fever-related illnesses, only the flu has a vaccine that can be administered.


Next, among the most common simple infectious diseases in children, such as viral gastroenteritis, upper respiratory tract infections, chickenpox, and acute gastritis, the incubation period is generally within a week. Therefore, parents must try to avoid exposing their children to the sources of such diseases, including indoor play centers, swimming pools, hospitals, and playgrounds, among others. Although the measures may be stringent, if travel is the goal, some sacrifices may need to be made. Moreover, if unfortunately, the child falls ill within the two weeks before departure, theoretically, there should be enough time for recovery.


If the child falls ill just before the trip, the first thing to do is, of course, to see a doctor. When it is confirmed to be a minor ailment, pay attention to the following five points:


  1. Ask the doctor to prescribe enough medication until the end of the journey.
  2. If the medication (such as liquid antibiotics) needs to be stored in the refrigerator, consider the storage between hotels.
  3. Ask the doctor to prepare a letter or record of the course and diagnosis results in the health handbook for local medical personnel to follow.
  4. If you need to bring liquid medication on the plane, inquire with the airline first. When necessary, the doctor should notify the airline in writing in advance.
  5. Inquire with the travel insurance company about local arrangements for emergency medical care.


Sometimes, children falling ill cannot be completely avoided, but there are always things that can be coordinated.