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Parenting Tips

How can I avoid being biased when caring for two children?

Parenting Tips

June 2023

Source: Registered Clinical Psychologist, Yiu Fong Lee

Parents are sometimes overwhelmed when faced with two children. For example, when the older sibling comes to you, the younger sibling is crying. Often, we only care for the younger sibling and neglect the older one, who may say that the parents are biased and only care for the younger one. How do we try to balance the care between the two children and make them feel equally loved?

In the case of the above, perhaps when an older sibling comes to see you, your mother should tell him, “I need to take care of the younger sibling now because he may not be feeling well or he is crying. This will let the older sibling know that his mother needs to look after his younger sibling, “but mom is also very concerned about your situation, so why don’t I come back to you later, when mum has had some time to see what you need or to talk to you?”

Of course, if both parents are at home, the work can be divided. The father will stay with the older child and the mother will stay with the younger child, but Hong Kong people are busy and there may be only one parent at home, so there is a need to prioritise. When to take care of older children? When to take care of younger children?

The second scenario is to invite older brother or sister to join you in caring for younger sibling, for example, “Why don’t you come and help me and we’ll try together to see if we can calm him down together. For example, pat him, sing to him or talk to him. If the older brother or sister does this, the mother can give recognition and encouragement: “You are really doing a good job, you are a very good brother or sister, I am really happy to have such a good little helper. This makes him feel that he can be a part of it and that he can be a big brother or sister to help us out!

But after we have comforted the junior, we need to go back to the older sibling, asking him why he was coming to me. Does he want to talk to me or play with me?

Also, the most important thing is bedtime, as this is the most intimate time for bonding. If both children are also in a stable mood, we can have a nighttime routine for the three of us before bed. For example, we can sing together, listen to stories, and give each other a pat or a back massage. Mum may be able to pat both children while singing; we may pat one child with the left hand and one with the right, and invite a bigger brother or sister to join in the patting process. Maybe he pats his mom with one hand and his younger brother with the other, so that there is an intimate moment shared by the three of us, and sleep is like a relationship with the parents, but at the same time a time when the three of us are together.

We need to create regular and separate one-to-one special parent-child time, for example, mom with the older child on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and dad with the younger child on Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

In this way, the roles of the parents are switched and they spend time with different children, one on one, so that they can feel that their parents have a close time with them during this special parent-child time and so that the child can choose what he likes to play with, and then the parents follow the child’s suggestions and let the child take the lead.

For example, if he wants to play with toys, be with him; if he wants to play board games, be with him. At that time, just accompany him wholeheartedly. You may describe how he is feeling at the moment or what he is doing, so that he can feel that his parents are willing to give their time and love to him, and you may also plan for his siblings to have this special bonding time so that they can feel that their parents love them equally. We hope that the above methods will help parents manage the relationship between the two children so that they can feel equally loved by their parents.

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Parenting Tips Parenting Tips

How can parents help young children adapt to primary school life both psychologically and physically?

Parenting Tips

June 2023

Source:  Professor Chiu Wing Kai, Chair Professor of Sociology at the Education University of Hong Kong.

It’s already been 5 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.

Will getting water in the ears cause Otitis media?Do you need to help children clean their ears?

Parenting Tips

June 2023

Source: Pediatric Specialist, Dr. Lam Ka Yee

In fact, earwax is a normal secretion in the ear canal, and its function is to protect the ear canal and reduce the risk of bacterial infection. Earwax will naturally flow out on its own, so in general, parents do not need to specifically clean the earwax inside their children’s ear canals. Unless the earwax has flowed to the outer ear or is at the opening of the ear canal, parents can gently clean it with a damp cotton swab.

When parents clean the earwax in their children’s ear canals, even if they use a cotton swab gently, there is a chance of injuring the mucous membrane of the ear canal, leading to inflammation or even damaging or puncturing the eardrum. If parents accidentally push the earwax further in or if the child feels uncomfortable during the cleaning process, it is best to take the child to see a doctor to determine whether it is necessary to remove the earwax. In general, there are only two situations where a doctor may recommend removing earwax for children.

First, if earwax completely blocks the ear canal, it can affect a child’s hearing. Second, doctors need to carefully examine the child’s eardrum. If parents detect an unusual odor from their child’s ear, they should promptly take them to see a doctor to determine if there is a possibility of inflammation in the ear canal causing the odor.

If a child feels discomfort in their ears after taking a bath or swimming, parents can gently tilt their child’s head and use a towel to gently dab away the water that has already flowed out. It is important not to use items like cotton swabs to clean the inside of the ears. Getting water in the ears does not cause Otitis media as the ear canal and middle ear are separated by the eardrum. Even if water enters the ears, it will not pass through the eardrum into the middle ear, so getting water in the ears while swimming does not cause Otitis media.

What conditions can lead to Otitis media? Otitis media are generally caused by upper respiratory tract infections, where bacteria travel from the throat through the Eustachian tube and reach the middle ear, resulting in inflammation. Therefore, it is not related to getting water in the ears.