Parents Zone

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

Parenting Tips

August 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.

Parents Zone

How to enhance children’s resilience?

Parenting Tips

August 2023

Source: Education expert, Cheung Jok Fong


I attended a lecture by “Warrior of Regeneration,” Miss Yeung Siu Fong, earlier. She shared her experience of losing both hands in an accident at the age of nine. However, she did not give up and instead equipped herself more actively. With hard work, she not only became a swimming athlete in the Asian Games but also started art creation by using her feet in place of hands. She successfully enrolled in the Hong Kong Academy of Arts and became an inclusive artist. In 2011, she was selected as one of the “Ten Most Touching Hong Kong Figures” and became a “Hong Kong Spirit Ambassador” in 2013. After the lecture, I asked some classmates for their opinions, and they all expressed that if they encounter difficulties in the future, they will no longer be afraid because they believe that there is always a way to solve things and they want to face difficulties as positively as Sister Siu Fong.


Cultivating resilience from an early age

In the journey of life, we will inevitably encounter adversities. At that time, how should we face them with the right mentality and approach? Nowadays, parents often invest a lot of effort in their children’s academic performance, hoping that they can “win at the starting line.” However, while pursuing academic excellence, it is equally important to cultivate a spirit of perseverance. Unfortunately, some people choose different ways to escape when faced with difficulties, and some may even be so disheartened that they end their precious lives, which is truly regrettable. As educators, we have a responsibility to help students enhance their ability to cope with adversity, and this resilience needs to be cultivated from an early age.


Three key elements to enhance resilience


Experts point out that there are three key elements to enhance resilience: “optimism,” “efficacy,” and “belongingness.” “Optimism” is easy to understand literally; it means having hope for the future and believing that there is always a way to solve problems. This is the attitude one should adopt when facing difficulties. “Efficacy” includes how to manage emotions and establish problem-solving methods when facing challenges, which represents the ability needed to overcome difficulties. “Belongingness” refers to the care and support from people around the individual in question.

For children, the roles of family members and teachers are especially important. For example, when a child faces academic difficulties, if they can feel the care and support from their parents and teachers, and not be treated with disdain, scolded, or spoken to harshly because of low grades, but instead walk alongside them and seek ways to improve their academic performance, it will make them feel that their family and school are a place of “shelter from the storm.” In short, “belongingness” is the cornerstone for establishing “optimism” and “efficacy,” and it serves as the motivation provided to those facing challenges.


Cultivating resilience starts with small things


So, how can we cultivate children’s resilience in daily life? Should we wait until they encounter setbacks to teach them? In fact, we can start with some small things. Take skipping rope as an example. No child is born knowing how to skip rope. At this time, parents can encourage them and let them believe that they are capable of learning, which is the aforementioned “optimism.” Additionally, parents can assist from the side or demonstrate the correct way to skip rope, making them feel that their parents are accompanying them and going through difficulties together, which is the “belongingness” mentioned earlier. After the child experiences a taste of success after a few attempts, they can try to figure out how to coordinate their body and master the technique of skipping rope on their own, which is the “efficacy” mentioned above.


In conclusion, we can teach children from an early age to face difficulties with an optimistic and positive attitude and provide them with opportunities for self-challenge. More importantly, let them feel the support and care from the people around them.

Parents Zone

How to handle a child’s anxiety about starting primary school?

Parenting Tips

August 2023

Source: Marriage and Family Therapist, Ng Yee Kam


When a child enters first grade and fails to adapt, some may frequently express their longing for their mothers at school and even experience a loss of appetite. Parents are concerned about their child’s anxiety and may continuously tell them, “As long as you do your best, Mom doesn’t care about grades!” But does this approach effectively address the child’s anxiety, or does it backfire?


First of all, parents need to understand that the transition from kindergarten to first grade is a significant change for a child. It truly takes a long time for the child to adapt. In the first-grade stage, the workload increases, rules become stricter, and teachers are more demanding. Children may experience anxiety, leading to various physical symptoms or fear of going to school.


So, how much time does a child need to adapt? It actually varies from person to person. Generally speaking, more introverted or observant children are prone to anxiety, so it may take them a relatively longer time to adapt. Therefore, parents should first understand their child’s personality and temperament, adjust their expectations during this adaptation period, and never compare their child with other children.

Dr. Daniel Siegel, an American psychiatrist, has proposed a very useful method called “Name it to Tame it.” When parents observe emotional fluctuations in their children, they first use their left brain to analyze what might be happening with their child. Parents should use both their left and right brains, empathizing with the child’s feelings and situation, and then verbalize what they perceive the child is feeling. This is the “Name it” step.


For example, you can say to your child, “Are you feeling scared? Are you feeling worried? It seems like you have no appetite. Is there something you’re anxious about?” When we are able to express the child’s emotions, we are actually delineating what the child is experiencing in their right brain very clearly.


For older children, parents can encourage them to express their emotions themselves, and parents can respond to them. This connection between the adult’s and the child’s right brain helps stabilize anxious emotions. We refer to this process as “Connect.” After the connection is established, we can engage in conversation about other topics with the child.

However, parents should remember that when a child expresses their emotions, we must avoid saying things like, “Don’t worry, it’s silly, don’t think about these things,” or “You’re fine as you are, just do your best.” If we respond with our left brain, we cannot alleviate the right brain’s anxiety or bring calmness to the child’s midbrain responsible for emotions.


Lastly, when parents are able to use emotional vocabulary and verbalize what is happening in the child’s mind, it means transforming some of the emotions in the right brain into left brain cognition. This process is called “Redirect.” When we cognitively understand what we are experiencing and feeling, our right brain will find ways to solve the problem, which is referred to as “Problem Solving.”


The sequence mentioned above is crucial when dealing with a child’s anxiety and nervousness. Besides the order, parents also need to have patience. We need to be patient in helping the child understand their emotions so that we can come up with strategies together.