November 7, 2006

Help your child to develop concentration by setting an example.

Posted in The Loving Tree at 11:23 am by joeychan

parent11.jpgMany children’s concentration comes from imitating. Can concentration be imitated? Let us use an example. Imagine when you are sitting at the table helping your child, Emily, to work on her assignment. While you are explaining to her what to do for the assignment that is lying on the table, there is a “bang” sound made by the neighbour from outside the door. You immediately stop your explanationm and look up at the door to check (although you can’t really see anything anyway because the sound is from the outside). Then you realize nothing big deal is going on and so to go back on with your explanation. One minute later, there is the “bang” sound again. This time, even when you know nothing big is gonna go wrong and thus you are not looking around anymore, can you guess what Emily would do? Yes. She would look up at the door to check. What we as parents should do to positively affect children’s concentration is, whether we are working on their work or our own work, we should show our children how we can ignore distractions and focus on the work. Or in the first few tries, if you notice your child is distracted by disturbances even when you’re not, you can show him/her that you are still focused and asks briefly for his/her attention again. Believe it or not, in time, your child will be able to imitate this subconciously from someone he/she dearly looks up to. However, if you consistantly fails to demostrate the habit of concentrating under distractions , I am afraid your child will also pick up the habit of getting distracted easily during work. This may not be the only cause of a low ability to focus but it definitely plays a major role in the development of your child’s concentration skills.


October 4, 2006

Managing Attention

Posted in The Loving Tree at 10:15 am by joeychan

Many parents worry about how the environment, the media and peer during the teenage years can introduce “naughty” and “rebellious” behaviors to our next generation.  Little do we know that these undesirable behaviors are in fact the results of the mishandling of our attention to children in their early years.  The attention we receive when we were children have also greatly affected our habits not just in our teenage years, but also in adulthood.  How is it so?


The answer lies within the fact that many parents have overlooked how attention, especially that from adults, is simply the most effective reward in the eyes of children.  Attention also has major effects to the growth of two key elements of our subconscious: confidence and security.  The more attention you give a person, the stronger the confidence is.  This also explains why spoiling may cause the subject to be over self-confidence or, worst case, self-centered.  On the other hand, when a person is given consistent attention there is security, and on the contrary, a person receives inconsistent attention develops insecurity within.  So how exactly can we better manage the attention we give our children?


Without knowing, a lot of parents already use attention frequently as a technique to manage their children.  Here is one of the most common ways how we utilize attention with children: pay a significantly extra amount of attention on a good deed your child has done and, in time, your child is more than willing to make that behavior a habit to earn more praises and attention from you.  However, there are also many ways how attention can cause negative effects to children.  We have to be aware of how we handle them differently at the two stages of a childhood.


The first stage is when a child is 0-1 year old.  This is the time when babies instinctively cry to get what they want.  It is necessary that you attend to their cries when they are yearning for essential needs, e.g. food, milk, replacement of the nappy, removal of discomfort, etc.  But if you attend to their cries when they are in request of non-essential needs, e.g. a chopstick on a table, a paper from daddy’s folders, mummy’s perfume bottle, or ever your hair, you are introducing to babies the method of crying to deliver discontent and to achieve everything that they want.  This is what actually causes a child to be later stubborn or the Chinese sayings of “hard neck”, “nau gai” and “hard to teach”.  No children are born with these habits.  They are formed at this stage when we can properly utilize our attention to eliminate such development.


The second stage is when a child is 2-6 years of age.  This is the stage when children get up to explore, observe and be stimulated.  Our highest priority at all times should be given to putting across to children a clear set of rules as early as possible so that they can roam freely within the border.  If children are confused with what they can or cannot do, they will be spending time on finding and getting hold of the borders of the rules by challenging the bottomlines instead of having fun exploring and absorbing information.  This explains why children of the same age at this stage can act so differently: some children seem smarter and others react slower to their environment because the latter are lost in the rules adults set for them.  We can deliver our messages very clearly to children at this stage using our reaction, in other words, attention, if we keep an eye on avoiding the following very common mistakes:


The majority of parents misinterpret the concept of Parenting altogether and give excessive attention to their children whenever and whatever, believing this is love and care.  In very rare cases the children grow up with only the side-effect of being over self-confident or self-centered.  In most cases, not only are the parents abusing the use of attention rendering it of no use as an effective tool to influence children’s behavior, it is also helping children develop a habit of craving for attention at all times.  When they grow older and adults start withdrawing attention from them for other aspects, the children will subconsciously do anything that they can to get attention again, from silly gestures and talks to offending others and violating the rules.  What is worst is they take this habit along with them into their teenage years that forms their “naughty” and “rebellious” behaviors which bring them nothing but criticism.  They are constantly being criticized of being rebellious and naughty.  Sadly, the young minds are not strong enough to override their subconscious in order to control their behavior even though they try, not to mention being aware of the cause behind.  Good intentions of the parents end up being a low self-value in the children.  I supposed I do not need to go any further on the results of this scenario. 

If you pay closer attention, you can actually notice that a lot of the behaviors of the adults around us come from the root of getting attention- from  insignificant gestures or postures to physically or mentally victimizing oneself. The negative results of an extreme case of a subject craving for attention can go far beyond our imagination.


Another similar scenario is that we give too much attention to children’s  “funny” behavior.  Let’s say there is this boy who possesses an impressive cackle when he laughs.  He also twists his butt when he walks and he uses an over mature way when he talks or posts.  These elements may seem funny and cute to adults at first and they always give a great deal of talk, comments and laughter whenever the boy perform them.  Eventually, the child will stick to these silly and dramatic behaviors and develop a habit of performing them at the wrong times because this is the perfect way to get others attention.  Before the child realizes, the adults have grown tired of these tricks of the child and they even feel annoyed by them at times.  The boy gets seriously criticized and blamed on at occasions when the adults are having a bad day themselves.  He has no clue what the adults are getting mad at.  So, he sets off to explore on other silly tricks hoping to put a smile on the adults’ faces again.  Another cycle begins.  Therefore, sometimes when you notice that your children are doing something silly, we need to hold back the amount of attention we give them, or we should explain to them or even neglect them so that they do not pick up this inappropriate way of getting attention.


Other parents do not spoil their kids by giving them excessive attention but they tend to lose balance with the attention they give their children at this stage which creates another non-desirable side effect: they pay too much attention on their wrong doings and not enough attention on the right things that their children do.  This is common in a lot of families where the parents’ emotions get affected easily by external factors.  Daddy has had a bad day at work.  He expects a cozy and comfortable home awaiting him only to find messy toys lying around because his boy has not tidied up as daddy has always taught him to.  Daddy is much irritated and begins punishing and scolding his son.  But daddy has overlooked that the boy has finished his dinner quickly this evening and he can even finish all his assignments by himself.  By the time daddy realizes it, the child may already have sunken into fear.  On top of that, daddy finds himself unable to transit his angry tone into an encouraging attitude.  So he has decided to just ignore acknowledging the good deeds of his son for now and he will make it up later.  However, daddy will have forgotten his agenda in time and this whole scenario will happen over and over again under this rooftop.  By the time daddy finally stops to look back, his son has already given up being a good boy and focuses only on being “bad”, because he doesn’t find any motivation on being good at all.


Of course we should show our children whenever they have violated any rules to deliver them a clear concept of the rules.  Meanwhile, we should never forget to give attention to the right things they do.  This should be consistent so that the children know the rules clearly and will not be confused by the unforeseeable reactions of their parents.  We should never give in to children’s bad behaviors for some good deeds they have done.  More importantly, we should not over focus on their bad actions and neglect their good behaviors.  It takes time for each parent to strike a balance between the attention we give to children’s right and wrong doings but it is always the most important thing that we should stick to in order to guide children’s values onto the right track.


Raising a child with correct healthy values is as crucial as giving them a healthy physical body.  During this stage when they are 0-6 years of age, children have all their trust for their parents and their subconscious wide open to absorb information that will shape their behaviors and values.  We should be more aware with the attention we give to children than we have ever imagined.  Any expressions or words we deliver to our children that is not in a flat tone is either an encouragement or discouragement to the young minds.  Therefore, other than being financially and physically capable, parents should also be emotionally capable so they can carry out all of the above properly to their children.  This is an ultra-challenging task, yet a few years of intensive effort is bound to result in a positive outcome that can be benefited not just for a lifetime, but three lifetimes to come.

June 22, 2006

If you are already or about to be a parent…

Posted in The Loving Tree at 1:24 am by joeychan

I made a post on The Loving Tree’s forum today as a tip for modern parents. I would like to share it with my friends here, too, especially for those who are already or about to be a parent:


A lot of families especially those of young parents, have both father and mother working full-time during the day. Their children are then being taken care of by other adults, e.g. domestic helpers and grandparents, for most of the time. The Loving Tree does not oppose this idea but parents should make sure that every adult who takes part in taking care of the children uses the same set of rules of the same standard and with the same bottom-line. Failing to do so presents children a confusion in rules which leads to confusion in concepts of living values and priorities.  They will eventually learn to act or even lie in front of different members to get what they want.

And what is it about bottom-line?  Decide on a bottomline for your child’s behavior at home and be very firm with it. It does not mean to be strict to the child because the child is allowed all the freedom within the bottom-line. But once the child has gone beyond it, you must deliver a very clear message to halt the behavior by means of facial expressions, tones of voice, gestures, etc. Over time, your child will realize the existence of this bottom-line and, thus, be able to live and learn within with security and confidence. You can explain to your child at the right times about why you have set your rules but you should NEVER give in your bottom-line for any external factors, e.g. continuous whining from your child or your own temper brought about by other issues. Failing to do so will cause your child to whine until they get what they want which will eventually become a stubbornness in the character.


Above is the fundamental and the most imoprtant step of early-childhood education.  Education does not involve only learning from books and memorizing information. What a person receives from the environment in the early years go into the person’s right brain, and helps build the subconcious, confidence, security and other abstract yet crucial factors of the person’s chracter and attitude, which is what’s all that’s behind living and learning. The Loving Tree will keep you posted on the key to quality children’s education every step along the way.

April 13, 2006

Easter Camp ’06

Posted in The Loving Tree at 3:13 am by joeychan

Today is the first day of Easter Camp at The Loving Tree. We had Malcolm and Kar Yau here for the morning, and Sophina and Water joining us in the afternoon. The first thing we did was to take the children to shop for cake-baking ingredients at Wellcome next door. Supermarket shopping is a weekly thing for we adults and everything around us seems so normal that we take for granted their presence. But they are all so interesting for the children. Children may shop with mum once in a while. But they seem to be especially excited when they are shopping with their English teachers. It is so much fun explaining everything in the supermarket to the little boys.  It took us so much time just to explain the different kinds of eggs that are in the fridge; and the 3-year old Kar Yau picked up a pack of condom at the counter and told me he wanted it. So I told him it is for daddy and mummy when they need to do something and we don’t need it for our cake today. And he quickly put it down after hearing what i said.

It is our first camp ever since our establishment and we had so many things to worry about during prepration stage- we worried about the length of the camp. Afterall the kids have to spend 7 hours here and we may not have enough interesting ideas enough for the children’s concentration to sustain. And we also worried about the duration of each activity. We might be allocating too much or too little time for each session. And we had to plan different things everyday for 5 days. That was a lot of work. But the result today is very encouraging. None of the kids seem tired or bored. They enjoyed every activity that we planned for them, e.g. Pictionary, Easter egg painting, cake-baking and not to mention Ms Nelly’s Qigong for Kids. I am so proud of having Ms. Nelly with us to host the Qigong session. She taught the young children to “sit still” and breath, and she also played a few concentration games with them that got them so excited. It was so rewarding just to hear their giggles and cackles come in through the door slit.

The Camp has not only brought us fun and laughter, it also reminds us that even for things that we see everyday and chores that we do everyday can be of so much fun- as long as we slow down and look. They were all once new and interesting to us at certain points of our lives, but we grew up and turned away from them while we were looking for something more challenging. It is almost the end of the day now. But both Miss Catel and I are very much looking foward to the rest of the Camp next week.