Methods of Disciplining Children

January 2024

Written by: Ms. Chan-Chen Shu-an, Early Childhood Education Specialist

Parents often wonder if there is an effective method for disciplining children. Drawing from personal experience, the author has gathered practical discipline methods to share with parents, hoping to assist them in disciplining children with different personalities.

1)    Diversion Method

Young children are easily influenced by external factors. When a child cries incessantly or insists on holding onto something, instead of engaging in a struggle, try using the diversion method. For example, if a child is crying non-stop, you can try pointing to the sky and saying, “Look, a big airplane is flying towards us.” Similarly, if a child is adamant about buying something in a toy store and refuses to leave, instead of pulling back and forth, say, “Look over there, some new and interesting toys,” diverting their attention so they are no longer insistent.

 2)    Diversion Method

Use the method of channeling water like Great Yu. Instead of blocking and resisting, it’s better to divert and open up. For example, with an energetic child, instead of forcing them to sit quietly and study, let them go outside to play ball, ride a bike, or take a walk before returning home to sit down and do homework. For a child who enjoys scribbling with a pen, instead of scolding and prohibiting, give them paper to draw on, satisfying their interest in drawing.

3)    Venting Method

If a child enjoys hitting others, let them hammer nails, play with a ball, or knead clay to release their energy. For a child who loves to talk, teach them to sing, recite nursery rhymes, or take them outdoors or to a sports field to shout and jump, releasing their emotions. Children’s activities should be varied, as human growth is multifaceted. Being stuck at home studying all day can turn a child into a dull and lifeless individual. Therefore, extracurricular activities are crucial for a child’s healthy development.

4)    Ignoring Method

Some children intentionally engage in behavior that displeases others, such as crying incessantly, refusing to eat, or making strange gestures, to gain attention from their parents. Parents can try the ignoring method, turning away without acknowledging the behavior, or adopting an indifferent attitude. The child may lose interest and stop the unwanted behavior.

5)    Encouragement and Praise Method

Smiling encouragement or gently patting the head and cheeks are wonderful forms of positive spiritual encouragement and praise that children willingly accept as discipline methods. For example, if a child puts away toys neatly, you can notice and praise them by saying, “Very good.” The child will feel satisfied and strive to do even better next time. When a child joyfully brings home a drawing, if the mother appreciates it with a smile, the child’s sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will encourage them to work even harder next time and seek improvement. Parents’ encouragement, support, and positive attitudes have a significant impact on a child’s learning and personal development!

6)    Indirect Method

The so-called “blame the cat, scold the dog” method is particularly effective for introverted, sensitive children with a strong sense of self-esteem who often cannot accept direct criticism and correction. When dealing with these children, it is best to use an indirect approach. This involves criticizing or pointing out someone else’s mistakes (which are actually the same mistakes the child made) as a hint. For example, to encourage a child to brush their teeth daily, you can start by saying, “The neighbor’s child has dirty and unsightly teeth because they refuse to brush. Your sensitive child might start brushing their teeth every day as a result, which is more effective than directly scolding them.

7)    Isolation Method

Humans cannot live independently, and children are unwilling to be isolated. This method is particularly effective for children over the age of four who may be too disruptive or mischievous. If a child is causing too much trouble, try using the isolation method. Ask them to stand aside or move their chair away to sit quietly. Allow them to rejoin group activities only when they show remorse. At home, you can ask them to reflect quietly in their room (even if they cry or make a fuss, maintain an attitude of ignoring them). This temporary loss of freedom method is often very effective.

Parents Zone

Apart from good grades and getting into a good school, what else does a child need?

January 2024

Written by: Ms  Carmen Leung (Teacher Car Car)

Many parents often ask, “What is holistic education?” If we look at the profound wisdom of the Chinese people spanning thousands of years, it is about cultivating a child’s “virtue, intelligence, physical fitness, social skills, and aesthetics.” From the perspective of psychologists, it involves developing a child’s multiple intelligences. From an educational standpoint, it goes beyond the pursuit of knowledge; we also need to nurture a child’s values, attitudes, appreciation for art and culture, interpersonal skills, problem-solving abilities, and critical thinking. In simpler terms, from a commoner’s perspective, holistic education means enabling children to excel in academics, have many friends, possess positive thinking, and excel in various aspects such as music, sports, and art. Do you want your children to experience holistic development?

Multiple intelligences are categorized into seven types, with innate and nurtured aspects each accounting for half.

In common discourse, the concept of multiple intelligences is frequently mentioned. Let’s explore holistic education from a psychological perspective. The theory of “multiple intelligences” was proposed by Professor Howard Gardner of Harvard University in 1983. He discovered that intelligence could be classified into at least seven types: linguistic intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, spatial intelligence, musical intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, and intrapersonal intelligence.

When we discuss “intelligence,” parents often associate it with genius or innate talents. Is intelligence something one is born with, or is it developed later in life? In reality, an individual’s intelligence is a combination of innate and nurtured factors. Each child has a range of innate intelligence, such as an IQ of 100-120. Regardless of the stimuli provided or efforts made, their IQ cannot exceed 120. So, do we still need to cultivate a child’s multiple intelligences? Absolutely! Because whether a child’s IQ stays at 100 or reaches 120, it depends on postnatal cultivation!

Each intelligence is equally important.

So, how should it be cultivated? Through practice? Classes? Exposure to the outside world? Engaging in sports or listening to music? In reality, different intelligences have different cultivation methods. Scholars propose multiple intelligences to remind everyone that when parents focus on cultivating their children’s academic subjects such as Chinese, English, and math, they should not forget that other intelligences are equally important, especially interpersonal communication skills and personal introspective intelligence. If a child lacks any of these, how can they navigate in society? Therefore, when choosing courses for our children, don’t just opt for academic classes, language classes, or literacy classes. We should pause and think, besides academic performance, in which areas does the child need improvement? How is their communication ability? Analytical skills? Personal introspective ability? If a child’s communication skills are lacking, should parents choose courses that provide sufficient space for communication with others, such as drama classes, to allow them more opportunities to express themselves?

Remember the underlying meaning behind what I said about “multiple intelligences.” Take a moment to pause and consider the child’s development in areas beyond academics!

Parents Zone Parents Zone

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

January 2024

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.”