How to help children who are rather clumsy?

Parents Zone

Family Marriage & Art Therapist, Ko Wing Oi (Wendy)

Parents often mention that their children are clumsy, often tripping or dropping things easily. This is related to hand-eye coordination and even the development of finger muscles. Many toys are now designed to train a child’s finger muscles from as early as a few months old.

Many parents are aware that various games can train finger muscles. But besides finger muscles, how can we train children to handle, grasp, or manipulate objects using their fingers? Balance is also crucial.

In fact, many toys can help train balance, and finger muscles can be developed in the process. For example, stacking games with different shapes, sizes, colors, and numbers can be used. When a child picks a die with a green side and the number 2, they have to find the corresponding green piece with a 2, and then pick another die, let’s say it’s blue with a 5, and find the blue piece with a 5, and continue stacking. This trains children on how to stack the pieces to maintain balance and prevent them from toppling over.

Another toy is the Russian stacking block puzzle, which is more complex in terms of layering and might be more interesting to children. Children can move the bottom block and then stack the Russian block puzzle pieces. This toy presents a certain level of difficulty, training children’s fingers, critical thinking, finger muscles, and balance.

Of course, clumsiness and accidents are also related to their level of concentration. For example, when a child is holding a cup of water, but their eyes are not on the cup; they are watching TV or listening to the adults around them. So, in addition to training their hand-eye coordination and balance, it’s also essential to train their concentration.

Is parent-child reading becoming stressful?

Parents Zone

Parent-child reading senior worker: Choi EE

Do you have kids who insist on you telling them stories? And not just any stories, they want you to keep going. When you come home from work, they have a stack of books and won’t eat until you finish all of them or want you to keep going for two hours. This is a common issue that I frequently encounter in my lectures. Parents, think about it: when you engage in parent-child reading with your kids, what do you hope for the most?

You certainly hope to create a warm memory because when they listen to your stories, they are especially well-behaved and feel secure. However, if the children turn listening to stories into your stress, demanding many stories, even refusing to listen to others, and only wanting to hear you as if they’re monopolizing your personal time, you should consider how to resolve this issue for yourself.

I suggest that in the context of parent-child reading, spend a good 15 to 20 minutes sharing a story with your child, and even half an hour is fine. However, if you find yourself spending two hours each day telling them an entire book, and they still feel unsatisfied and demand that you keep going as if they’re controlling you, it’s no longer a parent-child reading relationship but more of a tutoring relationship. We should set an example and tell the child, “I need to have some personal time. Today, storytime is 15 minutes, and Mom will tell you two books. After we’re done, we can do other things, or we can discuss the story we just read while you’re playing or eating.”

You shouldn’t turn into a radio, constantly narrating stories like a recording machine, as that’s not what we want in parent-child reading. So, parents, remember that when your child asks you to tell a story, it’s a joyful moment. We shouldn’t be afraid of telling stories to our children. Instead, we should control our time, casually finish a story in about half an hour, and then have a meal together or engage in play, followed by discussing the story. I believe that in a quality parent-child reading relationship, children will develop a greater love for reading and see it as a path to new horizons.

Did not take medicine when sick, waiting for the body to recover on its own and then develop antibodies?

Parents Zone

SourcePediatric Specialist Doctor, Chiu Cheung Shing

When children get sick, some parents may become very anxious and immediately take their child to the doctor or give them medicine. However, some parents believe that if they wait for a while, the child will naturally recover. In reality, this approach is somewhat correct to a certain extent. For mild illnesses like the common cold or cough, allowing the child to rest can help them develop some antibodies that can protect them from future infections. However, parents should be aware that not all illnesses can be treated this way.

For some strong bacteria, waiting for a natural recovery can be dangerous. For example, with bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae or Neisseria meningitidis, if you wait for natural recovery, there can be serious consequences. Within 24 hours of infection, 1 in 10 people may die. Even if death doesn’t occur, 1 to 2 individuals may end up with lifelong disabilities or complications. So whether you wait for natural recovery or not depends on whether the illness is mild or severe.

Secondly, in the case of some illnesses, even if a doctor can diagnose the condition, the effects of medication may not necessarily be immediate. As mentioned earlier, with bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, there can sometimes be antibiotic resistance. That’s why there’s a saying that “diseases are shallow in Chinese medicine.” Doctors may not always prescribe medication; what’s most important is whether you develop complications or have any hidden risks.

On the other hand, taking medication is symptom management, which may not always be the most critical factor. Whether you wait for natural recovery depends on your luck. If it’s just a mild illness, waiting for natural recovery is fine, but if it’s a severe illness, it could lead to regrets. So from a doctor’s perspective, it’s always better to be cautious, meaning that life should never be used as a gamble.

Being unfocused when playing with toys, will it make it harder for them to concentrate on learning in the future?

Parents Zone

Source : Registered Clinical Psychologist, Yiu Fong Lee

 Some parents may notice that their children, aged 4 to 5, often have trouble staying focused when playing with toys. For example, they may play with one toy for only 2 minutes before switching to another, and they might take out all the toys in the room without cleaning up afterward. Parents may worry that if their children are so unfocused now, how will they fare in exams or when studying in the future?

 It turns out that when children’s brain development is not yet mature, their attention span can be a bit short. Research has found that mindfulness can help improve children’s focus, especially by training their frontal lobes, which can enhance their attention and concentration.

 There are some mindfulness games that can be used as a reference. For example, parents can use certain apps with visual cues. Children can follow these apps, for instance, there might be an image of a balloon that inflates when they breathe in and deflates when they breathe out. This way, by following their breath, children can improve their ability to concentrate. Additionally, there’s a practice called ‘Statue,’ which many parents might remember from their own childhood. In this exercise, children must sit still and watch an app or a timer for a specific duration to see how long they can remain seated calmly.

“Then, if children manage to do this, you can introduce an additional element, which is auditory distractions. For example, you can include some simple sounds, like calm music. If the children succeed with that, you can gradually introduce more challenging elements, such as cartoons or anything they enjoy, to see if they can stay focused on the app and their breathing in a more distracting environment. This helps train their concentration.

 Secondly, we can try implementing some rules and visual reminders. You can tell the children that there is a rule when it comes to playing games or with toys: they have to finish playing with one thing before they start with another, and they should spend at least 5 to 10 minutes playing with each item before switching. You can use some pictures to show them one toy, then cleaning up that toy, and then moving on to the next. In between, you can indicate that they should play with each toy for 5 to 10 minutes.” 

What is interactive reading? What are the techniques and steps for engaging in interactive reading with children?

Parents Zone

Source: Educational psychologists, Shum Ka Man and Tang Wai Yan

 Interactive reading is when parents and children engage in reading through conversation. The main difference between interactive reading and traditional reading aloud lies in the fact that traditional reading aloud often involves parents telling stories to children or, in some cases, parents’ intention to teach children to recognize words, focusing primarily on word recognition. However, the advantage of interactive reading is not just about word recognition; it aims to foster a positive parent-child relationship and help children express themselves through conversation.

 In interactive reading, children take on an active role, where they can ask questions and guide the conversation through these questions and answers, thereby enhancing their reading comprehension skills. When parents engage in interactive reading with children, they should consider what questions to ask and what steps to follow. There are various ways for parents to ask questions, and we teach them a prompting framework that includes five different question types, abbreviated as ‘CROWD.’

 C stands for Completion, where questions can be posed in a fill-in-the-blank manner. R represents Recall, encouraging children to remember what happened earlier in the story. O denotes Open-ended questions, allowing children to speculate about what might happen next. W represents Wh questions, covering the six Ws: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Finally, D stands for Distancing questions, which prompt children to relate the story to their own life experiences, asking how the story connects to their daily lives.

Interactive reading also follows a framework called ‘PEER.’

The first step is ‘Prompt,’ which refers to the types of questions asked. The second step is ‘Evaluate,’ where after asking questions, you can provide responses to the child. ‘Evaluate’ involves giving positive encouragement to the child, such as praising them when they answer correctly, saying, ‘You did a great job; you listened very attentively.’ If they answer incorrectly, it’s still important to encourage them, saying, ‘You tried very hard!’ and then attempt to find the answer together in the book.

 Next is ‘Expand’ (E), which means expanding on what the child says. If a child’s response is brief, you can add adjectives or other details to make the sentence richer. Finally, there’s ‘Repeat’ (R), where after listening to the story, the child repeats the story, which can help improve their oral language skills.

Apart from during reading, can parents utilize dialogic techniques in their everyday lives?

Parents Zone

 Source: Educational psychologists, Shum Ka Man and Tang Wai Yan

 The techniques used in dialogic reading, including questioning and the subsequent interaction between parents and children, can actually be applied and practiced not only in reading but also in everyday life.

 For example, during playtime or when encountering something new while out shopping or seeing objects around, these questioning methods can be applied. As for the steps, we engage in a conversation and exchange with the child. For instance, if we are playing with trains at home, parents can use a questioning approach like, ‘When we’re on transportation, what do we usually ride?’

 These methods can encourage children to express themselves more and foster greater interaction with their parents. Besides play, children often enjoy drawing. During the process of drawing, you can also employ dialogic reading techniques. For example, ask questions like, ‘What is the content of this drawing?’ ‘What is this?’ ‘When did you see this? Could it be related to the playground equipment we saw at the park last week?

  These are actually just a part of the dialogic reading techniques, and there are some additional tips for dialogic reading. For example, deliberate pauses are important for us. Sometimes, parents may be a bit impatient and expect an immediate response after asking a question. However, we should give children some space and time to answer gradually. Children need time to organize their thoughts and sentences. If we remember the techniques of dialogic reading, they can help us be more patient in our everyday conversations with children.

Let go of anxiety; don’t become a monster parent

Parents Zone

Written by Marriage and Family Therapist, Child Play Therapist, Rachel Ng


When my son was in the first grade, I often encountered the same group of parents at the pick-up and drop-off station. One of the parents had a son who coincidentally attended the same school and grade as my son, so we gradually became acquainted. It was also during that time that I began to witness what was called “monster parents”!


She would frequently ask about my child’s extracurricular activities because her son was enrolled in various classes every day, sometimes even attending two in a single day. On the other hand, I struggled to list many activities for my son. He enjoyed exploring and creating games at home, finding his own joy. I also saw that he was able to grasp the lessons taught at school, so I felt that there was no need for him to participate in additional extracurricular activities. Always, my wish for him was to be happy.



However, gradually, when most of the parents around you gather and chatter about what their children are learning, what levels they’ve achieved in music and language exams, and so on, I, who originally believed in the “go with the flow” approach, began to feel anxious. I couldn’t help but question whether I was a lazy, unambitious, and neglectful mother who didn’t plan for her child’s future!

And so, I also began to enroll my child in various courses, but the resistance I encountered was beyond what I had ever imagined. During the years from my son’s second to fourth grade, even though the number of courses he attended was not extensive, conflicts often arose between mother and son due to the insistence on him participating in additional extracurricular activities. I couldn’t bear to see both of us suffer from the results of these clashes, so I asked myself: “What is truly important for a child? To possess a wealth of knowledge but carry an unhappy heart, or to have a lively, cheerful, and positively charged life?” Even though I hadn’t yet studied marriage and family therapy at that time, I still believed that a harmonious family relationship was the cornerstone for a child to have a healthy life.


In the end, I decided to no longer “force” my son to participate in activities he disliked. By letting go in this manner, I actually created space for him to learn to take responsibility for his own decisions. He would let me know what he wanted to learn or even if he wanted to attend Chinese tutoring at the appropriate time. These exercises in autonomy and responsibility, unwittingly, became invaluable assets for my son in the future. They proved beneficial in his education and career, leading to success in every aspect.



In reality, many parents, like myself back then, find themselves in an environment of intense competition, where they see other mothers doing the same crazy things. This makes those actions seem not crazy, but rather the norm. Even if reluctantly, they feel compelled to do the same. However, children find various ways to express to us that they are struggling, that they cannot accept it! The question is, do mothers really see it? If parents have a short-sighted perspective and are anxious only about gaining an initial advantage, focusing solely on creating fleeting competitive edges for their children while neglecting to establish qualities that contribute to their long-term development, then in the end, the casualties may extend beyond just the mother-child relationship to include the child’s life itself!

How to cultivate a child’s manners? Respect and attention are essential

Parents Zone

Written by: Education expert, Principal Cheung Wai jing

 At a talent recruitment event for a large multinational company, both Siu Cheung and Siu Choi successfully passed the initial and follow-up interviews. They stood out from over 100 competitors. Whether it was written tests or communication skills, both were equally impressive, leaving the human resources department’s evaluators in a dilemma, as the company would only hire one person.

 In the end, the company manager decided to personally interview both candidates. Surprisingly, after just a few minutes, the manager chose to hire Siu Cheung. When asked for the reason, the manager candidly stated, “The reason is simple. When I was speaking to them, Siu Cheung maintained eye contact with me the whole time, while Siu Choi was looking around, indicating that he wasn’t good at actively listening to others. Being adept at listening and respecting clients is a crucial requirement for a sales supervisor.”

 Expressing Sincerity and Respect through Eye Contact

 This example illustrates a straightforward lesson: eyes are the windows to the soul, and people use their gaze to convey a range of emotions such as respect, attention, disdain, and indifference. Therefore, maintaining consistent eye contact during conversations signifies your sincerity. Moreover, those who can attentively focus on others’ words without shifting their gaze will naturally earn gratitude and respect from others.

 Schools often organize activities centered around the theme of “politeness” to encourage students to be courteous to others. “Others” includes not only family members, elders, teachers, and fellow students but also unfamiliar people. Children should learn early on about polite phrases like “good morning” and “thank you,” but many still don’t proactively greet others, let alone observe other daily life etiquette. Schools focus on teaching students how to behave politely when interacting with teachers and peers in the school setting; the rest relies on family education.



The example of “job hunting” mentioned above might not be applicable to elementary school students for the time being, but they also frequently have opportunities for interviews. If they want to leave a good impression on others, children must learn to use their eyes to show their attention and respect when conversing with others. Therefore, parents need to teach children the skills and art of listening. Of course, when parents listen to their children, they should also give them appropriate respect and attention. This way, children will learn that politeness in interpersonal interactions knows no age or status boundaries. Here are three listening tips:

1. When listening to someone, avoid looking around and instead focus on the person’s eyes.

2. When you understand or share the same sentiment, use your eyes to communicate and show agreement.

3. Gazing at someone doesn’t mean staring fixedly at them; doing so can actually come across as impolite.

In literature, characters are often described as having “eyes that speak.” In reality, everyone has eyes like that; as long as we utilize them well, they can be more persuasive than the words we speak.

Is an electronic pacifier a quality toy?

Parents Zone

Written by: Speech Therapist, Lee Wing Yan

 With the advancement of technology and material abundance nowadays, it’s not hard to see that tablets are being used as “electronic pacifiers” for young children. Regardless of the occasion, whenever parents bring out this “electronic pacifier” and play YouTube videos, children sit quietly, and adults can focus on their tasks. Since tablets and smartphones can calm young children and provide educational games and videos for learning, does that mean they are quality toys?

 The key to selecting “quality toys” lies in whether young children can genuinely learn from them. Indeed, educational videos and interactive games can offer the cognitive concepts that preschoolers need to learn, but we also need to consider how preschoolers actually learn language.

 Recent foreign research explores the impact of the parent-child interaction pattern on language development one year later (i.e., at age 3). The study found that the presence of “connectedness” between parents and children during interactions most influenced the child’s subsequent language development, including whether both parties participated in the same activity in turns. Additionally, children’s learning of verbs, such as “I eat” in “eat” or “Mom drinks water” in “drink,” directly affects their future language development (from the three examples above, it’s clear that to form complete sentences, children need to recognize a certain number of verbs).

 Seizing everyday life opportunities to teach verbs through activities

 So, can tablets and smartphones achieve the mentioned “connectedness”? Based on my daily observations, children tend to use tablets and smartphones alone, and they resist it when parents want to intervene. Furthermore, most of what children learn from videos are limited to English alphabets, counting, nursery rhymes, cartoon character names, or specific dialogues from cartoon characters. But what about verbs? Verbs are often easily overlooked in videos because children can learn them more effectively by doing them in real situations! For example, teaching a child the action of “brushing teeth” doesn’t it involve singing a nursery rhyme “Up and down the brush,” repeatedly emphasizing the action of “brushing,” and brushing teeth together with them? In daily life, whether during bath time, cooking, playing with toys, or going to the park, parents can take the opportunity to teach relevant verbs used in different scenarios through interactive activities.

Furthermore, research also indicates that the quality of interaction between parents and young children during play and reading, including the vocabulary adults input to children and the spontaneous “baby talk” from children, is higher compared to when using tablets and smartphones. Scholars generally believe that young children’s language learning primarily occurs through interaction with people. Therefore, if young children excessively use tablets and smartphones, reducing interaction with family members, it may be detrimental to their language development.

 So, what defines a “quality toy”? Whether it’s choosing tablets, smartphones, or traditional toys like dolls, puzzles, and toy cars, the most important aspect to consider is:

 Does it promote interaction and communication between parents and children?

Does it replace original opportunities for parent-child interaction?


In parent-child interaction and communication, parents can use various communication techniques to enrich the child’s language environment. These techniques have been mentioned in the previous article on “Four Communication Styles.” Toys are, in fact, just tools. Through toys and quality interaction, we aim to enhance young children’s language development.

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To love children, first to love themselves, 3 moves to teach you to maintain the best mental state

Parents Zone

Written by :Family Dynamics Child Play Therapist
                   Marriage and Family Therapist, Ms. Lee Wai Zi

In today’s society, it is indeed not easy for parents to maintain a good state of mind and body. I have met with many parents and found that the difficulty most parents face is not that they do not understand their children’s feelings and needs, or that they do not know how their behavior affects their children, but that it is difficult to maintain a trusting and optimistic attitude towards their children when they are in a situation. Often, parents become increasingly anxious as they worry that their child’s problems will continue and worsen, and repeat ineffective ways of dealing with their child’s problems.

So, how can parents maintain the best mental state to face the stress and challenges of disciplining their children? Here are some tips for parents to consider:

1. Be more sensitive to your own stress levels
Parents are human beings, so there will be times when they are depressed or physically and emotionally exhausted. The purpose of parents being sensitive to their own mental state is to remind themselves that they need to take care of their own needs first. It is difficult for parents to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of their children when they are in a highly stressed state. Conversely, inappropriate responses may harm the child and damage the parent-child relationship.

2. Use resources effectively to relieve stress
When parents feel stressed, they should try to explore and make good use of their own internal and external resources to regulate their negative emotions. For example, find family members or friends to talk to, do things that can relax you, and find positive thoughts and beliefs to encourage you. The purpose is to give yourself a proper rest and temporary relief from stress.

3. Turn your mind around and reflect
If a parent’s stress continues and increases, professional help is needed. Sometimes, these pressures come from more than just external influences. Parents’ self-worth, worldview, and perceptions of things can affect how we parent. For example, some parents worry that they are not doing enough to fulfill their parental responsibilities and end up pushing their children to study or participate in activities, or even that they are not flexible enough to respond to their children’s needs when they are stressed and negative.

If parents are aware of and take care of their own feelings and needs, they can prevent their negative emotions from affecting the next generation.

Therefore, parents who love their children must first love themselves. Only when parents are healthy and happy can their children grow up healthy and happy.