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Comparison in children

Comparison in children

Oct
8

“My son knows Li Bai’s poems since he was three.” “Why don’t you let your daughter join playgroups. It’s necessary.” What will you feel when you listen to the above sayings? Would you be anxious or would you just keep your own decision to your children firml ...

“My son knows Li Bai’s poems since he was three.” “Why don’t you let your daughter join playgroups. It’s necessary.” What will you feel when you listen to the above sayings? Would you be anxious or would you just keep your own decision to your children firmly?  

Every September is the beginning of school days. Heavy workload makes students exhausted while continuous messages from WhatsApp group makes parents suffocated. The rise of parents’ WhatsApp group brings numerous benefits and convenience but every coin has two sides. Parents may trap in the unnecessary comparison.

Leon Festinger, an American social psychologist published the Social Comparison Theory in 1954 as well as pointed out that people tend to evaluate themselves by comparing to others. The process includes two types of social comparison: upward and downward. The former is to compare oneself to one who has better talent and hence may feel nervous or even jealous while the latter is to compare oneself to the worse one so that they may get sense of achievement. A parent continually resorts to upward social comparison and when they recognise their child is not as talented as others, they may feel anxious.

What is the reason of parents comparing their kids with others? Actually, it’s a normal reaction led by Social Comparison. When a person notices that he is inferior than others in his conscious aspects, he will feel insecure and abased. And it is because people’s Self Concept is attributed to one self’s concerned factor.  The birth rate in Hong Kong is declining in recent years and most of the parents have their only child. Thus, parents put their greatest effort and resources on their children. Those parent’s Self Concept is built on their children’s achievement because the academic performance of their children indicates that are they good parents or not.  

The rise of parents’ WhatsApp group provides an opinion-exchange platform but also comparing targets. Interestingly, when people have more similar characteristics, they will have more comparing motivation. For example, when two full-time Mum is taking care of their 6-year-old son and they are in the same school with similar financial background, these series of similarities trigger more comparison. To reduce their anxiety, they will do their utmost to enhance children’s competitiveness by putting more on their education.

To avoid this kind of comparison trap, parents should understand everyone, including kids has their strengths and weaknesses. All they have to do is to embrace children’s characteristics, and choose the suitable teaching methods according to their talent and interests. Instead of focusing on different children’s accomplishment, parents should rather pay attention on their child and make sure that they won’t lost their uniqueness in comparison.


 


 

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Can my children practice mindfulness?

Can my children practice mindfulness?

Jun
20

Mindfulness has become a trend in recent years. A lot of people who are suffering from mood problems try to improve their quality of life through mindfulness. Many of the mindfulness learners agree that their physical and mental well-being has enhanced significantly. However, mindfulness is not yet ...

Mindfulness has become a trend in recent years. A lot of people who are suffering from mood problems try to improve their quality of life through mindfulness. Many of the mindfulness learners agree that their physical and mental well-being has enhanced significantly. However, mindfulness is not yet as popular as expected in adolescents. Can they actually benefit from mindfulness as adults do?

First of all, mindfulness can facilitate the development of executive functioning, which is one of our most essential cognitive abilities. It includes inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and working memory. Abundant precedent research found that adults practicing mindfulness exercises does help enhance their executive functioning. Individuals with better executive functioning tend to have more focused attention, following with better self-regulation on emotions and behavior.

Adolescence is the peak development period of executive functioning, which is mainly processed in prefrontal cortex (PFC). This region is responsible for regulation of emotions and attention. It is found that adolescents require higher activation of PFC than adults do for regulating emotions. Furthermore, high-arousal situations impair adolescent decision-making abilities much more than those in adults. Therefore, adolescents may significantly benefit from mindfulness by enhancing executive functioning and promoting the growth of PFC which both help the regulation of emotions and attention, as well as the enhancement of decision making.

Overloading negative affects, such as anxiety, could interfere our working memory and attention. Academic performances may thus be affected in these circumstances. Mindfulness, which encourages a present-moment experiential form of self-awareness, can reduce rumination and self-judgment. These factors may boost students’ learning motivation.

Other than the concerns of academic aspect, it is believed that cultivating a higher dispositional mindfulness, which means living in the concepts of mindfulness, can protect adolescents with poor decision-making skills from participating in risky health behaviors, such as smoking.

To conclude, mindfulness can be an inspirational practice for EVERYONE. If a family can practice mindfulness together, this will become a common topic among the family members. Furthermore, both parents and children can enhance their self-awareness of emotions and behavior through practicing mindfulness, which is expected to effectively ameliorate their relationship.

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Life exploration

Life exploration

Jun
13

“I’m tired of executing others’ choreography.  I want to learn to see the world” Polina “Polina”, an artistic French movie co-directed by Angelin Preljocaj and Valerie Muller, features a gifted Russian girl trained in classical ballet searching for her ide ...

“I’m tired of executing others’ choreography.  I want to learn to see the world” Polina

“Polina”, an artistic French movie co-directed by Angelin Preljocaj and Valerie Muller, features a gifted Russian girl trained in classical ballet searching for her identity in dancing.  The movie described how Polina was seriously trained by a famous male ballet teacher in Russia during childhood.  She was later being admitted to the Bolshoi Ballet School.  Shortly after the admission, Polina decided to go to Paris with her boyfriend to explore new way of dancing.  Although Polina faced a lot of obstacles in her search for identity, she had committed her passion in pursuing modern dance and choreography.

According to a renowned psychologist Erik Homberger Erikson, the key elements of ego identity in adolescence is Identity versus Role Confusion.  During adolescence, a person has an identity synthesis with an emerging new identity configuration.  With common social domains of identity expression, work roles, ideological values, relationships and sexuality; a key outcome of an optimal resolution is the capacity to make identity-defining commitments and follow them over time.

James Marcia, a psychologist well known for elaborating Erikson’s stage of Identity versus Role Confusion, proposed two dimensions, exploration and commitment.  Marcia stated that there are four identity statuses: Foreclosure (low exploration, high commitment), Diffusion (low exploratiion, low commitment), Moratorium (high exploration, low commitment), Achievement (high exploration, high commitment).  Those in the Achievement status have undertaken meaningful identity explorations before committing themselves to personally important adult work roles and ideological values.  Those in the Foreclosure status are based on identifications with significant others, adopted without significant identity exploration.

Polina’s identity status is probably the Achievement status, she is brave enough to give up contiuing a career in classical ballet and explore her own way of performing dancing through exploration.  She also has high level of commitment in pursuing her career development once she has choosen a way of her own in dancing.  From adolescence to adulthood, a person needs to explore in different life domains in order to have a holistic identity emerging.  As parents, it is more appropriate to let children to explore before choosing a narrow path too soon.

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What is reality?

What is reality?

May
10

Can you read the paragraph in a meaningful sense?  Most of us do.  Isn’t it interesting that even only if the first and the last letters of a word is correct, we can read the whole paragraph and be able to grasp the meaning of it.  What is the brain mechanism underlying this phe ...

Can you read the paragraph in a meaningful sense?  Most of us do.  Isn’t it interesting that even only if the first and the last letters of a word is correct, we can read the whole paragraph and be able to grasp the meaning of it.  What is the brain mechanism underlying this phenomenon?

According to David Eagleman, author of the book, “The Brain”, instead of using one’s senses to perceive the objective reality from scratch every moment, one tends to compare sensory information with a model that the brain has already constructed.  That is why we only process part of the sensory information of the stimulus and using our existing database in the brain to construct the whole picture.  In fact, our database in the brain is largely depends of our whole history of life experience. This means that no one is having an experience of the objective reality that really exists; each creature perceives only what it has evolved to perceive.  In this sense, it would be better if we suspend our first impression or immediate judgment of something or someone because we are usually not seeing the objective reality in the first place.

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Helping family members or friends

Helping family members or friends

Mar
22

I am excited to launch the new website of CCPS.  I hope we could provide visitors of this website more resources on psychological health.  In February 2017, I retired from the Guardianship Board of the HKSAR after serving for six years.  As a member, I attended hearings regularly for ...

I am excited to launch the new website of CCPS.  I hope we could provide visitors of this website more resources on psychological health.  In February 2017, I retired from the Guardianship Board of the HKSAR after serving for six years.  As a member, I attended hearings regularly for the applications of Guardianship Orders for mentally incapacitated persons.  The care of mentally incapacitated persons is always important for our society. 

In my clinical experience, many people with mental illness are not aware of their treatment needs.  As a result, they cannot obtain effective intervention for their problems timely.  If you have a family member or friend suffering from mental or psychological problems and is not aware the need for seeking treatment, you may try to understand his/her major concerns in life and suggest that someone like a psychologist may be able to help her to deal with the major concerns.  You may avoid pinpointing that he/she may have mental illness to prevent him/her being too defensive.  If you have any questions regarding helping your loved ones, please feel free to contact us.

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