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Three Wishes at a Time

Three Wishes at a Time

Parents always wish their children to obey everything they say but this thought may directly affect on their way to handle children's behavior problems.

To make them surrender, some parents choose to use physical punishment or critical linguistic reproach when children misbehave. It works especially at the early age. Those kids would be frightened by only a gesture or yelling when intended to be naughty.

However, effectiveness does not necessarily mean appropriateness. Physical or linguistic violence to deal with children's misbehaviour are highly possible to cause the following two side-effects.

Bad Modelling

In a psychological study, a number of children were divided into two groups: one watched cartoons with violence, and the other watched cartoons with love and care. Later on, all children were moved to two separate play rooms and observed by researchers. When playing, the group watching violence cartoons tended to punch and kick toys, or put fighting into games, while the other group watching peaceful cartoons treated the toys gently and carefully. Imagine that: even a few minutes of cartoons video can bring influences on children's behavior, what if they personally experience parental violence in reaction to their own behaviour frequently? This explains why some kids are prone to deal with conflict between schoolmates with oral or physical confrontation.

Low in Self Esteem

The ‘self-esteem’ in psychological sense is the self-evaluation of a person. Those who are low in self-esteem would be in serious suspicion of their own value and do not think they deserve to be loved. One of the causes is their suffering of vicious criticism or inappropriate punishment from important personnel in childhood. They could not feel any acceptance or respect from people they care about. Research indicates that people with low self-esteem has higher potential to suffer from mental diseases such as depression, anxiety, retreat of shyness in front of difficulty and even idea of committing suicide.


Is it possible to realise three wishes at a time?

In my opinion, parents should be more ambitious. Apart from the obedience, children must also learn to handle conflicts reasonably and grow up to be a person with self-esteem, confidence and a healthy mind.

Through these years, a variety of parenting courses have been developed and tested clinically to impart positive methodology to parents in reducing the frequency and seriousness of children misbehaviour. The one promoted by the Department of Health is called ‘Triple P Positive Parenting Programme’. This programme best suits parents who wish to carry out their parenting responsibility effectively without hurting children’s interpersonal relationship management ability and their mental health (The course is now suspended due to pandemic, those who are interested may search for material on website for self-study).

The reason for some parents to use inappropriate way to handle their children’s misbehaviour is not their insufficiency in knowledge, but the growing background and weak emotional control of their own. Mindfulness practice could be helpful to such group of parents to improve their awareness and consciousness to themselves and develop intelligence to properly react to children’s different behaviours.


Written by: Stanley Chan, Educational Psychologist, New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association

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