HK children are not spoilt brats, says YMCA

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2012, 12:00am


Young Hongkongers have an unfair reputation for being spoiled and unable to take care of themselves, according to a survey that found only a small minority fit the stereotype.

More than 90 per cent of children said they were capable of basic skills such as cleaning and grooming themselves and managing their homework.

The survey was conducted by the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong. It interviewed 1,018 children from Primary Three to Six, mainly from Yuen Long and Sha Tin.

'From our experience, we don't think that the ability of Hong Kong's children is really that poor, and we don't want them to have that label,' said Lee Man-key, co-ordinating secretary in charge of the organisation's two Tin Shui Wai centres.

The children were asked to rate their own abilities in 12 self-management chores, and 593 of their parents were asked the same questions about their children.

The pollsters focused on a list of skills, identified by occupational therapists, that children should have developed by age seven (Primary Two) at the latest. Of these, the children reported the most difficulty with tying shoelaces - 15 per cent were unable to do it. About 14 per cent could not trim their own fingernails and 9 per cent could not go to bed alone.

Parents had a lower opinion of their children's abilities than the youngsters themselves. The percentage who said their children were incapable of the above three chores were 18, 24 and 11 respectively.

'Parents should let go as their children grow older and give them a chance to try taking care of themselves,' Lee said.

Asked if they thought the 12 self-management skills in the survey were important, 84 per cent of the children and 85 per cent of the parents answered 'no'.

Those replies probably showed that parents and children realised such skills were naturally acquired, Sunny Fan Yiu-chuen, a principal secretary with the YMCA, said.

He said it was important for parents to give their children the chance to learn such skills by themselves, to develop self-reliance.

The survey was conducted because 'we hoped to find out how good children are at taking care of themselves', Lee said.


According to, there are more than this many ways to tie your shoes. The most common is the standard shoelace knot