City parents must focus on character not achievement, says group founder

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 5:14am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 11:31am

"When you find your children doing everything against what you ask, it could be a warning sign that there's something wrong with the relationship between you and your kids," says Josephine Ling Yip Lai-sim, founder of non-profit organisation Hong Kong Character City Movement.

Ling was once a tiger mum. She prodded and nagged her teenaged daughter to the edge of suicide. To prevent other parents from repeating her missteps, she founded the group in 2006 to promote more positive parenting.

She says it is crucial for parents to maintain a close relationship with their children, because children tend to listen to those who are intimate with them and rebel against those who are not.

If parents appear never satisfied with their children's performance and do not praise them, children feel anxious, stressed and underconfident, Ling says. Negative thinking makes them give up.

"Parents should listen to their kids' emotional needs more than satisfying their material needs," says the 50-year-old. "When children are little, parents should be patient and spend more time with them to make them feel accompanied. As the children age, parents should respect them and give them room to make their own decisions.

"Let them feel they're valued and supported. Don't criticise them when they fail; try to appreciate it when they don't give up, and encourage them."

Ling started the organisation in the belief that Hong Kong should be a society that values good character instead of emphasising personal achievement.

"Now parents' values are twisted by the whole society's values," Ling says.

"I want to promote an inclusive, tolerant and positive way of parenting."

Ling has lectured in more than 600 kindergartens, primary and secondary schools to more than 80,000 people, she says. She tells her audience about her family's story and her philosophy on parenting.

Corporations have sponsored many of her lectures, she says. Many employers say that a candidate's creativity, positive thinking and ability to communicate and get along with others are more important than their academic scores.

"They want employees who have a creative and healthy mind, not those who do best in math and memorising facts."