Onwards, upwards

Timothy Chui
Timothy Chui |

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Household chores and extra-curricular activities can be very useful later in life, writes Timothy Chui

Research by United States universities has found strong links between doing household chores as a youngster and success as an adult, but nobody is completely sure to what extent.

All the same, childhood development experts agree simple tasks, such as keeping your room tidy, teach important life skills.

University of Hong Kong psychology professor Terry Au Kit-fong says household chores done at an early age and in a co-operative setting can help young people develop socialisation, organisation and time-management skills.

These skills play a key role in future job performance. Cleanliness and organisation make finding things and thinking clearly much easier, she says.

Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts music dean Benedict Cruft says another way to develop key adult skills at an early age is to learn to play a musical instrument.

'Learning music, like training yourself seriously for any subject, helps to develop self-motivation, self-discipline and concentration,' he says.

He adds that it provides students with 'an awareness of an art form that would otherwise be closed to them'.

Cruft says early exposure to an instrument teaches musical structure, which in turn leads to a richer artistic and creative life as an adult.

'There are many different levels to listening to music, just as there are many levels to understanding a play, a painting or a movie,' he says.

'If you understand the way a story is structured in a film, how the shots are composed, how the film is edited and how the music is added to accentuate certain moments, it all adds to a greater appreciation of the movie.'

Meanwhile, getting out on the sports field or on to the tennis court is also important in terms of future development.

Lobo Louie Hung-tak, a physical education associate professor at Baptist University of Hong Kong, says the muscles adolescents develop are the foundations for their health in years to come.

Being physically active is a habit that begins in childhood, he says, adding that it builds confidence to cope with challenging situations.

On top of creating a healthy self-image and improving mental strength, sports and other physical activities also teach leadership skills, teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Its role in keeping young people healthy is in the spotlight as obesity becomes increasingly common.

A Department of Health student health survey revealed the obesity rate among primary school students jumped from 16.2 per cent in 1996 to 21.3 per cent last year.

Huen Kwai-fun, head of the Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine at Tseung Kwan O Hospital, says type II childhood diabetes is also on the rise. The reasons are bad lifestyle habits, poor nutrition and inactivity.

She says exact figures are not available for Hong Kong because young people who seek help at private practices are not included in Hospital Authority statistics.

But Huen says it is clear to her and her colleagues that type II diabetes is 'starting to affect children at increasingly younger ages'.

The count may well be out then on whether keeping your room tidy will result in success as an adult, but it seems fairly certain that doing your household chores, exercising and practising the piano will pay off eventually. Oh, and eat your vegetables.

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