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Cascade Talks: Stephen Shum on Conscious Parenting

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

We are super excited to share the launch of Cascade Talks. In this series, we interview experts in the fields of teaching, learning, parenting and all things kids to truly understand how to best support our children. Our very first guest is Stephen Shum, an executive and parenting coach with over 25 years of experience. He often integrates relevant knowledge and experiences from subject areas like Innovation expertise, Applied Positive Psychology, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), psychometric tools (like the MBTI and DISC), and Emotional Intelligence for application to both work and life.

Before our event on March 18th, we chatted with Stephen to learn more about his experience and his work on Conscious Parenting

What is Conscious Parenting and what it means to you?

The concept of conscious parenting centres on a parent letting go of their ego, desire and attachment. My approach to Conscious Parenting involves the parent working on themselves before jumping into short-term fixes that respond to or correct a child’s behaviour. The first step involves the parent getting in touch with their own emotions and understanding behavioural patterns. Only then can they start to build relations with the child, whilst also taking their child's developmental stage, communication styles and everyday challenges into consideration.

What is the biggest hurdle that you’ve seen in your work that stops parents from connecting with their children?

If I had to name the biggest or most common hurdle preventing parents from connecting with their children, it would be the parents themselves! It shows up in a number of different ways but primarily it is the over-eagerness of parents whose love and good intentions can get in the way of creating a bond. For example, scheduling too many lessons or tuition classes, or jumping in to correct the child at the first glimpse of “wrong" actions or responses.

Also, parents’ own egos, desires and attachments are often imposed on their kids as they are not in touch with their own thinking processes, emotions and behaviours. This lack of knowledge, both of themselves and their children, can hinder connections.

What are some ways parents can overcome this hurdle?

The first step for parents is to take time and effort to understand the three key components: thoughts, emotions and behaviours - their own as well as their child’s. We work on a basis that everyone wants to be understood and accepted. While it is hard work, parents need to uncover and better understand themselves first. Next, when trying to understand your child, it's important to take the stages of development into consideration. Based upon the renowned theory by Erikson, it helps you comprehend their state and mental capacity.

What are three things tangible things parents could be doing to support their child’s development?

To break it down, these are the steps I believe parents should do to support their child’s emotional and mental well-being and development

  1. Create trust and open communication as early as possible. Say things like, “Looks like you’ve had a rough day” (and stop there!) – give them the opportunity to respond; don’t scold them for telling the truth, and help them express their emotions freely.

  2. Next, try to fulfil your child’s basic needs, which include: the need to love and to be loved, the need for acceptance, the need for significance, the need for security, the need for praise, the need for discipline and the need for God. An easy example of this is showing acceptance if your child shows anger or frustration. Tell yourself that a window of opportunity to coach has arrived, instead of letting it trigger off your own emotions)

  3. Finally, create a holistic family environment in the following areas: Wisdom (involving the Mind, Emotions and Behaviour); Physical (healthy family living), Spiritual (inculcating values beyond just self and the now) and Social (including healthy social skills and emotional intelligence).

Tell us a bit more about your courses and offerings. When do you recommend a parent reach out to you?

I believe any parent and child can benefit from my courses regardless if there is an issue or problem, as this help create a deeper connection with the child for a healthy, lasting relationship. Besides Conscious Parenting, which are in-depth seminars (including an advanced option), I also offer coaching services for parents. Some key components in the Conscious Parenting courses include

a. How to Be in Touch with Yourself: (The Mind, the Emotions & the Will)

b. Parents as Life Coaches of Your Children

c. Applications of Emotional Intelligence in Parenting

d. Connecting with Your Teenagers

One of your courses is about emotional intelligence in parenting. How important is it for Hong Kong parents?

Given the competitive nature of Hong Kong and recent uncertainty with the protests and COVID, parents and children alike have experienced challenges, especially in the emotional aspects. Emotional Intelligence is the capacity to be aware and effectively use or manage one’s emotions (and that of the people around as well), in order to better relieve stress positively, communicate effectively and empathize with others.

To begin to develop EI, parents should learn skills such as identifying their own emotions, detecting and managing triggers, as well as identifying their child’s emotions and detecting triggers.

We would love to understand how you use personality assessments such as the MBTI and DISC in your work with parents and children. What are some outcomes you have noticed?

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and DiSC tools work differently. They are helpful in revealing thinking and behaviour patterns respectively. The results of understanding yourself can have almost instant positive results. First, it helps you to understand your own thinking patterns as well as your child’s. And there are longer term implications on your approach that can help create better connections with your child. As it allows parents to make more conscious and educated choices in their interactions with children, they are able to form better responses to trigger behaviours thereby helping in establishing mutual trust and respect. At the very least, understanding the differences between parent and child allows for compassion and can therefore help better manage the relationship.

Follow us to find out more about Cascade Talks.

Next month we meet another expert to help shed light on mental well-being.

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