The Kids are Alright
by Veronica Booth
PR & Communications Manager
MARCH 21, 2022 - 4 MIN READ
Renowned author and psychologist Dr. Michael Thompson came to HKIS this year as the Charles W. Dull Visiting Scholar, named for HKIS's Head of School from 1997-2001. This "Chuck Dull Speaker Series” invites distinguished speakers to interact with the HKIS community about aspects of our Mission, Vision and Student Learning Results.

Special thanks this year to Lower Primary Counselor Lauren Seaberg and High School Counselor Aaron Hollingshead for moderating the sessions.
Finally, thank you to those who have supported the Chuck Dull series over the years through HKIS’s Annual Fund!
Dr. Thompson addresses HKIS Faculty during his last visit to HKIS in 2016.
Dr. Thompson’s message is clear: The kids are alright. Kids who feel their parents’ love and who are physically safe will thrive. And in this period of heightened uncertainty, when plans are scrapped last minute and reunions stretched out by years, it is reassuring that the expectations that parents may have had about what their child’s life “should” be like matter less than the day-to-day security of love and safety.

Who better to come to HKIS than Dr. Thompson, who first came to HKIS on the invitation of the series’ own namesake Mr. Dull himself! He was in fact the first person to invite Michael Thompson to HKIS in the 1990s, which was his first trip to Asia. This has led to many fruitful exchanges between our community and Dr. Thompson over the decades. We are honored that Dr. Thompson has continued to help us shape who we are and how we relate to each other and our students.

No matter what the age of the child, Dr. Thompson was there to remind us in the midst of the stress and uncertainty of the epidemic in Hong Kong and all the constraints that it has put on families, that this moment will pass; to have empathy and grace for ourselves, and most of all, to lean on the support and care from our community.

Here are some words of wisdom from Dr. Thompson, taken from the two evenings he spent with HKIS families over Zoom:
For Parents of Lower & Upper Primary Schoolers

On summer travel restrictions:
Be in the moment. If you're always worried about the unknown, then you miss the moment.

On frustration:
Use "I wish"...you can always express what you wish to your children. Children have wishes. It's a place where children and parents can meet.

On “lost” childhood:
Don't imagine that your kids feel the same level of disappointment you feel. Kids are not keeping count of all the things they are missing in childhood. The losses we feel for them they don't necessarily feel in the same way.
On quarantine periods:
Children want to do what their parents ask them to do. They are enormously resilient and adaptable.

On the bottom line:
Children need parents that love them, and they need to feel physically safe.

For Parents of Middle & High Schoolers

On students in counseling due to the stress:
Watch how your teen is handling their days, say good morning. Ask, is it going well? Do you think it's going well?

On potential lockdown:

Do some mental rehearsal. Talk to those who've done it.

On immature behavior:
Be clear in your expectations and clear in the consequences.

On getting teens to do more:
Every human being is doing the best they can do at any given moment. It might not be your best moment, but you're doing your best at this moment.
On gender identity:
Let kids have their own journey and give them time. Don't rush it.

On being a friend with your teenager:
You can't be a friend. As a parent, you're a parent. Forget about it. You can have friendly times, but you have all the power, you pay the bills, that's not a friend.

On tension between parents and teens:
Build a sense of caution and risk management without extinguishing excitement and risk-taking.

I want the weakest child in the class--that is if you rank order the class--to have a very good education and be quite capable. A solid, first-rate education, wherever you are in the class, is the greatest guarantor of your life. You have discipline, you have good study habits, you're an educated person, and you have a well-furnished mind.

 Dr. Michael Thompson