Hong Kong Kids phenomenon

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“Hong Kong Kids” or “Kong Kids” (Kong Hai; 港孩) is an expression that originally referred to Hong Kong children or teenagers who are unable to look after themselves, have low emotional intelligence and are vulnerable to adversity, but now it specifically refers to children in Hong Kong who have weak self-management, are vulnerable to adversity and possess low emotional intelligence.[1][2] (Chinese: 港孩) This term originated from a book titled “Kong Kids: The Nightmares for Parents and Teachers“ published by MingPao, a Chinese Newspaper Publisher in Hong Kong, in 2009 and refers to children born in Hong Kong after 1990. The book summarizes ten negative characteristics of a particular category of Hong Kong children it labels as 'Kong Kids'. Parents are the cause of "Kong kids', because they treat their children as 'princes or princesses' of the family. Parents also spoil their children with material gifts and money. Moreover, parents are kids-orientated and attempt to tackle all the problems their kids face. In such an environment, Kong Kids may encounter tons of problems as they become adults. It is not uncommon for these children to develop a self-centered personality. They feel the Earth revolves around them and will not respect others. In addition, they cannot resist adverse conditions. They become easily bad-tempered when they cannot solve a problem, and in extreme cases some try committing suicide. These harmful habits and characters may influence future generations, forming a vicious cycle.


They are typically born in the since the mid 1990s, are middle-class families, and are pampered and spoiled by domestic helpers.[3]

According to a survey by People's Daily Online, almost half of the parents who responded said that their children cannot eat, bathe or dress themselves independently and 15% of the respondents even said their children could not use the toilet independently.[4] When faced with difficulty, "Kong Kids" expect others to solve the problems, because they are inexperienced with managing setbacks and have low self-esteem.


Incapability of self-care[edit]

Kong Kids lack self-care ability, such as bathing, cooking and tying shoelaces etc. They are used to relying on their parents and foreign domestic helpers.[5]

Low emotional intelligence[edit]

They are emotional and self-centered. With low Emotional Quotient (EQ), Kong Kids cannot control their emotion in any circumstances, such as dealing with unpleasant situations. They want to be under the spotlight and cared by everyone.

Vulnerable to adversity[edit]

Kong Kids are not willing or able to solve problems by themselves. Being afraid of failure, they are used to evading the adversity and rely on parents.

Lack of social competence[edit]

They are usually weak in interpersonal communication and self-control. Being self-centered, they cannot put themselves into others’ shoes and respect others’ opinions. They lack basic manners and come into conflicts easily.

Indulgence of parents[edit]

Most of the parents over-protective of their children and shield them from difficulties and injuries. They are often referred to as “monster parents”. Parents usually hire foreign domestic helpers to take care of their children, spoil them excessively and satisfy most of their requests. Indulging by parents may lead children to narcissism.


Kong Kids love chasing new trends and pursuing well-known brands. Most of them own brand name goods and electronic gadgets such as mobile phones, IPad, IPod and digital camera etc. They do not treasure what they have and look for a materialistic life.



Nowadays, Hong Kong families typically have one or at most two children. According to some educational experts, some so-called ‘monster parents ‘protect their children so well that they do not allow children to experience any setback.[6] For instance, in 2010, the Hong Kong students could not get on the planes because of the serious snowstorm in London. The parents then strongly requested the government to assist students stayed in the airport. This issue induced a lot of criticisms towards parents because of their over-protection. The over-protected children hence have low resilience and hardly could they overcome difficulties, which results in Kong Kids.[7]

Lack of self-review opportunities[edit]

Most parents in Hong Kong work full-time. This frequently means they employ a foreign domestic helper taking care of their children. According to a survey, nearly 90% of parents employ a foreign domestic helper to take care of the children. The domestic helpers are not responsible for correcting children’s behaviour even though the kids behave wrongly. Therefore, some children become rebellious, impolite and disrespectful of others - characteristics of Kong Kids.[8]

Academic obsession[edit]

Hong Kong is an exam-obsessed city where most parents emphasise their children’s academic results. The parents understate the need for resilience in their kids. Some children are expected to focus exlusively on academic matters, and not housework or other chores. As a result, these kids become dependent, both physically and psychologically, that is, they become Kong Kids.[9]


Dependent individuals[edit]

Kids with "Kong Kid" symptoms have little ability to care for themselves and poor problem-solving skills.[10] When faced with adversity, they immediately give up which can lead to feelings of melancholia and, in serious cases, suicide. Kong Kids tend to remain childlike and stunted psychologically.

For instance, in 2011 a snowstorm paralysed the London Heathrow Airport, many Hong Kong students who came home for holiday were stranded at the airport.[11] They stayed in the banquet rooms of hotels or slept in the airport. During that period, those Hong Kong students complained continuously about the situation and that the banquet rooms were like concentration camps.

Kong Kids have negative effects on themselves. Being spoiled, they do not know how to take care of themselves but to depend on others to live their lives. Therefore, Kong Kids have low self-care ability when compared to normal kids. For most of the time, Kong Kids’ parents will help them to deal with all difficulties they face, such as handling conflicts between friends and communicating with teachers. In short term, Kong Kids lose a lot of social chances and cannot deal with hurdles by themselves while in long term, Kong Kids will lack essential communication skills and initiation of solving problems.[12]

Poor family situations and relationships[edit]

Because the children rely excessively on others for care, this pressures parents to be responsible for their child’s actions. The embarrassment and frustration of managing children's poor behavior at home and in public prevents the growth of a healthy parent-kid relationships and parents may feel frustrated and humiliated by their children's behavior.

Societal burdens[edit]

Children are the foundation for future generations, but Kong Kids may not be equipped to survive in the real world as they are unable to interact with and accommodate others. They do not tend to cherish what they have and are less able to tolerate hardships at work and are at risk for termination of employment. This affects the effectiveness of the workforce.

Kong Kids also have negative effects on society. Depending on their parents, Kong Kids have low problem-solving abilities. As a result, once they step into society, they cannot solve problems efficiently. The productive potential of the society becomes lower because of them. Getting difficulties solved by their parents, Kong Kids usually lack motivation to work. Because of the lacking in enthusiastic and initiative people, the competitiveness of the society declines, hence the society will be less affluent.[13]


To avoid children becoming Kong Kids, parents and schools need to cooperate.[14] According child and education psychologist, parents should stop over-protecting their children and allow them to learn life self-care skills from daily life like buttoning shirts, tying shoe laces and feeding themselves. They should explain to their children the importance of these skills but not simply tell them to follow.[5] Moreover, parents need to give children room to learn being independent. In order to equip children with the ability to cope with adversity, when they face difficulties, parents should let children solve it on their own rather than tackling it for them.[7] While at school, teachers should guide students to develop interpersonal skills. This is a rare opportunity at home as the family size are usually small.



In the book "Kong Kids: The Nightmares for Parents and Teachers",[15] written by Wong Ming Lok, Hong Kong Children are defined as those born from the middle of 90s to the early 2000s, which is an affluent era with information explosion. Other literature denote Kong Kids as the “3-low Kong Kid”. According to the newspaper article [16][17] which originated this term, Hong Kong children have low autonomy, low emotion quotient and also low studying ability. Some of them do not help with the chores. They do not know how to change their clothes, shower themselves, tie the shoelaces and even tidy up [17][18] Hong Kong children are vulnerable, not adaptable to challenges and difficulties, some of them may commit suicide due to academic pressure, family and emotion issues.[19]


On the 9 July 2011, a video entitled Tai Po Impolite Kong Kid Scolding Parents (大埔超級城無禮小學雞當街鬧父母) was filmed by witnesses to the incident, posted on websites like YouTube, and was reported by the media.[20][21]

In the three-minute video, a young boy with his hands on his hips shouted and condemned his parents for "forcing" him to accompany them to the Tai Po supermarket. He threatened to call the police and, despite a surrounding crowd, spoke foul language when his parents asked him to be quiet. A passer-by, unable to stand the child's behavior, gave the child $20 so that he could take a taxi home and stop harassing his parents. This video hit the local news and magazines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 「港孩」:3低6不得.Wenweipo.21 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Hong Kong Kids". Ming Pao. 2011-01-11. 
  3. ^ hoikeima3 (2013-07-24). "Kong Kids Phenomenon | KiKi Ma - GE1401". Hoikeima3.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  4. ^ "Doting parents lead to helpless Hong Kong kids". People's Daily. 2010-08-20. 
  5. ^ a b Parry, Hazel.Hong Kong kids need to learn self-care skill. South China Morning Post. 7 May 2013.
  6. ^ “Helicopter Parents”? “Monster Parents”? “Free-Range Parenting?” – Part 2 – I Am Not a Monster Parent”. Lifetime Development.
  7. ^ a b Hong Kong Kids. Ming Pao. 1 January 2011.
  8. ^ 培養孩子自理能力的重要性. Mama Station. 11 October 2010.
  9. ^ Exam-obsessed Hong Kong makes celebrity tutors rich. Tengri News. 31 May 2011
  10. ^ "How helicopter parents can ruin kids' job prospects". CNN Parents. 2013-07-02. 
  11. ^ "Hong Kong Kids"家長不成長「港孩」如何成長?. Ming Pao. 2011-01-11
  12. ^ 家 長 聘 外 傭 礙 「 港 孩 」 獨 立 . Sing Tao. 20 August 2010
  13. ^ 唔識綁鞋帶 港孩堪憂.Oriental Daily. 23 May 2010.
  14. ^ 黃明樂着,《港孩》,明窗,2009年。ISBN 9789888026623
  15. ^ 黃明樂著,《港孩: 父母教師的噩夢》, 明窗出版社有限公司, 2009年10月.
  16. ^ 自理能力低情緒智商低學習能力低過度依賴外傭三低港童難搞. The Sun (Hong Kong). 2007-05-30
  17. ^ a b 家長溺愛港孩現象嚴重有小六生不懂綁鞋帶及洗頭. Apple Daily. 2010-07-20
  18. ^ 自理力低易患「公主王子病」調查:六成港孩不做家務. Sing Tao Daily. 2013-04-05
  19. ^ 港孩不堪挫折最細九歲自殺. The Sun (Hong Kong). 2013-05-30
  20. ^ "10歲童當街罵父母熱播 (Hot video of 10-year-old boy scolding parents)". The Sun. 2011-07-12. 
  21. ^ "Tai Po Impolite Kong Kid Scolding Parents’ (Video)". YouTube.