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GEG Parenting Education Scheme

Scheme Background

The gaming and hospitality industries in Macau have brought increased job opportunities for its residents, yet also significantly contributed to a sharp increase in living costs resulting in more families having both parents working to keep up with daily expenses.  Furthermore, because of the concentration of these industries, almost 40% of the working population are employed as shift workers.

With a high percentage of young adults working on shifts in the hospitality and gaming industry in Macau, many young children are often left in the care of grandparents, domestic helpers or nurseries.  In these situations, parents are at a higher risk of engaging in poor parental practices since they need to work irregular shift hours and find it difficult to regularly spend quality time with their children.

The Galaxy Entertainment Group Foundation recognises that engaging in good parental practices from an early age can have long-term positive effects on the overall physical and mental well-being of a child when they grow up.  Early childhood is thus an important and ideal time to help them build a solid foundation in learning, developing relationships, and in preventing problematic behaviour.

To help parents engage in positive parenting practices, the Foundation teamed up with YMCA Macau, Heep Hong Society and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Social Sciences to launch the GEG Parenting Education Scheme, and pioneered an 8-week parenting programme for shift-working parents with children aged 2-7, who are working at the three properties under the Galaxy Entertainment Group: Galaxy Macau, Broadway Macau and StarWorld.

Scheme Partners

Galaxy Entertainment Group
YMCA Macau
Heep Hong Society
Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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Scheme Implementation

About the Parenting Programme

Parenting training comprises a range of education, supportive and remedial measures which help parents better understand themselves and their children, enhance their mutual relationship, as well as promote individual, family and social well-being.  Effective parenting in early childhood is therefore crucial in building a solid foundation in developing parent-child relationships, and in preventing the development of problematic behaviour.

Parenting workshops or seminars are offered by many organisations in Macau, but these tend to be one-off sessions, with no further follow-up.  Such sessions are effective in disseminating information, but participating parents who have questions afterwards often have no one to turn to for advice.  Multi-session parenting programmes, especially those which are conducted in smaller groups (of about 8-12 participants), will however provide participants with opportunities to practise their skills, share their experience and directly receive feedback for maximum effectiveness.

The GEG Parenting Education Scheme pioneered an 8-week multi-session parenting programme based on an already well-established parenting programme developed in Hong Kong.  The programme was specifically adapted and tailored to Macau by educational psychologists and social workers, with a focus on shift-working parents.  Through activities such as role play, demonstrations, group discussions and “at-home practice”, the programme taught participants crucial parenting skills such as building positive relationships with children, dealing with behavioural issues, relieving parental stress, and making special arrangements to communicate with children during work, etc.

Implementation at Galaxy Entertainment Group

The programme was run on a pilot basis at the Galaxy Entertainment Group throughout 2019. Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Human Resources Department arranged for about 150 eligible Team Members, who are shift working parents with children aged 2-7, to attend the 2-hour per week training during their work shifts, for a consecutive 8 weeks. All sessions were conducted on site at either Galaxy Macau or StarWorld to ensure minimal disruption to operations.  

Randomised Control Trial

As the training was adapted and tailored to shift working parents in Macau and implemented for the first time, the Foundation wanted to prove it’s effectiveness before considering whether a rollout of the training to a wider community is appropriate.  Accordingly, the Foundation commissioned the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Department of Applied Social Sciences to conduct a randomised control trial during the pilot implementation.

This is the first study on the effectiveness of a workplace-based parenting education programme for Chinese families, the study breaks new ground as it is designed as a programme specifically targeting parents working on shifts.

Results from the randomised control trial were positive, indicating there was a significant reduction in child behavioural problems, parenting stress and dysfunctional parenting practices.  The results of the research have been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Research on Social Work Practice. 

1 September 2020 | PDF

Effectiveness of Parenting Program for Macau Shift Work Parents: Randomized Controlled Trial

Feedback from Participants

Participants shared that the parenting programme was useful and was a valuable experience for them as they were able to improve their relationship with their children, and the training also had given them a newfound understanding of how to practise “positive parenting”.  Galaxy Entertainment Group, as a caring employer, has always prioritized the health and well-being of its staff and regularly offers a variety of employee-centered activities and programmes, and encourages its Team Members to achieve a work-life balance.  Support from the Galaxy Entertainment Group has been instrumental in allowing its Team Members to participate in the pilot programme and the randomised control trial to be successfully conducted on its premises.

“I’m very happy that GEG is offering these kinds of programmes as it enables shift-working parents like us to learn more about how to build a relationship with our children when we are home from work. I have learned to use positive words in communication; I need to remember to praise my child. I never really used to do so as I was unsure if it was the right thing to do. The instructor said it is important to praise a child, but you need to be specific and to praise the child’s specific actions that you would like to encourage”.
“I was pleased that the programme took place during work hours so that participation in the training would not take away time with my children. Due to our shift hours, I do not have as much time to be with my children as I would like, but the skills taught in the programme were very practical and useful; I can apply them in my daily communication with my children. The programme showed us how to teach our children based on their ability and character while being mindful of how our own emotions and behaviours will impact them.”
“I learned how to better handle my child’s emotions, and also to understand his needs or wants. A lot of times when children act up, we will react by either telling them to stop, or to “bribe” or scold them. Now, I will first try to understand the reasons behind his acting up and then to find a solution to tackle the problem.”
“My work schedule often clashes with my children’s schedule. For example, when I am on day shift which ends at midnight, my children already asleep when I get home, and when I wake up, they are at school; I barely get to see them. Partly due to my shift work hours, I did not have as close a relationship with my children as they have with their mother. The programme emphasised that the amount of time we spend with our children and the skills we use when communicating with them are very important in building our relationship. I have now adjusted my daily routine and applied the skills taught in the programme when I communicate with my children, and our relationship has improved significantly.”
“I feel an increased sense of belonging to the company. Apart from earning a salary when I come to work, I am also able to learn many more things that are not necessarily work-related.”
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Feedback from Scheme Partners
“We actually have a lot of parenting education resources in Macau. Different schools and organisations in Macau often offer different parenting workshops. However, the issue with shift-working parents is that their work schedule makes it more difficult for them to attend these workshops. That is why we had the idea of constructing a programme that would fit their schedule. We hope to enable these parents to understand that even though they are working shifts, their role as a parent cannot be taken up by someone else. We also want to give these parents the right skills to that they can build a good relationship with their children from a young age.”
Eric Cheuk (Centre-in-charge, YMCA Macau)
“Through the programme, participants are able to develop a better relationship with their children and learn that material goods are not always needed as a reward. Parents learn how to effectively encourage a child’s positive behaviour, help their child with managing their own emotions and, of course, manage their behaviours by setting rules and boundaries.”
Stanley Chan (Educational Psychologist, Heep Hong Society)
“We wanted to ensure the training is indeed effective, so a research component was included in the pilot scheme. We will also engage in training “trainers” in Macau, so as to ensure this programme will be localised, allowing trainers from Macau to continue to carry on this programme in the wider community.”
Heidi Szeto (Regional Manager, Heep Hong Society)
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A Caring Employer

The workplace is a convenient and effective environment to deliver parenting programmes, and the support of management is crucial to this mode of programme delivery.  Workplace training programmes for parents on shift work can only be done with the commitment and cooperation of the employer, especially the human resources department, which will need to manage the complicated rostering arrangements for participating staff, thus ensuring minimal disruption to company’s operations.

Galaxy Entertainment Group, as a caring employer, has always prioritized the health and well-being of its staff and regularly offers a variety of employee-centered activities and programmes, and encourages its Team Members to achieve a work-life balance.  Support from the Galaxy Entertainment Group has been instrumental in allowing its Team Members to participate in the pilot programme and the randomised control trial to be successfully conducted on its premises.  

Ongoing Development

Further Training at Galaxy Entertainment Group (June 2020)

As a result of the positive feedback from Team Members at the Galaxy Entertainment Group on the parenting education training conducted during the randomised control trial, the Corporate Human Resources Department had decided to extend the training to now include also participants who may not be shift workers, as all parents face similar issues during their children’s formative years.  As part of the continued refinement of the course, the training is further divided into two groups to cater to slightly different needs of parents with children ages 2-4 and 5-7, enabling parents to be able to address issues they should focus on at different stages of their children’s development.  The training was particularly timely given the pandemic situation when parents were spending more time with their children at home.

Comments from Co-Organiser YMCA:

“We received many positive feedback last year, and this year, we made some improvement to ensure that the program fits with the participants’ needs, especially during the epidemic as some parents were spending more time with their children and to help avoid any friction, we wanted to help parents learn how to control their emotions, understand the emotions and manage the emotional problems of their children.”

Feedback from the participants:

“In the past, my wife was in charge of looking after our children, but since the outbreak, I have been spending more time with our children, which made me realize the importance of good parenting. The program has deepened my understanding of how to educate my children, how to help them develop plans and also how to encourage them to think independently.”

Further Training at Galaxy Entertainment Group (April-June 2021)

GEG continues to hold the parenting skills training for its team members for the third consecutive year. Based on the age of their children, this year’s participants are divided into 3 groups: parents with children between the ages of 2 to 4, parents with children between the ages of 5 to 7, and parents of adolescents between the ages of 10 to 14.  The third group of participants are the target participants of the newly-launched “Decoding Adolescents’ Language” training course, which they take during their working time by completing a total of 8 hours of training over a period of 4 weeks, and learning the parenting skills needed to communicate and manage adolescent behaviours.

Conducted by instructors from Hong Kong through live streaming and by instructors from YMCA Macau, the course uses interactive lectures, role plays, group discussions and fun-filled activities to help the participants discover the different approaches to parenting and responding to and nurturing children’s emotions and behaviours so that the participants can improve their parent-child communication, strengthen their parent-child relationship, and better understand why patience is important when teaching their children.

Moreover, the program has been included in the “100% Parents Award Scheme” of the Education and Youth Development Bureau of the Macau SAR Government, which allows the participants to accumulate their training hours towards the award.

Feedback from the participants:

“I need to work in shifts, and my child turns 10 years old this year. I hope to improve my communication skills with my child so that I can get well-prepared for my child’s adolescence. The course instructors were very professional and taught us many skills to help us better communicate with our adolescent children which are useful and applicable in my daily life.”

Related Videos

GEG Parenting Education Scheme

Effective parenting in early childhood is important in building a solid foundation for children in learning, developing relationships, and in preventing problematic behaviour.  The Foundation considers parenting courses to be particularly important for shift workers, in particular those who are working in the gaming/hospitality industries and parents with young children, since their shift workhours make it difficult for them to spend time together with their children.  A parenting education scheme is therefore piloted, targeting parents who are shift-workers, on various parenting topics conducted over multi-sessions to help them to better understand themselves and their children, thus enhancing their mutual relationship as well as promote individual, family and social wellbeing.

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