Hong Kong people always refer to children as little friends (). My good friend and well-known commentator To Kit, whose English name is Chip Tsao, told me it is patronizing to call children little friends. To patronize means to talk to someone in a friendly way yet at the same time in a way that shows you consider them to be less intelligent than you. I agree with To Kit that it is patronizing to call children little friends. What is the age when people stop calling children little friends? Should children no longer be called little friends when they reach the age of eight, or 10, or 12? I have often wondered about that.
When I lived in the US, I never heard people calling children little friends. Many children would consider it weird (odd, strange) to be called little friends. Some may even consider it demeaning to be called little friends. To demean someone means to make that person feel less respected. In the US, it is most common to call children or even teenagers kids. Parents sometimes even refer to their grown-up children as kids. It is not uncommon for a father to say "my kid is an engineer" even if his son or daughter is already 25 years old. US President Donald Trump recently referred to his oldest son as a "good kid" even though he is already 39 years old.
I asked To Kit how he refers to children if he doesn't like calling them little friends. He told me he just calls them children (). There are several ways to describe children in the English language, depending on their age. A young child who is just beginning to walk is called a toddler. Those older than toddlers are normally just called children or kids. Those aged between 13 and 19 are sometimes called teenagers ( or ). So many of my friends refer to children as little friends that I have started doing that too. I must try to stop this habit.