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Happy child, happy learner

Uncategorized Mar 30, 2021

As parents we often feel overwhelmed by the responsibility for making sure our child gets the best education and we want to make sure that we get it right.

I learnt something interesting many years ago. In French the word ‘Education’ means educating the child in the widest sense of the word – their physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual development. In the English language we tends to think of it as ‘academic learning’ - but actually when we think of it in the round, we can give ourselves a pat on the back for all the extra things we do to educate our child.

Did you know that in Japanese culture the word ‘struggle’ is synonymous with learning? They encourage struggle and consciously set difficult tasks for children in order for them to struggle but it is seen in the culture as a good thing to struggle, not something to be ashamed of.

So many studies have shown that the children’s receptiveness to learning is inextricably...

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Is the idea of potty training weighing you down?

potty training Mar 24, 2021

I always hoped I'd be the kind of parent who was patient and encouraging.

I mean when my kids were learning to walk I was right there saying 'come on.... you can do it!'

Did I ever say ‘Aren’t you a bit too old to still be crawling'?

or 'Look, your brother was much younger when he took his first steps'

Of course not!

But when I'd catch my second son Felix creeping out from behind the sofa with a steaming poo swinging in his pants I'd jump in with 'Eeeeew Felix – why can’t you JUST POO ON THE POTTY!' and I know he felt my impatience and judgement.

What I discovered later was that I'd followed the wrong roadmap for Felix’s potty training.

I rushed at it, thinking that my maternity leave with my third child would be the perfect time.

I had my deadline, not his readiness in mind and I’ve since used my mistakes to help so many others get potty training nailed without the stress.

I've also spent a long time working on myself and helping other...

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Kids who speak up for themselves

I felt a tap on the shoulder at school pick up

'Can I have a word Mrs McGill?'

My heart sank.

In these situations you know it can only be bad news and you immediately start to doubt your parenting abilities and blame yourself for whatever your child has got up to.

My son Nico's teacher told me he had been rude and spoken back to her when he was being reprimanded for 'bullying' a boy in his class.

I was mortified and really upset with Nico.

On the way home he refused to talk to me about it.

He was sullen and bolshy.

He pushed past me when we got to the front door.

He then refused to do his homework and picked on his siblings.

My patience was really being tried by this point until I remembered my mantra

‘Look behind the misbehaviour’

At bedtime I lay beside him on his bed whilst we stared into the darkness.

I breathed slowly and said simply

“It sounds like you feel blamed for something you didn’t mean to do…”

He started off with a rant...

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Raising strong kids

resilience Mar 09, 2021

One day on the way back from nursery when my daughter was little, I sensed something wasn't right. We stopped to sit on a park bench and her eyes welled up with tears.

'Nobody would play with me today, they said I was a baby and couldn't join in their games'.

I felt a terrible stab in my heart and an urge to run into my daughter's school and demand what was going on.

I wanted to shake the mean girls and tell them they needed to include Scarlett.

I felt like calling up the parents to 'have a word'

It is devastating to think of our children being in pain.

We want to 'make it all better'

To take the pain away.

But all my research told me that to build resilience in a child, we need to allow them to experience tough times and not rush to protect them.

If you haven't had this kind of experience, be prepared as it will happen.

If it isn't 'nobody wants to play with me' it could be:

'I wasn't invited to the party',

'I didn't get picked for the team',

'I'm in the bottom reading group',...

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How to raise an appreciative child

Uncategorized Mar 02, 2021

Have you ever had the horrible realisation that you might be in danger of raising a 'spoilt child'.

I'm not crazy about the word 'spoilt' what I mean is over-indulged by us- but here's a little check list:

  • Are they overly demanding and scream or hit you when they don't get what they want immediately?
  • Do they have an expectation that they say 'jump' and we say 'how high?'
  • Do they want you to drop everything the minute they ask you to do something?
  • Do they expect to be bought things if you go into a shop?
  • Do they expect you to order things they want from the internet?
  • Do they refuse to help with routine things like tidying up or clearing the table and you just give in and do it yourself?
  • Do you find yourself buying them things to make them happy?
  • Do they interrupt a conversation and expect you to give them attention straight away? 

If you can check off a few of these things, I'm not here to point fingers. I've been through them all myself and still have to remind my...

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Will you please STOP WHINING!

whining Feb 02, 2021

Researchers say they may now have scientifically proven that a child whining is one of the most distracting sounds on the planet.

Worse than the unpleasant screeches of a table saw catching repeatedly on a piece of wood. Even harder to ignore than cringe-inducing exaggerated baby-talk of caregivers known as “motherese.”

The sound of a whining child tops them all as the most distracting, according to new research published in the latest edition of the online peer-reviewed Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology.

So short of advising ear defenders, I thought I'd give a bit of background info.

  • When your child whines - it is usually out of habit - they don't know how to get their needs met without using that tone.
  • They know that that tone gets a reaction from us, so the whining does work. It gives them the attention they want.
  • They don't distinguish between positive and negative attention - any attention is good.
  • We often get in a cycle of responding...
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Creating Rules that Work

rules that work Jan 19, 2021

One of the questions I get asked the most frequently is 'Why won't my child just the simple things like brushing her teeth or getting in the bath?'

 

Do you have these frustrations?

 

As many of you know, when Nico my eldest was 2 ½ we got help with our parenting as he was such a challenging child. It was suggested that we have some clearer rules around the house.

I didn’t like the idea of having rules as it felt too much like school and I wanted him to feel ‘free’ at home and for us to have some 'spontaneity' and anyway, I thought he should just know what's expected.

After all, we asked the same thing of him every day 'get dressed, eat breakfast, stay in bed at bedtime...' so shouldn't he just do it?

What I realised through the coaching we got was that we had an expectation that he would do what we asked without a fuss, and when he didn’t we’d ask 5 times or more, each time getting more and more frustrated until we’d wind up...

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Mummy, when you shout it means you don't love me

avoid shouting Jan 12, 2021

I don’t know about you but I never planned to be the kind of parent that shouted at my children.

I planned to be chilled, calm, patient and kind.

Yet I found that my anger and impatience would boil up like a pressure cooker.

And I’d wind up shouting.

It would usually be after I’d asked the kids what felt like 10 times to do something routine and they’d ignored me.

Or maybe it was in response to incessant whining when they had to so something they didn’t want to do.

Does this sound familiar?

I felt that shouting was my only option - "what choice do I have if they only respond when I shout?"

I was walking along the street one day with Alice, my youngest when she was 3.

We witnessed a little boy banging his bike into his mother who screamed at him ‘Look what you are doing, why are you so clumsy!!!’

It seemed like an over-reaction to me, so I said in passing ‘I think that mum is having a bad day’

Alice stopped and looked up at me...

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How to stay sane in the face of adversity

ways to stay sane Jan 05, 2021

We are going through hugely stressful situations. 

The worst many of us will have ever experienced and yet we still have a choice.

We can get into a vicious cycle of feeling negative, irritated by our children and then snapping at them for the tiniest thing. 

They then feel unloved and judged and will often react by behaving badly.

Or we can choose to respond more positively.  It makes the whole family feel so much better. 

Not only is negativity bad for the family but there is a huge amount of evidence to show that stress depletes the immune system and we all need strong immune systems at the moment so it is vital to try to change our mindset.

What parents typically do is try to do too much

We strive for perfection

We set ourselves an impossible standards to meet and then feel like failures when we don't meet them

The result is so often we crack.

Is this familiar to you? You try to juggle so many balls at once – compare yourselves to...

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Family Christmas rituals

Uncategorized Dec 22, 2020

If you are worried about disappointing your children on Christmas day - read on for inspiration for rituals that don't cost you anything

Remember, a month or two after Christmas you’ll find that your children barely ever remember what they have been given.  What they do remember is the feeling of being together and the rituals you have created. This is why I will always say - buy less and spend as much time creating family moments as you can.

You might be in a panic that you missed the shops and you don’t have enough. If that’s you. Please don’t beat yourself up. Even if your kids are disappointed on Christmas day – they will be ok. Focus on some of the things below and you’ll find that is what they remember.  

So here is a list of 10 family rituals, I hope that you might get some inspiration for some of them and take them on as your own.

  1. From an early age, it is really good to instil the idea of giving. No matter how small...
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