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By Janine Hazlewood.  I’ve recently become aware of how much I use bribery – and the occasional threat – to get my three-year-old son to do what I want: ice cream for eating his tea, a DVD for playing nicely with his sister.

My friends agree, when you’re in a hurry or your child is having a meltdown, the only thing with instant impact is giving or taking away something they really care about – pipe down or Buzz Lightyear gets it!

But when children start expecting a treat – or angling for a better one, (this weekend my son tried to upgrade an oatcake to a ginger biscuit for getting in the car!), you know who’s got the upper hand. A simple request suddenly comes an opportunity to barter with mum!

The problem is, while chocolate buttons may get a quick result, used too often rewarding with treats can teach children to cooperate for the end result, rather than simply to be kind or helpful. They may do what you want, but is it for the right reasons?

So what’s the alternative? Concentrating on good communication and a sense of teamwork in the family can help, says Marshall B Rosenberg in his book Raising Children Compassionately, PuddleDancer Press. The better the bond between you, the more likely it is your children will want to help you. Here are a few ideas for avoiding the bribery trap:

  1. Explain why a particular request will help you– we all respond better to something that sounds reasonable and less like a demand.
  2. Equally, listen to your child’s needs, not only will they be more likely to appreciate to yours –you’ll strengthen your relationship with them too.
  3. Remember to praise, and give lots of hugs and kisses for good behaviour- that way your child will feel appreciated and good about themselves.
  4. Encourage your children to help out as a matter of course – taking their bowl to the sink, tidying up, so that it becomes a natural part of family life, rather than something deserving of prize.
  5. Finally, reward with things like reading a book or doing a jigsaw together to make your child less dependent on material treats.

Since thinking about the pitfalls of rewards, I’ve been making a conscious effort not to allow every request to my son to become some kind of ‘deal’, just asking him to do something politely, explaining why it will help me. It’s worked surprisingly well so far, and there has been a lot less recourse to Cbeebies and mini packs of Smarties as a result, which feels great. Good luck!

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It is only since having my own children that I really have ‘got’ the importance of celebrating motherhood and although I don’t like to be told when this should be I still feel its important to show my mum how much she means to me on Mother’s Day.  And I also enjoy my husband and kids making a bit of a fuss of me (hopefully he is reading this).

There are so many beautiful brands out there selling lovely organic, environmentally sound products out there that you are really spoilt for choice if you are looking for the perfect gift for your mother.

Beauty: Melvita is the latest mumzine fixation, the top-selling organic skin care brand in France is now available in the UK. Melvita launched in France in 1983 and was ahead of its time with its focus on natural organic products.  All are ecocert approved and there are 300 products to choose from.  Prices are very reasonable (£10-£32).  We have tried lots of their products but think mums will love this Eye Contour Gel (£18) which you can feel having an immediate tightening affect.

Fashion: I LOVE Bo Belle – its official.  Their products are all fairly traded and hand made fashion accessories using the luxurious eel skin leather, a by-product of the food industry in Korea.  I have this Gaia Eel Skin Red Leather purse (£32.00) and am always getting admiring comments.

Books: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – This book was recently recommended by a friend (who is also a life coach) and it has been one of those books where the pages are almost turning themselves.  It is a woman’s story of her literal and spiritual journey to find herself, get inner peace and strength and heal. Its a massive seller for a reason which is that so much of what she writes about women all over the globe can relate to and its very funny. 

Flowers: There are not many women out there who do not LOVE a bunch of flowers delivered to their door.

The main thing about buying flowers is that they are often shipped in from abroad.  If you want to buy flowers the best thing you can do is make sure they are UK grown.  There are now lots of options online to do this, Eco Flowers have a great range of flowers that are all British grown and if you buy from them you are also getting:

  • Responsibility for the handling of natural resources
  • No air miles used
  • A ban on child or forced labour
  • A total ban on toxic pesticides which cause damage to people and the environment.

Candles: Neom is one of mumzine’s favourite brands and they have a lovely range of luxury organic candles.  They are made using only vegetable wax and pure essential oils rather than synthetic fragrances so they burn without releasing harmful pollutants, toxins or soot.  This Invigorate candle with Grapefruit Bergamot is the one we are hoping for. They are £35.00 but are big and with 55 hours burning time should last well.

Charity: There is one issue most mothers feel strongly about and that is the safe delivery of babies. That’s why this Mother’s Day Maternity Worldwide is suggesting a different kind of Mother’s Day gift.  For just £15 Maternity Worldwide will send a personalised Safe Birth Certificate straight to your mum and send everything – from the hospital bed to the training for the midwife – to a woman giving birth in a developing country. Your gift will also support Maternity Worldwide’s Women’s Groups projects which offer women in Ethiopia the opportunity to gain financial independence and gain access to life-saving health information.

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If you care about what the brands you buy get up to while your back is turned you will be interested to read the 8th annual edition of The Good Shopping Guide.  It reveals a gulf in corporate social responsibility standards in UK brands.  The good news is there are plenty of companies, from New Look to Green People doing amazing work.

The research covers everything from cars to coffee and uses criteria including:

  1. armaments involvement
  2. animal welfare
  3. boycott calls
  4. carbon emissions
  5. child labour
  6. corporate corruption
  7. environmental impact
  8. ethical accreditation
  9. fair and un-fair trade
  10. human rights abuse
  11. nuclear power
  12. political donations
  13. pollution
  14. rainforest timber
  15. third world debt

The Good Shopping Guide’s top 50 ethical brands:

New Look Group Plc; Natural by Nature Oils; Good Energy Group Plc; Seasalt Ltd; Charity Bank; Brother UK Ltd; People Tree; Caurnie Soap Co; Medivac Healthcare Ltd (vacuum cleaners); C Mobile Ltd; Woodex Ltd (Osmo eco paints); House of Goodness (Atmos boilers); Triodos Bank; Ecology BS; Honest Cosmetics; Green People Company (skincare); The Little Pet Food Company (Lily’s Kitchen); Monsoon Plc; Suma Wholefoods; The Village Bakery; Doves Farm; Redwood Wholefood Company (Vegi-Deli); Bio-D Co Ltd; Kingfisher plc (B&Q); Faith Products (Clear Spring); Casio Computer Co Ltd; Ecos Paints; GoinGreen (cars); Bskyb (Amstrad); Clipper Teas; Cafedirect; Essential Care; Aromatherapy Direct; Bodywise UK Ltd (Natracare); Hoover; Organico Realfoods Ltd; Food Brands Group; Equal Exchange (coffee); Cafédirect; Traidcraft Plc (chocolate); Highland Spring Ltd; McBride (Surcare washing up liquid); Premier Foods (Quorn & Cauldron foods); Hain Celestial Group (Linda McCartney); Rainbow Wholefood; Natural Organic Soap; Groupe SEB (kettles); Premier Foods Plc; Ecover.

The Good Shopping Guide’s least ethical brands:
Esso; Horlicks, General Electric; Altria Group (Chocolate Orange); Chevron Corporation (Texaco); Capital One Financial Corp; Bayer AG (Aspro Clear pain remedies); Schering-Plough (Coppertone sun protection); Glaxo Smith-Kline (Horlicks, Beechams, Day Nurse, Hedex, Ribena, Aquafresh) Procter & Gamble (Max Factor, Ariel, Bold, Daz, Fairy, Pampers)

If you are interested in this kind of information you can get lots more at Ethical Consumer.

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I have just come across this very helpful book if you are searching for ways to spend more time with your baby.  Research indicates that three in five working mothers would stay at home with their children if they could afford to.

The book – ‘How to afford time off with your baby’ contains 101 ways to help you save money to help you have more time with your baby. The ideas begin at pre-pregnancy and consider mortgages, buying in advance, maternity clothes and follow all the way through the journey of parenting to when the school years begin.

The book’s author Becky Goddard-Hill has survived 5 years off work with her babies on a restricted budget. She believes that by sharing knowledge, tips and ideas people can be more creative and resourceful financially and really enjoy and afford the time they have off with their children.

If you don’t want to buy the book you can check out her blog where readers submit their money saving tips of the month.


For loads of ideas of games for kids with no cost and plenty of fun click here.

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Most mums-to-be feel confused at the number of books out there to help you get to grips with being pregnant so we asked the UK’s first independent midwife, Melody Weig, of Birthrites to give us her top reads.

NB: We know this is a long list so we would suggest just buying a few and hitting the library to avoid getting a fat bill.  There are also lots of these available second hand books through amazon to soften the blow.

Overall top books:

  1. Pregnancy and Birth by Sheila Kitzinger
  2. Baby and Child by Penelope Leach
  3. Baby Wisdom by Deborah Jackson
  4. Bestfeeding: Getting Breastfeeding Right for You by Renfrew, Fisher and Arms

Pregnancy

  1. The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth by Janet Balaskas and Yehudi Gordon
  2. A Child is Born by Lennart Nilsson
  3. Natural Pregnancy by Zita West

Water Birth

  1. Water Birth Unplugged by Beverley Beech
  2. Choosing a Water Birth by AIMS
  3. Waterbirth – An Attitude to Care by Dianne Garland

Labour

  1. Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
  2. Every Birth is Different by Pat Thomas
  3. Birth Reborn by Michel Odent

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For a really personal present you can’t go far wrong with a book from Its Your Story.  They have a great set of books for boys and girls and for a good range of ages.  You can add photo’s, details of other family members, the childs age and friends.

Mumzine readers can enter the code XMAS09 in the voucher code box to recieve a brilliant 20% off all books between now and Dec 16.

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Some books I found helpful when trying to find a better way to communicate with my girls.

“How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk” by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

Raising children compassionately; Parenting the nonviolent communication way by Marshall B. Rosenburg.

Hidden Messages: What our words and actions are really telling our children by Elizabeth Pantley

Marshall Rosenberg’s is  a great quick read. Only 23 pages long with a great ‘how to use’ section in the back.

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