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Archive for the ‘Parenting ideas’ Category

Asking a child to apologise when they’ve done wrong can be a tricky thing.  You can’t force someone to do something they don’t want to do, otherwise you end up in a stand off.

“Say sorry to Tommy”

“No, I don’t want to”

“Right then, you will not be allowed any friends over to play for 2 weeks” (or any other punishments you can think of on the spot)

“Sorry, Tommy”.

Does this actually teach a child to say sorry and mean it?

It’s more likely that they’ll apologise because they know what you want to hear and because they want to avoid the punishment.

I’ve read different suggestions for tackling these situations and the one I liked best was trying to teach a child empathy.

Encourage your child to think about how the other person in the situation might be feeling, ask them how they would feel if someone did that to them, then ask what might make that person feel better (works really well if the other child is crying). They may respond by hugging or kissing the other person, or say sorry of their own accord. There is no expectation for them to say sorry, it’s a process and in time they’ll learn to say it and mean it.

Expecting a child under 2 to say sorry is a big ask. You may have more success explaining to them why their behaviour was wrong. This may also help break the cycle of the behaviour.

How often do you apologise when you’re in the wrong? Our children look to us to lead by example. It isn’t aways the easiest word to say, however, make a point of apologising to your children when you’re in the wrong. We all make mistakes, it helps a child to know they’re not the only ones who make mistakes and let’s face it, we’re all fallible.

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I went through a really difficult patch with my eldest daughter recently. Tantrums, tears, defiance, lying are some of the things that have reared their head. Whatever I said she just tuned me out, we were completely disconnected and she felt out of reach. Frankly, I found it quite scary, she’s only just coming up for 4, imagine how it could be in another 10 years?

Whenever I have challenging periods with my kids I literally have to stop everything and look objectively at the situation. What I noticed was I was permanently attached to my laptop and phone or busy washing, cooking and cleaning. At one point she asked me to come and play cafes with her and then said “you can bring your computer with you”. I felt awful, I wasn’t putting in any quality time.

Around the same time I came across a post on Simple Kids, 6 Peaceful solutions for Hitting and Anger. Number 5 talked about Time In as opposed to time out as a reaction to negative behaviour. The idea is that the child sits with a grown-up for some cool down, snuggle, and talk time.

This really got me thinking. When kids act up is it because they’re naughty or because they’re trying to tell you something? I decided on the latter and resolved to create some time for Bella and I to ‘be’ together.

I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks now and the change is incredible. Emotional outbursts are fewer and don’t last as long and our connection is much stronger. She seems much happier and I’m happier to be with her.

Here’s my 5 ideas to quality ‘time in’

1. Spend quality time together once a week, away from the house and your other children if you have them. A trip to the library, down to the shops, the cafe, a museum, a show, the park whatever you feel you’ll both enjoy.

2. Give your quality time a name. As Bella is the oldest I say “Let’s have some big girls time together”. She loves that. Giving it a name enables your child to ask for this time when they need it.

3. Look them in the eyes when they’re talking to you to show you’re really listening.

4. Really involve them by asking their opinion or ideas on things while you’re out. This helps them feel important and that their thoughts matter.

5. Giving your full attention to your child for 10 mins a day goes along way to help them feel accepted and recognized.

What I struggle with most is being consistent. I start off well and then things fall by the way side, until the next episode.

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Teenage girls eat more unhealthily than any other group in the population, ­government research has revealed.

The study from the Food Standards Agency is designed to shed light on the nation’s eating habits shows that despite multimillion-pound government initiatives to encourage us all to eat more healthily, obesity levels in the UK have barely changed in the last 10 years.

Perhaps the most shocking finding is that teenage girls are ruining their health with ‘size zero’ diets.

Teenage girls are not eating nearly enough protein and dairy foods in an apparent effort to keep as thin as celebrity role models.  The study found that 46% of teenage girls consume too little iron, putting them at risk of anaemia and the associated tiredness and lethargy.

The diets of teenage girls are also low in magnesium and selenium, lack of which can lead to insomnia, severe headaches and mood swings.

Only 7% of girls are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and the majority are not consuming enough oily fish, which contains the omega 3 necessary for a healthy heart and nervous system.  Teenage girls are eating twice the amount of sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks than their mothers consumed when young.

So if parental influence is key to good eating habits what can we do?

1. Be a positive role model – eat well and with your children and exercise

2. Show appreciation for beauty in all its forms.

3. Introduce a wide range of tastes from an early age and encourage creativity and involvement in the kitchen.  Help your children learn to love cooking and eating well.

4. Monitor your own comments about your self and your daughter.  Don’t talk negatively about your own body. If your daughter hears you complain about the way you look, she will feel that it’s appropriate to dislike her own body as well.

5. Try not to lose or gain weight dramatically, and don’t utilise fad diets. Practice what you preach.

6. Try not to hide your body from your daughter.

7. Have a healthty kitchen – rather than filling your kitchen with unhealthy snacks or “forbidden foods”, stock your kitchen with foods that are good for you.

8. Discuss Body Issues – Do not discard her concerns, encourage her to discuss her worries, about her body image and why she thinks she needs to lose weight.

9. Get girls involved with sports/physical activity, it can reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Female athletes do better academically and have lower school drop-out rates than non-athletes.

10. Watch television, movies, and other media with your daughters and sons. Discuss how images of girls are portrayed.

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We are anxiously  awaiting the results of our primary school application. We live in an area with a high proportion of young families where schools are oversubscribed. This year, our first choice school had 45 places of which 30 went to siblings leaving just 15 places. We been researching other options and come across some interesting education alternatives.

Some families look for a more holistic approach to learning and child development. The concern with some state and private schools is the pressure put on young children. In these systems less academic and more creative children can get left behind with their potential going unrecognised.

I question the effects of very academic schools on an individuals sense of success.  At 4 surely the primary goal should be learning through play and experience, sparking a desire in children to want to learn, leaving them with a genuine interest and enthusiasm to know more, instead of routinely badgering them with writing skills and sums etc.

Steiner is probably one of the most commonly known. The first Steiner school opened in Stuttgart in 1919, since then it has  gone onto become international. Based on the insights of philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner, this progressive schools movement is noted for the effective education that it offers children.

The curriculum itself is a flexible set of pedagogical guidelines, founded on Steiner’s principles that take account of the whole child. It gives equal attention to the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of each pupil and is designed to work in harmony with the different phases of the child’s development. The core subjects of the curriculum are taught in thematic blocks and all lessons include a balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content. Whole class, mixed ability teaching is the norm.

The Montessori approach offers a broad vision of education as an aid to life. The inherent flexibility allows the method to adapt to the needs of the individual, regardless of the level of ability, learning style, or social maturity. These schools are often the first choice for parents looking for a nursery/preschool. There are, however, some Montessori schools that go up to age 11.

Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are free to respond to their natural drive to work and learn. The children’s inherent love of learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, meaningful activities under the guidance of a trained adult. Through their work, the children develop concentration, motivation, persistence, and discipline. Within this framework of order, the children progress at their own pace and rhythm, according to their individual capabilities, during the crucial years of development.

The role of a Montessori teacher is one of guide and observer, whose ultimate goal is to intervene less and less as the child develops. The teacher builds an atmosphere of calm, order and joy in the classroom and encourages the children in all their efforts, thereby promoting self-confidence and discipline.

Forest Schools are an innovative educational approach to outdoor play and learning.  By participating in tasks and activities in a woodland environment each child has an opportunity to develop intrinsic motivation, emotional and social skills.

Sessions are designed around a theme,  such as Romans, butterflies, spies, fairies or nature investigators.

Activities are set up so they are within the capabilities of every person within the group. Teamwork skills are developed through games and activities. Individual skills and self-esteem are heightened throughout activities such as hide and seek, shelter building, tool skills, lighting fires or environmental art, the list is endless. Each activity develops intra and inter-personal skills as well as practical and intellectual skills.

There are lots of other alternative schools up and down the country offering different perspectives on educating children. If this interests you research what’s in your local area. I was amazed at what I found.

What I find most appealing about these schools is they focus on helping children grow into balanced individuals with a purpose and place in society  as opposed to passing exams and getting a well paid job.  Surely there is more to life.

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Most of us have wondered at some point if the kids would be better off without TV, phones, computers and all the other gadgetry aimed at our children.  Well meet the family who have actually done it and claim its the best parenting decision they have ever made.

Miranda and Richard Jones, from Ilkley, West Yorkshire, said their children became grumpy when denied access to their televisions or computer games, and took the decision to throw them all away.

Now, after what Mrs Jones calls the “best parenting decision she’s ever made”, she says her children are far happier than when they were glued to screens.

Instead of watching TV and texting friends, Joshua, 17, Sacha, 15, Theo, 13, Rudi, seven, Moses, three, and one-year-old Nester were encouraged to meet friends face-to-face and play more traditional childhood games.

Mrs Jones said the teenagers now chat openly to their parents and occupy themselves with schoolwork and part-time jobs, while the younger children enjoy colouring in and getting muddy.

She said: “The three older children had a TV, a computer, Nintendo DSs and a PlayStation, but then screens started to become a problem for my third child. He wanted them all the time.

“When I tried to limit them he threw a tantrum and was grumpy when he wasn’t using them. I started to feel guilty about how much time I spent saying ‘no’ to him, I became the villain.

“So I started banning them and noticed how much less grumpy he was when he didn’t have access. That’s when I thought ‘this is the right thing to do’.”

Mrs Jones took away the computer consoles and games, prohibited the children from using mobile phones and limited their television time. When the family moved to their current home three years ago they did not bring their television.

She said: “I wanted the children to have a proper childhood. I wanted them to enjoy life and get out and live it, and fortunately the teenagers have been brilliant about it.

“They have accepted that spending time on computers and mobile phones is something other kids do and they don’t.”

The children’s schools complained that their ban has prevented their children from completing work on computers, but Joshua is celebrating after being awarded a place at Cambridge.

Mrs Jones said: “I was worried they would be seen as nerds but they are lovely and they are popular.

“To be honest, I think it’s the best parenting decision I have ever made. I don’t think I’ll get to 70 and say ‘I wish I’d have let my children go on the internet more’.”

Source: Daily Telegraph

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A new book says parents should put their children second to their marriage to ensure family wellbeing. The advice comes from family therapist and Wall Street Journal writer David Code, in a new book entitled To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First.

He claims children who receive too much attention from overanxious “helicopter parents”, who hover over them constantly, will end up demanding and dissatisfied.  He argues that the ‘greatest gift’ you can give a child is to set them an example with a healthy, happy marriage.

He added: ‘A good marriage sets a great example for your children’s future relationships, and that’s win-win for the whole family.’By killing ourselves to provide a perfect, trauma-free childhood for our children, we’re wasting our energy. ‘The greatest gift you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage yourself.’

Mr Code says: ‘Today number one myth about parenting is that the more attention we give our kids, the better they’ll turn out. “But families centred on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding children.’We parents convince ourselves that putting our children first is child-friendly, but we make two main mistakes by doing so.’

‘First, it becomes harder to respect and enforce the boundaries that shape a child’s character, so he simply badgers his parents until he gets his way. Future bosses and spouses may not be so patient with this behaviour.’

‘Second, we put tremendous pressure on our children to fulfil our emotional needs, which may lead to the child acting up. This draws even more attention to the problem, as parents seek a diagnosis and physicians increasingly rely on medicating children.’

This article seems very centred on marriage. In this day an age families aren’t always born out of marriages, however, I’m sure the advice is the same for those in committed relationships.

Read more here.

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Body image is a hot topic amongst girls and women . Too fat, too thin, big boobs, no boobs, too short, too tall, the list goes on.

A recent 2 year study by the Children’s Society found that children were unhappy with their appearance and levels of confidence.

Using a pioneering approach looking at the views of young people instead of focusing on issues adults considered important, researchers put around 100 questions to approx 7,000 children aged 10 to 15. They were asked to rate how happy they were on a scale from 0 to 10 with many aspects of their lives. 17.5% said that they were unhappy with their appearance, and 16% were unhappy with their confidence. Almost twice as many girls (21%) were unhappy with their appearance as boys (12%).

I wonder about the images that dolls like Barbie and Bratz suggest to young impressionable minds. They almost always have long (generally blond) hair, blue eyes, big busts and tiny waist lines. So far from reality, unless you are surgically enhanced like Katie Price or Jodie Marsh, whom sadly lots of young girls do idolize. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against either girls, they just aren’t good examples of confident and self assured women. In fact with the masks they use to portray themselves I would suggest quite the opposite.

We asked Penny Nichols, Director of Children and Young People at the The Children’s Society how she thought parents could empower their children to not be so concerned with looks.

“There are many different elements to positive parenting. Praising children, listening to what they have to say and positive affirmations all aid children’s development and empower them to become confident in their own skin and proud of their abilities. It is important that a child knows that they are unique and they are not a clone to anyone else. Difference should be celebrated and this often starts at home”.

Penny also stated, “one of the key findings (from their research) is that children’s well-being is far more strongly influenced by levels of family conflict than by family structure. The difference between a young person’s family getting along – and not – explained 20% of the variation in overall happiness with life, whereas differences in family structure only explained 2%. It is interesting that it is not so much the type of family that children are living in, but how well they get along and how much harmony there is in the home that impacts on their happiness and overall well-being.”

Here’s some interesting tips to help build your girls body confidence.

  1. Let your daughter know you love her for who she is, not how she looks or what she weighs. True beauty radiates from inside out. Comment on the way she carries herself into a room or the ideas she is expressing before commenting on her looks.
  2. Encourage her to take physical risks. “Girls who avoid risks have poorer self-esteem than girls who can and do face challenges,” says JoAnn Deak, author of Girls Will Be Girls. “Urge your daughter to go beyond her comfort zone.”
  3. Limit your daughters exposure to the media and popular culture when she is young. This will give her more time to develop her own ideas, creativity and imagination. Be conscious of the type of dolls you buy or are given for your girls and the message they portray.
  4. Try to be the best role model you can be for your children. Eat healthily and beware of any negative labels you use to describe your body image and other peoples.

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