Browsing Tag

children

Family Life

sharing & lunch rules

May 16, 2014
lunchbox ideas

Last week my son was sent home with a disciplinary report.  I have that particular breed of children who are usually exemplary at school, or anywhere I am not, and save all of their mischief and misbehaving for when they are with me. Granted that may be a blessing that saves me some embarrassment, but sometimes it seems really unfair.

When I read the report detailing his “crime”, I was confused. He had gotten in trouble for sharing food in the cafeteria. Really? I thought sharing was a good quality we wanted to teach our children; certainly one I always taught at home.

Before I got all hot and bothered about it with his teacher I vented to a friend who is also teacher. She sighed and said, “Yeah the school has a rule about not to sharing food so they are not responsible if your kid eats something they’re not supposed to or if it was contaminated, etc.”

I get the logic behind it, but it fueled my strongly held opinion that as a society, we have completely lost our minds. We want to teach people to share, be kind and generous, but it is more important to protect and avoid liability.

How do I explain this to my nine-year-old who is upset because he got in trouble when he thought he was being kind?

I knew I should I bite my tongue and not infect them with my cynicism or make his school wrong, so I asked him if he had asked why he wasn’t supposed to share?

He said no. (That same unfair paradox again, because he wouldn’t hesitate to ask me “Why?” 46 times until he get a satisfactory answer!) 

I asked him if he really thought his school was trying to teach him that sharing is bad.

Victimized nine-year-old: “Yes.”

Chin-dropping mom: “Really?”

Reluctant nine-year-old: “Probably not.”

Inquisitive mom: “Why they would have such a rule, then?”

Smarter than he acts nine-year-old:  “Well, probably because some kids have food allergies and they don’t want them to get sick.”

Even though I know he was secretly looking for a way out of sharing is iMac with his sister, I was clear that he understood the “why” behind the sharing rule.

Personally I think that our society has hit an extremist level of fear-based and protectionist thinking but sharing that opinion with him isn’t going to do him any good. It would undermine his school and his relationship to it, and turn him all to quickly into a cynical and resigned teenager.

Maybe the way to raise our children to be successful in this crazy upside down world of ours, and even perhaps shift the direction of humanity,  is not to simply make our institutions and politicians wrong, but to teach our children to be curious and inquisitive and to not just resentfully accept the unquestioned answers. 

Have you ever had a situation when your home rule and school rules collide? 

{photo credit: Wendy Copley via photopin cc}

Family Life, relationships

Why we shouldn’t burden our children with expectation

October 17, 2013
expectations of our children

We enter the world as an innocent child. A blank slate ready to be scrawled upon with our own story. As we grow, we are infused with a combination of innate and environmental influences and expectations. Expectations to behave in a certain way, expectations that others place on us and expectations that we then in turn, place on ourselves.

Growing up I was fortunate to have parents who thankfully didn’t load me with too many expectations other than having good manners and being kind and respectful towards others. I was allowed to grow and evolve into who I am today. I made mistakes, I fell, I was picked up and I moved forward. And I learned along the way.

Now as a parent myself I am aware that many expectations that we, as parents, hold can linger over our children in a negative way. Expectations that they should do well at school, have a circle of good, respectable friends and expectations that they involve themselves in sports and hobbies. Then once they are older we expect from them a relatively smooth transition into the adult world by studying hard, getting a good job and settling down and having a family.

These general expectations have developed over time through our culture and the development of society and past generations. They are not necessarily wrong, but for our children they can indeed be a load to bare.

Let’s think about this for a moment from a child’s point of view.

What if the expectations we place on our children not only linger but weigh them down with guilt and shame when they cannot meet them? They develop a fear of failure and insecurities that are not necessary.

What if your child just isn’t an academic and school is a struggle? What if they are uncoordinated and hopeless at sport? What if they are a loner and find it hard to make friends preferring the company of their own imagination? What if when they grow up they don’t want a regular job? They want to be an actress or a wild life warrior? What if they are gay? What if they want to choose career over having a family?

Who is to say what is right and who is to say what is even, god forbid, and ‘normal’?

But what if you could lift these expectations off your children’s shoulders and remove the burden that just might be holding them back?

What if you could hand them their blank slate for them to write on themselves? Free from expectations, free from guilt. Simply arm them with the goodness of love and support allowing them to follow their heart?

If there is one thing at the forefront of my mind when it comes to my children, it is trying to raise them without laden expectations.

Of course I want them to have good manners and respect others; those are not negotiable. But many of the others are. The only expectations I want to have are that they do their best, listen to their instincts and never doubt themselves. I want them to be proud of themselves and have the self-respect to know that mistakes don’t make them a failure, they make them stronger and wiser. But most of all I want them to know that they are loved and supported for who and what they are – free of expectation.

It is not an easy thing to do.

Sometimes falling into the trap of society’s accepted norms is an easy thing to do, more natural even. It is then that we need to remind ourselves that freeing our children of expectations is as important as teaching them right from wrong, and doing so will have a profound impact on the adults they grow up to be.

Did you feel the weight of your parents’ expectations?

How are you being mindful of your expectations of your own children?

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Jodi is a freelance writer, self-published business author, blogger and aspiring novelist. She also juggles being a wife and mother to four girls. You can read her blog here, or follow her on Twitter @jfgibsonwriter

{photo credit: Kevin Conor Keller via photopin cc}

Family Life

Cultivating positive sibling relationships

March 28, 2013
siblings

Pregnant with my second child, I was told, repeatedly, that things would soon get hard for my sunny almost three-year-old daughter. She was asked, repeatedly, whether she was going to help mummy change nappies, and help look after the baby. My daughter enthusiastically nodded. “The baby’s a girl,” she would say. “I’m going to change her nappy.” “Yes, yes, dear,” and they would raise their eyebrows in my direction, as if to say, “She doesn’t know what she’s in for, does she?”

I was skeptical that it had to be difficult for her.

The only time I doubted how she would go being a big sister was when, after the baby’s birth, a nurse likened bringing home a baby to a husband bringing home a mistress, and asking his first wife to ‘be cool’.

Then, I worried.

I needn’t have. Big sis was absolutely fine.

She did help me change nappies, and help look after her baby sister. I have put the girls’ car seats together in the back seat of the car, and big sis puts baby’s dummy in if it falls out. My older daughter frequently talks to, sings to and dances for baby. Baby saved her first laugh for her sister.

Growing up, I fought a lot with my brothers. Sibling rivalry was coded deeply into our relationship. We fought. We were expected to fight. It was a cycle of fight-iness.

I am sure my girls will have their tussles, as siblings inevitably do. But I am trying to cultivate friendship between them as much as possible.

Expect the best

I am a believer that our expectation has a lot of influence. Expect good behavior, you will likely receive. Expect the worse, no doubt, that is what it will be. We have generally expected our older daughter to be kind towards her little sister. So far, our expectations have been met.

Encourage interaction

The initial months with a newborn can be a bit confusing and sometimes frustrating for the older child, who wants to get on and do some playing with their long-awaited pal. When baby was tiny, we played silly games with older sis, like pretending baby was counting while her big sister hid behind the curtain. Or making up songs about the two of them. I told fantasy stories about the girls doing things together – baby was Red Riding Hood and big sis was the wolf. That kind of tomfoolery.

Talk kindly

I do get frustrated, and often raise my voice, but I am mindful that how I talk to my children and husband will affect how they talk to each other. Modelling kind, gentle interaction styles will undoubtedly rub off positively on the girls.

I see it already – big sis accidentally bumps her baby sister’s head while rolling next to her on the floor, and immediately says, “Sorry, Baby! I didn’t mean to hurt you!” Her words, so empathic.

Focus on the good, minimize the bad

There were days, early on, when my older daughter got frustrated that she couldn’t have her mummy’s attention. On two occasions, she took her frustrations out on baby, and went to hit her. I was shocked, not knowing she had it in her.

But I removed her from the situation, told her it wasn’t OK and encouraged her to think how her baby sister would have felt.

On a couple of other occasions, big sis would enthusiastically grab her little sister’s arm or leg. Her intentions were good, but her strength was underestimated.

My instinct was to leap in and protect baby, but I held back from criticizing or warning my older daughter, wary of sounding like a broken record. If the situation needed diffusing, I calmly told her to be aware of her baby sister.

When my older daughter is calm, gentle and loving with her baby sister, I point it out. We say things like, “Baby loves you soooo much, see?”

And looking at baby looking at her big sis, she does.

My girls will have the relationship they have – I can’t control and manipulate their little characters, and nor do I want to. But I can engage with them positively, celebrate their love for each other and focus on the positive aspects of their relationship.

How do you cultivate positive relationships between your children?

***

Zanni writes for Heart Mama, a parenting blog that nourishes little hearts, little readers, little creatives and little munchers. She lives at the periphery of Byron Bay, with her husband and two little girls. Zanni writes weekly for Mumgo, a mother’s website, and also writes educational resources.

Family Life

how to tackle toddler tantrums

November 20, 2012
how to solve tantrums

Toddler tantrums…Some days are terrible, and other days seem to be quite pleasant. Every parent is always asking me, ‘how do I tackle the terrible two’s?’ But why are they called the terrible two’s you ask?

Two is the age that a little person begins to experience the world for themselves. They have begun to walk, talk and do everything that a toddler is meant to do. Climb the ladder, climb up the slide instead of going down, draw on the walls, draw on themselves and everywhere they are not meant to draw. And the defiance starts. The independence. “No Mine”; “I do it on my own”, stage.

“I want, I want” stage.

They live in the here and now. They see cause and effect NOW. Not in an hour, not tomorrow… now. So when they drop the ice cream from the cone, or can’t get the packet of chips they so desperately want, that is disaster in their eyes. Their world is crumbling down around them in that moment of time.

And it is the stage that they are beginning to understand about their emotions and develop understanding of what they feel. The ability for them to process these emotions as they speak is beginning.

But often they don’t understand what they feel. Often they don’t know what sad, frustrated, angry or upset look like. They just know something is not right. And us Mumma’s know it too. Labelling it is even harder. So what happens… they have a tantrum. They have a scream, a cry or a yell. In our situation, we often get the jumping while crying.

And sometimes it just happens out of the blue. With no apparent reason. The emotions get all too much, and just like an explosion, it goes off. With no warning.

And terrible it is because as parents, we are lost, helpless and often stuck as to what to do. Let alone confused as to a child that is trying to communicate something and you have no idea what it is.

And terrible it is because the defiance is there, the stubbornness and the crying and screaming over absolutely anything and everything.

So what can you do to help your little person, and you?

1. Stay calm: Yes, it is hard! But the calmer you are, the less reaction you are giving to the behaviour.

2. Less is best: The less reaction you give, the less likely it will continue to occur. Children are cleaver little creatures in that if they know they are going to get something, even a reaction from their Mumma, they will keep going back for more.

3. Be compassionate, and loving yet firm: Give a hug, give an embrace and acknowledge their feelings. “I understand you are upset, but you can not have any chips now sweety”.

4. Time out the behaviour: Reinforce that it is okay to be upset and that their outburst is often their way of expressing themselves. So let them have their scream. “You just need to sit here while you calm down”; or “Mummy will wait here while you calm down”. Now, given, this may not work for all. It may flare up the situation even more. But it coincides with not engaging with the behaviour.

5. Take a deep breath: In the supermarket it is hard. The scream while in the trolley or in the aisle… every mum has either been in it or will experience it (sorry mumma’s). But just take a deep breath and know this is a faze.

6. Reward good behaviour: Sticker charts or stamps are great. It encourages good behaviour and empowers young children too. And surprise them every so often too. “You are going to get a stamp now for being such a great boy in the supermarket”. When they don’t expect it, it keeps them on their toes.

7. Listen Listen an Listen: Listen to their words, even if you don’t understand everything. They may be young and not know exactly what they are talking about, but they ned to be acknowledged and heard just as equally.

Have you been through the terrible twos? What are your tips for surviving the terrible twos?

Have you entered the amazing XMAS Giveaway Extravaganza worth $420? There are some great products up for grabs!

Linking up with Essentially Jess

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Family Life

what they don’t tell you about baby no. 2

July 19, 2012
multitasking

If everyone told you everything about the impending arrival of baby no.2 and how different life would be, I think those anxiety levels would escalate twofold. But now three months in, I have a more solid idea of what people don’t tell you about baby no. 2.

1. Sleep deprivation should be given a new name with a new meaning. How about broken deprived and zombie sleep.

2. There is such a thing called a “tag team”, sometimes to the point where there are constant hand hits that your eldest is soon copying your actions. My admiration goes out to all those parents who do it on their own. Don’t know how you do it. You need an extra medal!

3. Having a shower becomes even more of a luxury. And as my husband would say, having five minutes on the toilet becomes more of a privilege let alone a necessity. Forget about reading your daily paper there too. Sorry! I have two children screaming!

4. There are times you realise you are “shhhing” in places and times that you so should not be.

5. The dreaded ‘sleep school’ you swore you would never end up in becomes a very big reality.

6. “Well you can’t get two good sleepers in a row”, says your mum who thinks she is giving you solid and concrete advice. Thanks for the encouragement mum.

7. Multi-tasking has a whole new dimension! Try cooking, preparing and rocking your baby to sleep… seems easy right. Ohh and add a nappy change in there too.

8. There is such a thing called “two much love”. A few extra hits, pats and big squeeze bear hugs makes a baby stronger and tougher right?

9. The constant demands are endless. Changing nappies for two, burping, feeding, preparing lunch, breakfast, dinner, shhing and patting (well trying to for maybe a minute), entertaining, supervising, cleaning up the playdoh that has managed to get from one end of the house to the other, wiping more poo, dealing with two year tantrums…. *sigh*… there really is not much time for anything else. There is a reason why they call this the hardest job on the planet.

10. When you think you are not in the mood.. start reading fifty shade of grey. You may be surprised how your mood suddenly changes… even on that sleep broken deprivation feeling.

What did you learn about baby no.2 (or three) that no one told you?

   *****

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Family Life

emotional development in children – tips to help them

April 2, 2012
bubble play

I wrote this article for YourKidsEd the other week and thought I would share it here as well. Be sure to jump on over and check out some other fabulous reads, giveaways and info.

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Teaching emotional intelligence for children is that little thing about teaching children about feelings and emotions.What is emotional intelligence you ask?  It is the ability to identify, access and manage the emotions of one’s self.

emotional development for children

Little E is nearly two – sigh. She is two in April. I watch her every day and ask myself how she grew up so quickly? It was only yesterday that she was this little tiny bundle so helpless, so reliant on me and so dependent on me.

Now… well, Little Miss wants to do everything on her own. Her shoes, her clothes, her hair, her breakfast, right down to what pair of socks she is going to wear. She is at that age where she is discovering her little mind for herself and wanting to explore her own boundaries and limitations. Mine too at that.

She is at that funny age where she thinks she is years ahead of her 22 months and thinks she can have everything her way, with no limitations, no boundaries, no NO’s. As she is not fully able to communicate she is getting frustrated. She knows what she wants but can’t express it. She feels something, but can’t express it. She is not yet able to tell me what she is feeling.

We talk of happy and sad with our children. Or maybe feelings of anger. But she is frustrated! Frustrated that she can’t have her way. Frustrated she can’t communicate. Frustrated that her mother does not understand. And just generally frustrated.

At two she does not yet have the skills to self regulate her emotions. She does not have the skills to understand, let alone know how to process her feelings. She is still reliant on her parents. And not being able to communicate makes it 100 times harder.

Children of all ages experience emotions differently. Toddler, preschooler, school aged, as parents we need to help them understand, process and cope with the range of emotions that they experience. What we may think as a tantrum or argument between siblings may in fact be a reaction and outburst to the frustration, uncertainty, and somewhat nervous feelings our children experience.

Emotional development in children encompasses the feelings and emotions that are experienced through the many stages of life. Teaching them about emotions is a vital step in helping them understand, regulate, and ultimately cope with life’s ups and downs.

Our instant reaction may be to yell a little in our own frustration or ask our children to stop fighting. However what may be a better response is to ask each child to have some “time out”, calm down, acknowledge their feelings of frustration and anger and then help them process this feeling once they have calmed down.

“I know you are a little frustrated. I can see you are frustrated. I can see you are also a little angry. Let’s calm down and then we can talk about it,” could be something we say to our children in the midst of a sibling rivalry.

We need to stop, think and listen to our children. Not jump to our own immediate reaction and give in to our own frustrations. Parents need to communicate emotions and feelings to their children regularly while similarly think about their own emotions and how they process them. Parents are role models in every way. How you cope with anger, frustration, anxiety and sadness are very examples to our children of how to cope. Feelings need to be acknowledged, and need to be heard.

How do you cope with frustration?

How do you help your children cope with their feelings?

 

Like what you have just read? Don’t miss a post and sign up to The Parenting Files via emailRSS or the monthly newsletter, which has extra goodies by the way.

And don’t forget to enter the fabulous giveaway where you can win a Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner! Get in quick as it is ending on the 13th April 2012

Play

music for kids

March 31, 2012
music for kids

Music for kids has many joys and benefits for the whole family. Even before children learn to communicate they connect through song and sound. By listening to music, participating in music and playing with music children instinctively learn build on their sensory experiences and development.

Music gives joy.

Music gives peace.

Music can be fun.

How can you use music for kids?

1. Little music shakers bought from music stores, two-dollar shops or toy stores not only give a musical beating sound, they provide a fine motor skill for children.

2. Dancing at home is easy – Anyone can dance. Maybe a little quirky dances, but getting around and having a boogy is a great way to participate and feel the music.

3. Have kids learn a musical instrument – There are so many choices now. There are so many instruments. Music for kids as well as a tool for helping children increase their listening and vocal skills as well as discipline, practice, song and dance.

4. Listen to a children’s music CD – there are so many great songs, tunes, rhymes that children just love. Our favourite place to date is listening in the car. And then to see Little E do the little hand actions… priceless.

5. A peaceful joy – music can be calming, soothing, relaxing and even put a smile on your face.

Music for kids is a wonderful way to bring the family together, share a little joy, share some gratitude and teach them music.

This week I am grateful for the music to my hears.

What do you think? How do you use and share music in your family ?

 Linking up with Maxabella for 52 weeks of gratitude

Like what you have just read? Don’t miss a post and sign up to The Parenting Files via emailRSS or the monthly newsletter, which has extra goodies by the way.

And don’t forget to enter the fabulous giveaway where you can win a Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner! Get in quick as it is ending on the 13th April 2012


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Create

party planning

March 27, 2012
tumblr_m22wy3ZDGi1qbpydeo1_500

It is party planning mode here at our house. Venue booked. Invites done.

I have seen some amazing invites. Some are truly truly inspiring and all soooo fancy. There is no doubt that a snazzy party invite is just really grabbing. Right from the second of receiving it it has this “I want to go feeling”.

When I saw one of my dear blogger friends post her party invite ideas I was blown away! Literally!

There is so many places the imagination can take you…

Like a lego themed party and invites…

Not quite sure how you would send these… but still love them!

and this one is great for the boys…

or these ones…

And these are just simple and gorgeous

I had to expand on her ideas as I just knew there was no way I could compete with her inspiration and these fabulous ideas. I love them! Totally! but….

Ok, I must stop there!

Because….

In all honest fact I really have not got the crafty skills, time to go buy all the little trinket details for the invites, time to sit and cut, detail, paste, stamp and send.

And I wanted something QUICK! EASY! and CHEAP!

So this is what I did….

It is one of our latest photos which I have edited and added text to. With online editing sites like picnik (sad face as they are shutting down :( ) it is so easy to add text to photos.

and then….

EMAIL!

Ok, so I admit, it is not like these fancy invites… but everyone also loves a good recent photo of your cherub!

Sometimes the simple things go a long way. Sometimes a simple photo can grab people in a second and give you that “ahhhhh” feeling too…

What are your party invite ideas?

 Linking up with Diary of SAHM to share my party invite ideas

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Family Life

helping children build resilience

March 26, 2012
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We have all heard it. Resilience…

Resilience is the ability to adapt and cope with life’s adversity and stress. The hard times, tough emotional times, trauma and grief. But being resilient does not mean children won’t experience pain and sadness. It rather is about being about to cope, process and move forward after such emotional distress.

It is a question I am asked constantly… “How do I build more resilience in my child?”

“How can I help my child be more resilient then others?”

The other day I was told of a young boys experience at ball sports. He is 5 years old. He is probably one of those children who is naturally a little more sensitive to what happens to himself and other people. One of those kids who is a little more unsure of his world as opposed to being an outgoing extroverted confident young chap.

While he was standing holding the basketball, he froze. He didn’t quite know what to do. He just stood there with the ball in his hand. So when another child came up to him and bounced the ball away from him, he cried.

Now naturally it is never a nice thing to have some other child take the ball from you. For that moment in time he may have froze, but in his young mind, that ball was his.

“How can I help him be ok and react in a different way?”

So what can you do?

1. Communicate emotions – encourage regular communication about emotions and feelings by regularly asking children what they may be feeling, how they are feeling what it looks like.

2. Give kids specific roles and responsibilities at home – making children an active member of the family gives them a sense of independence, ownership and self-worth while similarly encourages the use of problem-solving skills which are essential for life’s toughest moments.

3. Help children find alternative coping mechanisms – discuss, talk and problem-solve different possible coping mechanism. This young boy may have probably felt so stuck and unsure of what else to do but cry.

4. Use experiences and situations to teach and learn – we all learn our biggest lessons through living through situations and experiences. Use the problem as a opportunity to help children grow and learn for the future. “What do you think you could do differently next time?” is a question you could ask.

5. Empower children to make their own decisions – builds competence in children to know that they can feel confident to make decisions when needed.

6.Model positive behaviour at home – children will learn some of their biggest lessons at home from observing their parents. How do you cope with emotional hardship? How do you cope with stress?

While some children are naturally more resilient and confident then others, others need a little more coaching and assistance along their journey. Building resilience in children is not a one style fits all approach. As every child is different, children will need different tools.

Has your child ever felt stuck in a social situation? 

How do you help build resilience in your children?

 

Like what you have just read? Don’t miss a post and sign up to The Parenting Files via emailRSS or the monthly newsletter, which has extra goodies by the way.

And don’t forget to enter the fabulous giveaway where you can win a Kimochis Emotion Doll! Get in quick as it is ending on the 26th March


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