Jump In! Find Your Inner Child

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Watching my niece and nephew jump through muddy puddles recently, I had a thought – well  a few actually! The first one was that children really know how to have fun – in any weather. The second one was that adults could learn a lot from remembering their inner child and from observing children. And the third one was, how lucky are the children who have adults around who understand and remember what it is like to be a child!

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As soon as we feel the first drop of rain, many of us adults start whinging and whining about the inconvenience instead of embracing the change.  Not children though, well at least not the ones I know. They ask if they can put their umbrellas up and their gumboots on and go exploring. And when they get out there, wow do they have fun! They jump through muddy puddles and splash through the rain until they are completely dirty and thoroughly soaked…and happy! Reminding us that if we were to see every part of life and every season as an opportunity to explore and have fun – just like children do – then wouldn’t our life be that much more blissful!

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Adults could learn a lot from remembering their inner child and observing children.  We often get caught up in work, chores, bills and all the mundane tasks of being an adult and we forget to have fun.  Yes children don’t have the pressures that adults do and we can’t spend our day playing but what about some of the day?  We could go for a morning walk or an afternoon swim. We could jump on the trampoline with the kids after school or swing on a swing. Life is definitely not meant to be all work and no play.  To be happy we have to find a way to fit play in. Like the kids making the most of a rainy day and turning it into fun, we need to make the most of our rainy moments and find some positives.

 

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The other essential reason to remember our inner child is so that we can guide the children in our lives appropriately. If we forget that life is supposed to be fun then we often impose our negative way of thinking on the children in our lives. Whinging and whining that they can’t go out in the rain because they will get muddy and wet.  So what if they do get muddy and wet – they can have a warm bath and change into clean clothes when they are done! Adults often put problems in a child’s way that are not actually even there and only serve to hinder children’s growth. Before making decisions for the children in your care, take a walk back in the shoes of your inner child and then decide .

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How lucky are the children who have adults in their lives who have not forgotten what it is like to be a child! They are the adults who encourage children to explore and think for themselves. They are the ones who do not just say no because it’s easier than saying yes. They ask the child what they would like to do without making every single decision for them. They are the ones who paint, glue, swing, ride bikes, swim, kick a ball, make cakes, run, dance, sing, eat the occasional treat food, etc, etc with the children in their lives.  And yes they are the ones who would put on their gumboots and jump through the puddles too. Adults who remember their inner child, understand why we must respect all children and treat them like the special people they are.

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So to all the adults out there who have not spoken to their inner child in years – get talking! Put those gumboots on and jump right in! Your life and the lives of the children around you will be enriched and empowered because of it and you will all be much happier.

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Happy guidance and jumping in muddy puddles,

from

Darling Precious Children

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Rock and Roll Dolls

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What you will need – Cardboard roll, coloured paper, googly eyes, PVA glue, glue stick, sparkles, pipe cleaners, pompoms/wool/feathers (for hair), scissors and textas/crayons/pencils.

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Step 1 – Cut coloured paper to size and glue around the bottom half of your doll with glue stick to make a dress, skirt or pants. Then choose another colour to add to the top and repeat the process.

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Step 2 – Draw a smile and nose with your texta/crayons/pencil.

Step 3 – Make a hole with a scissors or a pin on either side of your cardboard roll and poke the pipe-cleaner through to make arms.

Step 4 – Add some sparkle with glitter, sequins or any other kind of sparkles that you have at home and glue them on with PVA glue.

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Step 5 – Add two dots of PVA glue where the eyes should be and then glue the googly eyes on.

Step 6 – Put some PVA glue around the top of your dolls head and glue on the feathers, wool, pompoms or whatever else you have chosen for your dolls hair. Leave it to completely dry for at least an hour.

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Your Rock and Roll dolls are now complete so put on your favourite music and get them to Rock and Roll with you.

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Have fun!

from,

Darling Precious Children

Starting Big School!

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It doesn’t seem all that long ago that you were taking your tiny newborn baby home from hospital and now all of a sudden they are starting big school! Where did that time go and how can it be possible? It can be a nervous time for parents and children but with a little planning ahead to make sure your child is emotionally and spiritually ready, it can be a lot easier.

Don’t worry if they don’t know their whole alphabet, all their numbers, or three different languages – that’s what they are going to school for! If they have been to pre-school they probably already know more than enough academic stuff to begin kindergarten anyway. Remember what I said in ‘The importance of building confidence’ – Self-esteem has a far greater impact than intelligence or ability! This is Paramount, so give them the confidence they need to begin with some of these simple effective tips:

Toileting

It is really important to make sure that your child is confident about going to the toilet on their own. They will need to know how to: undo and do up their pants and other clothing, get onto the toilet by themselves, wipe their bottoms correctly, turn taps on and off, and wash and dry hands. Your child may already be doing all of this on their own but if not, make sure they begin now as you won’t be around at school and they need to be able to do this without you.

Dressing and Undressing

There will be times when your children will need to change for swimming, sport or even just the weather e.g putting a jumper/cardigan on and off. Let them dress themselves every morning and undress at night (if they don’t already) so that they can get the hang of it and feel completely secure by the time they start school.

Drinks and Lunches

Some children may have been making their own lunches since the age of about two and a half but if they haven’t don’t panic. Children of five years of age are quite capable of making a sandwich and putting some fruit, yoghurt or whatever your child has for lunch into a lunch box. But even before they can do all of this, it is essential that your child is able to easily open and close the lunch box, plastic/foil wrappers, drink bottles, poppers, yoghurt containers, and eat fruit/vegetables without it having to be peeled or chopped. Also make sure that you or your child check that there is a spoon for the yoghurt or fork for rice etc so that your child does not panic when they get to lunch and there are things missing. All of this helps them to feel secure and less anxious about meal times at school.

General hygiene and Self help

Anything you can teach your child to do for themselves will make them feel more secure. Things that we take for granted like being able to: blow their own nose and wash their hands afterwards, wash hands before lunch or after outdoor or messy activities, hang their coat on a hook, put on and take off their own shoes, pack and unpack their bags etc, will all help them to feel more confident.

Manners and Communication

Saying please and thank you was once taught in each and every home but these days some adults have forgotten about basic courtesy and manners, so therefore they do not teach their children any. It’s really important that your child learns some basic manners and communication skills. This will help them in all aspects of life but particularly with meeting new people. Firstly practice good manners yourself by saying please and thank you and also by sharing, caring and turn taking etc, and then help your child learn these skills. Go through some scenarios of asking other children to play or if you can borrow something from another child etc, and role play what they could say. Be an open communicator yourself and ask your child how they feel about starting a new school. Do they have any concerns or is there anything they are unsure of? What are they really looking forward to about their new school? Then answer their questions as honestly and reassuringly as you can. This will help them to communicate with others and communicate their feelings.

Planning and Organisation

Teach them about planning and organising so that they are able to unpack and pack their bags and organise what they will need for the next day. Talk to them about the general sequence of the day and again ask them if they have any concerns or anything they would like to find out more about? Then answer all their questions. Read my previous post: 2014 – Your Child’s Next Exciting Chapter! For more information on how you can help your child plan and get organised.

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Some other ways to help your child feel more secure and excited about starting big school:

•Let them make simple choices and be in control of the things that they can be in control of such as picking a new lunch box, drink bottle, pencil case, pencils etc and get them to tick these off a list. Then let them set out the things they will need for the first day. This will help them feel more enthusiastic and that they have some control.

•Visit the school and point out the swings or new classrooms etc to help children feel more familiar with the new environment.

•Start going to bed a bit earlier about a week or two before school begins. Wake your child up around 10 minutes earlier than usual and let them go to bed 10 minutes earlier each night until you have the timing right for school term.

•Find out about drop off and pick up so that you know how long you can stay the first day or if it is recommended that you leave quite quickly. Make sure you plan ahead how you will say goodbye and talk to your child about this. Will you give a quick kiss and hug and say goodbye or will you stay and wait a while until your child feels settled? Think about what your child needs. This way your child will also know what is going to happen that first day and not feel as nervous.

•If you can meet some of the other children before school starts, you might like to organise a meet and greet play time. But if not, it doesn’t matter as they will meet new friends soon enough once school starts.

•Read some good books about starting school such as: I Am Too Absolutely Small For School by Lauren Child; First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush; Sam and Gram and the First day of School by Dianne Blomberg; or When you go to Kindergarten by James Howe.

Remember, school is supposed to be fun! Yes you are supposed to go there and learn but most of us who have been there and beyond realise that most of your learning actually happens after you leave school, so don’t take it all too seriously. If your child is happy, meets some friends and learns how to read, write and do a little maths then that’s all that really matters – They have a lifetime to learn the rest! Read all my previous posts to find out more about how you can positively guide your child throughout their school lives and beyond, plus stay tuned for more information on how you can do this.

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Happy Guiding

from

Darling Precious Children

Getting back into the school routine in 2014!

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The lovely long Christmas summer holidays are the perfect chance to break from routine and have some fun! It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, sleep in, stay up late, eat more “treat” foods, travel to exciting destinations and forget about time for a while. But how do you adjust to getting back into the work/school routine when it’s all over? If you are anything like me, it’s a huge struggle! By now, some parents are probably at the end of their tether after having their children at home for six weeks and are looking forward to getting back to routine; whilst others have loved the chance to spend more quality time with their children and are not quite ready. Either way, the change is coming so here are just a few tips to make it all a little easier:

•Try getting back into a routine with sleep times, bath times, meal times and other regular activities at least one week before school resumes. This will help your children’s body clocks adjust to the rhythm of routine and make the transition less stressful.

•Get them to have a look at their calendar/planner (as suggested in 2014 – Your Child’s Next Exciting Chapter!). They can use it to count down the days until school begins so that they have comfort in knowing when and what will take place. They can also use it to get organised for the next week.

•Help them to get excited about the impending term by talking about what is coming up e.g. excursions, parties, swimming lessons, Easter, and seeing all their friends, etc and then demonstrate how to mark some of these on their calendar/planner.

•Make the first week back relaxing and try not to plan too many after school activities if possible. Getting back into a routine is tiring and it’s best to keep all other activities to a minimum.

•Give them lots of free time after school to just run outside, play and be free. Especially the first week back but as often as possible during the whole term as well.

•Plan something fun but simple for the first weekend after being back at school. It could be a movie or pizza night, a picnic in the park, or a visit with family and friends. This is something the children can look forward to if they are hesitant about going back to school and it lets them know that the fun doesn’t have to end just because the holidays do.

•Hopefully there will be no homework in the first week back (if they attend a school which believes in giving homework) but if there is, show them how to organise their week so that they can do a little at a time and it’s not overwhelming. They can use their planner to work out when best suits them.

•Make time at dinner to sit around the table together (which should be a regular occurrence anyway) and chat about their day. This helps them to communicate their feelings and bond with their family. If open communication is developed and encouraged then they will be more likely to open up to you when they have concerns or issues that they need to discuss.

•If they are at a new school or even just a new class with different students and teacher, they may be feeling a little anxious about the change. Ask them how they are feeling about the new school/teacher/class and answer all their concerns as honestly and reassuringly as you can.

More than anything just be there for your children to guide them through this change in routine as there may be a period of adjustment which might cause them to feel anxious. You may notice behaviour that is not typical for them and it could just be that they are overwhelmed and overtired with the changes. Be understanding and talk to them about their feelings. It may appear that they are just being “naughty” and playing up, but there is always an underlying reason so make sure that you investigate and be supportive. In saying all of this, your child may actually be really happy about being back at school and not have any worries or concerns at all. If they are, then that’s great but just keep these tips in mind so that you can ease them back in regardless of how you think they will – or how they do – adjust to this big change.

Happy guiding

from

Darling Precious Children

2014 – Your Child’s Next Exciting Chapter!

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The New Year brings new beginnings! It’s an exciting blank page in the next enthralling chapter of your child’s life.  A book in which you have the wonderful opportunity of enhancing with so many fresh and different lessons and experiences.  So what will you do in 2014 to help make it a fulfilling and potential reaching one for child? How will you help them become the best version of themselves that they can become at this time in their lives?  These are questions you can ask yourself and focus on as you move into and throughout 2014. A great place to begin is with teaching your child about goal setting and planning, so here are a few ideas on how you could do this.

Buy your child a planner or calendar

Any child from about the age of four can be taught the basics of planning. The best way to do this is with a calendar/planner or a one page to a month diary.  There are so many lessons they can learn from this and these are just a few:

Firstly, they are learning about organisation. They can mark important events such as sports day, library day, piano lessons, etc into their diary/calendar so that the night before each event they can prepare everything they will need the next day.  This not only gives them some independence but helps to develop their confidence and autonomy. It also teaches them the lifelong skill of planning and being organised, which they will need in all aspects of their lives.

Secondly, they are learning the names and order of the days and months of the year.  This is a huge lesson in itself and makes the experience so visual and real that it is far easier to understand than being taught verbally in an intangible lesson. 

Thirdly, they are learning about the order of events.  The calendar/diary gives them a visual cue in which they can look and see what is coming up and when.  This not only helps them with putting events in order but also develops their understanding of timing and time.  It is the prequel to learning about time in accordance to hours and minutes.

Fourthly, but no less importantly is the development of security and peace of mind that the knowledge of timing and order of events brings.  If children know what is coming up and when, they feel far more secure and confident than if they have no idea what is going to happen on the day or days ahead.

It is for all these reasons and many more incidental or consequential teachings that I strongly suggest you introduce and encourage your child to use a diary/calendar in 2014.

Help them set goals

Goal setting is really important for all of us but we tend not to realise how essential it is for children too.  Goal setting gives us purpose, direction and something to aim for –  and tantamount to that it gives us hope. 

Ask the children in your life what it is they would like to do in the coming year. Is there something they would like to learn or develop their skills at? Is there a place they would like to visit or something they would they like to save for? Well help them do it! Start from the goal and turn it upside down so that you are taking baby steps backwards. Get them to use their planner to map out how and when each step will take place.  Again this gives them visual cues with the added bonus of seeing when each step will take place, as well as the time frame for reaching their destination/goal.

For example, if your child wants to learn how to ride his/her bike without trainer wheels. Help them workout which days they are free to practice and then get them to write or draw a picture representing the event e.g. a bike on each of the days. On the first day you could write practice peddling forwards, then the next few could be practice steering, learning to use the brakes, and so on until these skills are mastered. When the trainer wheels are ready to come off there will be lots more skills to learn in order to balance and these can be broken down into steps accordingly.

Remember, half the fun of being a child is living spontaneously so I definitely do not suggest planning every minute of their lives, just a few essential moments of their week – make it light hearted and fun! Keep working on planning and goal setting with the special children in your life throughout the year to help them develop skills that will last them a lifetime and will benefit them more than you could possibly imagine!

Happy guiding and a magical heart filled 2014,

from

Darling Precious Children

How many adults could sit still all day?

Children need to move!

How many adults could honestly say that they could sit still all day if asked to without their minds wandering or their bodies moving? What about just for a few hours listening to a seminar, lecture, speech, performance etc that does not keep our interest and quite frankly just bores us? Hardly any. I ask this question because I for one could not! I cannot do it now –  let alone do it when I was a child. Neither could most children… or adults for that matter. So it astounds me that anyone still has this expectation of children.

Research strongly shows that it is virtually impossible for a child to sit for hours listening to one teachers monotone drone and actually concentrate. Common sense could tell you that.  It’s un-natural and unproductive. This has huge implications for how we educate and parent our children. My experience of school in Australia in the 80’s taught me a couple of things but the main one was how to daydream! This was great for my creativity but didn’t help me too much when I needed to get through maths. With all seriousness though, I and many children like me didn’t realise how much we loved learning until after school when we could learn and explore in our own way with our own topics. What a waste of  potential and time during most of those 13 school years.

School has changed a lot since I was a student and most teachers now recognise that students all learn in different ways and have differing needs and interests.  It is common practice to break the days timetable into lessons which involve sitting for shorter periods, more movement, a variety of methods including visuals and lessons based on children’s interests.  Hopefully all teachers these days understand this, if not they should not be teaching as they don’t get the basic fundamentals of being a teacher – which is respect for the child!

This information is also helpful to be aware of if you are a parent as there are times when your expectations do not meet the child’s developmental needs. Children are often asked to sit and listen for long periods to: religious sermons, theatre performances, adult conversations etc. During these occasions, children may appear to be playing up.  Take time to think about why this is? Are they bored? Are you expecting them to keep quiet and sit still when the situation is uninteresting for them. Put yourself in their shoes and think about having to sit for hours listening to something that does not interest you at all – wouldn’t you be itching to get out too!

Teachers and parents must gear all experiences towards the child’s needs and interests if they are to facilitate and encourage a perfect environment for learning and appropriate behaviour. It is imperative that we do not ask them to sit for hours and especially to something they find boring. Do not expect behaviour in your children that you yourself could not achieve given less than ideal circumstances. If you want your children to thrive and learn then give them the right opportunities and expect their teachers to be doing the same.  Respect and follow the child always and give them freedom to move!

Happy Guiding

from,

Darling Precious Children

Follow The Child’s Lead

Follow the Child

Maria Montessori (a world renowned physician, humanitarian and educator who was years ahead of her time) often talked about “Following the Child.”  It was her belief that each child had it’s own particular talents, needs and interests and that the teacher/parent should follow and nurture these.  This is imperative for education as well as for developing healthy self-esteem and great emotional wellbeing. There are ways in which this theory can be put into practice in the classroom as well as at home in order to nurture a child’s unique emerging spirit. It’s essential to be open-minded and to be the kind of adult that these children can look up to and respect – respect is earned when given! Following the child as a unique individual is the highest form of respect you can give to a child – don’t forget that!

In Regards To Learning

By providing an environment and the materials pertinent to the individual, a child is able to follow their own curriculum at their own pace.  This kind of preparation and guidance allows education to flourish organically as a result of children being fully engaged and interested in their learning. Rather than a “one program fits all” approach to education filled with objectives that everyone must achieve, this type of teaching and learning is individually based so that each child has their own program designed to meet their own unique agenda. When we provide the tools and skills for a child to learn in a way that suits their individual learning and when we allow them to choose subject matter that intrigues them, we not only give a child the skills to  learn for life but we also empower them with a love of  learning.

Use Common Sense

There are times when an adult needs to take the lead and carefully guide a child through life’s situations. Mainly because a child is not always mature enough to make the right decisions.  There are also certain things that a child needs to learn or do regardless of whether they want to e.g maths, making their bed, chores, etc. But what is really important is that the adult always tries to follow the child’s needs, wants and interests by asking, observing and careful listening.  Too often, adults think that “they know” what a child needs and wants. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it so wrong.  By actively listening to and observing a child, most of the guess work is taken out. And while this must all be taken with some common sense, it makes perfect sense to follow the child.  In addition to this, it gives children a sense of autonomy and helps to develop a healthy self esteem.

Here are some times when you can and should “follow the child” and allow them to make their own choices:

  • When deciding what project they will do –  In a class situation where a teacher has no choice but to structure it in a mainstream way, they can make some small changes.  One of these is allowing children to choose a topic that they would like to research rather than giving all children the same topic to study. This is fairly easy as children can borrow library books or use the internet to do their research and they can work individually or in small groups.  Learning therefore is an exciting process of discovery rather than a chore.

  • When picking extra curricular activities/ hobbies – Let them decide if they want to play the piano, do judo, dance or play netball, etc. Advise or inform, sure, but never ever make a child live the childhood dream that you wish you had lived by making them choose the hobby you wished you had excelled at. Let them decide! Yes they may end up hating it but who cares at least they tried, on the other hand it may be exactly the right thing for them. So give them the choice, it is their life – not yours – after all!

  • When choosing what to wear –  On weekends, in holidays, or if your child is lucky enough not to have to wear a uniform – let them choose their own clothes. Clothes are a reflection of our own style and personality, so let your child’s individuality shine through by allowing them to make some simple choices.  Maybe at three or four you might like to help them a little by giving them two or three choices and letting them decide. By the time they are five there is no reason why they can’t choose to wear whatever they like with some assistance e’g summer clothes on a winters day is not practical so you may still need to advise.

  • When deciding what they would like to eat – Of course your home is not a restaurant and they can’t choose from a menu – I’m definitely not suggesting that and I don’t believe in creating spoilt brats! Sometimes they will have to eat vegetables they don’t like or a dinner that they don’t particularly love. All I’m saying is let them have some role in decision making. They could go shopping with you and choose a few vegetables and/or they can make their own lunch,  choosing from anything you have in the fridge, etc.  If your fridge is stocked with healthy lunch options this shouldn’t be a problem at all. They can also pick a piece of fruit from your carefully selected fruit basket and decide what flavoured yoghurt they would like to eat, etc.

  • When choosing a bedtime story – Even if you have to read the same story each night for two weeks – allow your child to choose the book that they would like to hear not necessarily the book that you would like to read.  This is giving them a small choice in a day filled with choices that are out of their control. It is important for a child to feel relaxed, secure and happy when they are going to bed and having some choice is a small thing that makes a big difference to a child’s emotional wellbeing.

This list is really only a snapshot of how you can fit the concept of “following the child” into your own life.  It is not exhaustive and there are so many other ways in which you can do this so please endeavour to give your children the tools they need for optimum spiritual and emotional growth and development.  Always treat children with the respect that they so rightly deserve and remember: They are not becoming people – they already are!

Happy Guiding

From,

Darling Precious Children

Peaceful Guidance and Discipline

Peaceful Guidance and Discipline

Guiding a child with love and peace seems so simple yet some days it can be all too hard! Unlike electrical appliances and DIY cabinets, children do not come with a manual and there is no “one size fits all” approach to guiding and disciplining them.  Sometimes you just have to keep trying different methods and strategies until you find the one that works for a particular child or situation. Like adults, children are not all the same, therefore they will all have different needs and ways in which they communicate, react and behave. The one thing that we all have in common though is – the need for love and respect. So the simple part of guiding and disciplining is focussing on your love and respect for the child.  Whether you are five or fifty-five you want to be heard and you want to be understood. Children don’t always have the self control or ability to articulate what it is they want and therefore may display negative behaviours if they do not feel in control or that they are being listened to and respected.   If you look deeper, you will almost always find an underlying cause or reason for negative behaviour.  So set the right scene, ask the right questions and calmly deal with whatever comes your way:

Create The Right Environment

Many times when there is negative behaviour it is because the environment is not set up to encourage harmony, stimulation, and freedom.  Make sure that the area children are playing in provides enough space, light, safety, freedom and opportunity for exploration. There should also be enough interesting, challenging, creative, and skill level appropriate activities for them to partake in. One of the number one reasons why children will act out is because they are bored!

Be An Effective Communicator

Ask the child why they are playing up, misbehaving, throwing a tantrum etc and then carefully listen to what they are saying. Negotiating with a child has been humorously likened to negotiating with a terrorist : ) There sure are times when it takes every ounce of your energy and self control to get through the conversation. Be persistent, be calm and ask the right questions. Here are a few examples: “How are you feeling today?” “Has something made you unhappy?” “What happened and how can I help you sort it out?” “What would make you feel better?”  “ Do you want to talk about how you are feeling?” Listen carefully and make sure that your response indicates that you were listening e.g “So you are upset that Tom wouldn’t share the blocks?” Then help them work out what they could do or say to resolve the issue.  Try not to fix everything for them, give them the skills they need to do it themselves.

Establish Routines

Children need consistency, it helps them to feel secure. They need routines for meal times, sleep times, getting ready in the morning, play times and pretty much most parts of the day.  It helps give them balance and teaches them how to pace themselves. Children need lots of small healthy meals throughout the day as they are frequently using up lots of energy. They need regular sleep hours and a regular sleep routine e.g dinner, quiet play for thirty minutes, brush teeth, go to toilet, say goodnight to the rest of the family, then get into bed for a bed time story or two. This not only helps them to wind down but gets their bodies and mind ready for sleep. Many times when a child is displaying negative behaviours, it is because they are tired, hungry, or are out of routine, so be mindful of this and adjust your routines accordingly.

Role Model Positive Behaviour

How often do you hear a parent say to their child “Don’t hit!” when they use hitting as their preferred method of disciplining all the time or “Don’t Swear,” when you yourself swear in front of them. You can’t be a hypocrite in parenting because children learn far more from what they see or experience than what they are told.  If you say to a child  “You can’t eat treats before dinner,”  then you go and do exactly that in front of them, what are you teaching? Children love to imitate adults so if you want your children to eat well, be kind to others, not be rude or display negative behaviour, etc,  then you better make sure you are demonstrating the right behaviour yourself. Of course there will be moments when you might not be perfect – nobody is – but work at being the most positive role model that you can be!

Praise And Positive Reinforcement

Sometimes children get lots of attention for negative behaviour and not enough positive attention when they do the right thing. Therefore they quickly work out that if they do something negative they are going to get noticed and if they do the right thing nobody pays any attention at all.  Remember this and take note of when you give your child the most time – is it when they are displaying negative behaviours or is it when they are displaying positive behaviours? Effective praise encourages learning, independence and good self-esteem. Make sure that you praise their efforts effectively and give them attention at the right time. If they have helped you set the table, you might say something like, “Thank you for helping me set the table, what a great job! You put out enough  forks and knives for everyone and even remembered the napkins.” If they have cleaned up their room you could say, “Well done, your room looks so nice and tidy and you have so much more space now!” etc. Sometimes all a child needs is a little positive love and attention and the negative behaviour soon disappears because they don’t have to try so hard to get your attention any more.

Thinking Time

This is often known as time out and that is what it is really but I like to call it Thinking Time as it should be a time when children are thinking about their behaviour and why it was not acceptable.  I hate the word “Naughty Corner” and would never call it that because it is negative and unhelpful.  If a child is not playing nicely with others or refuses to do something that you have asked them to do then send them to the thinking area e.g the lounge, a pillow etc.  A good amount of thinking time is around their age e.g a three-year-old gets three minutes thinking time.  Say to them something like “You are not playing very nicely with your friends at the moment so you need to go to the thinking chair and have a think about it.”  If they refuse to go to the thinking space give them the choice of going there on their own or being carried there. That way they feel as if they have some choice but you are still in control. If they get off before time is up tell them that you are starting the clock again and continue to do this until they sit and think. Thinking time is also a good opportunity for children to calm down if the disagreement has been an out of control one. When their time is up, go to them and ask them what they thought about and why it wasn’t very nice to treat their friends that way. Discuss ways in which they could have acted instead.  This is teaching them skills for reflection, evaluation, conflict resolution, socially acceptable behaviour and communication, amongst many other things.

Consequences

This is one of the best ways to learn self discipline and about the connection between action and result because the outcome is a direct consequence of the child’s behaviour. For example if a child refuses to eat dinner they will be hungry and will learn from it for next time. If a child refuses to clean up after painting then the paints and painting equipment get packed away for at least a day and the child can’t use it.  If a child throws it’s food on the ground and refuses to pick it up, it goes in the bin and they miss out on it. If children are not playing well together and sharing, they are given the choice of sharing or playing on their own without whatever it was that they weren’t sharing. If a child is playing dangerously outside and keeps going near the road or touching things they were asked not to then they lose the privilege of playing outside and have to go inside for the rest of the day. Quite simple really, yet very effective if done properly!

Distract or Redirect

This is particularly effective when dealing with a younger child under the age of three. If they are playing with something that you don’t want them to touch, throwing a tantrum, or behaving in any other unacceptable way etc., you can either distract them by showing them something else e.g  Wow did you see that pretty rainbow coloured bird out the window?” Or you can redirect by saying something like “Look at that play-dough over there, let’s see what we can make with it!”  Another way to redirect is if they are doing something inappropriate like drawing on a book or wall etc tell them that we don’t draw on walls but they can draw on a piece of paper and then give them something that they can draw on.  Young children’s attention spans are pretty short so a temporary fix like distraction and redirection works quite well.

Ignore

Ignoring works well when it comes to tantrum throwing, swearing, sulking or other negative behaviours where the main goal is to get attention. If a child is throwing a tantrum, walk out of the room, once the tantrum is not getting any attention it’s not working for them any more so they stop. If you have to say something just say “It’s too noisy in here, I’m going somewhere quiet until you are ready to stop making all that noise!” If a child swears and you have already told them it is not a nice thing to say but they keep swearing, just ignore it. Don’t pay any attention to it at all or walk out of the room.  If you have to say something then say “Go and swear in your room because I don’t want to hear it!”  As long as the child is in no danger if you leave the room, then it is a very effective way to curb the behaviour.

Why Some Methods Are Not As Effective

There are some other ways of disciplining that are used which are not as effective as the list above. These include smacking, shouting and giving rewards, here is why:

There are times when a smack on the hand to stop a child touching a hot stove top, sharp knife, pinching another child etc are necessary and in my opinion far less harmful than the alternative. But when I say smack I do not mean hit hard as I definitely do not condone hitting or using any kind of violence on a child. The smack should not leave a lasting red mark, it should not be done with any kind of force or aggression and should only be enough to alert the child of it’s immediate danger or quickly put an end to  unacceptable behaviour without making them frightened of you. Anything that leaves a lasting mark is called Child Abuse and has absolutely no place in caring for a child. 

Shouting aggressively is similarly not effective and can be classed as Child Abuse if the child is frightened of you.  As I have said before, reasonable, rational adults do not believe that screaming at another adult is a respectable way to communicate so why would you do that to a child? Of course it is normal for a parent to lose their cool every now and then and raise their voice at their child – who hasn’t done that!  It becomes a problem when an adult aggressively shouts at a child negatively and often. It becomes a problem when a child is scared of you, a child should never be scared of their parent or any other adult! 

The other form of discipline that I do not believe is effective but is used quite a lot is giving rewards for good behaviour. Mainly because I believe that children should learn how to behave appropriately because it is the right thing to do not because they are given a gift for doing what they should have been doing anyway. Giving rewards is fairly harmless and is neither here nor there but it is unrealistic and not really teaching anything valuable.  Adults do not get a gift for making their beds, emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, etc so why should children? It is their home and their environment too so it is really their duty and privilege to help take care of it.  Adults do not get  presents for being kind or sharing, they get the intrinsic reward of feeling good about their kind deed and that is what children should be learning. Besides, if you have ever done something nice for someone else, you would know how good that feels – Much better than any store bought gift. So allow your child the privilege of knowing what that feels like!

Guiding and Disciplining with love and respect is really the only way to achieve your objective –  which should be to raise a kind, caring, productive, peaceful, happy and respectful child/adult.  I truly believe that you can’t raise a child to be a positive member of society if your guidance is based on negativity. Violence breeds violence just as love breeds love. You may not get positive results everyday and not every issue will be easily resolved but on those occasions just take a deep breath, try and stay calm and just do your best!

Happy Guiding,

from

Darling Precious Children

Getting Back Into The School Routine!

Ready to go back to school

The lovely long Christmas summer holidays are the perfect chance to break from routine and have some fun! It’s a time to reconnect with family and friends, sleep in, stay up late, eat more “treat” foods, travel to exciting destinations and forget about time for a while. But how do you adjust to getting back into the work/school routine when it’s all over? If you are anything like me, it’s a huge struggle! By now, some parents are probably at the end of their tether after having their children at home for six weeks and are looking forward to getting back to routine; whilst others have loved the chance to spend more quality time with their children and are not quite ready. Either way, the change is coming so here are just a few tips to make it all a little easier:

  • Try getting back into a routine with sleep times, bath times, meal times and other regular activities at least one week before school resumes.  This will help your children’s body clocks adjust to the rhythm of routine and make the transition less stressful.

  • Get them to have a look at their calendar/planner (as suggested in 2013 – Your Child’s Next Exciting Chapter!). They can use it to count down the days until school begins so that they have comfort in knowing when and what will take place.  They can also use it to get organised for the next week.
  • Help them to get excited about the impending term by talking about what is coming up e.g. excursions, parties, swimming lessons, Easter, and seeing all their friends, etc and then demonstrate how to mark some of these on their calendar/planner.
  • Make the first week back relaxing and try not to plan too many after school activities if possible. Getting back into a routine is tiring and it’s best to keep all other activities to a minimum.
  • Give them lots of free time after school to just run outside, play and be free. Especially the first week back but as often as possible during the whole term as well.
  • Plan something fun but simple for the first weekend after being back at school. It could be a movie or pizza night, a picnic in the park, or a visit with family and friends.  This is something the children can look forward to if they are hesitant about going back to school and it lets them know that the fun doesn’t have to end just because the holidays do.
  • Hopefully there will be no homework in the first week back (if they attend a school which believes in giving homework) but if there is, show them how to organise their week so that they can do a little at a time and it’s not overwhelming. They can use their planner to work out when best suits them.
  • Make time at dinner to sit around the table together (which should be a regular occurrence anyway) and chat about their day.  This helps them to communicate their feelings and bond with their family.  If open communication is developed and encouraged then they will be more likely to open up to you when they have concerns or issues that they need to discuss.
  • If they are at a new school or even just a new class with different students and teacher, they may be feeling a little anxious about the change. Ask them how they are feeling about the new school/teacher/class and answer all their concerns as honestly and reassuringly as you can.

More than anything just be there for your children to guide them through this change in routine as there may be a period of adjustment which might cause them to feel anxious.  You may notice behaviour that is not typical for them and it could just be that they are overwhelmed and overtired with the changes.  Be understanding and talk to them about their feelings.  It may appear that they are just being “naughty” and playing up, but there is always an underlying reason so make sure that you investigate and be supportive.  In saying all of this, your child may actually be really happy about being back at school and not have any worries or concerns at all. If they are, then that’s great but just keep these tips in mind so that you can ease them back in regardless of how you think they will –  or how they do  – adjust to this big change.

Happy guiding

from

Darling Precious Children

Famous Failures

Failure leads to success

Failure is a means to an end – learning and eventually succeeding! The new year brings new beginnings and the magical opportunity of trying something you have never done before –  so don’t let the thought of failure stop you or your children.  Never let your children see failure as a bad thing, it’s just another opportunity to learn. Be there to guide and support them in their successes and failures and remember that the key is never giving up. The truth is that it is necessary for our development and enjoyment of life because if you have never failed then you have probably never tried anything new! Some of the most amazing people I know have failed but eventually they became successful because they refused to let anyone else define them.  Here are just a few inspirational people to keep in mind as you positively guide your child throughout this school year:

J k Rowling

J.K Rowling

She had no money, was depressed and living on welfare when she wrote Harry Potter, which incidentally was rejected many times before being published.

Vincent Van Gogh

Only sold one painting in his lifetime, this was to a friend and was sold for a small amount of money.  He was never successful while he was alive but pursued his dream, often starving to complete over 800 works which now bring in hundreds of millions.

Steven King

Had his first book, the amazingly successful – Carrie – rejected 30 times before he threw it in the bin. Luckily his wife got it out and convinced him to re-submit it.

Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe

She was once told by a modelling agency that she should consider becoming a secretary and later 20th Century Fox dropped her because her producer thought she was unattractive and couldn’t act.

Steven Spielberg

He was placed in a “learning-disabled” class at one point in high-school but only lasted a month before dropping out of school forever.

Einstein

Albert Einstein

He wasn’t able to speak until he was almost four years old and his teachers said he would never amount to much.

Michael Jordan

After being cut from his high-school basketball team, went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

Dr Seuss

Theodor Seuss Giesel is better known as Dr Seuss and wrote The Cat in the Hat book which has been read by most children,  but before that he had his first book rejected by 27 publishers.

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

He was fired after one performance and was told “You aint goin nowhere, son.  You ought to go back to driving a truck,”  by his manager.

Bill Gates

He was a Harvard University drop-out who started his own software company (Microsoft) after purchasing software technology for $50.00 (US).

Steve Jobs

At thirty years old he was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he started.

Akio Marita (Sony founder)

You may not have heard of him but he founded the Sony company.  His first product was a rice cooker that burnt rice instead of cooking it and he sold less than 100 of them.  He didn’t let this set back stop him and his partners – they went on to create a multimillion dollar company.

Oprah

Oprah Winfrey

Was demoted from her job as news anchor because she …. “Wasn’t fit for television.”

Ludwig van Beethoven

Went on to become one of the most famous composers of all time but as a young student his music teacher once said  “as a composer he is hopeless!”  During his career he also lost his hearing but still managed to compose great music!

Eminem

A high-school drop out whose personal struggles with drugs and poverty culminated in an unsuccessful suicide attempt.

Fred Astaire

Fred Astaire

At his first screen test the MGM testing director noted that Astaire “Can’t act. Can’t sing, Slightly bald. Can dance a little.”

Walt Disney

Fired from a newspaper for  “lacking imagination” and “having no original ideas.”

F. W. Woolworth

Now well known as the founder of Woolworth stores, a young F. W Woolworth was once told by his boss, that he was not allowed to serve customers (in the store where he worked) as he lacked the sense to do so.

and last but not least

The Beatles

The Beatles

Rejected by Decca Recording studios who said “We don’t like their sound…They have no future in show business.”

Let the children in your life know that they should never ever give up on their dreams, or anything else that they want to learn or achieve. If they really want something they need to keep trying and working at it and you need to keep encouraging and assisting them. Read my previous posts on how you can positively guide them throughout this year and stay tuned for lots more. Don’t let failure stop them!

Happy guiding

from,

Darling Precious Children