Imabe by Kah Wai Sin via Flickr

Windows of Opportunity

Many of you will have heard this term before, in relation to opportunities which come our way. The idea being to grab the chance to do ‘xyz’ now, because the opportunity is only available for a short time.

 

Did you know that there are windows of opportunity in relation to children and their development?

 

For babies and young children this is when it is optimal for learning to occur in a certain developmental domain, because the conditions are ripe for learning. It means there is a time when it is easier to learn or develop that area. Let me give you an example using animals.

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Together Time – How to enhance your relationship with your children.

 

Many parents I work with have a hectic schedule of appointments and activities which are fitted in and around work and home duties. These appointments and activities include things such as dental or hair appointments and sporting or cultural activities such a soccer, kindy gym or ballet classes.

Many parents want to give their children the best possible start in life and provide them with more opportunities than they themselves had, believing that these things will lead to more educated, healthy and well-rounded children. I admire their goals, dedication and commitment to getting the child to these classes.

 

Raising healthy, well-rounded children is so much more than just this.

One critical thing is the importance of ‘Together Time.’

 

Generally, when we take our children to music, dance or martial arts classes we hand our children across to a teacher or coach, and we, the parents, become spectators. And whilst there is nothing wrong at all with that, it is vitally important that children get time engaged with us. Read more

Walking on Spheres

Encouraging Resilience in Children

There are many definitions of the word resilience. They revolve around the ability of a person to ‘bounce back’ after difficulties, to overcome challenges and to reframe challenges as problems with a solution.

 

Clearly this is an important skill for us to have as adults, as we know life can be full of the unexpected! The experiences we have and we observe during our childhood lead to intrepretations about coping, which we carry forward into our adult years. They can be messages equating to: ‘It’s too hard’, ‘I can do this’, ‘I can’t do this’, ‘It will be okay’ or ‘I’ll get it right this time.’ We all have some of these messages in our heads, and when adversity or a challenge strikes, we act according to the belief systems we have developed about ourselves and life.

A child who frequently hears: ‘be careful’ or ‘let Mummy do that’ will learn that life is risky or unsafe, and that they shouldn’t try. These aren’t messages which will be very helpful as an adult.

We want children to develop a spirit or willingness to give things a go, and to know that even if something doesn’t work the first or the second time, that there will be some solution to a problem, with a attitude of determination.

 

Resilient people are:

  • Optimistic
  • Problem solvers
  • Independent and
  • People Smart

 

How do we build these skills in children?

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Image by Wendy Cope via Flickr

How Children Learn their Colours

I was asked recently: ‘At what age do children know their colours?’ Like most things it depends how much instruction goes in, and how frequently a child has the opportunity to play and practise.

 

Around the age of 2, children are learning about colours. You can aid this by mentioning colours as part of your everyday conversation eg:

You have your blue jumper on

There are yellow buttons on your shirt.

You’ve made an orange painting

You are eating the red apple and so on.

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3 smiling kids

S.M.I.L.E. – 5 signs to look for that your child is developing well

How’s your smile going? Some days in parenting there are so many things to smile about…. Your toddler saying something cute; your baby sleeping; your children playing together; or watching your child ‘read’ to Grandma. And then there’s all the firsts… the first tooth, the first time they crawl, or take their first steps, or tie their shoelaces – all of these lead to smiles from us and no doubt from the proud child as well!

S.M.I.L.E. is also an acronym, which some Parenting Consultants use as a checklist for development. It stands for:

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Yellow Daisies and Blue Skies

The Sun Comes Up Again Tomorrow

I remember my mother talking to me as a child, about disagreements within the family – How sometimes my sisters and I would argue about something or other, and one of us would end up saying (like many 7 or 9 year olds): ‘I’m not talking to you ever, ever again’! The ‘injured’ one would be lamenting to Mum about how mean or unfair our sister was, and after she’d soothed us, she would then say: “The sun comes up again tomorrow” – meaning that tomorrow was a new day, a fresh beginning.

When I was older, she talked about how she never went to bed without saying: “I love you to my Dad” – even if they’d had a disagreement – she refused to take the emotion of anger or hurt to sleep.

I was reminded of this last week, when I went to a Joan Baez concert – a folk singer from the 60 -70’s who was performing in Hobart. One of the first songs she performed had a line it it which resonated for me…. it was: Every new day we have is another chance to get it right”. Now it could be many things… your relationship, an assignment you’ve been working on, or a handyman job you’ve been struggling with. I really like these sentiments as it’s a reminder that indeed the ‘sun does come up again tomorrow’, that yesterdays situation is gone and today is a new opportunity to move forward, to get it right. This also has relevance to parenting and the relationships within our families….

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Image by Pawel Loj via Flickr

Are you a DO or a DON’T parent?

Don’t touch that!

Don’t spill your drink.

Don’t take off your hat.

Don’t throw the ball in the house.

Don’t forget to put your school bag away.

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Image by Luz via Flickr

‘When’ – One of the best parenting tools ever!

I’ve presented many talks to parents over the past 18 years, both to groups of parents, and also to individuals when doing a home visit. For more information about Skype or home visits, see http://theparentingcafe.com.au/home-visits/#.VI0CAr5Ic8E

 

Parents often want me to wave a magic wand, and change or ‘fix’ the difficulties they are having in their parenting. I wish such a tool existed! I can’t give you that, but…. I can give you a fabulous parenting tool… the word ‘when’.

 

Now this will sound incredibly simple, yet it works!

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Image by Pete Markham via Flickr

Why We Must Set Boundaries for our Children

I want you to imagine you now own a horse, and you put it out on the land. It’s on an area where there are no fences – none, anywhere! You call the horse to come to you, and it runs away. Another time you see the horse misbehaving, but before you can approach it, it runs away. Another time, there is danger about, and you attempt to get the horse for it’s own safety, but it runs away. In all of these cases, a fence would have been really useful.

It is the same with ‘fences’ for children. Obviously we aren’t going to fence in our child, but it is vital that we establish boundaries, which are just like fences. A boundary is like saying to your child: ‘Within here you can run/ play/ do, but then you can go no further.’ Let me give you a few examples.

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Helle & Sonja – Sisters reunited after 40 years.

The Missing Sister

In honour of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday, I’m reprinting my personal story of a mother’s love…. my mother x x

I was born as the eldest of three girls to my parents Bill and Marie. Dad was British, Mum was Danish, and they met in Norway while they were both working there. My father then travelled to Canada with his work, and sent for my Mother to travel there to marry him. I was born there as was my next sister, and then we migrated to Australia, where another sister was born.

I had a happy childhood in that I was loved, and had two parents who wanted to provide for us, even though they were starting from scratch here. They bought a house, and we were all settling into our new homeland when tragedy struck – my Father died at age 39 from a cerebral haemorrhage. My mother was left alone in a foreign country, with no family support, three children aged 9 months, 7 yrs & 9 yrs, and at that time my mother didn’t qualify for any Govt benefits as she wasn’t an Australian citizen!

Life was tough – we lived on food parcels and clothing vouchers from charity organisations for six months, until legislation was passed in Govt allowing foreign residents to claim benefits. Even though we had so little, my Mother surrounded us with love and good home cooking. She nurtured us and included us in both fun and work activities around the house whether it was gardening or doing the dishes. People would have said we were poor – but it truly was only in the financial sense. Mum taught us how to cook and sew and do repair jobs around the house. She also made magic happen – putting our food on the plate in the shape of funny faces, or hiding little elf figures in pot plants. For birthdays she’d make a treasure hunt, with clues for us to find our gift. The neighbourhood children also loved her because she loved and nurtured them too with hugs and stories. She was the best mother!

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