crossing-the-road

Crossing the Road

In busy Sydney recently, whilst standing at the traffic lights, I was struck by the number of people who ignore the “Don’t Walk” sign. They dart in amongst the traffic,  in order to save about 20 secs off their walk, rather than wait for the “green man” to indicate that it’s their turn to cross.

I saw two important messages here for parents:

  1. MODELLING:

 

As an ex-Teacher and a parent, I can’t do this! I’m very conscious that my children (or yours, who might be standing next to me) are watching. At an early age they learn that ‘red’ = STOP, and I also know that they want to do what the adults do. So, if my Mum/Dad/Grandparents ignore ‘red’ signs, then I can too. So much of parenting is modelling – whether you mean to or not, children see and hear all that we do in their presence. Young children do not discriminate between the ‘good’ we do or the ‘less good’ we do – they don’t pass judgement, they just copy!

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Stress in children

Stress in Children

Stress is a part of our lives. We have positive stress – eg we have many things which must be completed today. The stress of that can give us the energy to not procrastinate, but to drive us to action, to complete the task. Negative stress can be when things happen which are out of our control, and we feel stuck or unable to deal with the effects.

We don’t like to think that our small children can experience stress, but they experience life as we do. A little stress, like having to wait for something is okay – it can teach them patience (eg to wait their turn) or to understand time and sequence (eg after the toys are away we’ll go outside), and that’s a good thing. Even the stress of seeing Mum and Dad angry once or twice (as long as there is no violence involved) is okay, particularly if they see that they make up and life continues as normal – this can help to show that conflict can be resolved. On-going major stress is not okay for children, and can cause later problems for that child in different ways. This article is about the daily stresses – which are different ones for everyone!

 

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The Second Wife

The Second Wife

I want you to imagine for a moment… Your partner tells you that he is bringing home a new wife to live in the family home. He tells you how exciting it’s going to be, and how much he’s looking forward to her arrival. He says you’ll need to help this new wife, and to share your things – your clothes and your room with her, and that he wants you to love her too. He reminds you that you are still special, but that there will be another special one there too! How would you feel? Most of us would be in disbelief, enraged, and feeling like we weren’t loved enough, or that we weren’t special enough.

Yet, isn’t this what we often expect of child number one, when we announce that’s there’s a new baby joining the family? As adults we struggle with the whole concept of a 2nd wife, yet we expect a 2/3/4 year old (with infinitely less mature social development) to understand, and ‘be nice’ to this new baby! It sounds unreasonable when expressed like that, doesn’t it? In some cases, the first few weeks may be a novelty for the first child, but then some reach a stage where they ask you to ‘send the baby back’!

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Family Rituals

Family Rituals

In traditional societies there are various times in a child’s life, where special ceremonies take place, to mark their growth and development eg puberty. This was often followed by a family or community gathering, and were an important way of acknowledging a milestone, and they were a time to make that child feel special and proud. In our modern society many people celebrate birthdays to acknowledge another years passing, but a lot of our rituals have ceased.

 

Perhaps you might like to consider introducing some rituals of family celebrations into your home.

 

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My toddler is slapping me!

Lisa asked what to do about her 19 month old son, when he slaps her on the face, for no apparent reason…

Oh Lisa, it’s so awful when our children respond with hitting us! Apart from any physical pain, we are often horrified at their behaviour, shocked that they would do it, wonder why they are doing it, and then if anyone is watching, we also feel embarrassed! What a mix of emotions!

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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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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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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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