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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father playing with son

The Importance of Dads

For a long time now we’ve known the valuable role that mothers play in the development of children, through nurturing and play.

Research also acknowledges the powerful role which Dads play in the family dynamics generally, and in the long term well-being of their children.

The best gift a Dad can give his kids, is his time!

Being a Dad is probably the most important job you’ll ever do. The way you interact and behave with your children will have a huge impact on them – what they do, how they feel about themselves and how they turn out – both now, and down the track. As with anything that is important to you, being a great Dad requires time, energy and effort!
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brown teddy bear sitting

Why a Teddy Bear is a Parent’s Best Friend

How great it would be for all children and parents, if babies and toddlers were gently encouraged to have a ‘favourite’ teddy bear or doll. Both boys and girls need to learn nurturing skills and the beauty of having a ‘friend’ who is always there for them.

My three children each had one…. which they named Susan, Alexandra and Denis. They accompanied my children everywhere… in the car, to bed, for stay-overs at Grandmas, and for security when they were left with a baby-sitter.

Children don’t always select one for themselves – you can encourage it from an early age by introducing the teddy or doll, and talking about them eating with you, sleeping in the child’s bed, brushing their teeth together etc.

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Good-Kids-and-Bad-Kids

Good Kids and Bad Kids

Let’s imagine that yesterday you were pulled over by the police, for speeding. How would you feel if, at the time, they had told you that you were a bad woman/man. And when you got home and shared the story with your partner, that they also said you were bad for doing that. And if tomorrow you saw that same police, would you want a reminder not to be bad like yesterday? I know I’d hate it, and would probably feel angry at being reminded over and over!

Yet, isn’t this what we often do to our children when they misbehave….. we somethimes say words like: Naughty boy , or bad girl! And some parents then repeat the story to Daddy when he comes home….. “Sarah was so bad today, she did xyz”. Or tomorrow when the child is playing in a similar situation, we remind them not to be naughty like yesterday.

We wouldn’t like it if it happened to us, so why would we do it to our children?

The reality is that we all make mistakes… and that’s what they are ‘mistakes’, or poor choices. It doesn’t make us bad or naughty!

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What Does Love Look Like to your Child?

Many years ago a survey was conducted, asking young children (4 – 8y.o) the question: “What is love?”

Their answers varied considerably and were obviously based on what was modelled to them in their environment……

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.” Billy 4

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri 4

“Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” Bobby 7

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Anxious Child

How do I Help my Anxious Child?

I was recently asked by a parent of a 6 year old, ‘How do I help my child who worries a lot. He’s anxious, but won’t always tell me what’s going on?’ First thing – give him regular hugs and tell him how much you love him – that’s always a good start!

The following will give you some ideas on how to assist your child if they have a tendency to worry or be anxious.

 

Where did the anxiety come from?

It’s always useful to look at the background of the child… the parents, the home and the past experiences. Sometimes there is an overly anxious parent who constantly gives children messages to: ‘be careful’, to ‘watch out’, or ‘you might get hurt’. When children are told this often enough, they start to believe that their world isn’t safe. In regards to the home situation – has there been a trauma? eg a death, a serious accident, or parents separating, where there’s been a lot of heightened emotions – some children tend to make this mean that’s there’s immediate danger to them or those around them – they fear ‘bad stuff’ will happen to them. There are also children who have been affected by alcohol or drugs when in utero. When a woman uses these during pregnancy, they can affect the developing foetus, and may cause brain changes, which can affect a variety of functions, including being anxious or lacking impulse control. Obviously we can’t change what has already happened in the past, so let’s look at what we can do now, and also in terms of building resilience in children.

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Image by Travis Swan via Flickr

Magic Moments

Have you ever had your child calling: “Mum, Mum, come and look at this.” You go and it’s a dead cricket. At that moment in time you have a choice to make…. To either engage in the moment with your child or to dismiss it/ them. You can either talk with them about what they’ve found, ask questions about what they think happened or what they think they should do with the cricket, thereby making it a time of learning, understanding and connection. Or, you can dismiss it with: “Its dead, leave it alone” or “Is that all, I was in the middle of doing dishes!”

 

One way helps the child feel connected with you, that you have time for them, and that what they have to say or show you is of value to you.

The other way – if said often enough- gives the message that you aren’t interested in what they like, and that dirty dishes are more important than them.

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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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