Letting go of the challenges of parenting.

Being a parent can be hard. It’s exhausting, relentless and it can be, dare I say, boring. Although being a parent is wonderful most of the time, I think every parent at some time or another has wished for a sunny beach, peace, quiet and preferably a margarita in hand! But I’ll tell you a little secret that parents of little ones don’t know or even have time to think about….it does change and get easier; almost overnight and then you will miss those challenges with all your heart. The hurdles that we face as parents are only stages in our lives and we need to let them go to fully appreciate the parenting journey. Because of course, a journey always has its ups and downs.

I vividly remember my son going through ‘the yelling phase.’ Basically, he yelled in the night when he wanted something! It could be a drink, a biscuit,  a cuddle, a story, a banana (yes, really!) a new toy….just anything so that he could get our attention. The thing was totally irrelevant but because we had another child that we were frightened would wake up, we tended to go into his room as quickly as possible. This meant one of us was ‘on stand by’ throughout the night and we were exhausted. Of course, we could have left him to cry and yell but for an easier life and because we were not entirely sure he was awake half the time, we got up and went to him. He was only about 2 after all. This became part of my night time thing and I used to dread it. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly be this tired and still function. It was awful. And then, one night, it stopped. He slept through without the yelling! Could we be this lucky and have a whole nights sleep? He never yelled out in the night again and this phase in our parenting journey was over, just like that.

When my daughter was about 6 she would not want to go to sleep. We tried the usual stories, milk, teeth, bed routine that had always worked. We tried extra cuddles, we tried rewarding her with a sticker chart and we tried telling her off. Nothing seemed to work. There would always be a reason for her coming down….’ur I can’t sleep….I need a drink….mummy can I just tell you something……ur can I have a grape?’ The ‘Can I have a grape?’ became a family joke but this stage went on for about a year. Yes, a whole year of her coming down in the late evening as she couldn’t get to sleep. Then one night,  it stopped. As quickly as it began, it was over.

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I think what I’m trying to say is that the challenges you are facing right now will soon be done. The ‘problem’ that exhausts you or makes you despair will one day be over. Whether it be a fussy toddler that makes you cry with frustration because they will only wear red or the child who lives off fresh air because they never seem to eat a meal. Whether it be the child who refuses to sleep in their own bed or the child that will not settle in the morning at school. These are all challenges at the time but one day, they will stop and life moves on. Children grow and change whilst us parents try to adapt to the changing direction that parenting takes us.

So when your son asks you not to get stressed when he accidently breaks the window of your Greenhouse by launching a hockey ball down the garden, pause, take a breath and smile. He doesn’t remember the 3 DS games, the new Hoover, the car radio or the countless TV remotes that he broke as a destructive toddler. Those were our challenges as parents so let them go and move on. One day, I shall remind him of the Greenhouse window and hope it will become a family story to remember and retell rather than a challenge to overcome.
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Finding the lovely in everyday moments.

Lovely.

It’s a word I like and use a lot.

“Lovely,” is defined in the Cambridge dictionary as beautiful, pleasant, enjoyable and kind.

What a lovely word.

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Savour lovely moments.

Lovely is what we need to look for in this world and I’ll tell you why. It will make you a happier and more fulfilled person.

1. Savour the Lovely.

Savour each moment that makes you happy. A funny thing your little one did. The kind gesture from a colleague. The text from a partner that make you feel loved. The walk in the woods amongst the trees. Savour these lovely moments however small and seemingly insignificant. Make a point of remembering them. It’s easier to say you’ve had a horrid day when actually there was only one horrid moment. Life is not all happiness. It can’t be but we can savour those lovely moments that make it an overall lovely day.

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See the beauty in our everyday surroundings

2. Cherish those lovely people in your life.

This should not be difficult but we sometimes forget that those lovely people in our lives need to be cherished. Those friends and family that have time for you. The ones that ring you when you are sick or meet you for a drink after work. The partner who makes you a cup of tea when you’ve had a hard day. Cherish those people as they are the ones that will make your life more fulfilling. Don’t work extra hard for the boss who doesn’t care about you. Work hard at the relationships that mean the most.

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Cherish the people in your life.

3. Find the lovely in you.

Find your inner lovely. When we discover the beauty in the things that we enjoy, we feed our own sense of worth. This brings satisfaction and only then can we be a lovely person. Seeing the positive and savouring it allows us to feel lovely inside. Only then can we share it with others.

4. Share the lovely.

Be kind and kindness will follow. Share the beauty of the world and more eyes will see it. Enjoy the things that are most precious to you and you will share that joy with others. Teach others to be lovely by being lovely yourself.

It’s not always easy but it’s got to be better to see and share the lovely things that are in this world than to only see the negative. I would like to believe this, do you?

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Seeing the beauty in things however mundane and ordinary.

Do you agree with me?

What do you find lovely and why?

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts my lovelies…..

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Life lessons for my daughter as she approaches adulthood.

I look at my amazing daughter and cannot believe that she is in her final school year. How did that happen? I know that every parent says this but just when you get used to this parenting thing it feels like it will change forever. She’s almost an adult and that’s wonderful yet scary.

So here are some life lessons for my almost adult daughter.

The Good

  • You can do whatever you want with your life. Opportunities are there for you. Walk towards them and take whichever path you choose even if it is a different one to your friends. You make your own choices but just remember your mum’s words of wisdom whispering in your ear from time to time.
  • You are amazing. I mean that. I purposely don’t write beautiful as there is more to you than beauty. You are clever, savvy, funny, great fun to be with, calm, know your own mind and beautiful. Your Dad and I love all of you and more. Remember this when other people are not kind to you. You are worthy.
  • You have a warm heart so open it and give yourself to someone you love. Love is the most important thing and one day, you will know when your partner comes along. Don’t let them go thinking there is someone better. There may or may not be but all that matters is that you are happy at that moment.
  • You will never have as much time as right now. Enjoy your own company and that of your friends to do fun stuff.

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The Bad

  • Life chances are there for you to grab but they will not fall in your lap. You will not land a job paying you £30,000 straight out of university or school. You must continue to work hard for everything you want in life. What you want is there but may take small steps….just take one at a time.
  • Boys can be horrid. They can treat you badly but remember that you are a strong and independent woman who does not need their drama. You are not responsible for other people’s crap. Don’t try to change someone who doesn’t want to be changed.
  • Juggling motherhood and work is a challenge. I’m not going to lie. Delay motherhood if possible until you are in a position where you have a choice.

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The Ugly

  • Childbirth is bloody painful but is the most rewarding thing ever. Just don’t enter into pregnancy until you have lived a little first and don’t listen to Nannie; she will put you off for life.
  • Having that last drink at that Club in Ibiza sounds like fun but you will regret it in the morning and perhaps even the morning after that. Have a water instead and walk home with friends (I’m sure you will not do this so my advice….take a paracetamol, eat a fry up and go back to bed).
  • Respect your body. You only have one. So no cliff jumping or swimming with sharks in Australia. There will also be a time when your body doesn’t appreciate you eating trash (about aged 25 btw).
  • Use sunscreen and you will thank me when you are 40.

Good luck…and remember I will always be your Mummy. x

PS I have never, ever done any of these things in the Ugly section apart from the birth part, obviously……..

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Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads.

A Guest Post by Claire Adams

I was approached by a fellow blogger and writer, Claire to see if she could write a post for me. Claire is personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com.

I am thrilled to introduce Claire’s post for my readers and hope you love it as much as I do!

Words of Wisdom from Experienced Moms and Dads

We live in the age of the Internet, parenting books, chat rooms, classes, information wells only a few clicks away, but as disturbingly contradictory or simply different as some of it may be, new parents and parents-to-be yearn for knowledge. And it makes sense – your thirst is driven by the desire to be the best parent you could possibly be, without sacrificing your relationships or neglecting your professional development.

However, few things related to parenting are black and white. It’s a beautiful journey, the adventure of being a parent, but it makes for a stressful one on those who decide to embark on it in this day and age. And as such, you could use some real-life advice from moms and dads who’ve been in your shoes and can help you prepare and enjoy as much as possible.

Let go of perfectionism

Whether it’s a messy t-shirt, a room filled with toys, or the fact that you’re wearing a puke-covered hoodie after 36 sleepless hours – you soon realize that the reality of parenting doesn’t even resemble those dreamy ideals. On the contrary, your baby will disrupt your lives beyond recognition, both in marvelous and less marvelous ways.

Your priorities will change, and so will your sleeping schedule, and the notion of what passes for “presentable” will alter. As they grow up, you will also realize that “she will never throw tantrums in public” or “he will never get hooked on watching TV” are also far-fetched, as every child has their own way of perceiving the world. The best thing you can do for your child’s peace of mind, as well as your own, is to abandon any perfectionist notion you’ve had thus far.

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Go with Frank

Mr. Frank Sinatra has spoken many a wise word through his music, but one universal truth that affects parents as much as it does every other aspect of your identity would be simply doing things your own way. That doesn’t mean rejecting any piece of advice you hear (solicited or otherwise), but still being able to have your own opinion in the chaos of other parents’ voices.

Every child is different, and while one parent will successfully potty-train their youngster with the help of training-pants, another might prefer to try a reward system. This extends to all behavioral patterns in life, so listening to others can sometimes point you in the right direction, while sharpening your own parenting “gut feeling” is equally important. No parent knows you own child like you do.

Go with Frank

Finance wisely

On a more practical, forward-thinking note, parenting could use some financial structure that will ensure your own, as well as your children’s security later in life. While a majority of employers often carry a family friendly health plan that includes various types of insurance, new parents could also think about writing their will, and a college fund that can be re-purposed if needed.

Keeping an eye on your retirement policy and other related plans for the future may seem over the top while you have a baby to care for, but the sooner you reach for the reins, the safer you’ll be if any problems crop up. The same goes for choosing the right guardian for your kids and setting up a contingent trust that allows you a reasonable amount of control over the funds when your kids finally come of age.

Finance wisely

Invest ahead

Some kids learn fairly quickly and adapt easily to new environments, both socially and cognitively, while others struggle with different challenges. As parents, we can sometimes be prone to misjudging our kids’ abilities, either perceiving them as flawless, or underestimating their potential. In both scenarios, it may seem impossible to relinquish some of our parental power over to teachers, psychologists and other professionals, but it could be necessary for the sake of their success later in life.

Sometimes that means tackling a speech impediment early on, or ensuring tailored high school tutoring for improving their performance in those subjects that are particularly problematic. Either way, there is no shame in recognizing a problem and handling it with the help of professionals.

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Don’t forget you

As soon as you become a parent, your children occupy almost your every thought. At first, this may serve as a mechanism to adapt to your new role as a parent, or anticipate and solve problems along the way. But if you continue neglecting your own needs, and pushing aside your identity, your parenting enthusiasm will also dwindle.

New moms and dads should work on learning to remember their preferences, nurturing their relationship and tending to their needs. As Elizabeth Silk, a New York psychotherapist working with moms put it wisely: “The happier you are, the better parent you will be.”

Adams, Claire 2017

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The End of the Summer….

As September begins there is a definitely an end to the summer as the children go back to school and a routine emerges once again for all parents. There are packed lunches to be made, children to get up and out within a certain time and bags to be packed. There are no more PJ days when we all hang out until 11am watching TV just because we can. There are no more going to the beach on a whim, days. However, there is comfort in routine and I don’t mind the getting back to three meals a day instead of eating brunch or the definite bed time. I know that many parents will agree with me.

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Teachers do this every year. It’s a strange existence in a way. After doing this for 20 years, I still get the same nerves, the same worry about “have I packed my school bag.” It’s the buying of the school shoes (yes, I have shoes that I wear to school!) or the making sure I’ve been to the dentist/hairdresser/optician. It’s like a start of the new year but in September with “this year I will resist puddings at school,” type mantras!

I often make plans in the summer to get fit or to lose weight but it never happens! I enjoy the summer like a teenager (apart from all the cleaning and dog walking!) and make the most of the long sunshine filled days and lazy time with my family. I am lucky in so many ways and I feel blessed. This year was no exception and we have enjoyed a fun-filled summer holiday. This will be my last year as a parent to two school children as my daughter is in her last year.My last year of watching hockey matches in the cold or enjoying a sneaky hot chocolate whilst we wait for her brother to finish rugby training. I will miss that.

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My funny kids cooling their feet in the 42 degree heat in Seville!

I wonder how I will feel this time next year?

So to all of you making new beginnings, whether it be starting a new job or watching your child go off to their first day at school, I wish you luck and happiness. I also hope that you have made strong and fun memories of your summer to look back on with a smile. Have a lovely September. x

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When life’s moments become hurdles.

I was inspired to write this post after reading a post by the lovely Roda Here

I read her post and her thoughts resonated with me.

I’m going back to work soon; in another week. There is the usual preparation that all teachers get after 6 weeks off but for me, I am returning to a 4 days week job rather than the 2 days I worked last academic year. I’m already making mental notes. I’m already planning out what I need to do/make/change and this creates a slight mania in me that I don’t like. I enjoy my job so why do I make these life moments into hurdles?

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Hitting 40 was a turning point in my life. I think it is for many. All my life I was making life’s moments into a thing. Always planning the next stage in my life. “After we get married we shall save for a house…..after the house we shall have a baby….after this baby I shall move jobs…..” etc etc .The problem with life planning is that these special moments become hurdles. Planning a baby and realising that we needed fertility treatment……planning a job move just to climb the career ladder rather than stay in a job I loved.  Was all this planning really making me content or happy?

With age comes acceptance and the realisation that life moments are to be enjoyed! Let life take you in the direction your heart craves NOT the direction your head thinks you should be travelling. Knowing that sometimes things cannot be planned for.

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So, for the next week I shall be leaving the plans and enjoying my children and family until school starts. The plans can wait whilst I enjoy THIS moment. I needed to be reminded of this as I was making lists! Enjoy each moment as they come and go. Do not make them become hurdles in life to be jumped over.

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My ovaries are hurting…..

I was chatting to my good friend, Marie. She is lovely and has children of a similar age to mine and she was asking if I was going to have any more children.

What!??! Urrrr noooooooo!!??

You get the picture!

She always thought that I would have more children you see -I have 2. In fact, I always thought I would have more children. It was just that there was never the right time. I even saved names for those children.

Hubbie didn’t want another when I did (when son was about 4). Then when I definitely could not see myself with another, he started to consider the thought! By then, the gap would have been 8 years between 2 and 3 and I just couldn’t imagine starting again. Anyway, I was working full time and I couldn’t imagine working, having 2 school aged children and a baby! I was only just managing with the routine I had. I remember a family member telling me that I didn’t want to get to 40 and regret it or that every baby was a blessing.

I reached 40 and decided that I did not want another baby. I was so happy and lucky to have the family I have.

But then my ovaries started hurting…..

I think it’s my bodies way of telling me this is my last chance. I mean, I’m 45 now so there is such a slim chance! This blogging malarky doesn’t help either as so many of you lovely people have such cute babies! And dont get me started on Instagram! OMG the cuteness!

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I think my ovaries are hurting because I just miss my children being babies? Does that make sense? I miss me being a mummy of younger children I guess. I think that’s just part of my make-up; I’m a primary school teacher so enjoy this age group. That’s not to say I don’t love my teenagers….I just miss them as babies. Or, may be my ovaries are hurting because I’m perimenopausal?? Yeah, that’ll be it!

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What I have learnt in (almost) 6 months of Blogging.

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6 months of blogging! Whoop whoop!*

I have been blogging for almost 6 months now and I’ve learnt so much! Who knew that little old me could learn all the technical stuff?

I started this blog as a way of writing about the things we were doing to the old house but it’s evolved into a “parenting, lifestyle, things we are doing to the old house” type blog! Another blogger described it as “eclectic” and that’s what it is…..a rambling old house in the Shires!

So what have I learnt?

1. You become clearer about why you are blogging.

I started this blog to fill a void of not working full-time and having more time on my hands as my children are teenagers. We had also recently moved house so it seemed a good way to document things we did to the old house over time. After 6 months it’s become more of a hobby. A hobby which I had never considered before and one that is more time consuming that I could possibly have imagined!

2. There’s a whole community out there! Who knew??

There are so many lovely people out there who you chat to over the computer! I have a little group of blogging friends and that’s empowering. I like the fact that I could be chatting to someone on the other side of the world about their vegetables or about their teenagers slamming doors too! The other thing I’ve learnt is that people are kind and helpful. Generally if you ask another blogger for advice, they will give it to you. As someone who had never been on Twitter before, this was essential! (Apologies if I still haven’t learnt tweeting etiquette 😉). And as for the whole self hosting thang….yeez! Not for me…..yet.

3. I like to write. It may not be read by too many people yet but I enjoy it!

I’m always amazed at the posts that people like to read. It can be the posts that I have fretted over posting. Or, a post that I wrote in 5 minutes gets more views that’s a post that has taken me 3 days to write! I like to write and that is why I blog but it’s important to me that people enjoy reading them. I know that others do it for a job but I have a job so I’m happy with my teeny tiny corner of the internet.

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Writing my blog is like therapy! *

4. It’s giving me something to fill the “mum” void that I am finding now I have teenagers.

Oh the mum void! There’s a post to write. I think nature is cruel because at the same time that our children are becoming more independent, we are becoming more hormonal. Crazy. Again, another post! It would be called, “My perimenopausal brain…..”

5. I’m getting out and about more due to My Glorious Gardens series!

This is bit I love the most! I know that next academic year I’m working more in school so this is pushing me out there more during this summer term! I’m going to Gardens that I have always wanted to visit but haven’t had the time to visit in the past. I love it! In fact, I’m off today…… must dash. My country boots (and rain coat by the looks of things) are calling me and Dottie is looking at me as if to say, “Come on mum!” Well, at least someone needs me…….😍🐶

So what are my blogging goals for the next 6 months?

Well I don’t really know where my blog is going but that’s ok! I’ve been a guest on Dippy Dotty girl’s amazing website but I would love to guest on a parenting blog.

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I’m older with older children but I have loved every aspect of being a mummy and as a teacher, feel like I have a lot of advice to give.

I think I would like to make a Linky of my own but lack skills so we shall see!

*photos from http://www.unsplash.com (credit Lucy Heath, Jesus Kiteque & Andrew Neel)

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How to teach kindness and build the self esteem of our children.

‘Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.’ —Annie Lennox

As a parent and a teacher I want my own children and the children I teach to know how to be kind. I actually believe that kindness is the most important thing for children to feel fulfilled and happy themselves. Unkindness in others tells me that the person is actually unhappy, they are stressed or something in their life is not right. Emotional resilience is more important than academic success or sporting prowess because without it you will always feel unhappy.

I had a training day this week about building self confidence and self esteem with a wonderful speaker called Cat Williams. Do take a look at her site here….

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Building self confidence and emotional resilience helps children to feel fulfilled and happy in their own skin. In turn, this helps children to be able to be kind to others. In fact, having these things throughout our lives is essential for positive well being and mental health. Finding what makes you happy is all part of this so it is our job as parents and educators to help children to explore that. With this in mind, I thought I would blog about some of things I have learnt during my time working with children. I am not a professional counsellor and these opinions are my own but I have taught hundreds of children and hope some of these things may be useful to others.

Children can not be a great friend until they are friendly. They will not be able to show kindness unless they have experienced it for themselves.

As parents and teachers we ask children who their friends are. We ask them who they played with or if anyone was horrid to them. In other words, we are worried for children as we can often remember the time when we felt lonely or excluded and we don’t want our children to feel these things. But instead, perhaps we should be praising children for the friendly behaviour that will help them to see how to be friendly and kind. ” I loved the way you included everyone in your game! I think that Ben could see that you were being kind to him.” Or ” thank you for sharing your spade with your friend so that she could make a sandcastle too. That was a kind thing to do” Help your child to be friendly to other children so that they can see what being a good friend is like. Modelling is also important so be a friendly person yourself. Don’t exclude other parents, talk about others behind their backs or be nasty! It sounds obvious but as a teacher, I see this in adults all the time and then they can’t understand why their child is struggling. Show your child kindness. We love our children so showing love is easy but showing kindness can sometimes be forgotten.

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Ask the right questions.

Don’t put words into your child’s mouth about how their day may have been especially if you are using negative words. For example, “Did that nasty boy bully you today?” or “Did you not have anyone to play with on the playground?” These types of questions make the child want to give you an answer! So they will possibly tell you what they think you want to hear and that is not always the truth. “Oh no I didn’t have anyone to play with!” (when actually they were very happily playing on their own or they were only alone for 5 minutes.) “Yes, that nasty boy bullied me!” (Actually he didn’t but he does have tricky behaviour sometimes so that’s what my parent must be asking me). Instead ask your child what they did today. Or ask them to name three things they loved doing today. Make it positive and your child will feel as if they have had a great day. Feeling positive about something helps children to have the mindset that will promote positive emotional growth.

Let your child try new things but don’t make them do things you wished you had done.

This is obvious but I see it all the time. We want our children to try new things like learning a new instrument or taking up knitting. What children don’t need is their Dad making them play rugby because Daddy almost made the England squad and feels disappointed that he didn’t. By all means take your child to rugby but don’t start questioning everything they are doing or criticising them. All this does is make your child feel bad about themselves. What Daddy should be doing is joining a rugby team himself as rugby makes him feel good! Find what makes you feel amazing and do that! For me, it’s gardening, skiing, teaching and being outside. I also love ecology and nature and remember sitting next to our garden pond when I was a child watching out for frogs….I still love this now!

It’s ok for your child to show emotion, including anger.

We need to ensure that children feel it’s ok to show how they feel. It’s ok to be cross or sad or very angry but it’s not ok to hurt others when we feel like that. That’s how I explain emotions to children. This week in school we have talked about positive feelings and I use emojis to describe them to children. Children often do not have the words to describe how they feel so it’s our job as adults to teach them. We talked about all the words that describe positive emotions such as friendly, fun, joyful and pride. It was interesting that the children knew many more words for negative feelings such as sadness, crying, shame, jealous, mean, guilty and frightened. It is valuable for children to talk about their negative emotions in a calm and non threatening way so, as a parent, I would try to do this after an event of anger focussing on how the event made them feel and what to do next time. Trying to talk to an angry child is not going to be a positive experience for anyone!

Give positive praise

We all remember the time we were told off by a teacher or parent because often it was scary. I expect you can’t remember what was said because the feeling of being frightened stopped you from listening. If you were to name one adult in your life growing up that was important to you, I expect it was an adult who made you feel special. They listened to you and showed you kindness. That’s the adult we need to be for our children. The adult who will take that extra time to really listen to children and to praise them for the small things that happen each day. It’s easier to ignore good behaviour isn’t it? But that’s the behaviour you need to comment on so that your child sees what is expected of them. If your child keeps doing something you don’t like then try to ignore it and praise them on the things you do like. For example, if your child keeps interrupting you, ignore them but if they say, excuse me, then look at them and smile and listen to what they have to say and tell them thank you for saying excuse me. If your child is eating beautifully at the table using their knife and fork let them know that you are proud of them for doing so! I often see parents completely ignoring their little ones until they do something “naughty” and then they stop ignoring them! This just makes children repeat that naughty behaviour to get their parents attention. It can seem silly at first but it really does work.

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Tell them they are amazing!

I often tell children they are amazing and every time, every child glows. Children need to be told this to feel it. Try it with your own children. It really works! Try not to use words that describe their physical appearance such as beautiful, pretty, cute, handsome, “such a dude” etc. This just makes children feel that they have to be these things all the time to impress you. We can’t all be beautiful, pretty or cute all the time but we can be amazing.

We have a kindness pledge in our classroom so I thought I would end with this:

I pledge to myself

On this very day,

To try to be kind

in every way.

To every person,

Big or small,

I will help them,

if they fall.

When I love myself,

And others too,

That is the best,

That I can do.

Have a great weekend everyone.

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