How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen

The importance of encouraging our children to be their ‘own people’

How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen
Will this book help us?

This is my review of Chapter 4 of ‘How to Talk so kids listen’ about ‘encouraging autonomy’.

This is an interesting chapter for me after Curly Headed Boy asked me a few months ago “when are you ever going to let me out on my own”.  As a 13yr old boy was killed on the crossing near school at Christmas my answer was very nearly “never ever ever ever”.

But despite that I’ve always been very keen on not over-helping him so that he can gain confidence in himself and learn from his own mistakes.

I’m very aware that a person who grows up dependent on another ends up feeling helpless, worthless, resentful, frustrated and angry.

Plus that being and overly supportive parent often creates a child who is an easy mark for bullies at school (not the only reason, but one of them).

In the book they recommend:

1) Letting the child make choices (clothes are a good example of that)

2) Showing respect for your child’s struggle (i.e. don’t rescue them, give them tips)

3) Don’t ask too many questions

4) Don’t rush to answer questions (e.g. ask ‘what do you think’)

5) Encourage them to use sources outside the home (i.e. other people/children or the internet)

6) Don’t take away hope

 

The only one I take issue with is ‘Don’t ask too many questions’.  A few more questions from my parents would have shown that I was bullied from 4-17 at school, and that I made decisions based on assumptions that were wrong.

For example I didn’t do French/German for A level because I thought it meant I would HAVE to travel and that my responsibility was to care for my elderly parents (both rubbish ideas).

I think it’s more about asking when they are in the mood e.g. at dinner time or bedtime (CHB becomes a very talkative little boy at bedtime; funny that!).

I’m not sure that answering without taking away hope is wise when CHB makes plans to become a werewolf either; but I did what they suggested and just asked him to talk about it, rather than saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’

Perhaps some reality is important to stop our kids becoming X Factor rejects.  But I get what they mean; after all anything is possible.

We have had a REALLY interesting conversation in the last 2 weeks though.  CHB asked me “Daddy doesn’t believe in werewolves, does that mean I can’t believe in them?”.  I’m so glad he asked, as I was able to explain that there will always be things that our loved ones don’t agree with and THAT IS OK.

Funnily enough we repeated the conversation about Skylanders the other day as he had spent some of his birthday money on one.  I explained that Daddy totally understood and agreed with the idea, but that I was worried that he would wish he had saved it for something else as he has a few now.  But that just because I wasn’t keen, didn’t mean he shouldn’t spend his OWN money on it.

 

Other tips they have are:

1) Let them own their own bodies (i.e. stop fussy over them)

2) Stay out of the Minutiae of a Child’s life (i.e. get off their back)

3) Don’t talk about them infront of them

4) Let them answer for themselves

5) Show respect for your child’s eventual readiness (i.e. explain that everything comes with time)

6) Watch out for too many ‘Nos’

 

Instead of No try:

1) Give information (see previous reviews)

2) Accept feelings (see previous)

3) Describe the problem (see previous)

4) Substitue a ‘yes’ (i.e. when it will be possible)

5) Give yourself time to think

I don’t think that this chapter is as ground breaking as the others, but maybe it’s just much more basic about stuff that we often forget.  What do you think?

I wonder how I will do in a few months time when the whole summer conversation happens again, and CHB wants to play outside without us watching.

 

Here are my reviews of the other chapters:

Ch1: The importance of not disagreeing with their feelings

Ch2: Tips on getting kids to do what we want

Ch3: What to do when punishment or more discipline isn’t working 

Why I started reading the book. 

 

How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen

Do we have a bad habit of confusing our kids so they don’t know what they are feeling?

How To Talk So Your Kids WIll Listen
Will this book help us?

The first book in my long list I’m going to review is:

How to Talk so your kids will Listen and Listen to kids will talk‘ by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

To help me, I’m going to do an in depth review of each chapter, and then at the end of the 6-12 weeks it takes, I’ll write up how we did (if it’s good enough and worth keeping going of course!).  Hopefully that will be helpful to you guys too?

There are Six Steps:

1) Helping Children Deal with their feelings

2) Engaging Cooperation

3) Alternatives To Punishment

4) Encouraging Autonomy

5) Praise

6) Freeing Children From Playing Roles

7) Putting It All Together

My first reaction on reading it was that it feels like a brilliant book, although I have some reservations, after all is it really possible to NOT punish a child?  After all, surely consequences are important?  Plus, what happens when they grow up and suddenly go to prison (OK, slightly extreme worry there!).

I can’t believe I didn’t know about it before though as it’s been around for 30yrs; is it like some extremely well kept secret?

 

Three important things to remember when reading it:

They don’t expect you to be able to do these all the time; they themselves were human and know that we are too.

The objective is to make sure our children aren’t damaged by our words

It’s NOT about being calm all the time; in fact expressing how you FEEL is important, just not blaming or accusing them for it.

 

Although they say to read each chapter and do the exercises before moving on, I disagree.  Read the whole thing, then go back and do it step by step.  They have added extra bits after each decade and they are really interesting, plus they give added ideas on how to implement it and clear up misunderstandings.

 

So onto my review of chapter 1:

 

1) Helping Children Deal With Their Feelings

This chapter I totally LOVE.

They talk about the fact that we keep telling the kids that they DON’T feel like xyz, which must have a big effect on their ability to know themselves as they get older and deal with their emotions.

For example:

Curly Headed Boy: ‘I hate her’ (talking about his sister Little Dimples).

Me: ‘Of course you don’t, you love her’

 

Thinking about it, I think I’ve been told for years how to think and feel.  In fact I’m sometimes a bit confused about who I really am.

The other day the Big Hairy Northern One and I had an argument and at one point he said ‘that’s not what you are angry about, it’s something else’ and I totally flipped (see, we are a totally normal couple).  I now understand how come; because he was doing exactly what they talk about here and I hate second guessing myself; don’t we all?

 

Even when we don’t disagree with how they feel, apparently we try too hard to help them, rather than let them find their own solution.

They suggest that instead we try just listening and saying ‘mmmm’,  and show that we understand how they feel instead.  Apparently, they will often find their own solutions?

There are 8 options that we apparently tend to take:

1. Denial of feelings: ‘you don’t need to be so upset with her’

2. Philosophical: ‘sisters are like that’

3. Advice: ‘Maybe if you didn’t ignore her, she wouldn’t hit you’

4. Questions: ‘What do you think caused her to hit you?’

5. Defence of the other person: ‘I can see why she hit you’

6. Pity: ‘Oh dear, it must be awful to have a sister.’

7. Amateur Psychoanalysist: ‘Has it ever occured to you that you aren’t angry with her, but yourself?’

8. Empathetic Response: ‘It must be frustrating to have your little sister always wanting your attention when you are busy.’

They are suggesting that we should go for No 8 and be empathetic, just feeding back that we understand how they feel.

I do see what they mean that when we are being ‘helpful’ it’s not always so useful.  Being an agony aunt type of person I’ve definitely tried all the options they suggest are less helpful.  But, I’m not so sure that they will find their own solutions; that maybe because I have a tendency to ‘advise’ ouch!

I don’t quite agree with them on this, maybe if (8) doesn’t allow them to find their own solution, I would still use 2-7; but I’m definitely avoiding (1) as much as possible from now on, and only resorting to using the others after trying to use an empathetic response.  Yep, I’m definitely ‘feeling some resistance’ to this one!

 

So to help with their feelings we are apparently meant to:

1) Listen with full attention (i.e. put the phone down)

2) Acknowledge their feelings e.g. ‘mmmm’

3) Give the feelings a name e.g. ‘You are feeling angry and frustrated?’

4) Give them their wishes in fantasy if it’s about something they can’t have (do a bit of make believe ‘I wish I could send her to the moon for you to have a break for a bit!’).

 

They do appreciate that we can’t just go along with our kids hitting each other etc!  In that case they suggest empathising and then limiting their actions e.g. ‘I can see how angry you got with her, tell her what you want with your words, rather than pushing her’.

Remember it’s empathising, not agreeing with, so it’s not me agreeing with him disliking her.

If the kids say something horrid like ‘I hate you’, you don’t have to just sit there and take it, you can still say ‘I didn’t like hearing that, if you’re angry tell me in another way so that I can help’.

It also has a great tip of letting kids draw their feelings, especially young ones, or kids that have problems with dealing with their emotions.

I’ve briefly tried it so far and I can definitely say that:

It fails when I’m tired!

It worked amazingly on the ‘about to kick off the biggest tantrum known to mankind on way to school run’ with Little Dimples.

It some times works between the kids to stop it look like I favour one or the other.

It’s great to know that it’s not my job to make my kids happy; especially as I know they can’t be happy all the time, so it would be an impossible task.

It’s definitely worth spending some more effort on.

 

I’ll let you know more at the end of the 6 weeks (or more if it takes longer; you know what life is like!).

In the mean time I’d love to know if you have done a review of this book or what you think about it?

 

Here are my reviews of the other chapters:

Ch2: Tips on getting kids to do what we want

Ch3: What to do when punishment or more discipline isn’t working 

Ch4: Encouraging independence in our children

Why I started reading the book. 

 

Fall of a hero

How does it feel when your hero falls off their pedestal?

Fall of a hero
image from BBC.co.uk

 

Oh Lance Armstrong, how gutted am I; you were the ultimate in marketing/hope story dreams.  The cancer recovery, the seven wins of the Tour De France (my husband is a fan, and I like the bums), the amazing record.

We’ve been listening for years about the fact that it was all a lie, but I admit that I really didn’t want it to be true.  I’m still a lover of a romantic story, despite my admitting that the ‘Cinderella complex‘ has not done me any good.

Hubby isn’t too upset, he still feels that it was an amazing story.

But for me it’s a worry about the fabric of our society, because it raises a big question: ‘Is it only possible to succeed in this world by ‘cheating’ or being willing to ‘do everything needed to succeed’?

All those people who weren’t willing to cheat, who will never know if they could have won.  Isn’t that true of lots of our world?

Am I worried because I’m not willing to do everything in order to succeed?  Yes, sadly I am.  I would dearly love to be able to reach millions of Mums and explain to them that they are perfect by being themselves, and not to listen to parenting gurus.  But, I’m not willing to leave my kids at home and go off to america as the Baby Whisperer did.  Or work all the hours that God sends as some of my coaching associates do, in order to earn more money.  There is the possibility that this will get in the way.

 

Jerome Flynn
Image from BBC/Tiger Aspect

In the world of personal development there are many hero’s or guru’s who end up (after many years and lots of their followers money) falling off their high horses.  Look at the story of Jerome Flynn (remember him from Robson and Jerome?) who disappeared in to a spiritual sect for 8 years that is run by Andrew Cohen.  Jerome looks like a pretty sensible guy, who had already done plenty of study, but even he got dragged into something based on untruths.

My teacher is a guy called Dr John F Demartini, who is very strict on saying that he’s not a guru, and that no one should ever be infatuated with anyone, or consider them better than themselves.  But even he has a habit of encouraging his students to follow his priorities, rather than their own.  I think it is always difficult when you are around a charismatic, strong charactered person, to not end up comparing yourself and thinking that what they want is what you want too.  But down that route is confusion, loss of identity and a very uncomfortable journey back to who we are.

 

Do you remember the first time you realised your parents weren’t perfect?  I do, especially for my Dad, but it was pretty obvious because he used to drink a lot.  However, with my Mum it was a sudden, awful and over night realisation, which took me years to recover from.  She had totally misused the position of Mum, which I can kind of understand now, but at the time it felt like the ultimate betrayal.

My kids already know I’m not perfect, especially as my cooking has very few skills!  But I need to make sure in the years to come that I gradually dish out the truth of how imperfect I am, so that I don’t have a long way to fall from that ‘Mummy Pedestal’ one day.

 

I think that the lesson to be learnt is:

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If it’s a built up romantic story, there is a hidden ugly sister that isn’t showing up.

If they don’t take their responsibility to stop you from thinking that they are as perfect as can be, then they are stinkers.

No one is better than you or worse than you.

If you sense yourself looking up at them, you are ignoring some less attractive bits of them or wonderful bits of you.

If you sense yourself looking down at them, you are either ignoring your crappier side, or not seeing what they’ve got going for them.

 

I might not be as ‘successful’ as the people who are willing to ‘do what it takes’ to succeed.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be as focussed and motivated.  It just means that my first priority is that my kids feel loved, and my second is that I’m strong and sure of myself.  At the end of the day, I’d be gutted lieing on my death bed with millions of book sales, but miserable kids, rubbish health (I know I’d be dieing, but you can die quick or slow), and no idea of who I am.

UpdateBen Richards who has recently recovered from cancer (and lives near me, so locally we all think he is fab), made a valid point that I ignored when I first wrote this post: He said that he found Lance’s recovery from cancer inspiring, and there is no doubting that even with the cheating, he also cheated death, and maybe that’s a time we would all want to be a cheat?

Have you had someone fall off a pedestal big time?  It can be rough heh?

When is it OK to cheat?

Are you willing to do what it takes?  What have you sacrificed or done that was slightly ‘dodgy’ to get there (you can always comment anonymously).

 

 

Which is better private or state schools

Does your past affect your worries about your children’s schooling?

What makes us feel one way or the other about education and the choices that we have to make for our children?

Some of it must be society and peers.  But I reckon a big part comes from our own childhood.

I was sent to an all girls school; hence my dislike of single sex education.

I also went private right through, my husband went half & half.  So initially we were planning on state primary for Curly Headed Boy and Little Dimples, until our options were limited to a school that had a bad reputation with the potential for improvement.  We just weren’t willing to risk our child as a bit of an experiment, so we went private.

Not just private, but private near London, which means loads of competition for places and loads of competition in the school.

After some work to settle my son into reception, he settled in well, and we discovered he was apparently very bright.  It was me who started to worry that it was too hard core, with too little emphasis on enjoyment of learning.

With the big hairy northern one being made redundant, I used it as an excuse to go to see the state primary, which had now proved itself to be on the up.  So Curly Headed Boy will be transferring there after the easter holidays, and is very excited.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Wondering about this has made me wonder what assumptions and myths I had running around in my head, especially from my childhood?

    1. Clever children don’t to art – I was allowed to do art O’level, but not allowed to continue afterwards.
    2. Arty people are flakey – the art teacher lied about their qualifications and had to be replaced after a year.
    3. Girls who can do science shouldn’t do english – and so I had to study Physics and Maths A levels, was meant to become and engineer, not a writer.
    4. You get better qualifications at private – I don’t think this is a true or full picture of what education gives.
    5. You’ll be more successful if you go to private school – my friends and family have proved this is not true!

I’ve come full circle back to my writing, and a big appreciation for the arts as a way of providing a rich life.

What I want to do is give my children the opportunity to decide who they are without any myths; but I reckon it’s quite a difficult thing to stay aware of.  I don’t think the myths per se are bad, it’s just that we need to be aware of them when making decisions that are affected by them.

So I’d love to know:

What myths have you left over from your childhood?

Are you more biased to the sciences, sports or arts?  Why?

Have you followed the same path with your children as you followed?  Or are you making different choices?

Or have you really made a different choice and gone for home schooling or Steiner education?

Family gap year

Family Gap Year vs Finding The Magic at home

Family gap year
Family travelling the world in a motorhome

With the big hairy northern one being made redundant, we’ve been talking about taking a year out as a family gap year; maybe 6 months in the states, home for my brothers wedding and 5 months in Australia and New Zealand.

Curly headed boy is 6yrs old, and having been to a private school is a bit ahead of our local state schools, so if we home school as we go, it will definitely not affect his education and he’ll be fine to return to a state school.  Plus I think he could do with some time out.  Little Dimples is nearly 2, so she would come back to a years pre-school before reception.

 

What I don’t want to do though is run away thinking that we can get something from the year away that we can’t get from staying and ignore the potential downsides.

So the question is what do I think I’ll get from it?

  1. Adventure and magic
  2. Self discovery for me and the big hairy one
  3. Time for the family to come back together and strengthen
  4. Time for us to think through what the big hairy one would like to do career wise in future
  5. Time out for Curly Headed Boy from 2yrs at a hard core school to rejuvenate
  6. Teach the kids how exciting and fun it can be to learn
  7. Expand the kids horizons, show them what else there is in the world
  8. Reduce the kids reliance on stuff and show them how lucky we are and what a ‘rich’ life really is
  9. Create stronger and more consistent rules and boundaries for the family
  10. See things I’ve never seen before

At the end of the day I’ve realised I want my children to have a ‘rich’ life, so if this will help them start on the road towards that, then great.

Realistically written down like that, there is no reason why we can’t do those things in ‘normal’ life.  But it will take a lot more focus, because it won’t be happening automatically from our environment.

The potential downsides are that we could nearly kill each other in the process of ‘self-discovery’, Little Dimples might not get important socialisation time, we could get sick or have an accident, if mis-managed it could end up costing us too much money and it could make it even more difficult for the hairy one to get a job on his return.

If we don’t go, the downsides are that we might not stay focussed on the changes that are needed, although there will definitely be a change, because we are going to change Curly Headed Boy’s school.  There’s no real way to replace experience though, because you just can’t be sure of what you would get, so it’s difficult to try and replace it.

But if we can managed to stay, plus achieve all of that list, that would be a really amazing achievement though.

It’s a bit of a conundrum and at the moment there are a lot of opportunities out there, I think that we need to do more research and follow a few of the options along to see if they give us a clue.  After all, if someone offered the big hairy one a fantastic job tomorrow, that might be a big hint to stay and just plan a great adventure for a holiday.

 

Video Wed: Do you let your child believe in magic?

Superheroes, Fairies, Magic, Sea Monsters: The world of a child is full of magic.  So do you encourage it because the role playing and imagination is meant to be good for their development.  Or do you worry about what will happen when the reality of life hits them?

Then there is romance, princesses, and happily ever after.  Does that really help our children create fulfilling relationships?

Even the question of aliens is an interesting one?

My mum used a very subtle form of brain washing to make sure that I didn’t sleep with anyone at an early age: it’s called afternoons full of old black and white movies, where all they do is hold hands!  It definitely worked as I was a very ‘good girl’, but maybe just a little too much, as possibly a bit more ‘bad girl’ could have been fun.  In my 30’s I found that my inherent romantisicm had caused me a lot of pain, and I tried to become much more sensible about it all.  But now in my 40’s I’m thinking, ‘whats the point about life is there is no romance or magic in it?’.

I’ve actually had to work with clients who were so badly affected by desperately wanting the kind of romance depicted in the Twilight movies, that they had gone beyond pure enjoyment and into the realm of it badly affecting their relationships and day to day lives.

My decision not to go into science because I thought everything had been discovered, but now I watch the astronomy programs on the television and see what has been invented since, and realise how incorrectly I was taught at school.  According to the daily mail, there is actually the chance that Sea Monsters exist.

But at the same point in time, a massive part of the reason behind depression, especially in Mums, is the fact that they had a fantasy of how life should be, especially in terms of what being a Mum or being married would be like.  So fantasies can cause huge amounts of pain and suffering for people.

So clearly being too romantic or too logical doesn’t work.  With Curly Headed Boy I try to walk a difficult line between fairy stories, the esoterics and philosophies that I have been taught, and science.  He like me will need to have magic and romance in his life.  But, it needs to be tempered with a big dose of reality so that he doesn’t find real life a disappointment.  I make my decisions on a subject by subject basis: so faeries are real; some other things like aliens might be, but we don’t know yet, ghosts are not what people think (i.e. not scary dead souls wandering around); father christmas is real and the tooth fairy is real (I reckon I can blame society for that little white lie when it comes up); ‘the force’ is real (I am a Reiki Master after all), but I can only teach him ‘the healing force’ not the fighting version and we can’t meet Yoda; Buzz lightyear is a great story; Magicians are really clever, magic exists, but I don’t know anyone who does it.  We’ll see, I hope that I get the balance right between just the right amount of freedom to imagine, but not too much to ruin real life.

So to help you ponder this question, what else that Queen’s ‘It’s a kind of magic’ for our video wednesday: it had to be really didn’t it!

Which is better private or state schools

7 Tips For Helping Your Child Enjoy School More

So Curly Headed Boy started in reception last September.  I expected it to be a bit tricky, but by the end of the first term he was no happier and it was really affecting him at home.

So I’ve been posting about the 7 steps (See the category ‘starting reception‘) that I took to try and resolve it, but I thought I would summarise them here.

How did I know that it was something that needed to be looked into, rather than something that would just sort itself out?

Well, I suppose that is all relative, but when there were distinct character changes, and signs he was really unhappy, I decided to take action.  To me it was possibly that bad that we would have to move schools.

 

 

So step 1 is to work out what the problem is:

Here are the sorts of things that I had noticed ..

  • He was having nightly nightmares
  • He’d had lost confidence (he’s normally very outgoing) and was nervous around some of the children
  • He’d retreated into himself and was much less extroverted
  • There were lots of tantrums, which was really unlike him
  • After a few weeks he started to have a fit whenever we got homework (twice per week)
  • He didn’t seem to have made any close friends which is unlike him as he is very sociable
  • He complained a lot about a couple of the children in particular as having a go at him.

After the Christmas holidays and spending some time with him, I a list of what the problem appeared to be …

  • Very competitive children due to the school being extremely academic.
  • Some intimidation by a couple of the children, which was sometimes in the form of bossing, sometimes a bit bullying
  • Children criticising his work/speach
  • Worry about the work at school and homework at home
  • Basically, things bothering him that should have gone over his head

It’s strange how many children can be in the same place and the same scenario and not react in the same way.  Curly Headed Boy has always been both a typical boy and very creative, and I think that he might just be more emotionally aware than is typical of a 5yr old boy.  But at some point all kids will have a problem at school.

 

Step 2 is to get your head around it:

It hurts when our kids are unhappy.  But, in order to help them we have to get our heads around it and step back a bit.  The attitude to have is that you’ve been shown some areas that your kid needs to strengthen and empower to help them in their life.  It doesn’t mean that sometimes we need to get changes in the school or other children’s behaviour, as it might also be in their best interests.  However, seeing your child as the ‘victim’ of anything or anyone isn’t going to help.  We need to get them strong, but it’s more difficult to do that when we are upset.  It’s hard, but you need to try to take your own emotions out of the mix.

 

Then Step 3 is to make an action plan:

to work on the areas that you’ve highlighted your child needs to learn more about.

So here are the seven steps that I put in place.  The idea was to strengthen him where he was weak and use it as an opportunity to teach him some life skills that he will undoubtedly need.  For your child you would need to adapt the steps to suit them, and their age.  But the ideas would be very much the same.

 

1) Add in a Playdate each week (Area to strengthen: friendships)

I’d not done this before because I thought he would be too tired.  I started with old friends to consolidate what he already had, and then went for new friends.  I also tried to make sure I went to as many of the Mum coffee mornings as I could, although thats a little tricky with work.

 

2) Talked to School (Area to strengthen: trust in authority and sense of safety)

Now if you read my posts on Bullying, you will see that I have a unique perspective on this, so I didn’t go charging in outraged that someone had upset my poor little boy.  If you go into school, I strongly advise that at first you take a consillatory tack.  We agreed that there was a problem and  in fact the teacher also agreed with me that the extent of the problem was such that it was possible that Curly Headed Boy would have to look for a new school as the environment just wasn’t working for him.

We realised that he needed more praise in school because they were taking it for granted that he could do certain things.  Plus I found out that the reason he was finding it difficult was because he was sitting with the bright children; so all I had to do was explain to him that he had a ‘right’ to be there, as he is bright too.  (It might seem daft, but although I knew he was ‘bright’ I wasn’t convinced that he was academically bright before).

 

3) More Praise at home (Area to strengthen: confidence, fairness and security at home)

Taking a hint from school, we upped the praise at home as well, and tried to reduce the telling off.  Sometimes this requires us to be interactive and see a problem off before it starts, sometimes hold our tongue.  It does make life a hell of a lot more pleasant for everyone involved if you are focussing on praising a child, rather than telling them off lots.  We’d lost sight of the fact that Little Dimples gets praised for pooing, so we needed to keep the praise balanced across the two of them.

 

4) Role Playing (Area to strengthen: Dealing with conflict scenarios)

We had several little chats when he was in the mood about the kids that were bossing him around and intimidating him.  Ironically, he told me off at this point, because apparently my ideas for what to say were a bit harsh!  The problem was that he was showing that he was upset by what they said, so of course they were going to keep at it.  He needed to learn some simple things to say that stopped the conversations immediately, rather than keep going with them.  He very much took control of this part and came up with his own options.

 

5) Talking about view of the world (Area to strengthen: feeling popular)

We had a long talk about the fact that things were not as black and white as he was seeing them.  There is no way that ‘all’ the kids were saying the unfriendly things, but because he was focussing on them he was missing out on opportunities to play with or be with kids who suited him better.  So I got him to look around more and find who was either not involved in the intimidation or who didn’t agree with it.

 

6) Bribery and Security Blankets (Area to strengthen: security)

I decided that he needed something to encourage him back to school and as a bit of a security blanket when on the way or at school.  He loves monkeys, and has a close affinity with them (being a massive climber and cheeky with it), so we bought him a monkey for the car and a monkey key ring to go to school with him.  Despite it being a strict school we seemed to manage the key ring with no problem.  It’s very surprising how well this worked; I think it gave a sense of consistency.  They are still there, but he hardly ever ‘needs’ them now.

 

7) Classes outside of school (Area to strengthen: confidence)

To give him confidence at school I wanted to focus him on what he was good at.  I was planning on just adding one class in case he was too tired, but circumstances meant that we picked gymnastics (he is very agile and it is really hard work, so it uses up a lot of excess energy) and swimming (something that we are now also doing each weekend for special time as a family).  These have worked brilliantly, and he actually seems to have more energy, despite the hectic schedule which I sometimes find exhausting!

 

And the Result?

Well, I’m happy to say that I have created a monster, who has just come first at one of the subjects in his class, has beans in his pants and can’t sit still, and actually likes school.

This is one of those things that needs to have a permanent eye kept on it, I’m sure that there will be more problems along the way.  But for the time being, there is a rest period, phew!

I’d love your comments on what you have tried in the past, or if you have any questions about your own children.  Plus you might want to check out my posts about bullying if you have more complex issues.

Is Narration Taking Away Our Children’s Imagination?

Curly Headed Boy has discovered Bambi.  After an initial avoidance due to him knowing that the Mummy dies, he sat down and watched it, and has done so again several times since, interspersed with Scooby Doo of course!  It was such a blast from the past, I’d forgotten how different the old Disney films are.

On the second watch I realised that there is hardly any narration.  It’s much simpler, with lots of music and lots of beautiful images to explain what’s going on.  Curly headed boy hardly had to ask what was going on at all, whereas he often does in normal films.

So it made me wonder; do modern films with their constant narration about what is going on take away the opportunity for our children’s imagination to fill in the gaps?

Does this make us expect to be constantly spoon fed when watching films or TV?  Does it spread over into other areas of life where we always want the answer straight away in front of us, with no time for working things out and the natural cause of events?

What do you think?  Have you watched Bambi and any of the other old films recently with your kids?

Video Wed: Thought Provoking Cartoon About Education

Hi Guys,

Welcome to my new slot ‘Video Wed’.  Now normally I’m expecting this to be quick little videos to cheer you up, make you laugh, or inspire you.  But every now and again I might add something different, and that’s how I’m starting.

I saw this video last night and was transfixed.  For a start I love these cartoon videos (in fact I have one of the way myself), but also the information in it was so thought provoking about how our education systems are failing us and the ‘ADHD epidemic’.  It’s controversial, and had me thinking that I need to drag Curly Headed Boy out of school immediately.  Then I calmed down and decided that if I stay aware I can counteract what is discussed, as his Daddy definitely maintained his odd view of life, and I’m not exactly ‘normal’ myself!

Let me know what you think?

Giving your children confidence by focussing outside of school

So I mentioned a while back that Curly Headed boy wasn’t happy at school and had lost confidence.  I’m going to summarise all the steps I took to help him out next week.  But first I want to talk about the final option in a bit more detail.

Now I’m not a ‘pushy’ mum, as I don’t panic about not starting Curly Headed Boy in piano immediately because he is 5, or that he must be able to speak Japanese by the time he is 6.  But maybe I was a bit wrong to not give him something extra outside of school.  My thinking was that he was already absolutely shattered. But when it became clear that he wasn’t settling into Reception, one of the things I decided to do was try some classes.

My aim was to give him confidence.  Also, I was really affected by the story of a 4yr old boy who couldn’t be saved because he couldn’t swim, so I did have a slight ulterior motive!  I checked out football, street dance, art classes, stage coach/perform, swimming and gymnastics.

I pinned it down to swimming and gymnastics.  He is a great little actor already, so he doesn’t need lots of help there, and the only classes were on saturday mornings.  We aren’t good with a schedule every weekend, so it wasn’t ideal.  Football is OK, and he has good eye to ball coordination, but I thought that could be saved for Daddy at the weekend.  His mate had just stopped street dance and started gymnastics.  So as he is particularly agile I decided to go for either swimming or gymnastics.

Remember the main aim was for him to gain confidence and find something that he was really good at.  His confidence had been knocked by children at school telling him that he was writing or saying things wrong, and he needed to appreciate what he was good at.  Plus some good old fashioned fun!  There was no space on the gym class that his friend had started on, and Max was really only keen to do something new with a mate as he was still very low on confidence.  So we booked the swimming.

BUT then the gym people phoned and said there was a space after all, so we ended up with both; thats the way the world works hey!

So this is why I now have a marathon of a Tues & Wed, to get food into Curly Headed Boy in the car on the way and the way back from class, and try to get everything done in time for bed at 6.30 (the best bed time for him).  Tuesdays I spend an hour on a gallery, trying to occupy Little Dimples and get some food into her.  Mind you, she has a very cute little admirer, so that helps!  On Wednesdays when I have energy we all go swimming for 30mins, then I get Little Dimples dressed while he has his class.  When I’m shattered, I hold a very grumpy Little Dimples while the lesson is going on, because I can’t face washing all our hair after (I’m officially a wimp, but for some reason the family changing rooms exhaust me!).

And Curly Headed Boy?  He is in seventh heaven.  He gets to see the older gymnasts do amazing things and work hard core for an hour at all sorts of gymnastic stuff.  Meanwhile the swimming girl totally understood what I was aiming for, so she keeps telling him how fab he is, and he enjoys it no end.  He now has tonnes of things to tell hims friends, and the confidence he has gained in the classes seems to have really rubbed off at school as he is playing with all the boys at break time now.

So if your child is struggling with their confidence in school, I really recommend you find something out of school that you know they will easily do well at.  It’s amazing how it has affected his general confidence every where, including school.

Mind you , we’ve created a bit of a monster, who wants to climb, jump on, or jump over everything at home … arrrggggh!