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!

When the second child is praised for it’s poo, the first child can struggle!

I’ve done a few posts about Curly Headed Boy’s struggles at reception, and the good news is that things definitely seem to be improving.  This morning we had a chat, and it appears that his improved confidence is really affecting his confidence in the class room as well, and he is mixing a lot more with the other children.

There are still several things that I’ve been purposely doing that I need to blog about, and one of them is this really easy tip for improving your child’s confidence, especially when they are a first child and another appears.

The problem is, that Little Dimples at the moment gets praised for pooing, let alone anything else.  Plus she’s awful cute and can get away with lots of general naughtiness.  It’s very easy to forget that Curly Headed Boy is also very good at some things in comparison to other kids his age, and to praise him for these day to day things.  Even his teacher admitted that she doesn’t always remember to praise him because it’s kind of expected that he will do them, so she is actively making sure that he gets stickers and praise at school as well.

So this is a really simple reminder, that even the best parents might need, to be proactive and frequent in your praise.  It’s not the main way of making Curly Headed Boy feel loved (for some it would be extremely important), but it is something he needs.  Plus, I’m making a big effort to praise him as soon as possible after Little Dimples is praised for something, to keep it fair and balanced.

Here are some simple ideas for what are easy things to praise, plus things that you probably want to encourage in a 5yr old, it’s not an exhaustive list, but a good start:

  • saying ‘excuse me’ and not interrupting
  • asking for things politely
  • looking after Little Dimples (which tends to mean behaving in a crazy manner to make her laugh)
  • being patient
  • sitting still at the table
  • eating his dinner/food
  • eating his desert
  • being thoughtful
  • helping with cooking
  • tidying something
  • getting ready without taking half a day
  • doing his homework
  • remembering a new word
  • telling the truth about an accident or breakage

What’s ideas do you have that you can share with people?  Feel free to add them in comments, it would be great to get more.

The great thing is, that it also appears to reduce the number of tellings off required.  We also had a chat a few weeks ago, and he agreed that often the only reason he plays up is to get attention.  So I agreed to try to realise this and be more understanding, and he agreed to try and let me know when he is feeling left out.  So with the two things together, it appears or feels to be a much more harmonious household (don’t imagine perfection, there are still shouty moments, but they are much more useful shouty moments).

Sometimes we need to look outside of our families to realise how lucky we are.  All kids are great, but it’s important to appreciate our own children’s version of great, rather than worry about where they are not great.  If you fancy looking into this in more depth, I’m running a free webinar in a couple of weeks about how to ensure your children reach their full potential, have a look here and see if you fancy it, I’m really sure that it has useful information for all types of parents.

How Play Dates help with school and bullying

So I have mentioned in a post a few weeks back that Curly Headed Boy wasn’t very happy in reception (first year of school).  Last week I explained how I had tackled one of the problems, which is that he often feels overly criticised by the children in his class.  So, I thought I would give you an update on how he is doing.

He certainly seems to have gained some confidence, especially because he now understands that his lovely teacher has put him on the table with clever kids on purpose, and not because they had made a mistake.  So he is ‘meant’ to be there.  How funny that I would never have thought to tell him that he was ‘good enough’ to be in the class room.  I suppose that is because I never explained what those ‘play dates’ with schools were, when he was being assessed.

I’m not sure that he is managing to stand his ground with one of the stronger characters who is intimidating him a bit, but he has a lot more perspective since I had that little chat about it.  So there is still some work to be done here.  Plus maybe another chat with the school, who have done an assembly on ‘bullying’, but I think that they might need to do some more general things about ‘friendship’ and ’empathy’ within the class.  However, today is Pirate day (see photo here), so he has been a happy bunny this week.  Plus in a couple of weeks they have an outing to an air museum, which is going to be fabulous.

Despite him being tired and it being dark, I have made a big effort to make sure that he gets a playdate in every week.  I’m purposely being quite strategic in the plan of dates.  First have been some old friends from his nursery, who are not in his class, but I thought that to give those friendships a little boost would help as a good foundation.  After all, they can still play in the playground.  In the next couple of weeks, we are focussing on new friends, and repeat play dates with new friends.  I’ve also got one with a favourite girl friend of his coming up, as he does like girls and I think that a little encouragement to ignore the girl/boy divide is a good plan.  So I have become a brilliant Mummy PA in the last couple of weeks!

When looking to arrange playdates, it’s not ‘wrong’ to think about it strategically.  School relationships are amazingly fluid, so especially at this early stage they can easily change.  I remember back at my school, there was a girl who I generally thought was pretty horrid and was always picking on me.  However, one day my best friend and hers got us together and explained that they wanted to be best friends from now on, and they didn’t want us to be alone, so could we become best friends (you know what girls are like with their BF relationships, it’s a big deal!).  Do you know what, we did, and it lasted for ages.  Our relationship never went back to the original one where she was picking on me.  So it might be worth you really thinking out of the box for the play dates and not going for the obvious options.

If you are working, or don’t get to do the drop off like I do, there are other ways of finding out.  You can ask to have a chat with the teacher; I did that at his last nursery and they can be a great source of suggestions.  Plus, I just put an invite in a child’s bag for the play date if their parents weren’t there at drop-off and pick-up.  If you don’t want to do play dates during the week, then hows about one at the weekends, or make a big effort to go to the parties you get invited to and suss out potential parents you might get on well with as well for a get-together at a weekend.  There are always the holidays too, so you can pack in lots of play dates then.

I was arranging them on Mondays or Thursdays, as they seemed like the best days (Tues & Wed are now full: more of that to come later), and I thought he might be too knackered and horrid on a Friday.  But I’ve changed my mind now, and any new ones, I’m going to book on the Friday.  I’m also going to try to book some with more than one child at our local soft-play/animal farm, because that makes it easier for us Mums with siblings to deal with, and we can have dinner there too, so it reduces the stress of getting everything fitted in.

I know how difficult it can be with a busy life, dark winter nights, and siblings.  But if your child is having any problems socially at school, I really encourage you to help them a little and prioritise it.  I have had to drop/adapt a few things sometimes in order to do it, like baths (every other night), 2 books to read (dropped to 1 some nights), meals that take 20mins to cook (dropped to 5 mins).  But I can make up for a lot of that at the weekend.  It’s a fine balance, but it’s worth having a go.

There will be another blog next week on how one of my other ideas of adding stuff outside of school is going.  (ooh and if this is your first time here, remember to check out all my other posts about dealing with bullying)

When your child thinks that ‘everyone’ is against him

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that Curly Headed Boy is struggling with his first year at school a little, but we have a plan in place to work on it, and I promised to mention the different things I try, so here is one of them:

He happens to be on a table with some very clever, but quite critical children (don’t get me wrong, he can be pretty critical himself, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to do it too).  Some have been criticising his work, telling him he’s doing things wrong, and generally having a little pick.  Recently they have been telling him that he says ‘yellow’ wrong (it comes out ‘lellow’).  He told me that ‘everyone’ was doing it.  Now, this could be an opportunity for me to get all upset and a bit protective, and there is a little corner of me that did.  But the rest of me explained a couple of big secrets about the way that the world works.

  1. You teach people how to treat you
  2. The world isn’t black and white, all one way or the other

You Teach People How To Treat You

This isn’t saying it’s our ‘fault’ if someone is mean, but it is acknowledging that we have a part to play in the situation.  No one is going to pick on someone who feels totally certain about themselves, it’s one of those things about human behaviour.

So we did some role playing about how he could tell them thanks for their advice, but he’s perfectly happy with the way that he says ‘yellow’.  Ironically, he was better at it than me, as he said my ideas for what to say were mean (must be that protective corner in me!).  He decided that as he is a monster (thats a whole other post), he would explain to them that he was saying ‘yellow’ in monster language, and it was fine for them to say it their way, but he’d be sticking with his own.  Poor chap, he’s got a southern Mummy teaching him to say ‘barth’ for bath, and the northern hairy husband telling him to get in the ‘baaath’, ‘stood’ for stand up, or ‘lurry’ for ‘lorry; he’s definitely going to have a weird accent at the end of this.

The World Isn’t Just Black or Just White

Now on the ‘everyone’ subject, I explained that the world is made of night and day, dark and light, north and south, happy and sad, grumpy and cheerful, mean and nice.  I got him to imagine a basket that was always half full of what he thought was ‘nice’ stuff and the other half had the less nice.  I said the basket would always be like that, so he just needed to look for the other side of the basket.  Plus half the people in the world were always going to like him and half wouldn’t.  So when he thought someone didn’t like him, he just needs to look at the other side of the basket for the people who do like him.

So it’s not ever possible that EVERYONE did something.  A couple of sensible questions later and he remembers that his mate, also on the same table, has no interest in how he says ‘yellow’.  Plus, the rest of the class didn’t say anything.  You can use the same concept with your children if they are getting properly bullied at school.  Ask them to look back at the incident with new eyes and really see.  Yes, some people would have been ‘bullying’ in their view, but others were just there out of fear to make sure that they didn’t get picked on, and it wouldn’t have been every child in the whole school.  This is only one step in the process, but it is incredibly important for them to know that not everyone sees them as the bully’s do.

Right, off to do some of my less favourite work: squeeze pages and marketing stuff, after all I did just get to do my favourite side of the basket by blogging!

When the environment we are in doesn’t encourage us to blossom

We are a bit like plants, and our children are too.  Some environments help us to blossom, and some are more of a struggle.

Put us in the right soil, with exactly the right amount of cold, heat, and water, and we’ll take off like a tree and blossom amazingly.

Put us in a place that feels too cold for us, and we’ll shrivel up (become introverted and insecure).  Put us in a place that over stimulates us and we’ll become a man-eating triffid (become precocious and over confident).

Sometimes there is something that needs changing in order to improve our surroundings and help us to feel that perfect balance.  But sometimes it is just to do with changing our view of the world that we are in.  More often than not it’s a bit of both.

Curly Headed Boy is struggling at the moment and his environment isn’t quite right, there is just a little too much stress involved.  It’s not a major deal as it’s at the early stages, but adjustments are definitely needed before bigger changes are required.  I’m hoping that a few adjustments in several places will do the trick, but we’ll see over the coming months and I’ll let you know.

How do I know?  Well, he’s been having nightmares for several months (probably since half way through his first term in reception).  He is one for nightmares, but not so regularly.  He’s often worried and asks repeated questions that show it, mainly about whether he is good enough.  He was worried about Little Dimples arrival, and that sometimes resurfaces, but in the main that seems OK as long as we remember to praise both at the same time.  He is also pretty vocal about not liking school and why.  Plus we have had some MEGA tantrums over the last few months, which other Mums have also noticed since their kids started reception.

The long christmas holidays have been great.  They given time for him to tell me lots more about school, and I’ve had a chance to chat to other Mums and get a bit more information about the daily structure etc.  The perspective meant that I was very clear on the ‘problem’, and could go and have a little 10min chat with his teacher.  We are very lucky because his teacher is lovely, and he adores her.  She agrees with me, that he’s bright enough for the school, in fact he is apparently very bright (I’m a bad Mummy, I hadn’t really realised that!), but if we don’t get this sorted out, then it’s not the right environment for him to blossom and grow in.  His brightness is more in emotional understanding, so things that other 5yr olds would ignore bother him, and he is bothered by the degree of competitiveness in his class.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kids, and it isn’t all of them (he just sees the ones that are, not the ones that aren’t).  It’s just that they have a VERY high value on academic learning, and he appears to have followed me in having a higher value on life experience and creative things.

There is also a touch of what could be called bullying.  It’s not major and no more than we’ve dealt with elsewhere.  It’s more of a general ‘throwing their weight around’ kind of thing, as the kids sort out their social hierarchy and a few lay claim to the top spots.  Now if you’ve read all my stuff about ‘bullying‘, you’ll know that I have a very different view of it from the mainstream, so I’m not upset with the kids involved, and I’m very aware that we have all bullied somewhere, sometime.  But I do need to teach him to sort it out and I know that the school is watching the situation.

So the plan …

  1. I’ve created a facebook group for the year, so that we can have more impromptu play dates: that should set him up to be socially stronger.  Luckily lots of the Mums are up for this.
  2. We started swimming lessons so he can meet more kids and gain confidence in something else
  3. I’m chatting to him and pointing out that not all the children have the same focus on their school work
  4. Some role playing to teach him how to deal with the slightly intimidating behaviour of a few of the kids, so he learns strategies to deal with it (he’s good at this).
  5. I’ve had a chat with him about being naughty to get attention at home, and we’ve come up with a plan that works out better for him, rather than the current one (mummy shouting), so the home environment will also be a little more relaxed for him.

This wouldn’t necessarily be the right plan for all kids, but Curly Headed Boy is a little like me.  We like a pat on the back, and wag our tails when we get them.  We are a little sensitive to a grumpy look, or angry voice and can recede easily.  I have the feisty Leo spirit in me to kick back in those cases, and I understand lots more about relationships and seeing both sides of a picture.  He’s too young for me to explain everything at the moment, so for a little while his environment needs a pick me up, and when he is older I can teach him more about looking for the stuff that helps us to blossom, even if it isn’t obvious.

Ironically, Little Dimples is totally the opposite.  I don’t have to worry about her at all, as she can hold her own with a scary look with babies twice her age.  This is great news, because wherever Curly Headed Boy goes to school, Little Dimples will follow with no trouble and she’ll make sure that she blossoms!

It’s also been a good reminder to me that we all need an environment within which we can blossom, and it can be subtly stressful when it isn’t available.  Again, it might just need a few minor adjustments or a change of perception, but it’s worth it.

I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks how he’s doing and what progress he has made.  Feel free to share your children’s experiences if you are also having a problem at the moment, and I’ll happily give you some ideas if you are struggling to get some.

You might like to sign up for my email list (which is different from subscribing to the blog), as during January you get a free online course.  I’m also about to announce a free webinar for February, which will give you more insight into understanding yourself and your children, which will help with coming up with these sorts of strategies, which goes well with the course.

It’s All Change On The Western Front

It’s been a weird 6 months, I appear to have been in mega ‘declutter your life’ mode.

You would have thought that giving birth to little dimples, and curly headed boy going to primary school would have been enough really, plus getting really sick.  But I appear to have been on a mission.

Maybe it’s because now I have two kids, there really isn’t any space for anything that is irrelevant or takes up time/space I can’t afford?  Did anyone else find a similar thing happened to them after having a second child?

I’m also much more aware of my age (41), and am having no problem in remembering to eat healthily or take vitamins and minerals that I probably wouldn’t have been reliable about beforehand.  I realised that if I’m to see my grandchildren, then some serious work needs to be done to get it into working order.  Perhaps it’s a big reality check that happens in your forties?

Or is it because it’s my ‘saturn return’ in astrological terms or ‘mid-life crisis’ in psychobabble terms?  My lovely astrologer (seriously, if you ever wanted to try it, he’s a lovely guy, brilliant value, very good at it and it doesn’t matter where you live) did say that it was hitting me this year.

I’ve found a wonderful woman locally who will take all the stuff  you just haven’t managed to get round to selling on ebay and do it for you (if you near St Albans and want her name, feel free to leave a comment below).  Although she takes a fee, I reckon that she makes more on the sale anyway, so it’s well worth it.  She took a car load, plus sold a bike and a dog kennel that got picked up from our home.  Then even better was the discovery of freegle (used to be called freecyle), which is a yahoo group where you can offer ANYTHING for free and within 24hrs it’s gone; FANTASTIC!

We had a flood from the shower, so downstairs is going to be refloored (we have holes in the floor from the dog scratching) and the walls painted in industrial child proof stuff!  So the house is getting a make over too.

I even in a fit of madness went from this, to this (plus yesterday I had all the grey dyed out!):

 

Meanwhile big northern hairy hubby is also at it, with a sudden fitness regime and a success at losing weight that he hasn’t had in 10yrs.  I think that we would both admit that our relationship needs a bit of polishing after all these years (21, how scary!), so there is change afoot there too.

The biggest change came as I decided what to do about my work.  I found it increasingly hard to work out how things would work with the second baby.  Now that I’m just focussing on Mums and am just overseeing my more general therapy business, it was easier, but also I realised that coordinating our schedules was almost impossible.  Plus for Mums I really needed to be able to provide incredible value for service for a really affordable price, but without making it pointless me working.  I was seriously considering just giving up work.  After all, I could be a stay at home mum (SAHM), and in the time I would normally work, I could get fit, look fab, and then when the kids leave school I’ll be about 60, so pretty much ready to retire.  There would be a hell of a lot less juggling to do.  But there would of course be the downside that I lose my sparkle when I don’t work at all, so I might look better, but I wouldn’t be much fun.

By the way, you might not know what I actually do?  I’ve updated by about page and background, just incase you are interested as to where I came from, and what my qualifications are.  But basically, I’m not a parenting coach.  I call myself a ‘mummy whisperer’, because I’m just here to help the mum to be clear on who they are, become more contented, get more sparkle in their lives, and create a strong family with less conflict and stress.  (There’s lots more information on this blog about the ‘fun creation equation’ and my services, plus on my main site).

Then out of the blue I found my solution!  It’s so exciting, I’ve kept quiet about it all summer, because I wanted to show you what it would look like before I mentioned it.  I’ve found a way, that I can provide help for Mums ANYWHERE, at ANY TIME of the day, 24×7, ANY DAY of the week, for ANY LENGTH of time.  Plus the amount of stuff I’ve put in the package is well worth about £7000, but I can sell it from £379, with the option to pay by paypal/credit card over 3 months, so it is really affordable.  Plus, it will be there for the Mums FOREVER, to reuse over and over again, for that one price.  Plus, for anyone who can’t afford it initially, I’ve got a FREE INTRODUCTION, and will be adding a £27 product to help people sort out their finances.  It’s way better than just 1to1’s because all the information is there to be referred back to at any time, and better than workshops, because no one can slip through the cracks and pretend that they understand. (Please forgive me for the shouting in capitals, but I’ve been keeping quiet about this all summer, so I’m kind of over-excited!!).

‘So what on earth is it?’, I hear you ask (hopefully?!).  It’s using a product called **jigsawbox, funnily enough created by another Mum who must have been in the same situation as me.  It means that I can put my workbooks or workshops online into packages.  When you login, there will be different modules, inside of which will be videos, audios, and text explaining that particular subject.  Then to help you learn it properly there are exercises for you to fill out.  But the best bit is, when you press [send to coach], I can then add my own feedback, so we can interact online.  There will also be the option for free webinars, or to add 15min skype chats or longer 1to1 sessions for some Mums who need more assistance (for example, if there are relationship issues, PND, or past abusive relationships).

Now I haven’t done a video to show you properly yet, but I will do, so keep a look out for it.  But in the meantime, you can get a free introduction to this fab system, plus start to have a look at your own identity and how your family is working at the moment, by signing up for free email list (see RHS).  I’d love to know what you think, so please do leave comments below.

So how come has all this come about?  Well, it might sound a bit tree hugging, but I’m sure there is a vibe of change in the air.  I was too late to get involved in *** Josie’s (a well known mummy bloggerwriting workshop about change last week, but there seems to be a lot of it about.  It’s the jewish new year, and schools always start at this time of the year, so maybe we are all programmed to be thinking about it around now.  There are days when it feels exciting, and others when it feels very scary, and almost like I’m grieving for something being over.  I cried buckets on the last night of big brother, and when curly headed boy started school, but in a way they were just opportunities for a few tears to do with something deeper.  As my mentor says ‘the greatest transformation happens at the border of order and chaos’, i.e. nothing gets changed without some discomfort!  So onwards and upwards, one step at a time, is my motto at the moment.

Is life changing for you too, or is it just those of us in the mid-life crisis?

** I am now an affiliate of jigsawbox as well; of course, because I think it is fab, I want to share it with other coaches/therapist/trainers out there.  If you decide you like it after hearing from me, feel free to email me for more info, and I’d really appreciate you using my affiliate link.  I haven’t found anything else that even matches it a little, it has been going for over a year, so the kinks have been sorted out, and there is tonnes of support.

*** Josie is one of the 3 mummy bloggers who recently went to bangladesh with Save the Children, and have started a Press for Change campaign to push Nick Clegg to commit to making the huge rates of child mortality in third world countries a thing of the past.