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04 Dec 13

Why children need recreation time at home and at school

School recreation time is vital for our children to give their exhausted brains a rest and enjoy some exercise in the playground. But I have also found that it’s important to set aside time for fun activities at home. I encourage my kids Tom and Mary to run around for a while in the garden or play a board game indoors if it’s raining instead of sitting down immediately to do their maths or Spanish homework. It is not easy for teachers or parents to find the right balance between work and play, but children need recreation time for many reasons. Recreation – the fourth ‘r’ We all know that teachers are under pressure to drill reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic into their pupils, however young they may be. But what about the fourth “r” for recreation? School curriculums are packed with a variety of subjects, and there are only so many hours in the school […]

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02 Dec 13

Helping your children deal with bullying

Many children have to endure teasing from friends or acquaintances at some point. Sometimes it is all in good fun, but other times it is more frequent and hurtful and turns into bullying. It is important that we as parents teach our children how to handle these situations. But how? And how do we know when to step in and help our kids in the first place? Here are some of my tips for helping children deal with bullying. What is bullying? If someone is nasty to your kids once or twice, you probably would not describe that behaviour as bullying. If it happens time and time again, then it most certainly is. Bullying is not always physical.  Teasing and name-calling is bullying too when it hurts your child and happens on a regular basis. My kids Tom and Mary were both victims of teasing during their first years at school. Tom gave as good […]

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27 Nov 13

Beating the bedtime blues: How to get your children to sleep

Beating the bedtime blues is a challenge for many parents. I should know! My kids Tom and Mary have given me many headaches at bedtime, particularly in their first year at school. It’s common sense that a newborn needs a consistent sleep schedule, but toddlers and school-age children also need a regular bedtime routine if tears and tantrums are to be avoided when it’s time to go to sleep. Children require adequate rest to be healthy and happy, but I think it is also essential to help them get the most out of the end of their day. Making bedtime enjoyable Battling to get children to bed can be stressful for parents who are tired themselves at the end of a busy working day. The secret is to throw some fun into the mix. Here are a few suggestions: • Plan calm activities before bedtime that you and your kids can enjoy together, such as reading a […]

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11 Nov 13

Guiding your children through the first school years

When our children reach school-age, it can be wrenching for parents. Waving goodbye as the little ones disappear behind the school gates on their first day is harder than you would think! The separation is difficult for children, too. But as our kids begin to navigate their brave new world, good parenting is just as important as ever. We need to help our kids learn the social skills they need to get the best out of their school days. Here are some of my tips for guiding children through the first school years. School stress When children start school, family relationships remain the most important influence on their development. But they are no longer cocooned by family life. They enter a whole new social world where they need to learn how to interact and find their own identity. My son Tom, now aged 10, took school in his stride, mainly because two of his […]

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05 Nov 13

Dealing with your children’s temper tantrums

Temper tantrums are a natural part of children’s development. But that does not lessen the frustration that a parent feels when a child is throwing one! Learning how to deal with your children’s tantrums in the right way can be very tough on parents – and believe me, I should know.  When my son Tom and daughter Mary were toddlers, they both were defiant, demanding and disagreeable. It is hard to believe that my now well-behaved kids were once little devils! So how did I survive the screaming, hitting and toy-throwing phase? Here are a few of my tips. Reasons for temper tantrums It’s important to remember that when your toddler behaves in an unacceptable way, it is not because he or she is bad. This behaviour is their way of trying to communicate and get your attention.  Fussy eating is a good example! Studies show tantrums usually peak between 15 […]

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05 Nov 13

The dos and don’ts of dealing with sibling rivalry

Sibling rivalry has existed as long as families have, and handling it requires good parenting skills. I should know – my children Tom and Mary have been sparring partners since they were toddlers! Of course, there are some families in which brothers and sisters are not rivals, and instead like and enjoy one another, but I think this is the exception. Children with different personalities and different needs living under the same roof are inevitably going to clash. So if sibling rivalry is normal, then how can we parents remedy it? Here are some of my tips. Reasons for sibling rivalry It’s natural for rivalry to develop given the close proximity in which most siblings live. Often the problems start when a first-born child is ousted from his or her position as the only child, like with my son Tom. Tom is two years older than my daughter Mary, so he enjoyed a […]

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29 Oct 13

How to make after-school activities fun

Learning shouldn’t stop once children come home from school, so it is important to plan after-school activities that entertain and educate! Since Tom and Mary started school, I have juggled my work timetable so that I can be at home when they arrive. Even though they normally have a good deal of homework to do, I encourage them to unwind after school and have some fun before they settle into their studies. So what after-school activities work for my kids? Fun and educational Tom and Mary are both at an age when they have formed special friendships, and they often come home from school with a friend. If the weather is nice, I like to let the kids play outside for half an hour or so. Tom, who is 10 years old, likes to play football in the back garden with his best friend John, while 8-year-old Mary prefers playing hopscotch or with her skipping rope with […]

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22 Oct 13

Coping with your children’s fussy eating

Most families have fussy eaters. You know the one – the child who eats jam sandwiches every day for every meal and turns their nose up at vegetables! When Tom and Mary were toddlers, they were fussy eaters. In part, being picky about food was a way for them to explore their independence. But being a mother, I was worried about my children’s nutrition, so I didn’t always handle the situation well, and I sometimes put pressure on them to eat certain foods. But meal times are a lot easier nowadays! Here are my tips to get over that fussy eating phase. Changing fussy eating habits Tom, 10, and Mary, 8, now eat almost everything I put in front of them. But it was a bit of a battle to change my children’s eating patterns and teach them about the long-term benefits of healthy food. So what are the secrets of my […]

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04 Oct 13

How to manage the homework battle

With my children Tom and Mary back at school, the battle over homework has become part of our evening routine. Mary normally does her work quickly and without complaints, but Tom can make a mountain out of a molehill of a few pages of algebra. Things have improved in the last couple of years, but only after a lot of cajoling and bribery! So what is the best way parents can help their children with homework? Here are a few of my tips. Homework help It is important that children receive their parents’ support with homework. There are always a million jobs to be done at home after a busy day at work, but I make sure I am on hand to help Mary and Tom with their school studies. I believe good parenting is about making homework a priority, but children need to be convinced you are doing this for their benefit. Make sure that […]

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27 Sep 13

Children’s pocket money: Getting it right

The new school year is under way, bringing with it new teachers, new subjects, new extracurricular activities and the yearly pocket money negotiations – yes, I do mean negotiations! I think my children Tom and Mary gang up on me every autumn before we discuss pocket money for the next school year.  They always have plausible reasons why they deserve an increase! But I am no push-over. I believe that pocket money has to be earned.  So I laid down some guidelines for my children from an early age. The language of pocket money Children need to learn the language of money as early as possible, and pocket money is a useful starting point for teaching them about it. There are no hard and fast rules on when to introduce pocket money, but I began to give Tom and Mary a small weekly amount when they were 5 years old and starting school. This […]

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