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.

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What do I miss?

I have amazing children who are now almost grown. I started this blog because I found that although I was working part time, I finally had time to do something else. My parenting days are far from over but my teenagers just don’t physically need me as much and it happened quite suddenly. It crept up on me when I found myself alone one Saturday afternoon enjoying a cup of tea and realised that I didn’t need to be anywhere! It got me thinking about all the things that used to drive me nuts that I was actually now missing. It’s as if my “parenting routines comfort blanket” has been removed and I am now thinking about how I should replace it. I’m feeling sad and possibly hormonal (ahh the menopausal brain) so bear with me!

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What’s annoying me series….This one is about having school aged kids.

Having children of school age is great in so many ways because, let’s face it, they are out of the house for at least 6 hours per day. However there are many annoying things too….

  • The endless charitable events….they are so annoying! Dress up as a book character, crazy hair day, bring your Grandma to school event?? Wtf. First of all, Grandma works and doesn’t really want to go to school and dance in a circle even if her grandchild is the best thing ever! Secondly, when your kid refuses to be a Disney character again (and this happens at about aged 7) then what am I supposed to find them to wear??
  • The newsletter. Rarely do we read these. Let’s be honest here. Do you actually read this EVERY WEEK. I always miss something and that’s sooo annoying! Like a parents evening…..But mum! I told you it was tonight! Oops. Or the Very Important Meeting. I’m often the mum who gets the after meeting notes by email with the, “We missed you at the Very Important Meeting…..” Actually, I was pretty good with this when the children were in primary school but lost the will to live by secondary school to be honest.
  • The boring lunchtime meals…..”Yes, I know you had ham sandwiches yesterday” or “Why don’t you want anything apart from ham??”Sooo annoying. And then it’s the senior school canteen…..when your kids said they ate nothing as it’s all horrid and the oldest goes to the shop instead. Well, I’m not paying for nothing! Sooo annoying.
  • The parties. Every week some kid has a party don’t they? And the parents seem to like to outdo each other with extravaganzas for their precious offspring. And then your child has to dress up/bring a swimming costume when it’s too small as well as buying a suitable gift. It’s just all so expensively annoying.
  • Having kids at different schools and realising that they also have different school holidays and TD days. Really?? Couldn’t the schools have talked to each other? Bloody annoying!
  • The annoying playground mum who looks amazing, works full-time, has 4 children and is the Chair of the PTA. There is something there that is oh sooo annoying but I also take my hat off to her. ((sigh))
  • The reading level competition. What level is your child on? oh really? thats a bit worrying…..Mummy, Sebastian is on level orange already! So what? do I really care what level my child is on? Not really, well may be a bit but my child is brilliant at making Lego models and great at annoying his sister so Stop! It’s very competitively annoying!
  • The never-ending fighting, squabbling and rolling around pulling each others hair/jumper/other body part. Kids love to play-fight don’t they?? I know it’s part of having siblings but I used to find it soooo annoying! Mum! Child has got my unicorn! But you dont play with that anymore! So? it’s MINE! Mum! Child hurt me and bit my finger! Mum! Mum! Mum! I used to hear that in my sleep.
  • Having a battle to find school uniform in the morning. Why does uniform always disappear or appear muddy/stained with ink/crumpled in a bag at 7.30am? That is soooo annoying! And why does sports kit disappear even though I have labelled each item to within an inch of its life?? And, why is it always ONE sock that goes missing???
  • Children of this age can. not. wait. Wait! I’m just on the phone! Wait! I’m just talking with your teacher! Wait! Slow down and do NOT go ahead on your scooter! Wait! You are impatiently annoying!
  • The coming down the stairs in the evening…this has become a family story actually because my daughter used to come downstairs every night for about, ooh 10 years. She was so inventive too with her excuses! Mum, can I have a (pause) grape? Mum, will a burglar be able to come through my sky-light at night? Dad, will you read me a story/find me a blanket/tissue/drink/give me a kiss/teddy/torch? Dad, why is it (pause to think) dark? that the tooth fairy only flies at night? that no one comes when I call for you???? Sooooooo annoying! What can I say? she was an anxious child.
  • Book bag notes. Now I was always conscious of this being a teacher but a few crept up on even me….the notes in the book bag that are actually quite important about needing wellies/favourite book/something white that you do not see and then turn up at school where every other kid is wearing white/wellies/with their favourite book except you. That is sadly quite annoying!
  • Lastly, the most annoying thing about having school aged children is the fact they change into teens…and that moves them further towards the part I am dreading….the leaving for University or to go live somewhere else. So, hold your children close and enjoy these funny moments. They might be annoying but they are oh so precious.

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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The pressure on our teens and how we can help them.

My daughter took her GCSE’s last summer. My son is in the middle of his now. They both are on the conveyor belt of studying and taking exams and seem to think that their exams are THE most important thing ever. Whilst I praise their enthusiasm for exam preparation and study, I’m struck by how much pressure there seems to be on their very young shoulders and that worries me as their mum. It is also worrying me as a teacher to hear about so many young people with anxiety or stress related conditions. There is so much emphasis on passing tests and exams in the school system these days that the love of learning something new has been squeezed out of their experience. My children look at school work as a torture and something to get done so that they can move on to the next part. Where is the wanting to find out about an aspect of their learning that has inspired them? It’s just the wrong way round isn’t it?

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How can I help my child when they are struggling?

I often get asked for advice about the children of people I know. Maybe because I’m a teacher and a mum, people feel that I have more experience than they do. People often just want to know if their child is “normal”. People just want to see if what they are experiencing is explainable or ordinary. It’s so tricky being a parent isn’t it? We often are experiencing something with our children for the first time. Looking up things on the internet can often label it to be “a thing” and that is terrifying. Some parents want their child to be gifted or talented but the majority just want their children to be a typical child for their age. Unfortunately, some just aren’t but that’s ok too.

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Is your child suffering from anxiety?

I suppose working with children, I have seen hundreds of children between the ages of 2 and 8 years old so I don’t bat an eyelid if they bite, punch, kick, eat crayons, twirl or smear poo. It’s kinda within the everyday, typical stuff that I deal with! But the ordinary things can be a worry and on occasion, can develop into behaviours that are not within the typical range. But how do we know when to worry?

My advice is always the same:

  • Every child has quirks, just some more than others. Accept them for who they are unless their quirks are affecting others or their own happiness/development.
  • Children display different behaviours and emotions sometimes, just like adults. It may be a phase. Displays of emotion such as anger, is normal behaviour. Unfortunately some children are just more emotional than others and may need more of a structure to help them deal with them.
  • Children learn and change at different rates. Try not to compare them to others.
  • Don’t always listen to the well-meaning advice of the older generation.
  • Listen to the professionals such as your child’s teachers and really hear what they are saying. It may be that you are not ready to listen, but you should.
  • Pre-schoolers (3-4 years old) should want to be sociable and should want to show you what interests them and engage with others.
  • Pre-schoolers should play with toys in an imaginative way. E.g babies are fed, passengers can get onto trains.
  • Your child should make progress in each school year but sometimes it may be more rapid than at other times. Learning does not happen at a continuous and at the same rate so don’t worry if your child makes rapid progress in Reception but this progress slows in year one.
  • If you are still worried, go and see your GP, Health visitor or child’s teacher. They really won’t mind.
  • If your child has been given a diagnosis of something scary, they are still the same child you love. Try to remember this.
  • If your child has a barrier to learning such as autism, do your research on how to help them and fight for them. No one else will.

Have a great day and keep your child close. x

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Is your child struggling?*

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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*photos from Pixabay

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Spectrum Sunday

Where did you come from??

I’m at home today as my son is ill. I watch him as he lies on the sofa covered up (well part of him) in a blanket with his big feet hanging over the edge of the sofa. Where did he come from? I ask myself. This huge, great man child who I love with all my heart.

This was a question that my mum used to relay to us as children. It became a family “thing”. “Where did you come from?” It’s hard to imagine our children before they were born isn’t it? But once they are here it’s hard to imagine them not being here. Where were they before? Were they waiting somewhere, waiting to be born?

Apparently mum asked my younger sister this once when she was about 3. Immediately she replied, “I came in a wocket!” We still laugh at this now….a rocket indeed, with a man called Robert apparently. Maybe we come and leave this world in a rocket….wouldn’t that be something!

My son was 3 only yesterday but here he is almost grown. Where did the smiley and content little baby who slept through the night and ate his body weight in baby rice go? Where did the defiant and chatty little toddler who asked 4 million questions a day without waiting for an answer, go? Where did the cheeky and physical little boy who refused to wear trousers and took his Lego creations to bed with him, go? Where did the school boy who loved hot chocolate with cream who was obsessed with Transformers, go?

He’s still here. He’s just feeling poorly. He may now be a fully fledged teenager; shaving, texting girls, obsessed with sport but he still here. He still loves to wear shorts and eats his body weight in food. But although he may have changed, he’ll always be my boy and hopefully he’ll always want his mum to make him a hot chocolate. Well, maybe until she gets taken off in a wocket…..

 

OH THE JOYS OF LIVING IN THE OLD HOUSE IN THE SHIRES.

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