Are you worried your child is too good? Yes, seriously!

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 15 January 2018

Children who get too much validation for being good find it very difficult to handle the tiniest mistake without feeling they are failures. These children, if they do make a mistake, are apt to lie, or worse, avoid activities that they are not sure they will succeed at to cover the fact they are not perfect.

Is your child being good to win approval? Or are you blessed with a sensible little person who always seems to get it right?

Things to do and say to ensure your child doesn't become an approval seeker:

1. Don't compare. Don't say, 'Look at your sister, she is sitting up well.' Or, 'Why can't you be good like your brother/cousin?' It makes the 'bad' child feel bad and therefore act 'bad' and it puts pressure on the 'good' child to please you.

2. Use encouragement. Notice progress and effort rather than results. Say, 'You are working hard at keeping your room tidy' instead of 'good boy'. Separate the behaviour from the person. That is, keep what people do, separate from who they are, so that a bad behaviour does not make the person bad, nor a good behaviour make a person good. This is very important for self- esteem.

3. Say 'Try again!' to let your children know that it is ok to make a mistake and that they are wonderful opportunities to learn. Create a ritual during car trips/ dinner of having everyone take turns sharing a mistake and what they learned from it.

4. Make sure your children get the message that ANYONE can fall down, but it takes courage to get up and try again.

5. Don't let your children get away with avoiding new activities. Let them know they can decide to stop an activity after at least three or four activities. This will help to reduce the likelihood of your child not taking risks in case they are not the 'best'.

                                                  Teach that a mistake is just that, a mis/take. It is impossible to grow and learn without making them..... and that is what being a kid is all about isn't it?


Posted in: parenting tips anxiety child not risk taking worried children making mistakes stressed children  

10 easy ways to calm yourself or your children down

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 17 April 2017

These easy calming methods have been taken from Lauren Brukner's book, The Kids' Guide to Staying Awesome and in Control. Brukner is an occupational therapist who helps kids who have sensory integration issues be able to keep it together in school. However, her calming techniques are brilliant for any kids and adults too.



1. Hand Massage

What's great about this is it can be done at any time. No one will notice. Simply use the thumb of one hand and press around the palm of the other hand. It's very soothing.

2. Palm Push

By pushing your palms together and holding for five to ten seconds, you give your body "proprioceptive input," according to Brukner, which "lets your body know where it is in space."

3. Close Your Eyes

It is said that 80 percent of sensory stimulation comes in through the eyes, so shutting them every now and then gives your brain a much-needed break.  Highly sensitive people can benefit from staying in bed with their eyes closed. They don't have to be sleeping. Having the eyes closed allows for some chill time and a break from being bombarded with stimulation.

4. Mindful Sighing

To do this you breathe in to a count of five through your mouth and then you let out a very loud sigh.

5. Mindful Monkey Stretch

Bring your hands, arms extended, in front of you, then bring the arms down. Next bring your arms (still extended) to your sides and then down. Next bring your arms all the way past your head and then swoop down allowing your head to dangle between your knees and hung there for a second. This exercise is extremely effective at releasing the tension we hold in different parts of our body.

6. Hug Yourself

Did you know that a ten-second hug a day can change biochemical and physiological forces in your body that can lower risk of heart disease, combat stress, fight fatigue, boost your immune system, and ease depression? You can begin by giving yourself a hug. By squeezing your belly and back at the same time, you are again giving yourself proprioceptive input (letting your body know where you are in space), which can help stabilize you.

7. Wall Push

Another great exercise to ground kids (and adults) with sensory integration issues, according to Brukner, is the wall push, where you simply push against the wall with flat palms and feet planted on the floor for five to ten seconds. Placing the weight of our body against a solid, immobile surface and feeling the pull of gravity is stabilizing, even on a subconscious level.

8. Superman Pose

If you do yoga, the superman pose is basically the airplane position, except the arms and the hands are stretched out in front of you, not to the sides. Lie on your tummy on the floor. Extend your arms in front of you, and hold them straight out. Extend your legs behind you and hold them straight out. Hold that pose for ten seconds. It's a great exercise if your child is sleepy, overexcited, distracted, or antsy.

9. Shake

Did you know that animals relieve their stress by shaking? Lots of animals shake off their fear after being frozen in panic to escape a predator. So give it a go, get your children to get their shake on!

10. Bubble Breath

The Bubble Breath is very simple and calming.
Breathe in for five seconds, out for five seconds.
Imagine you have a wand of bubbles. When you breathe out, be careful not to pop it.
Place one flat palm on your heart, one flat palm on your belly.
Breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for five seconds.
Breathe out a large "bubble" though pursed lips, blow out for five seconds.

Posted in: Back to school parenting tips anxiety dealing with disappointments worried children stressed children grumpy children symptoms  

My Children just will not listen to me!

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 16 March 2016

Following are some tips to help you when your children just won't listen to your instructions

Give your instructions simply

To get children to tune into what you have to say we need to follow the advice of successful advertisers. You've only got a few seconds say the headline only. Coca-Cola doesn't say, we think you'll like Coca-Cola, it is black and fizzy, it was developed by scientists in Germany for medicinal purposes etc. etc. They say: Coca-Cola is the best drink, buy it now!
When a child is misbehaving you're lucky to get their attention at all, so don't push it by trying to explain WHY they have to change what they are doing. They won't be listening. You will be wasting oxygen and words. Teaching, or filling in the 'why' is for later when everyone is calm and not misbehaving.

Give instructions once only

Giving instructions once, is about being assertive and in charge, repeating yourself actually puts the child in charge. It tells them that you have got nothing else but to keep repeating yourself.

Give instructions clearly

Giving the instruction clearly is about telling the child what you want them to do. We often tell children what we don't want them to do, which is too abstract for a child who is misbehaving.
Children change their behaviour more easily through replacement not erasure. It is too much to expect them to just stop behaviour without giving them something to replace it with.
E.g. Instead of, "Stop running in the house!!" say, "Sam, walk in the house. Thank-you."

Remember: Say thank-you at the end of the instruction, not please or 'O.K?'  Saying thank you is polite and sends the message that you expect it to happen. It stops you from raising your voice at the end, which changes your clear directive into a question. Children are clever, if you ask them a question they know they have the right to answer either way!

Posted in: being assertive Saying no to children in charge Children not listening to instructions parenting tips defiance getting along  

Some tips to help your family use technology in a positive way

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 1 March 2016

Following are some more suggestions to help take the ;scary' out of technology use:

1. Require access to all email and social media accounts and know your children's passwords:
Let them know UP FRONT that you'll check text messages, emails and social media accounts.  It's not spying on them you are giving them fair warning that you'll be checking to help keep them safe.

2. Implement a technology curfew:
Phones, computers and gaming devices must be turned off during meals and by an agreed upon time each night. " Technology blackout" times encourage families to do things together and forces children to get creative with their free time. It also means that they are more likely to sleep at night instead of staying up using their devices. Once you have spoken about this with your children, you can use parental control apps to schedule locks on all devices if you think that is necessary. Remember though, that the goal is to help your children learn self- restraint.

3. You can make bedrooms off-limits for technology:
Require that computers and smartphones be used in public spaces and charged in a central area like the kitchen.

4. Consequences:
Be very clear about the positive and negative consequences. If your child follows your house's standards be sure to find a way to recognize their efforts, verbal encouragement is ok but spending time together doing something your child enjoys is great. If your child won't comply with your technology standards, the devices  go away for a break, again for a previously agreed on time. This means they might have to use the computers at school for homework and go back to the most basic mobile phone without texting capability and internet access.

5. Set an example as good digital citizens:
Forty-six percent of kids have seen Mum or Dad use the phone during dinner, and 49 percent don't see anything wrong with it. If the kids witness you doing it, they will assume its approved behavior. That means no texting while driving (not even at red lights!), or it's safe to assume your kids will follow suit when it's their turn behind the wheel.

6. Find apps that encourage impulse control and creativity:
Remember that  technology can have a positive effect on children and their families.
This can occur when it is used for a balance of learning, communication and entertainment, when parents are very clear about what they are comfortable with in terms of technology use and when they stick to the boundaries they set .. without succumbing to peer pressure.

Remember that learning using technology is more rewarding and engaging than traditional learning and can be very helpful if your child needs repetition to learn. It can promote social engagement during games if children are playing together or by talking about the games they play. Some apps are being developed now that are designed to increase attention and improve impulse control, thus counteracting the main detrimental effects to development that technology can cause.

Posted in: Saying no to children parenting tips kids gadget use technology and kids  

Are you anxious about your child's anxiety?

Posted by Meg Parkinson on 23 February 2015

Every child deals with some form of anxiety at some point in their life, whether that's monsters under the bed, to failure at school, or being afraid they won't fit in. Although these are usually short-lived and a normal part of childhood, sometimes anxieties can linger and worsen to an extent where they begin to impact a child's everyday life.

What are some typical anxieties that children experience?

Separation, social situations, failure, criticism or tests, getting physically hurt, anxiety about not being perfect, world events, wellbeing of family members.

What causes anxiety in children?

Some people are more likely to be anxious because it runs in the family (just like eye colour). People can also learn to think and behave in an anxious way by watching others, or by going through experiences that the child perceives as scary. Certain things in a child's environment might also increase the child's chances of becoming anxious for example, if a parent is inadvertently overprotective of a shy child it might help the child in the short term, but can increase the child's anxiety overall, or if the child senses any difficulties that the parents might be going through. Unfortunately, the more anxious parents become about their child's anxiety, the more anxious the child often becomes.

 How can parents help with their child's fears or worries?

Some ideas:

1. Acknowledge your child's fear don't dismiss or ignore it. This helps to separate the feeling from the behaviour
2. Use magic lollies/ wand.  Get them to imagine the situation if they weren't anxious, ask them how they feel, what they would be doing.
3. Teach them how to manage their thinking. E.g how to park their thoughts for awhile, go and do something they like, then come back to it to see if they still feel worried, maybe they can now start to come up with some solutions.
4. Break the situation up into bits. Gently encourage your child to do things she's anxious about, but don't push her to face whole situations she doesn't want to face, decide which part of it she will do today.
5. Encourage your child for doing something he's anxious about. Focus on the positive feelings you get when you do something you are anxious about.
6. Avoid labelling your child as 'shy' or 'anxious'. This can set up a self fulfilling prophecy. 
Posted in: anxiety worried children stressed children  
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