10 Things Your Son Needs To Hear You Say

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Are you raising a boy? Me too! If your boy is anything like mine, you’ve got your hands full! Imparting wisdom might not come easily in between the scraped knees, the squashed bugs, the dirt that gets into every nook and cranny on the daily, and the inherent need to climb every tall thing they encounter. But when they’re not tearing up the house and trying to ride on the family cat like it’s a pint-sized pony, our boys are listening to us. They may not always acknowledge it, but their little brains are soaking it all in as they form their ideas of the world – so the words we speak to them are integral to their development. Here’s what we should be imparting on our little lads:

  1. “You’re so smart”

When boys are young, it can be easy to focus on their physical attributes as that is where a lot of their energy is focused. From toddlerhood, they’re busy testing their physical capabilities and limitations, while their female counterparts are generally focusing on language development and problem solving – so it can become easy to cheer them on when they kick a goal or win a race, but might seem less natural to applaud the way their minds work. Make sure they know that they’re worth more than their ability to catch a ball or run around an oval.

  1. “It’s OK to cry”

It’s widely known that older generations of men were taught to suppress their emotions because crying, or even showing signs of distress, were considered weak and feminine. As a result of those bottled up feelings, male depression has become more and more prevalent. Stop the cycle and encourage your boy to cry when he needs to let it out.

  1. “I love and respect you”

For boys (and men), respect is as much a sign of your love for them as your hugs and kisses are. It’s important for them to feel loved, and it’s important for them to feel heard and appreciated.

  1. “Calm down and breathe”

I don’t know what it’s like to experience a testosterone-fuelled rage, but I do know that there are thousands of stories out there of men whose anger boiled over and in an instant someone was hurt – a partner, a child, a friend, a stranger. While I’m not suggesting that a simple suggestion to “breathe” is the be-all, end-all of anger management for men, it’s a starting place for boys. Make sure your son is equipped with coping mechanisms for his anger when it strikes.

  1. “You don’t have to be good at everything”

Boys (particularly our sweet little alphas!) are driven to win. They want to be the best at everything, or at least really good. So when they find themselves struggling with something, they get frustrated and are likely to give up on it – then beat themselves up over the failure of it all. Make sure they know that not only do they not have to be good at everything they try – it’s not humanly possible!

  1. “You are brave”

Bravery is a big deal for boys – so it’s important that they feel acknowledged when they’re being brave. Of course, just as they need to be able to cry, they also need to know that it’s OK not to be brave – but having their bravery recognised helps to affirm it.

  1. “You are handsome”

Sure, boys are often happy to wear the same muddy jeans and ripped T-shirt every day for a week if you’ll let them, but deep down, of course they want to look good (or at least passable). Yes, a nine-year-old boy will probably outwardly groan if his mum regularly tells him how handsome he is, but a teenage boy who has made the effort to dress nicely for a school dance needs to hear it – it will really boost his confidence.

  1. “You can play with dolls if that’s what you like”

Gender-specific toys are becoming a thing of the past because parents are realizing that a baby doll isn’t going to cause their son to be less of a man when he grows up. Who would have thought!? In fact, it turns out that boys grow up to be Dads just about as often as girls grow up to be Mums. So if your boy chooses to play with a doll over a dinosaur, embrace it! I promise it won’t harm his development.

  1. “Your hard work will be worth it”

The society we live in today is a convenient one in a lot of ways. There are short cuts, hacks and products to make all kinds of things quicker and easier, from Thermomixes to dry shampoo. I mean, we can run our entire lives from behind the screen of an iPad. Hard work can easily become a foreign concept, especially to younger generations. Teaching our sons the value of hard work now is essential for their future tertiary studies, jobs, relationships and house-keeping… because there are just some things that can’t be short cut-ted!

  1. “Tell me more”

Women can talk your ear off if you let them, but men aren’t always as forthcoming. Whether they’re talking about something good, something bad, something hard, or something funny, they don’t fall over themselves trying to provide every last detail. Teach your son the art of expressing himself, his ideas and his emotions adequately by prompting him with questions that show him you’re listening, and that what he’s saying is important.

Raising a boy (raising any child, for that matter!) is a wonderful privilege, but one that comes with so much responsibility. Offer the above words to your son, and he will reap the rewards throughout his entire life, raising him to be the best man he can be.

 

 

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Responding to tantrums with gentleness

Responding to tantrums with gentleness

As a toddler-mum, I am no stranger to tantrums. It seems that with every passing month of toddlerhood the tantrums are becoming longer, more intense… and harder to deal with. It’s part and parcel of parenting a toddler, I know this, but when I’m in the thick of those banshee wails and that angry, frantic flailing of limbs – I panic. Every time. I cannot reason with this tiny, ticked off little person. I cannot convince him to stop. I can’t even bribe him. His tantrums usually end with both of us reaching emotional exhaustion.

Recently, I noticed some blog posts and articles popping up around the place suggesting a patient, gentle response to tantrums. I wasn’t convinced. Cooing softly at a scrunched up, red little face didn’t sound like smart parenting to me. Treading softly around him and giving him what he wanted in order to keep his screaming to a minimum didn’t appeal either. To be honest, the whole gentle response thing seemed more like pandering and less like parenting.

Then I witnessed a gentle response in action.

I was on my way into a Café, and walked by a mum standing beside a crying little girl on the footpath. It was a tantrum in full swing, and I readied myself to issue the empathetic knowing smile, waiting for the inevitable huffy, “Stop crying! You’re being silly! I’m going to count to three! We’re going home right now!” You know, those standard panic-buttons we hit when the tantrums strike in public.

Instead, the mum sat down beside her, looked her lovingly in the eyes, and spoke to her gently, “I’m here. I know you’re upset. It’s okay. When you’re done crying, we can go back inside together.”

Did the little girl instantly stop crying? Of course not! When it comes to tantrums, there’s no magical off-switch. But the tantrum didn’t escalate, either. Mum and daughter sat together, waiting for the storm to pass.

Tantrums are based on:

-        Anger

-        A sense of injustice

-        Sadness

-        Fear

-        Uncertainty

None of these are pleasant feelings, and toddlers deal with them the best way they know how. They don’t have the ability to rationalise, and they don’t have a full grasp on perspective. So when they throw themselves on the floor in a full-blown tantrum, it’s because the world is ending. It seriously is. What I have learnt about responding gently and patiently when my toddler cracks it, is that it’s not about giving into whatever hair-brained idea has derailed him this time. It simply means being a soothing, safe place for him the whole time, so that when he stops for a breath, I’m there, loving him and cuddling him and telling him it’s okay. This is a stark contrast to the angry, fed-up, impatient mum he might have dealt with before – and I know which option would help me cheer up if I were in his shoes! Plus, as an added bonus, I find that concentrating on an intentionally gentle reaction actually keeps me calm in the face of a tantrum. His tantrum may not end any sooner, but it does end better – for both of us!

Here are my tips for keeping your cool and responding to tantrums with gentleness:

-        Pause. Breathe. Shake off any frustration that has started to build.

-        Avoid using phrases such as “Stop this now!”, “You’re being silly!” and “Don’t do that!” Instead, focus on responding with “I’m here”, “I know you’re upset” and “It’s not nice to feel angry, is it?”

-        Don’t try to rationalise with your toddler. Don’t try to distract him. All of his focus right now is on the big emotion he’s experiencing.

-        Get down to his level – standing over him when he’s feeling vulnerable can be intimidating

-        Be patient. Ride the waves and be ready to cheer him up when the screams turn to whimpers and he begins to listen to you once more.

-        When he moves on, you move on – don’t dwell on the tantrum or the reason behind it.

Gentleness isn’t generally our default response when it comes to tantrums, but with practise it can become second nature. Give it a try – see if it makes a differenc    

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Why us? or Why not us?

Why us? or Why not us?

 

"God never gives you more than he knows you can handle”

Comforting words from the Bible but with the events that would unfurl for me and my family they were words that didn’t seem realistic or possible for me to believe.

 

Up until 2 years ago I thought I had a pretty uneventful normal but still wonderful life. I had a loving, caring family and friends who were always there for us. My husband and I had 2 children now married with 3 grandchildren between them and whom we all treasured. So 2 years ago, when my son, Matthew and daughter in law Jodi, announced they were expecting twins we were all delighted. The twins we found out a little later were identical girls and so they became affectionately known as the Twincesses. Finlay, their little boy was 3 years old at the time so we all knew life would get a whole more hectic.

 

The girls were due to be born in the August of 2011 but complications meant they had to be delivered early at 34 weeks and taken straight into the neo-natal unit at Preston Hospital. It was such a relief when both were successfully born, even though they looked so tiny in the incubators, and wires all over their tiny bodies.

 

It was 3 weeks later when we would hear the news that Doctors, fearing the girls were not developing as they should, suspected there was a strong possibility that they had Downs Syndrome. Tests were carried out, the results of which would take a week to be back with us. I can’t begin to tell you how long that week felt or what thoughts were flooding our minds. I prayed every day that the girls would be ok and for God to take away our fears of what could and would be if the results were positive.

 

I’ll never forget the look on Matt and Jodi’s faces when they walked through our door on the Friday evening after being at the hospital all day together waiting for news. They looked frightened, lost, emotionally and physically drained – the results were positive and both of our beautiful girls had DS. We sat in a bewildered silence, no-one knowing what to say or do – just shell shocked, scared and fanatically worried. How would we cope with this – whatever this was? What did it all mean? How would we get through? What would the future hold? We could find no words which would comfort any of us.

 

I have to admit none of us knew anything about DS, but it all felt very scary. My own thoughts as a grandma were how to protect these vulnerable little girls from a world which can seem, at times, so cold, heartless, cruel and judgemental. I spent sleepless nights preparing for the future that I couldn’t comprehend and so no wonder I never found any answers. I felt as a family we could be there for their every need and protect them while they were children but what would happen when the girls reached adult hood? What would they make of our world but more importantly what would the world make of them? There were so many myths and misunderstandings surrounding this condition that worried me to death. Fortunately, I have since learned that most of those worries are simply that – myths and misunderstandings and I also found out that spending so much in the future worrying what might be, stops you from living in the here and now and missing so much of life which is good. Before the girls came out of hospital we had it confirmed that Abigail was deaf and Isobel had a hole in her heart!

God never gives you more than he knows you can handle.

Those words kept coming back to me – but I felt I couldn’t handle all this hurt and confusion and fear that was happening.

However the day after we had the news, I had a message from Matt inviting his dad and I to visit the hospital with Gemma, our daughter. Still lost and bewildered we arrived at the hospital to be met by Matt with a huge smile on his face, full of excitement and anticipation. We were ushered into a lovely bright room where Matt told us that he had permission to bring the babies in for cuddles and kisses and so we waited for him to bring them in. What has happened we asked Jodi, Matt seems so different? She told us that Matt had broken down when they had arrived home that night and having asked himself the question “Why us?” came back with the answer “Why not us? We have been chosen because we can give the girls the life they need – full of love and fun but most of all an acceptance for who they are”

As he wheeled the girls in, I think we were all touched by his Positivity, his love and commitment for his children – If he could, we could!! He talked excitedly about his vision to set up the Twincess Campaign, and so a Trust fund was set up to prepare for their future.

 

 

 

 Visit www.twincess.co.uk to read more about their wonderful journey so far.

Twincess was set up by us – Matt and Jodi Parry after our twin daughters Abigail and Isobel were born with Down’s Syndrome on June 29, 2011.

Twincess is place where families of those with Down’s Syndrome can connect, share, support and celebrate! It is about providing frank and honest advice based on real, personal experience. There’s a lot of negativity around the condition with the focus often being around what children with Down’s Syndrome can’t do. Twincess is about highlighting what they can do.

 

 

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Raising Wild Kids: The Benefits of Outside Play

Raising Wild Kids: The Benefits of Outside Play

I am not an outdoorsy kind of girl. If there’s an opposite to “outdoorsy”, that is me. Indoorsy? Is that a thing? Let’s go with that. I am indoorsy. I choose dinner parties over picnics, yoga over hiking, and reading on the couch over laying on a beach towel in the sun. The sun-kissed, brown-as-a-berry skin I enjoyed up to the age of about 11 is but a distant memory. Pale and proud; that’s my jam.

For the last 18 months, this indoorsy girl has also been a mother. As an immobile baby, my son became very familiar with the confines of our home, of cafes and shopping centres, of friends’ houses and the local library. When he began walking, he was initially content with laps around the house and trips to indoor play centres. But pretty soon, he wanted more. He would stand banging on the back door, begging to be let outside. It was ingrained in him; he yearned to be outside. And so we began making trips out into the yard. Trips to the park. Trips to the beach. And my son became a wild boy.

When he goes outside, he comes alive. He runs, he tumbles, he explores. He gets dirt on his hands and knees. He sits and watches beetles in the grass. He splashes in the mud. He cries when it’s time to go back inside. And despite my indoorsy tendencies, going outside with him has become one of my favourite things.

I recently watched the short film “Canvas of my Life”, featuring the actor Jason Momoa talking about his creative childhood, and the way he is now raising his kids to be wild, free creatives. And despite the fact that it’s actually just a super-long ad for Carhartt pants, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. Because for all my love of air conditioning and cups of tea, nothing beats a shot of a pack of happy kids racing through the woods and climbing rocks with big, wild grins plastered across their faces. That’s the kind of joy I want for my kid.

There are a number genuine of benefits to outside play, too.

1.     It’s active

Put a kid in the confines of four walls with a bunch of toys, and he will sit and play. Let him loose in a yard with grass, trees and dirt, and he’s unstoppable. Kids are natural explorers, and they just love to run. Being outside lends itself to active play.

2.     It’s sensory

They can smell the grass, hear the birds and cicadas, feel the wind on their face and crunch leaves beneath their feet. Outside play fully engages all the senses – yep, even picking up a handful of dirt for a sneaky taste counts!

3.     It’s healthy

They soak up some good old vitamin D, they inhales bucket loads of fresh air, and they stretch those little limbs in new ways, which contributes to their muscle development.

4.     It’s interesting

Our outside environments are subject to constant change – changes in the weather, new weeds popping up between the pavement, new leaves falling from the shrubbery. There are always holes to be dug, ants to be trailed behind and flowers to be picked. The engagement is endless!

5.     It’s confidence-building

Outside play is often quite independent, which gives kids a massive sense of self-confidence as they learn their capabilities and test their limits.

The benefits of outside play are endless, and so important for developing kids. These days I aim to get outside with my son at least twice per day – and I have to say I think I enjoy it almost as much as he does! So let’s hold that thought on my “pale and proud” skin – I just might end up revisiting that berry-brown glow after all!

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How To Help Your Little Ones Cope with Kindergarten Anxiety!

How To Help Your Little Ones Cope with Kindergarten Anxiety!

In no way are my children different than those around them; they have a good home, loving parents (yes, we do work too much but we try not to have it impact our relationships with the kids), almost all the opportunities they can imagine and – in all – a very healthy support system to build up their personalities from.

 

However, there are some things that aren’t really rooted in the family, per se; social anxiety (or any other type of it) is predominantly triggered through the child’s interaction with people/kids unknown to them, and surroundings that don’t instill them with confidence and security. It isn’t strange to have a small child develop a form of social anxiety from the early age, usually when starting kindergarten, preschool or school. Naturally, if the child is showing signs of anxiety even without obvious triggers, you should consult your pediatrician and establish roots of such behavior.

 

When my youngest started kindergarten, it was a very difficult time for us. I had already went back to work a few months prior and adjusting to all the changes made at the office while I was away took a lot of energy and time. Lilly wasn’t that happy about kindergarten from the get go, but we figured – she just doesn’t want to be away from her siblings. However, it turned out to be more than that.

 

Whenever she’d come back home, she’d be upset and sad; her teachers told us that she cried every day and avoided mingling with other kids. They didn’t want to alert us until it was every day, for a month in.

 

This is when we knew we had to address the issue and that the current state of things wouldn’t simply “go away”. Here’s what we did, and it helped.

 

Recognize the problem

 

Instead of just letting Lilly “find her way around things”, we actually took the time to acknowledge her feelings and see what the problem is. At first, she didn’t want to communicate anything. Slowly, without pressing her, we managed to learn what was happening. She told us that each time we left her at kindergarten, she feared we would never come back to pick her up. We were pretty surprised; after all, she lives in an adoring family, so her fear of being abandoned was very strange to us.

 

Rationalize their fears

 

After we had established the problem, we realized the best thing to do is rationalize her fears. Talking to her on several occasion got us to understand where everything was coming from. She told us a few kids from her class had similar situations and that it got her very sad and afraid. We managed to soothe her and explain we were not going to leave her, ever. Her amazing teachers at Little Learning School were fantastic in helping us communicate this to her, reassuring her with a positive and safe environment.

 

Be open about the experience

 

Even though she was very little at the time her anxiety got triggered, we weren’t condescending about the fear itself. While she still wasn’t mature enough to understand the complexity of the issue of being abandoned or living in a divorced home, we explained to her that divorces do happen, that mums and dads sometimes don’t live together, that parents die and that negative things can happen, for sure. However, we made her understand that no matter what happens, we’ll never leave her or neglect her.

 

Take a bright approach

 

A positive approach is a healthy approach. Make sure your child understands the benefits of kindergarten and see it as a place of happiness. After all, this is where they’ll gain new experiences, meet new friends, expand their horizons and have fun. Sports, dance classes, abundance of toys and activities, great playground designs, etc. – it’s all at their immediate reach and they should be reminded how blessed they are to enjoy this opportunity.

 

When your children are facing a situation like this or similar to this one, it’s important to stay calm and act confident around them (even when you have doubts). You are their guiding strength, and they need to read reassurance in your body language and hear encouragement in things you say – don’t ever forget it.

 

References:

 

http://www.parents.com/health/mental/dealing-with-anxiety-in-children/

 

https://www.littlelearningschool.com.au/

 

https://www.anxietybc.com/parenting/anxiety-101

 

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Win a family pass to see Spot live!

Win a family pass to see Spot live!

BELOVED CHILDREN’S BOOK DOG SPOT IS COMING TO AUSTRALIA WITH HIS OWN STAGE SHOW!

You could win a family pass Enter today!!! Click here to enter 

Click here to purchase tickets. 

 

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