Friday, November 29, 2013


This week we have been based in Vicenza. As well as roaming around this beautiful city with its spectacular 1500s theatre, palaces, Palladioa architecture and kind lovely people, we have visited Verona, Padova, Venice and a beautiful snowy mountain village - Asiago.
Being winter it gets dark early, but between 6 - 8pm it is usual to see people out and about - families with baby in the stroller, children, young people, parents and grandparents. They are out chatting, walking, meeting on the street or in a cafe or bar.
1. They are together - not racing around in a car - rather they are walking and leisurely talking with each other.
2. Some meet up with friends of their own age - such as the group of 6 women in their 60s I watched last night in a bar in Asiago in the northern Italian mountains. They laughed as they munched their chips while they drank their wine..., watched people but were more interested in catching up with each other and greeting the locals that came in.  - some young people and adults meet in cafe bars talk and drink. The younger ones had phones which they spend some time on but the prioity for them is clearly to be together and talk.
3. The regular pattern however is a 30 minute meet up of grandparents, parents and children. If a baby is present there are lots of "ooh"s and "Ahhh"s, kisses and baby watching in silence, along with happy laughter.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ how are you going spending casual time with your extended family or with friends? Are you giving leisure time to listen, chat, laugh together and then do you leave with smiles on your faces?

Sunday, November 24, 2013


For the next couple of months I'm in Italy and will be working off my phone so I hope to simply put up thoughts to do with parenting as we move around. 
We started our fantastic 10 weeks in Italy in Milan. I would love to have put up a photo of the Duomo in the rain which is how we saw it, but I can't get my images onto my blog- Ill hopefully work it out.
In the early evening in Milan there is a television program each night which 3 adults host. It seems to have a regular group of children who form a choir - excellent standard - and a guest child performer. We could not understand what was said or sung but there was voting and scores given on each performance by a group of children. The atmosphere was extremely loving and positive, not artificial in any way. Both the material the children sang and their presentation was completely appropriate for children - there was no hint of children attempting to present themselves as adults or teenagers - they happily were children.
We kept thinking such a program would never be put on television at home, in New Zealand, and certainly never in a early evening, family, major viewing time slot. 
LESSONS to think about -
1. Children need to see examples of children happily being children.
2. Children need to see public examples of adults commending and responding lovingly to children.
3. Our society needs to honour childhood by putting positive models of it in public places, such as major viewing times on television.
THISWEEKWITHKIDS- have a search for a normal public presentation of childhood and enjoy listening or watching it as a family. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


In place of a picture or a quote would you watch these three You tube clips of mothers having tantrums. Unfortunately none of the mums are directly reacting to frustration caused by their children.
The first one is an advertisement so the tantrum is planned.
The second and third contain material I hope won't offend, but I've included it to give material that helps you to think truthfully about this subject.

Y   may never have had a mummy tantrum
O    may often have them
U    may agree with many mums on-line & say it's good to have them
        may be deeply worried about them and want help to stop

1.  There's a diverse amount of opinion on this subject, especially on-line. 
2.  There is a huge number and variety of causes or reasons for mothers having tantrums, which I'll touch on later when discussing some things that trigger tantrums.
3.  Who is affected and how are they affected by mummy tantrums? 
  * The mother herself is effected in that her behaviour changes and she is less aware of people and things around her as she becomes lost in herself. If tantrums are regular she will tend to give herself permission and excuse herself when she has another, as seen in the third clip with Stephanie. Her reputation as someone who throws tantrums will likely escalate. 
  * The husband or father will be affected and loose respect for their wife.
  *  Children likewise also loose respect for their mum if she is a mummy tantrumer. There is the high possibility that children will copy this poor example of behaviour, especially if they see it regularly.
  *  The affect on friendships was clearly shown in the second clip. It was definitely destructive.
4.  The Oxford Dictionary says a tantrum is, "an outburst of bad temper. Being immodest, over trivial, triumphant in insolence and rudeness, unmanageable and rebellious. A fit of bad temper in a young child." The three You tube clips prove the truth of these words. This definition gives us a new view into our mummy tantrums.
I read and listened to women talking about mummy tantrums particularly on-line, and many said there was a point where they realised it was about to happen. I think of this as coming to a fork in the road - I can either go this way or that. I can go ahead choosing to have a tantrum OR I can choose to go the other route.
Before looking at what the Other Route is, we need to think about the space between where you are and the Other Route - that's the one where we don't have a tantrum. 
Imagine for a moment that you have to leave early in the morning for something very important, you know that if you have obstacles, junk and mess all over the floor between your bed and the shower, you will slow yourself down making it hard to get away and leave the house on time. It's exactly the same for us if we want to choose the Other Route. We need to clear the access to the Other Route so that we will automatically and naturally choose it rather than heading into the way that leads to another mummy tantrum. 
1.  What triggers my tantrums?
  *  Is it to do with MY state - lack of sleep/food or my diet/lack of self control/being unwell physically, mentally, emotionally/anger/wanting attention/wanting my own way...
  *  Is it to do with things AROUND me - stressful situations or relationships/worry/lack of confidence in what to do/fear/being embarrassed by my kids... 
Have a second slow read through these point above.
If mummy tantrums are regular it's important to discover what triggers them. Then steps can be taken to find solutions to these personal problems or work towards ways that you can bring change to the situation you are in. There is plenty of help ready to pick up in the form of books, articles on-line, or 'professional' help if you're financially able, or the wise thoughts of a trusted old friend or older family member. It is amazing how many problems we mums encounter that are common to most mums - so try asking someone for help.
2.  Do I want to stop having the tantrums?
Do I still want to be throwing them when I'm 45, 65, 85? You may think that when your kids are adults they will be independent and will no longer irritate you or push you into mummy tantrums. Sorry but the truth is that they will still do things that upset you, so if you regularly have mummy tantrums it is highly probably you will keep practicing them into your old age.
You have to WANT to stop doing tantrums. Looking at the devastation they have already brought and will continue to bring into your family, may help you WANT to stop having tantrums.
When you have cleared the access to the Other Route and are heading away from choosing to have a tantrum, you are travelling towards success.
  *  To travel the Other Route, you need to keep your perspective on the whole situation or the whole of the person who is pushing you towards having a tantrum.
  *  Don't focus on the part which irritates you right at this moment. Focus on the important, the many great aspects of this person or situation - the things which you like, even love about that person or people who you have been involved with for years. A tantrum communicates that these many other great aspects of the person or people, mean little or nothing in comparison to the thing that is irritating you right now - as illustrated in the tantrums Jill and the teacher threw in the second You tube clip, with sad destructive results.
  *  Thinking on the person's other great qualities, rather than condemning and being angry with them, is an opposite thought and emotion. Through this process what happens is that instead of you keeping your negative attention on yourself in a tantrum, you move to putting positive attention on to the other person.
A second thing that has happened is that you are saying that this person or situation is so important and dear to you, that you choose to control yourself for the sake of their good.
Yesterday I read a quote from Practical Happiness: A Young Man's Guide to a Contented Life. Bob Schultz, which fits in here perfectly.
" The real truth of nature which keeps our world functioning is that the strong lay down their lives for the weak. It's best shown in parents laying down their lives for their young. You'll see it when a rooster attacks an invading racoon so the hen and chicks might live....The life of an emperor penguin egg and chick depends upon a dad who goes without food while balancing it upon his warm feet for nearly five months. Certainly there's a food chain where one animal eats another to live; however, if it were not for the strong parents giving their lives to protect their weaker young, no animal would exist." p 149.
Where does this lead you in your thinking or justifying your mummy tantrums?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ In a time when we give ourselves such a great amount of freedom to be and do as we wish at any point in time, the very asking that you rethink having mummy tantrums may be too great a challenge even an impossible request. But I urge you to either work at the plan I've outlined above or get ideas from other mums you respect and admire, and put mummy tantrums to death.

Thursday, October 31, 2013


".... the American Academy of Pediatrics, ...says that this is what modern children need - more free time. Good, old-fashioned playtime." THRILLED TO DEATH : Dr Archibald D Hart. p 93-94.
Here is the final post in the series, "SIX AREAS WHERE PARENTS CAN TREAT CHILDREN AS PERSONS".
I have written the following posts advocating that children should be free in their play.
  * WEEK 4 QUOTE 4 - Free play helps a child develop concentration and imagination, gives opportunity for trying out ideas and a sense of control over his world.
  * WHAT IS PLAY? - Seven properties of play.
  * WHO DIRECTS MY CHILD'S PLAY? - Parents getting in the way by directing the play of their children.
You may also be interested in posts on the hijacking effect of technology on play for children.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ spend time watching your children playing. Give some thought to Charlotte Mason's comment of the need for every child to know and experience the power of inventing play for themselves.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


"It is our duty to form opinions carefully, and to hold them tenaciously in so far as the original grounds of our conclusions remain unshaken. But what we have no right to do, is to pass these opinions on to our children. We all know nothing is easier than to make vehement partisans of young people, in any cause heartily adopted by their elders. But a reaction comes, and the swinging of the pendulum is apt to carry them to a point of thought painfully remote from our own. ... Children are far more likely to embrace the views of their parents, when they are ripe to form opinions, if these have not been forced upon them in early youth when their lack of knowledge and experience makes it impossible for them to form opinions at first hand."  SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason p 42-43. 
A child forming their own opinions is another area where parents "would do well to practice a wise 'letting alone'," as presented in the previous 4 posts in this series.
There is a huge, diverse quantity of questions and opinions on innumerable subjects today. It is impossible to keep up with all thoughts and perspectives in a world filled with increasing fields of study every year.
When we freely give our opinions with the intention that our children take on these same opinions, we treat them as though they were empty buckets that need ready-made opinions poured in. If we give them our opinions instead of ideas to feed on, they will not go through the process of weighing things up, thinking issues through and are likely to dump the views and opinions of their parents as they enter adulthood.
As the first sentence in the quote states, opinions take time to be formed. Commonly people firmly and passionately throw around comments which are presented as thought out opinions when they are simply ideas recently picked up. If the conversation continued long enough it would prove that there was no depth of opinion being shared.
The author of the quote gives 3 suggestions.
1. "We must have thought about the subject and know something about it, as a gardener does about the weather." This requires we spend time, personal experience, gather information and make observations ourselves. It is tested thought.
2. "it must be our own opinion, and not caught up as a parrot catches up its phrases;" Our opinions are not to be a copy or regurgitation of others around us.
3. "it must be disinterested, that is, it must not be influenced by our inclinations." It is not wise to hold opinions which are completely influenced by our personal tastes, likes and wants. If we do our wishes will drown our judgement or watered it down, and the opinion that results is not worth having.
Childhood is the time where a variety of knowledge, experience and observation, listening  and considering, take place. The point is that if a child is exposed to diverse material and situations, they are given the opportunity to be trained to think. (I will need to describe what this idea actually means at a later date in another post) Children need to be given opportunities so they see processes of how opinions are formed in the real world. Books and movies that tell stories of true or historical people in struggles or leadership, can be examples which present opinions being formed. Books and movies which are fantasy based do not give such help.
"As a fact, the books that make us think, the poems which we ponder, the lives of men which we consider, are more use to us than volumes of good counsel."
"and it seems to be a law in the things of life and mind that we don't get anything for our own unless we work for it."
I have changed my opinion on various matters in my life. The quote's first sentence indicates changes of opinion do happen. In reading a particular article, watching a certain movie, hearing someone communicate their view, our opinion on a matter can be changed in a moment. 
As Charlotte Mason says, "No wise person, however old, is sure of their opinions. ... The word opinion literally means 'a thinking'; what I think with modesty and hesitation and not what I am certain-sure about."
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ The opportunity is there while children are growing up, to look, think and assess the exciting world they have been born into. Parents should never be afraid or daunted by the huge amount of ideas and views to be heard. Children need access to a large variety of views and time to watch and consider if they 'stand up' in the lives of the people around them.

Friday, October 18, 2013


"With regard to the choice of friends and companions, again, we should train children so that we should be able to honour them with a generous confidence; and if we give them such confidence we should find that they justify it."  SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason p.40.
This is the 4th post discussing six specific areas where parents can respectfully treat their children as a person. 
The call on parents from this quote, to consider if they treat their children with respect, is a necessity. Parental methods used today, commonly focus either on things being to the convenience of parents or parents having an obsession in idolising their children. Neither could be described as "honouring them (the children) with a generous confidence." Rather, lack of confidence in children is widespread among many parents.
This is why I continue to return to Charlotte Mason's philosophy, both with her principles, such as "honouring (children) with a generous confidence", and also to study her practical methods to fulfil and train these principles in my family.
1.  I'll adopt the phrase from last   1.  Parents give their children little 
week's post - Parents need to give  or no material e.g.s of great friend-
their children "large thoughts" of       ships. Movies and books with 
what friendship is about.                     quality friendship stories are not
Great literature, movies, biograph-   included for their child's viewing.
ys, folk-lore, even comics are a         Anything is acceptable for viewing
huge source of worthwhile                 and reading. The likely influence 
friendships to tap into.                         into the child's life will be self-
Look for elements of friendship         centred.
such kindness, fun and enjoyment, 
trust, forgiveness, perseverance, 
honour and respect, helping at 
cost to oneself, not being selfish.
Look at friendships in different
cultures, philosophies, lifestyles,
historic times and socio-economic
situations where children are given 
descriptions and can see the 
thoughts, practices, habits and 
interests of people in valued 
Charlotte Mason says that by child-
ren listening to, watching and 
personally reading such material, 
it is like adding "grist to their mill" 
- children are given substantial 
material to 'grind up' and apply to 
their own relationships.
One e.g. CS Foster's Hornblower 
book series or the movie series, 
should be watched by all boys 12 
years and up.
2.  With the points above in place,     2.  With the points above in place,
when your child forms a friendship  when your child forms a friendship
with a child you think is not           with a child you think is not suitable
suitable, let them be with it. In     discuss every pathetic quality their 
time they will find out the failings      friend possesses. 
of the friendship.                                   If you do this on a regular basis 
Parents do however, have a part       and make a big deal of it, you will
to play. If the child deeply loves,       dull the child's sensitivity to the 
honours and respects their               "vital points of character which is 
parents, by freedom of their own      the cause of most shipwrecked
choice, they will be keen to know      lives."
and will detect what their parents'    The child has no skills to use, test
opinion is of their new-found            and make decisions about friends.
friend.                                                     The result is clear - disastrous 
                                                                 friendship failure.
3.  Parents freely discussing what   3.  Parents either don't talk about 
they enjoy about their dearest           their friends to their children, or
friends in the company of the             only rave on about all the ways
children.                                                 their friends let them down and 
This is how parents show and            criticise them in their children's
intimate to their children, what         hearing.
they believe is important to look
for in friendship.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ Where are YOU? Which side of the page are you on? Can you see effects of disaster or success in your child's friendships?
It is never too late to bring change into your child's life. Here's what you do. Re read this post again and put into place what you find is lacking in your family. 
All the very best.

Friday, October 11, 2013


"... the spending of pocket-money is another opportunity for initiative on the children's part and for self-restraint on that of the parents. No doubt the...(parent) who doles out the weekly pocket-money and has never given...(their) children any large thoughts about money - as to how the smallest of income is divisible into the share that we give, and the share that we keep, and the share that we save for some object worth possessing,... can not expect...(their) children to think of money in any light but as means to self-indulgence... By degrees pocket-money should include the cost of gloves, handkerchiefs, etc., until, finally, the girl who is well on in her teens should be fit to be trusted with her own allowance for dress and personal expenses. The parents who do not trust their young people in this matter, after having trained them, are hardly qualifying them to take their place in a world in which the wise, just, and generous spending of money is a great test of character."   SCHOOL EDUCATION : Charlotte Mason. p 41.
This post, which is the third in this series, is part of a philosophy that is explained throughout the entire series. So please read each post so you can gain the full thought of how to treat children as persons.
Many years ago when I first read these particular sentences in the quote above, we already had a different plan with our children in regards to money. From the start we didn't have any spare money to think about giving the children pocket-money. My husband and I had no such money to allocate to ourselves on a weekly basis or spend as we wished. And so as a family we took the approach that money was something you earn and with it came certain responsibilities.
But our children were given  opportunities where they earned some money for themselves. A dollar or two that an aunt gave if they massaged her shoulders and brushed her hair. One child offered to do helpful jobs at home above and beyond their normal family chores. Some of the kids made saleable items for the community such as baking. One son as a young boy 'went to work' to help friends who built houses and landscaped and there earned a little money along with many other skills and life attitudes.
However when I found and read the section above, I welcomed the thought that money was another opportunity for my children to develop their personal initiative and for me to stand back. 
I was also encouraged that the writer saw an automatic responsibility that parents had when giving their children pocket-money. To simultaneously give them "large thoughts about money". 
This is not handing out instructions on how to use and spend the pocket-money. Instead "large thoughts.." are preferably presented to a child during normal life conversations, through reading books, watching movies and observations of people around us, where the child sees for themselves the consequences that come from the choices and ways people use their money. This gives a child material to think on, a basis from which they then choose how to spend their own money.
Our children knew that any money that came their way was not theirs to totally spend on themselves. Making them aware of the needs of people we knew both directly and indirectly and being part of giving assistance, even financially, established a backdrop for them to understand that if you have money, then with it you also carry a responsibility to help others. So Charlotte Mason's idea that "the smallest income is divisible into the share that we give", seemed very sound advice, especially in her placement of this being the first thought one is to have with their money. 
There are many ways a child can be part of giving their money away. It is important that it be their choice to give to this need, and best if they can be part of it and see in action the effect of the giving of such money.
The remaining part of the child's money, after the share that is given away, is divided into "the share that we keep" and "the share that we save".
How much the amount is that is kept or given or saved, is not suggested in the quote. Each person is to work that out. But from this portion, as well as a child buying what they please, "By degrees" a child is also to take ownership to support themselves. 
It could start with paying for their own ice creams on holidays, paying the extra money required to buy a particular bag or pair of sports shoes they would like, paying their own bus fare or for the petrol when borrowing mum's car to go and see friends, paying for their own mobile phone and its maintenance. It must be by degrees and reasonable when you consider the amount of money they have. It must also be through real situations so they are trained by failure when money is ill-spent and brought up to a point where they are "fit to be trusted" with the use of money, well prepared for their life ahead.
One of our daughters before she was a teenager was completely hooked on a series of books and so chose over a year to buy the lot from the publisher in America - a lot of money. Once read they sat on the bookshelf and a few years later when she attempted to sell them, received a tiny amount of money in comparison to what she had paid. But a lesson was learnt, to her cost. 
This concept is so rarely thought about or actioned today. Even banks with their lending policies seem to discourage saving while encouraging us to spend. To the contrary, here parents are advised to train children to "save for some object worth possessing". The experience of waiting and saving over time, of thinking carefully about the choice of what to save for is suggested to start its practice from childhood. The repeated experience and pleasure found as each worthy possession that is saved for is finally bought, builds a great quality in a developing person. It also builds a healthy understanding of adult life, where most people have to save and wait to own a house and many other things.
The recurring idea in this quote is that pocket-money is a training ground for children. What are you training into your children? What attitude are you giving them to do with their use of money? Is it encouraging their development to become persons who are "wise, just, and generous" in their use of money, persons of character?
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ don't get side-tracked and just think about if to start giving pocket-money to your children, or how much money you should give. Get to the real point and begin to equip your kids to deal with their money by giving them "large thoughts about money". This is the only way to equip them well financially for their futures.

Friday, October 4, 2013


".... we do not let children alone enough in their work. We prod them continually and do not let them stand or fall by their own efforts. One of the...disastrous features of modern society, is that in our laziness we depend upon prodders and encourage a vast system of prodding...If we pay a subscription to a charity, we expect the secretary to prod us when it becomes due. If we attend a meeting, do we often do so of our own spontaneous will, or because somebody asks us to go and reminds us half a dozen times of the day and the hour?...What we must guard against in the training of children is the danger of their getting into the habit of being prodded to every duty and every effort. Our whole system of school policy is largely a system of prods. Marks, prizes, exhibitions, are all prods; and a system of prodding is apt to obscure the meaning of must   and ought for the boy and girls who gets into the habit of mental and moral lolling up against his prods." SCHOOL EDUCATION:Charlotte Mason p. 38.
This is the second post in this series.
The language of the quote above shows that it was written over 100 years ago, but the content is as contemporary as tomorrow.
  *  I like that from the start the writer directs the responsibility for the pathetic condition of "lolling" children, back to parents.
"Lolling" - what a word! 
Its popular use today as an acronym "Laugh Out Loud Literally" or "I'm laughing with you", may seem completely removed from its use in this quote. But its traditional meaning from the dictionary, of hanging, dangling, leaning in a loose idle and relaxed manner against something, with an end result of becoming like a spoilt child, is a relevant description of today's lolling child.
  *  A second point the author makes that I like, is that this habit of lolling, "obscures the meaning of must and ought' for children. When things are automatically dealt with and done by others, a child looses any idea of self responsibility. There is no development of an intuition of what they ought to be or do. It is killed off or obscured.
We see this point played out on a regular basis in our house. We have lots  of people for meals but even though everyone eats the food and sees the dirty dishes, still some people have no sense of what Charlotte Mason calls ought, no awareness of the idea to lend a hand in tidying up.
  *  The third point is a powerful one, the danger in "getting (children) into the habit of being prodded to every duty and every effort." This alarming practice is the norm in many households. It is an explanation of why we have so many bored, ambition-less children who lack any volition. Life is taken care of for these children, they don't experience the consequences of a choice they make. It is all tidily dealt with and they move on unaware of the natural, real impact life decisions have on a person. How will such lolling children ever work well or live well in a world which cushions no one?
Some answers and solutions ~ 
  #  It must start with parents "letting children alone", as Charlotte Mason says, letting the natural course run so they find out the consequences for themselves. 
~ After telling the toddler a number of times not to open and close the sliding door or kitchen drawers, let them discover for themselves that there is pain when their tiny finger is squashed.
~ Let the child who never puts their dirty clothes in the washing machine, discover for themselves that clean clothes soon run out.
~ Let the child who won't get out of bed on time, discover that they will miss the school bus, and inherit the job to explain themselves to the teacher at school.
They must learn this for themselves, with no prods. They must "stand or fall by their own efforts."
  #  Parents must simultaneously work on growing an honourable "dutiful impulse" in their children. This is NOT done by prodding, but rather through a parent's example of a happy and generous work ethic. It is also developed by parents genuinely loving their kids by listening to them, spending time being with them, sharing life with them and trusting them to know what they ought to do. All of this creates a love and respect from children for their parents and generates a healthy and mature attitude of what they "must and ought" to be and do in life.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ As you read this post, especially the last point, you may think it far fetched and not possible for your children to ever learn to grow up to know what to do without you prodding them. Can I appeal to you to think again. I have 7 children, the 5 eldest in their twenties now, and they have been brought up with these principles to become exactly what I have described above. They honour and respect their parents, they have a clear sense of what they ought and must do and are extremely responsible adults and all enjoy the benefits of being sort after in their various work situations because of these qualities. 
So this week start on this new method in your family.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


                                 Image -
"There is so much task-work to be done, so many things that must be done, not learned, but learned about, that it is only now and then a child gets the chance to produce himself in his work."
"The children's thought was stimulated, and they felt they had it in them to say much about...whatever...subject struck their fancy. 'They felt their feet,' as..(people)..say of children when they begin to walk;"
SCHOOL EDUCATION: Charlotte Mason p. 37.
This series is attempting to discuss six areas where parents, can treat children as 'persons'.
This, the first post, is in the area of WORK - home jobs or responsibilities, or school work.
The quotes above are from Charlotte Mason who wrote over a hundred years ago. The point she makes is as true today as it ever was. 
Some parents want their child to do a job in just the same way as they do it. Why? Because they consider their way is right, or the best, or the quickest. Maybe their parent straight-jacketed them to copy their method of doing the job, many years earlier. Or possibly they found their method after many tries and failures to get the task done. The second approach is what children need today - experiences to let their humour, their artisticness, or their need of haste, or precision... come to the fore. That way the job gets done by them using their own personal initiative. 
If parents persist with an attitude to children that they need to be told, directed, instructed in how to do things, they rob their children, because they ignore the fact that each child has a mind with it's unique qualities and perspectives on approaching things. 
The second quote above describes what happens when a child is allowed to use their personal initiative in their work. The child is encouraged, stimulated, they gain confidence which pours over into other areas of life. They view the work as fun or enjoyable. Children now see themselves as capable because they have found things for themselves or 'felt their feet'. This is what growing up or maturing is all about.
Any artistic work a child or adult is involved in requires total person initiative ~ so ~
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ ask your child to do a job which they are capable to do but have never done before. Let them handle it as  they wish. Give no guidelines unless they ask you a question. 

Monday, August 26, 2013


                                    Photo : Getty.
"After the movers leave, but before the boxes are unpacked, her four kids will bounce balls and laughter off the barren walls in games of keep-away or "wall ball". Soon enough, balls will be banished from the house, but in the meantime, this fun tradition gives the children something to look forward to and reinforces the fact that home is wherever the family is." says Jennifer McDonald, in JOCELYN GREEN'S article MOVING....AGAIN" in Focus on the Family's magazine "THRIVING FAMILY". Summer 2013.
Nowadays, more families move house more often than families did in our grandparents' generation. There are many reasons for this, including job transfers, downsizing for financial reasons, and the consequences of marriage and partner split ups.
The effect of moving house, particularly regularly moving house can be devastating. Children more than adults can suffer with loss of friends and family, familiar surroundings and lifestyle habits. Adults of course can be hurt by these changes, but adults are part of the decision to move. Children are not.
I know of some families who regardless of their many moves, have kids who seem little affected negatively.
Why is it then that some families that move a lot end up with troubled children, while others take it in their stride?
The difference comes from your attitude.
Jocelyn Green gives FIVE excellent practical ideas ~
1. "Brief the kids early"
Bring them in on your plans to move as early as possible so they too can prepare and say 'goodbye' to friends. Parents often give little thought to the fact that children can and need to do this in their own way, so they need time.
2. "Provide individual reassurance"
Love your kids more via their own Love Language over this period of time - Words of Affirmation/Gifts/Serving/Physical Touch/Quality Time. Here's where parents often are overwhelmed by the move and forget the kids need more love at this time of change. Children don't have the maturity or life experience that adults have, so they need help. Jocelyn rightly emphasises that it is vital to give this type of love to introverted children especially.
3. "Strengthen family ties and long-distance friendships"
With all the changes moving house brings, this is the time to deepen connections with family and friends whose relationships are important to our kids. Parents can do this by simply chatting about these people while working together with the kids. Children can also be parked at the computer on Skype or on the phone with grandparents, aunties and uncles and friends who are meaningful in their life and leave parents to do some uninterrupted packing. Continuing involvement with these important people and giving them access into our children's lives gives wonderful stability.
4. "Strategise at school" 
On arrival at the new location, the best plan is to establish links into the community and school. For example, if your child played tennis at the local club, join the new club straight away. The same should be done with school involvements, get them participating from the start. Preschoolers need connections set up immediately so there is the feeling of continuity. Some moves however, take people into a totally different culture or lifestyle to the one they left. In these cases it is important to discuss as much as possible with the children from the start, finding out information which assists them in looking at new options, so they are able to connect up smoothly. This is not always viable, but information gathering and discussions certainly prepare and help children adjust into new situations.
5. "Cultivate the constants"
Once in the new neighbourhood, maintain the normal patterns and routines of your family. This doesn't mean you can't do things differently because this is one of the exciting things about moving somewhere new. Choose to improve your time together, such as after eating a family meal, extend the together time by playing a quick game, sharing chocolate or toasting marshmallows around the fire, or soaking up the last of the sunshine together. As parents we can choose to make simple things into family times.
I would add two last points to the above list ~
6. Involve the children in as much as possible ~
If you are packing your own possessions in the move, bring the kids in on it. 
Older teenagers who drive can pickup packing boxes, dispose of the loads that need to be thrown away, vacuum and clean areas once they are cleared and organise and plan many aspects of the move. 
Younger teenagers can physically lift things, step into doing some of the routine washing and cooking while packing goes on, handle interruptions such as the phone.
After thoroughly looking through all a child's possessions with a parent,  a child from 5 years up can be given some responsibility to pack their own things. 
By making it a family team effort, the work load is shared.
Moving is one of those occasions where parents do well to take on the growing fashion of listening to everyone for any innovative ideas - then implementing the winning ones. You never know one of your own kids may have entrepreneurial skills.
7. Start early ~
It always takes longer than you expect. This way life doesn't have to 'shut down' the last week before you leave, you will prevent having a heart attack and will have space mentally and emotionally to farewell people properly.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ have a profitable time packing - I'm thinking of YOU Val!!

Friday, August 16, 2013


"But one habit drives out another." Charlotte Mason
This is the third part of the series "When the Kids are Out of Control".
Part 1 was posted June 25 2013, and Part 2, "The Emotional Tank", was posted July 2 2013.
The third piece or part of a solution that brought change to my children who were out of control, was a concept that Charlotte Mason wrote about - ESTABLISHING A RIGHT ACTION IS BETTER THAN PUNISHING OR WORKING TO CHANGE A WRONG ACTION. 
In her writings she explained why my 'telling' a child to stop doing a wrong action, wasn't working ~
  *  I wasn't showing them how to stop the wrong action.
  *  after I had requested they stop, I wasn't following up to ensure they did stop.
  *  so my kids began to ignore me asking them to stop bad behaviour.
  *  soon they were hardly aware that I had asked them to stop misbehaving - they had zoned out to my talking.
Charlotte explained a method to change a bad habit into a new good habit. (I am going to use as an example the habit of the inability to stop talking and interrupting.)
1.) The bad habit has made a record on their brain. 
2.) The only way to remove it is to work towards completely stopping the habit for a period of time - at least a month, during which new brain cells are developing as a new habit is formed. This step is successfully used by drug and alcohol rehabilitation groups.
3.) To have any hope of doing this, you need complete agreement from your child that they want to change this bad habit. To do this you need to make them aware of ~
   * what they will become if they don't stop the bad habit
   * how it will hurt them personally as a teenager and an adult
   * the damage it will bring to relationships in the future.
They must want to change, so you need to think how to present this successfully to your child. I have found it is best to find a happy moment between you and your child to talk through the 3 points above. (some HINTS - for children 11years and up - talk while you drive in the car or walk together, this way they don't feel you are dictating to them but rather you are having a chat. With younger children you need to get their attention so it is best to be able to have regular eye contact with them through the conversation.)
The conversation must be age relevant and appropriate to them personally. Here is an example of such a conversation :
"Vanessa, do you realise that you are always interrupting me and talking over me when I talk with Dad? It happened yesterday too, when I was talking with some of the women at coffee group. I don't like you interrupting me like this. If you keep non-stop talking, when you are 13 and go to high school, like Simon next door, you will be sent out of class by teachers, have caution letters sent home as you're disturbing the class with your talking. Your teenage friends will get sick of you with all that  talking and no listening.
Once you are an adult with a job, your boss will not be happy if you're talking all the time and your work doesn't get done.
Life for you could be pretty unhappy. Is this what you want?
Would you like to learn how to stop talking and interrupting people? I can help you, if you want."
Remember you know your child and how blunt or sensitive you need to be. Whatever you say and however you say it, you must convince them they need to change. So use your imagination and skills in communication.
4.) As the parent, you know exactly when the bad habit regularly pops up. Think about what triggers it. Can you change something to help remove the bad habit? With the habit of non-stop talking and interrupting, it possibly pops up every time you start to talk with your partner, because this is when you give your attention to someone else. It is common for children to want continual free access to their mum or dad - 'parent on tap'. For this reason it would help to spend more time on Ross Campbell's three Emotional Tank fillers - Eye Contact, Physical Contact and Focused Attention (click on "The Emotional Tank" post July 2 2013, link at the top)
5.) Next, think out a plan to establish a new habit. Often the best new plan is the exact opposite of the old bad habit. It must be simple and workable because it must work every time. Go about it quietly and cheerfully, (don't make a big deal about it) just make sure they follow the new plan. 
You may need to arrange a signal with your child to remind them they need to remember what you have talked about, which will bring them back on track rather than going back to the old habit. A signal between you is more powerful than you verbally reminding them what they must do. A signal keeps the choice or responsibility to adopt the new plan, firmly with the child, which is where it needs to be.
Respond regularly with a "well done", a kiss... after they successfully follow through with the new plan. Once again you should increase your Eye Contact, Physical Contact and Focused Attention during the month while the new habit is established.
A plan to stop the habit, non-stop talking and interrupting in a child, is to adopt the habit of listening to other people as they speak. A signal to help a child to remember to not talk and instead to listen, could be, to pass your hand across your mouth and then gently pull out both ears. The hint is simply communicated, and then the child remembers.
Another support for your child while they learn to listen and not talk, is to cuddle them or sit them on your knee as you chat with your partner. If they begin to talk give your arranged signal and increase loving them. Do this as often as possible - make it a priority.
Follow the same plan as much as possible when out. The more practice the quicker and firmer the new habit is established.
6.) It is always best to do a simple, brief reminder on the way as you drive to Grandma's, the coffee group, supermarket.... talk with them about where they are going, what will happen there and what is expected from them there - prepare them. Don't discuss old past failures, keep it positive so they believe they can successfully work with the new plan while they are out. Encourage them, and be available while out for them to come for a cuddle or support if things get hard for them.
7.) The more practice at home you do the quicker the new habit will be in place, simultaneously this is putting an end to the old bad habit. The younger you start this sort of training, the easier it is. 
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ choose one of your children and one of their bad habits and think of its opposite. Decide how to have that conversation to get them onboard and see that they must change. Make your plan and you are off and away - out with the old habit and a new one will soon be established in their life. Enjoy it all and keep positive with the irresistible habit of patience as an example to help them to persevere.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


"Pride slays thanksgiving .... A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves."  Henri Ward Beecher : Life Thoughts, Gathered from the Extemporary Discourses of Henri Ward Beecher.
In a busy, go-get-it orientated age, to introduce the topic of death into a conversation or as a blog post, is hardly considered appropriate. Death, however, is the one true fact that all humans of every ethnicity, religion, social class, mental and physical ability, career path and financial attainment, will experience.
Three weeks ago my Mum died in Australia, just three days before her 90th birthday. All her children were with her attempting to provide an atmosphere of what she loved and held dear, in the midst of swearing and awkward visitor conversations with the other patients in Mum's room. 
I thought it was like a circus, my sisters who had lived in Africa said it was all very 'African'.
Apart from the beeping drip monitors, Mum seemed oblivious to the inappropriate happenings, even the publicness of the man on his bed-pan, just through the curtain.
My Mum, always quietly elegant, wore gloves to drive the car as a young mum, wore clip-on earrings and foundation makeup everyday, till the week before she died.
But as the poets have said, in these hours leading up to death, the practices and preferences of a lifetime are left and only what is truly precious is held on to.
As all participants in her funeral said, as things became tougher in her latter years, my Mum increasingly grew and received energy from giving thanks. What a seemingly insignificant and child-like practice! But in the face of death it shows a different side. The inconveniences of the room and her physical struggle did not change.
In the three years since Ann Voskamp's book "one thousand gifts" had been published, my Mum had read it seven times that we know of. The book's subtitle "A DARE to LIVE FULLY right where you are", had been practiced so that in the hours of pneumonia death, she was ready, she knew radical gratitude and so trusted her now as well as her future, to God.
This was not some mind exercise in positive thinking. It was real. A person had been changed - we, her four daughters who knew her so closely, saw it. Her practiced thankfulness had made her grateful, confident and incredibly beautifully attractive - if you can understand that to be possible in a frail, body-wrinkled woman.
I miss my daily phone conversations with her, where my purpose was to encourage, but the reality was the reverse. But I am so thankful that I saw this real side to my Mum and that she left us with these clear memories of hope.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


This is PART 2 of "WHEN THE KIDS ARE OUT OF CONTROL". This post continues on from the previous one.
The second piece of common sense that came my way, heading me towards finding a solution, was finding out about our Emotional Tank.
“...each child has an emotional tank. This tank is figurative, of course, but very real. Each child has certain emotional needs, and whether these emotional needs are met (through love, understanding, discipline, etc) determines many things. First of all, how a child feels; whether he is content, angry, depressed, or joyful. Secondly, it affects his behaviour: whether he is obedient, disobedient, whiny, perky, playful, or withdrawn. Naturally, the fuller the tank, the more positive the feelings and the better the behaviour. ...
Only if the emotional tank is full, can a child be expected to be at their best or to do their best. And whose responsibility is it to keep that emotional tank full? You guessed it, the parents’. A child’s behaviour indicates the status of the tank. ... Only if the tank is kept full can a child really be happy, reach his potential, and respond appropriately to discipline.” How to Really Love Your Child: Ross Campbell. p 33.
How do parents fill their child's Emotional Tank?
Ross Campbell says there are three ways to convey love and fill the Emotional Tank.
1. Positive EYE CONTACT from parents
2. Positive PHYSICAL CONTACT from parents
3. Positive FOCUSED ATTENTION from parents
"The more parents make eye contact with their child as a means of expressing their love, the more a child is nourished with love and the fuller is their emotional tank. What is eye contact? Eye contact is looking directly into the eyes of another person." How to Really Love Your Child:Ross Campbell. p37.
You may be comfortable or you may feel completely out of you depth using your eyes in this way and looking into your child's eyes. The point is that the eyes are a major form of communication between us, so it's essential we learn how to use them correctly rather than selectively or only when we are happy or proud of our child.
Transmitting love to our child through our eyes to theirs, must be an on-going practice.
"After a child is approximately six to eight weeks of age, you will notice that their eyes are always moving and seem to be searching for something. The eyes resemble two radar antennae constantly moving and searching. .... he's searching for another set of eyes. As early as two months, these eyes lock on another set of eyes. Already they are feeding emotionally, and even at this very early age their emotional tank needs to be filled. ...
It's no wonder that a child's way of relating to their world, and their feelings toward it, are so well formed early in their life. Most researchers state that a child's basic personality, modes of thinking, style of speech, and other critical traits are well fixed by the age of five." How to Really Love Your Child:Ross Campbell. p.44.
Giving eye contact is not a huge time taker, nor is it difficult to do, but immensely effective in conveying love and filling a child's emotional tank.
"Surprisingly, studies show that most parents touch their children only when necessity demands it, as when helping them to dress, undress, or get into the car. Otherwise few parents take advantage of this pleasant, effortless way of giving their children that unconditional love they so desperately need. You seldom see a parent on his own volition or "out of the blue" take an opportunity to touch his child."
Physical contact needs to be a sincere and natural expression of a parent's love towards their child, not showy or over-the-top. Both child and parent must feel comfortable for it to be appropriate.
Research statistics show that boys from three years of age are typically loved less physically than they were as babies. For boys, the age period of toddler to and through teenage years, is one where loving physical contact is a profound need. The style of physical touch will change from kisses and cuddles to wrestling, play fights, hi-fives and teasing jostling. You can read more about this "What Does a Son Need from His Dad?" Part 1 - Connection, Affection, Love.  OR "What a Son Needs from His Mum"
The crucial time period for physical affection for girls is in their pre-adolescent years. The attitude they carry into adolescence on their own self-image and sexual identity, determines how they will work with future peer pressure. A girl's self-image and sexual identity reveal how she feels about herself, her self approval as a female.
Fathers are the primary person to give the correct message to their pre-adolescent daughters. She learns to approve of herself by her father showing he approves of her. If you want more information "What Do Daughters Need from Their Dad?"
"Focused attention, in my experience, is the most demanding need a child has, because we parents have extreme difficulty in recognising it, much less fulfilling it. ... One of the main reasons is that other things we do for a child seem to suffice. For example, special favours, gifts and granting unusual requests seem to substitute for focused attention at the time. ... I find it a real temptation to use this type of substitution because favours or gifts are easier to give and take much less of my time. But I have found over and over that my children do not do their best, do not feel their best, and do not behave their best unless I give them that precious commodity, focused attention." How to Really Love Your Child:Ross Campbell. p. 56.
Focused attention is when a parent gives their full attention to their child - truly listening to them, watching them and involved in their moment, so the child feels and knows they are loved. This is when the child knows they are valued by their parent for who they are.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ keep a check on yourself for how much eye contact, physical contact and focused attention you are giving each of your children. Some parents think that because they know they love their children, that this is enough. The fact is that parents must demonstrate and show their love via these three methods in order for the kids' emotional tank to be full, and in order for them to handle their lives in the future with success.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


"Most parents are having a difficult time raising their child. With pressures and strains mounting every day ... it is easy to become confused and discouraged. Rising divorce rates, economic crises, declining quality of education, and less trust in leadership all take an emotional toll on everyone. As parents become more physically, emotionally and spiritually drained, it becomes increasingly difficult to nurture their child. I am convinced that a child takes the greatest brunt of  these difficult times. A child is the most needy person in our society, and his greatest need is love."  How to Really Love Your Child : Ross Campbell. p.11-12.
Every parent wants to raise children who will succeed in life.
Each of us have particular skills and different philosophies which we work to make part of our children's lives to equip them for success in the future.
Some say there are three main areas of life we must consider to raise a successful child - their intellectual or academic development
                            - their physical development
                            - their spiritual development
BUT if a child hasn't learnt to CONTROL themselves, they won't go far in life, regardless of how clever or gifted they are in these things.
My kids ~ I remember times when my kids were out of control. Sometimes I really struggled as a mum, especially as more children came along. Our first four kids were born two years apart and then next three, three years apart. At times I was embarrassed publicly because of their lack of control. But this forced me to want to get help and find a solution to help them learn to control themselves.
As a young mum I was looking for solutions and they were given to me a piece at a time - through books, conversations or ideas that popped into my head.
As I worked at putting into practice the things I recognised as great ideas and common sense, I became more confident and encouraged as a parent.
At the same time my children were also changing for the better. The strong-willed ones were demonstrating the positive side of this character trait. There was less grumbling, arguing and less chaos. We were starting to experience a buoyancy in our family.
How did we get to this point? What brought the changes?
The first came through Ross Campbell's book "How to Really Love Your Child". He also co-authored "The Five Love Languages of Children".
In his book Ross Campbell gave me a thought process that led me to how I needed to think.
" 1) they are children
   2) they will tend to act like children
   3) much of childish behaviour is unpleasant
   4) if I do my part as a parent and love them despite their childish behaviour, they will be able to mature and give up childish ways
   5) if I only love them when they please me (conditional love), and convey my love to them only during those times, they will not feel genuinely loved. This in turn will make them insecure, damage their self-image, and actually prevent them from moving on to better self-control and more mature behaviour. Therefore, their behaviour and its development is my  responsibility as much as theirs
   6) if I love them unconditionally, they will feel good about themselves and be comfortable with themselves. They will then be able to control their anxiety and, in turn, their behaviour, as they grow into adulthood
   7) if I only love them when they meet my requirements or expectations, they will feel incompetent. They will believe it is fruitless to do their best because it is never enough. Insecurity, anxiety, and low self-esteem will plague them. They will be constant hinderances in their emotional and behavioural growth. Again their total growth is as much my responsibility as theirs
   8) for my sake as a struggling parent, and for my son's (and daughter's) sakes, I pray my love for my children will be as unconditional as I can make it. The future of my children depend on this foundation." How to Really Love Your Child : Ross Campbell. p.30-31.
Here was a realistic description of what I was experiencing. Children being children. Here was an explanation for their bad emotional behaviour. I was already finding bits that I could see would lead me to a solution. I had to take up my responsibility as a parent in my child's emotional and behavioural development.
It started with regularly realigning my view of what they were like as children [ by reading 1) - 3)]
I found hope to persevere [ by reading 4) and 6)]
I was warned where not to head [ by reading 5) and 7)]. By thinking long and hard on the consequences of going the wrong way, I was pulled  back into the direction I wanted to go as a parent.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ spend time watching your kids play or work and to become more aware of where they are in themselves. Are they easily frustrated? Do they seem insecure? Look back on old photos of them. It may be helpful to compare what was happening then to what you see now.