Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kids and Exercise

As the exam season approaches for kids here in the UK, it might be time for us to spend a moment considering whether our kids are getting enough exercise. Studies suggest that there is a link between exercise and academic performance, possibly because aerobic exercise gets more oxygen into the brain.

Exercise also provides an outlet for pent-up energy and allows kids to focus more when it is time to sit down and study for their exams.

If possible, ensuring that a child gets aerobic exercise (exercises hard enough to make him "breathe hard") three or four times a week is ideal. If your kids are lucky enough to get this level of exercise at school - fantastic! If not, you could try to find a creative way to encourage exercise - perhaps a ball game in the park with a few friends.

Teenage girls are likely to be the biggest challenge. If our Sam is anything to go by, the only game with a chance might be basketball!

Good luck and happy parenting,


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kids, Goal-setting and Setting up a Success Loop

Thinking about goals for grownups often brings to mind big things - a goal of a new job or career, a big financial goal, a new house or car. And how much self-believe a person has can affect their chances of achieving these big goals.

How do SMALL experiences for SMALL people either build or undermine a child's levels of self-belief, which they will then carry into adulthood?

If you simplify achievement as a sequence like this:

I want xyz -> I'm motivated to take action -> I achieve my goal

... then giving children the opportunity to repeat this sequence, over and over, with SMALL goals when they are very young, will build neural pathways that will give them more and more self-belief, so that as they grow they can confidently set bigger and bigger goals.

So don't think your child necessarily needs to set big goals - instead you can focus on providing them with small, simple experiences that help them experience over and over: I WANT -> I TAKE ACTION -> I GET.

For instance: Child: "I want to go to the park," -> Parent: "Good goal! To be able to go to the park, we need to clear up the breakfast dishes, put on our coats and boots, and walk to the park." Later: "We made it to the park! This is fun isn't it? We had a good goal!"

Or... Child: "I want xyz cereal," Parent: "Good goal! Let's make sure and eat all our abc cereal up, then we'll be able to go to the shops tomorrow and get xyz cereal."

And so on.

Happy goal setting with your kids!


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Talking about feelings

A good tip that I heard and wanted to pass on to any parents dealing with kids who are having emotional tantrums!

It's basically to remember that you can empathize and even sympathize, without "giving in" and letting your child "get his own way."

Often small children over-react to things such as "you must finish your dinner before you can have your pudding," or "please share the toy with your sister/brother," etc - and a lot of it can simply be pent-up emotions that the child needs to let out.

So if a child is sobbing and over-upset, you can try to deflect both your and his attention away from the incident at hand by getting down onto his level, and expressing your understanding of his emotions. "You seem to be feeling very upset / angry," ... you can stay close and show with your body language and your voice that you love your child, without necessarily giving in to what he is demanding.

Try to remember that it is healthy - and essential for normal psychological development - for your child to express the full range of emotions - including anger and sadness as well as happiness. And your role is to be supportive, loving, and gently guide your child into appropriate ways to express ALL his emotions!

Happy parenting,


Monday, May 28, 2007

Teenagers and Selfishness

I think it's normal for teenagers to go through a period of selfishness. As children mature, they need to learn about going out into the world and finding out who they are. They need to test the water when it comes to putting themselves first.

That's why I'm a bit concerned - I know this will probably sound odd - about just how CONSIDERATE my step-daughter Sam is. I wish she would learn to put herself first more often, even if it does inconvenience others once in a while.

A child's self-esteem is such a crucial thing to develop while they are still young, that the selfishness of teenagerhood seems to me a small price to pay.

Am I nuts? :)



Sunday, May 27, 2007

Father and Daughter Reunited

I am feeling all teary-eyed today as I ponder the long years that my husband Kevin and I have been together, and how what we wanted more than anything all those years is to have his daughter, Samantha, in our lives full-time.

The first time I met Sam, she was 3 years old. The memory of this beautiful toddler running into her Daddy's arms is one of the most vivid I have. I can barely believe that after all this time, now that she is 17 years old, she is finally living with us. I have to pinch myself every day to see if I'm dreaming!

This poem expresses the heartache of a father separated from his daughter. I hope you like it.


I closed my eyes
And put a padlock on my heart
I drew the curtains
To shut out the cries of my soul.

The joyful “Daddy”
That should light up my life
Brings only tears
Heartache and torment no creature should face.

She tore me wide open
In her beautiful innocence
I loved her and…
The pain was too great to bear.

Snatched moments
Treasured memories – too few
A smile, a kiss
And then banished again.

She was the victim
Though I felt the pain
She is the victim still
Though my scars are deep to the bone.

A toddler once
Suddenly a young lady
Still innocent, still loving
In spite of it all.

Those years!
Where did they go?
Who stole them – not I!
An evil demon hid them in a dark hole of hell.

Still weak victims
Still abused – not one but both,
Father and daughter the same.
“How!?” pleads my heart

An answer begins.
As now growing up, we grow stronger
Now we can fight for each other
For the rights denied for so long.

My second chance…
My redemption…
My prayers…
Yes, my daughter.

** the end **

Via the pen of Cassie Martin from the soul of her husband Kevin, a father banished from his daughter’s life for 6 years, one month and 24 days, dedicated to her on their reunion when she was 12 years old.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Simple pleasures for you and your child

Have you ever bought an expensive toy for your child, only to see it lie unused after just a few hours of play time?

More than expensive toys, your children want you to spend time with them. And there are so many simple, cheap ways to entertain them!

Take paper airplanes for instance. All you need is a bunch of paper, perhaps some scissors and crayons, and you're guaranteed hours of fun.

Did you know that the world record for a paper plane's flight length (indoors) is 16.87 seconds? Why not challenge your kids to a tournament. 16 seconds doesn't sound like long, but if your kids have a go, they'll find it is harder than it sounds to keep a plane in the air that long!

Watch out for our tips for paper plane enthusiasts young and old, in the next issue of the KidsGoals Parent Newsletter.

Happy parenting,


Friday, May 25, 2007

Put Yourself First???

The topic on the Oprah show today was "Putting Yourself First" The guest speaker said that our children learn how to treat themselves, not by the way that we treat them but rather the way they see their Mother treat herself. If you want your kids to love themselves then you have to show them that you love not only them but yourself also. It all goes back to the article I blogged about earlier this week about "Potential" and how we influence our children's self- esteem by how we feel about ourselves.

I have always put my kids and my husband first. It is something that I learned from my Mother and frankly it is all I know. I guess if we really want to do the best for our children then we need to look at the big picture and learn to do the best for us. Not always so easy to do though. :-)

All the best


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Self Esteem and Loving Affirmations for Children

Children's brains are more plastic than those of adults. Although recent research indicates that adult brains have much more ability to change and develop than was previously believed, it is still true that a child's brain is changing and growing very rapidly indeed.

So imagine how much of a wonderful effect positive, loving affirmations can have on these young minds.

Happy parenting,


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Child self esteem and desire

There are lots of ways to build our childrens' self-esteem.

One place to start might be to help them have a goal - a strong desire for something, which you can then help them to believe in.

You can give your child the best possible schooling, teach all the important techniques of success, encourage goal setting and set a fantastic example. But that is not enough! All these good things have one vitally important pre-requisite. Before you can achieve anything, you must know what you really, really want.

A burning desire is the first, most important and essential step towards any major achievement. As a parent, you are in a unique position to influence another person's desires - your child's. By the time they reach their teens, you will have lost this influence to a significant degree, as young adults are swayed much more by their peers' opinions than their parents'.

So make the most of the early years by instilling positive, beneficial desires in your children. The desire to do well academically could shape your child's further education and career much more than her innate ability.

How can you instil desire? Telling stories is a great way. Children love stories! Be creative and tell stories where the hero or heroine has a burning desire for something, overcomes challenges and set backs, and achieves the desired outcome. Try telling stories where a child achieves academic success, which in turn results in something even more desirable. For instance, one story could tell of a child who has a burning desire to travel to the North Pole. She succeeds academically and thus wins an award, which makes her dream come true. Tailor the stories to your own child's life and experiences as much as you can.

The famous author Napoleon Hill used story-telling to instil in his almost-deaf son both a burning desire to hear, and a firm belief that his disability would actually bestow upon him a great advantage (although at the time even his father had no idea what that advantage could be). By the time this boy left college, he had against the odds acquired a hearing aid that enabled him to hear clearly for the first time in his life. More remarkably, he had justified his father's belief by securing a marketing position with the hearing aid manufacturer to bring the same benefit to millions of other deafened people.

Check out the KidsGoals article on child self esteem for more ideas!



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Self- Esteem and Potential

I just read an article that was a little disconcerting, but it hit home just how powerful our thoughts are when it comes to our brain and how successful we become in life. According to a McGill university study; the brain scans of 92 people were recorded over a period of 15 years and the ones with negative self-esteem were starting to shrink away. Surprisingly, their brains became 20% smaller than those with more self confidence. They also performed significantly worse in memory and learning tests. There is also scientific evidence that low self-esteem is the source of chronic depression, lack of motivation, negative thinking and procrastination-- all things that keep us from realizing our dreams and goals.

This article made me realize how important it is that our children have a healthy self-esteem in order to reach their full potential. Whether we choose to admit or not we as parents and caregivers play a huge role in this. Since children learn by example, how we feel about our own self worth will be passed on to our children.

All the best


Monday, May 21, 2007


Next time you are baking, or making scrambled eggs, try this fun idea!
What you need:

* Eggs (one for each Egg Man you would like to make)

* A sterilized darning needle or large sewing needle (hold the tip in a flame for a few seconds to sterilize)

* Pipe cleaners

* Poster paints

* Varnish (optional)

Using the needle, make a small hole in the top and bottom of each egg. Hold the egg over a bowl and blow into the hole at the small end - the contents will be emptied into the bowl.

Rinse the egg, using a trickle of water then blowing the water out into the sink.

Thread a pipe cleaner through both holes so that you have something to hold the egg by.

Paint your man onto the eggshell, and optionally varnish when dry. You can then either keep the pipe cleaner in the Egg Man and use it to hang him up, or remove it and save him in an Egg Carton.

If your children enjoy this they will probably ask to do it whenever you are baking, so that they can build up a whole collection!

Why not help your child create Egg Men of the famous people you have studied together during your research for Role Models?! (see the article on Positive Role Models.)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What is most important to a child

It is a long weekend here in Canada and my son was feeling a little bored. I suggested that he work on his homework, and after he had completed his assignments he came up to me and asked if I would play a video game with him. I am not very good at it, but was willing to give it a try after he promised to give me a tutorial. After awhile the game got increasingly difficult and I had to throw in the towel. I did however, stay and cheer him on.

What I began to notice was it was not so much that I had to even play to make him happy. He wasn't disappointed that I wasn't going to play the game with him, he was thrilled just to have me in the room to tell him how great he was doing.

Funny how we tend to believe as parents, that we always need to expend so much energy when it comes to our kids happiness. We take them here and there and buy them this and that, when what is most important to them is that they feel like they are worth our time and we actually like having them around. Go figure :-)

Happy Parenting


Saturday, May 19, 2007

A thought about tantrums

When a child has a screaming tantrum in the middle of the supermarket, it's really not nice for the parent! You probably feel embarrassed, to say the least. No wonder it often comes out in a telling-off for the child.

But it's important to consider that when a child gets into trouble for expressing his emotions in a socially-inappropriate way, this can have a far-reaching impact on his emotional health.

As parents, a key responsibility is to TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO EXPRESS ALL THEIR EMOTIONS IN A HEALTHY AND APPROPRIATE WAY. Try to never make your child feel shame or guilt for feeling any emotion. He needs, like all healthy humans, to experience anger, sadness and fear as well as positive emotions like happiness.

When dealing with a tantrum, be particularly careful to address the behavior and not the emotion. And take the time to talk to your child about emotions, and how to express them appropriately.

Happy parenting,


Friday, May 18, 2007

What my Daughter means to me

Many times I have blogged about my Aspergian daughter Savannah. Even before she was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I knew in my heart that something was not quite right, but by the same token I loved her with all of my heart and hoped she would never have to to be labelled. She is very special young lady and brings a lot of joy to all who take the time to get to know her. I will always think of her as a gift and I wouldn't want to change her one iota.

I was overjoyed to find a website where parents and caregivers can talk about their own kids on the spectrum and what they love about them. I thought it was amazing and wanted to share it with you. A gift of Love from the Autism Community
go down the page until you get to the article The Joy of Autism a Mother's Day Gift and then click on collection of stories, poems, photos, and appreciations

All the best


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Stability at home for Toddlers Versus "The Best School"

A friend was telling me yesterday about his brother and sister-in-law and their plans to move house in order to get into the "catchment area" of a better school. In the UK that is quite a common thing. Because most children go to State-Funded schools, and some schools have a better track record than others, parents often move house deliberately so as to be in the vicinity, or "catchment area" of a good school so that their children have a better chance of being selected to have a place at that school.

I can't help feeling that this is often done with the best of intentions but that the priorities of the parents may sometimes be wrong.

As someone who had very little security as a child, I am very interested in how security versus upheaval affects children. From what I have learned from psychology, both from my own reading and from my friend, who is training as a counsellor, the effect on children of a house move can be quite traumatic. This is especially true for very small children, aged 1-5. During this period, toddlers are exploring the world around them - everything is so big and new - and a secure base that they can feel safe in is of crucial importance.

Security and same-ness are vitally important for all children, and especially for tiny children. Maybe this is an area that we should consider in more depth and provide some educative articles on the KidsGoals website?


Happy parenting,


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Children, school and changes

Is Change Always Good Thing??

I am sure we have all heard the saying that “Change is as good as a rest or even a vacation”, but with an impending move looming on the horizon, I am wondering if a change of location is really going to be such a positive experience. For one, my daughter Savannah has been in the same school district since she was eight- years- old and being an Aspergian, any kind of change is especially difficult for her. I can remember the first time we had our dog Rocky trimmed, and she got extremely upset because he didn’t look the same as when she left that morning. She has finally accepted that Rocky will have his regular haircuts, but will she be able to accept a new school and new faces as readily?

The kids from the school that she now attends have not been the friendliest but she has developed relationships with a few of them and has always had amazing support from her teachers. I am concerned that this will all change when we move to the new place. Luckily, she will still be able to continue working with Nora, her speech language pathologist because she is willing to commute to the new school. I have also been assured that the new school is very supportive and being more of a farming community the kids hopefully will be a bit friendlier than where we are now which tends to be a bit cliquey.

I guess time will tell and Savannah has finally accepted the fact that we have to move due to her Dad’s new job; but it took quite awhile to convince her that it wasn’t going to be the end of the world. My dilemma as her Mother is that I always wanted things to be as stress free as possible for my daughter but I know that is crazy. Stress is a part of life and she has to learn to deal with it just like everyone else. All I can do is try and be as supportive as possible while she goes through this major upheaval and hope for the best. Who knows maybe she will even like it there…’s hoping. :- )

All the best


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"When I grow up I want to be..."

What with our Sam looking for her first "proper" job now, I was interested in this cute game/tool for kids to do career research with ! Check out the link!

Happy parenting,


Monday, May 14, 2007

Watching Them Grow

The soccer season has just started and my daughter who has Aspergers is really holding her own on the field. She no longer has a fear of the ball and she is in there taking headers with the best of them. I have always been proud of her because I know it has not been easy for her. She still has to get the coach to help her figure out which is left and which is right but that has not kept her from always giving her best. I have also noted that the girls she plays with have been very supportive with their comments, even the ones that she isn't familiar with. My husband seems to think that we should talk to the coach and explain that our daughter has Asperger's and he may need to be a bit more patient with her at times while she figures things out. At first I thought it was a good idea, but watching her play on Saturday I have come to the realization, that she is doing just fine on her own. She is almost sixteen-years-old and maybe now is the time for her to start being an advocate for herself, as I am not always going to be there to explain things.

It is difficult for me as her Mother not to take over when she is struggling with the hairbrush and she gets very upset with me when I hover around her when she wants to cook something on the stove. She lets me know in no uncertain terms that the kids her age are cooking for themselves and so should she!! I know that she needs to do more for herself and I need to let her, but my first instinct has always been to protect her from getting hurt physically as well as emotionally. As I watched her play so well on Saturday, I came to the realization that she is growing up right before my eyes and I need to let her test her wings a bit more, so that one day she will be able to fend for herself. Not an easy thing for me to accept, but the most loving thing to do for her nonetheless.

Happy Parenting


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day in North America anyway; as the UK celebrated theirs on March 18th. Today is the day when we all appreciate the women who brought us into this world with flowers and cards and gifts. Speaking of cards, my youngest son has been working on my Mother's Day card all week. He kept asking me if I wanted a sneak peak and I told him, no, I want to be surprised. This morning when I went into his room to wake him he quickly rolled out of bed and opened his desk drawer and retrieved the card he had created for me. It brought a smile to my face when I read the words he had written and I realized how blessed I am to have such great kids. I thought I would share it with you.

It's that time of year again(your year) for you to do whatever you want so make it a good day, a day where you can use up all your energy and most important is for you to have fun and do what you want, when you want. But remember make everyday count. Love Justin

Now that's a keeper!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mom's out there

Love From Cassie and Monicka

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Encouragement for Children

I blogged the other day about helping our Samantha (17), fill in a job application form. To her delight, she got a call the very next day after handing the form in, inviting her for an interview.

One thing that stood out for me was how very appreciative Sam was about how her Dad and I helped and supported her. It made me a sad to realise that she didn't get that kind of encouragement from her Mother - who unfortunately is not one to take an interest in a child's schoolwork, projects and suchlike.

I felt like telling Sam that encouraging and supporting and helping her is our JOB, as (step)parent/s, and is a joy and a privilege. I suppose it feels so much more so for me, having tried to conceive and failing for years - it makes you really appreciate what an enormous gift a child is.

So a thought for you, if you are reading this and have a child. How blessed you are to have that child in your life! What can you do today to show your special little one how much you appreciate that blessing?

Happy parenting


Friday, May 11, 2007

The Power of the Flower

When I woke up this morning I was not feeling my best. I had a restless night and getting out of bed this morning was hell on wheels!!! After my morning caffeine fix I felt a bit better; but it was not until I took my dog for his morning wee that I really noticed a change in my mood. What was that amazing fragrance wafting in the breeze?? My favourite flower of all time the lilacs are in bloom. One whiff of those babies and I noticed a definite improvement in my mood and an overall feeling of “Life is pretty OK”.

Apparently researchers have discovered that women’s facial expressions change after they have been delivered flowers. 100% of the women in the study flashed a genuine smile known as the Ducherne smile. Best of all, the positive mood lasted up to three days later. Another study by the Harvard Medical School presented women with either flowers or scented candles. The women that received the flowers showed improvement in mood and also felt an increase in energy and a feeling of wanting to be more compassionate to others. No wonder when men are in the doghouse they give their significant others flowers. Might be a nice idea to present our moody teens with a surprise bouquet when they are not the nicest to be around?? Just a thought. :-)

Happy Parenting

Thursday, May 10, 2007

When children fly the nest?

Last week was a landmark week for my husband Kevin and myself. Kevin's daughter Samantha (my step-daughter) moved in with us full-time.

Sam had lived with her mother up until that point, and we had always wished that we could spend more time with her rather than just the occasional weekend. We felt that there was so much we couldn't do to help her from far away - like helping her with homework and all the usual things like that!

Now that she is 17, Sam has decided to have a change and come and live with her father for a while. She has left school already, and is looking for a job in our town, Buckingham. Yesterday, Kevin and I spent all evening helping her with a job application form. It was delightful to be able to do something positive with her.

Even little things like doing her washing and ironing are a pleasure for me, and I hope Sam knows that her Dad and I love her no matter what - that she doesn't need to be "good" to earn our love.

Happy parenting,


Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Happy Wednesday Everyone!!

My daughter Savannah, who has Asperger’s, came home from school yesterday with a plan to save for a laptop computer. She already has a computer that works just fine, but decided that having a laptop would be so much better. I told her if she saved for half of it than maybe her Dad and her Grandparents and I would contribute the other half. I was surprised when she adamantly said, "No, I want to do this all on my own without any help!!!"

Frankly, I am a bit surprised that she wanted to do this all on her own. It just shows that she is growing up right before my eyes and is becoming quite the independent young lady. In the past she was not all that goal oriented, so this is a pleasant change.

Savannah's plan is to get a part time job this summer and also do extra chores in order to earn a little more for her allowance. One thing about my fifteen-year-old daughter that hasn't changed, is her determination. When Savannah makes up her mind to do something, she usually does it. Her little brother is all for her having a new computer and is cheering on her efforts, especially since he will be getting her old computer. :-)

Happy Parenting


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Cool link for kids who like animals

Learning should be fun! So I enjoyed finding these games on the BBC website (see link). If you have kids aged 5-10 who like animals, they'll probably like the "challenge" games.

One of the games is where you pretend to be a chimp and "see if you would survive in the chimp group" by remembering your fellow chimps and the social interactions to use with them.

Happy parenting,


Monday, May 07, 2007

The Importance of Routine

The Importance of Routine

In the past my daughter Savannah, who has Asperger's, did not care much about her personal hygiene. Having a shower and washing her hair on a regular basis was not a huge priority for her. Most younger children and teens on the spectrum do not independently learn what they need to know about hygiene and self-care; so it is important as a parent to teach your child as early as possible the importance of keeping clean and tidy. For my daughter even brushing her hair was a struggle and she would get frustrated and not want to do it. Now that she is fifteen she has made incredible progress in all of these areas. The most important factor was not so much recognizing when she needed a shower or to wash her hair but rather to decide that she will shower every second day regardless of whether she needed one or not. This worked wonderfully and she would set her alarm for 6:30 AM learning from trial and error how much extra time she would need to comb out and dry her hair so as not to be late for school. This was not something that happened overnight and we all encouraged her by telling her how well she was doing with her hygiene routine.

About a week ago her Father in one of his bad moods asked Savannah if she could possible have her shower the night before school because the running of water that early in the morning was waking him up and he found it hard to go back to sleep. Luckily, I was in the room at the time and promptly set him straight on how important it was that Savannah has an established routine. I sometimes have to remind him that she has Asperger's and routine is very important to her. Anything that throws her out of whack such as choosing a different day to shower when she has kept to a strict every second day pattern would be very difficult for her and she could start to regress. After that he apologized to her and told her to shower whenever she wanted.

As her Mother and her strongest advocate I know that we all have to make sacrifices sometimes when it comes to Savannah. Whether it is putting up with early morning showers or biting our tongue when she may say something rude to us without meaning it to be. She is honest to a fault and that is one of the qualities I wouldn't want to change about her. She will learn in time and with practice that sometimes she needs to take the time to think, before blurting out that someone is a bit of a pig if they eat too much cake or even better find a nicer way to say it. As I have told her many times, it is not what you say, but how you say it.

All the best


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Believing in Yourself

My youngest Sister who has had years of training in art and a very talented artist in her own right, asked me what I would think about her asking my daughter Savannah, who has Asperger's, if she could buy a drawing from her? She was very impressed with one of Savannah's drawings and couldn't believe at her age she would know enough about art to be able to draw pairs of eyes in a way that she said only accomplished masters know how to do. I was totally gob smacked when she said that. I knew that the drawing was amazing but had no idea the skill involved. One pair of eyes in particular really blew my Sister away. She said after she had seen them they haunted her and she really wanted the drawing.

At first I wondered how Savannah would feel about selling her work, but after some thought decided that Savannah would be pleased. She was that and more. Savannah's concern was that she didn't want to ask for too much money. My Sister wanted to give her $50 but Savannah decided that was too high a price and asked for $40. I saw such pride in her as my Sister requested that she sign the piece and my daughter took her time, so that her signature was small and perfect before she handed it over to my Sister. Her first big sale as an artist and a HUGE boost to her self-confidence.

I know Savannah believes that she is very good at drawing but this was the first time that I think she realized how truly gifted she really is. It was heartwarming to me as her Mother to watch my daughter feel real pride in her abilities.

Just wanted to share that.

All the best!!


Saturday, May 05, 2007

I missed it! TV Turn Off Week.

At the ripe old age of 34, I have gradually got to the point where watching TV bores me to tears. I watched a 15 minutes of a comedy show last night, just to keep the rest of the family company, and remembered why I don't watch stuff on telly!

So being a big fan of no-TV, imagine my disappointment when I found out I had MISSED TV-Turnoff week.

Check out the link for all kinds of useful information and resources to encourage us and our children to watch less TV - and do better things instead!!


Friday, May 04, 2007

Social Interaction in the Playground, and Mobile Phones

I heard about an interesting study on the radio today that claimed that children's ability to interact socially in the playground is being damaged by them spending more time using mobile phones and other electronic equipment. They went so far as to say "our children are growing up without friends!" - which seemed an extreme view to take!

As one who met my best friend Monicka online, I can see both points of view - certainly children should be making friends at school and should be continuing to learn and develop their social skills and their ability to interact well with one another; however, electronic communication does have its place in developing and maintaining friendships in this shrinking world of ours. Without MSN, internet telephones and the web, Monicka and I could not possibly be so close that we feel 100% confident traveling all alone to each others' countries to visit!

I wish I had a link that explained this study in more detail, as I'd love to learn more. If any readers have heard the same report and know where I could find it, please leave me the link! I'd be very grateful!


Thursday, May 03, 2007

The controversial "Mozart Effect"

The "Mozart Effect" is a term used to describe the positive effect that music - in particular some of Mozart's compositions - may have on learning.

There's a lot of debate and controversy surrounding this topic, and having looked at both sides of the argument I think that people are arguing simply because certain researchers are trying to make hyped-up claims and producing flawed experiments. For instance, one study found that rats learned to complete a maze more rapidly if they had been exposed to Mozart music in the womb and as babies (1). The researches then drew the radical conclusion from this experiment that the music had a direct effect on the structure of the brain. They then strongly advocated using music in schools to improve math grades.

Other writers seek to disprove the effect, and they too come up with compelling negatory evidence. (2)

I prefer to take a much more pragmatic approach! Certainly music can be beneficial in lots of ways. Whether or not it can actually "re-wire" our kids' brains to perform mathematical calculations more easily, there are certainly fun and useful ways we can use music in our lives and the lives of our children to enhance their mood, and we'll be investigating some simple steps you can take in the KidsGoals newsletter very soon!



(1) Rauscher, Robinson and Jens (1998)
(2) For example K. M. Steele (2003)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Music as Therapy

My daughter Savannah, who has Asperger’s, has always shown a keen interest in music. Even before she could talk she could sing the Barney song "I Love you" verbatim and in perfect pitch. In fact she would sometimes sing instead of cry when she was injured.

Now that she is a teenager, music is still an integral part of her life. Whether it is listening to her mp3 player or singing her heart out when she is alone in her room with the door closed. On many occasions I will find her in her closet with a blanket pulled over her head listening to music on her headphones, oblivious to the world. Art and music are the two things that help her decompress so it is important that she has that time to herself. I find her much easier to deal with if I give her the space she needs before trying to find out what has stressed her out.

All the best


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Love or Food?

A couple who are friends of friends had a baby a month ago - and have not yet named him. I was really shocked to hear this and worry that this is a sign that the parents have not bonded well with the baby and while he may well be getting all he needs physically, I strongly suspect that he is being neglected emotionally.

My friend, who doesn't have much experience with babies, commented, "Isn't a baby more interested in food at that age?" To be honest I was too flabbergasted to summon much of a meaningful reply, and still am.

No way should a baby have to choose between Love and Food!

Happy parenting,