Saturday, June 30, 2007

Living with Teenagers

Well hubby is really wanting some help with this whole teenage parenting experience! He has ordered a book by a young British girl who calls herself jellyellie.

Jellyellie wrote (aged 14/15) a book called "How Teenagers Think" - and hubby is hoping it will give him a teen-eye-level view of life so he can understand his daughter better!

I of course will read it too (I'm an incorrigible bookworm and read everything!) so I'll do a little review - and let you know if it helps!

Happy parenting,


Friday, June 29, 2007

Teenager's Brains

It's official - my husband is well on the way to going grey! Now that his 17-year-old daughter Sam is living with us, he is getting a full blown taster of parenting a teenager - and he is fretting like mad!

I think it's lovely to see how protective he is, and Sam appreciates it too - she loves that he cares about her so much.

But it's a difficult time for both of them - at 17, Sam needs to experiment with pulling away and dealing with problems and dilemmas (like how late to stay out on a Friday night when, unlike her friends, she has to work on Saturday morning!) - but at the same time she needs a lot of love and support.

The fact is that teenagers' brains don't function yet like those of adults, and I found a fascinating article that helps with some insight into that (see header link).

I've printed it off for hubbie to read - it might not stop his hair going grey, but trying to understand the Teenage Brain is a wonderful challenge for him!

And on that subject, my darling step-daughter has a lot to learn about teen sleep hygiene! :)


Thursday, June 28, 2007

The JOY of Parenting.

My ten-year-old son came home the other day and asked me if he could borrow $10.00 from his savings for school? I asked him what it was for and he told me that his teacher was going to buy pizza for the whole class to celebrate the end of the school year and he felt bad because he heard that teachers don't get paid very much and wanted to contribute some money so his teacher wouldn't have to pay for the whole shot. When he told me this I felt so proud of him for wanting to help his teacher. Bless his little heart for thinking of others. It makes me realize he is growing up right before my eyes and turning into a very caring individual.

Parenting is never easy and there are times when your kids can frustrate you and make you want to tear your hair out but it is the little things that they may do or say that makes it all worthwhile. I know he will probably not always be Mommy's little angel. He will probably cause me more than a few grey hairs and sleepless nights when he becomes a teenager, but that is when I will go into my memory bank and pull out these little treasures.......sigh.

Happy Parenting


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Teen Suicide

I was shocked to hear on CNN yesterday about the suicide deaths of three fifteen-year-old boys in a small town in Northern Ireland, all from the same school and all in the same month. Even more shocking is there is some evidence that the boys were part of an online suicide pact. As you can well imagine the town is in hysterics wondering if there are more deaths to come.

This just shows how important it is to know what is going on in our children's heads. Many parents have no clue that their children are depressed and contemplating suicide because kids are so good at hiding the pain. We all need to sit down with our kids and find out what is going on in their lives and if day to day stresses are getting the better of them. They want to please us and so may want to show us that they are handling things when that is not the case at all. Make a point to talk to your kids on a daily basis and look for signs that something may be bothering them. Sometimes there are subtle clues, we just need to look for them.

All the best


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Emotional abuse

Monicka's post yesterday about non-physical bullying got me thinking about emotional abuse by adults perpetuated against kids. As Monicka rightly explained to her young son, bullying by name-calling and other verbal abuse is indeed bullying. And we should recognise, also, how damaging emotional abuse is.

It's invisible - doesn't make bruises like physical abuse; doesn't cause physical pain or hidden damage inside like sexual abuse can - but for all that it damages a child in terrible ways.

I guess you can tell from my passion that I went through some of that myself, which is part of why I am so grateful for the opportunity to help in some small way other children to be strong through the Kidsgoals website.

Happy parenting


Monday, June 25, 2007

Non physical bullying

My ten-year-old son was not acting like himself this weekend. He seemed a bit withdrawn and spent most of his time playing his computer games and not socializing much with the family. Finally on Saturday I sat him down and told him I was concerned and wanted him to tell me what was wrong. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and told me that some kids at school were calling him names; saying he was ugly and looked like a nerd. My son is quite sensitive and has recently had to wear glasses so sadly that is probably what the nerd reference was about. I told him he needed to tell the teacher or principal because that was bullying and it was not right. He told me they didn't hurt him physically but I told him bullying is bullying no matter what context it takes and name calling can be just as hurtful because it doesn't show on the surface like physical abuse but it leaves deep scars. We talked for awhile about bullying and he is starting to feel a little better and will tell someone if it ever happens again.

This is something we as parents and caregivers need to keep in mind, and make sure our kids understand that if someone makes us feel bad it is bullying no if buts or maybes about it. Talk to your kids and tell them it is always OK to come to you no matter what.

Happy Parenting


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Picnicking with your kids

In these days of fast food, even though I live next door to a large and beautiful park, I never see families sitting down for a picnic any more.

There's something special about spreading a blanket on the ground and getting out home made sandwiches and snacks that McDonalds' or KFC will never be able to match. Going out for a picnic is a great way, too, to incorporate some exercise for your kids at the weekend. Biking is good exercise for instance - walking too, of course, if you have somewhere nice within striking distance.

Watch out for some nice picnic recipes coming up in the next edition of the KidsGoals Parenting Newsletter!

Happy parenting,


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Goals and Dreams for Kids - The Importance of a Supportive Family

It's so important for kids to have a family environment that is supportive - especially when it comes to goal setting. Sometimes, those that are supposed to be our nearest and dearest are the ones that shoot our dreams down before they even have a chance to get started.

My friend told me yesterday about just such an example. When he was about 11 he wanted to be a ball boy for his favorite football team. Unfortunately when he told his Dad about the idea he immediately started telling him all the reasons it was a bad idea! Terrible idea - it'll be very boring, and imagine how horrid it will be when it rains!

It's important to try and step back when children confide in us about their dreams and goals. Might it have been possible for my friend's Dad to bite his tongue and at least find out a bit more before shooting the idea down in flames. Thinking back to how he wished his Dad had handled it, my friend said that what he really would have wanted back then as a child would have been:

1. For his Dad to show he cared by asking more about the idea and what it was about it that was getting his son excited

2. Then for his Dad to make some suggestions and ask some questions.

3. Finally, he would have liked some specific help - for his Dad to offer to talk to some friends and find out what would be involved, or some such action.

It really made me think about how carefully we should protect our children's self esteem by listening carefully and being supportive, especially when they surprise us with an idea that we might normally rubbish without even considering!

Happy parenting,


Friday, June 22, 2007


Cassie blogged a bit about spanking on Tuesday and I just thought I would add a bit more on that subject. The one and only time that I spanked my son he was five years old. I was having a very bad day and he was probably feeling my stress and refused to listen to me when I asked him to stop playing with some cards and get ready for bed. After asking him countless times he still refused to do what I had asked and so I raised my voice quite loud to show him I was serious and he picked up the cards and threw them at me. I lost my cool then and there and spanked him. He looked at me like I was a monster and then ran to his room crying hysterically. I felt so bad I went right to him and told him I was sorry and I would never do that again and I never did.

I realized that after the damage was done that there was a better way to discipline. I know at the time spanking seems like a quick fix and but in the long run it really doesn't fix anything. Sure it stops the child initially from doing something he shouldn't but studies show that children that are spanked are more likely to be aggressive, in fact a long term study in Ontario, Canada proved that spanking causes problems in adulthood including anxiety, major depression and drug and alcohol addiction.

Happy Parenting


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Children, Emotions and Self-Esteem

Hopefully it is true to say that all good-enough parents are keen to help their children develop with a healthy emotional balance and a good self-esteem.

If you're one of these parents, it is definitely worth spending some time learning a little about HOW to help children develop in these positive ways. It's NOT about what school they go to, or about giving them more material things than you had when you were a kid.

It's much more fundamental than that. It's about how you communicate with your children on a day to day basis. How you expressly teach them that it is OK to feel ALL kinds of emotions. How you encourage them to allow both positive and negative feelings to come and go without trying to suppress them.

It's easy for a child to misunderstand. Imagine a small child having a temper tantrum. If we tell him it's not acceptable to hit people or to break things, he is likely to interpret this as it's not OK to FEEL anger. Of course it is OK to feel anger. He just needs to learn to express it appropriately rather than violently.

In extreme circumstances, if children feel that it is not OK to express certain emotions, such as anger or sadness, then the psychological effect is that they "split off" the part of them inside that holds those emotions. This is not a healthy emotional thing and can lead to low self esteem.

Happy parenting,


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pudding Pops

To help beat the heat of summer, here is a nice cool treat for the kids that they can help you make and is healthier than Popsicles.

Frozen Pudding Pops (with adult supervision)
Perfect treat to beat the heat
· 1 (3.9 ounce) package instant pudding mix
· 1/2 cup white sugar
· 3 cups milk

Combine pudding, sugar, and milk in a mixing bowl. Pour mixture into small plastic cups (if you do not have ice pop molds) and freeze. Before it sets completely, place a wooden craft sticks into them. Serve when frozen. For for an added treat layer two different kinds of pudding such as vanilla and chocolate.

More ideas for cooking with your child.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Smacking Children??

Here in the UK, government ministers are going to review our current laws regarding smacking children. The current legislation, which has been in place since January 2005, states that "mild smacking" is allowed, but any hitting which causes visible damage to a child, such as bruising or grazing, is punishable (I should hope so!!!)

It is good news that the government is committed enough to the welfare of our children to review the law on this important issue - one of the ways they will be progressing it is via a survey for parents.

I certainly do not think that physical violence towards a child can ever be justified or condoned. There are much better ways to help a child learn positive behavior patterns, and much more appropriate ways to express loving discipline. However I do suspect that a law that bans smacking will not have an awful lot in the way of positive impact - as my step-daughter Sam commented darkly when she read the article about this in the paper, "No-one knows what goes on behind closed doors!"

Sadly, people who abuse children are already committing illegal acts - another law for them to break is unlikely to make much difference.



Monday, June 18, 2007


We all know that children learn by example so make it a point to show your children how important it is not to put off things that need to be done. I find that unfinished business haunts me and makes it difficult to move forward. When I follow through and get it done, it gives me a sense of accomplishment and pride. What a great tool to teach your children and something that can only benefit them in their adult years.

Happy Parenting


Sunday, June 17, 2007




Saturday, June 16, 2007

Something to think about

Cassie and I had a discussion the other day about whether having the so-called proper childhood meant the difference between success and failure when it came to self-help? If you do not have the foundation to start with is it impossible to improve your lot in life or a you damned from the start?? Is all the cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoanalysis just a waste of money or can you truly change your way of thinking and deprogram yourself from all the crap that was spoon-fed to you as a child? Kind of makes you wonder which individual would have a fighting chance; the one with the supportive loving parents or the one whose parents didn't give a damn. Even a perfect childhood does not guarantee a perfect life but a child who feels loved and cared for at least feels they are worthy of a better life, maybe that is the difference.

Happy parenting


Friday, June 15, 2007

The Power of Love

While I was half watching America has Talent the other day I happened to hear the heartwarming story of one of the performers an 11 year old boy named Casey or "Little C" who had been in the foster care system for most of his young life. He was not doing very well and rarely spoke. It was not until a woman decided to adopt him and give him the love and security he truly needed and the boy thrived. Knowing he was loved made all the difference and you could tell. He was happy and confident and a talented dancer to boot. Just shows you what love can do.

Happy Parenting


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Forgetfulness is OK

I have noticed that ever since I have I have entered my forties I have become much more forgetful. My memory definitely is not what it used to be and I am constantly misplacing my mail key and important papers that I put in a special place so I can find them but can't seem to remember where exactly the special place is. I am sure we all have fears that our memory is going slowly but surely and it is just a part of getting older but according to a recent study being a bit forgetful actually means your brain is working properly. The article states " the brain only chooses to remember memories it thinks are most relevant and suppresses those that are similar but less used helping to lessen the cognitive load and prevent confusion."

If you want to read how they came to this conclusion here is the article

So maybe being a bit forgetful is not all bad after all. :-)

Happy Thursday Everyone


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kids that can Inspire us

"Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children." Walt Disney

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kid Goal Setting

Some things to bear in mind when helping your children set goals include:

1) Be careful when suggesting deadlines or time limits. When we get to the age where the months seem to fly by, it's easy to forget what time feels like to a child. Remember when two weeks seemed like an impossibly long time? Be sensitive to the age of your child when talking with him about time frames.

2) Have your children write their goals down – or help them with that if they are too young. Write down not only the goal itself, but also WHY it's important and what it will LOOK LIKE when it's achieved.

3) As much as possible, let your children be the ones to come up with the ideas for their own goals. If you need to make suggestions, be as sensitive as you can to their age and interests. Be especially sensitive about the "size of the goal". Children need to have big goals broken down into mini-goals so that they can see progress quickly, preferably on a daily basis. A goal to learn to spell five new words a week is better to focus on than winning the national Spelling Bee!

4) Work on the goal with your child – but don't take over! Make sure that your child can sense your interest and support, but be careful she doesn't think that you want to do it for her.

5) Set a good example by having written goals of your own and let your children see you working towards them regularly.

Happy goal setting with your kids!


Monday, June 11, 2007

Kids and Safety on the Internet

If you a parent, chances are that your child or teen knows all about the Internet. Probably even more than you do? They use it on a daily basis for school projects and general research. It is without a doubt the ‘‘ information highway ‘’. But parents also need to realize that there are many dangers involved when web surfing.

Check out the KidsGoals guide to Internet Safety for Kids and Teens for more info.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


(age six and up with adult supervision)

  • 1 package (2 layer size) white cake mix

  • 1 package (85 gram) strawberry jelly powder, or your favourite red colour such as cherry, raspberry etc.

  • 3 cups whipped topping or if you prefer white frosting

  • Colourful candy sprinkles

Prepare cake batter as directed on the package. Stir in dry jelly powder until well blended.

Line 24 medium muffin tins with paper liners. Pour cake batter evenly into cups so each is about one half full. Place a half-inch ball of tin foil between each liner and side of muffin tin to form a heart shape, as shown in the picture.

Bake as directed on package. Cool completely and remove foil ball.

Spread 2 tablespoons of the whipped topping or frosting onto each cupcake. Decorate as desired with candy sprinkles. Store in refrigerator.
More ideas for: cooking with your child.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thank You to all you wonderful parents out there

I was so sad today, out and about in Milton Keynes, to keep seeing and hearing people yelling at their kids and treating them rudely - even swearing. :(

It's particularly heartbreaking as someone who has struggled to come to terms with infertility for many years ... it really makes one appreciate what a huge blessing children are to those that are privileged enough to have them.

So today I wanted to thank all of YOU, the wonderful parents who read our blog and subscribe to our parenting newsletter, because you are the ones who are loving and caring about your kids, bringing up the next generation of kind and thoughtful people, and that is the one thing that give me hope for our world.




Friday, June 08, 2007

The basics that a child NEEDS

Do you give your kids a safe family environment? I think that so many people take that for granted.
Do you bring up your kids in a family where they:

1. Know they are loved?
2. Know they will be taken care of?
3. Know they will be fed, and have somewhere to sleep?

If you do these things, give yourself a BIG pat on the back. It might sound like not a lot, but if a child DOESN'T get these things, he or she will suffer tremendously. So don't take it for granted. Congratulate yourself for giving your child a good start in life.

Believe me, I know what it is like to grow up without these things.



Thursday, June 07, 2007

Kids and math

I was pretty thrilled last night when my 17-year-old step-daughter, Samantha, asked me if I would help her out with fractions and percentages, because, she said, "I'm not very good at them." Throughout the past 14 years, since I first met her, I've wanted nothing more than to be able to be a real parent to her. Maybe at last, almost when it's too late, I have that chance. What a blessing!



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kids and Sleep Deprivation

A new study performed in Australia (see link) compared data from two surveys of kids and sleeping habits, one survey from 1985 and one from 2004.

The results showed that the 2004 children were sleeping an average of about 1/2 an hour less per night than the kids back in 1985 - mainly due to later bed times.

A possible culprit might be the increasing incidence of kids having TVs and computers in their bedroom.

Sleep scientists claim that adolescents need 9.5 hours of sleep per night ( .. how much sleep is your teen getting?

Happy parenting and sweet dreams!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Children and Listening

As we were having a nice talk over dinner with our girl Sam, I was reminded of the importance of listening well to our children. As she's 17, most people treat her now with the politeness usually extended to grown-ups, but for toddlers and younger children it amazes me how often I see them not being listened to.

Fair enough, they are young and perhaps a little rude themselves, as they have not yet learned all the civility of normal conversation such as not interrupting, giving others a chance to speak, etc, but I think that the best way for them to LEARN good conversational manners is to be treated in a polite way.

When people wonder why children don't listen to them, I sometimes wonder - are they first setting a great example and listening well to the children?

For more information, you might be interested in the Children and Listening Skills Article.

Happy parenting,


Monday, June 04, 2007

Children and Making Friends

My step daughter Sam (17) has been living with us for less than a month, and we were a little concerned about how easy it would be for her to make new friends in Buckingham. To our delight, however, she is doing great - and in fact has a shopping trip to Milton Keynes, our nearest big town, with a group of new girlfriends today!

Tomorrow she starts her new job as an assistant at the local optician's store, and I'm sure she'll soon make even more friends through work.

For helping younger children make friends, you might like to check out Monicka's article, Helping Your Child Make Friends.

Happy parenting!


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Positive thinking for kids

By being more positive (planting flowers) yourself you can give your children a wonderful gift. Teach them that even if they are having a difficult day they can turn their negative thinking (weeds) around just by looking for all the things in their life to be grateful about (flowers).

For some ideas on how to incorporate positive thinking in your kids' lives, see Monicka's article Planting Flowers

Happy parenting!


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Your Child, and Your Expectations of him

Do you think that perhaps how well you EXPECT your child to do can have a dramatic effect on how well he does?

This story might be food for thought. It is a story from a school in the U.S. where some scientists were studying the effect of expectations on children's academic performance.

At the beginning of the year, the principal called four teachers in to his office and told them, "Because of your outstanding performance over the years, we have selected you as the four very best teachers in this school. To reward you for your excellent teaching ability, we have chosen four classes of children who have been shown, in tests, to have the highest IQs in the whole school.

"To each of you we have assigned a class of these very bright children, for you to teach for the whole year. Now, we want you to teach using the exact same methods that you have used in the past. Neither the children nor their parents know anything about this streamlining, and we need to keep it that way, so nothing is to be said to the children about the fact that they have been selected to be in these special classes."

At the end of the year, it was found that the children in the four classes had not only outperformed the rest of the school, but were among the top performers in the whole district. The Principal called in the teachers, and, after commenting on how well they had done, asked them how they had found the children to teach. The teachers enthusiastically described the children as very intelligent, very eager to learn and so on. Imagine their surprise to hear that the children had not in fact been tested for IQ, but were simply a random sample! And then imagine their disappointment when they found out that their own names had been drawn out of a hat - they had not been chosen as the best teachers after all!

Wishing you all very excellent expectations of your successful kids!


Friday, June 01, 2007

Kids and Exam Stress

Lots of kids - and not just older children or teenagers, but even young kids! - have to take exams or tests these days.
What can you do to help reduce the stress of exams for your children? Some ideas might include:

  • Encourage them to plan ahead and have their exams marked clearly and prominently on a calendar as soon as they know the dates.
  • Help them find a quiet place at home that is conducive to study, and ensure that all members of the family respect their need for quiet time and space to work
  • Encourage them to take regular breaks - short and refreshing breaks such as for a drink or a walk, NOT breaks in front of the telly!
  • Teach them good study habits and skills, such as concentration

We'll be offering more study and exam resources in the KidsGoals Parenting Newsletter over the coming weeks!

Happy parenting,