Mums Speak

Read about the latest news, reviews, opportunities and opinions from local Clapham Mums

We recently came across this really interesting, free website – www.entertainingbabies.com – which gives you ideas for games and activities to play with your children (birth to 10 years) at home and/or whilst travelling. Devised by a Doctor and mum to twins, the site offers new creative ideas for things to do at home using everyday objects and also acts as a great reminder of games and activities suitable for each age group.

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How to positively discipline your children – by www.theparentpractice.com

We’ve teamed up with The Parent Practice to bring you some key parenting skills to discipline your children:

Are you a pendulum parent? Swinging between leniency and then punishment, regretting your actions later? You’re not alone; it can be hard to maintain equilibrium. Parents are often torn between applying a degree of authority without using traditional, rather harsh rules of discipline.

The Parent Practice, who run parenting courses and workshops throughout London, advocates the use of a positive approach, believing that negativity is counterproductive – how often have you reprimanded your child only to find them doing the same thing hours later? When you are happy with your children, they feel more confident, happier about themselves and behave well. Your children will want to please you.

A system of positive discipline can help you achieve this; it’s a constructive, self-perpetuating cycle which results in happier children and calmer parents.

Open communication and a nurturing environment are key; encouraging cooperation without recourse to repeating; reminding, nagging, lecturing, bribing, threatening or shouting.

Here are our tips for positive discipline:

Make rules clear, positive and consistent.

Ask your children “what is our rule about that?” instead of issuing a lecture.

Issue praise in detail when your children are doing the right thing and following the rules.

If you want to reward your children offer small things, such as a game with you, an extra story, a nice sticker, or have them accumulate points over time to earn something bigger.

Follow through on consequences and never make idle threats that you have no intention of carrying out.

Don’t make snap decisions that you may regret. Take time to think about what you want to do without being pressured by your child.

Instead of immediately saying “no” to a request, say “yes…. when you have had supper/done your homework/tidied up…you will have earned your reward.”

The rule for yourself is that you are not going to shout. If you do, apologise or take time out.

Take a positive parenting step; simple rules bring simple pleasures for a simpler life.

‘Positive Discipline, finding the balance,’ one of the most popular Parent Practice workshops, guides parents on how to avoid traditional forms of discipline which often include punishing and how to be in charge positively

The Parent Practice runs workshops and courses throughout London.

You can contact them on 0208 673 3444

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Great piece by local mum of two Diane Harvey-White, founder of Sew-Easy Costumes – www.sew-easycostumes.co.uk – who create costume kits for school history topics.

DRESSING THE PART

DressingupEvery parent becomes very familiar with themed days at school like Book Day – or History Day. And usually they shudder because funnily enough both of those involve your child dressing up.

It can sometimes be difficult to understand the value of sending your child in to school dressed as Arriety from the Borrowers or Thing One from the Cat in the Hat, but what this allows a child to do, is unleash their imagination. They can become that character for the day, ‘get inside its skin’ and as a learning extension, it allows the teachers to explore the written word and how it makes us feel. For children who aren’t natural readers, this makes something that is otherwise a chore, fun and easier to relate to. For those who love to read anyway, it’s a reward.

The same can be said of History Day, dressing as a Tudor, in clothing very different from our own, allows a child to travel back in time, to think about how life might have been for someone who lived in a wattle and daub structure with no heating or cooking facilities other than a fire. Even that brief glimpse gives them insight into why events might arise and suddenly history has a more human side to it. It’s no longer boring words about dead people, but stories that really happened and again, this allows a child’s imagination to engage. They can picture themselves in that situation and decide how they felt about it. So, dressing the part is of real benefit to their class learning and any effort you put in will be rewarded – we still talk about the ‘Mock Turtle’ and ‘Evacuee Day.’

Keep it simple, if you have an item of clothing (or a hobby with kit) use that as the starting point – a pretty nightie makes a lovely Wendy costume! We used a bit of artistic license with the Karate Kid, but the year we had red shoes, who else could she be but Dorothy! And that riding hat immediately says Gymkhana. Also, don’t forget the value of a facepaint – Puss in Boots and the Cat in the Hat, different child, different year, same costume!

Dressingup2 Charity shops are perfect for finding items of clothing that can be adapted, splattering a bit of ink on them is perfect for that ragged look. Lacing cord does wonders at pulling up hems and adding a bit of tatty decoration. Believe it or not crepe paper and double sided tape can make beautiful costumes, but beware, it’s not colour fast. And don’t forget, history day comes around every year, if you have more than one child, keep the costume on ice!