Positive Self Talk – and Why it Matters

Our thoughts determine our actions – if we are in the habit of positive self-talk and positive thinking, we find that we can do things and marvel at our successes. However, all too often our internal chatter  is very negative; we can’t, we are stupid, people will laugh at me. Here are some tips on turning off the negative – and switching on the positive with yourself – and your children. Continue reading

10 Benefits of Taking Risks

Taking risks is important for children and teens – this doesn’t mean being reckless or placing themselves in danger, but having a positive attitude to stepping out of your comfort zone is a key life skill – and there are so many advantages.


As a parent you want your child to be safe – and protect them from any kind of hurt or harm. Realistically, I am afraid, this isn´t possible and it´s all too easy to be  over protective. Stopping children from trying new things  actually means they learn to fear taking  risks  – and they seek to continually stay in their comfort zone. In this way, children can become very limited in their ability to become resilient or overcome their fears. So, as always, it´s about balance. Even when things go wrong, that in itself is a valuable learning experience – no matter how bad the experience, we can always take a positive lesson from it, if we seek to.

Our comfort zones are exactly that – safe and stable. Nothing will change for the better if we insist on staying in them. Change will happen through external forces – but those who seek to only stay in the comfort zone begin to fear and resent those external forces. Those who proactively seek to change and control things on their own terms, however, are those who ultimately lead a more fulfilling and happy life. Change IS scary sometimes – however, it´s usually nowhere near as scary if we are the ones to “seize the day” and make it happen.


Benefits of taking risks

  1. Children learn and experience new and exiting things – they discover new things about themselves and what they do (and do not) like to do.
  2. They meet new people and form new friendships and relationships
  3. They learn how to handle it when things go wrong and this in turn can help them develop a sense of resilience and responsibility for their own actions.
  4. They learn to challenge themselves – to continually progress and learn more and more things – they develop a love of learning and a passion to succeed.
  5. They do not fear challenges – rather they embrace it and seek to continually try new things.
  6. Taking risks means you have greater confidence and are not afraid of failure.
  7. You are inspired by, rather than threatened by others, and develop a “give it a go” attitude rather than judging or criticizing others for taking a risk.
  8. Children who take risks learn from their mistakes, learn new life skills and inspire others.
  9. Risk taking fosters a love of resilience and perseverance – and children who take risks are more likely to acknowledge and celebrate their success and achievements – this boosting their self-esteem
  10. It´s the difference between living life and watching it go by – far better to join the party, than sit on the sidelines. Yes – children (and adults) who take risks are happier, have more fun and attract more positivity into their lives.

So go on – take a risk and let me know what you did and how you got on!




How to Explain Tough Love to your Child / Teenager

There’s no doubt about it –  as your children and teenagers grow up, there are often times when you need to apply a bit of the old tough love. And it can hurt.  It can upset them and it can hurt to you to have to say it and then cope with the backlash. Here are a few tips to explain what tough love is – and why it is important. Continue reading

The Importance of Good Manners

Good manners matter – they cost nothing yet can mean a great deal to others. They make a positive difference and a lasting impression, yet so many young people are failing to be “well mannered” – but at what cost?

Continue reading

Don´t touch me like that – how to handle embarrassing conversations

It is right that we all have control over who touches our body and how they touch it -and as children get older, they need more control over who touches them, and in what way. No means no and more often than not we need to help children to have  these conversations with others. Continue reading

Let´s PLAY! (And create few happy habits at the same time!)

Ever miss the days when life was so much simpler and there was a lot more fun around? Children have so much fun playing – when do we loose that spark for fun and creativity? Continue reading

Having a Bad Reputation – and What they can do about it

Does your child have a bad reputation at school? The problem with bad reputations is that they are easy to get – and tricky to shake off. Happily, there are things they can do to start taking back control and making life a lot less lonely. Continue reading

Attention Seeking – Why it works and How to Change it

Do you children act out to get your attention? Does it work? If it does, then they have no reason to change their behaviour and that can lead to problems and arguments at home.

Click the image above to hop to my YouTube channel and watch this episode of the Spookje Stories.


What is negative attention seeking?

Only in fairy tale realms (or quite often at school when they can revert to being super-ultra polite children from the fairy tale realm) do children go up to their parents and say in a super and mega-polite fashion, “Excuse me mummy dearest, I can see that you are awfully busy running around looking after me, everyone else, the cat and the house and running your own business all while looking absolutely radiant, however, could I please have a moment of your precious time, or possible schedule one in on our family google calendar?”

Has that ever happened? No. Probably not. It’s more likely they beg, moan, whine, plead, literally stand behind you so you trip over them, follow you around (whilst moaning and whining), doing things they and you know plain well they should NOT be doing, or cause a stand up row with their siblings, just to forcing you to stop what you are doing and intervene. And abracadabra – they have your attention because you literally cannot stand it for a moment longer. Or maybe in your house, it´s the baby voice or face they make to get their own way, or the temper tantrums that are ridiculously embarrassing and you have no idea why they can’t see how humiliating it is to behave this way and you will do ANYTHING to make it stop.

All of the above is negative attention seeking behaviour.

The answer to them not realizing how embarrassing it is to behave this way is 2 fold. The first is that they DO know really. The second is because they simply don’t care. They know this is what they can do to get their own way. It’s like a video game – they just need to figure out what DEFCON level of irritating, naughty or begging,  manipulative behaviour they need to go to, and bingo – they’ve won. Therefore, why change a winning strategy?


By giving in to this behaviour (which is VERY normal, so you are not alone!) you are essentially rewarding bad behaviour. The action of giving in – even if it is followed up with a condition that you and they know you won’t stick to, is like saying, “Yes, please behave this way. I like it and it means I will give in and you get what you want. You have all the power and control here, while I as the parent have none. Further more, we both know you will do this again and we both know I will give in and I will end up being a frazzled,angry mess.” And you loose every time because they have behaved in unacceptable ways to get what they want. And they are unlikely to stop or grow out of it because why change a winning formula?

So now what?

Without exception, the children I work with openly admit behaving this way to get your attention. All of them. They deliberately behave this way as they know what makes you tick. As children become preteens and teenagers, they know that guilt is a great tool or being mean and then apologizing works.


Honestly, I will tell you, all of them, want to stop and have more secure boundaries that they are expected to adhere to and communicate more positively. And honestly, they want that from you – they need it from you – and you are 100% able to break this cycle. You CAN have the control, and the ability and the skill and the love and all the things that you need to bring this change about. You do.

Ten Tips to Break the Cycle of Negative Attention Seeking

  1. Like slowing down a fast moving lorry, it takes a little time and concerted effort to slow down and stop these negative  behaviours. They re a learned pattern and as such are a default, so there needs to be conscious change – and children have to WANT this change. So, sit them down and make it clear the sherrif is back in town – and that’s you. Share that you don´t like all the negativity at home from either side and you want a happier more positive and safe way of talking to each other that will make everyone happier. As they get older, this should be agreed by all parties. Little ones, the law is the law – and you are the law!
  2. Tell them you love them and you want to spend  as much time with them as possible. Explain, (not excuse) the demands on your time. Tell them you are making spending time with them a top priority which is why you are having this conversation.
  3. Explain what behaviours are out and work together to come up with a list of more positive ones. For example, things they can say that you know they are trying to get your attention in a positive way, which means you can respond in a positive way.
  4. Go over your daily routine – identify what is working and what isn’t  – and make the changes that are going to make what time you have together more flexible.
  5. Schedule in a time each day where you can spend quality time together – and plan in what you will do, whether it’s helping with homework, reading a book, playing a game, listening to or reading to them, watching a bit of TV, going for a walk with the dog – anything. By identifying types of activities as special and designated time with you, they will recognize the value behind those times and everyone will appreciate them more.
  6. You need to come into their world. You might not like the Emoji movie, but if they do and they want to share it with you, then that´s is what it is going to take.
  7. For teenagers, it is the same – come into their world. Share what you love doing to spend time with them and check in with them if they do too. ASK them what they would like to do to have a bit of time together each day.
  8. Mean it – it´s not easy to break bad habits or establish new routines. If you day you are going to do something, you need to stick to it. Breaking a promise or your word is a big no-no. Think how that impacts on how you look to your children and how it shows that it´s OK to break your word.
  9. For every day they go without a certain behaviour, you might like to start a reward chart. Depends, if you as a family are into those. the rewards could be based around time spent together, such as getting a treat after school, watching a movie, playing a game, going to the park etc.
  10. Are their attentions because you do really need to spend more time with them? Make a list of the things you do in a day. Then prioritize that list against what you feel is important to you as a parent. In what way do your priorities match and support the things you spend your time doing?

Remember – even having a drink together, a talk in the car, a walk are all ways to spend time with your children. Have them help out at home, and chat while you do it.

And if you´re not sure – get in touch, and let´s find that time together.











When Kids Break The Rules : A Spookje Story

It’s completely normal for children of all ages (even the grown up ones!)to test boundaries and break the rules. However – where is the balance between allowing them to test the limits and keeping them safe? 

Children break the rules for different reasons:

  1. To test your limits and see how far they can push you – this is about control and who has it – and who hasn’t.
  2. For attention – even if it is negative attention.
  3. Copying others to fit in and be part of a group.
  4. It is fun – it’s a way to assert their authority and gain more independence.
  5. They do not know the point of the rule – to them it is meaningless.

As soon as children learn that breaking the rules works – they get what they want  – so they will keep repeating it. Children / preteens who are defiant at school and get sent out of class may behave this way to GET sent out of class. As soon as they know what buttons they need to press to get what they want – they will do it over and over. Then you end up in a vicious circle of telling them off, only to find they immediately repeat the same behaviour.

Rules and boundaries are vital to children and teenagers. They are there to keep them safe and offer boundaries that ensure they can learn positive life skills.

Here are a few tips to help manage the constant rule breaking at home and maybe offer some food for thought:

  1. Sit down and explain that the rule breaking is a big cause of arguments. Talk to your child about it – be open and curious – what are their reasons for breaking the rules? If they have the confidence to be open and honest about it, then make sure there are no negative consequences for their openness. It might be that they want your attention and that’s why they break the rules. This is simply about them wanting your time, so schedule in times when they will have your undivided attention and AGREE TOGETHER that this then stops the negative attention rule breaking. You’ll need to stick to the agreement too – otherwise, that in turn will illicit negative attention seeking.
  2. Look at what rules are being broken – are those rules fair, age appropriate and meaningful to your children?
  3. How many rules are there and what is their purpose?
  4. What rules are non-negotiable because they are there to keep them safe?
  5. Do the children know the purpose for and reasons behind the rules – sometimes they do not see the point of rules. If there are meaningless, then children will continually break them.
  6. What rules are no longer necessary?
  7. What independence do the rules encourage?

Two key questions are:

  1. What level of input do children have over rules and boundaries?
  2. What is your reaction to rule breaking – and how consistent is it?
  3. What are the consequences to rule breaking – who imposes them and how consistently are they applied?

If you find your child is breaking the rules and it’s causing trouble at home, please get in touch.



Spookje Stories: Keeping Clean

Having trouble getting your kids to keep themselves clean?

As adults we know an important part of self-care is keeping ourselves clean, brushing our teeth, washing our faces, bodies and hair – yet somethings children do not see the importance of these simple things. Continue reading

Spookje Stories – SNOTTY NOSE!

At times we all get colds – so what can you do to enable your child to look after their snotty nose? Snot is never a good look on anyone – not cats, kids or grown-ups! Continue reading

Spookje Stories – WAKE UP AND FEED ME!

Hello! Do your children constantly wake up early on a morning, demanding attention or to be given breakfast? It can be very annoying and there are things they can do to solve the problem. Continue reading

Welcome to the Spookje Stories!

Hello and welcome to the Spookje Stories!  Ever wonder what your children do on their computer and iPads all day? Well, one thing they are doing is spending a great deal of time on YouTube. “You tubers” have a massive following these days. So, meet the latest You tuber – my cat – Spookje! Continue reading

How to Get Kids to Help at Home and Take Initiative

Ever wondered how to get the kids off the sofa or iPad and have them help at home? Do they seem to lack any kind of problem solving skills, or seem unable to take the initiative? Continue reading

Helping Children to Recognise the Positives

When positive becomes background noise

There are times in children’s lives, when there are lots of positives going on – but these have become so mundane they are, unwittingly, taken for granted. Somehow, in the face of many things that are positive, it is the negative things that seem to consume their time and attention. Failing to recognise or appreciate the positives can have a real impact on children’s self-esteem and their ability to see the world as it really is. Everyday positives such getting on well school, friendships that are calm and happy, and even getting on with their siblings are all the little things that make growing up a happy and precious time. Continue reading

How Can My Child Learn to Take RESPONSIBILITY?

We know learning to take responsibility from a young age is a key life skill and actually helps children to develop great self-esteem when they are older. The thing is how to get kids to take responsibility  – because more often than not, it can feel to them like they are having to do more, with less fun. So, if your kids are fighting against taking responsibility, here are a few quick tips that might help.

  1. it has to be fun

Learning to take responsibility does not need to be something that is boring or means cutting down on things they like doing – or even that they are told off for not doing. Find a time to sit down quietly together and explain that you really need their help with a few things at home. Even young children can help out at an age appropriate level, such as putting their books away, tidying their toys, helping to keep the living room tidy, making their bed etc. When they need to do their helping out at home put some music on, or have a chart on the fridge to keep track of how many times they did it. There’s a FREE star chart on the resources page.

2. Ask your child how they can help

Kids do love to help out and feel valued – ask them what they could do to help out at home – you may well be surprised how much they volunteer or by the ideas they have. If they can’t think of their own ideas, let them choose one or two things from your list. Plan when they are going to do it, so it’s clear to everyone what the expectations are.

3. Know what it looks like

If you ask your child to make their bed, it’s more than likely that how you want that to look, and what they actually do are two completely different things. It’s MORE than worth taking the time to show them how to do it the way you expect, so they know what to do in future. Show them how to straighten the sheets, put the pillow in the right place etc. Even better, take a photo of the perfectly made bed you did together and have it in their room or on their iPad so they can keep checking they are on the right track.

This way, if they are trying but not quite getting it you can say, “I really like how you’re taking this seriously and I am proud if you for that. Let me help you to make this bit easier.” They will feel valued, the expectation will have been met and they will feel good about it . Most importantly, you won’t need to keep nagging them!

4. let them do it

Once kids know what is expected, you can take this model even further. Packing their bags for school is a classic. Work out together what the best plan is to be ready for school the next day. Have them check what they need and pack their own bags. Again, show them what do do and have a list on the fridge or in their room of all the steps they need to take. It does not matter if they get it wrong a few times – they will learn from this and become more resilient. When they get it right, they will feel great.

5. consequences empower – not punish children

If they are learning how to pack their bags, and they forget something – don’t rush to fix it for them. Yes, they may get into trouble at school for forgetting their PE kit – but accepting the consequence for this is a life skill. You can’t keep rushing in to fix their problems – otherwise they will never learn to do this for themselves. Naturally, you can remind them to help them out  – but honestly, letting them learn through consequence is far better for them, than knowing that no matter what they do or don’t do, you will always  sort it out for them.

What helped you to learn to take responsibility?