How to Talk to Children About Terrorism

Once again a terrorist attack has necessitated the need for parents to once more consider how to approach this subject with their children – or even if they should. Continue reading

making promises

How Not To Break Promises to Your Children

We make promises for all sorts of reasons; we want to make someone happy, we are afraid of disappointing them or, as can often be the way with kids, to keep the peace. Making promises is usually done with genuine intentions.

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Helping Your Child Learn at Home

#1 What They Need to Hear – and What You Can Say

#1 What They Need to Hear – and What You Can Say

Whatever type of school your child goes to, they benefit from having their learning supported at home. There are a plethora of ways in which your child’s school may expect you to do this: reading with them, helping with, and taking an active interest in, their homework, learning weekly spellings and learning off by heart the times-tables. There is no doubt that support from home can reap huge benefits in terms of building a child’s confidence and developing a passion for, and interest in, life-long learning. You may even be approached by your child’s class teacher to give them additional support at home in a particular area.

Trouble is, helping them at home can be difficult.

So, how to help? First of all, the message behind what we say to children is hugely important. Here are my top messages that your child needs to hear when you are helping them at home:

  1. “Our working together at home is a great way for us to spend time together and for me to help you with your learning” working with your child at home is not a punishment, nor because they are “not very good” at something, nor because they did something wrong – it’s an opportunity. Try to ensure this message comes across right from the start. Your child may be feeling very insecure about “having to do extra work at home” so tell them you believe in them. You’re great – you are a bright, intelligent wonderful person and I am proud of you – boosting your child’s self-esteem goes hand in hand with learning, and that means hearing lots of positive messages about their attitude to learning and the effort they put in.
  2. Let’s TALK to each other about your learning today – lots and lots of talking! Tell me what you know, tell me what confuses you – this is so important – it’s a DIALOGUE – not just you talking and them listening and doing. A two way conversation is essential when working with your child at home – how else will you know what they know or do not know if they aren’t talking to you about what they do and do not know? They need to be able to explain what they are stuck on and what they have learned. If they can explain it, they can do it – that is the big test to see if they really “get it”
  3. We are going to work together for 30 minutes MAXIMUMchildren (and you) need to know there is an agreed, set time limit for how long you will be working together, and to be honest even 30 minutes can be too long, especially if they are young Primary aged children. Stick to the agreed time limit – if they’re on a high when they finish, they will want more tomorrow. If you and they are becoming upset, agitated, highly frustrated– leave it, end the session for today. No learning can take place if they are highly emotional and you can’t be calm and patient if you’re upset and frustrated too. There’s no point making it a situation that needs to be battled through – say calmly that maybe it’s time to finish, end the session on a positive, and both go and do something else.
  4. We learn through making mistakes – we all make mistakes – even as adults – and it’s OK – this is an important about powerful life lesson – if children are unafraid of making mistakes they will learn greater resilience and risk taking. Try not to make a big thing over them making mistakes, as that can make children nervous which then causes them to shut down and stop learning.
  5. I’m not frustrated with you – I’m frustrated that I can’t make this easier for you – yet – if you are explaining something one way, and it’s not working for your child, you are the one that needs to change the way you are explaining it – try a different way, make a story out of it, use characters from their favourite book or TV – just make a change in your explanation. Try using counters – anything that they can physically see and move to help them count etc. Please don’t keep doing what you are already doing if it’s not working. Ask your child exactly which bit they don’t understand and maybe that will help you too.
  6. Here’s the answer – lets work out how to get it together –yes – really – give them the answer! It’s not cheating! The idea is that the children become familiar with, and start to understand, the concept so they can repeatedly get to the answers – it’s not about getting that answer correct. Give children the answer so they can work back from it. This gives them the power and understanding to continually repeat and apply their learning to new areas.
  7. We’ve had enough for today – let’s do something different – celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate! Always end on a positive and treat them (and you) to positive words and then something totally different.

I really hope these are a good starting point and please let me know how you get on! If you’d like any support in working with your child at home, I coach internationally using Skype / Facetime / Whatsapp etc. Coaching will enable you to support your child at home more easily and with increased patience and understanding of what will work – and what won’t.

Teen Talk – Preparing For a New School

This part of my blog is based on the advice of a pre-teen called Milly. Through coaching, Milly is learning how to make being her age a little less complicated – for herself and others around her. She would like to share her ideas, in the hope that she can help others going through the same kind of things.

Starting A New School

“Everyone gets nervous about starting a new school. I’m really excited but I’m also really nervous! I’m nervous that the teachers won’t like me, that I won’t know what to do, that I won’t make friends – and that my Dad will be super annoying when he takes me to school and embarrasses me in front of everyone.”

Here are a few bits of advice to help make the start of either a brand new school, or a new school year, less stressful:

Teachers

New teachers can be scary, and that’s because you don’t know what their rules and expectations are. You may have heard that Mr X or Mrs Y is really strict, so just keep it in mind; wait and see how it goes. Just be calm, smile nicely when you meet them and listen to what they are telling you about the behaviour they want to see in class. Teachers are always more strict in the beginning because they want a good start to the school year – for them and for all the children in the class. You’ll get to know them soon enough, and they will get to know you. So give it a bit of time, is really my best advice; smile, be polite, and wait and see.

If you’re worried about reputation, and you are going to a new school, remember, every year is a fresh start. No one really wants to deliberately get into trouble (and that’s a different blog post if they do). Mostly, you don’t have a reputation – you’re just worried about getting one on your first day. You’re worried you will do something wrong, or get lost, or your bag won’t fit into the locker etc. You worry that a teacher will see and you’ll get into trouble. Remember, teachers see this every year, and they are really hoping that, if you do have a reputation, this is the year you can break free of it, or if you don’t they are not looking to give you one. Really. Stick with others and watch what they do.

I Don’t Know What To Do

Everyone that’s new has this worry – even adults starting a new job. It’s completely OK and  normal to worry about this. You are in a new pace, with new people, with new routines. My best advice is to carefully (but not actually staring at others because that’s a bit weird) watch and see what others do and follow their lead. If you’re not sure, it is also a good way to start talking to someone and ask for their help.

“I’m worried that my bag won’t fit in my locker, that I’ll lose my locker key or I won’t have anywhere to put the key.”

I wrote down some of my fears – some are just there to worry you and you need to say to yourself, “I am going to out that at the back of my mind and deal with it if it really happens.” I talked to my mum about the key and we went and bought a key ring, so if I needed it, it was there. I also checked my school uniform to see if there was a loop on the skirt. There was, so we made sure I had a thing on the key ring to clip it onto the loop – if that’s what the other girls did and if we were allowed. I also worried about getting lost so I decided I would always stick with a group and try to just chat and say “Hi” to other people, even if I didn’t know them.

Making Friends

Lots of people worry about making friends – it is normal. My best advice, even if you are really shy, is to smile, and say “Hi”. This is a good first step. If they don’t respond, then have a few prepared things to say. My advice is, try not to stick with only one new friend as it might stop you making friends with other people too.

At my old school, I used to take a book onto the playground and read all the time. It was a great way to protect me as I had something to “disappear” into and then it didn’t really matter if no one was my friend or invited me to play. Actually, this isn’t true – of course it hurt. I now realise that the book made it look like I am not interested in talking to anyone else, so I’m not going to do this in my new school.

“Honestly, just talk to everyone – soon people will realise that you’re friendly and they will come up to you and start talking. I know it’s easy to say and I am really going to give it a go when I start my new school this week.”

Dad

If you’re worried about your parents embarrassing you on your first day, maybe because they have been teasing you about it, or you are really unsure, then find another adult to share your worries with, if you can. Just check-in with them that he’s not really going to give you a big hug and kiss and hold your hand when you go to your new school – and you’re 11 years old – because that’s so embarrassing. He’s probably only joking, but if it is on your mind, try to ask someone for help. If that’s not possible, try to say politely but firmly, “Dad, I am a little bit worried about this teasing. I’d really like to have a good start at school, so please I need your help to make that happen.” If you’re polite and share your feelings, hopefully the message will get through.

Teen-Talk: New School – New Friends

This part of my blog is based on the advice of a pre-teen called Milly. Through coaching, Milly is learning how to make being her age a little less complicated – for herself and others around her. She would like to share her ideas, in the hope that she can help others going through the same kind of things.

Making New Friends

“Friends aren’t always something you get straight away – even if that’s what you really want. It’s easy to feel like you just want someone to hang around with, but then they can actually stop you making new friends.”

“Some people really have a thing about popularity and they will be mean to you just so they can be friends with the person you are friends with. And then, the friend you used to be friends with, starts being mean to you because that’s what the other person wants. But, if the false friend is being mean to your old friend, then that’s not friendship at all. That sounds weird and complicated, but people my age will get it.”
“Sometimes making new friends is scary and really you want them to like you. Be yourself – not the person they want you to be.”

Some strategies on how to make a friend:

  • Smile
  • Ask them their name and tell them yours
  • Ask a question about what they like to do or what TV they watch
  • Give a compliment
  • Be aware of things you do when you are nervous, like talk too much – acknowledge it and then move on to chatting about something else
  • Remember – everyone can be nervous when trying to make new friends, even if they do not look nervous.