CHILD CRUELTY

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Sometimes, regardless of everything we have chosen to teach our kids about manners, etiquette and kindness, our children’s behaviour goes totally against the way in which they have been raised.

I recently watched a little boy at the park hit another kid while his mother watched on mortified that he was capable of this cruelty. I just heard a story of a child calling another kid names, only to have their Mum intervene to get the child to pen a written apology for his actions and tonight I witnessed my own daughter exclude her little sister for no apparent reason.

As much as every parent tries to teach their kids compassion, loyalty, kindness, empathy, sharing, manners and etiquette there are times when those lessons go unheeded and you are left wondering where you went wrong.

It’s hard to watch this happen as it makes you feel like you have failed as a parent, but I guess all you can do is show consistency with what you expect of your kids and hope that it sinks in.

I have great admiration for the mother who made her son write an apology because it shows great humility and hopefully her son will think twice about being cruel in the future. Similarly, the mother whose son hit another boy made him apologise and shake hands with the other kid to teach him how to settle a disagreement.

As parents we like to see the positives in our children, however when we take off the rose coloured glasses, we see that most kids have at one time or another done something insensitive or rude to another person.

Children on the whole are quite selfish creatures and it is a parent’s job to try to direct them and teach them how to behave in the hope that eventually they will understand the impact their words and actions have on other people. So if you have ever cringed at your child’s behaviour, just know that you are not alone and that all parents are trying to raise their kids to be the best people they can be. Unfortunately sometimes kids need to learn through experience for our lessons (aka nagging) to sink in.

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HOW MUCH CAN YOU LOVE?  

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My second daughter has just had a birthday and I was reminiscing about my thoughts and feelings before her birth. I recall being heavily pregnant and being honestly concerned that there was no way I could love this baby as much as my toddler. I had just spent almost two years exclusively with my eldest daughter and loved her intensely. I couldn’t imagine having that same level of love for another human being.

The moment my second daughter was born I no longer had to worry about whether I would find enough love for her too. I realised that we don’t have a finite space in our hearts for love. I love all my children with the same intensity and on reflection I feel foolish for having worried that it may not be the case.

In fact, the amount of love I had for my two daughters only swelled when I saw my toddler cuddling her new baby sister. They are less than two years apart and today they are thick as thieves.

Even when we had our ‘surprise’ fourth child, we fell instantly in love with him and could not imagine our family being complete without him.

Love doesn’t know limitations. Our hearts are able to open up and embrace an infinite number of people. We are only limited with the number of people we can form close bonds with based upon the time available to form those meaningful relationships.

In a time where there seems to be so much hate in this world, take a moment to reflect on how lucky we are to have people around us that we love and know that there is always room in your heart to love yet another!

(Picture courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

BARGAINING TOOL

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For our son’s last birthday we gave him a mini ipad. It was not primarily so he could play games, although he loves doing that (Minecraft is a particular favourite at the moment). It wasn’t to keep up with other kids, as many of his friends have ipads. It was in all honesty so we would have something we could use a bargaining tool. In essence we gave it to him so we can take it off him!

There is no golden rule for what works when disciplining kids. What works for one child won’t work for another or even something that has worked with a child in the past won’t always work in the future! I’ve tried sticker charts, jellybean jars, a chart with $100 where they lose $1 each time they do something wrong, time-out, naughty chair, behaviour star chart app and finally confiscation. All with varied results.

Our son doesn’t mind being put in time-out, he doesn’t really care if he loses stars on his behaviour chart (which equates to money or treats) and in general he doesn’t care if he has toys and possessions confiscated.

He has never been the sort of kid who is particularly attached to things, so in situations where there have to consequences for poor behaviour, he has never cared enough about anything for its confiscation to mean anything to him. In February I confiscated his xbox controller – initially for a week (but he didn’t care); it then became for a month (still his behaviour didn’t change); eventually he lost it until Christmas (at this point he realized the severity of the punishment and gave in).

Sadly, he has just spent money he received for his birthday on Disney Infinity characters he can use on his xbox, except he has no access to his xbox for another few months. Instead, he has to use them like figurines and play with them in the traditional sense, rather than in the interactive electronic way in which they are designed.

We are firm believers of following through on any threats so he will have to wait until December to get back his x-box but in confiscating it for such a long time, it meant we didn’t have any bargaining power left. We came to the realization that we needed a new item that he would love so much that we could use it as a bargaining tool. I’m happy to say that it is working a treat. In the last few weeks he has lost the privilege of using his ipad on several occasions but usually for a few hours or overnight. He adjusts his behaviour and then gets it back at the allotted time. It is starting to work that just the threat of losing his ipad is enough for him to do as he is told. That little Apple device is seriously worth its weight in gold!

I’m sure Steve Jobs expected ipads to be tools for entertainment and business, but little did he know that in our household it would be valued more as a bargaining tool!

What do you use as tools to help when disciplining your kids?

(Photo courtesy of Ambro, freedigitialphotos.net)

MAGIC POCKETS

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When my kids were young, my sister firmly cemented herself as a treasured aunty by the invention of her ‘magic pockets’. She would turn up on our doorstep with a beaming smile, arms wide open for a hug and within moments would be prompting the kids to see if anything had appeared in her magic pockets. Without fail my kids would find a lollypop or chocolate lurking in her pockets. They were mystified by the fact their aunty had treats that would magically appear whenever she came to visit them. As all good aunties do, she would fill her nieces and nephew with sugar and then depart, whilst I was left wondering if the kids were on a sugar high or just excited from seeing their aunty!

Now that my sister has kids of her own, her pockets aren’t so magical anymore – I guess because she now has first hand experience of children on a sugar high! The beautiful thing is the fact that now our kids don’t love seeing their aunty for the treats, but for her beaming smiles and hugs instead. She has developed such a treasured place in their hearts for the effort she put into them over the years.

My sister may not have magic pockets anymore, but she does still keep the fun alive by wrapping chocolate bars up as a pass the parcel game anytime we celebrate a birthday. She includes all the adults and I can categorically declare that you’re never too old to enjoy the thrill of that parcel stopping in your hands and unwrapping it to discover a calorie laden chocolate bar sitting there as your prize!

My sister is such a sweet person, that it seems only natural that she passes around the love with sweet treats. My kids hit the jackpot getting such a fun and loving aunty!

(Picture courtesy of Lamne, freedigitalphotos.net)

IS KATE A BIT OF A PRINCESS?

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As the news flashed across the world the Princess Kate and Prince William are expecting their next child I was of course thrilled with the news. The palace was forced to release the news early due to Kate being sick with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe morning sickness).

I also suffered from morning sickness, throwing up every day for 20 weeks with each of my four pregnancies – that is almost two years of my life vomiting every day! I wasn’t just a bit queasy, I was so ill that I ended up with broken blood vessels in my eyelids from the force of the heaving! The funny thing with morning sickness is that it becomes such a regular thing that you just accept the routine of having to hug the toilet bowl several times a day.

When pregnant with my fourth child, I had to deal with, not only being sick every day, but I had two small children at two different schools, which meant every morning was a juggling act getting them ready and at each school on time, paired with afternoons running them around to a multitude of activities. I also had a toddler to look after while I ran my own business. I was in the process of suing our company’s landlord, which was a David and Goliath struggle against a large multi-national company. We also sold our home and moved into a rental property while we were in the midst of building a new home (which took 12 months longer than planned) and I did all this without the help of a shopper, cook, nanny or a plethora of doctors to help me! As they say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!’

While I feel sorry for Kate in this period of sickness, she is lucky to be surrounded by all the help she could possibly require to allow her to just focus on looking after her health.

I’m sure Kate is sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, but the struggle of dealing with morning sickness becomes just a shadow in your memory once your new baby arrives. After all, her previous illness didn’t stop her from wanting to get pregnant again. So what are you betting on, a new prince or a little princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

CLASH OF CELEBRATIONS  

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Once every seven years we have this phenomenon occur in our household – a day where two celebrations clash with each other. This year happened to be the year for it: where our son’s birthday fell on Father’s Day.

Father’s Day normally consists of my husband having a sleep in then breakfast in bed accompanied by gifts and then followed by a relaxing day. Our son’s birthday is normally the opposite! He likes to get presents bright and early and then we fill in the day with fun activities.

So a dilemma presented itself, as it does once every seven years, how do we make each of them feel special on their day of celebration?

Our day started at 5.30am when our son came bounding into our room in the hope of receiving his presents – no sleep in for Father’s Day! After patiently waiting an hour and a half we agreed to wake his sisters at 7am so he could have his gifts. Propped up in bed side by side, the kings of the household in turn received birthday presents and Father’s Day gifts.

As a combined celebration we went to a café for breakfast before returning home so our son could play with his new gifts whilst my husband researched movie times to take our son to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I thought what an amazing father he truly is to give up his day of relaxation to help my son celebrate his birthday. How selfless of him I thought – until I found out later that Megan Fox stars in the movie, at which point I began to wonder if the movie outing might have been for my husband’s benefit too!

The day may not have been a dedicated celebration for either of them, but as they love and adore each other, it was lovely to see them sharing their special day together. We now have seven more years until we have a clash of these celebrations again!

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net)

MODERN ART  

For any parent wondering whether they should drag their child along to a modern art museum in order to expand their education, I would suggest you think twice.

A few years ago we took our little man (then aged 6) with us to visit MONA, a modern art museum in Hobart, Tasmania. Thinking that it would have interactive, quirky exhibitions that he might enjoy, we started wandering around the gallery. There were some weird and wonderful exhibits – some of which were definitely not appropriate for a young child to view. We spent our time alternating between shielding his eyes whilst trying to distract him to look in the opposite direction of some pornographic type installations, to telling him not to touch the artwork whilst we stood there speechless trying to work out what the exhibit was trying to portray. 

There was one interesting piece of work that looked like a projected white line, yet when you moved your head away you could see a word in your peripheral vision. All the viewers were standing there swinging their heads side to side in order to read the words. Half the fun of this was watching the crowd looking at the artwork!

The piece de resistance for our visit was a cylindrical room that was completely dark except for a single candle burning in the middle of the room. If you looked through the halo formed from the candle’s flame you could read words on the opposite wall. Our son’s only exposure to candles was on top of a birthday cake, so he was quite excited to see this artwork.

As we walked around the candle, gazing through the flame to take in the words inscribed on the opposite curved wall we heard a short, sharp blowing noise and then the room was blanketed in darkness. Our son had done what all little kids would be tempted to do – he had blown out the candle! He had literally snuffed out a piece of artwork! Highly embarrassed, we hurriedly tried to exit the room (which is no mean feat in pitch black darkness). As we left we heard people entering the room from the opposite side, muttering that they couldn’t understand this art installation.

And that, my friends, is why you don’t take small children to a modern art museum!

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(Photo courtesy of nuchylee, freedigitalphotos.net)