Online homework and social media pose parental dilemma

The following link is to an interesting article on the BBC website. What are your thoughts?

Online homework and social media pose parental dilemma

Is the use of the Internet by children really any different to any other parenting situation in which parents need to show clear judgement and set –  and enforce – clear rules and limits?

I would suggest that all the potentially very serious implications of inappropriate use of the internet by children (whether that be access to adult material or wasting time and damaging progress at school) are such that this is a situation where parents must establish and enforce clear control over their child’s use of the internet. Ultimately, someone is in overall control – either the parent or the child; better that it is the parent I believe.

I would be interested in your views though 🙂

Is your children’s learning in school being disrupted?

An interesting report by OFSTED suggests that “low-level” classroom disruption is damaging learning in both primary and secondary schools. What is your experience? Do your children come home from school with accounts of low level disruption affecting their life in the classroom? What can you do as a parent to help your child stay focused on their learning, even if low level disruption does occur?

Discipline versus punishment

The recent case involving a famous American Footballer and how he chose to punish his 4-year-old son – by apparently hitting him with branches from a tree – raises the question of how we parent our children. All of us who are parents or who are involved with children play a vital role in their lives and whether we chose to discipline or punish children will have a major impact on their development and attitudes – both to themselves and to others.

The words punishment and discipline are often used interchangeably. However, they have very different meanings when it comes to teaching children appropriate behaviour. The word discipline means “to teach.” Discipline creates a learning process for the child. Children learn appropriate behaviours when a parent sets appropriate rules or limits, coupled with age-appropriate, non-violent, consequences which are enforced if the child breaks the rules or does not stick to the agreed limits (e.g. the time by which they must come home).

Discipline teaches children:

• That actions produce consequences

• Good behaviour results in positive consequences

• Bad behaviour results in negative consequences

• We are all held accountable for our choices

Parents who give punishments hope that their children will not repeat the bad behaviour. The reasoning behind punishment is that pain must be felt in order to be effective. The problem with punishment is that when the child continues to misbehave, the severity of the punishment must also increase.

Because the punishment, (example: spanking) is rarely connected to the actual misbehaviour (damaging school property) the child learns nothing about real life consequences.

Punishment teaches children:

• To be afraid or resent authority

• To lie

• How to do things without getting caught

Some consequences are natural and require little intervention from the parent. If a child refuses to eat supper, he will be hungry by bedtime. If the parent allows him to go to bed hungry he will have learned the consequence (cause and effect).

Issue: Child keeps leaving his jacket at school

Natural consequence: He waits for the bus the next morning without his jacket.

When there are no naturally occurring consequences, the imposed consequences must be enforceable, fit the offence, and be laid down firmly.

Sometimes imposed consequences might look like punishments, but when carried out without anger or threats and connected to the child’s misbehaviour, the consequences are clear and lessons are learned.

Parents following through and enforcing consequences while also showing empathy teaches children that even though they make mistakes they are still loved.

In applying or enforcing discipline, it is always vital that the child understands that it is their behaviour which we do not like and find unacceptable, rather than the child himself or herself.


Some funny parenting quotes

I really think you need a good sense of humour to be a good parent (and to stay sane!). Here are some quotes from people who seem to agree:

1. “A truly appreciative child will break, lose, spoil, or fondle to death any really successful gift within a matter of minutes.”

2. “The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.”

3. “When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.”

4. “Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope.”

5. “You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.”

6. “Few things are more satisfying than seeing your own children have teenagers of their own.”

7. “A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a really expensive toy as it does out of finding a small green worm.”

8. “In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice.”

9. “It is amazing how quickly the kids learn to drive a car, yet are unable to understand the lawnmower or vacuum cleaner.”

10. “The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is because they have a common enemy.”

11. “Like all parents, my husband and I just do the best we can, and hold our breath, and hope we’ve set aside enough money to pay for our kids’ therapy.”

12. “The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.”

13. “Mothers are all slightly insane.”

14. “The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

15. “If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”

16. “Raising kids is part joy and part guerrilla warfare.”

17. “Parents are the bones on which children cut their teeth.”

18. “Think of stretch marks as pregnancy service stripes.”

19. “Sex education may be a good idea in the schools, but I don’t believe the kids should be given homework.”

20. “Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home.”

21. “Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”

22. “My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first one being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

23.  “In general my children refuse to eat anything that hasn’t danced on television.”

24. “Be nice to your children, for they will choose your rest home.”

25. “Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.”

26. “We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.”

27. “If your kids are giving you a headache, follow the directions on the aspirin bottle, especially the part that says, ‘keep away from children.’”

28. “Adolescence is perhaps nature’s way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest.”

29. “Children aren’t happy without something to ignore, and that’s what parents were created for.”

30. “A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don’t have a top for it.”


Best bits of 1990s childhood

In a survey of 2,000 young parents for the Disney Channel, the childhood elements new mums and dads miss most are:

  • Making weekly cassette recordings of the Top 40
  • Having penpals
  • Waiting for photos to be developed
  • Having family TV nights on Saturdays – like Blind Date and Gladiators
  • Writing thank-you letters
  • Making firm plans you can’t change just by sending a couple of texts

If you were a child in the 1990s, what do you miss most from those times?

The importance of exercise to your child’s mood

With the football World Cup not long over, it is worth reflecting that research has shown that children involved in team sport have higher self-confidence, better self-esteem and are less likely to be depressed or anxious.

Caleb_Mendez_Soccer_09OPTAny exercise – provided it is age appropriate and your child enjoys it – is good for your child’s fitness. In the case of team sports, it has been shown that, in addition to the benefits of the physical activity, the sense of belonging that often comes with being part of a team can improve children’s general mood.

When choosing a club for your child, ask other parents about their experiences, go along to watch training or matches to see how the team or club is run and check out the team’s or club’s policies and procedures to ensure that they follow all appropriate good practice.

teamsportswebOPTBy taking these steps, you can better ensure that the club or team will be well-run and that your child will enjoy their sport and gain lots of benefits from it, including better fitness, better self esteem, stronger social skills, a developed sense of responsibility and a wider friendship group.

Of course, if your child is not into team sports, that’s fine – not all children are! Instead, there will be other avenues – perhaps artistic – through which they can gain similar benefits.


That’s bribery that is!

Quite often, parents can become confused about when a “treat” given to a child with the intention of encouraging them to behave well (say on a supermarket trip) is a “Bribe” and when it a “Reward”.

Also, some parents feel awkward about giving their children a reward as they feel as they are bribing or coercing their children into behaving well.

The difference between a Bribe and a Reward is that a Bribe is given to a child before they have done what they are required to do (e.g. stay sat quietly in the supermarket trolley until return to the car after the shop is completed), while a Reward is only given to the child after they have done what they were required or told to do to earn the reward (i.e. they would receive the reward on return to the car, provided they had sat quietly in the trolley all the way round).

Clearly, bribing children is not recommended, as they have no incentive to behave well if they are given what they want, before the time they have to behave well.

Positive parenting at different ages


Always remember that babies’ crying or not sleeping is just related to babies getting their needs met. They are not doing it to misbehave or to annoy you. The following approaches will help upset and stress to a minimum:

Be loving and comforting with your baby right from the start

  • Gradually introduce simple routines
  • When older babies start to get “on the move”, use distraction tactics when they are about to do something you don’t want them to (e.g. swapping a safe toy for your house keys)
  • So that your baby can enjoy sensible challenges and exploration, without being unsafe or told “no” all the time, thoughtfully “baby-proof” your home
  • Gently show your baby that sometimes you have to set limits. For example, when you need to strap them into their car seat, you can say something like “I know you don’t like it, but we have to do it to keep you safe”. Enforce limits like this with good humour and a smile and it’s far less likely to develop into a battle of wills. Distraction can be a great help here too
  • Never smack your baby or shout at them


All toddlers, as they learn, need to test limits – to see where they are! They will also try to be independent, to learn through exploration or “getting into” everything. As they do this, they will inevitably experience frustration and need to vent these emotions.

Because they haven’t yet got other ways of explaining their feelings (e.g. verbally) and have not yet learned to control and manage their emotions (see Emotion Coaching) they resort to tantrums. All toddlers do this, it is natural and most behaviour in toddlers that we as parents call “naughty” is actually just a part of normal child development.

Our responsibility as parents is to respond positively and appropriately to our toddler’s behaviour, so that he or she learns about the importance of limits, boundaries, discipline and respect, as well developing into a curious, adventurous, confident, caring, happy person.

The following approaches can help you achieve this, while coping well with the parenting challenges that many toddlers bring:

  • Have clear, simple rules and routines to cut down the need for battles
  • Praise every little bit of good behaviour you want to encourage
  • When it is safe and acceptable for you to do so (i.e. the behaviour does not break any of your rules), ignoring behaviour you don’t like, will mean it is less likely to be repeated
  • Avoid using orders and ultimatums with your toddler
  • Keep your use of “no” to a minimum use “later” or “soon” if you can
  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings – “I know you are angry” (this aspect of Emotion Coaching can help children recognise, understand and control their emotions)
  • Remain calm and reasonable yourself, even when your toddler is in a rage, by taking a deep breath and waiting before you respond (see also Keeping Calm). You may need to put your child somewhere safe and physically distance yourself from them for a little while to help you calm down
  • Remember that smacking, quite apart from being illegal, is always likely to make toddler behaviour worse and can make your child very afraid of you

Primary school age children

As children grow older, they continue to develop a greater ability and desire to explore, to learn and to assert independence. This involves showing they have a mind of their own, with their own thoughts and needs. It can also involve children appearing (or being) cheeky or disobedient as they continue to test and understand their place in the world and where they stand in relation to rules and limits.

As children age, it is really important that parents review rules and limits and adjust them as appropriate to suit changing circumstances (e.g. as children start to go out on their own for the first times).

Even though our children may seem very independent, they still need lots of love and reassurance from us as their parents.

The following approaches can help positive parenting of children at this stage of their lives:

  • Be sure to give your child some Special Time every day
  • Describe exactly what you want your child to do in positive terms (e.g. “Please talk quietly”, rather than “Don’t shout!”). Tell your children what you DO want them to do, rather than what you DON’T want them to do. Give reasons and make sure that you listen to their views
  • Try not to give too many orders. Constantly saying “Do this” and “Don’t do that” can overwhelm a child
  • Also avoid giving “Chain commands”, which are confusing and unhelpful
  • Always listen actively and listen carefully to your child talking about their friends, interests and what they have been up to. Be alert to any concerns or worries they may have as this can make their behaviour worse. Talk calmly and constructively about any areas of concern or conflict
  • Regularly give your child Effective Praise
  • Ignore minor misbehaviour when safe to do so
  • Keep criticisms to a minimum – and only criticise your child’s behaviour, not your child as a person, which can seriously damage their self- esteem. It is much better to say, for example, “That was a dangerous thing to do because you could have been hurt” rather than “You’re stupid! What did you do that for?”
  • “Pick your battles” carefully. You only need “pick a battle” and stand your ground if agreed rules have been broken. There is no point getting into pointless arguments about other things
  • Where rules have been broken, be sure to follow through with agreed Consequences in a calm, matter of fact way. There is no point whatsoever having rules, if you do not enforce and Follow Through with them in a consistent, persistent way


From pre-adolescence on, it is normal for young people to challenge their parents more. This is partly the continuing process of them spreading their wings and partly the effect of the ever wider and greater influences on them from friends, TV and the Internet. As teenagers continue to develop their own personalities, including their own values and priorities, they (and you!) will find that there are simply some things about which teenagers disagree with their parents. To cope with such inevitable situations, it is suggested that you:

  • Don’t take bad behaviour personally
  • Try to understand how hard it is to gain independence and a sense of identity and think back to how you felt at that age
  • Keep communicating – your teenager still needs your love and respect
  • Try to be “non-judgemental” about their behaviour
  • Keep criticism to a minimum and trust them to make the right decisions, as sometimes they need to learn from their mistakes
  • Adjust your rules, to reflect teenagers’ greater independence, maturity and changing interests, while ensuring that your rules and limits are clear with reasonable consequences
  • Try not to use threats or orders
  • Talk and negotiate solutions when there is a disagreement
  • Never hit a young person. Apart from the legal implications, physical punishment only makes defiant, teenage behaviour much worse and can damage self-esteem (yours as well as your child’s)