No, I’m not lucky that I have well behaved children!

I often get comments about how lucky I am to have such well behaved children.  People who’s children are running around the restaurant shouting whilst mine are sitting and eating seem to think that they somehow just got unlucky with their kids, as if nature was just cruel to them and gave them children who won’t listen to them whilst mine (mostly) do as they are asked.

I want to share with you some behaviour management techniques that I learned during my time working with children with autistic spectrum disorders.  I had amazing results using these techniques to help autistic children cope in certain places / situations and I now use them (although in a much in a less structured fashion) with my own children.To put it bluntly – Children (all children) respond so much better to praise and positive reinforcement than they do time out and punishment. Time outs and punishments are simply a way for parents to vent their own anger and frustration on their children. They do not help the children to learn an alternative to the behaviour that they are being punished for.   At best you might be able to frighten the child into not doing the behaviour again for fear of receiving the punishment again, but how does that help them to learn or (heaven forbid) actually enjoy being well behaved, caring and helpful?  Well, it doesn’t.

Many parents focus so much in the bad behaviour that they forget to reward, or even teach, the good behaviour. The other day my son had a right strop because I asked him to help me around the house, it is something that we are asking more and more of him as he gets older (he is 9 now but I have used these techniques since he was a baby – children understand hugs way before they understand punishment!)I told him I wouldn’t force him to help out with the household jobs but I was taking away his tablet. This wasn’t really a punishment, more a consequence. I wasn’t going to force him to unload the dishwasher, but I wasn’t going to let him sit around watching minecraft videos instead!  Obviously, if I had said I wouldn’t force him to help, but then let him continue doing his own choice of activity, I would simply be raising a spoiled brat, and that’s not part of the plan!

He soon got up and helped me, at first reluctantly and with a little bit of a strop.  The moment he got up (before he had even done anything), I said “thanks mate, I appreciate your help”.  He actually emptied the dishwasher all by himself whilst I cleaned the surfaces.

Now clearly, the only reason he got up to help in the first place was because I had taken his tablet away. When he had finished I could have just given back his tablet and said “well you only helped because I took that away”.  My secret is to actually completely ignore the reason why he helped, and just focus on the fact that he helped.

I gave him a massive hug and again said “thank you son, that really helped me out I appreciate it” his mood lifted instantly (hugs are magic!) and instead of feeling like he had to help just to get his tablet back, he actually felt good about having helped out.  In fact he didn’t even ask for his tablet back straight away, he went off and put the TV on!  He seemed to have actually forgotten the reason why he started to help out!
From experience of always treating him this way I know I’ll have less and less trouble each time I ask him to help out.  Now don’t get me wrong here, I don’t now have a wonderchild who helps out with all the household chores and never complains!  I still have to nag him to pick up his dirty washing, put his empty cups n the sink, tidy his room, and all that stuff.  He moans about it, but he never refuses. Getting him to help more around the house is certainly a work in progress, but we are definitely making progress using positive reinforcement techniques and he will help out when asked.  I am still waiting patiently for the day when he starts to help out without being asked, I know it will come one day.

My children are polite, caring and easily managed. I don’t like the word control, but yes I guess I can control my children in the sense that if I ask them to behave a certain way in the park, library, restaurant, cinema, home , ect. they will – to an extent anyway, they are still kids after all, not robots!

I’ve used these techniques since they were toddlers. Started off with very simple instructions and adapted as their language and understanding has increased. When they were very small we had lots of tantrums because they didn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to do something, but that frustration was often relieved with being sown something that was appropriate for them to do. This isn’t just a distraction technique, it actually teaches them positive ways to behave.

I’m not perfect, both my kids still have occasional tantrums even now and I have been known to give out smacks and time outs, but that’s usually down to me not managing my own feelings correctly, I usually only slip up when I am stressed (then I need the time out more than they do!). I don’t think the odd occasion has done them any harm, in fact because it’s not all the time, I think they know they’ve really crossed a line when it happens!

Why you shouldn’t park on the pavement

Have you ever been walking along the pavement only to find that your pathway has been obstructed by a parked car or other vehicle?

Many a time I have seen vehicles parked up on the pavement and to be honest never really thought of it as anything more that inconvenient.  As a parent pushing a buggy it was more of a problem, but most times I was able to walk around it reasonably safely.

Yesterday I witnessed something that really made me think about what a problem obstructions on the pavement can cause.  I was tidying the windowsill in my living room when  saw a lady on a mobility scooter reversing up the path!

At first I wondered what on earth she was doing, then I glanced up the road and could see a scrap truck packed on the pavement, it was clear that she wouldn’t have been able to get past it.   I glanced back up the road the other way to see where the next drop in the curb was where she might be able to get across the road in order to get around it.

It was quite some distance away and I do live on the main road though our village which is fairly busy, crossing it isn’t always easy when it’s busy.

As I glanced back towards the lady, my heart sank.  I could see what was about to happen but I had no time to do anything about it. She was trying to manoeuvre around a telegraph pole when her back wheel came off the curb and her mobility scooter toppled over with her in it!

I screamed for my husband (who was still in bead at the time) and went running out into the street – still in my dressing gown!  By the time I got outside, 2 men had stopped and were already on the phone for an ambulance.  Thankfully the lady was conscious but she had taken a bang to the head which was bleeding.  I have to admit I was so relieved to be able to crouch down to the lady and say the words, “don’t worry, my husband is a paramedic and he’ll be out in just a moment to help you”  moments later Matt came out and started to do what he does best!  He started giving instructions to the people who had stopped to help, he needed his first aid kit from the car which my son went to fetch, and plenty of blankets which I was able to get from the house.  Afterwards he said like he felt a bit bossy, but I know that the people around really appreciated him taking control while we waited for the ambulance to arrive.

The first emergency vehicle to arrive was a police car, a female police officer got out and came to see what had happened.  Once she was happy that Matt had got control of the lady’s immediate care, she started to investigate and take notes as to what had happened.

A minute later, a paramedic in a response car arrived. Although, to be honest he really wasn’t able to do much more than Matt had already done. The poor lady was still laying on the cold road and it was now starting to rain.
I went to fetch an umbrella, and as I got back two more police cars arrived with officers to control the traffic around the lady (up until then the two men who first stopped had been doing their best to do that, and two more ladies had also stopped to help).

The poor lady, who was in her 80’s, laid on the cold floor for around 25 minutes before an ambulance was able to get to us an get her onto a spinal board in order to move her safely.  Unfortunately this just goes to show how stretched our ambulance service is! We have an ambulance station about 1 minute away from us by car, but the ambulances were obviously all out of other jobs and so they had to send a crew from a different station.  But that’s a whole other storey!

Fortunately, the lady didn’t seem to have any other injuries and she remained conscious and coherent throughout, so hopefully she will be ok.

I’m sharing this storey though, because I really want people to think more carefully about how they park!  Someone who I am sure though that they were causing nothing more than an inconvenience (which is selfish enough in itself), caused a serious accident which could have cost someone their life.

Please be thoughtful next time you park your car.

P.S.  The driver of the offending vehicle managed to get in and drive away whilst there was only one police officer on the scene.  She thought it more important to stay and make sure the lady was looked after than chase after him but assured us that he will be following it up.


My secret to non fussy eaters!

I’m so proud of my children, they are he least fussy eaters of all the kids I know. My husband and I never have to worry about eating out and whether there will be something on the menu that they will like, there always will be!

Ever since they were babies I have tried to give them pretty much the same food as my husband and I like to eat, we have quite a broad range of tastes including good ole traditional English Sunday roast, to Indian, Chinese and Mexican recipes. I don’t generally ass salt in my own cooking so whatever we had, they had a pureed and sometimes slightly less spicy version.

But I don’t believe that the food they were given as babies is the main reason why they enjoy food, though it may have helped I guess. I believe the main reason they are so willing to try new things is trust. Two things I have always promised to my children are that I would never give them anything that I didn’t think they would like, and that if they still didn’t like it after they had tried it a couple of times I wouldn’t make them try it again. And I have stuck to that, they both have foods they don’t like, my daughter doesn’t like pizza of all things, and my so doesn’t like mashed potato! That’s ok though, my husband doesn’t eat fish and I can’t stand cooked tomatoes!

This afternoon my husband, daughter and I went out for lunch (it was supposed to be lunch for two, but we had forgotten that my daughter has an inset day at school!) My daughter (who is 6) chose the breaded haddock goujons to start, followed by bacon carbonara pasta for her main and sticky toffee pudding to finish!!

Tomorrow we are all of for Japanese food! I wonder what we will eat? Whatever it is I am sure it will be yummy, and not boring old chicken nuggets and chips!!