Wednesday, 27 July 2011

What Went Well With Your Kids Today?

Photo by Tim Coulson.
Martin Seligman is 'the guru' of Positive Psychology - the study of what makes life most worth living. (He's worth taking seriously even if his bio photo does show him wearing a t-shirt under a sports coat). :)

In his recent book, Flourish, Seligman discusses research that shows if we practice gratitude in our lives, we end up happier. And one of the simplest ways we can do this is to ask ourselves what went well today. Focusing on a handful of things that went well boosts our happiness, increases our resilience, and makes us more optimistic (among other things).

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Blog for the Sleep-Deprived Parent

For the past three weeks I have been sleep-deprived. It's been self-inflicted. The Tour de France has captivated me, and left me riding the edge of the couch until some time between 2am and 3am each morning. With five children waking me up early every day I've struggled to stay sane.

Finally, on Monday night there was no more bike racing. I was convinced that I could catch up on all that sleep. I was ready for bed by 8pm.


As I slid between the sheets I smiled, so pleased that I was assured of at least 9.5 hours. Kylie was next to me, giving our 15-month-old daughter, Lilli, her final feed for the night. All was right with the world... until

Friday, 22 July 2011

Kids with Dad do Better - New Study

Photo: Tim Coulson ( used with permission
I received the following information about a new study from a guy who's list I subscribe to, Ken Pope. Some terrific information in here about how kids with Dad around do better behaviourally and cognitively.

The new issue of Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science/Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement (vol. 43, #3, July) includes a study:

"Fathers' Influence on Children's Cognitive and Behavioural Functioning: A Longitudinal Study of Canadian Families."

The authors are Erin Pougnet , Lisa A. Serbin, Dale M. Stack, and Alex E. Schwartzman.

One type of family that is becoming increasingly common in North America is the family headed by a single mother. In 2006, approximately 13% of Canadian families and 22% of families in Qu├ębec included biological fathers who lived apart from their children (Statistics Canada, 2007a).

Thursday, 21 July 2011

When Children Are Afraid of the Dark... And Other "Irrational" Fears

A few weeks ago I received a plea for help from a mum. Here's what she asked:

My son is a hugely artistic 7 yr old boy who is very scared about going places alone, even in our house. He's particularly scared of the dark. Any ideas? He has a very intelligent, creative mind and I am concerned that his fears may get in the way of him achieving…. Any advice would be welcome…
With not a lot of information to go on, it is difficult to give specific advice. Nonetheless, I passed on some general ideas that I hoped would make a difference for this mum and her little boy.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Doing, Showing, or Letting Go

A quick thought for a Monday from Life's Little Instruction Book:

Resist showing a child how to build a sandcastle...It's your job to watch.

Have a great day with your kids today.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Go the '#*@%' to Sleep - There are better options

In recent weeks a new book has taken the parenting world by storm. It is called "Go the F%*# to Sleep". The author was having a rough night with his baby. Exasperated and sleep deprived, he used that line as his facebook status, got a stack of 'likes' from it, and decided there must be a book in it. He's now sold over half a million copies.

When I first heard of the book I could see how it was appealing to so many sleep-deprived parents. But something inside me found it offensive - and not just because of the title. I didn't think too much about it, but decided I wouldn't blog about it because that would just give the book more publicity.

Now, as I sit in bed at 2.30am, having had all of two hours sleep tonight due to a screaming, irritable, and very loud 16-month old daughter, I finally know why my heart and mind rebelled against the book.

Friday, 8 July 2011

How Controlling Your Kids Can Backfire

What if I told you I could bring peace to your household? What if I said there was just one thing you need to do to get your child/teenager/husband/ to do what you wanted?

I could offer you the sugar-coated version where you would promise goodies like gold stars, financial incentives, praise, or other rewards for getting people to do the things you want them to do. Kind of like: “If you do this, you’ll get that.”

Then there’s the negative control. You use threats, punishment, time-out, or aggression to demand compliance. Kind of like: “If you do this, you’ll get that.”

They’re the same thing – using our power to make someone comply with our wishes. The problem is that people don’t like being told what to do, no matter how good and worthwhile it may be. The law of physics applies in relationships too – Force creates resistance.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

How to Teach Our Children So They Stay Curious

The quickest way to teach our children something is to show them. It’s efficient, and it’s effective.

But in some circumstances it may not be the best way to teach children. Particularly if we want them to explore and develop their curiosity and love of learning.

A fascinating new study has just been published in the journal Cognition. It tested how the way we teach things to our children influences the way they explore... and it seems that our explicit instruction makes children less likely to engage in spontaneous exploration and discovery.