Life as a parent is so different from life before you have children.

If you’re the first in your friendship group to have babies it can sometimes make things hard, and chances are you’ll want to branch out and meet some new mum friends.  That can be easier said than done though and it can be quite scary approaching people and hoping they’ll be friendly and want to chat.

With that in mind, here are 5 psychology-backed things you can try to get people to like you more:

5 psychology-backed ways to make people like you more

 

1. Be there

I don’t mean this in the deeper sense of being there for someone in their time of need.  Although that will naturally help them like you more.

In this instance though, I mean literally be there.  Show up and be a familiar face in their lives.  Go along to baby group regularly or get to the school gates a bit early every afternoon.

Studies have found that, due to the mere exposure effect, people tend to like other people that they’ve seen before more than people who are completely new to them.  This applies even if we don’t actually interact with these people.  And the more we see people the more we end up liking them.

 

 

2. Act as if you already like people

Once you get chatting to people act as if you like them already.

There is an interesting psychological phenomenon called ‘reciprocity of liking’ which basically causes us to like someone if we think they like us.

Researchers at the University of Waterloo and the University of Manitoba found that we act more warmly toward people if we expect them to accept and like us.  This then increases the chances that they will actually like us.

So basically, if you act as if you already like people when you first chat with them then chances are they’ll like you back.

 

 

3. Find a common enemy

One psychology-backed way to bring people closer together is to give them a common enemy.

A study by Weaver and Bosson, 2011 found that people who shared a dislike of the same person with a stranger stated that they felt closer to that stranger and felt that they knew them better.

So if you want the other parents at the school gate to feel closer to you then start up a conversation about how bad the communication is with the school, or how rammed the carpark is every afternoon.  If you can find this kind of common enemy you’ll start to form a strong sense of shared identity with the other parents.

 

 

4. Show your imperfections

I think most of us like other people to think we have it all together, but don’t worry about trying to be too perfect all the time.

Research has found that we tend to like people more when they show that they’re human, that they’re not as perfect as they seem at first and that they make mistakes too.  This is known as the pratfall effect.

So when you arrive at babygroup on time and looking relatively put together, make sure you then tell the other parents that you put the baby’s nappy on the wrong way round last night.  Or that you put the keys in the fridge the other day.  Revealing a mistake you’ve made or letting people know you have struggles too will make them feel warmer towards you than if they think you have it all perfectly together.

 

 

5. Ask them to do you a favour

This last one is possibly the most interesting.

It makes sense that we like people who do us favours and help us out, but it’s a bit more surprising to know that asking someone for a favour also makes them like you more.

For a long time psychologists believed that this was down to cognitive dissonance.  They thought that it was mainly due to us thinking that we must like someone if we’re willing to do them a favour.

There might be more to it than that though.

A study carried out in 2016 found that when we’re asked to do a favour for someone by a third party, we don’t like the person as much as we do if they ask us for the favour themselves.  So it’s the act of actually asking for the favour that makes us like someone.  Them asking suggests that they have a desire to be closer to us, or that they feel close enough to us already to ask.  We then pick up on this and want to be closer to them too.

So, ask someone to watch your baby for you at group while you go to the toilet.  Or ask another parent at school to text you the words that the children need to learn for their spellings that week.  The person you ask will be flattered that you’ve asked them and will warm to you more quickly.

 

 

Venturing out to new places and meeting new people can be really daunting.

But hopefully with these tips in mind getting people to warm to you and want to be friends should be that much easier.

I recently wrote a post about getting our children to listen to us, without ending up shouting or nagging.

The main takeaway from it was to look at the way we’re communicating with our children, rather than focusing on the fact that they ‘never listen’.  One thing I didn’t really mention though, was how we also need to look at our own listening skills when we talk to our children.

If we want our children to listen to us, then we need to make sure we also really listen to them.

Our children need to feel heard, to know that we care and that what they have to say is important.  These tips on helping your child feel heard should help if you’re not sure where to start.

how to help your child feel heard

 

Let them talk

If your child wants to talk to you, let them talk.

Don’t interrupt them or try and ask questions until they’ve finished saying what they need to say.  Keep quiet while they talk and don’t try and finish their sentences for them or hurry them along.

If you really don’t have time to hear about it at that moment in time, then tell them that kindly and calmly.  Let them know that right now you need to focus on cooking dinner, but you would love to hear more about it later.  Then make sure you actually give them a chance to tell you about it later.

 

 

Be genuinely interested in what they have to say

Ok, I know this is easier said than done when your child has been telling you about Minecraft for half an hour, but try your best to show genuine interest in what they’re telling you.

Rhys in particular can go on and on (and on) about computer games he loves and if I’m honest I don’t always manage to show as much interest as I should.  It’s something I’m working on though, and there’s a quote that I often think of related to this:

“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”

 

 

Let them know you care

There are a few things you can do while talking to your child to show them that you’re really listening and that you care about what they’re saying.

The first is to repeat back key things they’ve said to you, or clarify it with them by saying something like “it sounds like you’re saying…”.

You can then go on to ask some questions to get more information.  It can be as simple as, ‘tell me more about that’ or ‘and then what happened?’

Sometimes just a little ‘oh’, or ‘I see’ with the right inflection will show your child that you’re listening and want to hear more.

 

 

Be sincere

Whatever your child is telling you about, acknowledge that it is important to them.

Don’t make light of it or belittle them for wanting to talk about it.  If they want to talk to you about it it’s because it means something to them and they want to share it with you.

 

 

Now, in a perfect world we would all follow this advice and calmly and patiently listen to our children talk for as long as they need to, whenever they need to.  But I’m not sure that’s realistic for most parents.

Our lives these days are really busy.  We can feel rushed off our feet a lot of the time, and our minds are always full of the hundreds of things we need to keep on top of.

What we can do though is set aside time each day to talk to our children properly.

It might be in the car on the way home from school, over the dinner table or a chat at their bedside before they go to sleep.  Whenever you chose to do it, make a point of following the advice in this post and really use that time to listen to your child.

My hope is that by listening to my children as best I can now, about the seemingly trivial things (like Minecraft) and the more important things like what’s happening in their friendship groups, they’ll keep talking to me openly and honestly as they get older.

 

This post is linked up with KCACOLS.

If your children are anything like mine they’ll come home from school covered in all sorts of dirt and who knows what else.

I try to send them off to school looking pretty presentable, with clean uniforms and nicely brushed hair.

But by the end of the day they look so dishevelled, with various stains on their tops and fabulously muddy knees.  Then I let them play in the yard and around the trees after school and they get even more filthy.  I might complain a bit about it, especially when it’s Monday and their nice clean uniforms are covered in dirt, but really I love seeing them so dirty at the end of the school day.

I know for a lot of people though the mess and dirt is quite stressful.  But it doesn’t have to be.  There are a few things you can do to feel less stressed about the state your children seem to so easily get themselves and their clothes into.

How to feel less stressed about dirt and mess

 

Know that dirt is good

The idea of your children getting dirty and messy is stressful for quite a lot parents.  But we need to change our thinking about this.

Dirt isn’t necessarily dirty.

And playing in the mud and the dirt can actually be really good for boosting our children’s immune systems.  So letting them get mucky can help keep them healthier than if we keep them pristine and completely germ-free.

It’s not just mud either.

Children come home from school with paint and pen and all sorts of other things on their clothes.  Nerys often comes home with toothpaste down her cardigan!  The thing to do is make this a positive thing.

A mucky child is a child who has got stuck in, who has been learning, getting hands-on experience about the world around them.

messy play at home

 

Have spares

Spare clothes that is.

You don’t want to spend your whole week washing dirty school clothes every day to make sure the children have something clean to wear the next day.

So it’s worth buying a few extra tops and trousers/dresses so you only need to wash things once or twice in the week.  We buy most of our uniform from the supermarket so it’s really quite cheap, which means we actually have enough polo shirts for the children to wear a fresh one every day.  They also each have 3 jumpers/cardigans each I think, and the same for trousers/dresses.

 

Pack spares

My children both go to school with a change of clothes in their bag.

It’s a habit from when they first both started school and there was a slight risk of toilet-related accidents, but I’m glad I’ve carried on doing it.

More than once Rhys has got so muddy during the school day that he’s had to change his clothes.  And this way he didn’t have to wear random bits from the lost property box and I didn’t have to then remember to wash and return any random clothes to school!

 

Stock up on washing powder and stain remover

You won’t feel so stressed about the children’s clothes getting filthy if you know you have the products at home to tackle the stains.

We were sent some ACE stain remover and ACE for colours and they’ve both been brilliant at dealing with the various marks and stains that Rhys and Nerys get on their clothes.

For most stains the best thing to do is treat them as soon as you can, on both sides of the fabric, with the stain remover and then add a capful of the other liquid to the wash.  The ACE stain remover has been developed to deal with germs, grease and stubborn stains, while ACE for colours cleans while keeping colours bright.

Stain remover ace

 

Teach good habits

While exposing our children to dirt and some germs is good for them, it’s also important to teach them good hygiene habits.

In the winter especially there are so many bugs about at school, children need to be taught to wash their hands properly.  A good tip is to get them to quietly sing happy birthday to themselves twice while washing their hands, to make sure they do it for long enough and thoroughly enough.

If one of the reasons you don’t like your children getting dirty is because you worry about germs, then you’ll be able to relax a bit knowing they know how to wash their hands properly while they’re away from you at school.

children wash hands

 

Be prepared

I always try to get the children’s things ready for school the night before, so there are no surprises or big panics in the morning.

When your children come home from school and take their uniforms off give them a quick check over.

If they’re absolutely filthy then put them in the laundry basket, or better yet give them a spray with stain remover and get them straight in the wash.  If there are just a few little marks on them you can spot clean and leave them to dry ready for the morning.

If you need clean items for the next day then get them out and ready to put on, along with underwear, so there’s no rummaging through drawers in the morning.

In the winter as well it’s worth checking school shoes when you get in, wiping off any mud and putting newspaper inside if they’re soaking wet.

 

Hopefully these tips will help take some of the stress out of the mess involved in raising children.

I do think though that the best thing we can do is just embrace that mess.  Accept that dirt and muck and mess is part of this stage of life, and see it as a positive thing.

It’s a sign of children being creative, active, and bold.

It’s a result of children getting stuck in, getting actively involved at school and learning so much about the world around them.

And it’ll all come out in the wash anyway!

 

This post is an entry for the BritMums #ACEforSchool Challenge, sponsored by ACE. Get help for all kinds of stains with the ACE Stain Helper http://www.acecleanuk.co.uk/ or to buy head to your local Tesco’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose or Sainsbury’s.

I have a feeling that every parent at some point has felt that all they do is nag or shout at their children before they seem to listen and do what they’re being asked to do.  The thing is, so often the answer to the problem involves looking at our own actions and behaviours.

It’s so easy to get frustrated and think ‘my child never listens to me’, but the best way to help the situation is to stop and think about how clearly we’re actually communicating with them.

Here are some things we can do to get our children to listen, without ending up shouting.

How to get your child to listen to you

 

Think before you speak

You can’t expect your children to listen to you if you randomly shout instructions to them from another room.

So before you speak make sure you’re standing close to them, or at the very least are in the same room.  Then make sure that you have their attention by using their name and speak clearly while looking directly at them.

 

Keep it simple

When you need your child to do something, keep your instructions as simple as possible.

Young children especially can find it hard to remember 2-stage requests, so stick to asking them to do one thing at a time.  So if  you need your young child to put their shoes on, instead of giving a long-winded speech about it, stick with a simple “shoes on please!”.

Older children may well start to tune you out if you ramble on too much about them needing to do something.  So again, keep it short and snappy when you ask them to do something.

 

Focus on what you DO want

This is a piece of advice my sister gave me years ago and it’s brilliant.

Children often focus on and remember the last part of what you say to them.  So if you say “please don’t run off ahead of me”, what they might actually hear and focus on are the words “run off ahead of me”, and so off they’ll go.

What you need to be doing is tell them what you do want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do.

So in this example you’re much better off saying “please walk nicely by my side” or “let’s skip along together”.  You’re basically looking at switching from negative “don’t do that” instructions to more positive, “do this please” versions.

How to get your child to listen to you (1)

 

Put yourself in your child’s position

Again this is about slowing down a bit and thinking before asking your child to do something.

If they’re in the middle of an activity, is it really fair to expect them to stop it immediately just because you say so?  How would you feel if someone came and demanded you do something, out of the blue, while you’re in the middle of doing something?

Try to give a bit of warning whenever you can that something will be happening or if they’ll need to do something.

So let them know 10 minutes before dinner is ready that they only have that much time left to play before they’ll need to stop and come to the table.

Now, this can also be applied in a way to situations like children running off in the park or messing around in the library.  As parents we need to stop and put ourselves in their shoes a bit.  To remember that they don’t necessarily know how to behave in these situations.  So we need to talk to them in advance as much as we can, to set our expectations for how they need to behave.

 

Explain things rather than just give demands

Following on from the last point, we need to remember that children don’t know everything we know, and they see the world differently from us a lot of the time.

They may not understand why we’re asking them to do certain things, so it makes it easier for them to go along with it if we explain the why behind our requests.

If we want our children to tidy up their toys it’s helpful to explain to them that they might get lost or broken if they’re left out, that it makes it easier for them to find them next time they want to play if they’re put away nicely and that other people want to use the space and it’s nice to consider their needs and feelings.

Give them options

Children often feel that they have no control over what happens in their day to day lives, and sometimes saying ‘no’ and refusing to do what we ask is simply them trying to assert some control.

One way around this is to give them choices, to help them feel that they have a say in various things that happen.  The key here though, is to only offer a couple of choices and make sure you’re happy with either option.

So, “put this top on, we need to go” becomes “it’s time to get dressed now, would you like to wear the red top or the yellow one?”

“Brush your teeth and put your shoes on” changes to “would you like to do your teeth first or put your shoes on first?”

You can also use options like this to give consequences to your child’s actions.

So, rather than getting frustrated when your toddler won’t listen and hold your hand while walking, you give them option of holding your hand or being carried.  If they won’t put a hat on in the park then you tell them that they either wear the hat or you both leave the park.  It’s their choice.

Just make sure you follow through with any consequences you talk about.

 

Acknowledge when they do listen

When your children do listen and cooperate with you, make a point of acknowledging it.

Give them a big smile and a hug and thank them for doing as they were asked.  When behaviour is acknowledged it’s more likely to be repeated in the future.

 

Not all of these things will work with all children, all of the time. 

But that’s true of most things when it comes to parenting in my experience!

Hopefully though with a bit of time and consistency, you’ll find something in here that works for you and your family to get your children to listen without anyone nagging or shouting.

 

I often look at my children and wonder what they’ll be like when they’re older.  What they’ll choose to do with their lives.  What parts of their young selves will stay with them through to adulthood.

One of my biggest hopes for them is that they just grow up to be kind.

To be caring and thoughtful, to look out for other people.

There’s a quote that I really love that sort of sums up how I feel about this:

“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”

I think that, to some extent, kindness is something that we’re born with, but there are also quite a few things we can do as parents to teach our children how to be kind people.

5 ways to teach your children to be kind

 

1. Be kind yourself

Our children are constantly watching us, and learning from what they see.  So make sure they see you be kind as often as possible.

Be kind to them, be kind to your partner, be kind to the various people you see as you go about your day.

As well as this, try not to do anything unkind in front of your children.  I mean, try not to be unkind at all, but especially not in front of your children.  None of us are perfect and we all have our moments where we maybe gossip about other people, and say not so nice things, but try not to let your children hear it.  Otherwise if you’re not careful they’ll start doing the same.

 

2. Read books about kindness

Reading books together is a great way to introduce all sorts of topics with your children.  We’ve done with it starting school and when I was pregnant with Nerys we read lots of books about new babies with Rhys.

Look around to find books that are age-appropriate and that are focused on the idea of being kind and caring.

Take a look at ‘Have you filled a bucket today?‘ and ‘Ordinary Mary’s extraordinary deed‘ to get started.

 

3. Give them plenty of chances to be caring

As often as you can, allow your children to practice being kind and caring.

Encourage them to help around the house, ask them to look around and see if they notice any little jobs that could be done to help other family members.

Talk to them about helping their friends at school if they’re finding something hard, and comforting another child who is upset or hurt.

One thing to remember is to acknowledge these acts of kindness, but to not necessarily reward them.  We want our children to grow up doing kind things because it’s a nice thing to do, not because there’s something in it for them.

 

teaching our children to be kind

4. Notice and explain

Following on from the last point, it is important to notice and acknowledge when your children do nice things.

Tell them that you’re proud of them for all the little kind things they do.

Then go one step further and explain what it was about the act of kindness that was so nice.  Children are still learning about the world so we need to explain the reason behind things sometimes.

So explain the reasons behind your actions too.  When you put your change in the charity pot at the supermarket explain to your children what the charity is for and how giving money to them can help other people.

 

5. Perform acts of kindness together

Look for opportunities to carry out acts of kindness with your children.

They don’t have to be big, extravagant gestures, and actually more often than not it’s the little acts that mean the most to other people and really brighten their days.

If you have the money to spare then you could tape a envelope with a few pounds inside to a vending machine, or hide a few on the shelves of the pound shop with a note instead telling people to treat themselves.

There are all sorts of things you can do that don’t cost any money though.

If you see someone drop something then encourage your child to pick it up for them, share your bag of duck food with another family at the park and let the person behind you in the queue at the supermarket go through the till ahead of you.

 

Ultimately, raising kind children comes down to bringing as much kindness into their lives as we can.

Then hopefully we’ll help to create the kind of world that really is a little less cruel and heartless, one that’s full of people who are kind and caring and look out for each other.

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

With the change in seasons recently I’ve been going through the children’s clothes, making sure we have enough tights and jumpers and seeing if last year’s winter coats still fit.

Now they’re a bit older it’s easier to adjust to the different seasons and I don’t worry so much about how to dress them appropriately for the weather.

I remember when they were babies though, and the stress of trying to work out what to put them in and how to keep them warm but not too warm.  When you’re pregnant you see all these gorgeous pieces of baby clothes and designer kids wear, but don’t always realise how hard it can be at times to know how to dress your child through the year.

You need to consider a few different things when choosing what to put your baby in during the winter, including where you’ll be going, how you’ll be getting there and how long you’ll be outside in the cold for.

So here are my top tips for dressing your baby in the winter.

Top tips for dressing your baby for winter

 

Use layers

Babies can’t regulate their body temperature the same way that adults can.

Dressing them in layers is a great way to easily help them warm up or cool down when you’re out and about.  So consider a vest, trousers, socks, top, jumper/cardigan and then a coat or snowsuit over the top.

One good tip if you’re not sure how many layers to put on them is to go for one more than you’re wearing yourself.

And just make sure to remember to take a layer off them if you head inside where it’s warmer so they don’t overheat.

 

Keep them safe in the car

If you’re heading out somewhere in the car then don’t put a bulky snowsuit or coat on your baby until you get to where you’re going.

Car seat harnesses need to be fitted close to your baby’s body to be effective, and padded clothing can stop you from being able to tighten the straps enough.  The best thing to do is to strap your baby into their seat without the coat/snowsuit on and then pop a lightweight blanket over them (just up to their armpits) to keep them warm.

Just remember to take their coat with you to put on them if you’ll be outside for any length of time once you’re out of the car.

 

Keep their extremities covered

If it’s really cold out you want to make sure that your baby’s head, hands and feet are covered up.

Babies are notorious for pulling hats off but it’s worth persevering with them, or getting a jumper or coat with a warm hood that you can put up around their head.

Then pop a pair of mittens on their hands and warm socks on their feet.  Most snowsuits for babies have little feet on them too to keep them warm.

If you’re taking your baby out in the buggy then you can get a cosytoes liner that will keep them well covered and that you can tuck little hands into if they’re not too wriggly.

 

If you keep these three things in mind then dressing your baby for winter shouldn’t be too tricky.  Once you’ve mastered the art of doing it quickly enough that they don’t get frustrated and annoyed with being bundled up before you get out the front door that is!

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

Have you ever thought about researching your family history?

My husband has looked into my family before and built up a nice picture of my family tree thanks to a fair bit of online research.  I’ve often wondered where my family line originates from though, so I was really interested when I was offered the chance to explore my ancestry with Living DNA.

The way they work is by analysing a DNA sample that you provide them with, to find out where in the world you originally came from.

Discovering my ancestry with Living DNA

 

The Living DNA kit is really simple to use.

It comes nicely presented in a little white box with a really handy information sheet that breaks down exactly what you need to do into nice, simple steps.

I was a bit worried about somehow getting it wrong and messing up my results, but the detailed instructions helped me feel better about doing it properly.

Living DNA sample kit

 

The main part of the kit is the swab which comes in a sealed tube and looks like something you would expect a medical professional to use.

You unscrew the tube and rub the swab on the inside of your cheek to collect your DNA sample.  Then pop it  back in the tube, attach a few personalised labels then send it off to Living DNA to be analysed.

Living DNA swab

 

Once your sample has been received and analysed you get an email from Living DNA letting you know your results are ready.

Then you just need to log in to your account and all your information is there waiting for you to explore.

 

This was the part I was waiting for, and it was really interesting to dig in and find out a bit more about my ancestry.

I know a bit about my family history thanks to research that my husband has done in the past, so it didn’t come as a big surprise to be told that my family ancestry is 100% Great Britain and Ireland.

The way Living DNA work out their results means you get to see where your ancestors were from going back 10 generations.

In my case, it seems like my family were quite spread out, although they seem to be from the South more than anywhere else.  What did surprise me a bit is the 10.2% from Northwest Scotland, I’m not sure who in the family was from there.

Living DNA review discovering my ancestry

 

The Living DNA results also showed me my motherline which I really like.

The website explains that, “your motherline is your direct maternal heritage, passed down from a mother to their child through the mitochondrial DNA.  Mitochondrial DNA allows you to trace back up your direct maternal line until the point around 200, 000 years ago when there appears to be a common mtDNA signature”

My results show that my DNA belongs to haplogroup T1a, which arose from a woman around 17, 000 years ago in the east of the Mediterranean.  Pretty interesting to think about the fact that I share this common ancestor with everyone else in this particular group.

 

If you’re a male tracing your ancestry with Living DNA then you’ll get fatherline results, which looks at your Y-DNA to explore your paternal ancestry.

 

I was really impressed with the service from Living DNA.

The pack that you get sent is really well presented and has all the information you need to provide a good sample.  I felt like I was really walked through the process, helping me feel more confident that I was doing it right.

It took a good few weeks for my results to be received and analysed, which is what I would expect from a service like this.

The information about my DNA and my ancestry is detailed enough for what I wanted to know, and I’m impressed with the way it’s presented on the website.  There are quite a few areas to explore that tell you more and more about your ancestry and the migration of people from the haplogroup that you belong to.

The DNA ancestry test costs £99 (plus delivery) and if you’re interested in finding out about your ancestry and tracing back your roots then I think it could definitely be worth looking in to.

 

For more information and to order your own kit you can visit the Living DNA website.

 

Disclaimer: I was gifted a DNA sample kit for the purpose of this post but all words, opinions and photos are my own.