I think it’s pretty safe to say that every parent out there has battled with their children at some point to cooperate and do what they’re asked.

It might be that you want them to get their shoes on so you can leave the house.  Or brush their teeth before bed.  Or tidy up the toys that they’ve spread all over the living room.

Whatever the particular task is, when your child isn’t in the mood to do it it can be really hard to get them to cooperate.

There is something you can try though that will help make it more likely that they will cooperate with you.

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

 

If you can make the activity fun, and more like a game, there’s a far better chance your child will cooperate with you on it.

 

Lets say you have a toddler who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.

You could try to explain how important it is that they do it.  That the tooth fairy will be sad if they don’t look after their teeth.  You could promise them a trip to the park if they do it.  You could get frustrated and end up shouting and then feel bad.

Or you could get creative.

You could tell them a story about pirates that have stolen some treasure and the only way to help the princess get it back is by brushing their teeth.  Or you could come up with a silly tooth-brushing song that you sing each time, with special dance moves to go along with it.

 

The same thing goes if you want them to tidy up their toys.

Play them a special ‘tidy up time‘ song to make the whole thing more fun.  Or challenge them to see how quickly they can put all their toys back in the basket.  If you can make a game of it, rather than making it a chore, your child will be much more likely to cooperate with you.

 

You can use this technique for all sorts of things that your children might not always cooperate with you on.

  • Sing a fun song or play upbeat music while they get dressed for school in the morning.
  • Make a game of throwing their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
  • Play catch as you practice times tables.
  • Tell them a story or act out scenes from their favourite film to keep them walking home from the shops.  We live up a hill and Nerys used to pretend to be Elsa running up the mountain singing ‘let it go’ to make it back to the house without complaining.
  • Challenge them to get their shoes and coat on before a timer runs out.

 

Whatever it is that you want your child to cooperate with, try to get creative and use your imagination to bring your child into a world of make-believe and play.

I’m not saying they’ll always go along with it.  But by making these tasks more fun there’s a much higher chance that they will cooperate.  And while you might not always be in the mood for singing and playing and being silly, going down that route is pretty much always going to be better than nagging and getting frustrated.

The games don’t need to be complicated, and your stories can be completely nonsensical.  It really doesn’t matter.  As long as your child is having fun and distracted from the reality of the boring task you’re asking them to do you’ll be on to a winner.

One of the most exhausting parts of parenting toddlers and young children (other than being up half the night with them) is the constant requests.

Requests for snacks.  In particular bowls.  With a drink in that one special cup.

Requests for videos on YouTube.  Not that video.  The one they watched last Thursday.

Requests to go the park.  And the swimming pool.  And to soft play.

Requests for you to read their favourite book with them.  Again.  And again.

Some days it feels like it doesn’t stop.  And while a lot of the time we can happily say ‘yes’ and give them what they’re asking for, sometimes the answer has to be ‘no.

Try this trick to say no to your child without them getting upset

 

The thing is, children don’t really like hearing the word ‘no’.  It makes them feel upset.  Or angry.  Or both.

Which is valid to be fair.  No one really likes to be told ‘no’.  And if your toddler really wanted a snack in that special red bowl and you said no then they’re bound to be a bit frustrated by that.

There is something you can try though, to say ‘no’ in a way that has a much higher chance of a happy ending for everyone.

 

The trick is to say ‘no’ without actually saying the word ‘no’.

You can even do it by saying ‘yes’ instead.

 

What I mean is, if you child asks you for that snack but it’s 5 minutes from dinner time.

Instead of saying, ‘no, dinner’s nearly ready’ you can say ‘yes, but you need to eat your dinner first’.

 

Or if they are at your feet asking you to read that book to them while you sort the washing out.

You can tell them that yes, you will read the book to them but you need to finish sorting the washing first.  Instead of just giving them a flat ‘no’ or a vague ‘we’ll do it later’.

 

Even little children will understand if you give them a clear answer of what needs to be done first or instead of the thing they are asking to do.

 

For the most part anyway.

Of course there’ll be times when they still get upset and angry that you won’t give them what they want straight away.  But wording your responses like this really will keep the odds in your favour that they’ll accept it with less frustration.

Just cutting the word ‘no’ from your response can be enough to stop children from pushing and arguing back.

 

Do you find it hard to say no to your children?  Do you find they get really upset and frustrated when you do say no?

Give this trick a try and see if it helps you and your family!

My children are 7 and very nearly 5 now, so it’s safe to say we are well and truly out of the toddler stage.

I do remember that stage well though.  And one of the things I remember is how hard and frustrating it can be at times to communicate with your toddler.  It can feel like they’re not listening to a word you’re saying, and it can be really difficult to work out what they’re trying to tell you at times.

This little trick though is brilliant for improving communication during the toddler years.

Try this one little trick to communicate better with your toddler

 

The best place to start with building better communication with your toddler is with mirroring.

This is basically just a way of letting them know that you’re listening to them, and that you understand how they’re feeling.  This then makes it far more likely that they’ll listen to you.

 

So let’s say it’s a cold day and you’re trying to get your toddler to put their coat on so you can walk to the shops.

And they’re having none of it.  They’re getting upset and angry and refusing to even entertain the idea of putting their coat on.

What you need to do is, firstly, take a few deep breaths.  Then get down on your child’s level and talk to them about why they don’t want to put the coat on.

Listen to what they have to say, and then basically repeat what they’ve said back to them.

If they tell you they’re too hot in their coat, you would reply with “I know, it feels hot when you put your coat on doesn’t it.  And that makes you feel a bit hot and bothered and uncomfortable”.

This both shows you’re listening to your child, and that you understand how they feel about the situation.

Once you’ve done this, they’ll hopefully calm down a bit knowing that you’re with them, rather than against them.  Then you can explain why they need to put the coat on.  Tell that while it’s hot in the house it’s really cold outside and so they’ll need their coat.

 

Now, this won’t necessarily work every single time.

But if you always make the time to really listen, and empathise with your toddler then there is a better chance they’ll listen to you in return.

There’s also the other benefit that listening to them and seeing things from their point of view might make you stop for a minute and question how important your request really is.

Does it actually matter if they put their coat on before you leave the house?!

Maybe you can just take it with you and they can put it on after a few minutes outside when they realise how chilly it actually is.

 

It can feel like a real battle at times when you have a toddler. 

But just keep in mind that it really is you and them together, with each, not against each other.

If you can work on seeing the world through their eyes and understanding their feelings and frustrations through this kind of active listening then you should be able to find a positive way to resolve most of these battles.

No matter what age your child is, it’s likely you’ve witnessed a melt down or two. When children become angry, they often become irrational and it’s difficult to get through to them. That doesn’t mean they should be punished for feeling or acting this way. However, as a parent it’s hard to know how to manage the situation.

Here are a few tips on positively helping your child to deal with anger.

14 ways to help your child deal with anger

 

Remain calm

It’s easy to lose patience with an angry child who won’t see the wood from the trees. You can do everything within your power to help your child fix the problem, but until they are ready to find a solution all you can do is remain calm and set a good example. Anger will trigger the fight or flight reaction, making your child either look for a fight or a reason to flight. Don’t give it to them.

 

Listen

The worst thing you can do is dismiss your child’s feelings. Even if their anger seems irrational and unreasonable to you, it’s stemming from somewhere very real for them. Trying to ignore the problem until it goes away just tells your child that you’re unwilling to listen to their feelings. By not listening, you could escalate the problem. Be ready to listen and acknowledge the way your child feels so they have the chance to become calmer in your presence.

 

Put yourself in your child’s shoes

Remembering yourself as a child, you probably can recall times where you didn’t agree with your parents or felt that something was unfair. Your child will go through the exact same feelings. Even if you’ve got the help of family law solicitors during a divorce, your child will still struggle with the situation. It can hurt if your child blames you for feeling angry, but you should still acknowledge the feeling. You don’t have to necessarily agree with it but telling your child that you’re sorry for the way he feels will help to open lines of communication.

 

Don’t bite

When your child is angry, it’s likely he’ll say things he doesn’t mean. You may be the unfortunate recipient of a personal attack or perhaps your child will be very rude. All this can also happen in public because sometimes, the more hurtful the better when your child is trying to make a point. It’s hard to not take this personally, but you have to think of it from your child’s point of view. He is using the most hurtful things he knows of to explain how upset he is. Try and diffuse the situation by understanding instead of biting back.

How to help your child deal with anger

 

Stick to the rules

Your child may be very upset, but that doesn’t mean the rules go out of the window. Sometimes children become physically violent when they’re angry. If you or another member of the family ends up on the other end of a slap or kick, it’s okay to correct your child. Letting your child know that you can see she is upset but slapping and kicking are still not allowed will reinforce your rules while letting her know that you acknowledge the upset. If you have to remove your child from the situation to keep others safe, do so.

 

Let the melt downs pass

If your child is in a full on melt down, it would be pointless to try and reason with her. Trying to explain why it’s okay or why she can’t have what she wants is futile at this point. The only thing you can do is try and help her to calm down. Reassurance is what she needs at this point, even if you don’t feel like it. Saying, ‘I know it’s hard’ will let your child know you register the hurt she’s going through and may have a solution when she’s calmer. Depending on your child’s age, you may be able to sit her down and explain your own thoughts once the storm has passed.

 

Allow the tantrum

Tantrums are so often punished by parents, but the truth is, they are how our children learn to deal with bigger problems in life. Punishing a tantrum could essentially teach your child how to handle bigger stresses later on. Many child psychologists have referred to tantrums as a child’s way of blowing off steam. Whereas an adult may reach for a glass of wine or go run a bubble bath, children aren’t developed enough to know how to handle difficult situations. Supporting your child through a tantrum is the best way to develop trust and help your child develop the control he needs to manage his emotions in the future.

 

It’s more than the moment

It can seem like children have a tantrum in the moment. Something may spark them off and suddenly they’re in full blown melt down and there’s nothing you can do to soothe them until it’s over. What you may not know is that children often remember other things that have upset them when they’re having a tantrum. It’s often more than just what’s on the surface. It could be something that upset them months ago re-hashing itself in your child’s memory and you’re both having to deal with it all over again.  Children don’t process things the same way we do, so it’s wise to expect a melt down to be more than it appears to be.

How to help your child deal with anger

 

Create a safe place

The beautiful thing about the relationship between a child and parent is that it’s healing. As a parent, you have a unique opportunity to create a safe place for your child to express himself. Once your child knows that he’ll be listened to and not judged, there becomes less need for anger. Your child knowing that they’re allowed to vulnerable is the best thing you can do for him. Once the hurt and sadness has been expressed, it makes room for healing.

 

Stay in the same room

Young children that go through tantrums may hit out and become physical. Instead of putting your child in a different room or exiting the room yourself, take a few steps away instead. Let your child know that you aren’t going anywhere but you won’t let her hit you. Many young children may shout ‘Go away’ despite your efforts, but still don’t leave the room. Tell your child you’re going to sit down somewhere since she asked you to go away but reassure you that you aren’t leaving. Your child will try and push you away but staying and showing support and love will break through the hurt.

 

Yes, your child is over-reacting

It’s okay to think, ‘why should I stand here and let him do this?’ Your child is clearly overreacting and there are times when you’ll think that’s not okay. The problem is, as an adult you’ve learnt to express your feelings in a way your child can’t comprehend yet. You don’t melt down over the colour of a cup anymore, but your child will, just because. It may be that your child is overtired or trying to process something or sometimes it’s just because your child needs a good cry. Embracing the melt down and staying calm is exactly what you both need.

 

Get to the root

If your child is screaming on top of his lungs because he can’t find a toy he hasn’t played with in decades, it’s not about the toy. Don’t be tempted to tear the bedroom apart to find the toy. It may be the only thing that will shut him up right now, but it won’t deal with the underlying problem. It’s okay if you can’t find that toy for him. If he allows you, give him a cuddle and a kiss and let him know that you understand it’s difficult when you want something but you can’t find it. These are the biggest problems our children go through and to them, they seem like impassable mountains. Let your child know you’re there and you can fix the problem together.

 

Avoid the ‘I told you so’

It may be tempting to explain to your child why you’re always right and why he should always listen to his parents, but that won’t do much for your child.  Lecturing your child will likely go in one ear and straight out the other- save your breath. Instead, explain what happened to your child. Let him know that he asked for something, you said no and he got angry. Let him know that you saw that he was upset but things got better when he calmed down. There’s no need to remind him that you were right.

 

Learning the lesson

Won’t you need to teach your child through these tantrums? The great thing about kids is that they absorb so much through their emotions. The better you handle their tantrums, the better they will. Encourage your child to make choices next time she feels angry and each time will get easier and easier for you both.

 

Dealing with a child’s anger isn’t easy but it can be done positively.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Whether you work full-time, or part time, or stay at home with your children, life as a parent is incredibly busy.

So any shortcuts you can take or tricks you can use to save yourself some valuable time and energy are well worth knowing.

Here are some of my favourite time saving tips for busy parents that help me claw back some of that precious time and feel a bit more in control.

Time saving tips for busy parents

 

Let people come to you

Wherever possible get people to come to you with their services instead of you going to them.

Order your food shopping online and have it delivered to your home.  If you need anything doing to your car get them to come to you.  Whether it’s a diamond cut alloy repair or replacement window glass, you can find someone to come to you rather than spend precious time sat in a garage.

There are more and more services popping up that can help you, so next time you think about going somewhere to buy something or fix something, have a quick look online to see if there’s a way you can get someone to bring it to you instead.

 

Batch cook

When you’re cooking dinner make enough for a few meals.  It won’t take you much longer that day but will save a lot of time in the future.  You can pop the extra in the fridge to reheat the next day or portion it up and freeze it for nights when you’re really short on time.

Another great way to save time in the evenings is to use a slow cooker.

You can just chuck in all the ingredients in the morning, leave it on low all day and have a delicious meal ready for you in the evening.  I love using our slow cooker for various soups, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes and even ‘roast’ chickens for a super easy Sunday lunch.

 

Prep ahead

If you know that your mornings are always hectic, trying to get everyone out the door for school and work on time, then do as much as you can to prepare the night before.

Make sandwiches and pack lunches.  Make sure all the bags are ready and any forms or letters that need to go back to school are sorted.  Check the weather forecast and get suitable clothes and shoes/boots out and ready.

Basically do anything you can the night before to save stress and time in the morning.

 

Get organised

Following on from the last point, you can save yourself a lot of time in the long run by getting more organised and putting systems in place.

If you know that you always waste valuable time looking for your keys in the morning, then pick a designated spot for them to be put every single time you walk in through the front door.

Do the same for all the important things you need to keep track of.  Having a central family calendar where you can write down everyone’s appointments, clubs and key dates is so important to keeping on top of everything.  You could even go one step further and set up a home command centre so everything is kept up together, saving you so much time in searching for things when you’re in a rush to leave the house.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you save some time and feel a bit less rushed off your feet. 

Do you have any other brilliant time-saving tips?  I’d love to hear them in the comments!

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Most days after school, if it’s dry enough, we stay and let the children play for a bit before heading home.

They play in the school yard which has a brilliant wooden fort and little obstacle course which is fantastic for them to burn off some steam after a day at school. The outdoor space and facilities are great at our school, and there is quite an emphasis on outdoor play and learning there that I really love.  The children are encouraged to get out and get stuck in and often come home muddy and dishevelled.

The school is really on to something with this I think, because there are all sorts of benefits to outdoor play in terms of our children’s learning and development.

The importance of outdoor play in learning and development

 

Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget once said “Play is the work of childhood” and that is a sentiment that I really love.

Mr Rogers actually took this idea a bit further when he said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”

 

The thing is, children aren’t built to sit still and focus on learning.  Apparently up until they’re at least 9 years old children learn best when their whole self is involved in the process.  So sitting at a table and listening to a teacher talk isn’t going to help them learn as much as actively getting involved in something.

 

Young children in particular learn best through play.

When they’re playing they’re learning how to solve problems and they’re being creative and experimenting in all sorts of ways.  Play does so much to support our children’s cognitive development.  It’s through play that they learn skills like understanding and communication, as well as things like risk assessment and cause and effect.

 

What seems to be really important though is that the play needs to be unstructured.

Children don’t learn in the same way if adults are directing their play.  They need to be left to explore and play the way they want to play to really get the benefits.

This is one of the things I love about the play equipment at our school – it’s not obvious what each piece should be used for.

There are quite a few wooden structures that can be a fort, a stage, a family home, or whatever else the children can come up.  There are also shapes and tracks and games painted on the ground too which are brilliant for creative play and learning.

ESP play produce all sorts of play equipment and playground markings like the ones our school has, and have spent a lot of time researching the benefits of them.  If you pop over to ESP play’s website you can see their findings into the effects that outdoor creative play can have.  They have playground equipment for all ages from pieces suitable for early years play all the way up to secondary school.

They recognise findings from various studies that show that children need this kind of play environment where they aren’t restricted in the way they play.

So the children are free to come up with their own ideas and use the equipment creatively.  When children have this freedom to make up their own games, either by themselves or with other children, they learn so much.

Imaginative play outdoors

They learn to figure things out on their own, to communicate better and to negotiate.  These types of skills are known as executive function skills and they’re so important for our children’s development.

Sergio Pellis, a researcher at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, explains that the best way for children to learn is through free-play.  He says:

“No coaches, no umpires, no rule books…Whether it’s rough-and-tumble play or two kids deciding to build a sand castle together, the kids themselves have to negotiate, well, what are we going to do in this game? What are the rules we are going to follow?”

When children play in this way new pathways and circuits are built in the prefrontal cortex that help them navigate these different social situations.  So playing actually creates changes in our children’s brains, wiring up its executive control centre, to set them up to be able to handle these complex situations in the future.

 

One big developmental benefit to outdoor play that us parents can sometimes find a bit hard to cope with, is the way it teaches our children about risk and about their own personal limits.

Our instinct as parents is to keep our children safe and to protect them from any possible harm.  But if we constantly hover around them while they play, shouting pleas for them to be careful, they’ll grow up scared to ever take risks or push themselves to see what they’re capable of.

When we take a step back and let our children climb that tree or try a new way of getting down the slide they learn so much.

They develop risk assessment skills and learn about things like physics and gravity!

And from trying things and failing they learn to get back up again.  To try again.  To be brave.

Outdoor play face fears

This photo of Rhys was taken at the park one day when he faced his fears and climbed up to the top of this wooden climbing frame.

He had been so scared to do it, and I realised that me standing right by him wasn’t actually helping.  So I backed off a bit.  Gave him the space he needed to take a deep breath and go for it.

Those are the clenched fists and determined face of a boy who achieved something he wasn’t sure he could.

And that is the beauty of outdoor play.

It gives our children the chance to try things.  To have fun.  To explore.  To take risks.  To push themselves.  To develop in so many ways.

 

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post with esp play.

One of the things I’m trying to teach my children as they grow up is how to find balance in life.

My son in particular loves to play on the computer, and would happily spend hours and hours doing just that.  So we make sure he has a balance between computer time, other indoor activities and getting out and about in the fresh air.

If you have slightly older children who absolutely love playing computer games I can imagine it might be a bit of a battle at times to find other things for them to do that they would enjoy just as much.

Here are some activity ideas that will hopefully tempt the gamer in your life away from their computer.

Outdoor activities that are perfect for gamers

 

Escape rooms

Escape rooms have become really popular in the last few years, with rooms popping up all over the country.

The basic idea is that you and a few friends or family members enter a room and then have an hour to solve clues and puzzles to be able to ‘escape’.  Each room has a detailed back story to it, and you normally need to either complete a heist or escape from a situation.

This kind of activity would be great for gamers who love problem solving and lateral thinking.  The whole concept was actually originally a type of video game so gamers would probably love to try the idea out in a more hands-on way.

 

Laser tag

This is a brilliant option for children and teenagers who love games like Fortnite and Call of Duty.

They can see how good their skills actually are in a game of laser tag, which has all the fun of the games they like to play at home, with the benefits of physical activity.

You could even book a laser tag party for their next birthday, so they can take on all their friends in a laser tag battle.

 

Geocaching

A more outdoorsy alternative to escape rooms for gamers who love problem solving games is geocaching.

This is where you use an app and a gps device to find hidden containers, or geocaches.  They have little log books in which you sign to say you’ve found it.  They might also contain little trinkets or toys which you can take as long as you leave something of similar value in its place.

 

40/40 and manhunt

I’m going right back to my own childhood with this one.

Younger gamers who love playing strategy games and things like fortnite may well love the action of these kinds of outdoor games.

40/40 is basically a variation of hide and seek, where you have to hide and then make it back to ‘home’ or base (this tended to be a particular tree when I played) without being spotted.

Manhunt is another version where most players have a head start to run and hide, before the hunter (or hunters) start looking for them.  The aim is to last as long as possible without getting caught, so you don’t just pick one hiding place and stay there.  You keep moving, evading capture as long as you can.

 

Whether you go with the latest trend of escape rooms or keep it old school with a game of 40/40, these ideas are all great fun for gamers in need of a break from their computers.  And the real beauty of them is that they’re brilliant fun for non-gamers too, so everyone can get involved.

 

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post