How to soothe a cough at night

The magic trick to soothe a cough at night

This may well by the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also the time of year when everyone and his dog seems to be suffering with bugs and coughs and colds.

School-age children in particular seem to like sharing germs among themselves, and then bringing them home for the rest of the family to enjoy.

What’s so frustrating about coughs and colds is that there isn’t all that much you can do to chase them away.

If a cough is keeping your child (and the rest of the family) up at night though, there is a slightly random trick that you can try to soothe it.


All you need is a tub of vapour rub and a pair of socks.

You can use Vicks VapoRub or you can use an own-brand version from the chemist, it really doesn’t matter.

What you need to do is put a good blob of the stuff onto the soles of your child’s feet at bedtime, and then put a pair of socks on over the top.  The socks are mostly important for keeping the vapour rub from getting all over the sheets, but I think they also help by keeping the feet warm.

What you should find is that this is enough to soothe their cough; letting them get to sleep, and stay that way through the night.


Now I’ve read a fair few articles about this trick since I first heard about it, and no one has any real idea why it works.

Some people think it’s just a placebo effect.

Others think it might to do with reflexology.

The theory that I think sounds most likely is that the vapour rub on your feet acts as a counter-irritant, so your body focuses on that rather than the tickle in your throat, so you end up coughing less.


Whatever the reason behind it, so many parents have tried this on their children and themselves with amazing results.

I’ve done it myself when we’ve had troublesome coughs disturbing our sleep and it has worked like a charm.


So next time your child brings some lovely germs home from school, give this trick a try so you can all still get a good night’s sleep!


Have you tried this trick before?  Does it work for you and your children?

Good study habits for children

5 good study habits for children

If you want your child to succeed in school, they will need to adopt good study habits. It takes more than natural flair to do well as a student, although this undoubtedly helps.

Here are 5 good study habits, suggested by a senior school in Surrey, which will be valuable to your child. 



1. Get enough sleep

Of course, this is easier said than do for many children, but getting enough sleep is vital for excellent performance at school. As a parent, you need to ensure that your child has a comfortable bed to sleep in and they don’t eat too much sugar in the run up to bed time.

What’s more, hydration is also important for decent quality sleep so make sure your child drinks enough water. 


2. Have a positive attitude

Pessimism won’t get your child very far in life. Try and encourage them to be positive about their school work.

They need a can-do attitude, so you should try and focus on their strengths and praise them regularly when you see that they are working hard.


3. Tidy up!

A messy bedroom or study space will not aid effective thinking.

Your child’s study environment needs to be neat and organised so make sure to provide them with their own bin and perhaps a bookshelf where they can keep their text books. 


4. Set realistic goals

Encourage your child to set themselves small, achievable goals.

Ticking off short-term objectives will give your child a continual sense of achievement, which will help keep them motivated. This is far more beneficial to your child’s confidence than setting unrealistic goals that are then not met.


5. Introduce consistency

Short bursts of study each evening after school will be better for your child’s learning journey than relentless revision right before an exam.

The phrase “little and often” is important in this instance and will reduce the likelihood of boredom setting in.


Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

ways to get your children to do what you want

5 brilliant ways to get your children to do what you want

If you find getting your children to do what you want a bit of an uphill battle then this post is for you.

Whether it’s tidying up their toys or being able to trust them not to eat the treats you’ve put aside for Christmas, there are a few psychology-backed things you can try to get them to do what you want without feeling like you’re nagging all the time.


1. Ask them early in the day

If you want your children to make a choice that might be hard for them, like picking out some old toys to give away to charity, then the best time to ask them to do it is early in the day, but after they’ve eaten some breakfast.

The science behind this is that making hard decisions uses a fair bit of brain power in processing and thinking, so our bodies need higher blood sugar levels to do it.

When our blood sugar levels are low our brains take short cuts and we go to the default, easiest answer.  In this case your child will most likely default to not wanting to give any toys away.

When we’ve recently had breakfast though and our blood sugar levels are nice and stable then we’re better able to make these harder decisions.


2. Put more mirrors up at home

This is an interesting one.

If you want your children to be more trustworthy, they try hanging mirrors up at home so that they can see themselves more often.

Studies have shown that people are more trustworthy and collaborative if there is a mirror on the wall of the room they’re in.  One study in particular placed people in a room by themselves, with a jar of cookies.  They were able to buy the cookies with an honesty box type approach, with no one checking whether payments were made or not.

The researchers found that people were more likely to make a payment for the cookies they took if there was a mirror in the room.



3. Give them a reason.  Any reason.

Various studies have found that you’re more likely to get what you want from someone if you give them a reason.  Even if the reason you give them doesn’t make any sense.

One study in particular involved office workers.  When someone asked if they could jump the queue to use the photocopier with no reason given only 32 % let them.  But when they gave a reason for needing to push in 92 % of people let them.  This figure was pretty much the same when the reason was ‘because I’m in a hurry’ and when it was the ridiculous reason that they ‘needed to use the photocopier’.

So next time you want your children to do something, anything, just give them a reason why.

Tell them you need them to tidy up their rooms because it’s nearly lunchtime.  Or that they need to put their shoes on to go out because it’s Friday.

The reason you give doesn’t seem to matter, just the fact that you give a reason is enough.


4. Get subliminal

If asking your children directly to do something isn’t working, they try planting the idea in their heads instead.

You don’t have to go to full-on inception style lengths to do this, just casually mention the thing you want done in conversation.

Lets say you want your toddler to put all their toys away.

You might say “Look at how much fun we’ve had with all these toys.  Now I wonder who might put them back in the baskets”.  Or “It would be nice if these toys were back in their baskets, then we could ….”.  What you’re doing then is putting the idea of tidying up the toys in your child’s head, without directly asking them to do it.

It might not work on every child but a lot of the time doing this will be enough for them to do what you want, while thinking it was their idea.


5. Focus on positive reinforcement

Make a point of praising and thanking your child when they do what you want, and try to ignore it when they don’t.

So going back to the tidying their toys example.

If you notice they haven’t done it, don’t say anything.  Don’t nag them to get it done.

Try instead to make a bit of a show when they do tidy up.

You can also do this on a much more subtle level.

If you want your child to sit and eat nicely at the dinner table then catch their eye, smile and nod when they’re doing well.  And try to ignore the moments when they are a bit wriggly or picking up their food with their fingers.  This is something that Derren Brown does to control what people do.  He’ll keep a blank face and have his head still most of the time, but nod his head when people do what he wants.

This subconscious reward encourages them to keep doing what he wants them to do.


Have you ever tried any of these things with your child?

Which do you think would be most likely to work to get them to do what you want?


This post is linked up with KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.

gently stop breastfeeding

Try this little trick to gently stop breastfeeding

I think most women will agree that the early days of breastfeeding are hard.

Really hard.

When you don’t really know what you’re doing, and you’re exhausted and sore and wondering if you can do this.

Then you sort of find your groove with it.  You start to trust that you can ride out any tricky stages and get through the non-stop feeding that comes with growth spurts.

The next big challenge comes when you start thinking about stopping.


Figuring out the best way to stop breastfeeding can be really tricky.

If you want, or need, to stop when your baby is little then you need to find a way to move over to formula and bottles instead.  We were lucky with Rhys that we moved him to bottles really early on and he took to them straight away.

You might find that getting your partner or a family member to try giving a bottle works well, if your baby isn’t too happy about taking one from you.


If your baby is older and you have time to wean gently then there is an approach that worked well for me and Nerys.

Don’t offer, don’t refuse.


This approach to weaning is basically as it sounds.

You don’t offer your child a feed, but you also don’t refuse when they ask.


What I love about this approach is how gentle it is.

It lets you both adapt and adjust to breastfeeding less, with your child leading the way.

If you need to go back to work or need to stop breastfeeding quickly for another reason then this approach won’t really work for you, but if you’re in a position to take your time and wean gradually then this is a great way to do it.

At times of the day when you would normally breastfeed, try offering a cuddle instead or distracting your child with a book or game.  If they do then ask to breastfeed then go for it, but don’t be the one to offer it.


If you breastfed your child, how did you go about stopping? 

And if you’re still breastfeeding at the moment, have you thought about what you might do when you’re ready to wean?

Classroom tricks to try at home

9 classroom tricks you should try at home

My children are both in primary school at the moment and as they work their way through the years, with different teachers along the way, I’m realising that we can learn a fair bit from the way the teachers handle things in the classroom.

Here are 9 tricks that teachers use in the classroom that you can try out for yourself at home.


1. Work with your child to solve problems

One thing that the teachers do really well at our school is involving the children in problem solving.  If there’s an issue they don’t just step in and resolve it, they ask the children involved how they think they should move forward.

This is definitely something we should be doing at home as parents as well.

I know I’ve jumped in before and told my children what course of action we’re going to take, when really I should stop, slow down and ask for their input.

Letting them suggest ways to solve problems will teach them so much more than just making the decision for them.


2. Set your expectations in advance

This is something we’ve tried to do over the years.

It’s too easy to forget sometimes that our children don’t know everything.  As adults we know that you don’t run riot in the library, but your young child who’s not been there before doesn’t know that.

So before you go in you need to set your expectations of how they need to behave in that situation.  Explain that libraries are calm places and we don’t run around and shout there.

This is something that teachers do really well.

If the class on going on a trip somewhere the teacher will explain before they get on the bus all about where they’re going and how the children are expected to behave.


3. Display your house rules

Schools will quite often have displays up on the walls that list the rules that everyone is expected to follow.

Our school has a few brightly coloured displays dotted around reminding the children of the school’s ethos of being kind, being thoughtful and listening (to the teachers and to each other).

This is a great idea to use at home as well.

It might be that you put up a list of the things that the children need to do each morning, like get dressed, brush teeth and so on.  Or you could create a list together as a family of rules like knocking before going into someone’s bedroom, or a poster of family mottos like ‘be kind’ and ‘be silly’.


4. Point out when they’re good

When you give a child time and attention when they’re doing something good, they’ll be less likely to act badly just to get your attention.

Teachers do this in the classroom by drawing attention to the children who are behaving nicely, instead of giving attention to those who are being more noisy and disruptive.

You can do the same thing at home by making a big fuss and praising your child when they put their shoes on the first time you ask, or sit nicely at the dinner table.


5. Give them the chance to burn off some energy

Rhys is a really high energy child and finds it hard at times to sit still and focus.  So his teacher will let him round around the yard a few times, or up and down the stairs, to get some of his energy out.

Once he’s done that he’s much more able to concentrate on his classwork.

If your child has a lot of energy then you can use this same idea away from school too.  If you’re going to go somewhere like a museum where you need your child to be a bit quieter and calmer, then give them a chance to run around and burn off some of their extra energy before you go in.


6. Be consistent

When you have a class of 30 children it’s so important to stay consistent with how and when things are done.

The school day follows the same pattern and rhythm pretty much every single day, so all the children know what to expect and what they need to be doing.

When you have this kind of structure and consistency children tend to be calmer, more productive and better behaved than if the day didn’t follow any kind of routine.

You can do the same thing at home by bringing in a gentle routine to your days.

If your child knows that maths homework always gets done on the same night after school there’ll be less battles and less drama over it.  In theory anyway.


7. Learn to adapt to each child

We’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing teachers teaching our children so far.

What I’ve noticed is that they take the time to get to know all the children in their class.  And wherever possibly they adapt their teaching style and approach to the different children.  They work to adapt to the way the children learn, rather than expecting the children to adapt to the way they teach.

If you have more than one child at home then this is definitely something to keep in mind.

My children are so different in lots of ways, and so we have to adapting our parenting style at times to find what works best for each of them.

You might find that your oldest child responds best to a really structured routine, knowing exactly what is happening when, while your youngest is happier in a more relaxed set up where you can go with the flow a bit more.


8. Whisper, don’t shout

A lot of teachers take this approach to dealing with a class that’s getting too loud.

Instead of shouting over the noise, they talk really quietly.  This way the children have to quiet down to hear what they’re saying.

This could be well worth a try at home.


9. Try using non-verbal cues

If the whispering trick doesn’t work to get your children’s attention then try this other classic classroom trick.

Remember in Kindergarten cop when the head switches the classroom lights on and off to get the children to stop running riot?  This is something that teachers do quite often.  It’s an easy way to get attention without having to use your voice.

You can try it at home with your children too.

I know that in our house switching the TV off is a very effective way of getting the children’s attention!



Do you do any of these things with your children at home already?

Are there any other tricks that teachers use that would work really well at home too?

Please do leave me a comment and let me know!

When can my child walk to school alone

What age can my child walk to school alone?

Walking to school is great because it allows children to get some fresh air and exercise. However, it’s not always appropriate for your child to walk to school without an adult.

Of course, this depends on your child’s age, maturity and the general safety of the route. Your child needs to understand stranger danger and the rules of the road so that they don’t get into any type of trouble.

So what age can we let our kids walk to school alone? Here’s some more information from an independent school in Hertfordshire.


When it comes to teaching your kids about road safety, the younger they are the better.

The sooner they start to learn, the more independent and confident they will feel when it does come time to walk to school alone. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut legal age when it comes to this sort of thing; it’s up to you as a parent to decide if you think your child is ready, as you know them better than anyone.


If you have a youngster who pays close attention to their surroundings, is cautious and responsible, then they are probably ready to walk to school alone.

On the other hand, if your child is easily distracted and tends to act a bit silly, then it’s probably not appropriate for them to navigate the streets alone.


Of course, there are other factors to consider.

For example, is the road quiet or is it filled with fast cars during rush hour? Are there other parents and children walking the same route that could keep an eye on your child for you? Are there any dark, dangerous alleyways along the route or is it all out in the open?

Ask yourself these questions and if you feel uncomfortable with any aspect of the route, then don’t allow your child to walk it alone.


There are so many benefits to walking to school, so it’s a great habit to get into with your children when they’re young.

Walking with them from an early age is a great way to teach them about road safety, as well as letting them get really familiar with the route.  And as they get older you can watch them closely and start to judge for yourself when you think they’re ready to try it without you.


This is definitely one of those situations though where there’s no hard and fast rule.  You really need to make the decision based on your child and your situation.


Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post

How to get through the why phase

How to get through the ‘why’ phase without losing your mind

Parenting, especially in the early years, seems to come in phases.

The newborn phase, the multiple teething phases, the sleepless nights phase.  Knowing that these things are just phases, and they’ll end soon enough, is what has got me through the toughest ones.

And there is one phase in particular that can drive you to the edge of insanity.

The ‘why’ phase.


If you’ve been through it, or are stuck in the middle of it right now, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That phase when almost every thing you say to your child is met with that one little word.  Why.

It normally comes when children are around 2 or 3 years old and it. is. exhausting.


There is a little trick you can try though, that just might save your sanity.


All you have to do is turn the question back round to them.

Next time they ask you ‘why’ about something, instead of trying to explain the answer to them (or make up an answer depending on how random the question is), try this.

Respond to the question with, “hmm, I’m not sure, why do you think?”


More often than not they’ll come up with their own answer to the question.

Then you just need to nod along, maybe add something like “that sounds about right to me” and then you can all move on with your day!

So simple and so effective when you just can’t come up with another answer to another why.


One more thing that can help when you’re stuck in this phase is to understand what is really happening.

Quite often when our children ask ‘why’ they’re not looking for the type of answer we want to give.  They’re looking for engagement and general information about the subject they’re asking ‘why’ about.

So if your child asks why they need to put their shoes on, they don’t just want the answer ‘because we’re going out’.  Giving them that answer will generally just result in them asking ‘why’ again.

What they want is to engage with you.  To understand the world.  It’s really obvious to us that we put shoes on to go out, but a two year old who is still learning about the world may well still question it.

So when you have the chance, and the patience, try answering some ‘why’ questions with broad information about the subject.  Talk to your child about why people started wearing shoes.  Tell them about the different types of footwear we have, and the reasons we wear wellies in the rain and flip flops on the beach.


This phase can be absolutely exhausting, but if you can see it as your child wanting to learn about the world and make sense of things that possibly make no sense at all to them at the moment, then it can be a bit easier to get through.

And keep in mind that this is just a phase.

This too shall pass.

And in the meantime, remember you can always turn the question round on them if you need a break from the bombardment of whys.


This post is linked up to KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.