How to get those annoying kids TV songs out of your head

I learnt a new word today.  I might be the only person who didn’t know this, but there’s a word for those bloody irritating songs that get stuck in your head – earworms!  How brilliant is that?!

Earworms affect all of us at some point, I mean, who hasn’t had a catchy pop song stuck in their head?  Or worse, the song from the Hive advert.  You know the one, where the guy singing it just sounds a little too pleased with himself?

These are all annoying enough.  And then you become a parent.  And you start having kids TV on during the day.  And then you find yourself lying in bed with the perfect slumber party song from Sofia the first going round and round in your head.  Or the ‘make some noise‘ song.  Or ‘roll up the map‘ from Jake and the Neverland pirates.

Yeah, we watch a lot of Disney junior in our house!  For the Cbeebies families out there, how about the theme tune from ‘Something special’?  Or, oh God, the spring time song!

You hate me a little bit now don’t you, for putting those songs in your head?  Well I’m about to make it all better – apparently there’s a way to get them out again!


According to a study carried out at the University of Reading, getting rid of earworms is as easy as chewing gum!

Dr Philip Beaman from the University explains that the brain’s tendency to play catchy tunes on repeat might be ‘a form of involuntary musical memory’.  The key word here is ‘involuntary’, which is why you can’t just will away a song when it’s stuck in your head.  What you can do though is interfere with the playing of these musical recollections.

Previous studies have shown that repeating a random word over and over again in your head can degrade your short-term memory; doing this while looking at list of words has been found to make most people forget 1/3 to 1/2 of the words on the list!

The study at the University of Reading suggests that chewing gum has a similar effect.  It disrupts the musical memory enough to get that damn song out of your head.

Well, it has to be worth a try right?!

Modern Dad Pages

Muddy hands and scrammed knees

I put together a blog post earlier this week made up of three of my favourite quotes about play.  I had several comments from people saying how much they like the quotes and how true it is that play is serious business for our children, it’s the way they learn about the world.

One of the comments really stuck with me though.  The writer said that they felt that the traditional, simply play of childhood seems to be disappearing in this modern world.  That our children these days just want to play on electronic devices and aren’t interesting in old-fashioned play any more.

My eldest is only 4, so I don’t have any first hand experience of older children.  It may well be the case that they are more interested in computer games than any other kind of activity.  And certainly my son does like to play on my phone and ipad.  The thing is, I really do think that they have a place in our children’s lives these days.  They’ve been born into a very ‘electronic’ world.  They will need the skills they learn using these devices as they get older.  I also know that Rhys has learnt a lot from watching certain programs on the TV and by playing with various apps on my phone.

But, BUT, he also spends a lot of time engaged in ‘old-fashioned’ play.  The writer of the comment mentioned that we need to try and remind our children how good simply play can be, and I really do agree.  We’ve spent the last two afternoons at the park where Rhys has run around with his friends, learning about co operation, sharing and taking turns, using his imagination playing house in the bushes, testing his body by climbing and jumping.  And I’ve been very conscious of finding a balance between hovering and making sure he’s safe, and standing back and letting him get on with it.

See, there’s been a lot of talk recently about our children’s safety.  This video of a man leading children away from a playground recently popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.  It seemed to prove that our children aren’t safe out in public; that even if we’ve taught them not to talk to strangers they are still likely to go off with them given half a chance.  And if you just quickly watch the video you’ll most likely be terrified and want to keep your children by your side where you can keep them safe.  It’s scare stories like this that are all over the media that are causing parents to be so reluctant to let their children run around outside.  It’s much safer to just keep them in and let them play on the ipad!

Which is why I’m so glad I found this article on freerangekids.com, which argues against most of the points made in the video.  I highly recommend you go and read it.  It might help put your mind at rest a little bit.

There are always dangers to our children.  Lenore Skenazy from free range kids makes the great point that we could drive our children to school to keep them safe from predators, only to be hit by a truck instead.  The point being, we can’t guarantee our children’s safety 100% of the time.  There will always be freak accidents.  There will always be illness.  And yes, unfortunately, there will always be sick people out there with bad intentions towards our children.

But that is life.  We can’t hide ourselves and our children away.  There is so much more good in the world than bad.  I for one want my children to be bold and to explore all the wonderful things out there.

So I’m working on finding a balance.  My children will play on electronic devices; they can learn a lot from them and have fun.  But they will also draw and paint and make things with play doh.  They’ll explore our slightly out of control garden.  They’ll go to the park and test their boundaries and play in the bushes.  They’re still so young that I try my damn best to keep them in sight at all times, because in all honesty it does scare me what might happen if they’re out of sight.

But I don’t want to hover.  I don’t want their main memory to be me telling them to ‘be careful’.  I want them to remember me telling them to have fun instead!  That’s what childhood is about. muddy hands and scrammed knees and just having fun!

What are your thoughts on this?  Have you seen the video?!  How willing are you to let your kids out to play like we probably did when we were little?

Modern Dad Pages

To ad to


Encouraging pretend play

“For children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood” – Fred Rogers

It’s now well established that play is incredibly important to children and their development.  In fact, it’s so important that it’s been recognised as a human right for every child by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights.

I love watching my children play.

Waiting to see what toys they’ll make a beeline for at playgroup.  Seeing the different ways they decide to play with them.

Recently I’ve noticed Rhys getting much more creative in his play.  He’s had a play kitchen for a few years and has always liked ‘cooking’ with it, but his pretend play has definitely changed in the last few months.  He’ll play with a few soft toys now, coming up with scenarios for them and making all the different toys ‘talk’.

It’s fascinating to watch and I love seeing that creative, imaginative side of him!

Which makes me think about what I can do to encourage him to continue this pretend play and to introduce it to Nerys.


After doing some research I’ve come up with these three suggestions for how I can encourage my children to engage in pretend play, and the benefits of it for them:

Provide props, suggest several uses and encourage open-ended play

One of the big things we can do to encourage our children to engage in pretend play is to provide them with the necessary props.  This can be as elaborate as buying or making them a whole play kitchen, complete with toy food and pots and pans, or it can be as simple as gathering their soft toys and some sheets of paper so they can play ‘schools’!The main point here is to provide props so that the play is open ended.  Let the child make the decisions about how exactly they’ll use the items provided and what scenarios they want to act out.  Psychological studies have found that this type of play promotes creative problem solving skills.  One study in particular, by Wyver and Spence (1999) suggested that there is a causal connection between pretend play and a child’s ability to solve divergent problems (these are problems that have several possible outcomes, as opposed to a convergent problem which only has one correct answer).

Wyver and Spence (1999) found that children who were encouraged to participate in pretend play, and who were shown how to do so, then showed an increased ability to solve divergent problems.  Interestingly, they also found that children who were trained in solving divergent problems then showed increased rates of pretend play!

So perhaps if you have a child who really isn’t interested in pretend play you can encourage them to look at divergent problems with you and discuss possible solutions; this may in turn lead them to naturally show more of an interest in pretend play.  You might have an empty box, that another child would naturally grab and turn into a racing car.  

If your child doesn’t seem interested in using the box for pretend play you could try and spark their creativity by discussing with them all the different ways you could use the box and encourage them to come up with as many suggestions of their own as they can!

Introduce a play mate

At the moment Rhys seems to particularly like engaging in pretend play by himself.  I’m very conscious of the fact that I need to encourage him to play co operatively with other children.  I really need to set up some after-school play dates!

Playing with other children can be hugely beneficial.  Watching another child engaged in pretend play can give your child ideas of how to play himself.  By observing they can learn how a certain toy or prop could be used.

Engaging in pretend play with other children is also important for a child’s social skills and has the added benefit of increasing their ability to self-regulate (their impulses, emotions and attention).  A study by Lillard et al (2013) found that children who frequently engage in pretend play with other children have stronger self-regulation skills.  

Which does seem to be logical; after all, if you’re pretend playing with another child you both have to agree about what pretend things you’re doing and how you’re playing!  

The children have to learn to conform to a set of rules and the researchers suggest that practising conforming to rules like this could help children to develop better self-control and self-regulation over time.

Talk about the things you do as an adult and encourage them to copy you.

A lot of children will naturally want to copy what their parents are doing, grabbing a brush to help you clean up or making dinner in their play kitchen.

If you’re child doesn’t instinctively do these things you can encourage them by talking about the things you’re doing and then offering them tools to play alongside you.  So if you’re cooking dinner you could give your child a few bowls and spoons and dry pasta to mix up and transfer from bowl to bowl.

This kind of ‘real-life’ play has been found to help prepare children for actual real life challenges.  A study by Lancy in 2008 found that children all round the world engage in play activities that mimic the kinds of things they’ll be doing as adults.  The study also found that when older children or adults engage in the play with them and use that opportunity to teach them about the activities the children do take that information in, showing that children really do learn through play!

Do you think these tips are helpful?  Does your child naturally seem to enjoy pretend play?  I’d love to hear about the kinds of pretend play they enjoy!  

Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity_

My 3 favourite quotes about play

Sunday 17th May 2015 is national children’s day which is looking to spread the word about how important play is to children.  It’s not just about them having fun.  On the national children’s day website they explain that “Play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognised by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child (Article 31)”

So in celebration of the importance of play, I’ve put together this list of my 3 favourite ‘play’ quotes!

1) “Children need the freedom and time to play.  Play is not a luxury.  Play is a necessity”

Play quote


2) “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children play is serious learning.  Play is really the work of childhood”
quote about play


3) “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing”
quote about play
Do you have a favourite quote about play?  Do you like the three quotes I’ve found?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Cuddle Fairy
My favourite signs for toddlers and babies

My 5 favourite signs for babies

I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that Nerys has started to sign ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ which makes me really happy!  I was also really pleased the other day when she signed ‘wait’ to me when she wasn’t ready to get out of her buggy yet.

I love how she can communicate with us so much better now that she can sign a few things.  I think she’d be much more frustrated if she didn’t have that tool.

We watch ‘Something special’ on Cbeebies most days and she seems to really enjoy watching them all sign, and Rhys enjoys it too, especially now that he can copy the signs much more easily than when he first watched it as a baby.

For anyone who doesn’t know any baby sign language, here are my 5 favourite and, in my opinion, most useful signs to teach your baby:

My 5 favourite signs for babies and toddlers


1) Please/Thank you

This was the first sign that both Rhys and Nerys learnt.  Maybe because it’s the sign that Steve and I use the most when talking to them, I’m not sure.The sign is the same for both words which makes it really easy for them to learn.

Signing please and thank you
2) Eat
This one is really useful for helping babies explain what it is that they want!  Nerys uses it in the mornings to tell me that she’s ready to have some breakfast.
signing 'eat'
3) Drink
A good one to teach alongside ‘eat’, to help ease their frustration at not having the words to tell you if they’re hungry or thirsty!
Signing 'drink'
4) More
This is one I’m just starting to teach Nerys.  I ask her verbally if she wants more and she can answer me, so she understands the word, but I think it would be helpful for her to be able to just ask for more if she wants to!
Signing 'more'
5) Sleep
Sometimes babies are cranky and you’re not always sure why.
On some occasions it’s because they’re tired and could do with a little sleep – this sign could be really helpful for them to express this!
Signing 'sleep'

These are the signs that I think are most useful to start with, if you’re new to baby signing.  Although ‘milk’ is another good one, especially for younger babies!  We also sign ‘wait’ a fair bit, and I still find that one really useful to sign to Rhys if he’s a bit too far away to hear me or if I’m on the phone and want to tell him to wait without interrupting the conversation!

I’d love to know what you think about this – do you sign to your babies/young children?  What signs do you find most useful?


The importance of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’

Over the last week or two Nerys has started to sign ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  This makes me stupidly happy.  Like, a bit more happy than I feel it really should?!

A big part of this happiness comes from the simple pleasure of watching her grow and learn and start to really communicate with us.  But another huge part of it is that it really is important to me that my children are polite and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.


I’ve written a few posts recently about focusing on the good things in our lives and how feeling and expressing gratitude is good for our mental and physical health.  I do want my kids to be grateful for things partly for that reason, I think they’ll be happier people if they appreciate everything they have and things other people do for them.

Interestingly though, a study carried out in 2010 by Grant and Gino (published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) found that saying thank you also has a positive effect on the person being thanked.  When we say ‘thank you’ to people it can strengthen our relationship with them, let them know that we value what they’ve done for us and, apparently, can also make them more likely to help us again in the future.

In the study a group of participants were asked to give feedback on a cover letter for a job application for a made-up student.  When the student then asked for more feedback a day or two later, 66% of the participants agreed when he wrote a ‘thankful’ email, compared to just 32% of participants who agreed when he wrote the request in a ‘neutral’ tone.  That’s quite a dramatic increase; seeming to prove that we are in fact much more likely to help people again in the future if they express their gratitude for the things we do for them.

The researchers looked into this further and found that the reason we’re more likely to help those who thank us again is that the ‘thank you’ makes us feel that our help was appreciated, that we’re needed and that it makes us feel more socially valued.  It seems that hearing the words ‘thank you’ helps us feel reassured that our help is valued, which in turn motivates us to provide more help in the future.

So, teaching Rhys and Nerys to say ‘thank you’ will have positive effects on them and those that they’re interacting with!

Besides, it’s just the right thing to do isn’t it?!  If someone does something for you, or gives you something, it’s just polite to acknowledge it with a thank you.  And it does seem to brighten the postman’s day when he hands Rhys our post and gets a very enthusiastic ‘thank you’ back!

Do you agree?  Do you think it’s important to teach your children to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at an early age?  I’d love to know what other people think!

Things my daughter has just realised she can do

Things Nerys has just discovered she can do

Nerys seems to have experienced a bit of a developmental leap.

All of a sudden she’s found a real confidence on her feet and is communicating more and more.  And, I have to admit, she’s caught me by surprise a little bit!


Here are some of the things she’s suddenly discovered she can do:

  • Run.  She’s been walking for about 3 months and has suddenly discovered that she can also run.  Normally away from me, laughing maniacally.


  • Climb the stairs in 3 seconds flat.  Seriously, when did she get so fast?!


  • Open things.  The kitchen drawers, the dishwasher, it’s all fair game now.  I’m spending a lot of my time saying ‘no’ and moving her away from things.


  • Get what she wants by signing ‘please’. Well, she thinks that if she points at what she wants and signs ‘please’ then she can have it.  It works when she wants her brother’s hat.  Doesn’t work when she wants the sharp pair of scissors on the table!


It is so much fun watching her develop, the look of glee on her face when she realises she can do something is just brilliant!  Have your little ones started doing anything new recently?