You will always be your child’s favourite toy

You will always be your child’s favourite toy

Your children adore you!

Even though they prance around acting like the master, you the parent are in fact the god. When they are small they just want to play with you endlessly.

As they grow older their interests change and how they play changes, but they still want your attention and time. Who they are and their sense of who they are is reflected back at them through you and how you engage and spend time with them.

Make the time, Play with them.

You will always be their favourite toy!

Let’s Talk About It

Share your experience, tell us how your relationship with your kids have grown as they grow up? 

Why is there so much more anxiety today then in times past?

Why is there so much more anxiety today then in times past?

This is a common question I hear. This can be answered a number of ways however from my perspective there are certain things that we are aware of that increase levels of anxiety.

First of all it is important to point out that anxiety in small quantities is good for us as it propels us to move and act. However high levels of anxiety can be crippling as they can stop us from acting. Prolonged anxiety can have a detrimental effect on our thought patterns but also on our physical health due to suppression of the immune system when our fight or flight response is on all the time.

Let’s look at what types of things cause anxiety.

  • Anxiety is a learned behaviour, if parents are anxious then children see this as a template for their own behaviour.
  • For those of us who are in a situation where we are in physical danger or in danger of neglect, anxiety can become a way of life. Unpredictable situations make people anxious because they cannot be sure of what is going to happen.
  • Having a high level of choice is anxiety provoking-once we choose what we want, we are often in a state of anxiety regarding the things that we didn’t choose.
  • The increased availability of news and information, mostly negative that is constantly being fed to us through the news and social media channels create a sense that the world is a very dangerous place. The feeling of safety is the number one human need and we are constantly evaluating its status.
  • Contemporary science has indicated the direct connection between the gut and the brain via the vagus nerve. This means that many of the (processed) foods that we eat do not complement our biological make up and lead to a range of stomach and constipation issues. This level of discomfort and the toxins produced from the foods in our stomachs is communicated to the brain via the vagus nerve and can lead to high levels of anxiety.

Let’s Talk About It

What causes anxiety in your home and then your children?

Parenting is a long game

Parenting is a long game

Parenting children and getting them to comply with your requests is playing a long game. It can be thought of as running a marathon, not a sprint. If you could imagine a friend daring you to “Do/say the same thing over and over, sometimes 10 times a day (or more) for months on end, while keeping an even tone” -That’s parenting! When you play a long game, the result you desire is a long way off, but is very much there.

 Be patient, be consistent and one day, much to your surprise, they are doing as you hope…..seemlessly! Reflect with your partner or friend about what your child used not to do but now does, or something they didn’t do and now they do it. Give yourself a clap on the back, that was because of your endless repetition of the same message.

 Wouldn’t it be lovely if humans were intrinsically motivated to do the things we want them to do? I hear lots of frustrations from parents such as “He should just clean his room because it’s good to have a clean room” or “She should eat her dinner because it’s healthy and she should not need a treat to get her to eat it”. So why are they not just motivated to do as we ask. There are a couple of reasons

We raise our children in a continuously evolving reward based system that we create and then get annoyed with

We know that the way to help children learn what we value and what we want them to repeat is by showing them which behaviours we value it and then they repeat the behaviour so they will get the reward again. This starts with verbally praising their regular achievements when they are teeny tiny babies.We have to praise them because they need feedback to know what they are doing right. Without feedback (in the form of praise or object) they can feel lost about what is the right thing to do and this can lead to self esteem* issues. As they continue to grow, a mix of verbal praise and objects are used to motivate and complete tasks.

However as they grow and their brain evolves and becomes more sophisticated (which we want)-they see all the cool stuff around them (sweets, treats, TV, screens and simultaneously there are more reasons to get distracted from the task at hand. We then begin to give them something other than verbal praise(see the table below for some of them) to get them to do the thing we want them to do.

In our children’s world as they grow and develop Evolving type of reward
Task Reward
Roll over                                          Clap and cheer
Finish their bottle Say “well done”
Wave goodbye Say “well done”
Wait for parent to finish household task Do a jigsaw together
Getting dressed in the morning Watch youtube before school
Eat you dinner Get a treat
Learn to share Say “well done
Learn to share (for kids who find it really tough to do) Use a reward chart for each time they complete the behaviour leading up to an ultimate reward of choice of a move, trip to Smyth** etc.
Do the chores Get €5
Do  well in tests Teacher gives a prize
Play well in the (sport) game Best player prize
Study diligently Get good marks in exams
Study every evening Allowed out to meet their friends
We model for them that we like and value the reward system by doing things like

What is really interesting about this system is that, as adults, we think we are not subject to it when in fact, we are slaves to the same system. We feel hard done by if we have put in lots of work with little reward (like parenting can feel), if our endless parenting is not acknowledged by our partner, if our toil at work is not noticed by our employer. We need the praise and reward just as much as the kids do, meaning we are modelling that we need and value the system.

In the adults world




Go to work

Get paid

Work hard all week

Get a take out on Friday night

Save my money

Buy myself something I want

Consistent, patient  parenting

Children do as you ask J

Meet your targets

Get a bonus

Make money

Own a nice house/car

Handled a situation well with a child

Adult partner says ”you handled that well”

Handled a situation well at work

Employer acknowledges what you did

When our kids are babies, they can’t physically or mentally understand why any given task needs to be done-and so we do it for them. As a consequence, they instantly know how it feels to have others do things for them to have their needs met. This continues for the at least the first 3 years of their life so when parents begin to give the independence of doing the task themselves, back  over to the child they are like ”Hey, I’m not doing that, you do”. And so the battle begins.

Humans just respond to their environment, so if we start off praising them and them giving them objects(including screen time) then the human mind learns to understand that how system works.

 My experience is that there are a limited number of behaviours which humans are intrinsically motivated to engage in, everything else is part of a long game.

*Self esteem is like a windscreen, small cracks make it week and more likely to shatter.

** Extreme caution should be used when using anything that costs money as a motivator. You don’t know how long you have to use rewards with your child so using rewards that are money based (a trip to Smyth without a specific amount of money to be spent) can be expensive and difficult to maintain so they often don’t work in the long term. Also if you have other children, it can be seen as unfair.

Let’s Talk About It

What do you find yourself repeating to your children more than 10 times a day?

Oakie’s Wise Words

Oakie’s Wise Words

This is a story to support children in identifying and navigating the emotions that coincide with hearing their parents arguing. It aims to inform children that they have a voice and can communicate it. It was inspired by typical arguments that arise in my own and others home and the story has facilitated my son to comment when he hears arguing, creating awareness for the adults of the impact of their behaviour on their young children.

There was a great land not far from here that was ruled by a great dinosaur Queen and King. They took great care of all the kingdom and were loved and respected by all those who lived there. The King and Queen had a little doggie called Biscuit, and Biscuit stayed close by the Queen and King day and night. Biscuit liked to play in the garden and when he was there, he could hear the Queen and King laughing and talking and he could see them cuddling and helping one another. The Queen and King were great friends

One lovely sunny day, the Queen, the king and Biscuit went walking together in the forest, when suddenly the King and Queen began roaring at one another. The king had an angry roar and the Queen had an annoyed roar. Biscuit felt scared-he didn’t like the loud roaring but he stayed quiet and made himself really small. The three of them continued walking and soon the roaring turned to silence. Everything in the forest was really really quiet and that didn’t feel right either.

The Queen and King were usually great friends but now they were not friends at all. Biscuit didn’t know what to do. They had brought a picnic and so they all stopped walking and began setting up the picnic. The queen wouldn’t look at anyone and the king stomped around with his big feet. Biscuit went off for a little sniff by himself. Biscuit knew this part of the forest well and he ran to where his friend Oakie, a huge old oak tree stood and he lay down beside her. Oakie said “Hello little Biscuit, you look worried, are you ok?” Biscuit said “The King and Queen are roaring at one another and I don’t like it.” ”Oh, they are having an argument” Oakie said. Biscuit nodded his head to say yes and told Oakie that when they fight, everything goes really loud for a while and afterwards it’s really really quiet for a longer time. Oakie listened carefully as Biscuit talked about his beloved Queen and King not getting along and then when Biscuit was finished, Oakie told him “I’m very proud of you for using your words to talk about what is giving you big feelings of worry and sadness” Oakie continued “When you use your words to talk about these big feelings, it can help you feel better.” Biscuit thought about what Oakie said and Biscuit announced “I do feel better”. Biscuit then heard the Queen calling “Let’s go Biscuit”. Oakie wrapped his branches around Biscuit and they shared a lovely hug and then Biscuit ran off to join the Queen and King. They were laughing and talking like good friends.

A few weeks later , Biscuit was playing in the garden again when he heard the Queen and King roaring at one another. He felt scared but this time he decided he wasn’t going to stay quiet. He walked straight up to the Queen and King and shouted as loud as he could “STOP”. The Queen and King stopped immediately and they looked at one another in surprise. They said to one another “Let’s sort this out by remembering we are friends and we can talk about our problem to find a solution.” Biscuit felt strong for using his words.
Biscuit, the Queen and the King now understood that words are very powerful and that talking calmly can help people be friends and feel better. Later they all went to have some ice-cream together and talked and laughed and had lots of fun.

How to access this resource:
Let’s Talk About It

Let us know how your children responded to Oakie’s wise words.