October 04th, 2015

The Value of Dads

There is the risk, especially with babies, that women can take over parenting and assume (or have thrust upon them) an ‘expert’ role which Dads can go along with play visual games and are verbal with babies and young children while dads are more physical and tactile. There’s much that is good about both styles and children benefit from both. Rough and tumble play by dads predicts better self control abilities in their children. (Source: Gottman institute) 

Encourage independence and risk taking

Dads encourage kids to climb higher, go to the store on their own, go down the highest slides etc while mums may have to stifle the urge to keep their babies safe. Encouraging self-reliance and reasonable risk taking in children encourages them to discover what they are capable of and to grow in confidence. If children become fearful they will not grow and will not acquire essential life skills and coping strategies for dealing with the world. 

Allow kids to experience uncomfortable feelings

When dads recognise their children’s struggles and allow them to experience some frustration and learning through failure they are helping children grow through experience. When we protect our children from their feelings of discomfort or frustration we can prevent valuable learning in the same way as if we prevent them from making discoveries physically. Although we shouldn’t shield our children from uncomfortable feelings we can help them identify them and manage them by acknowledging what’s going on. Eg I can see you’re feeling frustrated with those wretched shoe laces –but I like the way you’re persevering. You don’t give up easily do you?

in some relief. But this is to miss out on a great resource and ‘expertise’ that men bring to parenting. Men have a unique style to their parenting that women tend not to have and children who don’t experience this are missing out. 

Some dad facts:

  • Dads are more involved with children than ever before –in childcare and in housework, spending about the same amount of time at weekends as mothers on reading, playing and talking with their children. (source: the Fatherhood Institute)
  • Many studies have shown that when a dad is involved in his children’s lives they have better educational, developmental, health and social outcomes
  • If dad is emotionally involved as an emotion coach and play partner the following outcomes for the child can be predicted: (the Gottman institute)
    • Better self-control abilities
    • Acceptance by peers at school
    • Better social competence and emotional intelligence
    • Higher verbal ability test scores
    • Better academic performance
    • Increased empathy
    • Better social relationships as adults
    • Higher self-esteem 

Where fathers are not present in their children’s lives the kids really benefit from being involved with ‘uncle’ figures. 

What are the differences in style? 

When considering the question what do mums and dads contribute to the role of parent ask yourself what would each do/say when watching a little boy climb up a climbing frame or tree? 

Dads typically say “go on, you can do it. Well done, reach for it.”

Whereas Mums might say “Be careful, watch where you put your feet, take your time.”

Fathers tend to foster independence and encourage adventure. Mothers are generally caretakers and teachers and are often more cautious. 

This is what the kids think: 

Mummies are smaller and Daddies are bigger.

Dads normally go out to work and you come out of mummy’s tummy.

Dads have fun and mums don’t.

Mums listen and Dads don’t…it’s the same for all my mates.

(Source: Netmums March 09) 

While we don’t want to minimise the importance of the nurturing, the encouraging and the listening that mums are traditionally good at let’s celebrate what dads do well: 


To begin with Dads do play with kids, while Mums sometimes don’t give it as much priority as they do to the laundry, the cooking, the chauffeuring and the supervising of homework and music practice etc. When Roald Dahl died his children wrote about their memories of him and predictably they valued the story telling and creating he encouraged in them. My guess is when we die our children will remember the play times and the conversations with us rather than the fact that we always ensured they had clean and matching socks. 

Dads tend to be more physical than mums in the way they play. Mums generally 

Don’t judge or compare self with other parents

Dads are less prone to perfectionism than women in the parenting field and less apt to compare and judge their own or others’ parenting efforts. A great combination in a dad is that willingness to trust his instincts with an openness to new ideas. 

Being a good role model

Dads are needed as good role models for their sons, especially in areas like school work, responsibility, handling physicality and aggression, how to treat women, how to handle and express emotions and seeking support when they need it. Men can show their boys how to be determined without taking competition to harmful levels. Dads are also important models for their daughters as they show them how to relate to the opposite sex. How a father treats his daughter sets up expectations for what she’ll look for in adult relationships with men. Involvement in his daughter’s life profoundly affects her self-esteem. 

If you want to hone your fathering skills why not come to our workshop How to be an even better dad on 14th October 2015 at 7.30pm? Click here for more details and to book.  http://www.theparentpractice.com/courses-and-workshops

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September 25th, 2014

Reading Pleasure not Reading Pain 5 Steps to make it happen.

Guest Blog by Clio Whittaker of Ampersand Learning and presenter of the 'Easy to Read' Workshop


 I find it hard to imagine what my life would be like if I couldn’t read English easily. The nearest I can get is when I try to read in French, a language I speak reasonably competently.

Reading a whole book in French is really hard and slow work for me. I rarely attempt to do so and - guess what – I’m not getting any better at it! We all know that being able to read fluently is the key to children’s success at school, and a love of reading provides a lifelong source of information and pleasure.

Helping our children so that they WANT to practise this important and difficult skill and develop a real passion for and fluency in reading, is one of the best things we can do for them as parents.

And it’s good for us too! Sharing a book should be something that we both look forward to, a special and enjoyable time when we can focus on one another and share a good experience.

Unfortunately, too often and for too many children and too many parents, reading becomes a painful chore, associated with tension and unhappiness. So what can be done?

Here are five things that help to make reading a pleasure not a pain:

1. Read often and not for too long
Reading is a skill and, like any skill, you need to practise in order to become good at doing it. If you read with your child often, both of you will become better at reading and enjoy it more. Ten minutes every day is much better than an hour once a week.

2. Talk about what you read
When children hear you talking about what they read, they see that reading is an important part of everyday life for adults. If you don’t often read books yourself, talk about what you read in newspapers, magazines or online. If reading English is difficult for you, start by talking about the pictures either in English or in the language you usually use with your child. Find another person who would enjoy reading regularly with your child – it’s a great way for a friend, sibling or grandparent to build their relationship.

3. Read things that interest your child
No one looks forward to doing something they are not interested in. Read what your child wants to read, rather than what you think they ought to read. There are so many fantastic books for children nowadays, there is bound to be something out there that appeals to your child. If you don’t know how find those books, ask a teacher or librarian for ideas and help. The Booktrust charity is a great source of information about children’s books and their authors and illustrators.

4. Create opportunities to read
Get books, newspapers and magazines into your home so that opportunities to read are always there. Join the local library. Give your child books as presents. Tell the school that you would like to read more books and ask to borrow from their library.


5. Make reading as easy as you can for your child
Read a book aloud first so your child knows the story before they try to read the words on their own. Children often don’t need you to tell them when they get a word wrong, because they soon realise it doesn’t make sense. Give them the chance to correct their mistakes. Praise them for trying and don’t leave them to struggle too long over words that are too difficult.

To understand more about what is involved in learning to read, and learn techniques and ways to make a real difference, come along to the ‘Easy to Read’ workshop on Thursday 2nd October! Click HERE for details (click on the workshop tab). Click HERE to Book

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October 31st, 2010

Are you thinking of buying a Nintendo DS for kids this christmas?


Nintendo DS

By Ann Magalhaes

By last Autumn almost (or so it seemed!) all the children in my daughter’s class had their own Nintendo DS game.  I had managed to get through the term without buying one, but by the time the holidays started, she was asking for one.  At the same time, at school, she was really struggling with Maths and was really starting to lose her confidence.

The Head Teacher at her school awards a special sticker for good work and extra effort, and my daughter was convinced that she would never receive one for her Maths work.  One day, we had a lovely conversation about belief, and if she didn’t believe she could receive one of these stickers, then she probably wouldn’t.  Then we talked about what would happen if she did believeshe could earn one.  We talked about how believing something wasn’t going to be enough to make it happen.  She knew that belief would need to be combined with some extra work if she were to stand a chance of earning the sticker.  Now, before you think that I’m a pushy Mom, I have to say that I’m not!  My daughter really wanted to earn the sticker, and I decided that as it was Christmas, I would present the extra incentive and get her to earn the DS!

Over the Christmas holidays, she worked every day on Maths – never more than 20 minutes a day – and I could see her ability increasing with each question she worked through.  Sometimes she played math games on the computer, sometimes we made up times tables games using marbles, and we made up fun shopping games to learn more about money.  She knew that if she received the sticker, she would earn the DS.  This was motivating for her! 

The second day back at school, I was waiting for her at the school gates.  A little boy in her class bounded down the stairs and shouted, “S gets a DS now!”  And then, I saw my daughter bounding down the same steps with such a proud smile with a gleaming golden sticker stuck onto her cardigan!!  She had done it!! 

Now it was my turn to fulfill my end of the deal and buy the DS! It arrived in the post by the end of the week, and together we sat down to establish some ground rules for playing with it.  I’m not a huge proponent of excess screen time, so I wanted to make sure she had a clear set of rules, that would be created by her.  We did this by having a conversation about how and when she would use the DS.  She wrote a list of 10 rules, that I then posted in the living room for her to refer to if need be.  Her rules included things like “I will only play with my Nintendo after homework; I will …

We were able to sit down and have a great conversation that left her knowing what was expected of her.  Her list wasn’t a list of DON’Ts.  Her list gave her the knowledge of what she was supposed to do in order to keep playing with her DSi.  The amazing thing is that in the more than one year since buying the DSi, I have never (I’m serious!) NEVER had to take away her DS privileges.  The rules tell her what to do!  The rules are the ‘tough guy’!  She can’t get upset with me because she made up the rules, and she is very aware that the reward for following them is DS time, and the consequence for not following them … you guessed it … missing out on DS time!

A year on, the DS doesn’t come out of the case very often now.  The newest gadget in our home is the iPad … and for kids (of all ages!) … it IS incredible.  We read the latest National Geographic magazines, watch movies, create art, email said art to Grandparents, play maths and spelling games.  I love it just as much as she does. 

I have been most blown away, though, by my daughter’s ability to transfer the rules that she established for the DS onto the iPad.  We never even had a conversation about it.  She just knows that she can’t use it until homework is finished, and that she can use it for 20 minutes during the week, and for as long as she likes on those long airplane rides! 

Clear, positive rules with related rewards and consequences work, and my new discovery was that they are very easily transferrable! Great rules are NOT designed to tell your children what NOT to do.  Rather, they are about empowering your children so THEY KNOW WHAT TO DO, so that ultimately they develop effective habits.  

Want to learn more? Come to our latest wokshop on Children’s use of TV;electronic games and internet:keeping them safe and healthy

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August 27th, 2010

Have you ever considered doing a Positive Parenting course?

“Why on earth are you doing a parenting course? Your children are ok. You don’t have any major difficulties, do you?”

Sound familiar?…….this is indeed a very typical response that many of our clients report back to us when they tell family and friends they have signed up for a 10 week parenting course.

Positive parenting means using warmth, love, respect, consistency, good communication and empathy in the way you behave with your child.  Often our natural reaction isn’t thought through, we are caught unprepared and have a short fuse, shout, blame, criticise and punish.

 Skills such as reflective listening and descriptive praise can be taught and learned. These can change your view of parenting and help you understand why children behave as they do at each stage – helping you to remain calm and in control, and react in positive and constructive ways.  Using the skills and strategies helps to motivate your children to behave positively – a win win situation for both parent and child.

Why not give it a go…a 10 week course is a small price to pay for a lifetime of skills and who doesn’t want to get it right for their kids and do the best job they can possible do?

Read a client’s article about her experiences on the course


Courses start w/c 13th Sept – book here http://www.theparentpractice.com/book-a-course-now.html

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July 24th, 2010

Toxic Childhood - are your children affected?

Anyone read Sue Palmer’s book “Toxic Childhood” and started panicking that all the modern technology is having a hugely harmful effect on our children, not to mention ourselves?  I have only just started tweeting; blogging and facebooking and find myself fascinated about this social networking world and realise perhaps how easy it is to become addicted! As adults we hope we are able to exercise some form of self control, but how easy is that for our kids?

Is it little wonder therefore that Sue writes about  how the modern world is affecting how our children are growing up? 

A general deterioration in children’s learning and behaviour is being reported throughout the world, and Sue Palmer, a leading authority on literacy, looks through all the different reasons for this and shows how they are connected, rather than focussing on or blaming any one particular issue. She suggests there is a fundamental clash between “our technology driven culture and our biological heritage” because children still develop and mature at “human speed” whereas the world around them moves at “electric speed”.

What does this mean for us as parents? It means we need to be really clear about our values and the importance of good nutrition, adequate sleep, plenty of opportunities to play, quality childcare and ensuring good forms of communication. We need a good toolkit of skills to achieve all this!

Can you detoxify your life? Look out for The Parent Practice course on Children’s use of TV, internet and electronic games  – Keeping Children Safe and Healthy – click here for more details.

Toxic Childhood

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