Managing a busy family is difficult, and whilst trying to maintain the weekly routine, it’s easy to get stuck in a social rut. However, have you ever considered what impact a social rut can have on your kids? After all, if diversity and interaction enrich a child’s development, shouldn’t you encourage them to branch out and meet new people? Absolutely, but only if you want your kid to be a tolerant, open-minded individual who is outgoing and kind.
Forming new friendship circles is key to maturity, but with the home/school axis, it can be tricky for children to find new opportunities and in turn, new chums. This is only worsened by the self-esteem and social dogma of adolescence, a crucial period in any child’s life. Herein, we look at 4 interesting ways to solve that problem.
1. Hobbies and horsing around
Perhaps your sprogs love paper aeroplanes or dancing or horse riding. Whatever their hobby, there’s sure to be a local activity centre that caters to their passions. Whilst it might be difficult to negotiate the drop off/pick up conundrum, after school classes and groups really do enrich a child’s social life. Plus, you’ll be instilling the importance of hard work and commitment from an early age.
However, the key element to this is that you should never force a child to do something they don’t want to do. Unless they actively ask to join the Brownies or to take up ballet lessons, it’s probably wise to wait for a while. Sure, some casual encouragement is always a good thing, but by not giving your child a choice, you are instantly removing the fun part of the activity and setting them up to fail.
Given the space to decide their own interests, you’ll be surprised by the choices they make and, in turn, the new friends they make.
2. Sporting shenanigans
Team sports bring kids together and introduce a little healthy competitiveness – and physical activity, which is always a bonus. With a diverse range of abilities and personalities in any one team, your kids will need to learn how to adapt their skill set to suit the needs of their peers.
Whatever the sport; football, tennis, track, gymnastics, children have to cast aside their assumptions of each other and work together towards a common goal. The sense of shared achievement during times of success and, in equal measure, the unity in times of adversity can forge great, and sometimes lasting, friendships.
3. Kids Summer Camps
Summer camps help your child with confidence, independence and the daunting prospect of meeting new people. They’ll be thrown together with kids from all over the country and will be expected to share dorms, meals and everything in between – it’s a sink or swim situation. Whilst this might sound a bit heartless, staying with strangers away from home is an important exercise in growing up. Of course, this learning process and shared experience will help your children to build firm bonds with each other. Plus, they’ll have fun, guaranteed.
Sure, the prospect of a summer camp might seem like hell on earth to a shy child, but they’ll soon forget their inhibitions when they see the awesome itinerary.
4. Organise playdates yourself
If you want to expand your child’s social circle, chances are that other parents do too. Get on Facebook and set up an open group that allows you to organise playdates. This works in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s a brilliant way to communicate with other parents in the local area. Secondly, you can swap childcare responsibilities on an IOU basis (again, that might sound a little nonchalant, but we all know how important it is to get out once in awhile and leave the baby talk at home). Lastly, and most importantly, you’re giving your children another opportunity to interact with kids in their area. Social interaction leads to social affability and a generally happier child. Good luck!
This guest post is brought to you by Sony.
The winter months aren’t over yet and that means colder days and longer nights. With the sunshine disappearing early and weather conditions subject to change in a matter of moments, it pays to utilise technology to keep our little ones safe.
It’s an old-fashioned tool but a good quality torch is invaluable. Nowadays you don’t have to rely on a standalone device though – you can have a torch app installed on your smartphone instead. For teenagers walking through a dark car park or coming home from the park, a good quality torch app is invaluable.
Learn self defence
It’s not uncommon to feel anxious about letting young children or teenagers out at night and self defence is something many parents encourage. A self defence tutorial on your tablet or smartphone is a great way to learn the fundamentals of how to cope in dangerous situations and is a great safety tool for kids.
Winter is the perfect time to utilise a GPS monitor that links your child’s phone to your own. If you’re concerned that their journey from home to school is taking too long, you can look on the map and pinpoint their location; providing much needed peace of mind.
Other GPS based apps have recently been developed to allow users to notify friends or relatives if they’re in trouble, providing accurate information on where they are and what has happened. One such app was unveiled at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Another fundamental app is a weather predictor. If inclement weather is expected to cause disruption then having a weather app on-hand keeps you up to date and prepared. BBC weather is one of the most reliable choices but there are several on the market to suit your needs.
First aid knowledge is an invaluable skill to pass onto your children. During the colder months, teaching kids to recognise hypothermia or learn how to bandage a sprained ankle can make all of the difference in a difficult situation. It’s also a great activity you can learn together.
I’m finding myself at somewhat of a crossroads with Hux. He’s a very sucky baby – feeding on demand which is about every 2 hours right now – and I reckon his late night feeds especially have become about comfort rather than hunger.
At the moment I am of the mindset that I will feed on demand for a while longer before I start trying to establish more of a routine. He’s piling on weight so it’s obviously working for him, but little and often feeds aren’t so good for our day-to-day lives. He stretches his feeds to 3 hourly on occasion at night time so I know he is able to go that long.
Recently I’ve noticed that Hux likes to feed himself off to sleep and will find it hard to sleep without the comfort of sucking, particularly at night time. So now I’m left pondering the introduction of a dummy.
I’ve always been dead against dummies, vile pieces of cheap plastic that they are. Until we realised what an unsettled baby Elfie was, and that if we have her a dummy she would sleep and be happy. So Elfie became a dummied baby, though strictly at bedtime only (you’ll never catch her with a dummy outside of her cot). I’m desperate to wean her off them and will be doing so as soon as she seems more settled; personally I hate to see toddlers and young children running around with dummies in their mouths and I worry about the harm this can do to their teeth.
On the couple of occasions I’ve offered Hux a dummy he has spat it out in disgust, it seems he hates anything that aren’t milk and nipple flavoured. Interestingly he has taken a bottle on a couple of occasions when I’ve expressed and Will has fed him (so I can go to the pub, natch) so I know he is able to take teats other than a nipple. Maybe it’s the size of the teat that offends him? I’m not sure if I should give up on the dummy and go with my suck-hungry baby, hoping he grows out of it, or persevere with getting him to take one.
What would you do?
“Don’t put marmite in your eye”
“Have you done a poo? Poo? Poo? Have you done a poo?”
“Stop blowing your nose on your toast”
“Dirty knickers are not for round your neck”
“Elfie, dirty, yuck, bin, NO, bin, dirty, NOT IN YOUR MOUTH”
“Don’t put your toast in your ear. Oh it’s a phone, not toast. Who’s on the phone? Hello, Father Christmas”
“Elfie, dirty, yuck, toilet, NO, dirty, don’t lick it”
“Is that your wand?”
“Goy goy goy goy goy goy goy”
“Squeeze Tigger’s hand. Squeeze it harder. Harder!”
“There is no need to blow your nose on the carpet of every single step”
“Here’s your banana, remember its not a phone”
“Please stop grabbing your… erm… er… fanny”
“What does a car say? What does a dog say? What does a baby say? What does a cow say?”
This post originally appeared at my old blog, www.the-alice.co.uk.
I had always wanted to try baby-led weaning with Elfie. I’m a big fan of parenting in a way which feels most natural to me, and BLW fit into that category.
However, when she started showing signs of being ready to eat solids (at five and a half months), there was no way she had the hand-eye co-ordination to feed herself. She couldn’t even hold toys in her hands at that point, so I went ahead with the more traditional way of feeding her myself.
Now lunchtime is her favourite time of day!:
We even got her a lovely highchair although as she can’t quite sit up straight on her own yet we only do ten minutes at a time in this: