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Parent Knowledge

Sure Start Children’s Centres

To find out more about your Local Surestart Children’s Centre please click this link above where you will be redirected to a Surestart site.

When Baby Bean was about 6 weeks old and all the visitors had subsided I suddenly found myself all alone with a little baby and lots of spare time on my hands (well, as much spare time as you get with a baby!) and that’s when I started to feel a little “blue” – I had lot’s of lonely times whilst Hubby was at work, all my friends were busy at work and I only knew one other Mummy with a baby but she lived half an hours drive from me.  When visiting baby clinic every week I tried to speak to other Mummies but I almost felt like I was “on the pull” and felt very uncomfortable as no-one else seemed forthcoming.  In my mind I assumed that everyone else had lots of other Mummy friends and didn’t need another one – so off home I would go to GMTV and This Morning!  The next time I saw my Health Visitor and she asked me how I was doing, I burst into tears and said that I was very lonely and didn’t know what to do.  She gave me the programme for the local Surestart Children’s Centre and I went straight home, gave them a call and signed myself up for Babybeans Music, Baby Massage and Prambles (organised walks).  It was very nerve wracking going along to the first class as I had all these images of “Yummy Mummy cliques” but everyone was lovely and keen to meet other Mums/Dads and babies.  I can honestly say that the Children’s Centre “saved me” and even though Baby Bean is now 14 months I still attend one or two classes every week.  Many classes only last 6 weeks but some can be as many as 13 weeks.  Not all are classes for you and baby/child – some are aimed just at parents/carers/guardians – and in those instances free childcare is provided at a local nursery, childminder or within the centre.  From attending the Centre I have made some great friends, we all get together every week through Mummies on the Move (see and once a month we have Mummies Nite Off where just the Mummies get together for a well deserved meal and drinks.  Today Hubby is at the Children’s Centre with Baby Bean for Dads Group – just like me he really wasn’t sure about going along to start with but when I told him that the Dads were having a weekend away FREE OF CHARGE to Edale on an Outdoor Activities break with canoeing, abseiling, archery etc etc he was quite keen to join – sadly he joined too late but he’s there ready and waiting for the next trip!

Classes Available – Baby Yoga

4 week Baby Yoga course for babies 4 months to mobile

Baby yoga provides babies with physical and mental stimulation through a variety of gentle exercises and movements. 

The classes are based around movement, rhythm and song.  This means it is not only fun, but can be incorporated into daily activities both at playtime and relaxation.

Baby Massage

5 week course – Suitable for babies 6 weeks to 1 year.

Baby massage provides a good bonding experience for parents and children and is a good way for you and your baby to spend some quality time together.

The physical contact is good for improving breathing, circulation, digestion and growth as well as being relaxed and fun for both!

Messy Play Sessions

Suitable for the under 5’s

Sessions will include sand & water play, gloop, bubble play, paint play and printing, food play, making collages & much more.

Dad’s Group

Do you have children aged 0-5, then come along to the Children’s Centre and spend some quality time with your child in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and meet some other Dads.

Uncles, Grandfathers and other male carers welcome.

Chat and Chill

Come along to our informal group for parents/carers and children under 5.

Relax, chat and enjoy a cup of tea whilst the children enjoy free-play activities.

Your local Health Visitor will also be holding an informal drop in Health Clinic at this session to give you the opportunity to discuss any concerns you have such as feeding, behaviour, development, potty training and anything else you’d like to discuss.

Breastfeeding Chat and Chill

An informal group for breast feeding mums.

Whether you’re finding it a breeze or having some problems, this group is for you. It will be a great place to meet other mums & have a snack and chat over coffee.

Young Parents’ Group

For young parents aged 25 or under.

Join us for fun and activities for you and your child and meet other young parents in your area.

In addition to . . . . .

some of the above courses, I have also done Handling Children’s Behaviour, Strengthening Families/Strengthening Communities, Parent workshops on Playtime is Special, Understanding Feelings, Understanding Behaviour, Children’s First Aid, Aromatherapy, Massage, Reflexology, Solvent Abuse, Drug Awareness, Healthy Living and many many more  . . . . .   but what I would like to do is share some of the knowledge with you – perhaps it will be the driving force to you attending some of these courses for yourself.

Handling Children’s Behaviour

This was a 13 week course so obviously I am not going to be able to put the whole course content on my site but I would like to give you a “taster” . . .

When we become a parent, many people assume that you will automatically know and understand everything about children and their behaviour.  Sadly, this is far from the truth, most of us suffer anxiety and feel inadequate when our child starts to “behave badly”.  When our child throws a tantrum in the supermarket, we get embarrassed about the other shoppers staring at us – we feel that we are failing as a parent and often panic.

In our group we discussed what behaviours our children displayed that we wanted to change, these are just a few:-

answering back, defiance, asking dad when mum has already said “no”, stubbornness, not eating properly, breaking toys, tantrums, “I want that . . .” when shopping, showing off, being rude, lying, swearing, not sharing, fighting with siblings . . . the list can be endless.

There are ways of controlling this so please read on  . . . . .

Types of Behaviour

Very often when our children are playing up, we find that we deal with all unacceptable behaviour with the same level of anger because we feel that they are doing it all to annoy us on purpose.  The following are areas of behaviour that all children present at some stage:-

Childish Irresponsibilities

Believe it or not children aren’t small adults, they don’t do everything on purpose – spilling drinks, dirtying clean clothes, forgetting what they have been told are just a few examples of things that can just happen by mistake.  How many times have you sat at the dinner table with your child and just as they cut into their chicken nuggets, the knife slips and food shoots off the plate in all directions – depending on your mood you will either laugh or shout at the child, they didn’t do this on purpose so do they deserve that?  In Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts pinged her “snail” at the waiter, it was an accident – you didn’t see Richard Gere shouting at her did you!  Just stop and think for a minute about the silly things you have done as an adult?  Have you accidentally broken a glass, or put the kettle in the fridge?  I know I have but when its our children for some reason we expect more?

Behaviour Linked With Development

Be aware of what your child’s capabilities are and don’t expect too much too soon.  Sometimes your child isn’t deliberately walking slowly, they only have little legs which can tire more quickly than yours.  Remember for every one of your steps they probably have to take 2 or 3!  Perhaps you have left an older sibling to look after younger ones but when you return home, full scale war has broken out – have you considered that the older child may not have developed the skills yet to handle younger children?  The younger ones may have played up on purpose to get the older child into trouble? We can’t always get it right and we are adults!! 

We can also fall into the trap of comparing our children with others, but all children develop at different speeds – so bear this in mind.

Challenge To Parents’ Authority

Obviously this is the most serious of our child’s behaviour – defiance and stubbornness being the worst!  In this situation the child is very aware of what they are doing and at some time we will all experience this from our children – I am already getting this from my daughter at 13 months!  What your child needs to know is that this is not acceptable behaviour, you need to take on this challenge and win or else learn to regret it for the remainder of our child-rearing years.  A child needs and wants us to control them, to show them the boundaries.  Without control they will feel insecure, be afraid of their own power and crash around out of control.  There is no need to smack, hit or beat your child as that will not teach them the right message – they will just think that violence is the way forward.  You need to teach them calm but firm methods of discipline and lots of positive praise. 

At this point I would like to say that prior to attending the parenting courses both myself and Hubby were of the opinion that “a tap to the back of the legs” never did us any harm and did so with our Son.  I admitted this at the classes and was not “judged” but the course has taught us new ways of discipline and we haven’t had the need to “smack” for over 6 months now and we feel better for this.  I used to think that “positive praise” and “incentive charts” were a load of nonsense but when implemented properly they really do work, give it a go what’s to lose?


Don’t worry I haven’t gone mad I’m not about to turn this into a master class on cookery – for the record, I hate cooking!!!

SPICES is the acronym used to describe the six areas of developement a child goes through.  As said previously, all children develop at different rates.  Very often their stage of development is judged merely on their size, age and physical abilities but actually emotional and social development can be far lower.  In order to help your child to succeed you need to set them achievable goals by not expecting them to perform at a level they haven’t yet learnt or reached.

S – Social Development – this is linked to the way children communicate.  For babies, this is obviously crying when they want or need something.  From crying they progress to “sign language” when they begin pointing at the things they want or raising both arms when they want you to pick them up.  The last stage is verbal communication when they learn to speak.  Social development also includes building relationships – so it is important that the first relationships they build are positive ones in order that they have an example to look to for future relationships.

To enable our children to develop and grow we need to teach and help them to learn new skills.  Those of you with young toddlers will know (me in particular) that “sharing” does not come naturally.  They believe that every toy is “theirs” and there is no need to share it.  It is our job to teach them to share through repetition.  My friends and I take it in turns to have play dates at each others houses so that our girls get used to playing with other children’s toys and likewise, allowing other children to play with their toys.  Granted at the moment there is plenty of pushing, shoving and crying but they get there in the end. 

When reading bedtime stories, Baby Bean likes to have the same 3 books every single night (she actually has about 50 books).  For me and hubby this is very monotonous and occasionally we try to stray a little and introduce a new book but then Baby Bean feels cheated.  The reason for this is that the repetition of the same books and rhymes gives Baby Bean a strong sense of familiarity, achievement and security.

P – Physical Development – you wouldn’t expect a newborn baby to just get up and start walking the minute they were born, why?  Because it takes months and years for children to learn this.  Parents need to ensure that their children eat the right food, play and get the right amout of stimulation and sleep in order to promote physical development.  Children who spend all day in a pushchair and more likely to develop at a slower rate due to lack of stimulation.  Try to get them out and about and keep changing their surroundings.  Give them new goals to aim for.  When Baby Bean was a tiny baby I used to move from room to room throughout the day so she had new things to look at.  We would go for lots of walks to get both of us fresh air and to give her new things to look at.  Change their positions too, lay babies on their tummys to encourage them to strengthen their neck.  Let them lay on a play mat under a baby gym and watch as they wriggle their way to the toy that catches their attention.  Use baby bouncers to give them an elevated view, its surprising just how different the world looks from this angle when you spend the majority of your time laid on your back!!

I – Intellectual Development – from the moment a child is born they begin to develop intellectually by reacting to the things around them.  Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your child to learn too quickly though.  Don’t expect too much and DON’T COMPARE your child to others, every child is different and they all develop at different rates.  As long as you love and nurture your child and give them lots of opportunities to play they will develop at their own pace.  Baby Bean started crawling before all her friends of the same age, but she was only second to walk and was right at the back of the queue for eating.  She has less vocabulary than some of her friends but yet she is a “do-er” she will happily build towers with her blocks, or feed her baby.  When I say “bedtime” she tidies her toys away without being asked!!  Just accept that if they were all the same it would be very boring, love your child for being just that!  Yours and yours alone!!

C – Cultural Development – this area is linked to your family values and beliefs.  Our children learn by watching us and the things we do.  If we are kind to others, give kisses and cuddles.  What about dealing with conflict?  Shouting, swearing, sulking – these are all things that your child will learn from you. 

E – Emotional Development – Baby Bean started growling if I took something away from her or told her to stop doing something.  I couldn’t understand where this growling came from until one day when walking down the street hubby tripped me up (by mistake he says!) and I growled at him!  In that instant I realised it was me, I hadn’t even noticed that I did it but now I make a conscious effort not to growl when things don’t go my way and thankfully Baby Bean has also stopped!  Take a close look at yourself and decide if there is anything you do that you wouldn’t be happy for your child to do, perhaps its time to start making a change!!  Perhaps you try to hide your feelings?  This can be just as destructive, you need to allow your children to express their feelings and help them to understand them. 

When things are going well and we are happy with our lives we react more rationally to our emotions.  But when things are more stressful, we will sometimes tell our children off for something which wasn’t really their fault – a childish irresponsibility (spilling a drink by mistake).  Doing this can damage their emotional development and in doing so they are likely to react how you might when it feels like everything is going wrong.  Let them express their feelings, don’t force them to keep their feelings inside – this can lead to tantrums in the early stages and worse problems in later life!!

S – Spiritual Development –  As children grow and experiences new things they form an opinion of themselves.  This is built on how the people close to them react towards them.  If they are told off for something wrongly or when they really did do something by mistake, they begin to believe that they are always wrong.  Self-esteem is so important  to a child’s happiness and future success. 

Children need every aspect of their developement to be recognised and encouraged.  If you tell your child that they aren’t capable of doing something, they will believe you and fail before they start.  But if you tell your child that they are capable of anything if they put their mind to it, then they will have self belief and try their hardest.  This doesn’t mean to say that they will set themselves up for a fall but if you don’t believe in them who else will?

For a great explanation please follow this link – SPICES.

Why do children need clear rules and boundaries?

Children will always try to push the boundaries to see if we really mean what we are saying – it is our jobs as adults to consistently reinforce the rules we have set in a caring and confident manner so that the child feels safe and secure. 

When an adult doesn’t take control when children are “testing” us they will continue pushing and pushing until they spiral out of control. 

In our house we have “House Rules” which were laid out by my Stepson, Hubby and myself.  Its quite an amusing task to do because if you ask the children to write the rules, they will actually be much harsher than you would.  Our House Rules are as follows:-

Rules for Children (though Baby Bean is too young for most of them at the moment)

  1. No backchatting
  2. Always eat nicely remembering table manners
  3. Make bed
  4. Do things “first time” when asked
  5. Tidy all toys away before bed

Rules for Parents

  1. No arguing
  2. Tell children off when naughty (Daddy!)
  3. Spend more time as a family
  4. No smacking
  5. No shouting
  6. Praise good behaviour

Ways to Praise

Ignoring bad behaviour and praising good is one of the best tried and tested means of combatting undesirable actions from our children.  But do we know how to praise?  For some parents this comes easily, for others it takes some practice.  When I attended parenting classes and was told to increase the praise for Curly I found it difficult, it didn’t feel like a natural process and I actually felt like I was coming across as patronising.  The more I have used praise – the more natural it feels and sounds.

Praise doesn’t have to be just “good girl” or “good boy” though – we’re not talking to dogs afterall!!  Below you might find some useful methods to try, give them a go and see which you feel most comfortable with.

Non-Verbal Praise

  • a smile
  • a nod
  • a wink
  • a thumbs up
  • a high/low five
  • a pat on the back
  • a sticker or special badge
  • a prize or reward like getting to choose the next game
  • a star or merit chart
  • getting to pick first, next – this empowers them to give them the opportunity to make a decision for them and others
  • being allowed to operate the controls (e.g. remote) – as above
  • leading a line or bring up the rear – again this makes them feel important and special, gives them confidence
  • being the leaders special assistant for a task – as above
  • being asked to show someone else how to do it – as above
  • starting a talk time activity
  • a certificate – “Cleanest Bedroom”, “Best Helper” – you could draw one, make one on the computer, even download them from the internet
  • being allowed to sit next to/hold the leaders hand for an activity
  • helping with the props at story time

Verbal Praise

  • great stuff
  • thank you for doing that so well
  • you’re a star
  • with people like you around, it makes like so much easier/happier
  • i’m really impressed
  • we all think you’re great at . . . .
  • I had every confidence that you could do it
  • I don’t know if I could have done that – tell me again how you did it
  • you should be so pleased with yourself for doing  . . . .

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