My child is WEARING me out……

Spirited children, by temperament, are ‘more’… More energetic, more sensitive, more intense, more perceptive and more persistent.  This can literally leave a parent exhausted as it continues all day, every day.  And temperament doesn’t go away – so listen up to learn about your child and how you can help make it easier for you them and you!

It appears that many parents are interested to find out ‘more’ about this topic and so taking the information from the book Raising Your Spirited Child (a book worth gold for parents of spirited kids) by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, this post will summarise the different temperament traits of a spirited child.  Mary states that to be ‘spirited’, you would have all of the five first traits and possibly some of the ‘bonus’ traits.  Whilst being ‘spirited’ is not an actual diagnosis, you will certainly know if you have a spirited child!  And it can be so relieving to read that other people experience exactly the same issues, just as parents of a child with say autism, would get together for support.  At the same time, I hope this post can help parents with children who might just be very persistent, or have trouble with change.  Coming posts will aim to give strategies to deal with these traits.

Worth every cent...

Worth every cent…


  • Goes from 0 to 100 as far as crying – straight to wailing or exploding..LOUDLY.  Certainly no squeaking!
  • Hard to keep up with as far as their emotions – they’re really happy, then really sad.  You know about it!
  • They have powerful reactions to situations.  Nothing mild about it!
  • They won’t just smile when they’re happy, they’ll use their whole body to show you!
  • Can get easily frustrated.


  • ‘Locks in’ and is hard to move on from an idea or an activity they are into.  Bring on the tantrums!
  • The crying can go on for hours…  They really need help to control their emotions.
  • Frustratingly, does not take no for an answer.
  • This can really be present from birth.


  • Needs total silence to get to sleep.  Bring on the sleeping issues 😦
  • Clothes can really affect them – certain fabrics, seams in socks.
  • Sensitive to noises, lights, smells which can be more so when out and about.  Stress and reactions..
  • Sensory issues may affect their eating, making them a ‘selective’ eater.  Spirited children can literally be sensitive to foods and many experience allergies.
  • An emotional sponge – they pick up on all your emotions and become that way too.
  • May show peculiar behaviours to how things feel – pleasant and unpleasant.


  • Notices details that others would never take notice of, but can lose focus on a task.  The wanderer/daydreamer!
  • Can spend a long time looking at these details but hence have a vivid imagination.
  • Will be sure to forget directions you’ve given them, again getting caught up with distractions.


  • Transitions from one activity to another are very hard.  More tantrums!
  • Changes in routine are very stressful.  They need plenty of warning and preparation.
  • Surprises also don’t go down well.  More stress!


  • They don’t need sleep at the same time each day.
  • Hunger strikes at different times in the day.. or they forget to eat.  You generally won’t find a chubby spirited child!
  • Getting them into a routine can be quite difficult.  They even go to the toilet at irregular times.


  • It’s pretty much physically impossible to sit still for an average amount of time.  Or it’s fidgeting.
  • They are constantly on the move, from sun up to sun down.

First reaction

  • Stands back to observe before joining in.
  • A watcher, not a do-er.
  • Not really into new activities or things.
  • First reaction is ‘no’, when asked to do/try something new.


  • Usually the serious and analytical type
  • They see what needs to be changed, not necessarily the good.

As you can see, all of this adds up to a lot of work and energy required by the parents but it is also not the child’s fault that they experience the world like this.  In fact, there are many benefits to being spirited.

Intensity – They can be more enthusiastic, motivated, passionate and committed.  And can add more excitement to life.

Sensitivity – Can have a richer life from noticing sounds, smells, sights and feelings that others would never have experienced in the same way.

Adaptability – Children who are prepared in advance can have no problems with transitions.

Perceptive – They take in great detail which helps them to be very creative and can enrich their lives more so than others.

Energetic – Can be a blessing keeping up with a demanding job, busy family and still having energy for other interests.

First reaction – This will be the child that is more likely to think before they act 🙂

Regularity – Once an adult, there are many many jobs that require working in the night..

Mood – They may be the ‘critical eye’ that makes good decisions.

There’s more to reading than learning the names of the letters….

Hayden decorating a Christmas present and attempting some writing

Master (then 2) decorating a Christmas present and attempting some writing, to say ‘who’ it is for (and on the back you write the ‘sender’)

Did you know that children are learning to read and write long before they get to school?  Children have a motivation to learn about literacy from a very early age and there are actually many steps to reading and writing before teaching the names of the letters.  As a speech pathologist working with children and their families, I come across many parents who  rate their child’s success before school as being able to name colours, numbers and letters.  There is so much more to literacy, language and cognitive development than these three skills alone!  Let’s take a look at some of the preliteracy skills you can help your child to develop.

Reading and writing are developed concurrently, not reading before writing.  Early ‘scribblings’ are important!  A study showed scribbles from four-year-olds from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and USA showed clear differences long before the children could conventionally write.  It is therefore important to encourage opportunities for your child to ‘practice’ their developing literacy skills – provide pencils, paper, envelopes and ‘stamps’ and encourage ‘writing’ (and also ‘reading’) in pretend play.  You could pretend to write a party invitation, shopping list or ‘take an order’ and see if theirs has the same general form that ours would, even if you have to write a sample for them to see first.  You can also encourage pretend reading of maps, menus, newsletters and anything else you might use with print.  This is called emergent literacy.  Through watching adults and pretending to read and write, children start to learn that literacy is used to ‘get things done’.   That is, it is functional and not just an abstract skill learnt at school.  It is also not just about sitting and reading books..

Invest in language development.  Did you know that the frequency of shared reading experiences, number of books in the home and frequency of library visits relate to the child’s vocabulary development by school?  And a child needs to have good understanding of language to be able to understand what they are reading once they start to learn.  Giving them the best start, with a large vocabulary prior to reading is a fantastic gift to your child.  Don’t just start with the letters!

Rhyming and syllables come first.  The strongest indicator of a child successfully reading and writing at school is having well-developed ‘phonological awareness’, or being aware of sounds and that words are made up of sounds.  This does not mean knowing the names of letters!  The following skills ranging from easier to harder should ideally be introduced before your child starts school:

  • clapping/drumming/stamping/hopping/jumping parts of words (syllables)
  • detecting if words rhyme (bat, cat – do they sound a bit the same? vs cat, fish)
  • producing rhyming words (eg. mr maghetti likes to eat…, mrs sockadile had a ….)
  • identifying first sounds in words (eg. I spy something beginning with ‘sssss’ – play with the sound not the letter so a child who can’t read can still play)

Introduce literacy terms.  For the young ones, as soon as you have their attention, point to words as you say them, for example the title of a book (normally repeated over at least the first two pages) or point to a repetitive phrase (eg. oh no!, boom crash).  This can start to show the child what a word is (ie a set of letters that mean something).  You can also point out signs, logos and other familiar words such as their name, PlaySchool, ABC or Spot from a very young age which all help your child to understand what ‘words’ are so that it is not such a foreign concept when they start school.  Sight words are involved in reading, just as much as phonics… Around two to three years of age, you can start to use the word ‘word’, for example ‘look at the big long word‘ (they don’t need to be able to read it to see it is long), ‘let’s count how many words are in this sentence’.  And what about ‘letter’?  For example, ‘there’s S, it’s in your name.  S is a letter, it says ‘sssss”, ‘this is a long word, I wonder how many letters are in it?’.

Next time you think of teaching your child to read and write letters before they go to school, think about all of the above.  These are the main skills that will help your child to be successful in literacy!

Christmas kids made by kids - handprint and stickers.. Yes this is a part of literacy, learning what the purpose really is!!

Christmas cards made by kids – handprint and stickers.. Yes this is a part of literacy, learning what the purpose really is!!

Let your children go WILD!!!



Children need times throughout their day where they can express themselves with without boundaries (or as little rules as you can manage)!!!

So maybe give yourself some rules.

1.My child can mix up the paints

2.Their painting doesn’t need to look like anything. Sometimes children just explore the feelings of the brush on the paper or like the look of lines.

3. Prepare for mess. Art tarp, paint outside, wash bucket near by.

4. Understand that it is a process. The first time you offer ‘no boundaries art’ it is going to be MESSY, but the next time it will be less and the time after that less again. Children need to explore first then they will begin to investigate.

They need to be allowed to get messy, experiment, learn from mistakes and work through their ideas without constraints. Art is a great way for children to express themselves emotional, intellectually and physically. The leaders in Early Childhood Education believe that children can communicate complex feelings through art alot quicker than through language.

IMG_0380I set up this art experience, each little container had blue, red, green, and yellow. There were some stampers and paintbrushes. I put down some black plastic and put on an art shirt. The painting you can see only held her interest for 2 mins but her ‘ART’ held her interest for 40 mins.

Was it MESSY?? YES!!!

but I had planned for that and when it comes to children’s art the PROCESS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE PRODUCT!!!!

IMG_0377Here is what she did…. She poured all the colours onto a plastic lid. Then she poured all the paints together. I gave her some sticks and showed her how to mix the paints around on the plastic lid.


This is what she learned,


IMG_0385 “Look mummy I made chocolate”. This was Miss 4, when she was 2.

*Miss 4 now has an ‘ART STUDIO’ but I will let you know about that a bit later.


Raising Children Network

[website review]  What parent hasn’t been unsure of what they are doing at some point?  Whether it’s how to get your baby to sleep, how to cope with tantrums better, talking to teenagers or coping with a family crisis, you will certainly find some reliable information from Raising Children Network (the Australian parenting website).  And as it is written by national (Australian) experts and then reviewed by over 120 other experts, you know the information is pretty trustworthy (maybe more so than a well-meaning relative or friend!).  The website is also contributed to  by the Australian government, parents (used in focus groups etc), other stakeholders and ‘content partners’ (such as Yellow Pages, Choice and St John Ambulance).

I find this website a really good start when you need some reliable information quick (for example what on earth to do when I thought I had mastitis, have I ticked off the basics to get my baby to sleep!).  The information is presented very succinctly and gives you a great start on any topic.

Examples of what you can find on the website:

  • information categorised by age groups and then topics – information on just about anything you can think of relating to behaviour, safety, sleep, communicating, nutrition and fitness, health and daily care and play and learning
  • practical information on being a parent, family management, going back to work, childcare, and more..
  • forums under groups such as kid’s ages, types of parents (teen, divorced, indigenous), research, my neighbourhood
  • ‘my neighbourhood’ search where you can find everything from parks and childcare centres to child health centres and libraries. N0te: our library wasn’t on there!
  • home safety interactive guide – preparing your house to be kid-safe, at all ages.  This makes a relatively boring topic fun to look at!  I wish I’d seen this a bit sooner actually 🙂
  • for those parents who are visual (or too tired to read!), there is the Parenting in Pictures section.  Here is a link to a couple of them – Meals in Minutes and Toilet training in pictures

What else?

There are podcasts (for example Talking about death, Parenting in public, The onset of puberty), there’s baby karaoke (to inspire you to sing with your little one), and a ‘Talking to teens’ section.  You just have to keep looking, and you find there’s even more to this website than you first see!

So before googling your next question about anything to do with raising children (after you’ve checked out our blog of course ;)), remember to go straight to  I guarantee you’ll spend longer on there than you imagined!

That wasn’t my best day of parenting – the library

where it all happened..

where it all happened..

You live and you learn! I am getting good at at least looking back on a crazy day and realising where I went wrong.  It does help to at least change for the better, next time!

It was monday morning, facing my husband away for the week and I had a head cold.  The one where your ear drums are bulging, your head is pounding, and the snot just keeps on coming.  Master 1 and 3 also had their snot taps running.  Master one was also teething and at that point where as soon as you put him down….’waaaaaaahhh’!  Great.

After a couple of hours of crazy breakfast time, getting dinner in the slow cooker, wiping a snotty nose about once every two minutes and dealing with the two boys whinging and fighting, I couldn’t get out of the house quick enough.  One of those days when you feel lousy for getting out and spreading the germs but staying at home for the rest of the morning wasn’t an option, so I announced we were off to the library.  Mistake #1.

In my haze, I had been thinking about how cute it is when Master 3 now holds Master 1’s hand and they walk together, so didn’t pack the stroller for the library.  Mistake #2.

I got swept away with Master 3’s excitement of holding his own library card and forgetting what happened last time, I let him take it in his pocket.  Mistake #3.

In my rush to get out of the car with Master 1 just crying non-stop (probably from his teeth), I didn’t take my jumper off.  Mistake #4.

We got to the book returns chute and I started throwing the books down the chute in a frenzy realising I had two boys freely able to escape and run away on me and about 30 books to return.

Before I knew it, Master 3 had thrown the card straight down the chute!  The only other time in his life he has cared to throw anything was my phone into the toilet.. 😦  Now remembering I’m feeling sick and already struggling to keep up with the two boys, I sigh and yell ‘you DIDN’T!!’ in front of enough people also at the returns area.  I had no energy to think of a good response to Master 3 so I just picked up the bag of books that were left, plus a heavy Master 1 and quietly growl at Master 3 to ‘STAY WITH ME’, worried he could do a runner at any point.

The nice man found the card and we head back out to continue the returns.  Already I was literally puffed, thirsty and could only think of a tissue.

We finally got inside and I focussed on finding some books and getting out of there.  I had care factor zero that Master 1 found a ‘blunt-as-you-can-get/round-edged’ pair of scissors and was carrying them around with the end in his mouth and just managed to keep my eye on Master 3 negotiating a boy and the glue pot at the craft table.  Normally I would have been on to the two of them but today I didn’t care.  And the library lady was horrified enough to whip the scissors away from Master 1, slobbered and all anyway!

It was at the point I had Master 1 in my arms, (SWEATING it out with the cold roasting me and the jumper on) and I felt Master 1 do a fart, I thought, ‘let’s get out of here, if he follows through we’re up for one of his runny poos again’.

By that stage we had a bag of books and two big puzzles from the toy library and now Master 1 to carry.  The cute idea for no stroller was coming back to bite me…

The library has begun to do some renovations which left me wandering around with Master 3 ready to run at any point, Master 1 still in my arms plus the books and the puzzles.  And sure enough, I took too long deciding where to go and Master 3 was off – out the front door.  The swearing began in my head as I yelled out to Master 1.  We had a stand off at the one way door until he came back through.  So by then, I was fuming and probably the most annoyed at myself for not bringing the stroller!

We finally got to a self-service checkout and still annoyed at Master 3’s flight,  I snapped ‘nope, I’m scanning them today’ when he got ready for his card and book swiping routine.  So instead of a helper and Master 1 waiting in the stroller, I was left with two boys with nothing to do.  Master 1 has never had free reign at this point in the library and managed to run off before I realised (again me doing the crazy beeping and throwing piles of books everywhere).  By the time I’d chased Master 1 and brought him back twice (managing to scan about one book each time), Master 3 couldn’t help himself.  I could just see it in his eyes…

IT WAS ON – Master 3 running to the door with me yelling his name at full volume before I realised where we were.  Master 1 deciding it would be fun to crawl around the library floor in the opposite direction.  The boys getting their giggle on.  Master 3 then running to the reserved section and ripping receipts of people’s names out of them and tossing them in the air, with me only able to watch in horror as I was over at the computer trying to swipe the books to get the hell out of there.  Me chasing Master 3 and yelling out ‘TV’, as some sort of code word for there’ll be no TV if you keep running.  Me fumbling around trying to put the receipts back in the books whilst trying to keep a claw on Master 3 to not run off again.  Me yelling to Master 3 ‘SIT DOWN and STAY THERE’ several times with no result and eventually throwing Master 1 into his lap and growling ‘HOLD onto him’ over and over until I finished scanning all the books….

Only to realise I had the two puzzles that had to be scanned at the counter.  Oh the sweat pouring off my face.  Oh the thought of picking up the books, the puzzles, Master 1 and walking Master 3 with a claw on his shoulder back over to the counter and pretending like nothing crazy just happened!!!  The thing was, the renovation has placed the main desk right in the middle of where we had put on the scene, in front of the self-service counter, the front door and the reserved books.

We were done, we turned around and I waltzed Master 3 (with Master 1, the books and the puzzles on me) to the car as quickly as you can imagine.  We got into the car, blew noses and I let rip.  ‘I am so disappointed with you, was that fun for you? It wasn’t fun for me, tell me what you did that Mummy didn’t like’….  Master 3 began with ‘I threw my card down the hole’.  Well I’d forgotten about that with everything else that happened!  Master 3’s next response, ‘can I have my songs on?’ and Master 1 signing for ‘music’.  Uh NO.

Oh and we got home and after a bit, I realised I needed to change Master 1’s nappy.  Yep the grotty poo was there and yes I probably didn’t smell it at the library with my sense of smell completely gone…!  I’m sure everyone must’ve been SO GLAD once we had left!

So for the rest of that day I was feeling bad for how the morning had gone and where had we gone wrong?  Was it all Master 3’s fault?  Master 1 barely got any brunt.  This is what I came up with:

– I had been sick and not myself…

– I should’ve made things easier and head straight to a park (not to mention saved more people from germs)

– The key undoing was no stroller for Master 1

– which would’ve saved Master 3 from doing the runner in the first place

– which would’ve allowed him to do his book scanning

– which would’ve prevented both boys from doing runners

– which would’ve prevented me from sweating, yelling and getting completely frustrated

– which would’ve also prevented the ‘scene’ we put on for the whole of the library….

– and not to forget would’ve prevented me from coming down on Master 3 for his behaviour

Since then, Master 3 has broken out in eczema again and confirmed yes his ‘ADHD’ behaviour is back with it, which also explains his need to run away from me that day, need to find something ‘mischievous’ to do, inability to really pay attention to me, and no desire to ‘do the right thing’.  This time, the eczema could be from a food that he has eaten or from a lowered immunity.  No idea who’s fault this one was, so I’ll feel sad for all of us that that was an extra factor that impaired our day.

And then there’s how I could’ve dealt with each behaviour much better, instead of just reacting.. That’s probably another post!

Finally, on Thursday, I was back at work and met up with the psychologist I work with.  I was working away at my desk when she says out of the blue, ‘were you at the library on monday?’.  My sweat broke out again!!! 🙂

Packing a healthy (I mean really healthy) lunchbox


Litter-free lunchbox helping the environment and stainless steel bottle, ‘cheetah’ banana (to engage master ‘Africa’ 3) and healthy lunch helping the boys grow and learn.

How many hours do you spend packing lunches?  Yes it takes a lot of time but try to think of it as a worthy exercise in feeding your child wonderful nutrition for their growth and development!  Master 3 and 1 are gluten and dairy free and with no nuts at daycare, we are definitely restricted but this also encourages some healthy eating.  We also avoid all preservatives and are starting to turn to organic everything to avoid more health issues – see below for links to more information.  The more you look into what preservatives, pesticides and chemicals are doing to us, the more you start wondering about what are we really putting into our bodies… 😦

Oh and not to mention avoiding sugar and salt as much as possible!  Yes I spend some time in the kitchen but it feels good to know we are avoiding a lot of health and development issues by avoiding preservatives, sugar, salt and the boys’ allergens.

We use a ‘Nude food’ lunchbox which has enough compartments and containers to avoid any packages/cling wrap.  It also saves money and sugar/salt by not buying any pre-packaged items and buying in bulk (such as sultanas, seeds, yoghurt when we used to buy it).

Here are a few of our ideas.  Please add your own healthy ideas to this post too 🙂


  • Plain Sakata rice crackers (no preservatives or MSG) or rice/corn cruskits with dip such as homemade hummous/beetroot hummous or homemade refried beans – fry garlic and then blend with tin of red kidney beans, cumin and oregano.  You can of course use other crackers if not GF.  Just be careful of numbers and ‘flavours’.
  • Rice/corn thins with spread such as avocado or dip.  Master 1 is happy when they go soft but otherwise I break into pieces for Master 3 to dip.
  • Roasted chickpeas – tin of chickpeas (preferably low/no salt), rinsed, put straight onto a baking tray.  Bake 40mins at 200degrees celsius.  Longer if you prefer more crunch.
  • Homemade baked beans – tin of cannelini beans rinsed.  Add to saucepan with 1/3 tin of tomatoes plus some herbs.  Simmer on medium heat until there is just enough sauce and the beans have softened (around 10mins).
  • Raw vege sticks – carrots, cucumber, green beans, capsicum.
  • Roasted vege sticks – we do more sweet potato over potato for better nutrition and low GI.  Also pumpkin roasted with cinnamon.
  • Frozen veges such as corn, peas, broad beans, carrots.
  • Boiled egg.
  • Cut up pear/apple or any other fruit in season.  And a banana.
  • I give the boys sultanas at home where I can brush their teeth a lot sooner.  They are little morsels of sugar (albeit not white sugar) that will sit on their teeth for the whole day at daycare.
  • Pumpkin seeds/pepitas, sunflower seeds.
  • Puffed rice/corn.
  • Yoghurt.  Bornhoffen plain yoghurt is fantastic without the sugar and thickeners that exist in many others, including ‘baby’ yoghurts.  It’s also full fat.  Kids love the taste!!  And don’t forget you can add texture for variety such as dessicated coconut (organic is the only type without preservatives..), frozen blueberries (start looking for organic frozen), crushed biscuit or cinnamon.
  • Cut up cheese.  Cutting your own cubes saves money and is healthier than the kids’ cheese sticks or pre-cut cubes.


  • Sandwich with spreads such as avocado, hummous, refried beans, mashed roast pumpkin or cottage cheese if you can do dairy (avoid homebrand with preservatives).
  • We avoid vegemite/mighty mite (GF option) due to ‘yeast extract’ actually being MSG… 😦 And also any ham/deli meats as these also have the nasty preservatives 😦  Oh and butter or coconut oil to avoid the processed margarines and transfats in them (including nuttelex) 😦
  • Leftovers are also another good option.

Pair this with a drink (we use stainless steel bottles as any plastic is proving to be not so good for health) and a ‘cheetah’ banana and done.!

Some suggested facebook pages to follow and learn more about really eating healthily:

Saving the mealtime mess

It’s true, it’s no fun cleaning up a massive post-mealtime crime scene!  But really, it comes down to communicating with your child…and staying a few steps ahead!

Firstly, if your child is throwing food, it is important to look at WHY the behaviour is occurring.  To me, it’s either too much food in front of them and they literally can’t see the food for the food, get overwhelmed…and start throwing!  Or, they are finished (either the food in front of them or finished eating completely), they then get bored (a little one’s attention span isn’t long!)…and they start throwing!  I’d have fun throwing it too if someone cleaned it and me up at the end!

So let’s go back to setting the mealtime up to be successful. 🙂

1. Start with 2 bowls.  Put your child’s meal all into one, set a suction one up on the highchair, empty.  This will avoid an extra missile.

2. Think about whether a spoon and/or fork would be appropriate for the mealtime and if these would be more of a distraction or facilitator to getting your child to eat.

3. Set your child up with a few bits and pieces in their bowl.  This could be the food you know they won’t love but want them to eat the most of (like the veges) or a few bits of everything.  Less is more.

4. Then the communication needs to start happening.  To put it simply, it’s ‘more or finished?’!

Learning to communicate at the dinner table

By 12 months of age, a child can easily learn the concepts of ‘more’ and ‘finished’ and can definitely pick up the signs for these too.

More (keyword signing australia)

Finished sign (keyword signing australia)

Declan working out his hands! Signing 'finished' using both

Declan working out his hands! Signing ‘finished’ using both

At first, you would start with the steps above and once your little one throws food, make no comment about the throwing and either pick it up or get another piece the same.  Holding it out of their reach ask ‘more….? or finished….?’.   Try to avoid any extra words that will make understanding what you are meaning harder.   For example, ‘are you finished or do you want more? more? oh no are you finished?’.

Ideally, you would be modelling the signs as you say the words and pausing (a good while) after each so the little one has some processing time.  At first, they won’t sign back but if they understand ‘more’ and ‘finished’, they might give you some type of hint of which one.  You can go with these nonverbal hints until they talk or teach them the signs which will give them a more formal way of communicating AND advance their language skills before speech comes.

‘More’ may look like reaching for the food, nodding, opening/closing hand.

‘Finished’ may look like no response, looking away, pointing at something else, pushing your hand away.

Whichever they indicate to you, you say and sign (oh you’re finished, oh more).  It is also a good idea to take their hand and help them to make the sign – showing the brain what to do helps them to learn quicker.

If they indicate ‘finished’, respect that and take the food away.  This may mean ‘i’m full’ finished or ‘i’m done with that food but still hungry’ finished so you might pick something else (which is why it is good to have some food away from them in their first bowl).  If they throw that too, again say and sign ‘finished’ and pack it all away.

If your child indicates ‘more’, give them the food back and let them have one more go.  If they throw it again, assume they actually meant ‘finished’!  So say and sign ‘finished’ and remove the food.

The same goes for the spoon/fork.  If they throw it, either pick up the spoon, say ‘no throwing…scoop’ and show them hand over hand or pick up the fork, say ‘no throwing..stab’ and show them hand over hand.  If they throw it again, say and sign ‘finished’ and away they go.

The child will learn pretty quickly one chance and it all goes away!

For older children, you can help their brain to learn the correct action when they are finished by doing.  If they throw, pick up the food/bowl/spoon etc, give it back to them and say ‘when we’re finished, we put our food/bowl/plate/spoon down on the table’ and encourage them to put it down on the table.  It sounds like it’s hardly worth doing but this helps their brain to ‘feel’ what the correct action is when they are finished.  And then be quick to remove it before they repeat!

This all sounds very technical (which it is), but it comes down to a few basic things to remember:

  • Set your child up for success by giving them only a few bits at a time
  • Hold up food and ask ‘more?….’ and if no response ask ‘or finished?…’
  • Look for nonverbal hints of more or finished and then model the word/sign to teach the child what they are expected to do.  You only have to remember two words in all of this – more…finished…
  • When in doubt, guess and let them communicate to you if you are wrong
  • Show them hand over hand the appropriate action to use a spoon/fork with
  • Show them hand over hand how to make a sign
  • Respect any communication of ‘more’ or ‘finished’ – even if you think they want more but they sign ‘finished’, put it away (but always watch in case they make a mistake)
  • Keep words very simple.  We want them to tell us ‘more’ and ‘finished’, so by using those words, you are showing them what you expect them to say (or sign)

It’s never too early or late to start teaching ‘more’ and ‘finished’!  This can be started from 6 months but children will probably pick this up closer to 12 months.

Once you and your child have it down pat, you will be able to ask ‘more or finished?’, they will tell you and you can then put more food out or take it away, saving the massive mess on the floor!

How to say good bye?

How do you say good bye to your child when you leave them? I am about to start my 2 year old into daycare, so I am going through all of this right now!!!

Do you feel anxious about how they are going to react? How do you feel about them going to childcare?
All of your feelings can make the separation alot harder.
Tell yourself, the calmer and stronger I can be, the more they will see there is nothing to be afraid of.

Step one is ‘Calm yourself and stay strong’!

Step two is develop a routine of ‘How you say goodbye’, this might be; bag away, lunch box away, greet teacher, chose one activity, then wave at fence or door. Developing this routine gives child the understanding of what is coming next. It also gives you a strict guideline to not get to emotional and to say goodbye. Children are very good at saying “Mummy just another 5 mins, just another 2 mins”, this is just telling your child that you are not strong in your decisions. This is a non negotiable. “Mummy needs to go, so you can enjoy your day at daycare, I will be back after I have done all the boring cleaning”. Make your life sound very boring.

Step three ‘say it with a pen’, draw this and ensure your child understands this is what is going to happen. Make sure your child has an understanding of what is going to happen.

Step four ‘role play’, use toys to put on a puppet show and show your child what it will look like. Talk about feelings, “This puppet is sad because his mummy left, oh but now he is happy because he really wanted to play with blocks and he has made a friend. The puppet eats, rests and then mummy comes back. The puppet tells mummy about his great day”!!!

Step five ‘understand it does get easier’, this is such an important part of your child’s development. Establishing secure attachments in forms of friendships and understanding the teacher to child relationship, this sets your child up for such a great start to school!! So remember this is something we need to go through at sometime in our life with our children, better now then in the Prep classroom.

Good Luck!!


How can I get the most out of my ‘little ones’ day at childcare?

Miss 2 Portfolio

Miss 2 Portfolio

This is a great question Heidi!! You can help soooooo much to get the most out of  your child’s day at Child Care!!

Did you know that part of a centre being accredited (being able to operate) is that they need to provide evidence of how they collaborate with families!!! This means that they really want your input, ideas, help, concerns, etc. By you telling your teachers what your child is interested in, you open up possibilities of the teachers being able to extend on this interest and develop a deeper understanding (this is how children learn).

Does your child have a ‘portfolio’? How do the teachers keep records of learning of your child? It is another requirement of accreditation that your child’s learning is assessed, planned, documented and evaluated. The best way teachers can get a ‘holistic’ view of your child is to offer observations of them at home. If your child has a portfolio, take it home regularly and add photos of things you do at home, that means something to your child and your family. It could be a note that your child is now able to climb to the top of a tree at home, this is important because the teacher mightn’t observe climbing at the child care centre and might think that they are not able to do it.

Talk to you teachers about how your child’s day was? What did they do today? This way you can talk to your child about it at home or even extend on the learning they have obtained at childcare. Miss 4 learnt alot about bees at Kindy and we were able to take her to ‘Super Bee’ (where we saw inside working bee hives), she’s now a bit of an expert. If your child really enjoys the wooden blocks at childcare, maybe introduce some more construction into your toy box at home.

Some other suggestions are to add food into your child’s lunch box that they don’t eat at home. I add a few capsicum, celery sticks and grape tomatoes. Some times being in a ‘social’ situation with positive healthy messages about food, these items come home ‘tasted’. It is another requirement of accreditation that healthy eating is promoted. We do alot of work with talking about vegetables at Kindy and even name the vitamins and minerals that the children are receiving when they eat a particular food. Just because they wont eat it at home doesn’t mean you should stop offering it!!

Finally, the wonderful joy that teachers get when parents organise play dates!!! This is such a great way to establish friendships for your child. I will sometimes recommend to parents that they have a play date with a few friends to help their child with social development. If your child plays with a few children at childcare, pop your number into their child’s bags and role model actions of friendship to your children.

I have added the links to the National Accreditation Standards (ACECQA), its interesting to see what needs to be occurring in your childcare centres.

Quality standard 6: Collaborative partnership with families and community

Quality standard 2: Children’s health and safety

Quality standard 1: Educational program and practice


How many times do I have to say ‘no’?

[~12 months on]

Can I open it?

Can I open it?

Children really do WANT (and need) boundaries.  The other day, I did an experiment.  Master 15 months was playing with the packet of wipes… And then did his ‘can i?’ look to me, to open them up.  I simply said ‘no’.  He went on playing with the packet, until he checked in again, looking up at me with his ‘can I?’ face.  I said ‘no’ again.  He checked with my husband.  He said ‘no’.  We did this nine times until he decided he wouldn’t bother.  But it took nine ‘no’s!

We also used the simple ‘no’ (and with a sign) for when he asked with his ‘can I walk away from here?’ look.


At other times, when he has been in a similar scenario, if I have not been looking, he will go for it since there is no one there telling him ‘no’ in matter of fact terms.  Without a boundary, he cannot help it.

At other times, we have done the fun ‘no no no’ with a smile or a tickle.  Master 1 then thinks it’s a game.   The ‘no’ means ‘yes’ game, because he just wants more of the smiles and tickles.  The ‘no no no’ starts the game!  But it doesn’t help to stop the undesirable behaviour.  My bad!

And in other times, I have ignored little Master 1.  Like when he turns off the TV when we are watching it.  This can work a treat.  He gets no reaction, even when I can see him reeeeally wanting a reaction or a look, or a no no no.  He is then far less likely to do it again.  Until Master 3 comes along and really tries to get a reaction.  He turns off the TV…  Arrrgghhhh!