We all know how important milk is as part of a baby’s diet. To start with, it is the only part of their diet, a way of filling little tummies throughout the day and night.
Later it becomes a drink that can all too easily be replaced with water, juice or other drinks. Over time, the contribution that milk makes to a child’s daily food intake becomes less and less.
But milk remains an important way of helping children get their required daily amount of calcium throughout childhood and beyond, the importance of calcium for kids is great because calcium continues to accumulate and strengthen bones even after they have stopped growing, helping to prevent weak bones and conditions such as osteoporosis in later life.
Of course, there are also many other good sources of calcium. For those children who prefer not to drink cow’s milk, calcium-enriched soya milk and yoghurts are also good ways to get calcium into the diet, as are dried fruit, seeds, fish and dark green, leafy vegetables.
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I am sure that most mums have heard of Gill Sutherland; the mum who has taught her children to swear. She is the topic of blogs, parenting websites and even news stories.
The infamous mum is quoted as saying: “I swear, my children swear. Get over it.” She also admitted to teaching her sons a swear word alphabet.
I am sure I don’t need to explain the ethical or moral debate raging around Gill Sutherland’s parenting style. Dr Richard Stevens, from Keele University, claims that because children are intrigued by the world of adults “keeping swearing a secret makes it irresistible.” This, of course, can be taken to the extreme, as in Gill’s case.
My little girl is two and is spewing out words left, tight and centre. He mind is like a little sponge and she literally regurgitates everything that comes out of my mouth. Whilst this makes me a most proud mummy, it also places masses of pressure on my vocabulary. I have to be super careful what I say!
The other day a potty word slipped out – nothing too horrendous but bad enough to warrant a mental slap in the face; which I gave myself with applicable force.
I have since desperately tried to convert this word to “crab”, “crop”… pretty much anything similar-sounding. And here’s what I learnt; the moment I started ignoring the word instead of trying to convert it, it seemed to slip from consciousness.
Whew! Not sure I’ll be so lucky next time… and I am sure there will be a next time – in spite of my best efforts!
I have a sneaking suspicion that there are many parents who have dished themselves many a mental slap after saying something inappropriate in front of their children, small or large. I don’t think that there is a hard and fast rule for managing these slip ups, and your response will have to be age appropriate, but here are a few simple tips on how to deal with potty words:
* Don’t overreact.
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A new baby whilst totally exciting, is a huge deal for your first-born toddler.
Mums and dads hope that their children will share in the joy of a new little life but the reality is that feelings of jealousy and insecurity often reign supreme – and it’s a parent’s job to allay those fears. (FYI: A two-year age gap can create strong feelings of jealousy. It can be easier when the gap is 15 months, or four years or more.)
No matter how well you know your child, it’s difficult to predict how he or she will react when the baby is born. That said; there are things you can do to prepare your children for the new arrival. Child Psychologist Dr Richard Woolfson has five top tips on how to break the news gently:
1. Tell your toddler in advance that he’s going to have a new sibling but don’t tell him too soon or he’ll get bored with the idea.
2. Timing matters. Introduce the idea of the new baby around the fifth or sixth month, when he’ll notice your bump.
3. Relax. Tell him calmly, and be prepared to answer of he asks where the baby comes from.
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The other day, a friend (Heather) and I absent mindedly watched our toddlers play with a ‘pretend’ cash register as we jabbered away about life, love and everything else. Our girls were collecting plastic coins and putting them in the little slots, then closing and opening the machine with great gusto and excitement.
The fun had hardly anything to do with the money but more to do with pushing the button that opened the machine with a frantic ‘bing!’
It was an entertaining twenty minutes and sparked a conversation about the importance of teaching kids the value of money. Heather told me about something that she plans to do with her children… something that her parents did with her and her siblings when they were young.
And I think the idea is so cool that I have to share.
So… movie night was an event in Heather’s home. Her mum would ready the snacks and treats; the popcorn and sweets in cups, same with the fizzy drinks and crisps.
The children were given £5 in monopoly money and were allowed to purchase snacks worth the money apportioned to them.
The clever cost of the treats meant that the children couldn’t have everything on sale and had to choose carefully if they wanted seconds.
I love this idea. What a great way to teach children, from a young age, that money does not buy everything – you have to prioritise and make careful choices.
For the last few months, in my house, we have been using Father Christmas’s influence to keep our little ones on the straight and narrow.
Since about October, we were telling stories of how Santa can see and hear everything they are doing and saying, and will take a present off the list for every episode of bad behaviour, and how even if he can’t be there to see it personally, his little helpers – the birds and animals all around – will be keeping an eye out and reporting back.
Even into January, we can keep this going, because the promise of Christmas and presents and the evidence of Santa and Rudolph’s visit (half eaten mince pie and carrots, completely empty glass of wine) are still fresh in their little minds.
But within a few weeks, Christmas will be a distant memory, so a new tactic will be needed – and this is when we turn to birthdays.
The promise of a birthday party with princess dresses, cakes and party games carries a lot of weight – I know this because every time I displease my 4-year old daughter with anything as trivial as asking her to clean her teeth a little more thoroughly than can be done in 4 seconds, I am told in no uncertain terms that if I’m not nicer to her, I won’t be invited to her party (despite the fact that I will be hosting and paying for it!)
But as we know, with great power comes great responsibility, and planning the perfect children’s birthday party these days is in danger of being up there with planning the perfect wedding.
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