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Smelly breath and prickly whiskers

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Thursday, 18 September 2014
My nanna had whiskers and grandpop halitosis (or was it the other way around that my four-year-old self recollects?) and yet we all loved our cuddles. Aunty A had far too many rolls of blubber I felt suffocated by her hugs. Uncle T smoked smelly pipes and his moustache was itchy when he kissed me on the cheek.

Everyone has memories as a child of being made to give a hello and goodbye kiss or a hug to adults who weren’t always particularly palatable.

And now the politically-correct crowd advocate that kiddies should wave or high five instead, as apparently physical contact could be blurring the boundaries of appropriate behaviour.

“Encouraging children to be in control by blowing a kiss as an alternative could help children learn that their bodies are their own to avoid future sexual exploitation”, says Lucy Emmerson, coordinator of the UK’s Sex Education Forum.

Yes we must protect our children and educate them about sexual advances and inappropriate behaviour but do we then sterilise them to the degree they will miss out on the warmth and love of human touch? The repercussions for the latter are too great to dismiss so easily with a handshake.

So talk to your children. Find out what they don’t like about a person and listen to their opinions and concerns. If it’s not too awkward to have a chat with the adult in question, then do it too.

Associate Professor Marylou Rasmussen, a Monash University sex education researcher in Australia, highlights the need to have conversations with primary school children about what is appropriate when it comes to physical contact with adults.

“It’s not okay to kiss a teacher, but if it’s a cousin of aunty and it’s not sexual then I don’t see why there is any concern at all.”

From my extensive experience previously as a child and with over twenty years of working with them, I know that a hug and a kiss help heal a scraped knee, get you a sweetie from granny, and make the world a safe and happier place. OK, a little bribery might sometimes be necessary but isn’t negotiation already an aspect of relationships?


Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 24 March 2014
How do you get fussy children to eat their daily portion of fruits and vegetables? Would you pay them?

It’s one of those quandaries where the grey area has merit and in this case has shown results in major studies.

Next question. Is blatant bribery acceptable when benevolent, a means to an end, and if it works for a greater good?

A scheme in the US paid children as a positive incentive to eat their fruits and vegetables provided at school lunch. (Tokens were rewarded that later could be exchanged for school stationary or toys) And it worked.

However, when the project finished most students returned to their former habits as the study only lasted a week.

The purpose for the experiment was an attempt to combat childhood obesity. Simply making good food available was not enough encouragement.

David Just of Cornell University says parents are often misguided about incentives. “We feel a sense of dirtiness about a bribe. But rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes a preference.”

It’s not a quick, nor a magic fix. Children sometimes need many tastings of new flavours or even in a variety of ways. And still there are no guarantees. Everyone has likes and dislikes and no one could ever convince me that brussel sprouts is a palatable delight. But show me a plate of broccoli, beans, beetroot, and any fruit and I am in foodie heaven.

Certainly there will be the issue of attachment of performing a task simply for the reward thereby eliminating the intrinsic motivation. But does it mean if you have tried everything else, (including a favourite dessert as a reward) it isn’t worth a new strategy if you regard incentive as a part of your parenting tools?

Although the concept is straightforward, the philosophy requires perspective. Also consistency. It won’t work if YOU don’t eat healthy. You know how children learn by example? Well, this is an opportunity to lead so the troops will follow.

Worth a discussion don’t you think?

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