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SLEEP, EAT, RELAX

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 07 April 2014
“Eat and sleep and you will live a long time. You have to learn to relax”. Misao Okawa is 116 years young and obviously won the generic lottery for health and wellbeing.

But I like to think her wisdom speaks volumes for adults and children alike.

A healthy body is a healthy mind is a happy soul. Nutrition and rest make it so. And a developing body requires more rest and an appropriate routine. Bed and sleep well before a child becomes delirious and crashes on the sofa/in the back seat of the car/on your lap.

Irregular bedtimes can disrupt everyday rhythms, which in turn leads to sleep deprivation. Physical, emotional and behavioural changes occur during a 24-hour cycle as the body responds to light and dark. Apparently it’s something like jet lag when repeated over time.

There are many sleep experts out there you can tap into to help with your child’s issues if it’s a problem, but the responsibility is entirely yours. Give yourself and your dear one the gift of calmness and find a routine to satisfy you both.

It’s an investment in their development and your sanity, and it’s never too late to introduce as the detrimental effects are completely reversible. It may take enormous effort and energy, high drama, tantrums (keep your cool), and at first until sleep time becomes a pleasant experience for all.

Children don’t grow out of bad habits and behaviour. They require adults to guide them to learn and then understand.

Misao’s wisdom is not ground breaking nor, an ancient Japanese mystery. Next step is to adopt her sushi diet and you’ll be blowing out an inferno on your birthday cake too.



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ME AND NANNY MCPHEE

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 03 February 2014
My job has many perks. One is travel to exotic destinations I would never have had the opportunity to visit if I had to pay for my own ticket. Another is watching a well-made children’s movie (along with the countless mediocre animations) with a happy-ever-after ending…over and over, to the point I can recite the dialgoue.

Last night it was “Nanny McPhee” again. Not that I wish to admit it too loudly, but I think it may have been my choice because of a certain Colin Firth. Nannies need a little treat too.

Hmmmm…ok, back to sensible Nanny V.

Five lessons and 99 minutes is all it took for a little magic and wise utterances to bring harmony and beauty back to a troubled family.

Nanny McPhee’s lessons, necessary for a smoothly run household, are for children:-

1. To go to bed when they are told, to say please, not fight each other, apologise

2. To get up when they are told, and learn how to share

3. To get dressed when they are told, and learn to work together

4. To listen and say thank you

and 5. To do as they are told, and to have faith and bravery.

Also great life lessons and seemingly fundamental you would think. I’d like to recommend a few of these to a number of adults who could do with a little discipline. Sadly, common sense is not an automatic state of being.

Obviously, to learn something new, one initially needs to be told and instructed. Though with time the behaviour becomes innate and reminders unnecessary, and therefore, no nagging. There is a fine line between pestering a child to complete a task you have asked them to do a number of times and yet, it frustratingly remains uncompleted.

At this point magic would be wonderful but we mere mortals can employ explanations, incentives (some bordering on bribery), deals, and work our way through to outright threats. Not the life threatening kind, more like the action/consequence principle Buddhists espouse.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of Nanny McPhee, I highly recommend a viewing. Particularly if a certain Colin is a favourite.

"When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is..." Bye for now.

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CALMING BEHAVIOUR

Posted by Nanny Knows Best
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on Monday, 16 December 2013
When does a child develop social skills? Do rules help or inhibit appropriate behaviour in a social environment? Does any of this really matter?

A recent study reveals that over ten per cent of four and five year olds lack social skills to start school. They are rarely able to follow rules, show self-control or play with other children.

Hmmm, no real revelation I’d suggest and, possibly a loud reminder to parents who endeavour to fast-track their offspring at the expense of enjoying a childhood.

I guess the divide is whether your perspective is that a happy, carefree childhood is a luxury or simply preparation for life. Maybe life is not meant to be easy, as espoused by pessimists or prison guards, but does it have to start off with such a reality hit as high expectations?

Australian teachers who contributed to the Early Development Index observed their students as hyperactive, disobedient, anxious, threw tantrums and got into fights, blaming “genuine skills weakness” that got them into trouble in class.

I would expect a four year old to have a meltdown now and then.

It is how we handle these moments that matters. It is not a contradiction to raise happy children in a safe and enjoyable environment whilst teaching customary manners, such as to pay attention, wait their turn, and listen. Acceptable behaviour does not cancel out fun. By instilling good “self-regulation” skills early, and as a part of everyday learning, it won’t feel as traumatic when expected in public and or other social settings.

Some tips:
  • Set up a “calm space” at home
  • If anxious or angry encourage your child to walk away from aggressive situations
  • Teach breathing techniques to help settle heightened behaviour
  • Wait until calmness is restored before discussing the problem
  • Help to identify the first signs of anger, stress, nervousness, frustration
  • Always ensure you convey love to reassure and support their development.

Call me old fashioned, but a loving and firm approach is what works. It may not be rocket science but it does take time, patience, INEXHAUSATIBLE energy and consistency to get it right. It won’t supress creativity and individualism.

It won’t compromise leadership aspirations and academic potential. What it will do is help a child understand how to communicate and understand their world a little better…actually, I could do with a little retraining myself.


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