Put your coat on!

By Camilla McGill. March , 2018
I was at a tea party last week chatting to a lovely mother of a toddler. Getting ready to leave she held her child's coat and started the age old battle of the coat. "Come on darling, put your coat on now", "No I don't want to", "Oh yes you do, it’s cold outside", "No, I don't want my coat".  As we'd been having a lovely chat, I felt I could say something without sounding like I was interfering. I said quietly that I used to do the battle with the coat or sweater until I realised that children are generally much hotter than us. They move around more and heat up quicker. Therefore, they often genuinely don't need the extra layer. It’s so much better to ask them to choose whether they want it. If they have a sweater, tie it around their waist in case they get cold; if they have a coat, you or your child could carry it in case they need it.

 It reminded me of a time I was taking Alice to nursery. She used to sit in a seat that went across the handlebars of my bike, which I loved as I could chat to her on the way. As we left the house she refused the coat, so I bit my lip and told her I would bring it and put it behind her on the bike seat. It was a chilly day and on the ride I mentioned that I felt quite cold. She suddenly said, "I'm cold too, Mummy," so I asked if she'd like to put her coat on. We stopped and she happily put it on. We then started to chat about how sometimes we don't realise how cold it will be when we’re inside because of the central heating and when we get outside our body temperature drops. We were both happy with the outcome; it had come about peacefully and allowed her to learn about changes in body temperature.

Dealing with nagging and whining

By Camilla McGill. March , 2018
Whilst teaching a class at Parent Gym this week, one of the parents asked me how to deal with incessant nagging. This is a question that I’m asked frequently. The problem with nagging is that it has usually become a habit for the child. They nag, we ignore, they nag a bit more, we engage with them, usually to tell them they can't have what they want, and they go on and on. Of course there are many occasions when we are so worn down that we crack: "Okay, fine, have the biscuit, but only one. Okay, you can have three, but no more and promise you’ll eat your dinner."

And there we have it. We've engaged in a battle and guess who won? However, if we remove the battle and refuse to engage with the nagging, we can make a huge difference.

"Do you think if you ask over and over again that I might change my mind? I can see why you’d think that, as I’ve changed my mind in the past, but I've made a new rule and it is that I'm going to stick with my decision. What did I say you couldn't do?"

If your child tends to whine, ask her to speak to you in a polite tone of voice and explain that she should make a request rather than a demand. So instead of whining, “I'm thirsty,” tell her that she must ask for a drink politely. Explain to her cheerfully, "You need to make a request. You can ask me, 'Mummy, please can I have some water?'". If she continues to make the request with a whine, you must stick to the rule and get her to repeat the request until she can ask without whining. It sounds tedious, and perhaps pedantic, but it will make such a difference in the long run. It will teach them how to use the correct tone of voice when making a request and it will mean you can stop criticising them for whining.