Help your teen recover from a broken heart

matt-nelson-479709-unsplash.jpgDealing with dating can be tough. Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

When our teens get into dating it can be pretty scary for us as parents. Suddenly our babies are in the adult world of love! Negotiating all those emotional, physical (Ahh!) and social aspects that come with relationships. But, considering most teenagers don’t end up marrying their first love, what do we do when they, inevitably, break up?

Psychologist Dr Guy Winch in his Ted talk  and interview on the Elite Man Podcast talks about the best ways to deal with lost love.

Heart break, Winch says, shares all of the same traits as other types of loss and grief: not being able to sleep, obsessive thoughts that distract you, lowered immunity and even clinical depression. Losing a girlfriend or boyfriend has a huge impact. Your teen might not only lose their relationship but also lose a big part of their social life, friends, activities, and even their identity. Break ups can affect people for months. But as parents, there are things we can do — based on the latest research in this area — to help our teens heal their broken hearts.

8 steps that help fix a broken heart

1) Understand what’s happening in a heartbroken brain. Brain studies have shown that heartbreak is like withdrawal from drugs. You become obsessed: obsessed with the person you love or obsessed with figuring out what went wrong. When you obsess, play memories of them over and over in your head, look at photos, and try to contact them, you’re getting your ‘fix’. That’s what makes it so difficult to stop doing those things, even when you want to.

Biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher did a study on heartbreak where she looked at people’s brains in a functional MRI (fMRI).

“We put people in the machine, and the results really amazed me,” she says. “We found that when they looked at a picture of the person they love, the hypothalamus was pumping out dopamine” 

Down in the base of your brain, the area responsible for your instincts and drives such as hunger, thirst, and lust is the hypothalamus — and it’s this dopamine that makes us feel all gooey when we fall in love. It gives us feelings of elation, mood swings, cravings, and obsessive thinking. Everything feels amazing and special! But when we break up… we fall into dopamine withdrawal.

Helping your teen understand this is a good place to start.

Don’t downplay their feelings. Just because they are young or may not understand love like we do doesn’t mean they weren’t in love. Heartbreak has the same reaction in their brains as in ours and it hurts just as badly, so whether they were really “in love” or not is irrelevant. Encourage them to watch Winch’s Ted talk and chat with them about it.

2) Cut off social media Cold Turkey (even if just for 2 months). Now this is a hard one especially for teenagers, but encourage them to block their ex on Snapchat and unfriend them on Facebook, even if it’s just for a short time. Call it a “No-Contact” month. Don’t push it. It’s not an easy thing to do. But you can suggest it and tell them it’s a really powerful way to get over someone faster. They can even let their ex know that they are going to try a no-contact-month if that helps.

andrik-langfield-348253-unsplash Text bombing their ex just isn’t helpful. Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

3) Get rid of the reminders. As much as possible encourage your teen to remove or hide all the reminders of their ex. They can make a box or file if they want to with photos etc., but getting them away and out of sight will make recovery much easier. Of course if they are at school with their ex then there will be reminders that they can’t get rid of, but they can be limited.

“When you start to fall for someone, everything about them is special,” says Fisher. “The house they live in, the street they live on, it’s all special to you. They’re dopamine triggers.” Reminders after the break up trigger the same dopamine reaction, and that just makes it that much harder to move on.

4) Make a list of why they weren’t perfect. Idealising your ex and how amazing they were is a really common reaction to heartbreak. Everything about them becomes SO perfect: their smile, the way they talked, that birthday when they were so thoughtful… 

Winch suggests making a list — writing down all of the ways that the ex was the wrong one for you. Encourage your teen to think of all the things that they didn’t like about their ex. Did they do anything that was rude or hurtful. Did they have personality traits or habits that weren’t great.

It’s not about being mean and hateful to the other person, but its acknowledging that no one is perfect and giving a bit of balance. Winch recommends keeping the list on their phone so they can read it whenever they find themselves remembering the “perfect” things. 

designecologist-557571-unsplashIdealising an ex is a common reaction after a breakup. Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

5) Get a sense of closure We can waste a lot of energy going over and over the question “what went wrong?” but it just holds us in our heartbreak. Winch says we either need to accept the reason the ex gave or make one up to get closure.

It ended because she wasn’t emotionally available (Not because your teen wasn’t good enough.) It ended because he wasn’t mature enough for a long term relationship (Not because they’re not pretty enough.)

6) Fill in the voids. All of them. Moving on involves finding ways to replace the gaps that the ex left. Going out with friends, or meeting new people, starting a new hobby, exercising, having fun. Support your teen in getting outside and getting active with friends. (Try really hard to drag them away from technology. They need real connections in the real world right now.)

7) Don’t try to be friends. It’s not easy to get over an ex if you are still trying to be friends. Teens usually say they want to stay friends, and they might have to if they are in the same social circles or same classes at school, but it does drag the heartbreak out longer in general. So if it’s possible, encourage that “no-contact” month.

8) Distract your brain. Because your teen now understands what’s happening in their lovesick brain, they can control it a bit. When they feel themselves obsessing, or going over old memories of their ex, encourage them instead to redirect their focus. Even if it’s just doing math equations in their head, like working out the 11 times tables into the hundreds. Or they could play a challenging puzzle or word game on their phone. They could memorise something.

When her research subjects redirected their focus “the hypothalamus calmed down and stopped pumping out the dopamine that was making them feel lovestruck,” says Fisher. 

Heartbreak is not an easy thing for adults to deal with let alone teenagers. We might be secretly glad they are single again (there’s always that scary — what if someone gets pregnant scenario!) but they need our support, compassion and patience — it might take longer for them to get over it than we think it should, and that’s okay.

It may seem bad right now, but, with your support, it can be a positive life lesson. They can learn some new skills, be resilient, and discover that they are capable of handling difficult emotions. 

“Through putting people who’ve been rejected or dumped into the fMRI, we’ve discovered something promising,” Fisher says, “which is that the attachment eventually reduces. Time does heal the brain.”

Until next time,

Kelly xxx

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Being a “High Value” parent


As a newly solo parent, I’ve been thinking a fair bit about co-parenting and how to make the most of shared care. I came across a podcast about being a “High Value” person and, as it does, my brain started turning over how this idea can be applied to parenting.

I think co-parenting is one of those tricky things that you never really plan on doing. I certainly didn’t. But now that we’re here I want to get it right for my kids.

My parents were divorced and always did an amazing job of respectfully co-parenting. To us kids they seemed to be generous in their flexibility with each other, cooperative and kind. They had firm boundaries around who did what when, but during hard times especially (like in the teen years!) they worked together to do what was best for us wherever they could.

I wonder if it was those three things: co-operation, kindness and generosity — which my parents showed each other — that led to their success in co-parenting.


The three qualities of “High Value” people

The podcast I listened to argued that co-operation, kindness and generosity are the three qualities that make you a “High Value” person. Someone who is great to have around. A great friend, work mate, and partner.

High value people draw in other high value people too. They attract them, because who doesn’t want to have cooperative, kind and generous friends? And I’m not talking about generous with money or things here. High value people might be generous in that way too, but when you generously give people the attention, acceptance and approval that everyone needs and wants (like I talked about last week) that’s even more valuable than gifts or money.

When I was a life-line counsellor I realised how valuable it is to people to have someone give you their undivided attention and really listen. Generously giving people your time and undivided attention is super valuable. How often do you get someone’s undivided attention now? It’s one of the biggest things people complain about isn’t it. I’m always coming across articles about how we need to unplug from our noisy, distracting, busy world. With our phones dinging for our attention, work being demanding, family life being too busy, the super addictive properties of Facebook and Instagram…. we all know we are competing with so many things! Undivided attention isn’t an easy thing to give.

As a Life-Line counsellor, I sat in a tiny sealed-off room with no noise and no distractions. When I was on the phone with someone it was like they were the only person in the world. And people loved it. I couldn’t tell you how many times a person told me how much it meant to them to just have those 20 minutes of someone fully listening. 20 minutes! That was all we gave them. And, usually, that was all they needed. We didn’t even do any official “counselling”, just listened. How easy is that?

And if you are kind and generous with your time, you’ll pretty quickly find other people act the same towards you.

Being a high value person also makes you a high value parent

Co-operative. Kind. Generous.

Co-operating with them and their other parent whenever you can.

Generously giving your kids the three A’s: Acceptance, Attention and Approval.

And, like we quote often in our family, “if you can choose, then choose to be kind.”


The alternative: Low Value parenting

I quite like the idea of High Value parenting (and co-parenting). And, to me, the alternative just doesn’t sit well. Low value parenting seems like the best way to end up spiralling down into a pretty negative place. Low value behaviours can be tempting at times but they are generally short-term fixes to problems. Blaming is one low value behaviour that is tricky to avoid. When things go wrong — the kids are being hard work, or you’re running late for their dance class again — it’s so easy to blame the other parent or our children. I’ve been here. If only they’d stop mucking around! I told them 10 minutes ago to put their shoes on! Seriously hard when you’re stressed out.

Being argumentative or combative is another low value behaviour. And also a tricky one, especially in the co-parenting situation where, obviously, things haven’t been going well between you and the other parent.

Other low value behaviours include being passive, begging, people pleasing, or being competitive.  Competitive parenting and comparing ourselves to other parents, as easy as it is to do, just puts us on the slippery slope to depression.

So let’s all do our best to drop those low value behaviours that hold us back and keep us miserable! Let’s aim to be cooperative, kind and generous. To be those High Value people and High Value parents our kids need — whether we are parenting together, alone or co-parenting!

Until next time!





Catching tiny moments — How busy parents can build fantastic relationships with our children


I am a solo parent, a homeschooler and a freelance writer. Even though I’m with my kids a lot, some days it feels like I’m just rushing around doing tasks and not really “with” my kids at all.

There’s housework to be done, I’ve got clients to deal with, and when you’re homeschooling there’s that teacher/student dynamic that can often be more about getting your child to produce or do something (“Have you done all of those math questions yet?” “Make sure you check your spelling!”) rather than about building relationship with them.

Why the big exciting stuff is great but the tiny things matter more

My girls and I have just come home from four days away together. It was fantastic! We went to see one of our favourite musicals (and spent hours singing all the songs together). We played at TimeZone, had sushi, rode on the escalators (a bit of a novelty for my small-town kids) and went to the museum. The four days together built amazing memories and closeness, but times like this are rare.

It took me six months to save for this trip away. It’s certainly not a regular thing for us. So I can’t rely on these big special moments to be our only relationship building times.

We often put a lot of emphasis on the big stuff in our lives — the overseas trips, the birthday parties, the adventures — when the small everyday things are what actually matter the most. I think we get confused by the quality over quantity argument with parenting and think that quality means doing a lot of big amazing things with our kids. It’s a lot of pressure!

Most days my girls and I are not actually doing much at all — just the usual housework, schoolwork, eating, sleeping standard routine. But this is where the real relationship building is happening!

John Gottman, a psychologist and researcher and author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child” talks about an idea called Emotional Bids. Everyone makes emotional bids all the time. It’s why we post to Facebook and Instagram. We’re asking people to respond to us, to show us some attention and approval. If we tell someone about the marathon we ran last week we want them to celebrate with us. If we text our friend to say we’re sick we’re hoping they will show us some love and sympathy, send us a “get well soon!” message back. Emotional bids are made to get three things.

Everyone wants these three things: Attention, acceptance and approval.

You’re kids most definitely want them from you. And most of what they do — asking you to watch them on the swing, tugging on your sleeve, calling your name over and over, drawing you a picture at kindy, even doing something naughty —  is just them trying to get attention, acceptance and approval.

I made a mistake with this the other day with my daughter Lula. She picked an outfit to wear that she thought was pretty (she’s 12 and discovering her own style). She did look nice — she had on a lovely skirt and off-the-shoulder top — but I thought it was a bit dressed up to wear in the middle of the day and told her to change. Her reaction was explosive! “You always think I’m wearing the wrong thing! I can never get it right!” That’s when I realised I’d missed a huge opportunity to offer her my approval. She looks up to me and thinks I dress well (so sweet). And here I was telling her she’d missed the mark.

I had rejected her emotional bid. When we reject or turn away from bids it says “you’re not worth it” or “you’re not okay”.

When our kids say “Look at this mum! I made a lego car” and we respond with “cool” and then quickly turn our attention back to our phones we are rejecting their bids.

Now, I know, kids make a lot of bids. They always want us to look, pay them attention, come play or ask questions. We can’t respond to them all!

The studies Gottman did around emotional bids were on marriage relationships. He showed that couples who responded to a high number of bids (above 80%) stayed together, while those who ignored each other’s emotional bids most of the time split up. So the aim for us as parents then is not to exhaust ourselves responding to every single bid our kids make for attention, but just to try and catch as many as we possibly can.

It takes a bit of effort but if we turn towards them, make eye contact, smile, nod, and be present (even for a short time) we’ll pick up emotional bids without even trying.

Our kids need our attention, approval and acceptance in a few different ways.

Touch — “hug me mummy”

Touch is lacking in our society. People need to be touched. Some kids don’t like full tight hugs but they will still need some form of touch. It might be sitting side by side, just touching arms, holding hands, or a little stroke of their hair.


Attention — “Look at me mummy!”

It builds relationship when you share an experience. When your child says “Look at the train!” it’s because they want you to enjoy what they are enjoying. They want to share it with you. They want you to know what they find interesting, exciting, or even upsetting. Even if you don’t feel the same interest as they do (not everyone can get excited about trains) if you acknowledge their interest you’re telling them they are important to you. “Wow, it’s a cargo train! I know you love those.”

Learning together -“But why?”

I don’t know about you but I have incredibly curious kids. They seem to be constantly wanting to know about everything. “Why?” is a common question in our household and sometimes I’m just too tired to answer.

I’ve found a little trick though! When I still want to encourage their bid to learn with me but I’m too tired to answer it myself I say, “Why do you think it might be like that?” If they say they don’t know I either say “Why don’t you find out and then tell me what you learn,” or “If you did know what do you think it would be?” They come up with some amazing theories! Whether they are right isn’t really important, they’ll find out over time, but the learning and thinking together is another way to build relationship.


Playing together – “Play with me!”

Recently, Lula and I realised my 8 year old was making a lot of “play with me” bids that both of us were ignoring. (When you’re over the age of ten playing can be pretty boring!) We decided that we needed to make more of an effort to respond to Little’s emotional bids and give her some attention. We set aside 30 minutes a day to play whatever Little wants to play. The first day she picked a board-game called Blokus (which is great because it’s easier then using my dusty imagination to play My Little Ponies!) It made a huge difference for her because she felt she was worth spending time with. That half hour had a huge pay off for our relationship.

It’s still something I’m working on. I definitely need to catch more of those tiny moments when my kids are asking for my attention, acceptance and approval. It takes practice to become more aware of those bids. To stop and turn towards them. Emotional bids can be so easy to miss! But if it makes my relationship with my lovely girls stronger then it’s 100% worth the effort.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too. What ways do your kids make emotional bids? If you are following my series on communication and emotional intelligence I’ll be posting one more next week. If you haven’t already, check out the last two posts on this topic too. Tuned in: How tuning in to your kids’ emotions will help them control their feelings better.

Non-violent communication for mums (and dads too obviously!)

Looking forward to next week and hearing how you went with your parenting journey

Kelly xxx

References (I recommend these awesome sites if you want to learn more about this topic and other communication tips)



Highly Sensitive Children, Uncategorized

Tuned in: How tuning in to your kids’ emotions will help them control their feelings better.

patrick-fore-358120-unsplashSo, I was just at the supermarket and, before I even stepped out of my car, I witnessed a common supermarket interaction between a mum and her child. This beautiful young mummy — obviously in a bit of a hurry as we often are — was struggling to convince her little girl to move.

Some days kids love supermarkets, all the bright colours, the music, maybe getting to pick a treat….and then some days I swear they think they’re allergic to it.

My kids are older (8, 12 and 26 now) so luckily I don’t get supermarket battles anymore but Oh! I haven’t forgotten what they were like! So I totally sympathised with this young mum.

“Come on!” she (sort of) calmly insisted.

“I’m scared!!” the little girl screamed.

“Of what!? The supermarket?”

(Now, I am certainly not judging this mummy for what she said next. I have said the same in frustration to my own children a number of times. When you have little ones you are so busy and just SO tired. I get it.)

“Oh for goodness sake! Whatever!” and she picked her little girl up, still saying she was scared, still crying, and charged into the supermarket.

It made me think… how else could that interaction have gone? What would it have looked like if just for a second instead of saying “whatever” she tuned in to her emotions?

Would it have made the rest of the supermarket trip a bit easier for both of them? Mum less stressed because she doesn’t have a crying child on her hip? Her wee girl less scared because she’s not being forced into a place she clearly doesn’t want to go?

Now, I’m sure you can relate to this mum. I think we all can as parents. Even perfect parents (who are they anyway!) can’t be calm and tuned in all the time. We all say “whatever”. We all have things that just have to be done. Life is busy!

But perhaps it doesn’t have to take that long.

Emotion labelling to calm people down QUICK! 

I’ve been studying emotional intelligence for quite a while but recently I’ve come across a very interesting idea. Douglas E. Noll, a professional mediator and coach teaches emotion labelling to prisoners and adults. He uses it as a very effective way of calming angry people down and it has been shown to work even in extremely difficult situations such as street fights where knives have been pulled.

The interesting thing about his idea is that it usually takes around 90 seconds. Now, if I had had a tool that calmed my kids’ tantrums down in 90 seconds when they were preschoolers I’d have been a happy mummy! Some of my darling daughter Lula’s full blown tantys could last 45 minutes!

Noll says it’s as simple as tuning in. You pretty much ignore what they are saying and tune in to what they are feeling.

Ignore the words, listen for feelings 

In the supermarket kids case she was making it easy on her mum and telling her straight out — “I’m scared!” It didn’t make much sense. What on earth is scary about a supermarket? But Noll says simply repeating back to the person their feelings — “you’re scared” — is enough to start calming them down.

So what might have happened if our lovely supermarket mummy had said that? Perhaps she would have told her why she was scared. “There is a funny noise! It’s scary.”

Noll says to just carry on tuning in to those feelings. “You’re frightened of the funny noise.”

“Yeah,” says our little girl. “It’s all loud and beepy!”

“Your scared of the loud beeps” says our lovely mum.

By now our little girl might have calmed down. Perhaps she would ask to hold mum’s hand.

It seems weird. I know. I was very skeptical when I heard it. It’s too simple. Why on earth would telling someone how they feel calm them down?

But all the research has been showing it works. Noll says that when people are angry or having strong emotions, like fear, they are not operating out of the logical part of their brain. They can’t see how they are feeling.

This is especially true for little children who just don’t have the vocabulary or emotional intelligence to understand what’s going on for them. When you tell them “you’re scared” it changes something in their brains. They not only feel understood, accepted and seen (which after all is what everyone wants!) they start to understand their feelings better.

Noll says to keep labelling your child’s emotions until you get a nod, “yeah”, or some other calmed-down kind of response (or until 90 seconds is up, whichever comes first).

Don’t ask what they feel or try to solve it. Just keep guessing at their feelings until you get it right. He says with kids it usually only takes around 30 seconds of emotion labelling to work.

jordan-whitt-145327-unsplash Using feelings words helps you control your emotions

The more people are able to describe their feelings the more they are able to control and manage them. Research has found that people with larger “feeling” vocabularies stay calmer.

One really interesting study on this topic was done with people and spiders. (Ugh! Glad it was them not me!) The participants had to walk closer and closer to a spider they were afraid of. The people who described their fears really well, using a lot of feelings words, were able to get much closer to the spider and stay much calmer than those who didn’t describe their feelings. They managed their fear better.

Feelings words help us manage ourselves — control our fear, anger, nervousness…

So how does this help us as parents? 

Two ways.

One — when we tune in to our child’s feelings they calm down quicker and we can get on with what we need to do. They feel better. We feel less stressed. Win-win.

Two — when we tell our child how they are feeling we are adding to their bank of feelings words. The more feelings words they have the better they will be able to manage their own emotions in the long run. (Less tantrums! Yay!)

I’m heading into the teen stage again with my daughter, Lula (I’ve already parented a teenage girl so I know what I’m in for!) and it is certainly a time full of strong emotions!

Hopefully, I can tune in (although I’m sure “whatever!” is still bound to pop out of my mouth at some point!) and help her learn to manage her strong emotions as she heads into adulthood.

If you want to learn more about communicating better with your kids check out my post on non-violent communication for mums. I’ll be talking about this topic (communication and emotions) for the next few weeks so keep posted for more.

Enjoy tuning in this week!

Sending you lots of love because we’re all on this crazy parenting journey together!

Kelly xxx

Here’s a link to the abstract of the Spider study if you are interested, and check out Douglas E. Noll’s book about how to de-escalate anger in 90 seconds if you want to learn more.


Getting kids into chapter books


My daughter is a super keen book worm! She’s almost a teenager now and has a book review blog for kids. She will be reviewing some beginner chapter books soon so, to give you a hand getting your littles inspired, I’ve dragged up my Chapter book Tots to Teens article for you! It will give you some direction on how to help your kids move from picture books to chapter books — easy-peasy as always. Check it out below or download the full article here Catching-the-chapterbook-bug

Then head on over to my daughters blog to get some more book ideas!

Have fun!

Catching the Chapter book bug

The leap from the colourful world of picture books to the imagination-stirring realm of novels usually occurs sometime between ages 6 and 9.

Each child’s reading journey is unique, but in a world where screens compete fiercely with books, there are some things we can do to ensure our children catch the chapter book bug.


Unfortunately, with so many other activities vying for our children’s attention, reading doesn’t always win. Computer games, i-pads and movies draw them in with the promise of an exciting, multi-sensory overload, leaving the quiet, unpretentious book overlooked on the shelf. Not surprisingly then, some kids need a bit of help to get inspired about reading. As a teacher, this is one of my favourite and most rewarding tasks: unlocking the secret joy of chapter books. Children who read regularly for leisure, not just to complete their homework, read faster. And the faster they read, the more enjoyment they get from their books. The more they enjoy it, the more they will continue to read, unlocking their imagination and discovering new ideas, cultures, worlds. They will be
using their brains (compared to TV watching which
requires less brain activity than sleep) and continue to
read into adulthood.



To inspire our kids to make the shift from picture books to chapter books, we need to sell it to them. We can’t rely on school to do this (although good teachers will certainly make a big effort), so the best way to ensure they get excited about reading is to read to them at home. When children are read aloud to and discuss stories at least three times a week, they read more often themselves and are better at it than peers who are not being read to. Even at year 7 and 8, when most children are reading independently, many teachers continue reading aloud to their class, as they understand the value of it. They often pick stories that would be a bit of a challenge for their students to read alone: novels filled with interesting rich vocabulary, fantastic story lines, or deeper levels of meaning and symbolism that the children typically would miss without adult-guided discussions. Always though, teachers read something they love, and hope it will inspire their class to read more themselves.

When selecting a read-aloud book for your child at home, choose something you love or loved as a child. Classics are always a great place to start. If you haven’t read much to your children before, start small and build up. Find a short chapter book or an abridged version of your favourite classic with plenty of pictures.

If you need a place to start, try Charlotte’s Web, The Travelling Restaurant, Holes, Dick King-Smith books, or Little Women (the illustrated abridged version makes a easy nice read aloud) and of course Roald Dahl books are always a hit with kids of any age.


To succeed with chapter books, it’s important to help our children choose well. I’ve found most kids left to choose alone will select either the shiniest sparkliest cover they can find, or the one with the most gruesome picture. With little reading experience to go by, they can easily get turned off if their chosen book ends up being too hard. It has to be at the right level or early novel readers will lose the flow of the story and end up understanding very little of what they read. The Tiara Club might look cute and extra sparkly, but she’ll find it boring in two seconds if it’s at the wrong reading level. If they say they really love it, ask them to read a full page out loud to you, and silently count how many words they get wrong. If they make more than four or five errors in a page, suggest kindly that the book’s a little too hard now, but it won’t be long before they will be able to manage it. Or you could read it with them, filling in incorrect words so they don’t lose the flow of the story.

Comprehension is key, so talk about the storyline. Check they are understanding it by asking them to tell you what has happened so far. If they love it, they’ll be reading it on their own in no time. Series books (like Judy Moody) are perfect for beginner chapter book readers because they get hooked. As a parent, I find some of the princess/fairy series to be cringeworthy pieces of writing packaged in pink, but for the sake of my daughter’s reading mileage,
I bite my tongue for now. We can always slip the good books in later once our kids are up and running.

Easy beginner chapter book series: Billy B Brown, Little Animal Ark, Zac Power, Rainbow Fairies.

Slightly harder chapter book series: Judy Moody, Geronimo Stilton, Wild Rescue, NZ Girl, Secret Seven, Templeton Twins.


Boys can be harder to convince when it comes to reading novels, but there are some great books out there to inspire even the most reluctant male reader. Try reading some of the following to or alongside your boy: Holes by Louis Sachar, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, Zac Power by H.I.Larry, Willard Price’s classic adventure books, or the modern equivalent such as Leopard Adventure by Anthony McGowan, James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown, Dairy of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney, or Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey.


Research has shown that light reading leads to more in-depth reading, so if your child is struggling to be interested in reading at all, try introducing comics. Comic books help reluctant readers gain confidence and learn to enjoy reading. Often they even introduce sophisticated new vocabulary.


If you feel like book reading needs a bit of a leg-up in your house, there is always bribery! Pick a week (holidays are good) and offer to pay for chapters or pages read. 10 or 20c, or any small amount, usually works fine. Decide together what counts and check they understand what they have read by asking about the book (skim read it yourself to make sure they are actually reading it, if you’re in doubt). With the right books (not too hard), a week is usually long enough to get them hooked!

“Research has shown that reading for enjoyment (books children choose for themselves) improves spelling, writing, thinking skills and vocabulary”





Non-violent communication for mums


So today we’re going to be talking about communication. Such a big topic! And so important to work on because it affects everything — how your kids behave, your relationship with your partner, your friendships, and, very importantly, whether or not you get your needs met as a busy mum!

For so many of us, when we become mums we are so busy looking after our littles that we totally forget, or undervalue, expressing our own needs and caring for ourselves. I know I did! We put our kids first, saying “I’ll be fine. I want to be a good mummy,” and then — surprise surprise — get so exhausted that we end up having a big outburst, screaming and yelling at the kids or our partner and feeling terrible.

Rather than sacrificing your sanity, a part of being a good mummy or daddy means teaching your child how to communicate their needs. How do we do that? Model it our selves. When we communicate calmly, guess what! They will learn how to as well! (Believe me, if you work on calm, good communication when they are little it will pay off massively when you have a house full of teenagers.)


Okay — so there’s a really simple place to start. They are sometimes called “I messages” or “Non-violent communication.” Basically, it’s just an easy-to-try sentence that you can use to communicate your needs calmly and teach to your children. It can feel a bit weird to start with so just hang in there with me, it does get more natural over time.

How it goes:

Start with getting their attention calmly. Sit down somewhere or squat to their height if it’s your child. (Even 3 year olds can understand this if you keep it simple).

Start with what you observed and want to talk about “When I see…” or “When I hear…”

Then name your feelings. (Some people find this really hard — especially children. Naming feelings is a skill that you can learn too. We’ll talk about that another day.)

“I feel… sad/ upset/ hurt/ angry/ frustrated/ annoyed.”

Then say why you feel that way.  “Because I need… quiet when I am settling the baby.”

“Because I value… people being kind to each other.”

And last of all ask for what you want without demanding it. “Would you be willing to…put some headphones on please?”

“I’d really like it if you….share your lego with your sister.”

It doesn’t mean you’ll always get what you want. They might say no, but it’s so much better than never asking for what you need and feeling resentful, or yelling and screaming. Give it a go!

I’ve created a free PDF for you! You can print it off and stick it on your fridge as a super simple reminder.

NV communication

See you soon!