How to encourage your child’s positive behavior and gratitude at the same time

I often think back to the ‘Raising Boys’ course which I attended 4 years ago as a guidance to understand what could be my next step to help me and my children in a difficult period…. So when I noticed my 6 years old son (who is usually naturally well behaved and gets amazing reports from his teachers about both his learning and his social skills) struggling to respect some simple rules for a few weeks in a row, I came up with a reward chart of my own, since its use was suggested in one of this course sessions. We had some purchased ones in the past when he was only 3 or 4 but this time I wanted it to serve several purposes so I needed more flexibility in its diagram and he loves new family projects such as home made boards and so on!

The above works as follow.

  • My son gets 1, 2 or 3 points depending on the behavior I want to encourage (he hates getting dressed or playing on his own and he has quite frequent fights with his sister lately).
  • The points are represents by stickers (who does not love some good stickers when they are under 10?!) which he can allocate to the different prizes as he wishes (apart from the piano lessons ones, see below).
  • He can get several points in a day (on average 5 which is good if I want him to have 2 play dates a week!) if you count clothes in the morning and pajama in the evening; moments when I need him to occupy himself without a screen whilst I am doing something important for half an hour or so; and all the times I ask him to stop screaming in the car, hitting his sister during an argument or responding to her or us (when he enters the ‘no I am not, yes you are, no I am not, yes you are’ kind of endless useless conversation lol).
  • Prizes relates to activities more than material objects, so that he can appreciates for instance that organizing and hosting (or going with him to) a play date takes up quite some of my time, so he has to earn it by behaving well and helping the family routine instead of giving it for granted.
  • He expressed a strong desire to have some Lego boxes as prizes and I had 2 big ones that I had bought on massive discount a few months ago, so rather than giving those away to him straight away, he is ‘earning’ them little by little, whilst I have not spent any money recently to buy any new.
  • We are spending quite some money on his piano, swimming and football lessons during the year and lately he has shown no gratitude for our budgeting towards those activities, refusing to practicing or attending them regularly, nevertheless he does not want us to stop paying for them: so now he needs to practice 3 times a week his piano during the summer break in order to get more lessons paid in September, and that is the only prize that he can get by earning a specific type of sticker (1 practice, 1 sticker towards piano lessons only).

With this chart I am trying to achieve the best of both worlds: his good behavior in our day to day family routine but also appreciation of the things we do for him every day, his social life and diary, his extra scholastic activities, little chocolate treats now and then, and his passions such as Lego building or books! I hope to have passed on you some ideas out there 😉


Update a few weeks later – What I have noticed since using this chart is that an added benefit is also my increased sense of gratitude towards my child good behavior, so now instead of using it as a reward (‘if you do what I need you to do you will get a sticker’ command) at the end of the day I reflect on what positive behaviors my child had in a spontaneous way, so we remark them together before bedtime and notice what a kind and smart boy he is still outlining his positive acts which did not come from my requests or bribes but more out of his personal choice to do the right thing. Maybe that is the best key for the use of this kind of chart, to promote his internal price more than any external motivator (as mentioned in the Raising boys course).


Knock knock – Who’s there?

If your kids are obsessed with this joke format but they never know what to say next, here is a few ideas to help them out LOL

Cow says – Cow says who? – No, cow says mooo!
You – You Who? – Yeah!
Boo – Boo who? – Please don’t cry…
Who – Who who? – I didn’t know you were an owl?!
Atch – Atch who? – Bless you
Europe – Europe who? – You are a poo!
Mary – Mary who? – Mary Xmas!!

Me silly!

Banana / Banana / Orange – Aren’t you glad I stopped saying banana?!

A special space to fight nightmares

Despite my kids both generally sleep through the night since they were around 7 months old, they have had periods when they had regular really frightening nightmares and have been waking up in the middle of the night, absolutely unable to fall back asleep as terrified to remain alone in their rooms.
Unfortunately we have the smallest double bed size in our room, a queen size, and my husband is quite big. We found in the past that letting them sleep with us was simply another nightmare for us, as not only there was definitively not enough space for 3 of us (let alone 4 when they had a nightmare during the same night at different times) but also because they move a lot in their sleep.
In the past we tried to lie next to their bed to comfort them so they could fall asleep again but they often cannot let go completely as they know that we will go back to our bed as soon as we think they are asleep again: that’s when they open their eyes wide open and they start crying terrified as we were about to leave the room…!

Continue reading

How to apply for permanent residency

It is undeniable that the political events of the past few months have put a dark light on the future of Europeans living across the UK, no matter how long ago they arrived.

My husband had been considering applying for citizenship much before all of this happened, he even passed the ‘life in the UK’ test in August 2014. But because our daughter was a baby at the time and we did not get much sleep at night, we kept on pushing back filling out all the forms for him to apply for British nationality, providing the traveling diary requested which was the longest job to put together with all the papers requested.

Continue reading

Don’t forget to change your clock!

It’s now 8.25am and not 7.25am, so if you have a play date to the Clapham fun fair today or you wanted to take the kids to the 11am slot at the soft play area, you will have one less hour available for breakfast and to get everyone ready in time, just to complicate your life a bit more 🙂 Kids can suffer quite a lot the change of hour this time of the year, even if it’s just an alteration of 60 minutes to their usual schedule… To avoid them being grumpy or clingy it would have been good to plan ahead (which I didn’t have time to think about of course, as if we didn’t have enough to organize in our daily lives!) such us putting them to bed 15 minutes earlier 15 days ago, then half an hour ahead 10 days ago, then 45 minutes earlier 5 days ago so that today they would be easily getting used to the new routine. In that case it’s important you follow the changes with them too, otherwise they wake you up at what still feels 6am to you (instead of 7am let’s say)!

How to get your new born child a passport quickly

If you are British or have all your relatives living in the UK, you probably would not understand the urge to get your new born baby a passport to leave the country and travel soon after their birth.

However, many of us who moved to the UK only less than a decade ago or so, not followed by the rest of their family of origin (immigrants or expats, if we want to sound posher), feel a strong desire to make their parents and grandparents meet the new addition to the family as soon as possible, not only on Skype so to speak 🙂 . Some may have elderly relatives that won’t be able to travel in a foreign country; for others it’s a financial matter, where it makes more sense for less people to move and visit the rest of the family instead of the other way around; or you could have a sibling’s wedding to attend or some other important family reunion you simply cannot (and don’t want to!) miss.

Since June 2012, minors have been able to travel only if they have their own travel document and can unfortunately no longer travel just by using their parents’ passport containing the minor’s name. Hence the need of an ID for the baby too, quite quickly. The things to know about this procedure are the following.

Delivery discharge summary

Continue reading

Childcare vouchers – What they are and how to use them

If you are new to having a child you may not know why would you want to ask your employer for childcare vouchers.


Childcare vouchers are a specific amount of money (up to £243 per salary at the moment) that every parent (mother, father or both separately) may ask to be deducted from their gross salary (before taxes are paid) to use to pay their kid’s childcare provider (child-minders, nurseries, school breakfast and afternoon clubs, leisure centers holiday clubs).


Continue reading