Practical Parenting: Z is for

Z-is-for-ZigzagZigzag is such a wonderful sounding word.

ZigzagWhen children are in Grade 0 they are required to do pre-writing skills such as following lines with a pencil, or tracing the line with their finger on different shapes such as the zigzag line on sandpaper and vinyl to absorb the meaning of the line’s shape and the name.

You can play this at home by marking chalk lines of different shapes on your paving or verandah and invite your child to walk the line up and down, zigzag, in and out of a shape – all these activities assist with our young children’s learning of shapes and direction.

Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: Y is for

Y-is-for-YouthThe youth of today have so many opportunities which children of two decades ago could never have dreamt of  – but that does not necessarily make life easier for the teens of today.

In fact, many seem to be lost along the way, with parents less available to them because they are both working full-time, and pursuing their own needs of self-actualisation and survival. Teens naturally turn to their peers for advice and a sense of acceptance, but do not let that fool you. The most valuable relationship which shapes our lives into adulthood are the relationships we have with our parents.

So wake-up, engage, do not leave it to “good luck”, rather actively involve yourself with your children while young and they will actively involve you in their youth and young adult years.parentng-teens

Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: X is for


Children learn through example, through what they experience.

If you want your child to use polite language, we need to consistently use polite language, if we want our children to resolve conflict through discussion, we need to show our children how to do that by letting them see Mommy and Daddy have discussions ( not inflamed words) to the point of resolution. We also need to coach our children through the process with their siblings and friends to ask for a turn with a toy not grabbing it, and so on.

It is ok to be angry but it is what we do with the emotion that matters – learning words to explain our needs and wants is a critical life skill. The earlier we learn it, the easier it is to navigate our way in life. A very useful book is All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten by Robert Fulgham

Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: W is for

W-is-for-Windows-of-opportunityWe have glorious “windows of opportunity to interact with our children if we are alert to them.

Take a moment to think about when you are with your children – your hands might be busy, but you can manage to have a meaningful conversation at the same time, such as – while you are making supper, have your child come and play in the kitchen with you, or even better, if they are old enough to help you prepare some of the food, so they feel included in the process, or maybe when you take a bath, chat about the day or on the school trip in the morning or afternoon.  All of these and many more are golden opportunities which often pass us by, to have a bonding conversation.


How was your day? Who did you play with? What was the best thing that happened today?

If you remember that he was worried about something at school, have a follow-up conversation that night to hear how it went. For a child to know you were thinking about him during the day is reminding him of your love in a very tangible way.

Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: V is for

V-is-for-violinChildren who are introduced to the joy of music from a young age are more likely to pursue a love if it in years to come. Children who are encouraged to experiment with different instruments will also perhaps wish to play one long into their adult years if they have the opportunity. remember when I started learning the piano, I went for lessons from the age of five, but I had never witnessed someone really playing the piano until into my high-school years when I had the opportunity to hear school orchestras playing – then I heard a flute and it caught my imagination, and I wanted to play more than anything in the world. I had lessons, joined the school orchestra and still have a love of the wind instruments to this day. Others will be caught by the variety of stringed instruments for both classical and modern music. We do not have to be dragon mothers, to enable our children to discover their love of music.

Music is for everyone, think of Buskaid, or the Johannesburg youth orchestra – open up the possibilities for your children, to explore and discover the musician within.


Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: U is for

U-is-for-underestimateAs parents we often underestimate what our children are capable of when it comes to taking responsibility.

Responsibility of their toys, their clothes, their ability to contribute to a family conversation, or plans. Even a two year old knows what he likes or dislikes. We should invite our children’s comments and ideas by asking age-appropriate questions, e.g. would you like bolognaise or cottage pie to a five year old. As long as they know the difference between these two meals, you have already decided you are going to use mince and the essential ingredients are similar – but imagine if you had invited him to help make the meal and then he could proudly announce to Dad at supper time, “Mommy and I made the cottage pie” – or if he chopped up the salad (with a blunt or plastic knife) .

In my experience children, who have contributed to making the meal will be enthusiastic consumers of it too!


Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Practical Parenting: T is for

T-is-for-Toddlers-Teens-and-TantrumsWe are all familiar with the “Terrible Twos” and the “Torrid Teens” but I want to offer a different view point.

Our toddlers are enjoying the first stage of independence, they have two legs which will take them wherever they wish to go, and a curious mind that wants to explore everything in their environment. They are developing their dexterity as the pinch and poke to discover how everything works. Putting aside tiredness, hunger and boredom as essential components of temper tantrums, we often create the tantrum in our toddler because of our behaviour; interrupting exploration, removing an interesting gadget which he is playing with (eg the remote control, cell phone or similar) and saying “NO”. we as the parents or caregiver took a little time at the end of each day to ensure that the important, expensive gadgets were out of reach, and the house was ‘child-proofed’ in terms of breakable and precious items not being in sight or reach of your toddler, we would greatly minimize the number of tantrums we have to deal with in a day. Then, instead of saying ”NO” so many times, we would be free to engage in child friendly and interactive play.

Teens are sometimes seen as a “second toddler-hood” – another push for emotional, social and physical independence. As parents we often feel even more tested and stretched in this phase of life – however, we can pave the way to an easier process of parenting teens, if we use the toddler phase to get some basics in place;

1) Let your “YES” mean YES and your “NO” mean NO, then our children do not get confused! In other words, stick to what you said.

2) Be consistent in what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.

3) Distract toddlers away from what is dangerous and going to end up in trouble rather than taking them “head-on”

4) Create a daily routine around meals, naps and bedtime and weave your other activities around these regular activities to avoid hunger, and exhaustion to be a trigger for tantrums.

5) Be present and available. To ensure quality time together, put away your cell-phone, tablet, computer and TV and get down to their level and do something together. Go for a walk, read a story, bath together, have a romp in the garden, eat together and engage.

Sharing the beginning and the end of the day is so vital when we are apart during the day because of work, school or day care.

Time together can alleviate tantrums for all of us!

Posted in Steph Dawson-Cosser | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment