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A new year, back to work but it's still school holidays!

11th Jan 2021

Do you watch The Block, Australia? Sometimes I do but it’s not something I really, really, really must see (like Brigerton, ahem). But during the last week one team lost because they didn’t have a dining table in their dining room. The reasons why they left it out were astounding.  Not on a designer, interior design or anything like that level but when they said

 

"We knew that out of us and all of our friends, hardly any of the people that we knew actually sat down and used a dining table. A lot of them, they ate at different times to their kids."

 

They went on to say …

 

"Dining tables become a space where you put your laundry," said Tam.

"I don't know about you, but I pile all the stuff on the dining table, then I fold it up and put it away. We wanted to use that space for something different that would be utilised a bit more."

 

What? I haven’t actually stopped thinking about this because these reasons are wrong on so many levels. “What levels, Miriam ??” I hear you calling through hands made into the shape of a loud hailer. Well. Let me count the ways.

  1. Children’s brains grow when engaged in conversation with an adult. 5 conversations turns are best, not instructions or close ended questions. (more on that later).
  2. Children’s vocabulary increases, their understanding of correct grammar and syntax also increases, even if yours is incorrect. (I saw, not I seen. Th is enunciated Th not v or f, just to begin).
  3. Your teenagers are more likely to tell you what is on their mind when you are sitting around the dining table having dinner and talking. As well as what their 'friends' are getting up to.  (Note, no technology allowed during dinner time, more on that later too). This can be frightening, which is all the more reason to do it.
  4. You learn so much about your child that you will never find out if you haven’t spoken with them and in our busy lives, dinner time around the table is the best place to do this if you are busy throughout the day.
  5. As they tell you what they have seen or heard you can tell them whether something is correct or not. Some information a mean friend may have told them, you can correct this opinion with what is actually correct.
  6. General knowledge increases as you can discuss what is happening around the world.

 

I don’t know where Australian children’s literacy levels are at but NZs are lower than they have been in over 20 years. This is on us, parents! Us! Just talk to your kids, it’s actually that simple. Easy? No.

 

It is vital not only for our kids to learn and grow but to develop a high level of self worth, to help keep their anxiety levels at ‘normal’ Don’t worry about flash cards and apps and You Tube to teach your kids, absolutely nothing beats you talking to them.

 

Of course, I’m meaning positive conversation, conversation around them and how they are doing. Remember ‘Remove criticism and blame from your dialogue and you will build you integrity’ Integrity as a person and a parent. Take this into your team at work as well.

 

Dr Leah Woodward’s book “The Strength Switch” is a fabulous book to help you build up your child’s sense of self worth by focussing on their innate strengths as opposed to criticising what they can’t do or what they’ve done wrong. Another resource you can take into your work place.

 

Back to why conversational turns is important, it has been found that children who only hear instructions and not engage in conversational turns before they are 5, will not have the vocab to hold a conversation by the time they are 14.

 

The reason why you should eat dinner without technology? 700 words a minute are lost if any sort of tech distracts you. Turn off the television, put your phone away, turn off all devices and focus on your kids.

 

As a mum of two teenage boys, this has been vital in finding out who my kids are, what frightens them and what or who they turn to if they want to find something out. Some conversations have been extremely worrying and sometimes my boys haven’t made the right choices about some things but we are continually talking and re-directing to positive pathways.

 

The saying about taking a village is so so true, make sure you reach out to family, friends and professionals if you have any concerns about your children. In the meantime, set that table for dinner, sit down and TALK.

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Holiday Time!

23rd Dec 2020

Happy Holidays everyone, no matter where you are in the world I do hope you get to have a rest and refresh before going into 2021.

On our side of the world our school aged children get a really long summer break so I'm going to speak to the parents and caregivers of those children in this article.

I bang on about this a lot but it is so, so, so vitally important that you speak with your children. Not only does having a conversation with your child increase their own speaking skills but it also grows their brain. There has been extensive research coming out of Harvard Graduate School of Education for more than 20 years around this very subject. 

Conversational turns increases children's brain capacity. It is that simple. More research has proven children who have only heard instructions for the first 5 years of their life will not have the vocabulary to hold a conversation by the time they get to 14. Plus, over 100 words a MINUTE are lost if you eat dinner in front of the TV - or any screen for that matter.

Turn all devices off. Sit down at a table with your children and have a conversation. They will thank you for that when they are around 21 so hang in there!

Merry Christmas, Miriam.

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Half Way There!

14th Dec 2020

Half way through December and we are all quite probably still working, and quite probably working really hard to meet deadlines. Team work is really important here. We need our colleagues and our families to help us out if we are feeling under pressure. Recognising different personality and communication styles can go a long way to making challenging situations a little easier. So does empathy. Knowing how our words affect others and treating others as we like to be treated goes even further.

 

Emotional Intelligence (a phrase coined by US psychologists Peter Salowey and John Meyer), Emotional Competencies and bringing these to work during stressful times (or even not stressful) will pretty much ensure the rest of the year will go way more smoothly with better results for your organisation, than if you choose to leave these at home.

 

Emotional Intelligence Competencies are personal characteristics that contributes to outstanding performance in a particular job within a specific organisational context. They include self-awareness and self-management, which allows us to exercise some self-control. Social awareness competencies leads to empathy; understanding what others are saying and feeling and why they feel and act the way they do. Relationship management competencies aids us to get the results we want by working with or through others.

 

By bringing all these attributes to the table leads to organisational performance at a very high level. Emotionally intelligent leaders have the ability to maintain an effective, high-performance culture, even in times of stress.

 

Back at home once the work day/week/year is done use your EI competencies as an adult to help your children mature as empathetic people. Talking to them, making eye contact, answering their questions, reading to them. These activities are what children value most, way over and above gifts.

 

Give your children (if you have them of course) or any child you know, the gift of your time this year. There is screeds of research around this and I am happy to give you some links to studies but most recently the University of Auckland conducted a survey of 1000 children aged 5-13 about their experiences during lockdown and over 80% of them said being home with their parents was what they valued most.

 

If you would like more tips or techniques on how to help your children with their speech email me and I will support you with some free resources.

 

Nga mihi, Miriam.

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Get in touch with Miriam to discuss how she can help you.