Ijeoma thomas-Odia


Let’s face it: sometimes our homes can be stressful and chaotic, especially when we have children. The first step to making your home a more peaceful place is by setting house rules. Co-founder MumsAloud.com and parenting enthusiast, Tina Ok said.

House rules are important for many reasons. The first and most important is to help everyone in your household get along better, and make family life more peaceful. Another reason is for predictability. Children thrive on routine as it keeps them safe and helps them know what to expect. Having rules teach children to know exactly what is expected of them always. If there are no rules, it’s difficult for children to know how to behave.

“It is important to have house rules as they reduce power struggle and ultimately reduce the number of times we have to shout for something to get done. House rules can start at any time; for younger ones, you start by showing them what is expected of them. As they get older, you can include them in creating a house rule and remember that after a while they won’t seem like rules anymore, as it becomes what everybody expects and does automatically.”

Tina stressed that it is key to be mindful that the house rules can change especially as they get older. An easy way to set the rules will be to look around the house and identify “problem” issues that you may find yourself struggling with and having to shout about so often. Make sure it is something they can relate with like throwing school uniforms on the floor after they return from school and you having to tidy up the trail after them or leaving food crumbs on the table after eating or talking to each other rather than shouting at each other among others.
Brainstorm the problem areas with them. Ask them something like: “what is it that mummy shouts about most of the time?” They will remember this and it will help you come up with a list. Then ask them how they think they can help mummy shout less often around these problem areas. And because they are involved in coming up with solutions, it will be easy for them to remember rather than impose some random rules on them.

Make sure the rules are simple and easy enough for them to follow. Help them understand that, as a family, just like parts of the body, when they do their part it becomes easy for parents to do their part.
She added that other ways to come up with house rules could be around three main areas:

• Firstly, protection from harm (don’t go outside to play without telling any adult first, as it may be too dangerous out there. Don’t play near the kitchen when I am cooking, as you may get hurt from fire, sharp objects.

• Secondly, taking care of things (keep your toys away after playing with them so they don’t get lost and you become miserable, make your bed when you wake up, keep your clothes in the laundry basket after taking them off so that they can get washed).

• Lastly, showing respect for other members of the house (no fighting with your brother or sister as they can get hurt).

Make sure you explain the rules and the reason why it is necessary for everyone to adhere. When they understand the reason for the rule, they are most likely going to cooperate in implementing it. When you have put it together, confirm that everyone is happy with it. Then, print it on a piece of paper and place it where everyone can be reminded of it, and everyone means that adults, too, are not exempted.

Remember, when you model following the rules with your children, they will have no choice but to take after you.

Photo credit: Fantastic Services Group.

Source: Guardian

“Parenting is a huge job that comes with so much responsibilities,” says Mrs. Oluwabusayo Adebowale, Director, Inspired Kids Network. You, out of love, desire to give the little humans in your life the best you can afford, you vow to propel them to heights you never attained and see that they become the best that they can be.

This can make parents place perfectionist demands on children. So many parents fall into the trap of comparing children’s developmental milestones. Nothing crashes a child’s self-esteem as fast as direct or indirect comparison with another. The truth is, when you start comparing your child to others, you’ll lose sight of the unique attributes of your child. Children are unique and special in their own way.

“Frankly speaking, the educational system of our country Nigeria has also contributed to this problem, as the emphasis on paper qualification or certification over actual abilities is a major sponsor. Even schools have bought into this philosophy as even toddlers write exams and are graded by position. For this reason, so many parents are desperate to see their children measure up on paper.”

Adebowale said that recently, a mother on a support community for mothers she belongs to, recounted how her husband met a home-schooled toddler who blew his mind away with his knowledge level. “This young child of 21 months could identify his colours, shapes, numbers and could communicate in long fluent sentences. Her husband suddenly felt that their 22-two-month old son who could count up to 30, loved to sing, knew his alphabets and could communicate in a few words was not measuring up. This is the story of many parents, they begin to place unreasonable expectations on children instead of celebrating their uniqueness and letting them learn at their pace.

“They start getting worried that a three-month old isn’t sitting, a 10-month old isn’t walking, a one-year-old has just two teeth, an 18-month-old isn’t talking fluently and so on. Parenting on the overdrive places undue pressure on children to perform. What then happens when they are not able to perform?

“I remember my elder brother slunked into depression and began to contemplate suicide because he had an extra session in the university. Can you blame him? We were brought up with the notion that you were as good as your performance. I hear my dad’s voice in my head now and some of his words ‘Bury your head in your books!’ ‘Why should you come second in class? Does the first person have two heads?’ My father did the best he could at the time, given what he knew. However, we have to do better with the children God has committed into our hands.”The parenting enthusiast and mum noted that some children actually go through the motions and amass knowledge but are oblivious on how to apply it unfortunately.

She continued: “Isn’t that why we have graduates with sparkling certificates in Nigeria who cannot defend their certificates with commensurate practical output? The purpose of knowledge is for life application. Life is more practical than theoretical; if your children have practical wisdom then the theories will just be a piece of cake. Can we teach our children to know things first for the purpose of learning, put the brakes on perfectionism and comparison while celebrating their every effort?

“As a parent its always easy to talk about the things your child is doing right while parading them as a trophy, but what happens when the child doesn’t meet the set expectations? Personally, I think the real challenge of parenting is loving and celebrating our children through their low points. Children who have not learnt to assess challenges and failures well will grow into adults with low self-esteem.

“I strongly believe that if we can groom self-confident children who don’t see a fall as their end, but will rise back with dignity no matter how hard they fall, then we have tried. As parents we need to examine our motives always as over-driving perfectionism parenting could be played out even subconsciously,” Mrs. Adebowale concluded.

“If I got one naira for every time I heard ‘my child is picky and won’t eat,’ I would be retired before 35,” says clinical nutritionist, Ifeyinwa Omesiete. It is so common, yet each parent thinks their child is worse off than the next. Picky eating is when a child is selective about what they want to eat and 90 per cent of children born in the 21st century are picky about what goes into their mouths.

The Bachelor of Science holder in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in Child Psychology from CAPA International Education, England, identified types of picky eating.

Birth – Whether it is breastfed or formula-fed; the child is selective about how much they will eat, when they will eat and what vehicle they prefer (bottle or breast). This kind of picky eater isn’t very common, but if this is observed in a child as early as one month, the parents need to take extra steps in correcting it before the child establishes a habit.

Six months – At this age it is recommended that solids are introduced. Now dependent on the taste, exposure of nutrients and environmental factors, a child can become picky about food. Omesiete noted that there are four major factors that can cause immediate and intentional rejection of meals. They are:

Taste: If a child before six months is breastfed and the mother’s diet was heavily based on processed foods, carbs and lacks variety; the child’s palette can be poorly developed. This can lead to rejection of foods that have an unfamiliar taste. If the child was given only formula, the child is also more likely to reject solids because their palette is built on the contents of the formula they are used to.

Delayed weaning: If a child’s diet is solely on breastmilk beyond seven months, issues like separation anxiety can set in, especially if the child spends a lot of time with their mother. This prevents the child from accepting foods easily, just because it’s doesn’t taste like what they are used to.

Traumatic experience : Illnesses, change in location, frequent change of hands that care for the child, postpartum depression, absence of mother or lack of bonding between child and mother can cause a child to reject food or become selective about meals they chose to eat.
Nutrition deficiency: This is determined mostly through blood tests. A child who is deficient in vitamin B 12, zinc, iron or magnesium will have loss of appetite which presents as picky eating. It is important that you heck with a pediatrician or nutritionist who can prescribe plant-based supplements that would increase the levels of these vitamins and minerals.

Omesiete who is passionate about paediatric nutrition and alleviating malnutrition in Africa, consults for Carib Health Limited in Lagos where she creates recipes that foster healing and development. She stressed that early identification of picky eating can be curbed with the following steps:

. Quality vs. quantity: In Nigeria, most children are fed at least three times a day and offered a snack. This is perfectly fine but some children prefer eating smaller meals more frequently. The most important thing to note is feeding foods that are nutrient dense each time. This will automatically induce weight gain, reduce waste and make a child more excited about meal time.

. Understanding the child’s preferences: Most times children are able to show you better than they can tell you. For example, a child may prefer foods that are savoury vs sweet. This automatically eliminates many cereals and even foods like cheese milk and sweet potatoes. If a parent is able to identify this, they can offer foods that are always savoury so the child eats more often.

. Consult with a Nutritionist: Speak with a nutritionist who can help determine whether it is a nutrient deficiency or a phase. A nutritionist would provide a meal plan that is nutrient dense and offers a variety as well as monitor clinically the progress the child makes developmentally.

. Be consistent and persistent: Research has shown that it takes 15 non-consecutive times before a child fully accepts unfamiliar tastes and foods. So giving a child beans twice and concluding that they don’t like it does not make the child picky. Parents should keep trying to offer the foods as often as possible in different forms till the child accepts it.

. Be creative: Children are curious and love diverse colours, shapes, and tastes. Making meals in different shapes or forms will encourage a child to try the meal even if it is something they don’t like. For example, a child who doesn’t like oats as porridge may love oats as swallow because they enjoy different soups.

Omesiete, who birthed the first Pediatric Nutrition Challenge in Nigeria that educates mothers on the importance of proper nutrition, concluded that picky eating can be frustrating but with proper knowledge it can become a thing of the past.



Credit: Ijeoma Thomas-Odia, Guardian Woman