A new beauty salon has opened in Essex that offers makeovers, spray tans and facials for girls as young as one year old! The salon, which caters only for the under-13s has been opened in Brentwood, Essex.
The new beauty shop, called Trendy Monkeys, is owned by Michelle Devine and girls of any age can come in for various glamour treatments and services normally reserved for older women. They will even do a spray tan for a child if a requested.
Brentwood is the setting for the ITV series The Only Way Is Essex which follows the lives of glamour-obsessed young people. According to the owner the shop has been very successful already. Apparently one of the first customers to be served in the new salon was only 16 months old.
It's okay to play make-believe and pop on a pair of Mummy's shoes and do role play games about looking after baby dolls or playing schools. However, allowing and indeed encouraging, toddlers, small children and school age children to go to salons where they can study themselves and change the way they look is distasteful. Fake tans at eight, make-up at 4, manicures at 6, surely this is encouraging an obsession with how they look.
Part of childhood is being taken away and focusing on such activities is detrimental to normal childhood ideas and experiences. Children should be out walking, feeding the ducks, flying kites, throwing stick into streams and enjoying the carefree, happy days of childhood... not stuck in a salon under the nail dryer!
Is this a step towards the sexualisation of children, an erosion of the innocence of childhood? Should wearing of make-up be a rite of passage when our children are more mature and not something to be experimented with and taken seriously at a young age? Or are salons like Trendy Monkey's just a harmless bit of fun?
Can you believe that parents who entered their children in a Australian Beautiful Baby Contest have been discovered writing rude, racist and frankly cruel comments on other competitors' baby pictures in order to help their own children's chances?! Parents were found to be so desperate to win that they were willing to sink to the lowest levels by insulting the other competitors.
52,000 babies were entered into the competition sponsored by Bonds, an Australian clothing company. Numerous parents have withdrawn their children from the competition. One mother was so outraged and insulted she has reported the insulting postings to the police!
The people who posted the comments show tendencies towards being the ultimate pushy parent willing to do anything at all to help their child win even it it means being underhand. One post read: "This is a child only a mother could love!", another said the child was "An ugly duckling!". Not what you would expect!
The organisers have issued warnings saying that any rudeness will not be tolerated from now.
Over half a million people have now been to the website to see the pictures and comments.
A proposal from MP Graham Allen says that a national campaign should be launched to educate people in the basic principles of parenting. ToucanLearn was once described by one of our members as "a vital resource for parents and carers ... like a handbook for the 0-5’s!".
Mr Allen says this scheme would help parents do a good job and help to explain the importance of the early years of babies and toddlers. Perhaps he should take a look at ToucanLearn! We have hundreds of ideas, and games and activities for children at ToucanLearn.
He has asked the government to help ensure parents have the knowledge to be effective, nurturing and well-informed in the job as parents. He also suggests school years should be numbered from birth and not just from the start of school.
He says late intervention into children’s lives is not good enough and that in the long run money can be saved by investing in schemes for younger children.
So, perhaps everyone reading this should pop along to ToucanLearn.com and sign uo to our FREE service to help guide, and inspire parents, and to entertain and teach children! http://www.ToucanLearn.com
Research has demonstrated that fathers who spend time and involve themselves with their children do better in school than those children who's dads don't. The children are better at academic subjects and they are better social learners. Clearly this does not suggest that the father's influence is a guarantee of success at school, or indeed that a father's influence is absolutely necessary. However, the research tells us that it is more likely to be a factor.
With the increase in the number of fathers looking after the children on a full or part time basis, much research is being done to find out if this has any long term effect on the children. There is no clear evidence at the moment for any long term influences, but researches are willing to say that having a Dad in the children's lives - or a figure who acts like a Dad - is a good thing!
Creating a relationship with fathers is something that is innate in babies. As early as six weeks old the babies are able to respond differently to Dad and will coo and gurgle to get their attention. They use different techniques when communicating with mothers.
The Dad's role will never be that of mother - nor will the mother's role ever be that of Dad - but the father can wash, feed and comfort just as well as a mother. And, the babies love it!
Many parents would say that they tend to deal with the children in the same way - they reward, discipline and treat the children equally, but there are differences between the way a mother or father cares for and looks after children. That is not to say that one is wrong and one it right, just that it is different.
Here are a few distinguishing characteristics of the mother/father parenting that you might recognise.
- Fathers tend to be more physical and play in a more unpredictable way. They enjoy teasing and chasing and being active with the children. Mums tend to be a bit more creative when you play thinking about things and developing ideas that your children may have.
- Mums know when to stop, sensing that things are getting out of hand. Dad may keep going, getting more and more excited with the kids and this may end in tears!
- Mums tend to intervene earlier when their children are doing something new or something that may be tricky. They will climb the ladder to help the toddler across and will tell the pre-schooler to get down before she falls. Dads tend to hang back a bit and let them explore.
- Dads discipline in a different way usually. They tend to look at the bigger picture and focus on the dangers in the situation rather than Mum who tends to see misbehaviour as being let down or a loss of trust.
Interesting things to think about and further evidence that a bit of both types of parenting is a good thing!
It's official - parents are spending three times as much time with their children as they did a generation ago. Some of the findings concluded by Dr Sullivan and his team at Oxford University inlude:
- Working mothers spend more (and not as previously thought less) time with their children.
- Mothers are still the main carer (which is not surprising) but fathers are doing more childcare than before.
- Fathers spend up to half an hour a day more with their children than in 1975 and do more of the household chores!
The research was carried out by analyzing diaries kept by parents between 1975 and 2000. The people were then divided into three separate groups: those with no O Levels or GCSEs, those with one or more and those with a higher education qualification, such as a Degree.
When it comes to domestic chores, men do more now than they did and despite the advent of domestic appliances with "time-saving" claims, both men and women spend more time on domestic activities today than 25 years ago.
The results showed that in 1975 fathers spent a matter of minutes each day with their children on average. By 2000, this figure is more like 35 minutes. When it came to mums, in 1975 they spent about 20 minutes with their children and by 2000 it was over an hour.
This goes against the common opinion that suggests because more women are working they actually spend less time with their chidlren. This could be explained by the fact that parents are more aware of the need and benefits of spending time with their offspring.
This is where ToucanLearn comes in - we wish actively to encourage parents to spend more time with their children; with hundreds of ideas, games and crafts to do with your children, there's no excuse not to play together! Tell a friend about ToucanLearn and share the fun!
Children learn from their surroundings, and are informed by the people the interact with, parents, teachers and carers - make sure that your children are being given a model example because otherwise they will pick up traits and habits that you don't like!
Table manners present a host of unwritten rules that we want children to abide by: remain seated until everyone has finished; finish all the food on your plate; no toys at the table; eat with your cutlery; arms and elbows off the table. You may wish to impress some or all of these rules but whatever your stance, make sure that you follow them yourself. Your children won't understand if they aren't allowed toys at the table but that you use your mobile phone at the table. Why should they eat everything on their plate if you don't finish everything on yours? Why should they remain seated if you disappear mid-meal to make a phone call, start washing the dishes or take on another chore?
This illustrates just how easy it is to contradict yourself, and can is mirrored in many other areas of a young toddlers life! Be aware of such contradictions in any regimented environment where we expect our children to conform to rules or manners, and especially to the language that we use and the ways in which we address others. If we lead by example then our children will naturally follow.
It may seem draconian to institute 'house rules', but if children are expected to behave in certain ways, you have to let them know what the rules are! House rules are those simple rules that ask your family to comply in certain ways, such as always taking shoes off when you get home, washing your hands before meals, remaining at the dinner table until you have finished your meal, keeping your bedroom tidy and so on.
When teaching your children the discipline you wish them to follow, you need to state your rules clearly. There's no need to write them down, indeed, young children won't be able to read them even if you do! But giving clear guidance as to what they should or should not be doing makes it easier for your children to learn and abide by your rules.
House rules might be based on manners or good behaviour; growing children learn by knowing what the rules are or where boundaries lie. Once they have a clear set of rules in mind, their broader behaviour will also be guided by these principles. Many rules will be obvious and simply reinforce good behaviour, you may have your own quirky rules that other parents might not apply; there's no harm in that at all, but do ensure that you apply any such rules consistently in your own home.
It is quite legitimate that parents be exempted from rules - children must learn that adults enjoy privileges that they one day will also grow into. However, if the rules don't apply to yourself or other adults in your home, then make sure that your children are aware of this so that they don't see non-compliance from adults as a green light to ignore rules themselves!
When it comes to parenting, everyone does things differently, but there are four main styles of parenting that most of us fall into - what sort of parent are you?
Authoritative Parenting sees parents explaining rules and reasoning with their children, and explaining their expectations. Parents will often forgive their children rather than punish them, but when they do punish, they explain why and take care that the child understands. Parents accept age-appropriate behaviour but expect a level of maturity and in return, offer a level of independece.
Authoritarian Parenting takes a strict approach, requiring conformity to rules with parents demanding high expectations that their children may find difficult to fullfil. Such parents may punish rather than reason with their children, and may be less open to understanding to the individual needs of children.
Permissive Parenting takes a more open approach to parenting, allowing children to express themselves as they wish, and giving them the freedom to do as they wish. Parents are responsive to the needs of their children but do not enforce behaviour. Children brought up in an indulgent way may find it difficult to accept authority later in their lives but at the same time, may adapt to independent life better than children parented in other ways.
Neglectful Parenting describes a much more hands-off approach where parents are disengaged from their children - they lack warmth and involvement in their childrens' daily lives. They provide basic needs but neglect to nurture their children or offer the emotional support that other children enjoy.
Childminders also care in similar ways and for the best results, childminders should take on children who are being nurtured in a style similar to their own. A sympathetic environment beyond their family life will help to comfort children rather than confuse them. Similarly, if you are seeking a childminder for your children, try to identify your own style of parenting and look for a childminder that appears to work in a similar way.
Children today hear so much praise, but too much general praise is not necessarily good for them. Rather than shower them with hollow priase every time they do something, observe what they do and point out the particular things that impress you. So rather than "that's a brilliant painting!" every time they splash some paint on a page, notice particular elements of the picture and show that you are really looking closely. "I like that big yellow sun and the tree." This shows them that you appreciate what they've done, rather than just winning some meaningless praise. So, notice what they specifically do, "You slid down that slide and landed safely on both feet!", rather than "Well done - that was a great slide!"
That said, praise where you think it is deserved. If your little one bristles with pride then that's great. Just don't over do it! To be honest, praise is a great parenting tool and its's an easy - and free - way of enforcing good behaviour in children.
It's a daunting moment when you arrive home with your first baby for the first time. Your life changes in a BIG way, suddenly everything revolves around your new bundle of joy! Initially you might be nervous and even fearful about the responsibility, and this is a time you need support more than any other time. Your new baby is, to you, the most important thing in the world, but you must not forget yourself! You may find yourself sleep deprived and exhausted for the first few weeks of parenthood, but unless you keep yourself in good health you will only make early parenting more difficult. Make sure that you receive enough food and sleep to keep going; babies are much more resilient than you might at first believe; if you can keep yourself fit, healthy and happy, you are creating a better environment for your baby to grow up in.