Tag Archives: behaviour

Flying with kids: a note to the man in seat 11B

plane travel

When you become a parent, you soon discover a lot of things that will make you feel really rubbish at your job. Sometimes it is your own children who wield this power but more often than not it’s other adults. I am writing this post whilst being made to feel like the most awful parent of the most terrible children in the world. As it is so raw, you must forgive any lack of compassion on my part. I’m not in the mood for putting myself in someone else’s shoes (or flight socks in this case). Being quite cross does that to you.

I am on a plane. A shortish flight of 5 hours. It is 7pm and the kids have been up for nearly 12 hours. The period before take-off is one of the trickiest parts of a flight for anyone shepherding small people. It’s that tortuous time when you’ve yet to fire up the iPads and have just realised that by packing the wrong flavor of crisps all hell will be set loose. What you don’t need at a moment like this is for the man in the row in front of you to ask to move seats. Before you’ve even left the ground.

So here are a few words to you, man in seat 11B. The words that thankfully won’t leave my mouth now that I’m placing them safely on paper.*

You don’t have children, do you? I don’t say that in a looking-down-at-you kind of way. I’m just stating the bleeding obvious. If you did then you would understand that overtiredness plus being strapped into a seat don’t make for a quiet child. You’d understand that telling me to take my child “for a walk” is going to wind me up. If you were a parent, I also doubt you’d have such a ludicrous hairstyle – adults learn that with the responsibility of children they have to grow up a bit. However much we might try to resist morphing into a grown-up, there are some ‘styles’ that just don’t cut it on the school run. Sorry to get personal with you but I take your reaction to my child very personally. Touché.

My 3-year-old may have shouted when I dared to produce those wrong crisps. He may have kicked the back of your chair. You may have overheard me tell him that he shouldn’t do that, but considering where your head seems to be firmly stuck I’m surprised you can hear a thing. Let me tell you, my friend – if you didn’t have your seat reclining then the little legs behind wouldn’t have been able to reach you so easily.

I thought perhaps you’d asked to move because your seat was broken. (I kindly gave you the benefit of the doubt and was prepared to tolerate having your ridiculous hair-do and incessant nose-clearing in my lap for the whole journey.) This turned out not to be the case as your seat was fine when the cabin crew asked you to put it upright. That you put it straight back down again as the woman walked away is testimony to your arrogance. I wonder whether you would have done the same if it had been an adult rather than a child behind you. Not that I’m questioning your manhood. Perhaps you think you need your seat reclining because you are so generously endowed in that respect. But I’ll hold back from any further comment on what/where/who is the enormous c*ck.

So whilst you appear not to like my children, there are – I know you’ll find it hard to believe – quite a lot of things that I don’t like about you. I’m tempted to make the remaining four hours of your journey hellish. Fortunately for you the kids are now firmly plugged into their entertainment and no amount of bribery could entice them away to scream in your ear or perform the 1812 Overture with their feet on your seat (which is still reclining). I do hope though that one day you will be on a plane with your children and someone will ask to move away from you. You might feel rather small and remember that once upon a time you were a bit of an ar*e. For the moment I think I’ll just read a dinosaur book quite loudly – I really hope I don’t wake you.

* Postscript: After much huffing and head-turning on the part of the man in seat 11B (or Mr Nobby Nobhead as I now call him), my son accidentally jogged his chair and sparked a full-on row. I don’t say boo to a goose so it takes some provocation for me to shout at or argue with a stranger. Suffice to say, my suspicions were confirmed – the man in seat 11B is indeed an idiot. 

 

Review: Raising Children – the Primary Years

Liat Hughes Joshi

Can any parent fail to be drawn to a book subtitled ‘Everything Parents Need to Know’? With the pressure to be perfect, the promise of ultimate knowledge packed neatly into 240 pages is even more appealing than a child-free weekend lie-in.

Liat Hughes Joshi’s book addresses the key challenges that parents of primary school children face, from playground friendships and behaviour to homework and pocket money. It provides practical, common-sense advice and avoids, unlike some parenting ‘manuals’, the temptation to preach. As the author says: “Sometimes there’s more than one approach to an issue … as all families are different”.

The author, a journalist and mother, is assisted in the book by two child psychologists. There is enough formal psychology to be interesting but not so much as to scare away parents looking for quick, accessible tips they can use every day. The trickier issues it covers, for example bullying, make for unsettling reading but, as any parent with crayons and paper supplies in their bag knows, forewarned is forearmed.

Hughes Joshi’s realism and humour throughout the book are a godsend for any parent bashing their head against a brick wall. She acknowledges, for example,  that kids would rather be “boiling their own head” than do homework. She also utilises the expertise of those at the coal face – real-life parents. Over 400 were surveyed, the results of which are included in the book as invaluable ‘Parent Panel’ tips. Few things make a parent feel better than knowing others have been through the same and survived.

If you’re looking for reassurance that what your kids are “up to (probably) is normal and that you (probably) aren’t rubbish parents who are getting it all wrong” then you’ll find it here. Set down the medicinal wine bottle and pick up this book.

Raising Children: the Primary Years: Everything Parents Need to Know – from Homework and Horrid Habits to Screentime and Sleepovers by Liat Hughes Joshi, Pearson Life, paperback, RRP £10.99 (Kindle, £5.66).

Review: Radical Reward Charts

Reward chart

Parents are constantly given tips on how to ensure their children’s good behaviour. Family, friends, magazines, experts, Gina et al, they all add their twopence worth, asked for or not. Should we over praise, under praise (tiger mom, grrr!), bribe, deprive, reward, or even get down on the floor and tantrum with the best of ’em – it seems that the parent’s toolbox is endless. However there is one approach which seems to be universally lauded: the reward chart.

I am a latecomer to reward charts. We once had a scrap of paper and some stickers – it seemed to do the job for there aren’t many children who can resist a sticker – but that was our first and last reward chart experience. There was some excitement then when I got the chance to review Radical Reward Charts, described on their website as ‘A Parent’s Best Friend’. My 4-year-old is seriously testing boundaries (and my patience) at the moment. Her 2-year-old brother has recently found his voice and with it the defiance of a teenager. Dare I hope the charts could work miracles? Here is the baseline we started at:

Me: Shall we put the reward charts up?

4yo: Yes, because my behaviour is getting a bit bad. I’ll do nothing all day to make sure I don’t do anything bad. I’ll just walk in circles round and round my room.

Errr ... think you need to be putting that a bit lower down.
Errr … think you need to be putting that a bit lower down.

Unlike my scraps of paper, the Radical Reward Charts are beautifully illustrated and lovely to look at and – should you ever find your kids too angelic for their own good and racing through the charts (I can only dream) – they are reusable. My 4-year-old daughter chose the Reedy River design and my 2-year-old boy was lured by the caterpillar and frog on Grungy Garden. Most exciting of all for them were the personalised markers: laminated photos of their own mini-selves. A cracking idea to make climbing the chart just that little bit more fun.

The charts arrived with instructions. That there are any rules governing reward charting is new to me, but it turns out I’d got it horribly wrong with my only other attempt. Apparently you should “not put your child DOWN the chart if they misbehave”. Ah. But it had such a wonderful (dramatic) effect previously! I’m abiding by the rules this time; however I have been using the threat that there will be no more moving UP the chart if you don’t get off of your brother’s head.

I really ought to have read the instructions before agreeing what is to be the ultimate reward when the 20th notch is reached by my daughter. “It’s often a good idea to let them choose the reward” – CHECK – for example “small novelty items, sweets” – ERRRR. It’s a symptom of (a) society, (b) the power of advertising and/or (c) my weak parenting skills that against my best judgment I agreed to a pair of Lelli Kelly shoes. I know, I know, vile things – what was I thinking? (I tell you what I’m thinking now (between kicking myself): EBAY.)

Children's behaviour
Think how easy it would be to manage a pocket-sized child!

So, are the charts working? With the 2-year-old I have no idea. He doesn’t quite yet get the idea of incentives. Obviously he’s rewarded but I couldn’t say that the prospect of moving up the chart makes him think twice about how he behaves. My 4-year-old, however, gets it and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see an increase in spontaneous good behaviour. I knew there would be a danger that every good deed could be deemed worthy of a trip up the reward chart. According to the accompanying instructions, rewards are most effective if “given for something completely unexpected”. This seems to work and has so far generated further unexpected good behaviour. Progress up the chart to date has been for eating courgettes at nursery, playing nicely with visitors’ children and tidying up the dinner table.

The Radical Rewards Charts may not be an entirely new concept but for a newbie like me they provide an attractive alternative to other charts I’ve seen. At £14 a chart (including P&P and a personalised mini figure) they’re not cheap and for this I expect quality. I feel I got this with the Radical Reward Charts, plus as they’re reusable they are value for money to boot.

We’re making slow progress up the charts but we’ll get there eventually. In the meantime, we’re some time away from having to line the pockets of a certain shoe brand. That’s almost incentive enough for me to encourage bad behaviour!

Thank you to Amanda at Radical Reward Charts who sent me these products free-of-charge and asked for nothing other than an objective review.