Do young children need to be taught how to get on with pets?

Part of growing up and passing through childhood is understanding how to deal with social relationships. But should these relationships be restricted purely to other children and adults?

A lot of children have a fear of animals, and in particular dogs, and potentially this could come back and bite them (quite literally) when they get older. If your child does not know how to  behave around dogs, and doesn’t feel comfortable and confident, the dog will sense this, and something unexpected may happen.

You can start to familiarise your child with dogs at a very early age. If you have a family pet, this can be from the moment your baby comes home from the hospital.

When you arrive home with your new arrival, place him in the middle of your lounge in his carry seat, and call your dog over. This will be good for the dog, and avoid him being jealous, and make him see your baby as a friend and not a threat. It will also be good for your baby as he will immediately get used to being around your pet.

If you do not have a family dog, when you meet other peoples dogs, encourage your child to stroke them and throw a ball for them. Your child will love it, the dog will love it, and your child will be learning how to interact with another living being who is not human.

He will be learning that the dynamic between humans and dogs is different to that which he has with you and other people. Of course always be careful what breed of dog it is, and how well you know the owners. But if the dog is loved and well trained, it will be fine and you will be helping your child with his relationship interaction skills for the rest of his life.



How hard should you try to keep your children believing in Father Christmas?

Christmas is a magical time for children, but also for you as a parent. It is a time when you can share so many special moments and create some memories that you will never forget. Ones that will last a lifetime for your children.

You can make the build up to Christmas very exciting by talking about Father Christmas and whether he will come and visit your child. Then you can do the ultimate for him on Christmas morning. You can allow him to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus as he leaves your home. How can you do this?

It is quite simple, but you will need the assistance and complicity of your partner. Get yourself prepared the night before, then on Christmas morning when your child is near the Christmas tree, get your partner to distract your child, while you slip quietly outside. Of course you need to be dressed in your Santa outfit and black boots.

Then once outside, run across the lawn in your outfit, or if you are in an apartment, across the hallway. Get your partner to tell your child that Father Christmas is in the garden and must be late with his rounds of visiting children. While your child catches a glimpse of Santa, you disappear round the side of the house, and slip in the back door, and join your child and partner in the ‘amazement’ of having just seen Father Christmas.

Make believe keeps the magic in your son or daughter’s childhood. They will grow up soon enough.




Get involved before your baby is born.

The bonding process with your child begins before he is born, it shouldn’t wait till he actually arrives in this world. Despite your partner experiencing your child developing and growing inside her, you can also lead a full part during these months before the birth.

As soon as you can start to see ‘the bump’ getting bigger, you can start interacting with your baby. He will be able to hear your voice, and feel you touching him through the walls of your partner’s tummy, for a few months before he is born. Your partner will also love you doing this, as at times she may feel she is doing it all alone. Even if this is not the case.

When your partner is lying down on the sofa, or the bed, take the opportunity while she is relaxed, to stroke your baby, and talk to him. You can put your ear next to him, and listen to any gurgles in your partner’s tummy. They may not actually be your baby, but it will feel good for your partner anyway. You can gently prod him and feel him move, and feel certain parts of his body. You can even guess with your partner what part of his body you are touching.

It will be a very satisfying and intimate time together for the two of you which you will both enjoy. You will also be starting to get used to the idea that there will be three of you shortly, not just the two of you. So take the opportunity to be involved right from the very start, you will be amazed.

Everyone benefits if you are a good Father.

The relationship between a father and his children is one of the two most important links in the whole of society. The other one of course is between a mother and her child. The dynamic and contribution of you, as a father with your children, underpins the whole fabric of society.

You may be unsure how to act when your child is born, or if your relationship with your child’s mother breaks down at some point, you may feel you have failed as a father. Well you haven’t, and you remain one of the two most important people in your child’s life. Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, never give up on your role as a dad.

So many ills in society can be traced back to problems in the family unit, and in particular to poor fatherhood skills, or even an absentee father. So whatever your situation, you must continue to have a strong, loving and guiding influence on your child throughout his entire childhood. Of course, if his mother really loves him, which she does, she will allow you to be the best father possible, even if you don’t live under the same roof.

A  close and loving dynamic will benefit everyone. You, your partner, society in general, and most of all, your child. If you are going to get the most out of being a father, you have to be prepared to take on all the varying tasks it involves, however mundane or interesting, in every aspect of your child’s life. If you do this, it will be the most rewarding thing that you have ever experienced, and will set your child up beautifully to go out into the world and make his own mark in it.


Help, I just found out my child is taking drugs!

This is probably every parents nightmare, it is the moment you dread finding out about. But however painful it is for you to accept, you have got to face up to it, confront it and take remedial action immediately. This will not be easy, that’s for sure

For starters, your child will probably try to hide it, even though you already know about it. Then he will probably deny it or try to play it down with comments like, “it’s only cannabis”. Even though he may have tried something more serious such as ecstasy.

So you have to act straight away. Leaving it, even if it is just for one week more, could be allowing your child to slip deeper into the habit. So, what can you do?

Firstly you need to sit your child down in a relaxed environment. This could be at the dinner table one evening, or when you have just finished watching a film together. In any case, you have to find the moment, so think hard how and where you can raise this issue.

Being angry or indignant, won’t help the situation or the action you are going to take, so stay calm and try not to raise your voice. If you lose your cool, your child will clam up and won’t talk openly to you about it. It may already be a problem to get him to open up, so being calm will certainly help you.

Ask open ended questions such as:- “What do you think about drug taking and young people?”, or:- “What do you think the appeal of drugs is to young people?”. These are general questions to start the discussion off. Then you can start asking more direct questions, but always make sure they are open ended.

Tell your child that you know he has tried drugs, and ask him why he has done this? What is the reason he is doing it? Who is he doing this with? It is very rare that he will be doing it on his own at such a young age. Also ask him where he does it? And how does it make him feel?

Once you have started off the discussion, and you start to understand why he is doing it, then you can agree a plan of action. If you feel you cannot resolve the situation on your own, don’t be afraid to consult and take professional advice. It is not a weakness to enlist the help of others who have experience in handling these types of situation with young people. So do seek help.

If you address the issue, you will eventually find a solution, but don’t try to ignore it and hope it will go away. If you act as soon as you find out, you will be able to rescue the situation, however difficult that may be. But you will succeed.



Have fun with your baby at every opportunity.

Having a baby is not just a case of reproducing you and your partner in mini form. It is a chance to share in every aspect of bringing a new being into the world and playing an integral part in its development. It is also about having fun. This is one of the most important aspects of having a child and just because he is a baby, it doesn’t mean the fun can’t start right from birth.

Even such mundane tasks as changing a nappy can be a fun time together for you and your baby, even though your initial instincts might be one of horror. And it can be a real challenge to change a smelly nappy, and still enjoy doing it!

But once you have got over the initial repulsion, and you become immune to it, after a while you can make the whole experience fun for you both. Once the dirty nappy is off, and before you put a new one on, you can blow bubbles on your baby’s tummy, or tickle his feet. He will love this, and his little smile to you as you do it will be absolutely priceless.

It will be the same at bath time. Once the mundane task of washing him is done, although he may love this too, let him splash you, and watch your facial expressions as you pretend to be shocked and horrified. He will love it….