Eight things I learnt from Super Granny

super granny

Big On Children‘s Super Granny Andalene Salvesen is back in Dubai on one of her regular trips to the Emirate, sharing her wisdom, tips and tricks to create peace in your home, now who doesn’t need a bit of that?

As a mother of four and grandmother of nine, she has built up a wealth of experience on child behaviour and for the last nine years she has been coaching families through a variety of issues including tantrums, sleeping, eating and discipline in the comfort of their own homes.  I have met Andalene on a couple of occasions, including a healthy lunchboxes cooking workshop she ran for a group of friends on her last trip here.  Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a free seminar given by Andalene at the Just Kidding Safa store.  Even if you don’t agree with some of Andalene’s methods (such as her use of time out) or recommendations (such as following a dairy and wheat free diet), many of her messages are difficult to argue with and worth remembering.  Here are eight of the key lessons I took away from yesterday’s talk:

Discipline and healthy eating go hand-in-hand – you can’t expect a child to behave well when they are eating junk food and hopped up on sugar. Equally, if the are not in the habit of listening to you generally, they will not listen to you when you tell them to eat their vegetables or try a new food. We are what we eat. In her coaching Andalene deals with discipline first and then addresses other issues such as eating and sleep.

Children know what they want, not what they need – as the adult, the parent is in charge. They can take into account their child’s emotions and wants but it is their responsibility to make sure their child has what he needs.  Kids may want donuts for dinner or to stay up way past their bedtime but their needs are very different.

Fill up your child’s love tank – it is important to have one-on-one time with your child (or each individual child where you have more than one) everyday, even if all you can fit in on a given day is 15 minutes to play with their favourite toy. Having a strong relationship with your child is a vital foundation to any form of discipline. “Rules without relationship cause rebellion. Relationship without rules causes confusion.”

Follow through with consequences – be clear in setting out the consequences of unacceptable behaviour and if your child is not listening make sure you follow through on the consequence. “Any behaviour that doesn’t have consequences will be repeated.”

Don’t negotiate with terrorists – kids will try to hold you to ransom; they know how hard it is for you to deal with a tantrum in the middle of a busy supermarket, they will know whether or not you are likely to give in if they just keep throwing that tantrum. However, as hard as it may be to stick to your rules and consequences and as easy as it may be in that moment to give in, don’t. Stand fast, don’t negotiate with terrorists! A child that is in the habit of listening and sticking to the rules on a daily basis earns the right to negotiate, for example negotiating a slightly later bedtime on a special occasion, but not before they have demonstrated that they listen and respect the rules.

Stick to your rules even in times of change – when everything else changes around them, kids will test the boundaries to check what else has changed – have the rules changed, have the consequences changed? Whether it’s holidays, sickness, visitors, new school, new baby, new house etc, stick fast to the rules you have put in place and the consequences you have set out.

Sometimes it might be you – when dealing with a situation with kids it is important to understand the reason behind the situation so you can deal with it appropriately. It may be that the child is not listening or is tired or hungry or sick, or it might be that you are going through something that is affecting the way you are dealing with the situation and that is making it much worse. In the same way tiredness, stress and illness may affect a child’s behaviour, it can also affect a way a parent deals with the child’s behaviour. Where something is affecting your ability to deal with the situation calmly and patiently then it is good to know when to step back from the situation and give yourself time out until you are ready to deal with it calmly.

Invest in your marriage – make regular date nights and keep them without feeling guilty about being away from the kids. “Whatever you don’t feed dies” and it is just as important for the kids to see their parents in a strong, loving relationship as it is for the parents themselves. A strong parental unit is one of the best gifts you can give your child, kids would much rather have love in the house than toys. It is too easy to fall into a routine where dad immerses himself in his career and work with the pressure of providing for his family and mum takes responsibility for the kids (possibly while working as well). Tiredness, stress and kids all take their toll on a relationship but relationships take work, you are in the parenting game together and need to work together as one unit. Your relationship can’t be put on hold until the kids are older.

The talk was a great reminder of some important lessons. I try to put these messages into action on a daily basis, some days are better than others admittedly, but it is good to have them in the back of your mind as you go through the day.

Andalene will be giving another free seminar, this time on temperaments and personality types on Monday 21 September from 5-7pm at Just Kidding Salam Stores, Wafi Mall. Attendance is free, you just need to register by email to marketing@dutchkid.com. I would encourage anyone who can to head down to one of her talks, she is always open to questions and gives guidance based on your situation.

Check out Super Granny’s website to find out more about Super Granny, her upcoming talks, home visits and skype coaching.  You can also follow her Facebook page for the latest updates and parenting tips. Various Super Granny products (including books, CD’s and reward charts) are available at Just Kidding Stores (three stores across Dubai), Big On Children (Dubai mall) and www.babysouk.com (as well as at her various talks), we particularly love the reward charts which come in a number of fun designs to suit individual children’s likes.

The seminar I attended was part of a wider program of seminars being put on by Just Kidding over the year so pay attention to their website and Facebook page for announcements of future parenting talks.


Have you been to one of Super Granny’s talks, what did you think? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear from you!

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