Slumber Party: Sleepover Reloaded

Girls at a slumber partyLast week, our 11-year-old daughter Noff had a slumber party for her birthday. Since she has a birthday party every year (most of her friends do not), we decided we would try to do something different this year. She had already had one or two friends for a sleepover, but never a whole slumber party. At first, I asked her how many girls she would invite and she said 5, but when the invitation went out, I discovered she had invited 12 girls.

Hmmm… I wondered how that would work.

While I was worried if we would be able to fit 12 girls into our living room as the invitation went out, I realized that a slumber party required more than just a big living room. It comes with lots of other challenges. Some people also questioned our choice to allow this mass sleepover to take place, but I thought it was a great opportunity to give our daughter a chance to learn things about herself and others that no amount of talking could.

Challenge 1: The number of kids

The first challenge was to reduce the number of people from 24 that usually come to her parties to 7, which we thought would be a good number. Obviously, this did not work for us, because with a lot of effort, Noff only brought it down to 12. She struggled so much that we comforted each other, “We’ll manage. We always do”.

Eventually, 7 girls confirmed, we put mattresses on the floor, and as the girls came with their small suitcases, we discovered there were 9 girls there, 10 including Noff.

Oops.

Read more about Noff’s slumber party

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Family Policy

Amazed little girlLast Sunday, Ronit ran a parenting workshop and I came in the afternoon to help her pack. When I arrived, she was still talking to the parents about rules and boundaries and mentioned the way she used “family rules” to avoid conflicts with the kids.

That reminded me of the time when I wanted to register for a software engineering course at the local university. The course I wanted was popular and all the places were taken, so I rang during my lunch break to ask to be put on the waiting list.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but you’ll have to come in person and fill out the waiting list form”, the administrator told me.

“Can you please just take my details and put me on the list?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s university policy”, she said.

Boy, was I pissed off at this. I was spewing for weeks afterwards. It may have even contributed to my later stomach ulcer. Or not.

Over the years that followed, more and more companies structured their operations in such a way that clients could not get their way. Not easily, anyway. When I rang Customer Service, I would bump into First Line staff who were basically trained parrots. The term “company policy” rang in my ears more and more often. It was infuriating.

But at some point, Ronit and I learned how to use the same trick to our advantage as parents. Oh, sweet revenge!

Read more about how to stop fighting with your kids

Bullying (31): How to stop parent bullying

clip_image006_thumbParents are the most important agents of socialization in our society. Unlike teachers, who are the second biggest influencers on children, the same parents are around their kids while their teachers change. It is only sensible to think that if we want to support kids’ health and wellbeing, we need to support the most important people in their life – their parents.

I came up with the idea of supporting kids by supporting their parents about 20 years ago when I had an early childhood center. I could increase my young kids’ success and confidence whenever I got to the parents and made the partners in the process of education. There was 100% correlation between the success of the child (1½ years old to 4 years old) and the level of their parents’ involvement. My young students could read, do math and solve 60-pieces puzzles. They had the fine and gross motor skills expected of kids 3 years older than they were. At first, their parents did not believe their own eyes, but I just sent all their games and work sheets home so they could see their kids were able to do everything I said they could.

After 25 years in education, I can dare to say that investing in the parents is the most effective investment in children. And as with any investment, the sooner you start, the greater the returns.

I believe that government organizations should be investing in parents, but until that time, I will use this blog to help parents help themselves.

Here are the next 5 tips to help parents stop the cycle of bullying, help themselves and help their children be confident and avoid being bullied, being a bully or being a silent bystander.

Read more about the best anti-bullying