Keeping Your Temper

angerAs a father of three and a teacher to boot I am well aware of how trying children, of any age, can be. Children are also aware of which buttons to push to get a reaction from adults. We are not saints and we have all lost our temper from time to time with our own kids or in the classroom. If you think back to any of those times, how did you feel afterwards? I know that personally I have regretted every single occasion, few that they may be, that I allowed my temper to get the better of me.

Analytically we can say that the impulse of anger is towards trying to get a child, in this case, to stop doing something. But in reality the moment when you lose your temper is the moment that you have lost. Fear may overtake the child at the time but you have actually lost control of the situation and any advantage that you had as an adult.

Let’s dissect it more: you should be setting an example and by losing your temper you have just set the worst kind. You’ve shown the child that they can push you over the edge and the chances are they will do it again. You have ceased to be causative over the situation and become the effect of whatever they may be doing.

It is, believe it or not, possible to NOT lose your temper. The first thing you need to exercise is self control, the very thing you are trying to instil in the children in your care. At the moment you feel you will lose it then it’s better to say “OK I am going to take a few moments and then I will come back to discuss this with you”. Walk away, calm down, regroup and go back when you are. Decide that you will not, under any circumstances, ‘lose it’ and that’s half the battle to not doing so.

Speak firmly but raise your voice as little as possible. Try to get them into the frame of mind to listen to you, by being persistent in that goal. If there is some infraction which for example has some consequence such as a ‘time out’ then enforce that but only once you are back in control of yourself and the situation. Talking through with the child why what they did isn’t a good idea and how they could have done it better is also good.

You will achieve more by being immovable in your calm and controlled persistence to get the result you want than by shouting and losing your temper. Though it may not seem so at the time they will respect you more for that in the end. You can rule a child by fear or you can get their cooperation by addressing the adult that they are ultimately trying to be. The choice is yours but I think you’ll find the second way more profitable in the long run.

Guest Blog by David Evans Bailey

David Evans Bailey has an MA in Digital Media Art. He taught ICT and Photography at Secondary School level for several years as well as being involved in many theatrical and other endeavours. His background is an IT professional. You can see some of his artwork at

Time To Move On

happy-learningSuddenly your child seems to be playing around instead of concentrating on his homework task. He makes jokes, does silly things and generally seems to lack concentration. I had an instance of this last week with one of my grandchildren. He had been shooting ahead with his 8 -9 years Verbal Reasoning, completing the tasks at speed, and here he was being silly. Why?

After checking how much sugar he had had, my first instinct would be to search for something he didn’t understand. That is always the first port of call. He might have either a blank because of an unknown word or be confused by something or the work might be suddenly much more difficult. This does happen and should always be checked as a starting point. However, he was still answering easily and correctly, despite all the shenanigans. We had two more papers to go in the book and I realized it had all become too easy. Time to move on! I asked him if he’d like to move onto the next level and miss out the last tests and his enthusiasm left me in no doubt. He was really ready to go onwards and upwards! Continue reading


story-openingWhen attracted by the title and cover of a book, what’s the first thing you do? You pick it up and open it. Typically, you start to read the first page. If you are grabbed by the first paragraph, you are halfway to making the decision to read it.

That means the opening of a story is the most important part. It needs a hook to draw the reader in.

What’s a hook? It’s the “what if?” of literature. The opening raises a question, and the reader wants it answered. They want to know what’s going to happen.

Consider this for an opener. Continue reading

Music Hall Traditions







Jules Leotard – The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze! (1838-1870)


Music Hall – a dead entertainment or a living tradition?

More often than not, when you introduce the idea of singing a Music Hall song to a young person, you are met with some resistance. It’s unfamiliar territory, maybe considered old-fashioned and the songs too simplistic. Students of Music Theatre are required to sing songs pre-1900 as part of their exams, so it is a subject worth exploring.

With the right introduction, it is clear that much of what we consider entertainment today was fathered in the Victorian Music Hall and the tastes of modern audiences are not too dissimilar to those of the Victorians. Continue reading


praise-for-childWhen I was young I remember at school that praise was something I very rarely got from my teachers. In fact I would say I was educated in a fairly negative fashion where teachers focused mainly upon mistakes and not upon success. There is a definite idea in some people’s mind that praising children is somehow bad. You could almost say it’s prevalent in certain people’s thinking. They will tell you that children need to somehow learn about the ‘real’ world. Well do they? Won’t that happen soon enough? I wonder if these same people would be happy to work in a company where they were constantly criticised by their boss and very rarely complimented. Continue reading

New Year – New Goals

make-goalsNew Year resolutions apart, it is often really productive to start the new term by agreeing some goals or targets with your child.

I’m not just speaking of academic targets that you, as a parent, would like to see achieved. That may well be part of the process but, more importantly, it is a chance to find out how your child feels about various subjects, where uncertainties or insecurities may lie and even, perhaps, some ambitions of which you are totally unaware.

It never ceases to amaze me what a really young child can come up with and what a light, guided conversation can reveal. The conversation should never be heavy – just something along the lines of ‘I was wondering if there was something you’d like to have as a goal, something you’d like to improve or get better at this year (or term)? Maybe something you’re already really brilliant at but you’d like to do even better or something that is a bit of a problem?’ The wording would depend on the child and on your relationship. But steer clear of statements like ‘Well! We’re going to sort out ALL your times tables so you know them all perfectly!’ Continue reading

Cut To The Chase

detectiveAny action movie has a good chase, usually towards the end. This has filtered into the language as an instruction to stop wordy explanation and get to the meat of the problem.

Writers should probably stick the words up as a big notice on their office wall! The most common structural problem writers face – amateurs and pros alike – is getting bogged down in too much explanatory or repetitive prose or dialogue with no action.

Thus, cut to the chase in writing means GET TO THE ACTION! Continue reading

Christmas Carols

singing-carolsFor many people, singing Christmas songs and carols is their favourite part of Christmas. It is a wonderful way of connecting with centuries of musical history and a great opportunity for a family sing-song.

Some carol facts…

The term ‘carol’ has its roots in an old medieval French word ‘carole’. One thousand years ago this was a lively dance in a ring with people singing, often with one person leading and the rest of the singers answering. One of our most popular carols has come down to us in this form, with its questions and answers and dancing rhythms –

I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas day, on Christmas day
I saw three ships come sailing in
On Christmas day in the morning.

And what was in those ships all three?…
Our saviour Christ and his lady…
And whither sailed those ships all three?…
O they sailed into Bethlehem… Continue reading

It’s All About Kindness

christmas-shepherdsIt’s about that time of year when our thoughts turn to Christmas and goodwill to all men. It’s also a favourite time of year for most children for obvious reasons. Traditionally we also seem to relax a little, cut the kids a bit more slack and generally try to be nicer to each other.

I would like to suggest that we also take some time to consider the whole idea of kindness. We might think of kindness as being generous of spirit, being good to another, supporting and nurturing them. Often people have this strange idea that children need to be taught some harsh lessons about the reality of life. You often hear, for example, that life is unkind and that kids should learn that sooner rather than later. Continue reading

Kitchen Timer Homework

robotThis week we had a real crisis on our hands with a grandson in tears and parents completely ‘losing it’ over undone homework on a Sunday night! I was called in to have a chat with a very upset young man.

To sum up – too much homework: why did he have to do it all the time and especially on Sunday, one day before he was back at school again?

One of the main problems – the daily diary! Far from getting done on a daily basis, this (in his view) pointless activity all happened late Sunday afternoon when he couldn’t think or care about a single thing to write. Continue reading