We need to talk about ANGER!

Lottie from forthcoming picture book by Sarah Mahfoudh

A few months ago, I had a really interesting chat with a fellow parent who had bought Can-do Kat for her daughter. She said it was a refreshing change to see a character, especially a female character, getting angry and expressing that anger in a children’s book. Her daughter sometimes finds it difficult to manage her anger, so seeing Kat getting angry was really useful for her because it made her feel like she wasn’t the only one who felt that way sometimes. It gave parent and daughter a chance to really talk about her anger and think about the different ways she might be able to manage it.

Angry Kat from Can-do Kat by Sarah Mahfoudh

For me, it was an eye-opening conversation. I hadn’t set out to write a book about anger but then I started thinking about all my characters: Megan in The Winter Garden, Kat in Can-do Kat, Eshna and Yan in Faces in the Water, the princesses in The Twelve Dancing Princesses, even Lilly in Lilly Mae. In all of these books, there are moments when these characters get angry. Sometimes, this anger is because they think they have been treated badly or because they see an injustice that needs to be challenged, and at other times they are just angry because they are humans and humans get angry about things that might not always seem rational. But just because an emotion doesn’t appear to be rational, that doesn’t make it any less valid.

‘She makes it crash. She makes it hail. She tells the wind to blow a gale.’ Lilly trying to express her anger in Lilly Mae by Sarah Mahfoudh and Ruth Thorp.

Of course Mum won’t allow it, but aren’t you all angry that someone thinks it’s okay to ask a stranger to spy on us and then offer to let that stranger choose one of us to marry?!’

The girls fell silent.

‘No, that is not okay,’ Hayley said, finally breaking the silence. ‘That is not okay at all.

The princesses talking in The Twelve Dancing Princesses – the true story

A few weeks after my chat with this parent, I stumbled across a review for the free eBook version of The Winter Garden. It was a 3-star review, which, being an insecure author, immediately made me begin to sweat with nerves and self-doubt … and, yes, there was definitely some indignant anger swirling around in there too. Why would someone only give it 3 stars? I mean, sure, it is just a cute little children’s book that I wrote one day on a whim and decided to share with the world. It’s not my life’s work. I haven’t agonized over it … but still, 3 stars?!!

Actually, the review was pretty nice when I read it:

Adorable Sweet Read

A little girl wants nothing more than snow. Megan becomes a very glum child each morning as no snow arrives even though it’s almost Christmas. With some magic and a wish things change.

I didn’t fully like Megan personally I found her a little bit bratty, but I do understand she dreamt of one wonderful snowy day and it was making her down. What I did love was the magic, this story takes you to a beautiful magical place and it was so perfectly wintery you can’t help but love it.

It was a good sweet read, with some cute illustrations to accompany the story. It’s a good winter read; one you can cosy up with your child had read with them during the holiday season.

So, it seems to me that the only reason this book got 3 stars instead of, perhaps, 4 or 5 is because the reviewer found the main character, Megan, ‘a little bratty’.

Well, we are all entitled to our opinions and not all books or characters or stories will appeal to everyone. Besides that, feedback is essential for writers and, whilst we might not always like what we are told about our work, it is always beneficial to hear different points of view. In this case, perhaps I will be more mindful of how characters come across in future.

However, I disagree with the reviewer’s analysis of Megan here and I think it reflects a deeper issue about how anger is depicted and talked about, or even avoided, in many children’s books and TV shows. I hate books and TV shows in which the children (and the parents) are unrealistically good- tempered all the time. What does that teach children? Can they even relate to that?

Megan is grumpy in my book. She stomps around the house because she is in a bad mood, and she refuses to do up her coat or eat her breakfast. I guess you could call that ‘bratty’. Or you could just call her a kid human! Everyone, kids and adults alike, act like a ‘brat’ sometimes and I don’t think it does anyone any good to pretend otherwise. My own kids are clever, inquisitive, funny, kind, ridiculous, gentle, rough, calm, crazy, good-tempered, bad-tempered, and yes, often, pretty bloody grumpy about things that really don’t seem to make any logical sense to my adult brain. And that’s okay. I think showing these emotions in books is a good thing. It’s a way of opening up discussions about emotions and how to manage them.

Perhaps Megan does behave badly but why might that be and what could she and her parents do to change that? And, not to get too ‘English graduate’ about a story book I wrote for fun one Christmas, but there are clues to Megan’s ‘bad behaviour’ in the book. For one thing, she has a new baby sister, and her mum and dad are perhaps not giving her the attention she is used to. That might be a useful discussion opener for some people.

Interestingly, I have had feedback from several other parents saying they loved reading about Megan precisely because she was bad-tempered. They said it made them feel better to know that their kids were not they only ones who behaved like that.

Megan’s many emotions from The Winter Garden by Sarah Mahfoudh

The truth is, anger is an emotion that all of us experience and, personally, I don’t think it does children any good to pretend anger doesn’t exist, or to only show well-behaved children in books. Children will feel anger whether we want them to or not. By only showing well-behaved, good-tempered children in books, all we are doing is teaching kids to be ashamed of their anger, to be scared of it, to push it down and hide it — and that doesn’t help anyone.

Anger is a bloody excellent emotion when handled in the right way! I’m a big fan of anger, and it seems I am not the only one. I had just finished writing the first draft of this piece when I came across an absolutely fantastic post on A Mighty Girl, which is all about this very subject.

It begins, ‘Most parents talk to their children about their emotions, but there’s one emotion that people often leave out when talking to girls: anger,’ and goes on to later quote Mara Wilson, the former child actor best known for her roles in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire:

All my life I’d wondered where the other angry girls were. I spent so many years trying to fight my anger, to hide it, and that never worked. I don’t think it’s possible to ignore anger, and I don’t think it can be fought. But it can be controlled, transformed, used. It can be a tool. Anger can inspire art, and anger fuels activism. What if we knew girls could be angry? What if we showed them how to use it? What if we let them know that they weren’t alone? … [I]n dark times, our inner fire glows brightest.’

For me, Mara puts it perfectly. Where are all the angry girls? Well, there are a fair few of them in my books, standing up for what they believe in and speaking out against injustice. And do you know what? I’m not going to apologise for that. So there!

‘If something seems wrong, then question it. Don’t just do it anyway,’

Queen Cassandra in The Twelve Dancing Princesses – the true story

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Do you agree that we need to be more open about anger? Have you got any recommendations for great reads, books or other resources on the subject? As always, feel free to get in touch.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and have ideas or stories about how to help get this message out there, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at can-do-kids@outlook.com and don’t forget to browse the Can-do Kids website and follow us on Instagram. Plus, don’t forget to sign up to the Can-do Kids Club for extra updates and exclusive material.

The story of a story: the surprising power of ‘just giving things a go’

This is the story of a story. More specifically, it is the story of my children’s book, The Winter Garden. I thought I would share this story, partly because it is nearly Christmas and this little book is full of wintry, magical Christmas cheer … and partly because of what this book represents. This book is proof that all of us are capable of things we never thought possible. It is a reminder that we should never listen to those people in our lives who tell us we are not good enough or not capable or not talented enough.

I first wrote The Winter Garden four years ago. I didn’t have any big plans for it; I just wanted to write a light-hearted, wintry tale to give to my daughter for Christmas. She was four at the time and had been doing a lot of stomping around in the rain with her coat hanging off her shoulders, grumbling about how there was no snow. So, I thought I would write a story about her for Christmas.

In true Sarah fashion, once I’d had the idea, I had to act on it … immediately! Never mind that it was already half-way through November, I had a small baby who never slept, and about a thousand other things to do – I had decided to make my daughter a Christmas book, and make it I would! It would be fun and relatable and, like all good Christmas stories, it would have a healthy dose of magic to bring it to life.

Thus was born The Winter Garden, a story about a stroppy little girl, snow, wishes, books and magic. I wrote the story in a rush, not worrying about whether or not it was perfect, and then began to think about making it into a hand-made book. But, of course, children prefer books with pictures in them and I wasn’t an illustrator. Not even close! In fact, it had been made very clear to me at school that art wasn’t really my thing. My sisters and my mum were the arty ones, not me. This is the story I had been told about myself at school and, over time, it had become just another one of those truths I knew about myself: my name is Sarah, I like to read and write, I am good at dancing, I am bad at art.

But, well, I had written this story and I wanted my daughter to enjoy it, so I thought I might as well have a go at illustrating it too. I started to draw little cartoonish characters. They were extremely basic and each one took me ages to get right, but I LOVED creating them. I hadn’t tried anything like this for years, so I hadn’t realised just how much I would enjoy it. When I was finished, my sister (a real, proper illustrator) helped me to lay-up the book, and then she printed and bound it for me, and, as geeky as it sounds, I couldn’t have been prouder! The illustrations were rough … extremely rough … but my four-year-old daughter – art connoisseur that she was – thought they were amazing.

To cut a long story short, that was the start of my illustration journey. I still didn’t have much faith in my abilities (to be fair, they are still pretty basic) but I had discovered the joy of art again, and over the next few years, I continued to practice. It did not become an obsession but I kept doodling and sketching and making little books for my girls, and when, a few years later, I wrote Can-do Kat, I decided I would turn it into a fully illustrated book – you know, just to see if I could! Can-do Kat was the biggest ‘art’ project I had ever undertaken. It was a steep learning curve and it took me a looooooooong time to get it to the stage it is at today, but I enjoyed every single moment of making it.

Which brings us back to The Winter Garden. With my 2020 writing plans well and truly turned upside down by home-schooling, I continued to focus on illustrating rather than writing. (I find illustrating with children around so much easier than writing with children around.) With a few more years of practice under my belt, I came back to The Winter Garden and … well, look how far I’ve come:

I am still at the beginning of this journey, I still have a lot to learn and I am sure that, if I come back to this book in another four years, I will have improved again.

Which is exactly the point I’m trying to make, and the main reason for writing this piece! It is never too late to learn new things.

Whether you are five or fifty … or one hundred and fifty, you still have so much untapped potential. So go out there, try things and, like Kat in Can-do Kat, never believe people when they say you aren’t good enough.

I might not be rich or famous or signed to the biggest publisher in the world (yet!) but I’ve still created something that, four years ago, I would never have thought I was capable of, and that is something worth celebrating. So, if you have Can-do Kat or The Winter Garden (or even if you don’t), please share this story of a story with your little ones (or show them the video above). Remind them to believe in themselves, to follow their dreams, and to never be afraid to try new things. And whilst you are reminding them, remind yourself the same thing!

Merry Christmas and warmest wishes for the new year!

Sarah

x

You can find Can-do Kat and The Winter Garden in paperback, read-along audiobook and interactive eBook formats on the Can-do Kids Store, here.

Don’t forget to browse the Can-do Kids website for free resources, craft ideas and book recommendations. You can also follow Can-do Kids on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube

For a free Children’s Wellbeing Pack, click here.

The power of words –1: Why are all bears boys?

The power of words – Introduction

True or false?  

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.’

Hint: Just because it rhymes, doesn’t make it true!

I don’t actually think anyone says this to their kids anymore, do they? At least, I hope they don’t because we all know it’s nonsense. Right? Please say we all know that!

Of course words can hurt us, and whilst I appreciate that the sentiment behind this little saying is to help children build resilience against verbal bullying, it doesn’t do anyone any good to just pretend that words and language do not affect us. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the feelings that certain words provoke can stick with us forever and play a huge role in making us who we are.

Photo by Marina Shatskih on Unsplash

Words are our most powerful weapon. They have the power to make us laugh and they can move us to tears; they have the power to build self-confidence, kindness, and awareness, and they have the power to tear a person’s self-worth to shreds. Words can unite and spread hope and love, but they can also spread hate so intense that it fuels wars. Words educate, forge, enlighten … and they also lie.

Words, sub-text, insinuation, propaganda … It is pretty easy to get lost in the huge, complex warren of this subject. And I have! Quite a few times. I have started to write this – supposedly brief – blog post so many times, only to wind up twenty scribbled pages later at a place I really didn’t mean to be. BUT (she writes in capital letters to drag herself back on track) … BUT, I want to keep this simple.

My intention is to draw attention to how the language we use every day impacts our beliefs and attitudes in a way we might not be aware of. I plan to write or video (or both) a series of these ‘The Power of Words’ musings to cover a few different topics.

Up first is … drum roll: sexism in the English Language!

‘Oo, fun!’ I hear you say as you rub your hands in glee and wait to see where this is going.

So, let’s dive in.

Why are all bears boys?

We did a little experiment at home with our picture books. You can see the results below:

The books in the left-hand picture all have male main characters. Those in the smaller pile in the right-hand picture have female main characters. Bearing in mind I make an effort to buy books that have empowering female characters, the ‘boy’ pile was still so big it kept falling over.

Next, we looked at the ‘girl’ pile again and took out all the books that, despite having a female protagonist, had far more male characters than female characters. The ‘girl’ pile became considerably smaller again.

Now, I am not saying this was the most scientifically accurate experiment (and yes, we did leave a few books upstairs because I got bored of carrying them down) but it was certainly eye-opening and it was a great lesson for my daughter. I would certainly recommend doing your own surveys at home. You could look at books for older children, magazine articles, children’s TV programmes. If you do have a go at this (with or without your children) I would love to hear your findings.

One thing my daughter pointed out, rather irritably, was that most of the really good books – the funny, clever, original ones – were on the pile with male main characters, whilst a huge majority of the girl character books were pink princess fairy books (or Peppa pig!!) that we had been given as presents, and which are marketed specifically at girls. Now, my daughters love fairies, ballet, pigs and yes, stories about princesses, as much as the next person but, just like all girls, they also love space, science, sports and … well, everything else! Girls, just like boys, have wide and varying interests and it would be nice to see this universal truth represented in books and TV programmes more often.

In case you hadn’t already worked out where I’m going with this, what our little home experiment basically highlights is that the English language is inherently sexist. It works on the assumption that males are the norm and females are ‘other’ than that:

Human

Mankind

Woman

Female

This may or may not seem like a huge problem to you, but for girls growing up, this constant reinforcement that they are somehow other than or less than their male counterparts can have a profound effect on their self-confidence and on their personal goals and ambitions. In fact, recent research suggests that girls’ confidence plummets after the age of 8, and whilst language might not be the only cause, it certainly plays an important role. (To read more about these findings, read this brillaint blog post on the A Mighty Girl website.)

If we look at language in relation to career paths, there are some obvious examples in our day to day language: ‘policeman’, ‘fireman’, ‘fisherman’. Okay, so people are perhaps more aware of this these days and do at least attempt to use gender-neutral titles when it occurs to them, such as ‘police officer’ or ‘firefighter’, but that doesn’t mean that the gender-specific titles for these jobs aren’t still used or that those jobs aren’t still portrayed to our children as predominantly ‘male’ jobs.

So what about words that do not have the word ‘man’ in them? Well, more often than not, it is still assumed that these words refer to men unless otherwise specified. For example, a scientist might be assumed to be a man unless somebody points out that they are talking about ‘a female scientist’. This is not always the case, but start listening out for it and you will be surprised by how often ‘female’ is used before a word to qualify it. When your child brings a bug in from the garden, do you automatically refer to it as a ‘he’? When you talk about The World Cup, do you automatically assume you are talking about male football unless it is preceded by ‘Women’s’?

And just before we go any further, in case you think I am trying to preach to you from a place of imagined perfection, even being aware of this issue, I still find myself falling into these language traps all the time. Just the other day, I referred to an astronaut as a ‘female astronaut’, as if somehow an astronaut is by default male unless otherwise stated. To say I felt sheepish is an understatement, but I pointed my mistake out to my children and my 8-year-old is now on a mission to let everyone know when she notices these ‘slip-ups’.

The problem doesn’t just exist in day to day conversations, of course. I have lost count of the number of fantasy or sci-fi novels I have edited in which an alien lifeform (for the sake of this post, let’s refer to them as, ‘the blobs’) will be referred to as ‘blobs’ if they are men but ‘female blobs’ if they are women: ‘A female blob entered the room.’ Agh!!! Cue internal screams!

As we have already seen earlier in this post, it is even worse in children’s books, especially picture books. Have you ever noticed that almost all the bears in books are boys?! As are most of the animals, monsters, aliens, and other non-human creatures. And don’t even get me started (again) on how many picture books have a male protagonist!

Once you start looking out for these biases in language and literature, you are going to see them everywhere, and when you do, it is important to take action. Be careful of your own language and don’t be afraid to point out little slip-ups to other people too (in a non-aggressive way). If your child brings a bug in from the garden and an adult immediately refers to it as a ‘he’, remind them in front of your children that it could be a ‘she’! It sounds a bit pedantic, but the more we notice these things and talk about them with each other and with our children, the better. As a mum of two daughters, I often think about this from an empowerment and confidence-boosting point of view, but of course, it is just as important for parents and carers of boys to talk about this as well. We are all people, we are all equal, and we should all treat everyone with the same level of respect and compassion.

As I have pointed out already, this is a fairly simplistic and pared-back post about a hugely complex issue, but my aim here has been to raise awareness of the gender assumptions in language and to encourage adults (especially adults who are around children all the time) to start looking out for these little nuances and to be aware of how they might be affecting our children. Clearly, the problem goes far deeper than I have touched on here so if you are interested in finding out more, do some research, get discussing, and start fighting the system!

Please do comment or get in touch with your own thoughts and ideas about this and if you haven’t done so already, please head over to www.can-do-kids.co.uk and join the Can-do Kids club for more content and updates. There is a free children’s wellbeing pack just waiting to wing its way to your Inbox.

Oh, and if this is a subject that interests you, I would recommend chekcing out A Mighty Girl, as well as heading over to Not Just a Princess to see the amazing work Jen and her family are doing to raise awareness of this issue.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and have ideas or stories about how to help get this message out there, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at can-do-kids@outlook.com and don’t forget to browse the Can-do Kids website and follow us on Instagram. Plus, don’t forget to sign up to the Can-do Kids Club for extra updates and exclusive material.

How a simple shift in attitude could have a huge impact on the future health of our kids

We all know that regular exercise is good for our health – it almost seems pointless to mention it these days! But I am going to mention it because I think it is important to establish what ‘healthy’ actually means. Contrary to what we are led to believe by mainstream media, social media and the fitness industry, health cannot be quantified by how thin a person is or by how perfectly round their butt is.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

Health is not about what you look like and it is not about pushing your body to the point of failure every day. True health is about how you feel – mentally as well as physically. It is about whether you feel strong enough, energised enough, and nourished enough to live your life to the fullest. I believe that if we want our children to grow up truly healthy and comfortable in their bodies, we first need to be honest with ourselves about the true meaning of health. It goes without saying that there are many factors involved in keeping our bodies and minds healthy but, for now, I want to focus on exercise.

Children love to move. For them, it is not about working out, getting thinner or about improving their health – they move because … well, why wouldn’t they? It’s the natural thing to do. But all too often, we see this love for movement become stifled as children grow into teenagers and then into adults.

Somehow, by the time we reach adulthood, the vast majority of us have developed negative attitudes towards exercise. Yes, even many of those who actually continue to participate in regular sports or exercise throughout their lives will harbour certain unhealthy attitudes towards physical activity. But it doesn’t have to be like this. One of the many things I would like to achieve via the Can-do Kids platform is to show everyone, adults and children alike, that exercise is and always should be a happy, natural and positive thing.

Regular exercise is essential to maintaining a happy and healthy mind and body but that doesn’t mean you have to slog it out at the gym five times a week or drag yourself out for long, draining runs that make your legs hurt so much you can barely walk for a week afterwards. It can mean those things if that’s what makes you and your body happy, but it doesn’t have to.

No matter what the fitness industry may have you believe, just like in all areas of life, there is no one-size-fits all workout. For the record, I worked for many years as a fitness instructor and personal trainer and yes, the science does tell us that if you exercise in a certain way and follow certain routines and rules, you will get certain results. That’s true, but what I am challenging here is whether we are chasing the right ‘results’ in the first place. I would like to say that I am enlightened and rational enough to be unaffected by society’s endless obsession with the perfect body but, having spent a lifetime immersed in the dance and fitness worlds, I am sad to say I have been just as affected as anyone. But that doesn’t mean my children have to be. I do not want them or any other children to grow up believing that beauty, rippling muscles, and relentless physical training equate to health, or even worse, self-worth. Some of those things may come as a result of a truly healthy lifestyle but they should certainly not be the end goal.

Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

It’s time to change the message, and this is where you as a parent, guardian, carer, teacher, grand-parent, aunt, friend of the family can make a difference by leading by example: exercise in front of your children and with your children and show them that you are choosing to exercise because you want to; because it makes you feel good. No more moaning because you ‘should’ go for a run but you really don’t want to; no more outward declarations of guilt because you missed a workout…or two or three; no more huffing and sighing because you are about to force yourself to do an exercise session you really, really don’t want to do.

Instead, move in a way that makes you feel happy and let your children see you enjoying that without complaints, excuses or guilt. It doesn’t matter if the latest fitness guru you are following on YouTube wouldn’t approve, and it certainly doesn’t matter if it is not the kind of exercise that will give you a six pack like … I don’t know …. Which celebrities flaunt six pack these days?! What matters is that you are moving and enjoying moving, and that your children can see this. And if they ask to join in, let them. You can even let your children run the workouts occasionally. Some of the most tiring exercise sessions I have ever done have been led by my children. Children are ‘hard core’!

If you love getting outside in the open air and going for long, rambling walks, go for it. If you have always dreamed of becoming a black belt in jiu jitsu, sign up for classes and get started. If you would rather run around the house screeching like a dragon and jumping on beds for half an hour with your four-year-old, embrace that. (I, of course, have never done such a thing because that would be ridiculous, but I hear that it is one of the hardest workouts you’ll ever experience!)

Once you stop thinking of exercise as a chore – as something you ‘should’ do because people tell you it is good for you – and just start to move because it feels good, you’ll be winning. The drive and motivation for more intense fitness and strength training might come once you find the type of exercise that makes you happy. Or it might not. Either way, so long as you are moving your body and enjoying it, who cares?

This is the new message. This is the mindset we need to pass on to future generations: that exercise is a fun and natural part of life and that it is also something to be appreciated and thankful for. Children already know this instinctively: they love to jump and run and roll around on the floor waving their legs in the air whenever the urge takes them. Let’s help them hold onto that natural appreciation for their own physicality. Let’s throw the exercise rules out of the window, get rid of the ‘shoulds’ and the guilt, and let’s start moving just for the joy of it. You never know what might happen if you do.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and have ideas or stories about how to get this message out there, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at can-do-kids@outlook.com and don’t forget to browse the Can-do Kids website and follow us on Instagram for health and fitness ideas to share with your kids. If you are after a fun workout to do with your kids right now, head over to the Active Kids page and download your free Secret Circuit.

How my children make me more creative

This blog was originally published in April 2019 over on Medium. It appears here in its original published form.

Lilly Mae, written by Sarah Mahfoudh; illustrated by Ruth Thorp; published by Raw Mixture Publishing.

With a six year old and a three year old at home, I often complain about how little time I have to get things done; how, if I didn’t have to do school runs and nursery runs and meal times and bed times, I would have written another three novels by now! That may or may not be true (it’s probably not!), but what I forget about all too often are the creative opportunities that arise because I have children. Having young children gives me an excuse to play around with craft stuff and think up new and ridiculous games to play; I get to have fun making funny birthday cakes each year and, for all my moaning, I love thinking up ways to make World Book Day costumes without spending a single penny. Best of all, I always have a captive audience for my stories.

I created my first picture book, Lilly Mae on a car journey with my oldest daughter, who was about two or three at the time. She was bored and getting fidgety so I thought up this funny little character, Lilly Mae, whose mood swings changed the weather down on Earth. Last night, Lilly Mae came to my rescue again! We’d been to my six year old’s parents evening and, yet again, I had come away feeling stressed and anxious about whether or not she would meet her ‘end of year targets’. Cue a very long, very angry, and slightly repetitive rant about the education system and why on earth we feel the need to test our children at such a young age!

For the sake of my sanity and yours, I am not going to repeat that rant right now. When I had finished ranting, however, I decided that rather than despairing, I would do something constructive; something that would help my daughter without stressing her out. Apparently, one of the things she needs to work on is getting to grips with number bonds (or ‘number bombs’ as she calls them 💥.)

So, I did what I do best — I wrote a story. It was a story that involved Lilly Mae using number bonds to help her get ready for her holiday. (It’s better than it sounds; promise!) I typed it up and printed it out all ready for my daughter to read this morning when she woke up. She loved it! It is amazing how completing even the smallest creative task can make me feel better about life, especially when it also helps other people. It might be silly, but every time I finish writing a little story for the girls, or make a pirate hat for them to wear to school, or see their happy faces when I present them with the birthday cake they asked for, I feel a little bubble of pride for what I have created. These are things I wouldn’t have made if it weren’t for having children. So, every time I start to moan about how little time my children leave me to ‘work on my master piece, darling!’, I need to remind myself of all the little master pieces I wouldn’t have created if it weren’t for them.

Work in progress: Lilly Mae does number bonds! (I’ll let you into a little secret: if you join our members club for your free wellbeing pack, I will also send through this Lilly Mae does number bonds story totally free.)

Children and maths (a side note)

The idea of writing a story to help my daughter with her maths, came from a brilliant blog post that talks about how more and more children are becoming anxious about maths and how their anxiety is holding them back. Fortunately, there is ‘a surprisingly easy way for parents to stop passing on math anxiety and build their children’s math confidence’, and that is simply by reading math-themed stories together. If you have children or work with children, I would highly recommend reading this post: Parents and Teachers Pass On Math Anxiety to Kids Like a Virus, Especially to Girls. In fact, I would highly recommend reading every single thing on the A Mighty Girl website.
If you’ve enjoyed this article and have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at can-do-kids@outlook.com and don’t forget to browse the Can-do Kids website and follow us on Instagram for more creative ideas to share with your kids. If you would like to recieve a free downloadable copy of the Lilly Mae does number bonds story, sign up to join the Can-do Kids Club.

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