I hope your New Year has got off to a good start and that all healthy resolutions are still being honoured!! We’ve got a long way to go, so you need to keep up the positive attitude!
As you probably already know, Kiki and Friends stories are all about positivity. While most messages recently have been about what a bad year 2020 was, we at Kiki headquarters are celebrating a year of achievements.
A YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENTS
Kiki and her friends got totally jiggy with their creativity and knuckled down to business in 2020. Here are two examples of what they achieved:
As usual Kiki is the one with the plan and inspiring confidence in all of us, but the story also explores the themes of
working as a team
Visit Kiki’s website to see how this book can help raise awareness with your child to think of others less fortunate than themselves—and to believe more in their unique, individual strengths. Click here: More than just a fun story.
The main objective for the journal is to learn through fun… while picking up some good habits along the way, such as:
building a positive mindset
nurturing a mindful approach
The kids didn’t even know they were doing it – they just had fun (remember when you were a child doing quizzes and puzzles? All that achievement helped you build your self-confidence).
SOMETHING LOOK FORWARD TO
Although Banjo may want to put up his paws and drink milkeo all day, Kiki and Dali intend to get busy with some more projects this year. Naturally they will call on the flamboyant flair of Piero to make them just as colourful and fun.
What you can expect from Kiki and Friends this year:
Adventure Stories for Early Readers
A Day at The Races – expected release date: 27 February 2021 The Major – expected release date: 26 June 2020
Illustrated Rhyming Story for 0-5-year-olds
Kiki and Banjo Save Christmas – expected release date: 22 August 2021
Personally, I’m very excited about this second illustrated book featuring Kiki and Banjo … this one has been brewing for a long time. Time to get the drawing pencils out!
I hope you will find time to get creative this year, whether it’s painting or making your journal look pretty – we even get creative when we cook, organise and of course spruce up the house… and since we’ve been looking at the same 4 walls just a little longer than we may have liked to, why not try your hand at rearranging your living space, maybe liven it up with some new covers and vibrant plants to refresh your surroundings. What we nourish our eyes and minds with is just as important as what we eat and the company we keep.
So open up a book to join Kiki and Friends, you’re sure to be in great company as you feast your eyes on the oh so cute illustrations and fill your mind with all kinds of positivity and inner victories.
I hope your 2021 is off to a positive start and continues to be filled with joy and fun.
It has been such a trying year for our children (and us parents!). Kiki thought it might be nice to make a surprise treat for them. So she put her head together with Banjo, Piero and Dali and they came up with the idea of a Challenge Advent Calendar. Admittedly Banjo just ate all the biscuits during the planning and brainstorming sessions, but he played a vital role in keeping everybody’s spirits up with his positive nature. And that is what we want to do: keep your spirits up.
THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE FREE
Yes it’s true. The best things in life are free, that is why we are offering this amazing advent calendar completely free (only make a donation of your choosing if you want to down below)
Free or make a donation below
Because the “Challenges” week was such a hit in our trials, we decided to base much of this calendar on things for the children to find, learn or do. Plus there are wordsearches and colouring in sheets to keep them busy in a productive and creative way—Kiki even came up with a new tongue twister and Dali wrote a poem!
Here is a version using QR code scans if you prefer. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can just hold your phone up to each day with a QR code reader to access the challenges. Kiki thought it was best to leave it in Word so you can enlarge the scans in case your reader is very sensitive and scans the day next to the one you want!
A few thoughts….
Don’t worry, your child doesn’t need to know the Kiki and Friends stories to enjoy this advent calendar.
Designed especially for Christmas. All the content is unique.
Challenges help broaden your child’s mind and make them feel more confident.
Learning and growing through fun things to do and learn is the best way.
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
Kiki and her friends hope you and your little ones enjoy the calendar and wish you a Merry Catmas and Furry Happy New Year!
Free or make a donation below
Make a one-time donation
Choose an amount
Or enter your own amount (nobody sees this)
Kiki and her friends are grateful for your generosity.
This beautifully illustrated daily action journal is easy to use. It is based on the principle of promoting healthy habits every day to ensure your child’s stability, good health and contentment in the future.
With the help of Kiki and Friends, your child is encouraged to look for the positive, spend time being mindful and reflect on how they feel. Based on Kiki’s signature red headband for confidence, Kiki’s I CAN Journal for Kids
cultivates your child’s daily sense of achievement
increases their self-belief and
boosts their sense of self-worth.
builds up an I CAN attitude
Using scientifically proven methods to nurture a growth mindset and promote positivity, your child will develop healthy daily habits for life in just a few minutes every day.
1. Kiki’s Challenges
A new challenge every day: to inspire your child to see things from a different perspective and become more aware.
Each challenge encourages them to learn, notice or step out of their normal zone. It broadens their horizons and nurtures their confidence.
2. Dali’s Doodles
Simple and soothing: Colouring in is a an assured way of switching off from worries and thoughts. We’ve all enjoyed this simple activity as children. Being mindful and relaxed doesn’t have to be complicated. Focusing on the colouring in and the images helps to switch off any negative chatter in your child’s mind and takes them down a path of creative imagination.
3. “Mighty Me” Missions
I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t enjoy challenging themselves—or competing with other children, especially siblings. These easy exercises and balancing “missions” engage your child’s desire to succeed and nurture the habit of doing physical activity every day.
4. Kiki’s Caring Kids
Caring is an essential life skill: Our children should learn to care not just for others, but for themselves and the world they live in. Each month Kiki encourages your child to explore each of these areas in turn. At the end they even get a Certificate of Achievement to further consolidate the importance of what they have done.
Here are just 3 the reasons why caring is so important:
caring for yourself engenders self-respect, which in turn fosters respect for others, animals, objects, plants, other people’s efforts and things around you
learning about your planet helps you appreciate and value it more
being more compassionate towards others decreases your sense of self-importance and nurtures an attitude of understanding (less focus on the self makes us happier)
And much more…
Plus motivational quotes, daily prompts for inner reflection, gratitude and increased awareness, bonus activities… And of course Dali’s mood metre!
Nothing prepares us as parents for all the new stresses our children may face.
To help provide support, Wellness Mentor and children’s author Francesca Hepton designed this journal to gently guide your child into a world of positivity and build a foundation of daily healthy habits. If you want to raise confident children, spend 5 minutes a day with them and Kiki’s I CAN Journal for Kids. They have fun and want to do it every day as they don’t realise how much they are learning: consistency pays and your child plays.
“The size of the actual book is just right, not too big/small. Easy to pocket in handbag and carry anywhere so the child has a productive way to spend time while waiting (instead of just being glued to the iPad!)”
“My niece looked forward to doing it, then gets distracted with something else halfway. But after about a week of continuously doing it, she actively asks for the journal to write/colour/draw. I’m happy to see her interact positively with the book. Some bits were challenging for her at first, but it’s good not to make it easy for them.”
“He loves it. I was concerned at first cos he completed parts, skips a page, then comes back to it. I think he’s just curious as to what each page hold. Once he’s done with one page, he’s eager to start another.”
“Helps with motor skills too, colours IN the lines (which is an achievement because she used to just scribble) this is noticeable in the YOUR TURN part of the drawings.”
“More open to expressing herself. After deep breaths, she’s able to articulate if she’s “angry” or “sad” instead of just throwing a tantrum.”
“Although my grandaughter has always been a bubbly personality, after learning to sit down and spend time to recognise emotions, positivity, and cute pictures, she’s calmer and is able to sit down for a longer time. She responded well to the Tiny Listening bit. During an outburst by her little sister, she said ‘Tiny is listening. What is wrong?’ I thought I misheard her but she meant the characters in the book. She was imitating their empathy and I thought that was really fascinating to see.”
“Kiki’s I CAN journal is a an excellent way to allow a child to learn how to journal at a young age.”
“I can see his level of engagement grow week by week. It fluctuates throughout the week itself but there is interest in wanting to doodle in his “Red Book“.”
Even though Katie has not read any other Kiki and Friends stories, she made up their backstories – great for their imagination!”
“It helped increase my child’s vocabulary, such as spelling the word CONFIDENCE.”
“It’s a good tool to explore her creativity and I appreciate having this opportunity to spend time with her and watching her grow.”
“I liked the fact it focused on one area per week. I think it helped to cement a routine so it’s good that it wasn’t too much to do in one go.”
“My daughter has a younger sister (2 years old) and I’ve noticed that when the 2 year-old reacts negatively to a situation, my daughter is able to placate her little sister by asking “are you feeling sad or angry?” Prior to the journaling, she didn’t interact in that manner so I think it helps her understand situations and read them better as well as be more self-aware. I hope this would encourage other kids too.”
Note to grown-ups/journal buddies
This is not a diary. It is not a personal development tool. It is a proven way to illicit hidden feelings, promote emotional intelligence and consolidate a positive, confident attitude among children under 8. Its message and effects work indirectly. It must be delivered as an activity book. Not a chore with the promise of changing the child or “fixing” them. No child is broken. Every child is beautiful. Let’s help them see that. Ideal for children aged 4 to 7. Younger ones will need help with writing.
There are two ways to get to the moon: jump on a rocket or a very long stairway. Which would you choose? If you’re in a rush, you take the rocket, the stars whoosh by in a blur, you have the thrill of the ride and in a flash you arrive at your destination. What if you choose the stairs? Yes, it takes considerably longer, but you can stop to linger and marvel at the beauty of the stars and planets. You build up your muscles taking one step after the other. You might even stop off at a couple of other planets on a little intergalactic pitstop.
When you’re not in a hurry to get somewhere you can soak up the sights and build a strong foundation of understanding, taking your time to learn and absorb along the way.
Which one would you take? If you are asking yourself: What does all of this have to do with your child’s confidence? If you’re impatient and just want to skip to the answer without laying the foundation, then you are in the rocket. If on the other hand you are starting to see a message unfold and want to really understand how to help your child, you are on the stairs, building a strong foundation of understanding. Let me walk with you and explain how.
3 Macro Tips for building your child’s confidence
Routine. Consistency. Reliability. This one you’re probably familiar with. If a child does not have to worry about their basic needs, know they can rely on you and that they are loved, they are less likely to develop an anxious mindset.
Remember, especially in times of hardship not to pass on your fears or disrupt your “normality”. Your fears become their fears. The world can be falling apart but if you are stable, they can handle anything. Never worry about when their next meal is, erratic spikes in behaviour (leads to anxiety) or question if they are loved.
Your responsibility is to look after their basic needs. Even if your situation is not ideal. Looking after your child’s basic needs is a must. Their happiness will even give you comfort. If you don’t, your child will fret more, become anxious and unsure. This is an insecure child, not a confident one. You have to deal with the adult problems and give them space to grow as a child.
Routine doesn’t mean boring. Have things to look forward to.
Let’s not confuse this with achievement. Learning is the process of creating a patchwork quilt that eventually cloaks your child offering them shelter, guidance and comfort. If they have knowledge they become self-sufficient. Knowledge empowers them to tackle challenges and make smart, informed decisions.
Achievement does come into play as well, as they feel pleased with themselves and this boosts their sense of self-worth. But achievement on its own can be empty. We don’t want to over inflate their ego with pride.
This factor may be less familiar to you in this context. It goes hand-in-hand with learning and stability.
For example, do not let your child watch a 15-rated film if they are not 15. This is erratic, unfounded behaviour that will confuse them. THey will find it more difficult to discern right from wrong. We need to build them up slowly. They first have to be able to understand the messages of films for kids in their age group. They will not understand the subtleties of the humour designed for an older audience. They will not be able to process any disturbing messages in the same way as a young adult can.
Do not hurry your child’s childhood. Once they understand a certain set of boundaries they will be pushing for the next, it gives them something to strive for. If you open up the floodgates, they are like jelly on a hotplate.
It starts with bars on the bed—a cot not a strange prison!—a child gate at the top of the stairs, then stopping them from wandering outside f the house on their own.
Helping them cross the road until they are old enough to check for themselves. Helping them navigate the options in the playground until you can let go and watch them try on their own.
Once they have gone through the previous steps, they have the skills to move to the next with greater self-confidence. They need to learn the foundations. They need boundaries to push. And it doesn’t stop when they are teens. They still push for later hours, not doing homework, etc. more TV… your teen is just a taller version of your toddler with a greater arsenal of vocabulary and mood swings.
3 Micro tips for building your child’s confidence
Give them responsibility
Listen with an open mind, heart and ear.
Daily healthy habits
1. Give them responsibility
This of course needs to be age appropriate. I have listed some suggestions below. Instruct them first on how to do the job, show them how you do it. Give them a one-liner to make their goal memorable. e.g. “Wipe it. Clean it. Bin it.” or “Make it green.” Then:
Leave them to it.
Do not interfere.
Do not tell them what they have done wrong.
Do not give false praise.
Jobs for under 5s: put toys away, pair socks together, wash the car, tidy the lounge before bath time, rake up leaves
Jobs for over 5s: bake biscuits for local emergency services, feed the birds, make cup of tea for parents, do the recycling, do the washing up, plant vegetables in the garden
2. Listen with an open heart
When someone is talking, we’re often just waiting for them to finish so we can say what we want. We want to share our experience of the same thing they described. We are not being selfish, we are trying to build a bridge and show we understand. To connect. However, whilst we are busy formulating our answer, making sure we don’t forget, we are missing out on key points in what our friend is saying. Or in this case, our child.
It is essential that we listen as they may be giving us important messages about stuff that is bothering them, something they are excited about… children aren’t always black and white blurting out exactly what comes into their head—sometimes stuff that has been fermenting a long time in their brains comes out. It can be a cry for help, something that happened to them or is happening to them that they don’t understand.
Remember, your child has not had years of practice at this communication thing like us, and even then we find it hard to express how we truly feel. It is impossible to convey exactly how you are feeling to someone else as we all have our own filter through which we infer and digest information (e.g. our personality, our memories and experiences—these all taint how we interpret and relay things, actions and feelings).
Listen and learn. Invest time in your child, the payback will come back thousandfold.
3. Daily healthy habits
Have you read “Atomic Habits” by James Clear or heard about the compound effect of good habits? These great tips for personal development and self-improvement are not just reserved for adults. Like those of us who chose the stairs to get to the moon, we can build up our child’s confidence muscles and strength by encouraging them to take little steps on a healthy path every day.
Shooting for the stars may get you there quicker, but what do you learn and see on the way?
That is why I am an active advocator of journaling. It is not keeping a diary of all the boys or girls you fancied at school or
It is a record of your thoughts and dreams, a place to reflect on yourself and the world around you every day. It keeps you on track. Increases your level of awareness. If your child takes up this practice, it’ll help them understand the principle: Every action causes an effect. They begin to think before acting rashly.
Kiki’s I CAN Journal for kids guides your child through a journey of personal victories, mindfulness and new challenges. It prompts them to reflect and experience a sense of achievement. In addition to this it gives you an opportunity to bond as it provides a point of conversation. Plus, it makes your child a more caring person: for themselves, others and the world they live in.
Kiki and Friends can help your child become fearless, caring and roar with a lion’s confidence. Let’s help get them ready for an ever-changing world. Let’s give them the gift of inner confidence for life.
Thank you to Cheree Sauer @heartfeltmamas for inspiring me to write this article.
Using this 6-week introductory journal, you will discover how and why your child should start a Positivity Journal (click here for FREE ebook version).
What Is Journaling?
Perhaps it is easiest to explain what journaling is by clearing up what it’s NOT. Keeping a journal is NOT like writing a:
To do list
Journaling is a private activity, but with young children, they will/may need the assistance of a grown-up. Each day, for example, they reflect on how they feel, what they thought and what they did. Alternatively they can keep a journal of ideas, dreams, places they want to go or things they want to do or become. It is a time and space dedicated for private reflection.
Different Types Of Journal
As you can see from above there are all kinds of journals. You can even keep exercise, diet, business and family journals. The common thread through all of them is the act of writing down your thoughts. Kids can use notebooks of any size and personalise them, decorate them, make them their own.
There is of course Kiki’s I CAN Journal, which helps children start this healthy daily habit from a young age (ideal for 4-7). This 90-day activity journal nurtures your child on their way to a positive mindset whilst cultivating their self-confidence.
Journaling with pen and paper requires the application of the analytical, rational left side of the brain; while your left hemisphere is occupied, your right hemisphere (the creative, touchy-feely side) is given the freedom to wander and play. This allows your creativity to flourish and expand and can make a big difference in your daily well-being
What Are The Benefits Of Journaling?
We find it is an extremely useful tool to help children through big changes or challenging times; e.g. pupils transitioning from primary school to secondary school. All big changes affect us in different ways. Ways we sometimes do not see but that can manifest over time into worry, stress and then physical ailments. Positivity Journaling gives your child the opportunity to identify negative emotions before they become pent-up, keep them in a more positive frame of mind, and help them build a greater sense of self-awareness and perspective on life.
Journaling can be effective for many different reasons and help us reach a wide range of goals. It can help you clear your head, make important connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
Overall, journaling has been found to:
Boost your mood/affect
Enhance your sense of well-being
Reduce symptoms of depression before an important event (like an exam)
Improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005)
How Can Writing Make Us Feel Better?
You might be wondering how writing in a journal can have a significant impact on your life. After all, it’s just putting some words on a page—how much can that really do for you? It turns out that this simple practice can do quite a bit, especially as you strive towards a cultivating more positive attitude.
Writing a journal can make us more aware (and self-aware) and help us detect unnoticed and/or unhealthy patterns in our thoughts and behaviours. It allows us to take more control over our lives and puts things in perspective. Furthermore, it can help us shift from a negative mindset to a more positive one, especially about ourselves (Robinson, 2017). All this because we:
Carve out time to pause.
Observe thoughts, actions, feelings–allow these to flow from our pen without thinking.
Pin our observations and free-floating thoughts down on paper.
Now we have created something tangible. this feeds back to the brain. Now it is real, we can deal with it (problem), enjoy it (happy memories), understand it (hidden emotions),
The reason why writing is more effective than simply thinking or speaking these thoughts and/or emotions is because it is a physical act that engages the brain and the body. The physical act of writing with a pen slows the thinking process down, giving your child the opportunity to unravel their thoughts. When we think, our thoughts simply spin around in our head, always in motion. Journaling pins them down for us to read and learn from and inspire us and motivate us.
What Is a Positivity Journal?
It is the positive aspect we shall be looking at with your child as opposed to free-flow journaling. This way they get into the good habit of journaling and develop a more positive attitude (additional exercises are available in the manual). The entries in their journal will take approximately 5-7 minutes a day.
Writing down all the positive aspects in your life is such a simple way to learn about your thought processes and track your progress as you undergo a period of change.
The areas your child will explore in this Positivity Journal are general enough for your child to feel comfortable sharing with you and their teachers and friends. This was done deliberately to get you all used to the idea. However, if they choose to continue their journaling practice once the 6 weeks are over, we/you must respect their privacy.
Various aspects of positivity explored in this introductory journal:
Your child will have their very own Positivity Journal in which they will enter their thoughts and reflections every day as explained in the 6 respective sections. You may also wish to encourage them to carry a “gratitude stone”, make a “thank you” bracelet or something similar as a trigger to help them stay focused on the now, instead of worrying about what might be or dwelling on past worries.
I hope you will support your child throughout this exciting new journey. Naturally, I am happy to provide you with any research or information that supports or exemplifies this undertaking. Or you can purchase the exercise manual that contains fun craft and written exercises for each of the 6 areas above.
Review From Harrogate Ladies College
“The gratitude journals that Francesca created were incredibly beneficial for pupil wellbeing and they were particularly useful to help support pupils who were transitioning from year six to year seven. This is a crucial time in a young person’s life and therefore to start the PSHE year using these journals really reinforced some key themes that are necessary for development and managing the ‘self.’
Our schools are champions in the field of mental health and these journals really helped us to develop our unique approach. The positivity journal was written so that it developed every week, maximising pupil progress, both academically and emotionally. There were themes such as mindfulness, giving back and gratitude – something which helped them develop as a person and they took what they had learned in lessons and incorporated it into their everyday lives, with many going on to continue journaling after the lessons.
All the resources and supporting material was provided by Francesca, with clear and concise teacher notes, this meant that teachers were organised and had a clear vision of what to achieve by the end of the six-week course. The lessons were varied in style and activity and the pupils enjoyed engaging in the creative nature of the journals.”
The story delicately treats the issue of animal cruelty whilst continuing the message of inner strength. The friends’ time at the circus exemplifies the power of teamwork, as each character uses their individual skill and, of course, no story would be complete without Kiki’s ability to “Kung Fu” them to safety.
What’s it about?
Kiki agrees to go with her friends to the circus. She has never been before and there is already discomfort around the subject of animals being chained or tamed right from the start. But don’t worry even though the odds are stacked against them, they still come out on top. Not only do Kiki and her friends save the mistreated elephants who are made to perform, they also outwit and outrun the Farmies AGAIN!
The second in the series of books: Kiki and Friends. Purr-fect for 4 to 7-year-olds who love to read stories with funny twists, clever plans and mischievous scrapes. Bonus: EleFunFact Quiz at the back of the book. Feline clever? Take the quiz and discover just how much of an elephant expert you really are.
Raising Awareness of Animal Cruelty Among Children
Kiki and Friends help children become more caring individuals:
caring about themselves: self-care, self-respect, health, fitness
caring about others: acts of kindness, respecting others, gratitude
caring about the environment: looking after world, learning about all living things
Why is this important?
Kiki wants children to think about those who do not have a voice so they can be their voice. Thinking of the needs of others helps children become less self-centred and selfish. It also broadens their understanding of the world around them.
65% of us believe that millenials (18 to 25-year-olds) are “selfish and “entitled”
There must be a reason for that! Given this rising trend of entitlement, we need to move our children’s focus away from solely their own needs. Selfishness leads to feeling:
like a victim
nobody cares about you
everyone else is against you
miserable and pessimistic
lonely and recluse
No parent wants that. Enter Kiki and Friends to help move your children into a place of giving and caring. Let your children feel part of something bigger than themselves – like the world and all the amazing animals in it.
HOW KIKI HELPS YOUR CHILDREN
Being More Confident
By now we’re all familiar with Kiki’s signature trademark of the red headband – a metaphor for self-confidence. When she puts it on she can do anything. When children lack confidence, they become self-absorbed, thinking others don’t like them or don’t want them. By helping others, like Kiki does, they will become more assured, more likely to work together with others and ask for help.
Seeing Your Weakness as a Strength
Believe in their own unique skills when faced with adversity or the seemingly impossible. Your weaknesses or “peculiar characteristics” can be turned into strengths – your unique secret weapon.
Piero did not take his accent being teased as a weakness, he turned it on its head and used it as a strength to help distract the cats and make their getaway plan a success. Kiki uses the size of the mice to their advantage (hiding in the wig, shooting them out of the canon) and Banjo turns his wobbly belly into an advantage as he dresses up as a belly dancer to escape.
The Power of Teamwork
Understand the value of loyalty and friendship, teamwork and self-belief.
In this story children will see how the friends work together to make the plan work. Kiki may do the superhero stuff and fight the eye-patch cat but her plan is based on using everyone’s skills: Banjo’s strength for the chains, Piero’s creativity and charm to distract the other cats, etc.
Become Aware of Others and Their Needs
Become aware of how animals are mistreated in a circus environment.
The story portrays how animal are chained in a circus. It transposes “human circus” into a “cat world circus”, so it is not too direct of an attack as the circus can be a fun place for children. Nevertheless the “elephant mice” are shown to be miserable and chained. Raising awareness.
None of the characters woke up that morning thinking they might have to sing or dance in front of a crowd, or get shot out of a canon but they did. And because they did, they saved the elephants that were being mistreated. Bu getting into action, by doing things you didn’t know you were capable of, you (your child) too can help make a difference in the lives of others (animals or people) who need you.
Great Things Happen When you Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Kiki and Friends save the elephants, not because they stayed at home….
SUMMARY OF THEMES AND STORY
Chapter 1 Big News
Excitement. The Circus. Learning how to read – personal development. The reader is introduced to the Cats Code of Conduct. Banjo announces the circus is coming – this is met with both excitement and also confusion as Kiki reveals the possibility it may be cruel to animals. Trying new things. Engaging in activities and new things.
Chapter 2 The Big Top
New experiences. Colourful circus. Oh no the Farmies are back! Hiding. Scared little mouse. Suspense. Kiki looking after them. Discover miniature circus for cats. Incredible Circus of Mice. The adventure begins.
Chapter 3 Mouse Mission
Each one of has unique skills. Military mission with Kiki and four mice. Evil eye-patch cat training scared mice. Saving the little “elephant mice”. Banjo is needed for his strength to free the mice. Winston and Churchill for their military skills in filling the mice out. Kiki’s fight scene with the ye-patch cat. Banjo helps by carrying him.
Being quick and clever can help save the day – no need for violence. The enactment of the plan gives Kiki the opportunity to show the readers just how clever and quick she is as she saves the day.
Chapter 4Piero’s Mission
Digging deep and achieving great things – Working Together. Defending against bullying. Piero entertains the cat audience. what he could have taken to heart as his weakness, his accent, which makes him different and stand out and be teased, he used as a strength as a skill, his secret weapon for helping the mice scape. His jubilant, upbeat nature made him think of laughter as a way to distract the cats. Use of music. The Music Man song.
Necessity Is The Mother Of All Creation
Piero did what he had to do
A little bit about bullying. Eye-patch cat bullied little mice because he was bigger than them.
Chapter 5The Great Escape
Unique talents. Seeing strengths of others. Self belief: nothing is impossible. Everyone has their own unique talents. Banjo becomes a belly dancer, the mice are shot out of a canon and our heroine becomes Kiki the clown. She orchestrates their great escape using everyone’s unique skills. The small size of the mice to whisper to the elephants.
She is the saviour. Nothing is impossible. They are in danger but she still thinks of the happiness of others and takes the elephants with them on their escape. Now what do they do? Kiki always has a plan.
Chapter 6Grandpa George
Learn about asking for help. First mention of animal cruelty.
Kiki plants the elephants outside Grandpa George’s house. He is a vet and loves animals. This takes her and her friends out of the loop. They won’t get told off for making the elephants leave the circus. Good job Kiki can write, right? Proof of her thinking skills, not just her fighting skills to save the day.
Learn a few more types of animals like bonobo. learn about elephants. Pachyderms. (In the cat quiz). First direct mention of animal cruelty. Baddie gets cuffed and taken away.
Yet again, by working together, this new group of friends has gone out of their comfort zone, enjoyed themselves and are waiting, like the reader, for their next adventure!
Further info about mistreatment of circus elephants
This part is not meant for children, but it explains why the author wanted to raise awareness on behalf of elephants. In some circuses:
The circus tears babies away from their mothers.
“Breaking” elephants really means “breaking their spirits.”
Trainers use bullhooks, ropes, and electric prods.
Training goes unmonitored by any agency of any kind.
Elephants spend most of their lives in chains.
Elephants travel in boxcars like these for up to 100 hours straight.
Not one bit of me wanted to go near the lice on my son’s head. But I realised he was counting on me. I had to get over my fear to stop him feeling ashamed.
If I stayed paralysed with an expression of disgust smudged across my face, I was only going to do something no parent wants to do: pass on my fears and crush his self-esteem. I had to stop passing on my fears and start being a strong mother!
If you want to help your child be confident and not crush their self-esteem: get over yourself! You know kids pick up on our behaviour. Be a positive influence, not a weak role model.
One of the smallest creatures in the world represent one of parents’ biggest fears. The head louse!
Just thinking about lice is making me itch. I am reminded of all the times my partner’s children so kindly shared these little friends with me. Argh. I am squirming just at the memories and that was over 15 years ago. If these little blighters can still make me, a grown woman, react so negatively over a decade later, just imagine what they could be doing to your child’s self-esteem!
LICE TO-DO LIST
you have to take action, ignoring them won’t make them go away
make sure you check their hair regularly
make sure that you treat their hair immediately
yes, spend hours shampooing, combing and picking the little buggers out
check everyone in the house
wash all clothes and sheets and pillow cases and sofa covers (or disinfect)
repeat every day until they are gone
be consistent and relentless
Keep your enemies close
Find out all you can about your enemy. That way you are in a better position to defeat them. Learn about the lice. Find out what your child’s school is doing: policies, preventions, checks, etc. You can research with your child.
Back to me and my son: Even though I had to pretend not to want to heave every time I saw a blown up picture of these dreadful creatures, it was interesting learning about them. Taking positive action like this can help your child deal with the situation better. Understanding is the best course of action. Fear usually comes from stuff we don’t know about, so if we learn, we feel more empowered. Ignorance leaves us feeling weak.
Even your little princess could be the Trojan horse
They live on all kinds of hair. But I have to say that the kids with thick and/or long hair seem to get it more. I speak from experience from when I was at school and my best friend Melanie Walton kindly shared her infestation with me. I too had longish hair.
I was absolutely devastated when I got them as a young girl of 8. I felt like I was being punished. Somehow it violates you. I know that there are lots of little microorganisms living on us all the time – but hey, what you can’t see can’t bother you: out of sight out of mind. But lice, they may be small, but we can still see them.
Sorry, for the pause. Just had to have a good scratch.
Where was I? Oh yes, the visual is everything. The itching, well that’s kind of like mosquitoes, i.e. bearable. But seeing other things living off of you and having the audacity to use you as a breeding ground like miniatures from Scott Ridley’s Alien movie is a complete violation of your personal space and a black X on your personal hygiene. It doesn’t matter how you wrap it, or how often you are told that lice like both dirty and clean hair – having headlice ain’t nice! And I am fussy about who and what lives on me and shares my bed at night. Aren’t you?
Safeguard your child’s self-esteem
Whatever way you dice it, having lice will affect your children emotionally. Do not overreact. Let’s focus on your child’s self-esteem. Keep this intact. So talk to your children as positively as you can. Say that lice are just like other insects out in the world, like butterflies and ladybirds. They are small little animals going about their business. They think their hair is a nice place to live. But they are not pets and there are zillions of them in the world so it is okay to flush them down the sink.
LICE NOT-TO-DO LIST
shrink away from your child
shrug off responsibility
cut all their hair off
throw the comb away after use – stay armed, there is usually more than one outbreak at school
Remember you are the adult. You have to put the brave face on first and get a hold of the situation. You may not have asked for them, and the lice most likely piggybacked from some other child into your clean household, but you are still responsible for dealingwith the situation.
Taking action is the biggest thing you can do for your child – and you! I’m not suggesting it will be a quality parent-child time, but there is a kind of bonding that goes on as you both strive for the same mission: to oust the louse! Your child could also check your hair. See the bright side: you are doing battle together, and it’s the chance for you to show your strengths as a parent and to support your child in their time of need.
Reading fairy tales or stories to children has been a longstanding tradition – one we don’t even need reminding of, until now perhaps with an overload of TV and screen time. Parents and grandparents used to rock their children to sleep with a story or lullaby or fairytale. Now this tradition is in danger of being replaced with half an hour of cartoons before bed or a session on the Playstation before dinner. Choosing not to read to your child and opting to place them in front of a screen is forcing your child into a state of isolation.
Prefer to listen to this article? Approx. 11 minutes
Despite all the evidence of how detrimental passive time in front of the TV is (e.g. the proof that children aged 8 months to 2 years learn 17% less vocabulary every hour they spend in front of the screen), millions of parents still dump their children in front of the TV, in front of moving shapes and “educational” video games. All this in the belief that they are expanding the intellectual abilities of their precious offspring. Now I’m not saying that parents should be focusing on getting their kids into university or college when they are still sitting in their high chair. My aim is not to throw children into the competitive arena early, rather to give them a strong foundation. This is achieved through
routine: with stories consistently read at a certain time,
the right kind of attention: having their parent’s full attention and physical closeness
and stimulus: the book itself will awaken their imagination and not feed it passively like the TV.
Why kids who are read to are likely to be more successful
The kids most likely to succeed in tomorrow’s economy will not be those tired souls worn out from competition at an early age forced to memorise data. Instead it will be the creative thinkers, capable of solving problems and having independent thoughts. Reading to children is not about teaching kids to read, it’s about sharing stories with children. Reading to your child opens up a world of possibilities and new thoughts in their developing minds.
I started reading to my eldest when he was just 14 days old. For some mothers that may seem incredibly early and to others it may seem rather late – believe it or not.
Which camp do you fall into?
Here are some facts on how reading to your child can help them grow into successful adults. These might sway you to start reading sooner than you’d planned!
Benefits of reading to your children
Numerous studies show that reading aloud provides your child with ways of effectively communicating that positively influence their psychic and cognitive development. What does this mean in real terms for your child?
forming a mindset for accelerated learning in future years
anchoring the habit of reading, which makes them calmer and attentive
building a strong foundation for your relationship with your child
In addition to the above, reading stories to your child from a young age has a decisive influence on their comprehension of language and the diversity of their vocabulary. This stands them in good stead when they start school, e.g. helps them better understand written text. Plus let’s not forget it is fun to listen to stories. The experience gives them deep sensorial and emotional pleasure, especially if they are snuggled up to you or on your lap. This is why I am a firm believer in developing the habit of reading to preschool children.
My mother thought my brother could read at 2 years since he was saying the right sentences and turning the pages at the right time… miracle boy? Well kind of. He had memorised the entire book. Stories stimulate a child’s memory. They remember the sentences and correct you if you read it wrong! A great way to actively exercise that big muscle in their head!
The following will help you read to your child
If you want to give your child a great start in life and set them off on the right page for success at school, here are a few tips to ensure your reading sessions are successful and effective:
What kind of books to read to your child
For younger children you could follow this general timetable:
A few weeks old: lullabies and nursery rhymes – sing or recite these before bedtime, make it a sort of ritual that sends your little one into the world of dreams.
2 months: start to show them largeimages by placing them at a distance of no more than 30 cm from their face.
6 months: since they are in the grab it and eat it phase choose tough, non-toxic books with thick pages and bright colours.
9 months: your child will be able to pass the book from one hand to the other, start pointing and, if they see you do it, they will try to turn the pages.
1 year: they will hold the books in their own hands, turn the pages, so choose content with ‘everyday’ actions (eating, sleeping, playing) and animals. As for the contents, rhyming stories always intrigue and delight them most.
1 1/2 years: now you will “hear” the fruits of your labour as they remember what has been read to them and anticipates the sentences. Children mostly like books that talk about animals (especially if you imitate the noises they make!), other children and everyday activities they are familiar with.
2 years: the book is now part of their play toolbox – they will carry them around, play at being teacher and use them in their role playing games.
3+: by now you are both pros at this storytime stuff! Encourage your child to sound out words and read the stories back to you. Carry on reading to them until they naturally read by themselves.
8+: at this age I used to “assist” my son with his reading. Some of the books he wanted to read were a little beyond his abilities. I used to read a couple of pages, then he would read one. We would alternate. I’d help explain a couple of the big words, but not all. I found this gave him confidence. After a few months of this, he was off on his own with Tolkien’s Hobbit!
As for what books to choose – well you’ll find that Kiki and Friends offer fun, spirited and yet wholesome and progressive stories your child will love at any age. Their life lessons and the variety of characters are useful for your child’s emotional development, and Kiki of course is a firm model for self-confidence and positivity.
If in doubt for younger kids, classic fairy tales or fables are always a safe choice. They help them to project and express doubts, fears and emotions.
Top tip – read stories you enjoy too. Children like to have the same story told several times in a row, so it helps if you like listening to it too!
When to read to your children
Young children need to have structure in their day. They flourish with set times, not because it turns them into robots, but because it gives them stability and reassurance. This is something they need if they are to develop other areas of learning and understanding. You can ensure their basic needs are met and they feel safe by setting well-defined times throughout their day. Example:
walk / outdoor time
bed time …
You can even set aside a time for reading after meals or before sleep, when you want to encourage the child to develop an emotional state of calm and tranquility.
By dedicating a particular time of day to read to your child, e.g. before bedtime, after meals, in the afternoon between games, while waiting at the train station/doctor’s/dentist, etc.…. creates the habit of listening and boosts the desire to learn to read by themselves.
How to read to your children
Reading should be a magical moment. Your child should have your complete attention. They love this. You are there ready to satisfy their need for closeness, curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
Use your facial expressions, tone of voice, body posture to reassure them all is well as you convey the content of the book. You walk hand-in-hand to discover a whole new world.
The way in which you tell the story, rather than the content, is especially important for younger children. Onomatopoeic sounds like a train’s choo-choo, a dog’s woof-woof, or a car’s brum brum can make your child laugh – and we all know the benefits of laughter for your child’s health.
Encourage your child to participate. Help them understand the written text by modulating your voice and using the right expressions in your face. As soon as they are able to answer, ask them questions about what you’ve read in order to stimulate their curiosity and emotional participation in story.
Let’s keep them motivated as early independent readers and keep up their confidence by helping them read more complex story books (see point 8+ above).
Where to read to your child
Choose a welcoming and cosy setting that is your reading space (this was helpful with my second son who was not such a keen listener – we made it our special time).
Ask them to choose the book. This gets them used to going to bookstores and libraries where there are lots of colourful books to choose from.
And if you’re not sure of your own reading skills, you can still sit with them and listen to audio versions as you turn the pages together or join Kiki at storytime. Either way, reading with your child is a step in the right direction towards their happily ever after.
We may watch a lot of movies and box sets, but our underlying drive is still the same as it was when we sat around the campfire or listened to granny recount tales of the old days as she rocked rhythmically back and forth in her rocking chair: We love being entertained. We love a good story. We want to be surprised, shocked, elated, intrigued and taken by the hand into a world more fantastical than the one we live in every day.
People have been sharing stories since the beginning of time, even before we had a spoken language.
Paul Zak, PhD, a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate University in California
The format may have changed thanks to modern technology, but our impulse is the same.
Listening to stories goes beyond entertaining your child
What many of us don’t realise is that listening to stories is actually a much more rewarding and enriching experience than flaking out in front of a screen. Why? Because we use our imagination. By applying our own experiences and thoughts to the story, we flavour it with our own being, we make it our very own. This is something Netflix cannot do – not yet anyway. We make stories our own unique experience. We colour them with our own vision, memories, smells and tastes. This not only makes the content of the story much more impactful and memorable in our brain as we are actively engaged in the process instead of simply passively imbibing the message as we gawp at the screen stuffing popcorn in our mouths, it is also makes it more personal.
5 Ways Stories Improve Your Child’s Well-being
Wow! I hear you cry, how can listening to stories be good for my child’s health?
Stories are the way we understand and make sense of the world we find ourselves in.
Clare Patey, Director of the Empathy Museum
How does listening to stories improve your child’s wellbeing?
When a child listens to a spellbinding story that captivates them, moves them, and transports, it sets off a sequence of events in the brain and body:
A sense of belonging – First, their heart rate increases as their attention is piqued. As they continue listening, their brain is prompted to secrete oxytocin, the hormone known for its ability to promote bonding. Now the author is speaking directly to them- silently inside their head. The author provides the words; the child adds the images.
A state of relaxation – This moves them into a state of relaxation. When they are relaxed, their blood pressure lowers, the knots in their stomach loosen, and they are distracted from worrying thoughts. Your mind is focused, engaged, no matter whether the story is happy or sad. This feeling continues after the story has finished. The relaxation effect may last up to 30 minutes after the story has ended. You were connected to another world. This connection with the characters provides a space outside of ourselves. They are open to possibilities instead of constricted in their worrying thoughts.
Working through their problems – If they empathise with the content or the character(s), this can help them work through their own problems. We may even cry openly. It has a cathartic, which is very beneficial and healing.
Laughter. I’m sure you’re familiar with the old saying: “laughter is the best medicine” – well it doesn’t just relax you and reduce stress. According to research, laughter has numerous positive effects, from promoting longevity to boosting the immune system. There are plenty of giggles to be had with Kiki and friends, especially with bumbling Banjo around!
Inspiration, a channel for expressing themselves – Great stories and role models can inspire your child to strive become a better person. If they identify with the protagonist or other characters in the story, they can identify a new purpose or dream. This uplifts them. The character’s journey gives meaning to inner desires that children find hard to express in words.
Kiki’s stories help children become stronger.
Because Kiki is all about confidence and self-belief, her stories bolster the image children have of themselves. They believe in themselves more. This strengthens their character and resolve. It moves them away from disempowering influences of pier pressure and comparison. Listening to Kiki’s stories is doubly beneficial for your child’s health.
Here are some of the ways Kiki and her (metaphorical) red headband of confidence can help:
Children relax through laughter and intrigue with plot twists and unexpected turn of events.
Kiki helps children identify with the characters. A wide selection – from the bumbling to the brave and clever.
Kiki helps children understand important life messages like being honest, as she shows that being deceitful leads to complications and hurts others (A Case of Mistaken Identity).
Kiki’s stories transport them to a world that is safe. They are wholesome but also spirited, progressive stories.
Inspiring self-belief, reinforcing the beauty and power of friendship with funny scrapes and mischief along the way, whichever way you look at it, Storytime with Kiki is beneficial for your child’s wellbeing. And the best part is – they just have to sit back, listen and enjoy! And you could put your feet up with them and enjoy the health benefits of listening to a good story.
If ever there was a year when parents needed to be celebrated it is this one. After all the new challenges of making your children wash their hands a zillion times a day, mastering zoom, setting up an office at home, not going out, doing your children’s homework, being friend deprived, having no social life, putting on an extra few pounds, getting really bad roots, running out of toilet paper and endless homebaking – the list is endless. You have gone through home hell, it is time to step back and bask in your glory.
Parents of the world, I salute you. You are amazing
Designated by the General Assembly in 2012, Global Day of Parents provides an opportunity to appreciate all parents for their “selfless commitment to children and their lifelong sacrifice towards nurturing this relationship.”
Parents of the world, I salute you. You are amazing
We are always telling the kids how amazing they are, but what about you? Who is witness to all your hard work and sacrifices? Oh yes, the partner that has to go through hell with you. The one you loved until the littl’uns came along and sucked up all your romantic time together! Am I being too harsh? Is it not quite like that for you? Well maybe the witnesses to your hard work could be your judgemental parents – or in-laws – always ways around with a helpful: “That’s not how I did it and my little Johnny turned out fine.” Or “Why don’t you peel the potatoes like this, it saves time. What!? You don’t boil your chicken carcass!” Then comes the condescending tut, tut or rolling of the all-knowing eyes.
It is a wearisome lonely road at times as a parent.
That’s what makes it so nice that the UN have dedicated a whole day to recognising your efforts. But wait! I hear you cry. “My kids are witness to my efforts and sacrifices.” Oh yes, sorry I should mention those little tweens who think they are grown ups filled with a merry-go-round of hormones who bless you with their mood swings for at least 3 years. Or maybe the teenager who doesn’t quite see you as human and blames you for all their hang-ups. Now you know why they say: “Enjoy them while they are young. These early years go by in a flash!” Dealing with dirty bums and orange food paste splattered on your face and walls is nothing compared to the psychological dramas that await you after they hit “teendom”, which by the way can be as early as 8 years old!
For my part I consider myself blessed. I am truly grateful for my two teenage boys. Yes we’ve had our ups and downs, but we love and respect each other. As a single mother it was hard at times, but I really feel like it was also easier.
Single parents – harder or easier?
It’s not always harder to be a single parent – despite what the media says. Here are some of my humorous/brief Pros and Cons:
Pros to being a single parent
As a single parent you don’t have to consult someone else on stuff like schools, religion, bedtimes, which toothpaste brand to buy.
There is no one else for your child to pit you against.
You can manage your own time and budget.
No compromising. The bed is all yours. You can do what you want!
You can follow your own dreams. (Not everyone has a supportive partner!)
Your children grow up faster and understand responsibility sooner.
No waste-of-time, annoying obligatory dinners and holidays with the in-laws!
Cons to being a single parent
It might be nice for you to have somebody around to consult and ask their opinion – for the big decisions and the little ones.
The children may lack another parent’s opinion or the male/female role model.
If you don’t like managing your own budget, you may wish you had a partner (personally I feel every parent should know their financial circumstances – it’s empowering).
You might find yourself doing all the chores. Read my guide – start-em young!
Having your child being more aware and mature can be a con for some parents who want to preserve the innocence of childhood.
The above was not meant to be an exhaustive list. Just a lighthearted bird’s eye view to give you a different perspective on things. I love being a single mum. But then again, I’ve never liked constraints. Guess that’s why I’ve always enjoyed working for myself too.
Francesca has always amazed me as she was the first woman I’d seen breastfeed while typing her reports. She’s an inspiration. A strong role model for all women.
Sam Brice – mother of 3
It doesn’t have to be hard for you either. I’m sharing some of my insider tips with you right here:
My Golden Pillars to Easier Parenting
I have been running my own business since 2004. I started working from home when my first son was born. 20 years ago. When I realised after a year I couldn’t give the company what they needed as it involved travelling around Europe (afterall, I was the European Sales and Marketing Manager!) I knew I wanted to be at home with my kids, not dropping them off at nursery, working and seeing them when I was tired. So I made it work. It wasn’t easy, but I love my sons – that’s why I made it work. I got to enjoy being with my children whilst being the sole breadwinner as well.
My golden rules are:
You are in charge of the situation
Routine, routine, routine
Exercise daily outside (you and the kids)
Include children in your household chores
Specific times for work – never overlap fun and work
Do not drink (alcohol) every night
Minimise or cut out sugar and processed foods (you and the kids)
Sleep when they sleep
Plan weekly meals and shopping lists
All of these must be respected. If you don’t, the harmony of the household starts to slip. You can’t just cherrypick from the list.
If you wake up waiting for the end of the day, for a drink, for that series on the TV, then this guide is for you. Enjoy your day. Enjoy time with your children. No need to dread it. Get the guide.
If you’d like my FREE guide to learn about the 4 pillars to Calmer Parenting, contact me: Type: CALMER PARENTING GUIDE PLEASE
The essential ingredients for destressing (not distressing!)
4 techniques to keep the balance in your home and mind
Example daily routine for single parents who work at home
Get your guide to easier parenting here – even if you’re a couple you will find it useful! Strength in numbers! It’s my gift to you as one parent to another.