Secret Headquarters

Life and thinking.

Month: September, 2012

Tempting, Training and Trusting

I’ve found that the greatest gift anyone can give a person is trust.

Mostly trust is earnt. Sometimes it can be broken. Special times, trust can be given out of grace and then be rewarded by living up to that trust.

So there is a time for trusting, a time for training and never a time for tempting.

Let me illustrate. If you leave a wallet full of hundred dollar bills on a table in front of a stranger, that is tempting. If you are leaving your wallet with a friend while you go to the bathroom, that is trusting. At what point does the marker move from tempting into trusting? At what point does training a person to trust translate into actually being able to trust that person?

I’ve trusted troubled kids to do the right thing and they have often rewarded my trust by being the child I trusted them to be. Other times, I have misplaced my trust and seen it thrown in the dirt and trampled on. What have I learnt? When is it right to trust and when is it proper to train?

I wish I knew.

From what I have gathered these are my musings on the topic. You should always trust, your opposite behaviour should not be classified as distrust but rather as tempting. The balance is not when to trust, but rather are you trusting them by asking the kids to not wake the baby while you hang the clothes or are you tempting them by giving them a new drum kit on their birthday and asking them not to play it until the week after?

How do you build trust so that when you tell them ‘You can paint as long as they don’t make a mess’, or ‘You can hang out with your friends as long as you get your homework done afterwards when you come home’, they actually do it?

Be proud of them every time they have proven to be trustworthy. Verbalise this! ‘I left you to do that all by yourself, and you did well.’ ‘I’m proud of you for…’

Keep trusting them! Don’t be played the fool when they are lying to you or have no conviction behind what they promise to do but you need to keep trusting them.



TV. Best invention ever.

It is exciting in some sense, allows the mind to relax, doesn’t require any effort. I like TV.

How can you make the most of TV?

Watch a movie. Movies are narrative, they involve characters, interesting scenarios and humour. Although I remember watching the Goonies when I was young and for the rest of my life until the age of 25, I thought it was a horror movie and it conjured some quite unfriendly childhood memories of watching a horror movie. I only realised it wasn’t a horror when I watched it as a 25 year old and realising the comedy I was watching was the same movie. Be very mindful of what may appear like a comedy movie to you may end up being a horror movie for your child. You don’t want your child to get used to horror or extreme anger(it’s called desensitising).

Pure comedy shows seldom teach anything meaningful or significant. Pure action movies seldom teach anything real.

Watch something that includes some comedy or action but make sure it isn’t just full or slap stick humour (people falling down stairs) and not just about defeating the big bag villain trying to control the world. Watch a movie that focuses on some part of a family relationship or school or fantastical adventure.

Extreme situation but coming back from holidays I heard that a significant amount of children in year 5 and 6 had watched the movie Ted. Rated MA for adult themes and crude humour. It has a teddy bear as the main character. That confuses the heck out of kids. Its cute. It dances. It makes jokes about doing things in an adult way. Don’t even give them movies that are aimed at teenagers. It isn’t helpful, they haven’t yet learnt how to filter and understand the implied themes.

Other times. TV is just a vampire of your mind and time. Game shows are good for family time. Not good for individual watching time. Same as Funniest Home Videos and Simpsons. Great as a family but absolute mind numbing madness for the individual. There is nothing to be learnt from those shows. As a family, it makes for a great shared experience and commenting on the funny moments but I think the TV can be similar to a leech that drains all the energy out of your brain.

Teaching Rant

This is a popular radio host responding to a call in by a teacher.

No respect for what teachers do. 12 weeks holiday makes the public a sore loser because they get 4. Sure, send your kids to school 48 weeks of the year. I may as well adopt them.
When was the last time you had to teach kids something? Now try do that for 5 hours. With 30 kids. Of different abilities. Of different personalities. While you organise the next excursion, assembly, sports training, dance rehearsal, art exhibition, speech competition, book week, parent interviews and oh yeah, write 180 specific paragraphs during reporting season.

Then reflect on how you could have done it better. And do it again.
Yeh. we get 12 weeks holiday.


Kids in class love receiving jobs. They are all putting up their hand to be able to be given the job of sweeping the table or handing books out or taking the recycling bin all the way down to the large bin.

I also have a time each day when everything takes part in cleaning up any lint,scraps, rubbish off the floor. I say, ’20 seconds and go!’

Kids like being responsible. They enjoy being trusted to do something. One of the boys in my class who started off the year disengaged with everything was empowered to behave in class and give things a go when I trusted him with a simple thing like being the line leader to walk the class back to the room while I supervised from the back of the line.

So should your child be given chores? YES! As much as possible too!

And don’t reward them for it. The chore is the reward!

Wipe the table before dinner. Vacuum the floor. Fold the clothes. Feed the dog. Collect the mail. Pick the fruit off the tree. Walk the dog. Fill up the dog’s water. Put the toys back in the box.

I loved mowing the lawn and still do. There was a time when my parents offered me money to do it. I think for a brief time after that, I started to not like mowing the lawn so much. In all honesty the real reason why I didn’t want to mow the lawn was because I wanted to play games or catch up on work. Anyway, paying me didn’t make me want to mow the lawn. I wanted to do it before the concept of being paid.

I have grown up with the habit of not washing dishes. Now I hate the idea of it. Except whenever I do get to it, I’m not grumbling as I wash them. I don’t admit it, but I actually enjoy being productive with my time by doing something that does not require me to think.

So what chores did you grow up doing? How do your kids respond to chores?

The only manner you need to know.

How do you remember all the common etiquette of fine dining, greeting someone who is older, when to ask instead of reaching by yourself? It is simply too much, especially if you’re like me and didn’t grow up with parents who taught them or enforced them. Honestly, I don’t see the point of a lot of it other than make you look awkward if you don’t know the correct response or tradition. ‘

What are manners for? They are supposed to communicate respect for the other person.

Benefits of teaching your kids this one rule? They remember to respect people. They don’t look rude in new situations. They learn self control.

What is the main rule for manners? Exercise self control.

I’ve seen kids barge in front of complete strangers just so they can get a better look at the lizard behind the glass. I’ve seen kids blurt out the rudest things like, ‘why do you look funny?’ simply because it was a question they had on their mind. Kids have rushed from activity to activity without please and thank you simply because they can’t wait to get to be with their friends or they are afraid of not being first in line.

Exercise self control. That is all they need to remember. Teach them to wait. Patience.

It communicates that the other person is just as important as anyone else. That their time is just as important as yours. Others’ needs are equally important.

At dinner. Your child can wait for an adult to begin to eat or announce ‘let’s eat’ before they start.

In conversation. Wait until someone has finished talking before interrupting.

What do manners mean to you? What rude habits have you noticed in children that you would like to be rid of?

Places to go ====>

Just pick one and make it your goal to take the family there!

  • bushwalks
  • mountains
  • rivers
  • beaches
  • city
  • basketball court
  • soccer field
  • fishing
  • playgrounds
  • around the neighbourhood
  • interstate as a family
  • overseas as a family
  • family picnics during roadtrips
  • roadtrips to a town that is 4 hours drive away
  • snow

If you have any specifics or stories of your trips or other places then please share! Post below!

My child swears at me…!

I’ve seen children swear at their parents and the parents get frustrated and it just spirals downhill. I don’t have a kid that swears at me so I can’t say exactly why they do or the best way to respond. As a teacher, if a child ever swore at me, I’m not sure how I’d react. I’ve had a child swear about me in writing in which I dealt with and the child doesn’t do it anymore and will actually joke with me on occasion.

If your child is swearing at you, you may have taught them that swearing is okay by doing it regularly yourself. You may have taught them to disrespect you by being regularly angry or rude to your own family.

If it wasn’t you, then your child may be spending too much time with the wrong people.

Doesn’t matter about how you respond at this point. You need to change your own behaviour first otherwise anything you say is out of a hypocrite’s mouth and your child will just dismiss it like a fly buzzing around their head.

If you want to change some negative behaviours in yourself, I suggest putting in a consequence for yourself. Every time you swear, put a dollar in the swear jar. Every time you say something bad to your family, explain that you are sorry and you’re aiming to change that behaviour.

‘You’re a joke Bob…’ pause and think. ‘Sorry Bob, I am trying to get rid of that habit in me of being rude, I shouldn’t have said that.’

Making your intentions clear will allow the other person to see that you’re not perfect but you’re trying.


My child hates me…

One should not jump to conclusions to say that you’re being a bad parent or you’ve done something worthy of being hated. From what I’ve seen of children and parents, the kids are just frustrated and don’t know how else to express those negative feelings they have in that particular moment.

They may hate you because they know it has power over you so they say it. Don’t react. Your child probably doesn’t hate you and in fact they are just being an annoying brat who needs some direction.

Just a theory, but it is worth considering.

Make sure you show your child love not in moments when they are frustrated and saying they hate you but during moments of relative calm. Love them by taking them for walks and showing them the neighbourhood. Love them by spending time with them, not buying things for them. I’ve seen too many parents give their kids whatever they want because they love their kids to no end. Except those same kids are the ones that feel entitled to everything and are upset when they don’t get what they want. You may decide to buy things for them but don’t ever confuse a child by showing them your love through material gifts.

The kids I see better adjusted, who even though their parents have the money, those parents chose to not buy them whatever they wanted. They received occasional presents and small nick nacks but they weren’t the ones coming into class on Monday saying their parents bought them the latest Nintendo DS.

Holidays! or not…

Its the holidays. 2 weeks of kids being at home all day and you either seeing more of your kids or much the same as if it wasn’t the holidays.

What do the holidays mean for a child? I often hear kids coming back from holidays saying they got bored. I might ask some kids what they did and they tell me they didn’t do anything, watched TV, played video games, maybe went out once or twice to go shopping. What a shame.

For me growing up, my mum only ever allowed me to play videogames during holidays and this made the holidays rather easy for her to handle because I would play video games but now I’ve grown up to be an addict of video games (possibly gambling if I ever got into it) because I had to make the most of the holidays and I played and played because after holidays were over, video game time was over. I became a hoarder of my video game time. So my suggestion?

Not video games.

I think…
Holidays should be a time of exploration. Whatever they enjoy, encourage them to pursue it with enthusiasm during the holidays. Get obsessed with their creative minds or sporting aspirations or adventuring spirit or musical talents. Make the holidays a special time.

If you agree, one way of encouraging this is to provide them with the materials to do this. Or direct them to an internet page that can help. If at all possible, give them your time. If it isn’t possible, then force yourself to make at least a tiny amount of time for them. When you make the time, make sure it’s with purpose so you don’t end up spending 2 hours fixing things around the house or organising your files instead of actually spending it with your child. (I’ve often had good intentions and made time to hang out with my mum only to be at her house using the computer to do work. Bad son, I know)

What are your suggestions for the holidays? How do you encourage your child’s exploration?

To hit or not to hit

My mum explained it to me one day. ‘Dad was good to you. Do you ever remember him hitting you?’ (Yes, I do. Twice. Once for playing with fire and once for lying to him.)

Dads should never hit. Never hit your child. Never hit mum.

It communicates a very powerful message worth ten times more than any sort of boundary you’re trying to reenforce. Your son is learning that men don’t hit. Your son is learning their role as a physically stronger gender requiring to protect rather than abuse.


As for mums. I don’t think one way is better than the other. BUT it pains me as a teacher to need to tell the principal that a child in the class has been hit and there are marks to show it. If your kid fears for their physical well being then you need to stop. It is the law and my guess is that your child will grow up thinking that the only way to get others to listen is to hurt them until they fear them.

My mum hit me as a child so I think…

Hitting your child needs to be to communicate they did something wrong as opposed to physically hurting them. So a spank that they feel for 1 second is okay. A spank where they have a bruise is not okay.

Communicating punishment for something can be done in many ways, spanking is not the worst (Turns out teachers can’t spank, so we created other methods). You could send them into time out, withdraw privileges like TV or computer. I’m a quiet sort of guy so I seldom raise my voice at the kids but whenever I do the kids know that I’m upset. But I see other teachers who always raise their voice and the children don’t even flinch when they’re being directly scolded.
The important thing is to have consequences. A simple apology is not a consequence. If they waste your time = You should waste theirs. If they make a spill = They clean it up. If they hit someone = Withdraw privileges.

Equally important is the moving on process. After they have paid the penalty then ensure they understand what they did was wrong to avoid bitterness and then assure them you’re moving on.

‘Do you know why I sent you to time out?’

If they aren’t then spell it out. ‘When you hit Bobby, you broke an important rule. Hitting is not accepted in any circumstance even if Bobby took your toy.’

OR ‘Lying is not tolerated. Everyone deserves to be told the truth.’

‘Okay, what will you do next time? …’

And don’t ever bring it up again. Renew your trust in your child that they are a good kid. Believe in your child. I am so grateful to all my teachers and parents who continued to believe I was a good kid even after I messed up every now and then.