Secret Headquarters

Life and thinking.

Category: Being a Dad


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.

Reading with boys

Boys are naturally active. They want to play catch, ride a bike, kick a ball, wrestle. Not all, mind you. Some just want to be like Ferdinand the bull and sit and smell flowers.

They may not want to read. Just like they may not want to eat vegetables.

It is manly to be a protector but it is also manly to be someone who can appreciate the arts. Who told you otherwise? The media is the thing that told you otherwise or maybe your dad. What is manly about hating reading?

I have a class full of boys who love to read! I designate time for them to read and I don’t use that time to organise the room or catch up on marking. I purposefully grab a book and read. SO here are the top 2 things I’ve seen work with my class. I think it should readily translate into the home. Post below to let me hear of your suggestions.

  1. I show my kids that I read! Grab a book. I recommend something humourous by Australian authors Paul Jennings or Andy Griffiths. Or if you like sports, grab a biography of one of your favourite coaches or athletes. If you want something more meaty, then try Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. About a kid who becomes a boxing champion and beats up his childhood bully.
  2. Next, read to your child.  The kids love time with the teacher. So imagine time with dad! It is approval by dad. When boys start out, they loved reading, but then they found out that they sucked at it or it seemed that no men read, so they had to stop loving to read. If they see that dad approves of reading, that will have a much bigger effect than seeing a teacher read. They will be more likely to continue enjoying what they already enjoy.

Read adventure books, read picture books, read information books, read books with dinosaurs. Just don’t read something that’s pink and glittery.

Does anyone have any anecdotes or tips about reading to your boy? I’d love to hear about it! Post below.


I’ve got an addiction. When I get caught in it,  I can’t get out. I’ve put in place measures to avoid this addiction but when I relapse. 4 hours instantly disappears from my day where I ignore my needs to eat, I lose the ability to speak normally to people, I don’t sleep, I’m willing to miss appointments, get angry at anyone who steps in on my time. It is debilitating.
For me it is gaming. Any game.
Could be angry birds. Latest or a classic on PlayStation. Latest or old game on iPhone. Or online flash game. Anything that keeps track of score.
How do I handle it? I need to delete it or block the site. There is no such thing as moderation in this matter.
How do you identify if your child is developing an addiction?
If they get increasingly angry or frustrated whenever their activity is interrupted.
They are willing to skip meals for it.

What can you do?
start by moderating time allowed on it. Give other options. Describe to your child the behaviour changes you see in them.

Learners for the 21st Century

I just had a staff development day about fostering important learning attitudes for the 21st Century. Stonefields School in New Zealand. They should run their own uni course to equip teachers. Maybe they could be the new Teacher’s College???

We want kids that know what a good learner looks like:

  1. Reflective
  2. Self Aware
  3. Determined
  4. Question
  5. Think
  6. Connect
  7. Wonder


How do parents get involved in this? I want my kid to be creative but I don’t know how to talk about those 7 learning qualities.

#1 TOP TIP Be a learner yourself!

Kids copy more of their parents than they sometimes know.

Its okay to be stuck, use it as an opportunity to learn! Think about the problem, think about what you already know, think about possible solutions. Getting the answer is the easy part once you know the problem.