No means No!

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When my eldest son was two years old he was a consummate actor. Hurling himself face first onto the ground, red with rage, he would wail loud enough to be heard in Blackpool.

Andrew wasn’t too fussy about his audience and would think nothing of lying down in dramatic fashion, middle of the supermarket, to shamelessly exploit the embarrassment of his mum. Not getting his own way was a complete travesty of justice in his view and the world should hear about it! (I will be reminding him of this when he has children of his own!)

There can be few more public places to run the gauntlet of disapproving onlookers than Tesco. Every one of them secretly felt relieved that curly haired bundle of fury wasn’t with their child, every one of them a silent, disapproving witness to my parenting ability- or lack of it!

Happily, the defiant phase didn’t last very long- but at the time it seemed endless. Every well-planned shopping trip became, in my minds eye, a potential battle field and I would plan for it like a well trained commando.

His brother was much more placid. Sam did however perfect the art of becoming rigid, like a cardboard cut out every time we tried to put him into his car seat and he would object very strongly to being put down if I needed to do any housework. I wouldn’t swap either of them however for all the tea in China.

Of course it would be so much easier if we were all given user manuals when first handed our babies. Instead like most parents, I made it up as I went along.

I did things that my own experience of being parented taught me. Courtesy and good manners were very important. Sharing, taking turns, playing kindly with friends, following instructions obediently –these were all very important in our home. They were taught and expected. I often heard myself saying the same things my mum had said to me including that time honoured ‘Wait ‘til your dad gets home!’

I was thinking about my early experiments in parenting recently, when I saw one of our parents faced with an all too familiar battle of wills. Saying ‘No!’ is the hardest thing a parent ever resolves to say but it is also the most important lesson that you will teach your child.

No needs to mean no however! Not, as is too often the case, ‘until you keep on crying and fussing me for an hour and I give in.’ In which case you will have taught your child that ‘No!’ means ‘Perhaps’, ‘Eventually’ or even ‘Go on then!’

Children who learn what no means, and receive consistent messages, lovingly and patiently given by their parents about acceptable behaviours, feel very secure and settle quickly into school life. All children need boundaries. Sadly some children come to school without those essential social skills. School can become a huge culture shock when children have to be re- taught how to behave well enough to learn and play happily alongside others.

At High Hazels we have very high expectations of our pupil behaviour. As a result, I am happy to report that the vast majority of the children routinely behave well. We have revised our discipline policy to ensure that it provides a consistent and fair strategy for developing and maintaining good, safe behaviour for all. It also offers a clear view of the kind of future citizens we aspire to create; children and young people who have a growing sense of responsibility, respect for themselves and others. Children who are friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic learners, eager to contribute to our school community.

As a parent, I expect my children to be excellent advocates for our family name and make our family proud! As a headteacher I have that aspiration for all the children in the High Hazels family too.

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