Posts tagged as: Parenting

“Why Won’t My Child Sleep at Night?” A Guide to Understanding Children’s Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for child development – it plays a crucial role in maintaining your child’s mental and physical health, directly effecting their mood, cognitive function, learning, memory and much more.

However, if you’re a parent or caregiver, you probably know that getting kids to go to sleep (and stay asleep) isn’t as straightforward as it sounds.

Lots of children and young people find it difficult to sleep at night. They might struggle to settle down or wake up at various points in the night – disrupting not only their sleep, but yours too! Children who are short on sleep are also more prone to hyperactivity, irritability and emotional dysregulation, impacting their day-to-day life both at home and in school.

If you’re finding yourself wondering, ‘is there a reason why my child doesn’t sleep?’ – you’re not alone. To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of the possible underlying causes to help you identify the reason behind your child’s sleepless nights.

Picture: A young girl sleeping.

  1. Their Basic Needs Aren’t Met

As simple as it sounds, making sure your child’s basic needs are met can play an important role in ensuring they rest soundly.

Things like needing the toilet or being thirsty can prevent your child from falling asleep easily. These unmet needs also risk waking them up at night, disrupting their sleep cycle and making falling back asleep again more challenging.  This can apply for both younger and older children – all of whose sleep cycles can easily be disrupted if they have unmet needs.

To avoid this happening, try to make sure their needs are fully met before they go to sleep. One way of doing this is by incorporating it into their bedtime routine, like having a nightly ‘check-in’ with your child as they are getting ready for bed.  During this ‘check-in’, you can ask them if they need the toilet, some water, or anything else that might help them in the night.

Picture: a child using an iPad in bed.

  1. They Don’t Have Good Sleep Hygiene

Many people say ‘my child won’t sleep!’, without realising how important maintaining good sleep hygiene is in helping children fall asleep.

Sleep hygiene refers to the lead-up and routine around your child’s bedtime. This means the various steps you and your child take to get them ready for bed – like brushing their teeth, getting into their pyjamas, and being read a bedtime story.

Having good hygiene is essential for helping children fall asleep and stay asleep. However, when children have an inconsistent or poor bedtime routine, this can quicky cause issues.

Good sleep hygiene means:

  • Having the same bedtime each night
  • Having a predictable, calming bedtime routine
  • Limiting the use of technology before bed
  • Limiting heavy food intake at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Avoiding taking too many naps during the day
  • Avoiding caffeine and sugar consumption in the late afternoon and evening
  • Avoiding any exciting or over-stimulating activities before bed – like pillow fights.
  • Engaging in calming, quiet, relaxing activities before bed – like a warm bath or reading.

Children should also be encouraged to only use their bed for sleeping. Lying in bed during the day or doing other activities in bed can make it difficult for the brain to associate the bed with sleep, making it harder to fall asleep at bedtime. This also means you should avoid using the bedroom as a place for punishment, like ‘time-outs’, as this can discourage children from viewing the bedroom as a good place to be.

Similarly, if your child is struggling to sleep and is tossing and turning in the bed, it’s often better for them to get out of bed for a while. While this might seem counterproductive, tossing and turning in bed can encourage the brain to associate the bed with sleeplessness.

Instead, have your child get out of bed and do something calming and not too stimulating – like reading a boring book, or counting sheep. Once they feel sleepy again, they can return to bed.

Picture: a man reading a child a bed time story.

  1. Their Sleep Environment is Being Disrupted

We all know how difficult it can be to fall asleep in the wrong conditions. Your child’s sleeping environment should be a place where they feel safe and calm. If your child’s bedroom doesn’t have the right environment, they may have trouble falling asleep.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to assessing your child’s sleep environment:

  • Light. Is it too dark, or too light? Some children prefer sleeping in total darkness. Darkness can help the production of melatonin (an essential sleep hormone), which is why your child may sleep better with blackout blind. On the other hand, some children may have be afraid of the dark, and need the aid of a nightlight or stuffed animal to help make them feel safe.
  • Noise. The wrong kind of noise – such as noise from a TV, or street noise – can easily disrupt sleep, keeping your child up or waking them throughout the night. Limit the amount of noise in your child’s bedroom by installing soundproofing curtains or playing white-noise or calming music to help them fall asleep.
  • Temperature. Surprisingly, temperature is one of the most important factors affecting sleep. A sleep environment that is too hot or too cold can cause increased restlessness and wakefulness in children, decreasing REM sleep and causing a myriad of issues. Your child’s bedroom should be cool (approximately 18°C) to ensure they can get a good nights sleep.

Picture: a child hiding under the covers.

  1. There is a Psychological Cause

Sleep is closely connected with mental health. If you feel you’re doing all of the things listed above, but your child is still experiencing restless nights – there may be an underlying psychological issue.

Most children will likely experience psychological sleep disturbances – such as stress, anxiety, separation anxiety , fear of the dark, or nightmares – at some point in their life. These psychological issues can be caused by many things, including stress, attachment issues, trauma, changes in routine – or even just an over-active imagination.

Mindfulness activities like yoga or meditation can help children unwind and clear their mind before bed, as well as encouraging children to talk openly about their feelings.

However, while some children may grow out of things like nightmares, there are other psychological issues that may continue to disrupt their rest if not treated properly. If you suspect your child is suffering from a psychological issue that is causing them distress and impacting their wellbeing, it’s important you seek professional guidance as soon as possible.

As well as speaking to a GP, you can get guidance from one of these services:

  • Samaritans: call 116 123 (open 24 hours a day), email [email protected], or check your local Samaritans branch
  • MIND: call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463 (weekdays from 9am-6pm)
  • YoungMinds Parents Helpline – call 0808 802 5544 (weekdays 9:30am-4pm)

Picture: a child waking their parents up.

  1. They Have a Health Issue

Sometimes, health issues like snoring or sleep apnoea can prevent children from falling or staying asleep. Although snoring is most common in older adults, many children are known to snore too.

Snoring is generally quite easy to recognise, due to the snorting or rattling sound that is made when some people are asleep. Snoring can be caused by a range of reasons, from seasonal allergies, to colds, to a deviated septum.

Light, occasional snoring should not raise any health concerns. However, if your child’s snoring is affecting their sleep, they may be suffering from primary snoring – the first stage of disordered breathing that can interrupt sleep quality, without posing any serious medical consequences.

If your child snores loudly, has start-and-stop breathing and is restless at night, there’s a chance they may be experiencing a condition called sleep apnoea. This occurs when the airways are blocked by enlarged tonsils and/or nasal tissues, and often requires medical intervention.

If you suspect your child is suffering from a health condition that is disrupting their sleep, its important you seek professional guidance from your GP – they will be able to advise you on the next steps to take, including treatment.

Picture: a child sleeping.

Supporting a child with sleep problems can be hard work and requires a lot of patience. Fortunately, many children grow out of most sleep-related issues as they age. By the time they’re teenagers, you’ll find yourself wondering – can my teenager ever get enough sleep?

Unfortunately, there are still thousands of children in the UK without a safe, secure place to sleep at night. If you think you could provide a child or young person with a loving place to grow up, get in touch with us to find out more about becoming a foster carer.


Free Activities in Birmingham to Keep the Kids Entertained

Parents and caregivers around the country are familiar with the struggle of finding something entertaining for the kids to do that doesn’t break the bank.

A day out with the family can be expensive; from admission fees, to ticket prices, to keeping hungry tummies filled, the costs can quickly pile up. That, and with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis – it’s natural for families to want to keep expenses down!

Fortunately, there are plenty of things to do with kids in Birmingham. Once a Saxon village, Birmingham is now the second largest city in England! With its rich history and diverse cultural background, families are spoilt for choice when it comes to finding fun things to do in Birmingham.

So, if you’re wondering what to do for free in Birmingham, look no further! We’ve put together a list of the top 5 fun and free things to do in Birmingham. These activities are easy on the wallet and guaranteed to be a good time for all the family!

Picture: a child using a virtual reality headset.

Expand Your Mind at Birmingham Open Media (BOM)

Founded in 2014, this innovative art gallery uses creative technology to provide visitors with exciting and thought-provoking digital experiences. A unique day out, BOM is perfect for families who are looking for fun things to do in Birmingham.

Based in central Birmingham, BOM run a range of free exhibitions, events, community workshops and educational programmes – all aimed at exploring the connection between technology and our day-to-day lives.

Their recent exhibitions have included futuristic virtual reality sculptures, colourful digital projections, and an immersive dreamscape experience.

Picture: the grounds of a stately home.

Walk Through History at Himley Hall and Park

Standing tall against 180 acres of landscaped parkland, this stunning 18th Century building is a shining example of Birmingham’s historical background.

Once a family home to the Earls of Dudley, Himley Hall and Park is now open to visitors looking to explore its grounds – for free! From open greenery to dense woodland, the grounds are perfect for a spot of exploring on a sunny day. Himley Hall and Park also frequently hosts a range of outdoor events that families can enjoy together. These include antiques fairs, live music, food festivals, and much more.

If you’re feeling peckish after a day of exploring , Himley Hall also has a café located within its grounds, offering up a range of refreshments including hot and cold drinks, crisps and a selection of sweet treats.

Picture: two canal boats moored on one of Birmingham's canals.

Explore Birmingham’s Canals

Did you know that Birmingham has more canals than Venice? Birmingham’s canal network is one of the most intricate canal networks in the world, spanning over 100 miles in total. Pack a picnic, its time for an adventure!

For those wondering what to do in Birmingham for free, we recommend taking a day to wander the historical canals and learn more about Birmingham’s unique industrial history.

Built in the 1700s and 1800s, the canals were once primarily used for the transportation of coal and other industrial materials to nearby cities.  Nowadays, however, the canals are mostly used for leisure activities.

Now, they’re populated with colourful narrowboats and a range of local wildlife, including ducks and geese. Their walkways are also bordered with a range of independent restaurants and cafes – meaning you’re never too far from a coffee or tasty snack.

Why not check out this free canal walking route from Canal & River Trust? You can also find a free audio guide to the canals here!

Picture: a donkey in a field.

Visit Sutton Park’s Donkey Sanctuary

Like Himley Hall and Park, Sutton Park is ideal for adventurous families looking for free things to do in Birmingham. This impressive 2,400-acre National Nature Reserve is only 6 miles from Birmingham City Centre and combines history, adventuring and animals all in one!

Alongside its vast open landscape and its seven lakes, Sutton Park also has its very own Donkey Sanctuary. Open to the public every Saturday and the first Sunday of each month, Sutton Park’s Donkey Sanctuary is home to Shocks, Cisco, Oscar and Jimmy – their resident rescue donkeys. The donkeys at Sutton Park love visitors, and enjoy spending their days grazing and laying around the sun.

Entry is free, but entry tickets need to be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

Picture: two children performing a science experiment.

Get Thinking at The Science Garden

Dig out the lab coats – it’s time for some science! Thinktank’s outdoor Science Garden is full of exciting activities that will keep children of all ages entertained.

Their outdoor activities include over 30 hands-on exhibits that focus on themes of engineering, mechanics, and transportation. Visitors of all ages are invited to get involved. Why not have a go on their with their eight-metre high ‘Terminus’ machine, or take a stroll in their human-sized hamster wheel? A visit to the Science Garden will inspire and entertain, all while teaching your children valuable knowledge about machinery and its place in the modern world.

The Science Garden is free to enter every day from 3pm, however closing times will vary as winter draws on due to light levels.

These family things to do in Birmingham are sure to keep the whole family entertained – without placing too much strain on the wallet! If you’re looking for some more cost-free family activities, why not check out our list of 10 Free Activities that Are Fun for The Whole Family?

Unfortunately, there are still thousands of children living in Birmingham, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security that foster care provides.

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a child living in Birmingham, find out more about fostering in Birmingham with Compass Fostering. Or, get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.

8 of The Best Family Activities in Wolverhampton

From its fascinating Industrial history to its sprawling countryside, there’s plenty to do and see in Wolverhampton.

Wolverhampton is incredibly well connected to other nearby spots in the West Midlands, making travelling a breeze for those looking for activities to do in Wolverhampton. Just minutes away from stunning country parks, historical manors and award-winning museums, families are left with plenty of choice.

Read on to find out some of the best family friendly activities in Wolverhampton.

A picture of a historic manor in some countryside.

Wightwick Manor and Gardens

Perfect for a sunny day, Wightwick Manor and Gardens allows visitors to take a peek at life in the late 19th Century. Owned and preserved by the National Trust, Wightwick Manor and its surrounding gardens make a great day out, stoking the children’s imagination, with plenty of opportunities to learn and play.

As well as guided and self-guided walking tours, the Wightwick Manor regularly host a variety of events, from summer holiday family activities, to needle felting workshops, to fascinating historical talks.

A picture of some horses in old-fashioned tack.

Black Country Living Museum

Located just outside Wolverhampton and accessible by train, this award-winning open-air museum is a must-see for history buffs, Peaky Blinder’s fans and everyone in between!

Set across 26 acres, visitors have the chance to explore a wealth of ‘carefully reconstructed shops, houses and industrial areas’ that represent the history of Black Country. Registered as an Educational Charity, Black Country Living Museum also offer various events, including activities for children in Wolverhampton.

A picture of a child on a high ropes course.

Challenge Academy

For those looking for a walk – or swing – on the wild side, Challenge Academy is the place to go! This outdoor activity centre offers various courses for all ages and abilities, providing a range of adventure experiences that meet the needs of all their clients.

Just a 20-minute drive from Wolverhampton, their Baggeride Adventure site boasts plenty of exciting challenges. From a high ropes course to zip wires, to bouldering and much more, Challenge Academy will test your limits and find out if you really are #upforthechallenge.

A picture of some children exploring a nature reserve.

Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve

An idyllic spot with a host of wildlife and peaceful views, Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is one of many nature reserves located in Wolverhampton and the surrounding countryside.

Over 60 acres large and described by visitors as a ‘hidden gem’, Pendeford Mill Nature Reserve is ideal for families looking to spend the day reconnecting with local nature and exploring everything it has to offer. Pack a pinic and strap on your walking boots for a fun-filled day in nature.

A picture of some children feeding some tropical birds.

Dudley Zoo and Castle

Located in the neighbouring town of Dudley, Dudley Zoo and Castle is open every day from 10am – 5:30pm. Filled with exotic animals from around the world and based in the grounds of a historic Castle dating back to 1070, Dudley Zoo and Castle has something for everyone.

Great for those looking for fun activities in Wolverhampton, at Dudley Zoo and Castle, there is lots to do. As well as general admission, the park offers unique experience packages that allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of the Zoo’s fluffiest, scariest and scaliest animals. They also have a range of talks that run throughout the day, and plenty of eateries dotted throughout the park – perfect for filling hungry tummies.

A picture of a Tudor House.

Moseley Old Hall

A stunning Elizabethan era house, and just a 15-minute drive from Wolverhampton city centre, Moseley Old Hall is yet another example of Wolverhampton’s rich history.

Inside, the house is furnished just as it would have been in the 17th Century, with the ground floor Hall open on a ‘free flow’ basis from 10:30am until 4:30pm. Visitors have the option of joining a guided tour whilst there, which describes the story of Moseley Old Hall and its curious connection to King Charles II. The site also has a tearoom, bookshop and gardens that are perfect for those looking for a relaxed day out with the family.

A picture of some ducks sitting on a fence.

Northycote Farm & Country Park

Favoured by local families, Northycote Farm is one of the best free activities in Wolverhampton. Like Dudley Zoo and Castle, this day out combines animal-fun with a slice of history.

Free to enter and located on the grounds of a 16th-century Tudor House, Northycote Farm boasts 90 acres of stunning scenery, woodland, and meadowland. The farm is home to chickens, geese, ducks, pigs, sheep and a variety of wildlife that roam the surrounding countryside. There are also Tearooms on site, serving up a range of hot and cold drinks, cakes and locally made breakfasts and lunches.

A picture of a royal airforce plane.

Royal Airforce Museum

Get ready for take-off – this is another great free family activity in Wolverhampton, the Royal Airforce Museum! Open daily from 10am, this award-winning museum is jammed full with aircraft and aviation and Airforce themed memorabilia.

Their multiple hangars encase various exhibits, ranging from the Cold War to the invention of the very first aeroplane. With life-sized models, real-life planes and interactive displays – such as their flight simulator or Virtual Reality Zone – the Royal Air force Museum is sure to keep the whole family entertained. Entry is also free!

With so much to see and do in Wolverhampton, families will be spoilt for choice! However, if you’re looking for entertainment that is easy on the wallet, why not check out our list of 10 Free Activities for Children – we’re sure you’ll find something the kids will love.

There are still many children living in Wolverhampton, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security of foster care. If you think you could make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child, find out more about fostering in Wolverhampton with Compass Fostering, or get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.

Pinching the Pennies: Frugal Money Saving Tips for Families

The cost-of-living crisis has placed financial pressure on thousands of households throughout the UK in the last few months. With the cost of everyday essentials like food, fuel and energy rising, many people are wondering how to save money as a family.

With the cost of living looking like it’s only going to continue to rise, now is a great time to re-evaluate your household finances and look for ways to save money wherever you can.

To help, we’ve compiled an ultimate guide of our top money saving tips to help you and your family cut the costs this year. From how you can reduce the cost of your food shop, to free family activities and much more, read on for our money saving tips for parents and carers.

Our guide covers…

1. Save on Your Household Bills
2. Save Money on Your Food Shop
3. Where Can Children Eat Free?
4. Free Family Activities
5. Foster Carer Discounts
6. Seeking Support from Foodbanks

A person calculating their bills.

Save on Your Household Bills

When it comes to saving money on household bills, house modifications like insulation or solar panels are usually the first port of call.

However, adjustments like these can be expensive and time consuming – making them less than ideal during a cost-of-living crisis. Fortunately, there are a range of short-term money-saving solutions that will help reduce the overall cost of your household bills.

From advice on how to negotiate your bills, to smart meters and much more, these affordable, easy tips will go a long way in helping families across the UK manage their bills this year.

See whether you could save on your household bills here.

A supermarket interior.

Save Money on Your Food Shop

Food is one of many everyday essentials that has seen a drastic rise in the past few months. Shoppers across the UK have been shocked by the rise in grocery prices this year – more than 20% – with many having to cut down on their intake of certain foods.

However, there are a few ways that shoppers can keep costs down without sacrificing the foods they love. In our guide to saving on food shopping, we take a look at the psychological element to Supermarket advertising – and how being aware of this can save you money. We also look at other Supermarket hidden gems, such as the World Foods aisle.

If you’re looking for single parent money saving tips, or if you’re a larger family, be sure to read how to save some money on your food shop.

A child eating a meal.

Where Can Children Eat Free?

Alongside saving money on your food shop, there are plenty of restaurants offering Kids-Eat-Free deals for families with hungry tummies to fill.

With the approach of the holidays, families are working hard to keep the kids entertained. However, this can be tricky – especially given the rising cost of living.

For those saving money 2022,  there’s nothing better than free food! Eateries throughout the UK are currently offering free or discounted meals for children and young people. From pizza, to sushi, to IKEA’s famous meatballs, there’s plenty of choice!

Take a look at where children can eat free this summer.

A family on a walk.

Free Family Activities

Despite the cost-of-living crisis, spending time with the family doesn’t need to break the bank.

Our brilliant guide of the top 10 free family activities is perfect for keeping the kids occupied this summer. These activities are fun for the whole family, costing you nothing but time – and maybe a few craft materials from the kitchen cupboard!

Whether you’re after a Geoaching adventure, or a cosy camping night in, there’s lots of ideas to keep you busy.

Read about free family activities that are being held all over the UK.

A wooden model of a family house.

Foster Carer Discounts

Foster carers dedicate a lot of their time to caring for others, helping to transform the lives of vulnerable children for the better.

At Compass, we understand that raising a child in the UK comes with various financial implications. That’s why we pay all our foster carers a fostering allowance that far exceeds minimum rates.

But during these trying times, we want to make sure that all our foster carers are making the most of the discounts and benefits available to them.

These benefits and discounts come on top of the support and benefits we offer at Compass Fostering, aimed to help ease the strain on your wallet during these trying times.

Have a look at all the extra benefits you could receive as a foster carer here.

A foodbank box.

Seeking Support from Foodbanks

While these money saving tips ought to help in lessening the financial pressure placed on many households right now, it’s important to be aware of the kind of support available to those who need it.

Foodbanks are an essential support system for households who are in crisis. However, many are run by local communities or non-profits, meaning they rely on donations to operate.

If you’re wondering how Foodbanks work, including what you can to do support your local foodbank, read on to find out.

Find out more if you’re wondering how foodbanks work, including what you can to do support your local foodbank.

There’s no denying that times are tough for many families across the UK. Hopefully these tips for saving money as a family go some way in helping to ease the strain on your wallet. However, it’s important to seek support should you need it.

You can find out more about getting help with the cost of living here.

At Compass, we want all our foster carers to feel supported and looked-after throughout their fostering journey with us. We understand that this is a difficult period for many, and will do everything in our power to ensure our carers receive the right support.

If you’re a Compass foster carer who is struggling during this time, please approach your Supervising Social Worker with any concerns you have. They will be able to advise you on the best next steps to take.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about fostering with Compass or how to become a foster carer, get in touch with us here.

Top Spots Where Children Eat for Free (or for Cheap) this Summer

With the holidays upon us, parents and caregivers throughout the UK are scrambling to keep the kids entertained. But with the cost-of-living crisis placing financial pressure on many households, its natural to want to keep expenses down.

Fortunately, there are plenty of eateries offering free or discounted meals for children throughout the UK. Whether you’re looking for a snack pit stop, or a summer banquet, there’s plenty of spots where kids eat free 2022 – perfect for filling hungry tummies!

Hang up the apron – its time to let someone else do the cooking! Check out our list of the top spots where children eat free over summer.

Where Do Kids Eat Free?


Morrisons LogoMorrisons Café (Nationwide). Available at any Morrisons Café throughout the UK, this fabulous deal offers a free kid’s meal with any one adult meal that has a value over £4.99. Their kid’s meal must be from their kids menu, and includes a piece of fruit and the choice of a tasty orange juice, apple juice or bottle of water.

ASDA LogoASDA Café (Nationwide). While kids don’t necessarily eat for free at ASDA, they can access a hot or cold meal for just £1 – without any minimum spend for adults required. An ASDA spokesperson said they are ‘so pleased to be able to offer children’s meals for just £1 (…) to ensure that those who would normally rely on a school meal aren’t left without.’ Offer available 25th July – 4th September.

Yo Sushi LogoYo! Sushi (Nationwide). For those looking to expand their children’s tastebuds, Yo! Sushi are offering a Kids Eat Free deal between 15.00-17.30, Monday-Thursday unt8il the 29th September 2022. For every £10 spent by an adult, one child eats free! They’re even offering their own ‘Mini Ninja’ children’s menu with plenty of tasty Japanese meals that are sure to be a hit.

Dunelm LogoDunelm (Nationwide).  While best known for their furniture and homeware, Dunelm stores are also home to a delightful chain of cafés – Pausa Cafes. This summer, kids eat free at Pausa Café with every £4 spent in store. So, whether you’re on the hunt for a new rug, or in need of a couple lightbulbs – why not bring the kids along and make the most of this appetising deal!

Beefeater LogoBeefeater & Brewers Fayre (Nationwide).  Perfect for early risers or those heading out for a day of adventuring, Beefeater are offering free unlimited breakfast for children at all their locations throughout the UK. And if breakfast isn’t your thing, they’re also offering a kids 3 course lunch or dinner for just £5.99, with a choice of Sausage and Mash, Pasta or Oven Baked Fish bites.

Bella Italia LogoBella Italia (Nationwide). Hungering for Pizza? Head over to your nearest Bella Italia between 16:00-18:00, Monday-Thursday, and enjoy a kid’s meal for £1! This price comes with the purchase of every adult main and includes three delicious courses, a fruit water, and a colouring sheet that will keep kids on the younger side entertained.

Sizzling Pub LogoSizzling Pubs (Nationwide).  With hundreds of pubs across England, Wales and Scotland, you’re never far from a Sizzling Pub. Ideal for a relaxed meal, kids can now eat for £1 at all Sizzling Pubs! Enjoy a weekday lunch or dinner where the kids get to choose from a huge range of nutritious dishes – from fish fingers, to pasta, to pizza, to chicken wraps, there’s something for even the pickiest of eaters.

IKEA logoIKEA (Nationwide).  Who doesn’t love an IKEA day out? Part of the joy of IKEA is their Swedish restaurant, offering diners a selection of tasty food – especially their iconic meatballs and gravy dish! This summer, kids at IKEA can eat for as little as 95p, or £1.50 for a combination meal. Combo meals include one hot meal, a jelly, soft drink, and a piece of fruit.

Cafe RougeCafé Rouge (Nationwide). Café Rouge are offering parents and caregivers the chance to treat their family to a ‘taste of summer in France’ over the holidays, with the return of their kids eat for £1 offer. For £1 with every adult who purchases a main course, children have the choice of 2 or 3 courses from the kids menu. This offer is available from 22nd July – 21st August, so make the most of it while you can!

These restaurants and cafes are just a few of the many eateries offering discounted or free eating for children throughout the holidays. Alternatively, if eating out isn’t your thing, why not check out our guide on reducing the cost of your weekly shop?

There’s plenty to do, see and eat this summer. If you’re looking for some inspiration on budget-friendly things to do with the kids, check out our list on 10 free activities that are fun for the whole family.


Fun for the Whole Family: Museums in Coventry

With so many school holidays each year in the UK, keeping the kids busy can be a tricky feat. Parents and caregivers have got their work cut out!

The UK weather is also famously unreliable. That’s why it’s good to have an idea of the kinds of activities available to you and your family on a rainy day.

There are various benefits to visiting a museum with your children and young people. For children, museums help to improve their cognitive ability, provoking their imagination alongside teaching them about the world they live in.

With this in mind, we’re looking at some of the most popular museums in Coventry to visit with your children!

Picture: a child looking at an exhibition.

  1. Coventry Transport Museum

This one is for the automobile lovers! Described as a ‘truly unique day out for all the family’, the Coventry Transport Museum is full of fascinating exhibitions from the worlds various motoring industries.

This museum in Coventry city centre allows visitors to wander through history, telling the story of Coventry and how the city changed the world through transport. This museum is also an excellent choice for families who are looking for a full day out, with a coffee house and picnic areas located throughout the museum.

Foster carers in Coventry also get free entry to the museum. When we spoke to the Coventry Transport Museum, they explained our carers need only pay for their children’s admission – which is free for under 4s, and £8.00 for those between 5-16 years old. A single ticket is also valid for 365 days, meaning you and your family can visit as many times as you like within one year, while only paying once!

Find out more about Coventry Transport Museum here.

Picture: a young boy inspecting a telescope in a museum.

  1. Midland Air Museum

Like with the Coventry Transport Museum, the Midland Air Museum is ideal for lovers of all things transport and machinery based.

Located just outside of Coventry, this volunteer-lead museum is full of fascinating planes that come in all shapes and sizes. Stand in the shadow of a full-scale US Airforce Military Jet, or marvel at the intricacies of a Rolls Royce Spitfire engine – there’s plenty to see, with many of the planes dating back to World War 2.

Admission for adults is £7.75 and £4.00 for children over the age of 5, making it an affordable trip! However, part of the museum’s exhibitions are outside – so we recommend choosing a day with clear skies or packing a raincoat if you’re thinking of visiting the Midland Air Museum!

Check out the Midland Air Museum here.

Picture: a family enjoying an exhibit together.

  1. The Coventry Music Museum

This multi-award-winning museum in Coventry is a great day out for music-lovers and families alike. Visitors describe being ‘overwhelmed with the knowledge and depth of the memorabilia’ on display at this museum.

Brimming with various exhibitions showcasing music throughout the ages, this museum gives visitors the opportunity to trace the history of music and its development. From witnessing some of the worlds first performers, to an interactive 60s-era sound booth, to the famous bench John Lennon and Yoko Ono once posed on – there’s lots to keep the children entertained.

Foster carers are entitled to a reduced entry fee of £3.00, with children and young people under 15 years old enter for free.

Read more about the exhibitions on at The Coventry Music Museum here!

Picture: a child painting.

  1. Herbert Art Gallery & Museum

This stylish museum is home to art from around the world. Featuring exhibitions on archaeology,  natural art, modern art, social art and much more, the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry is sure to expand your knowledge and inspire.

Alongside its various exhibitions, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum also host a range of family-friendly activities and workshops that are open to the public. Some of their activities include Summer Holiday Crafting Sessions, or an Art Masterclass in Street Art Murals with local street artist, Katie-O. These activities are affordable to book, ranging between £2.50-£10.00 per child, with many running at daily, weekly, and monthly intervals.

The museum is also free to enter, encouraging families in Coventry to immerse themselves in arts, history and culture.

Read more about visiting Herbert Art & Gallery Museum here.

Picture: a family looking at an exhibition together.

  1. The Reel Store

Unlike other museums, The Reel Story is a relatively new addition to Coventry. Following on from the popularity of immersive art exhibitions around the world, the Reel Space is an innovative, 360-degree art experience that is suitable for the whole family.

Using digital projections, the Reel Store is the UK’s first permanent digital art gallery, allowing visitors to walk around within its art exhibitions. From beautiful hues of yellow and green, to stunning splashes of vibrant pink, the Reel Store takes experiencing art to a different level – making it ideal for children and young people looking to experience new things.

Tickets range between £8.00-£10.00, with flexible admission times that allow visitors to enter throughout the day. However, the experience tends to run on a continuous loop throughout the day – meaning that visitors may have to wait for a short period before entering the exhibition.

Find out more about visiting The Reel Store here.

There’s plenty to do and see when it comes to museums in Coventry. For some children (including foster children) this might be their first time visiting a museum – which is bound to be an exciting experience for all!

However, there are still many children living in Coventry, and throughout the UK, who would benefit from the safety and security of foster care. If you think you could make a difference to the life of a vulnerable child, find out more about fostering in Coventry with Compass Fostering or get in touch with us to speak to a member of our team today.

Understanding Different Attachment Styles in Children

When we talk about attachment in childcare, we’re often referring to the attachment bond between a child and their primary caregiver. Children develop various attachment bonds throughout their development, but none is as significant as the one they develop with their caregiver.

The type of attachment a child develops with their caregiver is called an attachment style. There are four basic types of attachment styles that are recognised. Attachment styles influence how children feel, behave, and perceive the world around them. If children develop a strong, positive attachment with their caregiver they feel safer, more stable, more confident, and generally better prepared to explore the world.

However, children who fail to develop strong bonds with their caregivers often feel insecurely attached. This can lead to a myriad of different attachment issues and behaviours that can be challenging. Unfortunately, this is often the case with children who come into foster care.

In this article, we’ll help you identify your child’s attachment style, giving you a greater understanding of their behaviour and how they navigate your relationship. Recognising your child’s predominant attachment style will also help you better support them, aiding in their development of a more secure attachment style.

What is Attachment Theory?

Created by British psychologist John Bowlby and later developed by psychologist Mary Ainsworth, attachment theory focuses on the relationships and emotional bonds between individuals.

A key part of attachment theory looks at how the early bond between child and caregiver impacts child development. Attachment occurs naturally between child and caregiver, with attachment preferences to a particular caregiver developing as early as 7-11 months of age in infants.

Attachment bonds lay the foundation for how children navigate relationships and the world around them. Attachment theory suggests that the quality of the bond between a child and their caregiver influences child development, determining how well they cope with the demands and stressors of later life.

What are Attachment Styles?

Many parents or carers ask ‘what is my child’s attachment style’ along with how they can help children to feel more secure.

There are four basic patterns of attachment or attachment styles. These a generally recognised as Secure, Anxious, Avoidant and Disorganised.

Attachment styles are influenced by the quality of the bond that children develop with their caregivers during infancy and early childhood. Each of the 4 attachment styles come with unique behavioural characteristics that distinguish one from another.

The most common attachment style is Secure. However, looked after children – such as children in foster care – tend to display characteristics of an insecure attachment style. This is because many children who are looked after have experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect and, as a result, may have a variety of attachment issues.

Secure Attachment

A secure attachment refers to a bond that meets the child’s need for security, stability, and care.

Children who are securely attached are generally trusting, happy and able to build and maintain healthy relationships with the people around them. They are well attached to their caregiver and enjoy their company. They likely display distress when separated from their caregiver but are generally confident that they will return.

Secure attachment bonds allow for optimal mental development in children, helping them to learn self-regulation, trust, and self-confidence as they grow. Children with a secure attachment have learned they can trust other people to take care of them, as their caregiver has consistently met their needs throughout their childhood. As a result, these children have a positive view of themselves and of others around them and will generally remember their childhoods in a positive light.

As they mature, these children will typically demonstrate a healthy sense of self-awareness, be better at regulating their emotions, have greater independence, have better communication skills, be better at problem-solving and generally be able to maintain stronger relationships throughout their life.

Picture of child sitting smiling on a sofa kicking their legs.

Avoidant Attachment

In comparison to securely attached children, children who have developed an avoidant attachment style are often emotionally distant and tend to avoid interaction with their caregiver, showing little to no stress when separated from them.

This often occurs if their caregiver has demonstrated similar emotional distance or intolerance to emotional expression throughout the child’s formative years. It may also occur due to abuse, neglect, caregiver absence or the lack of one consistent caregiver. Regardless, children whose needs are consistently unmet, or who are punished for relying on a caregiver, learn to avoid relying on others in the future.

As a result, children who have an avoidant attachment typically show no preference between their primary caregiver and a stranger. They may prefer playing with objects rather than other children, and may not enjoy physical contact with others, such as hugs. They also show greater independence and do not like to ask for help.

As these children develop and mature, they may appear to show greater independence and self-sufficiency than others but find it hard to tolerate emotional or physical intimacy with others. They may struggle to develop healthy, meaningful relationships with others and can be quite solitary in nature.

Imagine of a girl sitting against a wall, arms crossed and hunched over looking sad.

Anxious Attachment

Most often, children with an ambivalent or anxious attachment display higher levels of insecurity and anxiety and may be more “needy” than other children.

Inconsistent caregiving is the most common cause of ambivalent attachments. This refers to caregivers who are preoccupied, neglectful, distracted or fail to frequently and consistently meet their child’s needs. Subsequently, the child feels unsure or uncertain about their caregiver due to these mixed signals.

Children with ambivalent attachments typically suffer from low-self esteem and may appear clingy, fearing abandonment. They may frequently seek the attention of their caregiver and become distressed when their caregiver leaves, as they have learned they cannot trust they will return.

In adult life, people with anxious attachments may continue to suffer from low esteem and feel insecure or anxious about their own worth in their intrapersonal relationships. Generally speaking, adults with ambivalent attachments require greater levels of reassurance that they are safe, loved and worthy.

Picture of toddler peering into a room behind a door frame.

Disorganised Attachment

Combining both traits of avoidant and anxious attachment, the disorganised attachment style is often characterised by behaviour that is frequently contradictory.

Often, children develop disorganised attachment styles as a result of a frightening or unpredictable bond with their caregiver. The child therefore loves and cares for them as their caregiver, but simultaneously fears them. Disorganised attachment is also often seen in individuals who have been physically, verbally or sexually abused in their childhood. These children are distressed when their caregiver leaves and returns, as the caregiver represents both a source of comfort and fear at the same time.

Children with disorganised attachment styles might display a confusing mixture of behaviour, seeming to always be on edge, confused or disorientated. They may constantly crave the attention of their caregiver whilst also resisting or avoiding them. Children with disorganised attachment styles also have a hard time managing and regulating their own emotions, which can make maintaining relationships difficult.

As they mature, children with disorganised attachment styles may find it more difficult to feel at home within relationships, finding it hard to trust others. They may also continue to display inconsistent behaviour patterns, which affect all areas of life, including education and work.

Image of young boy laying under a bed.

Can Attachment Styles change?

While somewhat challenging, it is possible to change an individual’s, and children’s attachment styles from insecure to secure over time.

Cultivating a more secure attachment style can take time and effort. However, building and maintaining healthy, stable relationships (particularly with people who have a secure attachment style themselves) can go a long way in helping children to shift toward a more secure attachment style.

Therapeutic parenting approaches are useful for rebuilding trust in children who suffer from insecure attachment styles. Therapeutic principles like PACE provide a framework for supporting children who have experienced trauma or inconsistency throughout their development.

For foster children, therapeutic fostering provides them with the opportunity to regain trust. Fostering can help children transition from a dysregulated state into a regulated one, with the relationship between foster carer and foster child forming a new blueprint for healthy, secure attachment.

Read more on how to deal with attachment issues in children here.

Identifying your child’s attachment style is important for all parents and caregivers. In many instances, understanding their attachment style is an important first step in helping them to manage their behaviour and transition toward a more secure attachment.

At Compass, our children benefit from therapeutic support that is tailored to their individual circumstances. We deliver this with the help of our brilliant foster carers, all who receive high-quality training and support from our expert team of professionals.

Our training equips our foster carers with the skills and knowledge necessary to really make a difference to our children’s lives, helping them to achieve the best outcomes possible despite their tougher start in life.

If you think you could make a difference to the life of a child by becoming a foster carer, you can get in touch with us here.

10 Things To Say When Your Child Comes Out to You

Young people are beginning to feel more able to express their sexuality and/or gender, with the proportion of young people who identify as heterosexual in the UK steadily decreasing.

Yet, despite the progress that has been made in recent years around LGBT+ rights, visibility and equality, coming out can still be an intensely stressful and vulnerable experience for many. Coming out means embracing yourself fully, while also facing potential rejection from people who are not supportive of you.

All coming out stories are different. If your child comes out to you, it can be surprising and sometimes unexpected. However, it’s important for parents of LGBT+ youth to recognise that the reaction they have to their child coming out to them matters. The LGBT+ coming out conversation is likely one your child will remember for the rest of their life, so it is important to respond in a manner that is supportive and sensitive to your child’s needs.

If your child comes out to you, there are a few things you can say to make the conversation an easier, more positive experience for the both of you.

Two people wrapped in a pride flag.

  1. ‘I love you.’

When your child first comes out to you, the most important thing you can do is remind them of your unconditional love.

One of the most common fears that people have when coming out is that people will no longer love them because of their revelation. Verbally reaffirming your love for your child lets them know that you still love and care for them regardless, strengthening your relationship and their confidence.

  1. ‘I accept you.’

Alongside the fear that they won’t be loved, many LGBT+ young people also fear they won’t be accepted when coming out. There are still many harmful stigmas surrounding the LGBT+ community, and these can affect how people from the LGBT+ community are perceived and treated.

Reassuring your young person that you still accept them, regardless of how they identify, will help to ease these worries. It will also set the foundation for the rest of the coming-out conversation, ensuring your young person feels safe and able to express themselves however they please.

  1. ‘You are very brave for telling me.’

As aforementioned, coming out can be an intensely stressful experience. Many young people have been holding their secret in a long time. It takes a lot of bravery to finally admit the truth about who they are to both themselves and others around them.

Acknowledging their bravery will validate their experience, as well as helping them to understand and appreciate their own strength and resilience.

A person waving a Pride Flag.

  1. ‘Thank you for trusting me.’

As well as bravery, there is also a lot of trust involved in coming out to someone. If your child has come out to you, it’s likely that they view you as someone they can trust with their secret.

Taking time to recognise the trust they are placing in you will strengthen your relationship with your child. The trust you have with your child is something that should be celebrated, and will no doubt be something you continue to build upon with your child following their coming out.

  1. ‘I’m so pleased you have discovered this about yourself.’

The path to understanding your own sexuality or identity can be a rocky one. If your child is coming out to you, it’s likely that they have been thinking about this for a long time. They may have even been in denial or felt too ashamed to accept who they really are.

If your child is coming out to you, it’s a good sign that they’re on the right path to accepting themselves. Part of validating your child and helping them to feel understood is recognising how important this discovery is for them, as well as how pleased you are that they have made it.

However, we recommend you avoid telling them you ‘knew all along’ as this might downplay the significance of their sharing with you.

  1. ‘Would you like me to call you by a different name, or use different pronouns?’

Coming out as LGBT+ means your child may feel different about their gender identity and how they want to be addressed by other people.

If your child is coming out transgender or non-binary, they may wish to use a new name or new set of pronouns that they feel better reflects their sense of self. Although this can be challenging for parents and caregivers to come to terms with, respecting any changes in name or pronouns is necessary for helping your child feel accepted.

You can find out more about supporting transgender young people here.

A young person wearing a Pride Flag.

  1. ‘How do you feel now that you’ve told me?’

Every child is different: some may feel relieved after coming out to you, while others still may have certain fears or concerns that are worrying them.

Part of supporting LGBT+ youth once they have come out involves actively trying to understand their experience and feelings. Help them explore any feelings they may have, whether these are feelings of excitement, relief, fear or worry.

  1. ‘What can I do to support you?’

Because of the additional challenges and barriers that the LGBTQ+ community face, its important to make sure your child knows that you support them. For people who are LGBTQ+, coming out is a lifelong process; LGBTQ+ people must navigate the coming out process each time they enter a new setting.

From telling other family members, teachers,  friends or classmates – coming out takes time, and young people will need support from their parents and family throughout.

Ask your child if there are any ways you can support them proactively. What kinds of changes can be made around the house to make them feel more comfortable? Is there anything they would like you to do differently? Have they come out to any other family and friends, or would they like to keep this a secret for now?

Asking your child how you can support them is better than making assumptions and will help both you and them better navigate the future.

  1. ‘Is there anything else you would like to tell me?’

Be open to learning about your child’s experience. Sometimes, LGBT+ youth may withhold the full truth initially to gage your reaction first. By asking if there is anything else they want to share with you, you are offering them the space to elaborate or go into more detail about how they’re feeling.

They may be in a relationship or have a crush that they are yet to disclose to you. They may also have some other thoughts or feelings about their sexuality or identity that they want to share with you.

The important thing here is to not force your young person to talk unless they are ready. You are simply offering the space and freedom for them to talk in further detail if they wish to do so.

  1. ‘I will always be here for you.’

Now that your child has come out to you, they need to know you will be an ally for them. Allyship involves advocating for your child and for the LGBT+ community.

This means speaking out against discrimination and working toward making life easier for your child by listening to them, supporting them and being sensitive to their needs. Letting your child know that you will always be there for them will go a long way in helping them feel less alone.

You can find out more about supporting your LGBTQ+ youth here.

A person at a Pride rally.

It’s completely normal to have questions (and maybe even some fears) after your child has come out. Being LGBT+ comes with its own unique challenges and barriers, which is why your child will need your ongoing support and encouragement.

Compass understands that every young person in our care has their own individual challenges and experiences. That’s why we provide 24/7 support, resources, and relevant training for all our foster carers to ensure they can provide excellent care for our young people.

If you’d like some more information about fostering with us you can request a digital brochure here.


10 Free Activities That Are Fun for The Whole Family

Spending time with the family doesn’t need to break the bank!

With the summer holidays approaching, parents and caregivers across the UK are looking for ways to keep their children entertained.

And, as the cost of living goes up, it’s natural to want to keep family expenses down.

Fortunately, if you’re looking for inspiration on free things to do with the family, look no further! We’ve put together a list of our top 10 free activities for kids that are great fun for the whole family. These family fun day activities will help to strengthen your bond with your children, costing you nothing but some quality time.

Please note – some of these free family activities might require some basic craft materials or items from the cupboard!

  1. Create a Time Capsule Together

Take some time to create a time capsule with your family. Invite your children to collect some sentimental or meaningful items and place them in a container together.

Bury or hide the container somewhere, and revisit it again in the future to see how much has changed.

We suggest filling your time capsule with family photos, drawings, poetry, certificates, and other personal memorabilia.

A collection of photos.

  1. Get Adventurous with some Geocaching

Make the most of a sunny day and take the family geocaching.

This outdoor activity is essentially a nationwide treasure hunt! Members of the public hide and seek various treasure containers, known as ‘geoaches’, at specific coordinates.

All it takes is a mobile phone coordinates and some navigational know-how! This is a perfect fun and free activity for young adventurers and treasure hunters.

  1. Camp Out in the Living Room or Garden

Who said you had to leave the house to go camping?

Pitch a blanket fort in your living room or a tent in your garden and gather some supplies for a fun-filled night of camping.

Bring torches, plenty of snacks and your cosiest pyjamas and settle in for some spooky stories, movies, or board games. You could even try a spot of stargazing!

  1. Visit the Seaside for Some Rockpooling

Rockpooling is a fabulous outdoors activity that’s inclusive and exciting for the whole family.

The UK has a large span of coastline, brimming with various water pools and rocky shorelines. Living in these pools of water is a variety of sea wildlife, including crabs, prawns and even starfish.

Dig out your bucket and get ready to get stuck in!

Two young children rockpooling.

  1. Host a Household Scavenger Hunt

Turn everyday household items into treasure with a DIY at-home scavenger hunt.

Compile a list of random objects, like toilet roll, spatulas, cotton buds, pasta, and socks, and challenge your children to find them as quick as they can.

You can send them off to find one object at a time, or you can send them all at once!

  1. Art and Craft a New Outfit

Gather your old t-shirts or tattered jeans and get ready for a fashion show.

Using paints, pens, and whatever craft items you have to hand, get ready to design yourself a brand-new outfit. Children will love using their creativity to stick, cut and colour a brand-new outfit.

Once you’re all finished, why not dim the lights, break out a spotlight, and show off your new outfits on the runway?

  1. Make Your Own Kites

One of the simplest joys in life comes from flying a kite on a breezy day. It’s also one of the best free summer activities for kids!

If you’ve not got a kite of your own, building your own bright coloured paper kite is an excellent way to spend time with the family. All you need is some large sheets of paper, some sticks – like bamboo, or some dowels – and some twine.

Check out this guide from Countryfile on how to make a DIY kite!

Homemade kites.

  1. Design Your Own Board Game

Board games are a great way to spend some quality time with the family. But why not play by your own rules?

For this easy, family friendly activity, all you’ll need some large paper or card and a few markers. Decide on a theme – zombies, mermaids, anything you like – and get designing!

This YouTube video from Art with Mrs F provides a great step-by-step walkthrough for making your own board game with your family.

  1. Pick And Press Some Flowers

Pressed flowers make a beautiful piece of art or gift for a neighbour, friend or family member.  It’s also an activity that dates all the way back to Ancient Egypt!

Roses and daisies are easiest when it comes to flower pressing, so we recommend keeping an eye out for these. If you’ve got an old bouquet of flowers, you can press that too!

Flower pressing is also worth the wait! Your children will love seeing the results of their hard work in a few weeks’ time.

  1. Help Out in the Community

There’s nothing quite like using your free time to give back to your community.

Lending support to people in need is as good for you and your family, as it is for the people you’re helping!

Taking time to volunteer, help out a neighbour, or tidy up a local space is free, fun and wonderful for your children’s development.

Check out our suggestions on how to give back to your community here. 
A child carrying two rubbish bags.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for children’s activities, why not take at some of our other suggestions:

6 Effective Ways To Get Your Kids To Listen To You

You’ve asked your child to brush their teeth, or turn off the TV, three times now. Each time they have ignored you and carried on with what they are doing.

Maybe they didn’t hear you the first time, or they were distracted. So, you try again. You try again, five more times, and still nothing. What now?

You don’t want to shout, but how else can you get them to listen?

It can be incredibly frustrating when your children don’t listen to you.

If you’re feeling worn down by it all, you’re not alone. The internet is full of cries from desperate parents and caregivers, all asking how they can get their children to listen to them.

While it’s easy to feel defeated, there are some steps you can take to help improve your child’s listening. Below, we’ve listed 6 different tips that will help you understand how to talk so your kids will listen.

Understanding Why Kids Don’t Listen

Before anything else, it’s important to understand why children sometimes don’t listen.

There are a variety of reasons that might explain why some children don’t listen to adults.

Perhaps the most obvious of these reasons is that they simply don’t hear you. Sometimes, when children are engrossed in a particularly interesting or entertaining activity, they may be too preoccupied to hear you, or register what you are saying.

Similarly, if they are doing an activity they enjoy, they may not listen to you not because they are deliberately trying to be defiant, but because they have conflicting desires. They might wish to continue doing the thing they are enjoying, and what you’re asking threatens to interrupt this. This dilemma can be difficult for children to articulate, which is why, often, they may choose to simply ignore you.

Even when they are being deliberately defiant, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Children are hardwired to be oppositional. When your child chooses not to listen to you, they are asserting their will – which is as healthy and natural as it is frustrating. They are learning to exercise their individuality.

More complex reasons for children not listening could also include neurological disorders like ADHD or Autism, or past experiences and trauma that shape the way they respond to authority, like attachment issues. Factors like these may influence children’s ability to understand language and respond to directions and may require professional guidance.

Regardless of the reason, it’s important to understand that children don’t necessarily mean to be disrespectful. Developing listening skills takes time, and some children are simply not as adept at listening as others.

A mother kneeling down to talk to her son.

Don’t Speak Before You Have Their Attention

If holding your child’s attention is something you’re struggling with, focus on connecting before you start asking them to do something.

We know how busy life can be: it’s easier to call across the room or ask your child in passing. However, sometimes, these methods aren’t the most effective at getting through.

Rather, focus on making an active connection with your child before asking them to do something. Try approaching them, using their name, and getting down on their level.

Establish a connection with them by engaging with what they are doing. This might mean commenting on the TV show they are watching or asking questions about the game they are playing.

Wait until you have their eye contact, and then begin talking. By waiting to establish a connection before talking, you increase the likelihood that your child will be receptive to what you are saying.

A young girl looking up at her mother.

Keep What You’re Saying Concise

When it comes to talking to children, staying brief and concise will go a long way in helping your child to listen. Throughout their development, children have varying attention spans – ranging between 4-6 minutes for toddlers, and 28-42 minutes for teenagers.

Asking too much of your child at once can risk overwhelming them or diluting your message, making it difficult for them to order their thoughts and process your instructions.

Keeping instructions clear and simple will not only save you some energy, but also help to prevent your child from zoning out. Try simplifying the language you use with your children, such as saying ‘hat’ when asking your child to put a hat on, or ‘teeth’ when it’s time for them to brush their teeth.

A young child between two different shirts.

Empower Them with Choice

Like mentioned previously, sometimes children choose not to listen because of their conflicting desires or need to exert their own will.

One way to combat this is giving your child some choice in how they conduct themselves. This might mean rephrasing the way you ask things of your child.

For example, you might be tempted to tell your child that if they don’t tidy their room now, they won’t be able to watch any more TV. However, when threatened with a consequence for not following instructions – such as no more TV – children tend to double down on their stubbornness.

Instead, try giving your child a choice. They can either clean their room now, and continue watching TV after, or they can turn off the TV altogether. They can put on the blue jumper, or the yellow jumper – which would they prefer? Choices like these are far more likely to encourage cooperation in your child, rather than defiance.

Similarly, giving children time-based choices simultaneously respects their need to exert their individual will, all while achieving an outcome that is favourable for you. Ask your child if they would like to have a bath now, or in five minutes time. Giving children some choice in these decisions will help them in developing a sense of control and accountability for their actions.

A child and her father brushing their teeth together.

Empower Them with Information

Along with giving them choice, giving child an explanation for why they need to follow your instruction can also help to encourage their cooperation.

Instead of simply telling your child they need to brush their teeth, explain to them why teeth-brushing is important – it stops their teeth from rotting, and their breath from stinking. Turning instructions into moments for education will aid your child in understanding the importance of what you’re asking, and the reason for asking it.

Other examples might include explaining to your child that food spoils if it is not put away, or that toilets that are not flushed get smelly, or that not tidying their toys away in the right place means they might not be able to find them the next time they want to play with them.

A child holding an adult's hand.

Keep Your Cool

As hard as it can seem sometimes, remaining calm when your child isn’t listening to you is paramount. The way you react to your child disobeying or ignoring you will influence the way they behave.

If you raise your voice at your child, or indicate your frustration with them, you encourage a fight or flight response within your child that may worsen their behaviour.

Research shows that expressions of anger, such as shouting, scare children and make them feel insecure. Raising your voice at your child is also counterproductive, in that it makes them more verbally and physically aggressive.

That’s why maintaining a level of calm when interacting with your child is important. Calm tones help children feel accepted and cherished regardless of their behaviour – something that can be especially important for foster children.

Remaining calm will likely also lead to a better outcome, providing an opportunity for you to discuss with your child why they might not feel like listening to you, and how you can both work together to avoid these situations in the future.

A young boy wearing headphones and staring at a screen.

Try Therapeutic Parenting Techniques

At Compass, we encourage our foster carers to take a therapeutic approach to their parenting.

Therapeutic parenting focuses on creating highly-nurturing, structure-based relationships between caregivers and their children, making it especially effective for children in foster care.

However, the principles and practices of therapeutic parenting are also useful for caregivers struggling with children who are displaying challenging behaviour – such as not listening.

In these situations, the therapeutic parenting P.A.C.E. (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity & Empathy) approach may be useful in helping to strengthen communication and understanding between caregivers and their children.

You can find out more about the P.A.C.E approach here.

While there is no definitive way to get your child to listen to you, these tips are sure to improve your child’s receptiveness and openness to cooperation.

If you think you could have a positive impact on the life of a vulnerable young person, get in touch with us to find out more about fostering.