Friday Q&A with Sue Atkins – Punishing Fingers?

Interview with Sue Atkins, The Parenting Expert

Parenting children with eczema does bring unique challenges, such as scratching (till bloody) when being disciplined or guilty when eczema worsens (yet again). MarcieMom has the privilege of asking The Parenting Expert, Sue Atkins, on her advice for dealing with these challenges. Sue is the author of the best-selling book ‘Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children’ and also regularly appears on BBC Breakfast television, The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and has her own regular “Ask Sue” Parenting Q & A phone-in on BBC Radio Surrey and Sussex.

MarcieMom: Thanks Sue for helping us again! This week’s we’re dealing with something at epidemic level in Singapore!

Sucking fingers or putting items into the mouth is obviously not hygienic. In particular, hand food mouth disease (HFMD) which Marcie has got twice, is at epidemic level in Singapore. Most parents urge me to STOP this bad habit, by either slapping my toddler’s hand, slapping her mouth, implementing naughty corner or even putting chilli on her fingers! I haven’t implemented any of these and frankly, sometimes I’m glad she’s doing something with her fingers instead of scratching! How would you recommend a parent to get the toddler to stop this unhygienic habit? And is this something you think warrant ‘punishment’ or ‘discipline’?

Sue Atkins: We are our children’s first role model and of course we all love our children so my views on smacking are well known on British Television as I ask parents to ponder what sort of message they are sending to their children if they hit them I wonder…..?   ……that’s OK to get physical when you feel annoyed, frustrated or angry? And because you are a role model in everything that you do…. guess what your kids will do when they get annoyed, frustrated or angry……. lash out too.

I know lots of parents feel a little “tap” never hurt them …… but times change, we evolve and a little smack can escalate……. I think a mum who came on one of my workshops put it really well when she said, “I didn’t smack my 13 year old son, but I did smack my 10 year old daughter because she was so strong willed. One day when I smacked her, she said, “That didn’t hurt!” I knew then that I mustn’t smack her again because of what might happen.” Read more at ‘Is it Ok to smack your child?

Clearly it’s very important to prevent the spread of the virus so

Wash your hands frequently and properly with soap and running water, especially after changing nappies/diapers and after using the toilet.

Teach your child good hygiene and to wash their hands frequently using soap substitutes after having their nappy changed or after using the toilet or playing outside or sharing eating and drinking utensils.

I encourage all the parents that have toddlers to use my Easy Button Technique where your toddler gets rewarded for the positive behaviour you do want to see more of by running over and pressing their Easy Button – as this using positive psychology instead of negative association which lots of fun and brilliant for your child’s self esteem.

MarcieMom: Thanks Sue, next week we’ll cover one of my constant parenting headaches, or rather sleeping headache!

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