With so many books and magazines and therapists offering their version of how to raise happy and healthy children and what to do when there is an issue, I really cannot offer you something new. However, what I want to talk about is what NOT to do.

I am not an admirer of Sarah Palin’s politics, and her parenting style is also somewhat questionable, but she did provide me with a quote ideal to demonstrate the opposite of what I have experienced in childcare and teaching.

When she captioned, “You know what they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is? Lipstick”, I quivered. Whether it’s football, violin, homework, or learning a language, there is a great difference between pressure and motivation.

Whatever you call parents who strangle their children with great expectations and overburden them with tutors and activities, the result is the same according to former Tiger Mum, Tanith Carey.

“Tiger parenting wrecks family life and it ruins our enjoyment of parenting. It's heartbreaking”, she says and adds that “the stressed and anxious kids of today are the depressed adults of tomorrow”.

I am not in the habit of promoting reference books but all too often I see the damage this parental behaviour has on the innocent offspring of well-meaning adults.  As the cover of her book asks, “how to put your child’s well-being first in a competitive world”, consider this as the primary mantra when making decisions.
There are many tell-tale signs children exhibit when stressed or unable to cope. The physical tummy and headaches; the behavioural tantrums and fidgeting; and the emotional extremes in self-confidence and chronic worrying.

It is well documented children learn significantly through play by exploring and discovering without having lessons rammed down their throats. Give them space. Time. Encourage friendships. A fulfilled life is not just about school grades or awards.

Organise a family “Wellies” outing and see who can make the biggest puddle splash. If it’s too wet and woolly outdoors get out the face paints and let your children find their inner-Picasso on you first.

Find fun, be silly, laugh, giggle and if you’re phone/camera is handy, capture the moment for your family Christmas greeting.