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defiant toddler

Teaching your child boundaries

By Childcare and Nannying, children's health, Education, family, Mental health, Relationships, Special support needs
by Michelle Elman
Author, How to Say No

You will remember a time in your child’s life when “no” was their favourite word but as a child hits three to four years old, saying “no”, getting their needs met and communicating how they feel, gets a little bit more complicated. They start to develop Theory of Mind which means they start to get an awareness of the fact that not only can they think, but other people think too. Over time, this realisation turns into the knowledge that if someone can think, then they can think about you and they can also think badly about you.

As adults, you will understand that your own boundaries are usually in conflict with caring what people think, and children also suffer with the same issue, especially when popularity, fitting in and being liked by their peer group is such a high priority. This is where it is important to emphasis the need to keep boundaries in their vocabulary, starting with the simplest and first boundary we all learn – the word ‘no’.

As we all know, children don’t do as you say, they do as you do and therefore practising boundaries yourself is the best place to start to be an example to your children. Learning boundaries isn’t just something you should do for your children though, it can positively impact your life in many ways – from self-esteem, to protecting yourself from burnout, to reprioritising your need for rest and looking after your body. As much as children might struggle to do what you say, if you create an environment where everyone feels listened to, they often start to listen to you more too, if they feel heard themselves.

The word “no” is crucial to understanding how you feel, what you want and it also means that your “yes” has more power. If “yes” is the only word you can use, then that’s the default and your life becomes filled with meeting everyone else’s needs and demands. As much as a child using the word “no” may make your life more difficult as a parent, it’s important to understand that it’s a crucial skill as they grow up and become adults.

We want to foster a sense of independence and knowing how to communicate well, even if they still need to comply with the rules of the household or school. When they set a boundary that is simply not feasible, for example, staying at home alone because they don’t want to attend a family friend’s party, then you are still able to congratulate them on communicating their needs, expressing their boundaries and making them feel heard, listened to and respected.

If you lead with empathy, you are treating them with the respect you would with any adult who has their full autonomy and freedom to make their own decisions. I’m sure you’ve had evenings where you’ve not wanted to attend an event that you previously were looking forward to or there are times as an adult, you just want to be left at home alone to enjoy your solitude. For your child though, that might be unsafe and therefore communicating that to them, not only gives them respect but understanding as to the decision making process.

Saying something like “I know you don’t want to come tonight. I know you are tired and I wouldn’t want to come too if I had as long a week as you have. I can’t find anyone to stay with you last minute though and I do not feel comfortable leaving you at home alone so for your safety, you will have to come with us”. When you come from a empathetic standpoint, you can understand why a child wouldn’t want to go to a grown-up party where they have little in common with the people there, and it is easier to come up with a compromise, for example, “If you would like some alone time though, why don’t you bring a book and we can find a room where you can be by yourself while all the adults are talking?”

Teaching boundaries is also about teaching your children to respect other people’s boundaries so when you set rules about behaviour, make sure you echo the reverse. For example, if they don’t want their siblings barging into their room, then they also have to lHow to say noisten when their siblings say no to them entering their room. Emphasising that we also want to respect other people’s boundaries and giving them the language around boundaries is also really helpful. A boundary might not always sound like the word “no”, it can be “That doesn’t work for me”, or “I don’t like the sound of that,” and when you understand that this is someone conveying their boundaries, not only do they have phrases to listen out for but they have the same phrases they can use themselves.

‘How To Say No’ released by Puffin, is available now.

work from home parenting

Success wears many hats

By family, Mental health, Relationships, Work employment
by Katie Gowers Watts
‘Diary of a Warent’ blogger

As a parent, your definition of success can change entirely.

Despite being a complex person emotionally, I didn’t take my first pregnancy very seriously – until it ended in a silent miscarriage. We had been for an ultrasound scan the week before and reassuringly seen a tiny, beating heart on the monitor. Sadly, one week later we saw nothing but a static, grey image.

In that moment, my version of success pivoted entirely. The only thing I really wanted, was to be able to successfully carry my child.

It’s embarrassing to confess, but in the past, I didn’t respect women who chose not to go back to work after having children. I thought of it as a cop out. I’m ashamed of that now. For those who subscribe to ‘stay-at-home stereotypes’ like I did, WOW, looking after children all day long is hard. Really hard.

Being a perma-entertainer and safe-keeper, never EVER switching off, and the sheer monotony and thanklessness of housework is so much harder than ‘work work’.


Even playing is arduous. Fumbling around in the attic of your adult mind for the dusty old imagination you stored away many years ago. The definition of child’s play is ‘a task which is easily accomplished’. I’m here to tell you that playing with children is not child’s play. It’s exhausting!

Importantly, being a stay-at-home parent comes from a place of love (or financial necessity because childcare can break the bank). It’s not laziness or lack of ambition. It took me 36 years to figure that one out.

My two children are without a shadow of a doubt, my greatest achievement. So, having recently welcomed baby number two who brings me unadulterated joy, why don’t I feel successful anymore?

Many of us define our success based on what others think of us. Or more specifically, our assumptions of what they think. Will people be suitably impressed by my accomplishments, my job title, my salary (or indeed envious of them if one’s ego needs a stroke)? If yes, then bingo, we feel successful.

Success wears many hats.

Something we all need to acknowledge is that actually, success wears many hats. Professional success, financial success, parenting success, relationship success, family success. Sometimes it’s just ‘keeping your sh*t together’ success. What matters is how we define our own success, and in turn, respecting each other’s unique versions. If I’m wearing a baseball cap today, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear a trilby.

Right now, rudely interrupting my marvellous motherhood moments, is the fact that somehow my sense of accomplishment is diminished.

I question myself ALL the time. Am I adding enough value – to my family, to our bank balance, to my employer? I feel like I’m in debt.

As a bona fide warent (working parent), I cast aside all the other hats in my success wardrobe, in search of my ‘professional success hat’. The hat that people admire the most. But it doesn’t fit me right now.

Despite having fire in my belly and craving professional success once again, I’m scared. I’m not ready to leave my baby yet; I want to be a present mum – but, I’m also afraid of the alternative. Of having already stunted my success, of being left behind and of missing out on opportunity to be professionally brilliant. I really want both. But we can’t wear two hats at exactly the same time, can we?

My heart tells me to focus solely on our chubby little bundle of joy. Somebody recently told me, “You will never regret spending more time with your kids”.

Surrounding myself with love and this unbelievable family we have created is a HUGE, everlasting success. A hat that I’ll never outgrow. I know that.

But, my (annoying) head tells me I need to get back to work and back in the game. My professional success hat has been sitting around in the wardrobe so long that it’ll be moth-eaten by the time I take it out and shove it back on.

So, I’ve taken a step back to properly look at myself. To open every drawer of my mind and rummage through my collection of hats.

I tried my ‘stay-at-home success’ hat on for size, and I like it. It’s one of those understated, comfortable pieces of clothing that you’ll never throw out, so I’ve been wearing it for a while – but it’s not in vogue. From time to time, I put my more impressive ‘professional success’ hat back on and walk around the house in it to make myself feel busy and important (I’m wearing it as I write this). And when I get bored, I try on every single hat in the wardrobe and end up with nothing but ‘hat hair’.

It seems obvious now, that my ‘family success’ hat will never, ever go out of fashion. The others are perhaps more seasonal.

Here’s the most important thing I’ve figured out. Self-deprecation is the opposite of success. It has literally no useful purpose. It’s a paper hat when you’re out in the rain. Self-respect is success in its purest, most impressive form. It’s a frickin’ bejewelled gold crown, sparkling in the sunshine.

warentingFor those of us ‘warenting’ our way through life, impossibly striving to be perfect parents AND perfect professionals, remember that success belongs to YOU. It’s yours to define. Own it.

For now, I have redefined my version of success. Because it’s not a static, grey image. It’s a beating heart.

You can read the full version of ‘Success wears many hats’ and additional ‘warenting’ blogs written by Katie, at

family christmas

Giving children the best Christmas

By Christmas, family, Legal, Relationships, Toys

For a lot of people, Christmas is about spending time with family, but what happens when children have more than one? If not handled carefully, talk of Christmas can descend into conflict and arguments about where children spend the festive season.

In this article, Family Law Specialist, Rachael House, from Dutton Gregory Solicitors in Woking gives her tips on how to establish a Happy Christmas for all.

Top tips for child arrangements over Christmas:
1. Plan ahead
Discussions should be had as soon as possible. That way, if there is disagreement, there is time to resolve it.
2. Child first
A good way for parents to try and reach an agreement and overcome the desire to spend as much time as possible with their children, is to focus on what the child needs or wants.
3. Compromise
It is always best if parents, who know their children and what is best for them, can find a solution between themselves.
4. No point-scoring
Parents shouldn’t try and outdo each other, either in terms of time or presents.
5. Keep records
Arrangements are best confirmed in writing, (an email conversation will suffice) so there is a clear record of what has been agreed.

If you need help
If they cannot agree, a lot of parents find benefits in using mediation. This is where an independent, neutral third party assists in discussing and negotiating through a situation.

The process is voluntary, and a mediator cannot make a binding decision, but if parties can reach a solution, a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ can be drawn up to record what parties have agreed to. In certain circumstances this be drawn up in to a Court Order, but only if it is deemed of benefit to the child.

There are alternatives to mediation. Collaborative Law is where parties sit around a table (or in different rooms if they don’t want to meet face-to-face) and engage in negotiations with the support of their solicitors providing legal advice. This too is a voluntary process and any decision is not legally binding.

A couple can also choose to undertake Arbitration where the decision of the arbitrator is legally binding on both parties. The parties jointly agree an arbitrator (a professionally trained and qualified expert who effectively performs the role of the Judge), prepares paper evidence and the arbitrator then hears from each party before making a decision. Arbitration is often a very effective way of resolving a dispute where the issues are limited or narrow, such as arrangements for Christmas.

If you want advice about Christmas, or any child contact, then contact Rachael House on 01483 755609 or

sun safety

Sun safety

By environment, family, Health, Playing, Safety, Summer, sun safety

Take extra care to protect babies and children in the sun. Their skin is much more sensitive than adult skin, and damage caused by repeated exposure to sunlight could lead to skin cancer developing in later life.

Children aged under six months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK, children should:
• Cover up with suitable clothing.
• Spend time in the shade, particularly from 11am to 3pm.
• Wear at least SPF30 sunscreen.

Apply sunscreen to areas not protected by clothing, such as the face, ears, feet and backs of hands.

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, all children under five are advised to take vitamin D supplements.

When buying sunscreen, the label should have:
• A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to protect against UVB
• At least 4-star UVA protection
• UVA protection can also be indicated by the letters ‘UVA’ in a circle, which indicates that it meets the EU standard.

What are the SPF and star rating?
The sun protection factor, or SPF, is a measure of the amount of ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) protection.

SPFs are rated on a scale of two to 50+ based on the level of protection they offer, with 50+ offering the strongest form of UVB protection.

The star rating measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. You should see a star rating of up to five stars on UK sunscreens. The higher the star rating, the better. Sunscreens that offer both UVA and UVB protection are sometimes called broad spectrum.

How to apply sunscreen
Most people do not apply enough sunscreen. As a guide, adults should aim to apply around six to eight teaspoons of sunscreen if you’re covering your entire body.

If sunscreen is applied too thinly, the amount of protection it gives is reduced. If you’re worried you might not be applying enough SPF30, you could use a sunscreen with a higher SPF.

If you plan to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, sunscreen needs to be applied at least twice:
• 30 minutes before going out.
• Just before going out.
• Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin, including the face, neck and ears, and head if you have thinning or no hair, but a wide-brimmed hat is better protection.

Sunscreen needs to be reapplied liberally and frequently, and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

This includes applying it straight after you have been in water, even if it’s ‘water resistant’, and after towel drying, sweating or when it may have rubbed off.

It’s also recommended to reapply sunscreen every two hours, as the sun can dry it off your skin.

Taken from

happy families

Why accepting ‘enough’ will lead you to a happier life

By family, Mental health, Relationships
by Becky Hall
author of The Art of Enough

So many of us in everyday life feel that we aren’t enough, or that somehow we don’t do enough. We move between feeling that we lack what we need to meet the challenges of life and feeling that we have too much to do or to cope with in our busy, busy lives. Which is why I think that it’s time to re-claim the idea of ‘enough’ – re-claim it from its association with mediocrity and instead thinking of it as something to aspire to. Learning to accept ‘enough’ will lead you to a happier life.

Let’s start by asking the question, “What is happiness?” We find happiness in the moments when we are aware that we have what matters most to us. When we find ourselves noticing and really appreciating what we do have. It may seem strange but the very act of appreciation and feeling grateful for what we have actually makes us feel happier. Because we realise that what we have is ‘enough’.

Accepting that you are enough is a really practical idea – here are some tips for things you can do to make friends with ‘enough’ so that you can be happier.

1. Focus on what you have and not what you don’t have.
So often in our lives we can find ourselves coming from a place of lack. We don’t have what we want, or things aren’t going as well as we wanted. This automatically tips us into a place of scarcity and triggers our defensive systems. We feel we have to protect ourselves, we hoard, we worry. Happiness comes when we are able to really turn our mind to what we do have. Whether we’re talking about our own inner confidence, or our abilities, or even what we have – finding your way to the feeling that who you are, what you do and what you have is enough is a great route to feeling happier.

2. Notice how you are really feeling.
We are emotional beings. All of us have feelings whether we like it or not. When things are tough, so often many of us just plough on and ignore our emotional reality. But this doesn’t mean our emotions go away – they just fester, ready to burst out when we don’t want them to. So instead of pushing them down – learn to notice your feelings and acknowledge them. Talk about them – let them out. The reason that this is a key to happiness is that when we bring things to light we can deal with them and make choices about how we can re-set.

3. Stop comparing yourself with others.
Have you ever had that feeling that you’re just going about your everyday business, perfectly happy with your lot, and then you see someone you know who, in your mind has just a little bit more of what you have? All of a sudden, your happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and you can get disgruntled – you’ve gone from being quite content to feeling that you don’t have enough. Happiness lies in turning this on its head. Focus on what you have, focus on how it makes you feel and resist the temptation to compare with others. You do you – it’s enough. Getting content with what’s enough for you is a great way of moving away from the magnet pull of comparing with others.

4. Zone in on what matters most to you.
Often we can get so swept up in the busy-ness of our lives that we forget to take a step back, pause and ask ourselves the question, “What really matters most to me?” So stop and ask yourself that question. When you do, it gives a really important perspective on life. Focusing on what matters most to you is a great habit – because again, you are putting your energy into what’s important and what makes you happy.

5. Get good at noticing the small stuff.
Happiness, like any emotion, is transitory. It’s not a fixed state, nor is it a magic wand that will solve all our problems. Happiness lives in the small everyday moments – if we take the time to stop and notice. That first cup of tea in the morning, the smile from a loved one, the sky on the way to work. Getting into the habit of not just noticing but really appreciating the small things is what helps re-set our emotions to feeling positive.

Becky Hall is an accredited life coach, leadership consultant and is the author of The Art of Enough


Fostering a teen

Teenagers who are trying to find their place in the world

By family, Fostering and adoption, Work employment

When people first enquire to foster, it is often assumed that younger children will be easier to manage and that teenagers will be more challenging to care for. But teenagers often become the preferred option for many foster carers who now have a special place in their hearts for this age group. There are many vulnerable teenagers in Brighton & Hove who need the unconditional love and support of a foster carer to give them the confidence and skills they need for adulthood. Could this be you?

Teenagers often come into care feeling that everyone is against them. Alongside any trauma they may have been through, hormones and a growing sense of independence mean they are going through a key and challenging stage of development. The stability and support that foster parents provide at this important stage can have a far-reaching impact and help them develop into caring, confident and independent adults.

Chris and Kieran have been fostering teenagers for almost 30 years. “The good bit is that you see them growing up, becoming independent and moving on. You get to know them and they’re old enough to really talk to. I was a secondary school teacher so I kind of know what’s going on in their heads so it’s easier to communicate. And now of course we’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Fostering a teenager can bring real challenges, but it also offers huge rewards. It takes care and consistency to let a young person know, regardless of their age, that you’re not going anywhere and you’re not giving up. When teenagers know they’re in a safe and caring place, that’s when they really start to thrive.

Martin and Liz foster teenagers and now wouldn’t have it any other way.

For Liz, it’s a familiar stage of parenting. “Our sons are in their twenties, so it doesn’t seem that long ago that they were teenagers. Having teenagers keeps you young, it’s got me back into real life!”

Martin says “Teenagers are exploring where they want to go and they’re discovering what they want to do with their life. They’re very vocal about what they want to do and they’re very interesting to talk to because they’ve got ideas that make you sit up and think!”

The magnitude of impact that foster carers can provide for young people in care is far reaching and invaluable. Family relationships are a huge benefit to teens who desperately need a support network to guide them whilst they try to work out who they are and understand what’s happened to them in the past.

Liz says “You’ve got to be very open-minded when you do face a challenge. It breaks my heart inside, but you can’t show that. And you need to be non-judgemental, that’s important. You cannot judge because you haven’t experienced the situation and can’t know what it’s like. We can only imagine.”

Like all children and young people in foster care, teens just need that family or individual who can help make the difference to their life and future prospects.

Chris and Kieran enjoy seeing the young people they’ve cared for grow up, become independent and remain part of their lives as adults.“We attended the wedding of one of our foster children… the Best Man and four ushers had also been our foster children so that was quite a day! We also have two granddaughters who we see on a regular basis.”

Birth child Lauren remembers when her mum made the decision to foster young adults between the ages of 12 and 18. “Everyone wants to foster or adopt a cute baby or young child, but not enough people think about teenagers. My mum wanted to give young adults a chance to change their lives by giving them the skills and emotional support for them to make their own success. She helped them to believe in themselves and I feel proud of her for helping them to flourish into young adults who now have a chance for a better future.”

Gemma’s life was transformed when she was fostered by a Brighton family at a desperate time. Foster carers Shelley and Nicholas took her into their family home – initially for an emergency short stay – and gave her the security and care she needed.

Gemma says: “What started as a two week respite break turned into a four year foster placement. As soon as I stepped in their front door, I immediately felt this was where I was meant to be. My foster carers gave me the safe, loving home and stability I was craving. They’ve also believed in me – and that support has helped put me on a path to a future that wouldn’t have been otherwise possible. Shelley filled a void in my life, and while you can’t replace a mum, which she’s never tried to, she gave me the unconditional love and support that a mum would, and that was all I was after.The truth is, we all just need someone to care, even if it were just one person. That one person could change your life.”

Gemma encourages anyone considering fostering to give it a try. “There may be a child or young person out there who needs you, and you could save their life.”

To foster teenagers, it can help if you have some prior experience working with young people, but it is not essential as the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team will provide all the training and support you need. There are a variety of skills and qualities that are useful such as being able to listen, having a good sense of humour and being a caring, empathic person.

Teenagers are trying to find their place in the world, and they need someone to show they care. If this is you, the Brighton & Hove City Council Fostering Team would love to hear from you.

If you can help a teenager to find their place in the world and be the person they need, the Brighton & Hove Fostering Team would love to hear from you. Visit for more information or e-mail to find out about upcoming information sessions.

holiday camps

The importance of children being active and socialising throughout the school holidays

By environment, family, fun for children, Holiday camps, Playing, Sport
by Debbie Webb,
Founder of Activ8 For Kids

The school holidays can be a time for fun and relaxation, but it’s also important to keep children engaged and active during this time. School holidays are always an exciting time for children, but it can be a challenging time for parents who still need to work. This is where holiday clubs often come in, providing children with a safe, fun environment. There are a wide range of holiday clubs available depending on the interests of the children, but with the rising cost of living, parents may wonder whether the cost of the holiday clubs are worth it and whether trying to entertain them at home is a better option. So what do we want our children to be doing during the school holidays, what will help them to develop and grow as individuals and help them later in life?

As much as your child may push against routines, children actually thrive in a routine. It gives them a sense of purpose, clear expectations and a structure to their day. Routines can help their self-esteem and ensure they feel less anxious and more comfortable. Lie in’s, chilled time in front of the TV, playing computer games and having days out are all great and bring a range of benefits, but it is also important to build in time to be active and have opportunities to socialise with others regularly.

Current recommendations from the government are for children to take part in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day. This means their heart rate should increase, they should be out of breath and feel hot after the activity. Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health, strengthening muscles and bones, enhancing motor skills and can prevent obesity and related health problems. Ensuring your child is active every day and recognises the benefits it brings (both physically and mentally), can cultivate a lifelong habit of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. As well as keeping them healthy, being active brings so many more benefits:
• Allows children to burn off excess energy; remember school is very tiring and during the holidays they need alternative ways to channel that energy.
• Boosts confidence and promotes social skills.
• Develops and improves their fundamental movement skills of balance, co-ordination and agility.
• Improves mental wellbeing and makes them feel good about themselves. Exercise can improve their mood, enable them to experience a sense of accomplishment and can also stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.
• Contributes to better sleep.
• Increases self-esteem and helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Physical activity stimulates brain function and enhances cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that active children perform better academically and have improved attention spans. During school holidays, engaging in physical activities like sports, outdoor games or even activities that involve problem solving and critical thinking can contribute to their cognitive development.
• Engaging in different activities and exploring new places fosters creativity, stimulates imagination and curiosity and problem solving skills.

Children who get to be active everyday alongside other children will also benefit in the following ways:
• Develop new skills.
• Develop team work and leadership skills.
• Make new friends.
• Develop independence.
• Develop their social interaction skills.
• Learn how to transfer skills across activities.

Socialising with others during school holidays is crucial for children’s social development. It provides opportunities for them to practice communication, co-operation, teamwork and conflict resolution. Participating in group activities and interacting with others helps children build friendships, develop empathy and understand diverse perspectives.

Overall, children being active and socialising during school holidays is essential for their physical health, mental wellbeing, cognitive development, social skills and creativity. Parents, carers and communities should provide opportunities and support for children to engage in a variety of activities that promote physical activity.

Debbie Webb is a qualified teacher and sports coach. She runs Activ8 For Kids and has developed programmes of activity for the different ages and stages between two and sixteen years old based on the fundamental movement skills. Visit for more information.

claim holiday camp money

FREE holiday clubs for eligible children: What is HAF and how can it help me?

By Childcare and Nannying, Education, environment, family, Finance, Holiday camps

Since 2021 the government has funded a programme called HAF (Holiday, Activities and Food programme) across all areas of the country.

Research has shown that the school holidays can be pressure points for some families. For some children this can lead to a holiday experience gap, with some children being:
• Less likely to access organised holiday activities.
• More likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health.
• More likely to experience social isolation.

In response to this research there are now a large number of holiday club providers who are offering HAF places to eligible children (from reception to year 11).

The aims of the programme are to ensure children:
• Eat healthily over the school holidays.
• Are active during the school holidays.
• Take part in engaging and enriching activities which support the development of resilience, character and wellbeing.
• Be safe and not to be socially isolated.
• Have a greater knowledge of health and nutrition.

Currently a very low percentage of those eligible are actually using their free places. It is really important to raise the profile of this programme across all areas to ensure it reaches as many children and families as possible. The benefits and opportunities this programme offers are huge, however many families are put off because they do not realise they are eligible or because they don’t understand what it means.

For any parent or carer who receives any financial support for their children it is worth exploring this further. There are a wide range of clubs that offer HAF spaces and we need to make sure these places are filled to ensure the continued funding of the programme. Whenever you see HAF activities being advertised please help spread the word and let’s get this great programme out to as many families as possible.

For further information please visit

The Star Pub, Whitley

Cheers to The Star

By family, Food & Eating, parties

The Star in Witley, Surrey is an ideal pub for meeting friends and family, for a get-together in their picturesque, expansive south-facing garden over good, fresh and ‘interesting’ food. Set in central Surrey, on the Petworth Road, The Star is easy to get to and easy to park, so it is great for all the family.

When we visited, they had their GOAT pop-up in collaboration with Cabrito Goat Meat, set-up in the garden which is serving up delicious, sustainable goat dishes all summer long.

We all tried goat for the first time, so you could say The Star is great for a ‘goat’ together as well! We couldn’t say ‘kids’ without cracking up, but it didn’t stop everyone wolfing down the delicious goat burgers and taco’s!

When we visited, the garden was bathed in sunshine throughout the afternoon and with well-placed bench tables and umbrellas as well as the surrounding trees, there was plenty of shade and seating for everyone. Alternatively, the bar and restaurant area indoors offers a cooler option to the garden glare, and inside this gorgeous 17th century dwelling, a more traditional cuisine is available from their award-winning chefs. We stuck to goat that afternoon, but I urge you to visit The Star where their exquisite, locally sourced offerings such as cheese and truffle arancini, kiln smoked Caesar salad or slow cooked venison ragu pappardelle, as well as a variety of tantalizing vegetarian options may well win you over.

Outside, the busy pop-up barbecue kitchen and bar made service swift and easy and the beer, wine and cocktail selection was well considered to match the fascinating and delicious goat cuisine. Who can resist a refreshing Rosé piscine or a chilled local IPA to refresh on a lovely sunny day out?

Very child-friendly, the fenced garden allowed the family to relax, have fun and indulge themselves, and so we unhesitatingly recommend The Star, Whitley to everyone – whether it’s for a family luncheon, a birthday party or a special night out.

Visit: The Star, Witley, GU8 5LU


Telephone: 01483 355 046

fussy child

How to tackle food fussiness

By Education, family, Food & Eating
by Dr Lucy Cooke, research psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour and expert advisor on the non-profit children’s online game Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating

Getting children to eat healthily is, for many families, a daily struggle. Parents can end up cooking the same meals over and over again because their children won’t try anything new. Any attempt to serve an unfamiliar food may be met with a flat refusal and mealtimes can become a battle of wills which is stressful for everyone.

Many parents believe that everyone else’s children are eating five fruit and vegetables a day, but research tells us otherwise. In fact, less than 20% of young children meet these guidelines. Fussy or picky eating is incredibly common among young children, especially with regard to new or unfamiliar foods, and fruits and vegetables are the most likely to be rejected. Familiarity is a key driver of food intake, so the key is to make the foods we want children to eat more familiar.

One of the challenges here is that the increased consumption of ultra-processed and processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt, has altered our interactions with food. As a result, some children may not even recognise ‘every day’ fruit and vegetables in their natural state.

Implementing sustainable changes can make an enormous difference to children and their families, but in practice it’s very difficult to get children to eat five fruit and vegetables a day. However, parents play a key role in increasing their child’s knowledge, awareness, and willingness to try new foods, and there are many easy-to-implement techniques and strategies that can help.

Engage your child in food preparation activities – from helping picking vegetables at the supermarket, and choosing which ones to have for dinner, to weighing, peeling, and even serving.

Eat meals together with your child whenever possible because the more a child sees parents eat and enjoy fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to follow suit. However, avoid showing it if you don’t like fruit and vegetables as this dislike can be contagious! Try to instil calm at meal times and avoid developing a sense of expectation as that creates a stressful environment for everyone involved.

Focus on the delicious taste of fruits and vegetables rather than their healthiness. To a child, healthy food often means ‘yucky’ food so telling your child how much you enjoy fruit and vegetables is more important than saying they need it to grow fit and strong.

Persevere in the face of refusal. Offer only very small quantities of new foods at first and repeat daily for up to 10 days. Research shows this can change dislike to like.

A multi-sensory approach
If a child eats a limited range of foods and won’t even try the smallest amount of new foods, using a sensory approach to exploring foods can help lay the foundations for children to develop a better, healthier relationship with food.

Essentially, get more creative and fun with food, turn it into a game, and take it beyond the dinner table. Using all five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste is an effective way to make new food less intimidating and more familiar. Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about eating but experiencing each one in different ways, such as:
• Look at different varieties of tomatoes and get your child to talk about the different colours, patterns, or shapes, and the difference in appearance between the inside and outside.
• Listen to the distinctive sounds created when preparing carrots using several methods such as grating, chopping, or simply biting and chewing a raw carrot.
• Touch a fruit such as an orange and feel the contrasting textures between the bumpy rind, the spongy pith, and the juicy fruit itself.
• Smell something with a strong odour such as a lemon and compare with something with little or no smell like a potato. Ask your child to describe the different smells.
• Taste a small selection of green fruit and vegetables, for instance, grapes, kiwis, cucumber, or broccoli. Cut into very small pieces and talk about whether they are sweet, or bitter, and which taste they prefer and why.

There are many such activities that parents and children can undertake together outside of meal times. For free resources try the charity TastEd ( which has a range of activities and videos for parents around how to use the five senses to explore food, while non-profit Teach Your Monster ( has a free online game, Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating, which encourages children to explore food in a fun, exciting way.

Children can discover and experiment with food using all five senses, and importantly, this approach can be tailored for children of all abilities and ages. Multi-sensory interaction with food is a good way to start to tackle food fussiness, awakening curiosity, and excitement around food, and helping to inspire a generation of adventurous eaters.

Dr Lucy Cooke, psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour and expert advisor to Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating, (www.teachyourmonster,org) and to TastEd (