Join us for a Gingerbread Frosting Party!

Bringing the community spirit with Help and Heal. Mums in Beirut is proud to be supporting Help and Heal in their christmas initiative next week taking place at Sursock Palace and Bristol Hotel in December 2017.

Join us for a  Gingerbread Frosting Party!

At Sursock Palace on November 22nd, 25 and 26 from 9am to 5pm
Bristol Hotel on December 1,2,3 from 11am to 9pm
Please register online at:

About Help and Heal

Help and Heal is a non-profit charity founded in 2001 that operates under the umbrella of the Bon Pasteur. lts motto is children helping Children as it is committed to improving the lives of the under-privileged Lebanese children of all confessions with the help of privileged Lebanese children, whose life in turn is enriched by the act of reaching out and giving.

  • Help and Heal provides Educational support

Through full tuition to a number of students in need.  A center where kids can come and get help with their homework. . A library that has been offered and inventoried by young volunteers, and that is added to every year.

  • Help and Heal provides Recreational opportunities

A recreational facility where children meet on Saturdays. . A full-board summer camp that has included in the past, meals at McDonald’s fun tlme at Waves and a magical day at the circus. . At Christmas, we make sure that our center is one of the stops on Santa’s world tour.

  • Help and Heal provides Health facilities

Help and Heal supports Bon Pasteur in accomplishing its mission to provide health facilities and medication  to families in need. A fully equipped dispensary is staffed by volunteers  doctors of  various specialities including a GP, a dentist and a gynaecologist.

Your contribution is appreciated this festive season.

Message from Help and Heal:

Being children, they all deserve to be happy. Part of the funds are destined to provide them with a full board summer camp, a fun day at Waves, movies and any entertainment suitable for kids. And, of course, we have to make sure that Santa does not forget them this year because every child deserves his Christmas gifts.

We know that there are many charities, all of which are in need of help. But we monitor the work of the Sisters of Bon Pasteur and we are truly impressed with the results they can show for with so little. Poverty is probably the strongest common denominator in Lebanon, and the Sisters make sure that every child under their care is treated the same.

But considering the high prices of goods and services, the money needed to help Sisters of Bon Pasteur do their daily miracles is not easy to attain. Help and Heal is doing their yearly fundraising activities. Other than offering the products of their bazar, they will offer a fun activity which is the joy of children, small and big: the decoration of a gingerbread house.

They hope to repeat this year the success they had in the previous one and be able to give to the children of the Sisters of Bon Pasteur a very Merry Christmas and a constructive and happy 2018“.



For more information visit their website, and follow them on Facebook and Instagram @helpandheallebanon



The latest trends on Recycling

For those who follow @Mums in Beirut on social media would realise the importance recycling has to our daily life and routine. Our hashtag #saynotoplastic says it all. As its National Recylcing Week, we want to share this article with you.

Recycling plays an important role in the life of a Mother. It is the setting stone in showing our kids and the new generation the importance it is for our community and the environment we live in. 

Why recycle?

Recycling is an important factor in conserving natural resources and greatly contributes towards saving the environment. We must all recycle to keep Beirut Beautiful.

Recycling in your Home

Recycling can be done in 3 easy steps by remembering the 3 Rs: Recycle, Re-use and Reduce.

RECYLE becomes a habit when you know how and what you can and cannot recycle. You can even get your kids involved too! Many materials can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, metal and glass. These need to be sorted in bins which then your municipality can use for recycling purposes. With kids at home, batteries can also be recycled, check out which centres provide this on the information sheet below.

REUSE and reduce, when shopping at the supermarket make sure you bring along a reusable grocery bags. In Europe, it seems like more and more supermarkets have discontinued plastic bags, and switched to paper-only shopping bags. They have also set up discount incentives for customers to bring their own reusable bag. That’s because they have finally discovered the inconvenient truth about plastic bags: They’re rarely recycled. They’re made from petroleum oil and they’re an enormous harm to our environment. Applaud yourself if you are already doing this as a Mum and for being environmentally aware. But if you’re still using plastic bags at the check out, read the facts below and consider making the switch. Our world deserves to be treated better.

Picture from @mumsinbeirut Instagram

Picture from @mumsinbeirut Instagram

REDUCE. Plastic bags take anywhere from 15 to 1000 years to decompose.

Most of plastic bags end up in landfills, the ocean, or some other place in the environment.  We clearly see a lot of  this on our streets, and in our sea. It’s estimated that 1 million birds and thousands of turtles and other sea animals die each year after ingesting discarded plastic bags, this is without mentioning  that some of the residual plastic particles end up in our food chain. When shopping at the supermarket, buy products that can be recycled easily such as glass jars and tin cans. Buy products that have been made from recycled material.

You can tell if a product is eco-friendly by looking at the label on the packaging.

Most Spinneys supermarkets have recyclable machine for plastic water bottles and we get the kids involved in recycling all the plastic bottles we have at home. For very 40 bottles you recycle either big or small, you receive a 2L Nestle water bottle so there is a reward for them at the end.

Recycling in your community

Following the waste “mis-management” crisis, please see the information gathered by the  Lebtivity team with a list of all recycling centres and hubs in Lebanon.  This is comprehensive list that you can share with your neighbours, friends, contacts, company, or municipality. Also check out what initiatives your schools have put in place for recycling as well as the business you work for.

Every effort you make will make a difference to our daily life and for the safe and healthy upbringing of our children. We should all ‘Love the streets you live in’.

We have seen a few recycling bins around Beirut, which is a great improvement but we still need more of them around. We also need to educate our Lebanese people not to litter and recycle part of every day life. It is important to bring awareness to our community and for keeping Beirut Beautiful for us and for the new generation.

We would love you to share your thoughts with us. Make sure you follow ‘Mums in Beirut’ on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @mumsinbeirut and tag us using #mumsinbeirut to share your Beautiful Beirut pictures with us!

Strengthening the Child Protection Network

With the increased allocation of resources in recent years, the child protection sector in Lebanon has been able to steadily increase the coverage and availability of its services.

Every one of us can be part of the Child Protection Network, want to know how and what role can you play in fighting child abuse and protecting childhood?


Although civil societies are important, the protection of children from violence and danger can never become a reality with complete reliance on individual organizations. Rather, ensuring the comprehensive protection of children is the responsibility of whole communities requiring collaboration between multiple parties including parents, professionals, organizations and government. In this sense, protecting children is a responsibility of society as a whole.

While the child protection network shows promising growth, multiple challenges remain. The aim of this year’s symposium is to highlight existing and emerging challenges hindering the comprehensive protection of children in Lebanon.

Each panel, outlined below, will bring together different stakeholders in the child protection network to identify difficulties and suggest context-specific solutions to common issues faced in the field.

Himaya Lebanon are organising their Annual Symposium on October 20 and 21 at the Faculty of medicine in USJ. You are invited to take part in discussions and workshops to identify your role in protecting kids from all kinds of abuse. FREE admission and you can even bring your kids along.

Mums in Beirut will be speaking on Friday the 20th October alongside other speakers in the panel. Please find below full program.


8h30-9h: Reception and registration

9h-9h30: Opening message and introduction of the day

9h30-1045h: Residential and alternative care systems in Lebanon

In Lebanon, as per law 422, the Juvenile judge can choose to protect at-risk children by placing them in a residential center. However, these centers don’t always manage to respond effectively to the physical and psychological needs of children. Current trends show an evolution towards promoting alternative care systems such as kinship or foster care. While there are entry points in law 422 that could allow for the implementation of alternative care systems, there are many bottlenecks as well, often related to religious beliefs and culture in Lebanon. How can we find suitable alternative care modalities that are adapted to the Lebanese context ?

● Judicial framework of child protection – challenges with measures for protection and possible alternatives
● Residential care in Lebanon
● Alternative care systems in Lebanon
● From alternative care to the importance of prevention: the “Isibindi” model

10h45-11h15: Coffee break

11h15-12h30: Children, institutions and sexuality

There is a culture of silence surrounding sexuality in Lebanon creating obstacles for the detection and prevention of child sexual abuse. Sexuality is rarely discussed with young people as it is most often considered taboo in their families, religious and educational institutions. This leads to young people having little information and guidance on healthy and acceptable sexual relationships. Ideally, sexuall education should be made available to equip young people with the skills, knowledge and values to make responsible choices about their sexual and social relationships. Also, community members in contact with children such as parents, teachers and other institutions should be able to discuss sexuality as a whole, including sexual violence, and offer guidance on how to protect oneself. The aim of this panel is to work towards facilitating the discussion around sexuality and highlighting its need for young people.

● The role of religious organisations and institutions in child protection
● The question of sexual education in Lebanon
● Integrating a sexual education program in schools

12h30-13h30: Lunch break

13h30-14h45: Emerging issues in child protection

As society and technology evolve, professionals in the child protection sector are facing new and re-emerging challenges that require more specialized interventions. One of these issues is that of children with special needs, a particularly vulnerable population that isn’t always receiving enough attention and support. On another hand, with the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, children have unrestricted access to content of all kinds. This creates new opportunities, but also exposes children to potential dangers such as cyberbulling and cybercrime that are on the rise. Finally, while child exploitation is not a new issue, the influx of refugees and the precariousness of their living situation, has lead to a significant increase in exploitation rates. Keeping in mind the particularities of our context and culture, how can we develop adapted and effective strategies for these different issues?

● Child protection and children with special needs
● Protection challenges for unaccompanied and separated children
● Cyberbullying and cybercrimes: role of the cybercrime unit

14h45-15h: Break

15h00-16h15: Towards a “resilient” child protection network

The child protection sector is a network of institutions and organizations working with the common goal of promoting the wellbeing and safety of children. In order to ensure long term protection for children, the sector should strive to be not only sustainable but also resilient. This means that implementation strategies should be adaptable to overcome context-specific challenges. One way to reach this goal is to link with other sectors that also work for the wellbeing of children such as the health sector. Buy-in from society as a whole regarding the issue of child protection must also be an objective for those involved. All the while, we should not forget that at the center of all these efforts are the children themselves. They are not only beneficiaries of our services but should be made active participants in their own protection.

● Implementing a Child Protection Policy for healthcare institutions in Lebanon
● Involving citizens in Child Protection
● Child agency: Children’s active participation in protection efforts

16h15-17h: Conclusion


9h-9h30: Registration
9h30-11h15: First series of workshops
1. Residential centers in Lebanon : towards best practices
This workshop will unite stakeholders in an open discussion around the subject of residential centers in Lebanon. The panel will discuss local challenges, best practices and recommendations.

2. Parental guidance and sexual education
Parents often have difficulty communicating with their children about matters related to sexuality. Nevertheless, positive communication between parents and children greatly helps young people to establish individual values and to make healthy decisions. How should parents discuss sex and sexuality with their children?

3. The Isibindi model: a community based intervention
The National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW) developed the Isibindi program in response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic in South Africa. The word ‘Isibindi’ is isiZulu for ‘courage’. The program is a community-based intervention that provides prevention and early intervention care for children in poor communities where few services previously were available. This workshop will address how this model can be adapted in Lebanon,

11h15-11h30: Break

11h30-13h: Second series of workshops
1. Towards developing alternative care systems in Lebanon
In this workshop, a situation analysis of the Lebanese context regarding alternative care measures will be presented focusing on its specificities. International standards and their adaptation to the local context will be discussed.

2. Exploring the perception of sexuality and sex education in Lebanon
This workshop will address the question of sexual education in Lebanon taking into consideration societal taboos and religious dogma. Through an interactive exchange with the public, positives and negatives of each position will be explored to determine what is in the best interest of children.

3. Discrimination and emotional lives of displaced youth

The aim of this workshop is to take a fuller measure of the emotions and challenges associated with experiences of discrimination. The presenters will draw on sociological insights, recent academic debates and their current research in Beirut to offer ways for exploring how displaced youth experience discrimination, racialized bullying and micro-aggressions, both in schools and in their daily lives. The findings and methods discussed will offer new ideas or tools that workshop participants might find useful when engaging with displaced youth, organizations or policymakers.

13h-14h: Lunch

14h-15h30: Third series of workshops

1. The role of religious institutions: Dialogue with religious figures about child protection
This workshop will bring together religious leaders from various confessions to discuss openly and publicly the roles and responsibilities of religious organisations and institutions in child protection.

2. Children with special needs : policy and interventions
Children with special needs are often at greater risk of abuse, neglect or exploitation than other children. Child protection systems should focus on the inclusion of this group of children, and their caregivers as well as address social attitudes and perceptions. Efforts should be done at both the prevention and intervention levels. How can we develop intervention strategies and policies that are adapted to children with special needs?
3. Cybercrime unit: how to protect children online
In this workshop, the ISF’s Cybercrime unit will give recommendations and guidelines on how to protect children from cybercrimes, and will illustrate their intervention through case studies

15h-16h: Closing

Phone: 79 – 30 10 52 OR 76 – 45 19 47

Kiddle, a safe visual search engine for kids

Kiddle is a visual search engine for kids powered by Google, offering safe kids web, image, and video search. Last week we posted an article on internet safety tips.

When our children use the Internet to search for images for projects or anything related to school work, please encourage them to use Kiddle instead of Google.

Kiddle is a child-specific researcher supported by Google, which prevents the appearance of things that are not suitable for them.

Make Kiddle part of your default page on your laptop or PC.

Here is some more information about Kiddle.

1) Safe search: sites appearing in Kiddle search results satisfy family friendly requirements, as we filter sites with explicit or deceptive content. Please read more on kids safe search on Kiddle here.

2) Kids-oriented results: the boxes below illustrate how Kiddle returns results for each query (in the order shown):

Safe sites and pages written specifically for kids. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors.
Typically, results 1-3.
Safe, trusted sites that are not written specifically for kids, but have content written in a simple way, easy for kids to understand. Handpicked and checked by Kiddle editors.
Typically, results 4-7.
Safe, famous sites that are written for adults, providing expert content, but are harder for kids to understand. Filtered by Google safe search.
Typically, results 8 onwards.

3) Big thumbnails: most Kiddle search results are illustrated with big thumbnails, which makes it easier to scan the results, differentiate between them, and click the most appropriate results to your query. Thumbnails serve as visual clues and are especially beneficial to kids as they don’t read as fast as adults.

4) Large Arial font in Kiddle search results provides better readability for kids.

 5) Privacy: we don’t collect any personally identifiable information, and our logs are deleted every 24 hours. Please read our full privacy statement here.

Why does Kiddle use a .co instead of a .com domain?: In Kiddle’s case “co” stands for “children only” – our focus and vision for Kiddle.

 Kiddle is powered by Google Safe Search but is not affiliated with Google Inc.


Internet safety tips for parents and educators



How can we help our kids have a healthy start to the school year?

Today’s contributing article is by a member of  our community, Maya Aboukhater, who is a mother of 2 and a registered dietitian with special interest in mothers and children, diabetes and weight management based in London, UK. She explains the importance of good nutrition and active lifestyle in order to have a healthy start to the new school year. She currently works in two private UK hospitals and sees private patients as well. .

As a working mother in London she discusses:

  1. How can we keep our kids stay active while we are keen to help them have a successful year at school?
  2. The vitamins and minerals we or our kids tend to be deficient in especially during the winter months.
  3. How we can assess whether we or our kids are deficient?
  4. Where can we find the vitamins and minerals from?


How can we keep our kids active while we are keen to help them have a successful year at school?

With all the pressure of school and homework, it is very important for kids to keep active once back to school. Research suggests a strong link between movement, learning and attention. Toddlers and pre-schoolers should be doing at least 3 hours of physical activity through the day. This may include going to the park, running, jumping, climbing or visiting a soft area.  Kids by the age of five should have at least 60 (or more) minutes of physical activity each day and exercises for strengthening muscles 3 times per week. Keeping kids active can be achieved by walking to and from school and as much as possible. Strengthening exercises can include swimming, football or tennis. Screen time should be limited to spend 1-2 hours maximum.


The vitamins and minerals we/our kids tend to be deficient in especially during the winter months.

A vitamin is something that helps our body function – a ‘nutrient’ – that we cannot make in our body. In order to assess whether we are deficient in vitamins or minerals during the winter months, it is important to check whether you have an acute or chronic illness, injury or surgery as this can have considerable impact on your nutritional status. This can be directly the result of the injury or indirectly because of the effects of your food intake. It might be also worth checking whether the medication you maybe taking can affect your nutrient intake and absorption. There are other factors that also affect your nutritional status including age, gender, weight, height, waist circumference and ethnicity. In addition, environment, shopping habits and cooking facilities plays an important role. Examples of increased nutrient losses include vomiting, diarrhoea or bleeding. Difficulties in self feeding, chewing or maintaining food in the mouth also increase nutrient losses.

Examples of physical signs of nutritional problems:

If your hair is thin, sparse, or colour has changed, your body may be deficient in protein, energy, zinc and copper.

If your skin is dry, flaky or bruising, your body may be deficient in essential fatty acids, B vitamins, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

If your eyes are pale, your body may be deficient in iron and Vitamin A.

If your tongue colour changes, your body may be deficient in B Vitamins.

If the enamel of your teeth is molting, you may be having an excess of Fluoride.

If your gums are spongy or bleeds easily, your body may be deficient in Vitamin C.

If your thyroid is enlarged, your body may be deficient in Iodine.

If your nails have spoon shape, your body may be deficient in iron, zinc and copper.

If your muscles are wasted, your body may be deficient in protein, energy and zinc.

If you can see the beading of your ribs, your body may be deficient in Vitamin D.

How do you assess whether you are eating the right food for you?

Dietitians usually consider food and fluid intake during the last 24 hour. We discuss your usual meal pattern and food choice with your overall dietary balance. The duration and the severity of any change in appetite and oral intake are considered.  People mostly underestimate the impact of social conditions, isolation, lack of knowledge of the carer of the child, alcoholism, financial difficulties, bereavement especially if your partner used to organise meals.

Are you still not sure whether you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals?

Asking your doctor to have a blood test provides you with objective results. This can help determine the status of specific nutrients in your body. This can include Vitamin B12 if you are vegetarian or iron deficient or if you suffer from heavy bleeding especially for women. As with adults, assessing the nutritional status of infant, child or adolescent is vital  prior to developing an appropriate nutritional care plan. Children have changing needs as they grow and develop. Other factors to consider depending on the age of the children are: feeding behaviours, growth evaluation, family viewpoint regarding nutrition, feeding habits and mothers’ nutritional status when breastfeeding. It is very important to check whether your child is at risk of malnutrition as this not only affect their growth but also their immune function to fight diseases.

Where can we find the vitamins and minerals from?

One vitamin that we tend to be deficient in especially in winter is Vitamin D. According to the British Dietetic Association, ‘vitamin D’ is sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight during the spring and summer.

During October to March, most people get vitamin D deficient. At other times of the year, it is recommended to eat foods that contain vitamin D, such as:

          most margarines

        fortified brands of soya milks, yogurts and desserts – check the label

        fortified breakfast cereals – check the label

          dried skimmed milk

          fortified yoghurts


Additional supplements are recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children under five-years-old, people aged over 65 years and people who are not exposed to much sun subject to doctor or a health professional advice.  The Department of Health recommends that all children aged six month to five years are given vitamin supplements containing A,C and D every day. If mothers are breastfeeding, babies should get daily Vitamin D from birth. If your child is drinking more than 500ml of infant formula, vitamin supplements should not be given because the formula is fortified.

Another vitamin that is important especially if you are vegan is Vitamin B12. Eggs and dairy foods contain Vitamin B12. Vegans should include fortified foods containing Vitamin B12 (check the label):

          yeast extract

        soya milk, yoghurts and desserts

        breakfast cereals

        certain brands of rice drinks and oat drinks.

A mineral that our body tends to be deficient in especially for women is iron. Red meat is the most easily absorbed source of iron, but various plant foods also contribute:

        fortified breakfast cereals

        dried fruit


        leafy green vegetables

        sesame seeds


        wholemeal bread

In order to help your body absorb iron from plant foods, you can include a source of vitamin C with your meal (e.g. vegetables, fruit or a glass of fruit juice).

Calcium is another important mineral that is important to grow and stay healthy especially around menopause for women.

Dairy foods are rich in calcium. If you’re not eating these, include plenty of the following:


        calcium-fortified foods e.g. soya milk, yoghurts and puddings; rice/oat drinks; and fruit juice

        green leafy vegetables, especially kale and pakchoi, but not spinach. Although spinach contains calcium it is bound to a compound called oxalate. This greatly reduces it absorption making it a poor source of unusable calcium.

        brown/white bread

        sesame seeds/ tahini


        dried fruit e.g. apricots and figs.

if you eat a lot of wholegrains and beans, this can reduce your zinc absorption. Eat fermented soya such as tempeh and miso; beans (soak dried beans then rinse before cooking to increase zinc absorption); wholegrains; nuts; seeds and some fortified breakfast cereals. If you don’t eat meat or fish, you can include some nuts into your diet, especially Brazil nuts which include selenium.

Iodine is another important mineral that help your body make thyroid hormones. Good sources of iodine includes sea fish or shellfish. If you’re a vegan include small amounts of iodised salt or sea vegetables for your iodine. Extra care is needed during pregnancy, breastfeeding, weaning and in childhood to make sure that all nutritional needs are met.

Most people get all the nutrients they need by having a varied and balanced diet, although some few people may need to add extra supplements. Be wary of fad or detox diets as there is no magic solution to losing weight very quickly. Very restrictive diets can potentially lead to long term deficiencies. If you are not sure if you/your child are meeting your nutritional requirements, I suggest speaking to a dietitian.

Why having a Mums only holiday is good for you

Being Mum is one of the hardest yet most rewarding jobs in the world yet so little time is devoted to actually exploring what we need to achieve the potential for ourselves and our little ones.

This Summer Mums in Beirut visited Greece. This trip was different, it was a mums only holiday.  As mothers we are skilled at multi- tasking, but we are especially skilled at putting ourselves last. We prioritise our kids’ and familie’s needs ahead of our own, and we constantly look out for others, neglecting to replenish ourselves. We too often forget to fit our own oxygen masks. This holiday came on time, as I was also celebrating my birthday with my friends who are also mothers themselves. It seemed like the perfect birthday gift to me. None of this would have happened without the support of my husband, mother and sister. Having a support network around you helps, so you can take time for yourself.

Our number one rule was to stay offline as much as possible, and to enjoy the moment. It was a trip to connect and unwind.


Here are our top reasons why mums should take a mums only holiday

  1. You get to reconnect, reset and repair. Our lives are overcrowded and overscheduled and this means there is very little time for yourself.  Motherhood is 24/7, demanding and you are always on the go. This is your time, to take care of you.
  2. You learn  to reflect and  reconnect with yourself, set priorities on important things in your life and reassess on things that are going wrong. In our modern, fast-paced world, our mind is a busy one with so many tabs open at the same time, with no switch off button. Being on holiday offers that quiet space for reflection and self-exploration, something that is hard to do in your daily mummy routine.
  3. You get to loosen up and be the real you and get to let some steam out by just having fun and doing the things you enjoy most.
  4. Being around other like minded Mums especially if they are close friend, helps you to have more fun and most importantly in being you! Enjoying yourself, laughing and talking about anything you like (this was sometimes the kids and sometimes deeper conversation) is a fantastic feeling.
  5. Do not feel any kind of guilt, even if the society and the community around you does. It is very important for a mothers to look after herself, her wellness and her wellbeing. It is not selfish, it is a necessity.
  6. You get to sleep! No need to elaborate on this point in peace and quiet.
  7. You take leave from your parenting role. This means while on the Mums only holiday I did not, clean, cook, bribe, or brake up fights, clean dirty noses or wipe any bottoms. The only thing I enjoyed doing was capturing every moment.
  8.  You get to rediscover a new or lost hobby or sport.
  9. You get to create happy memories for yourself, and that is a wonderful thing to invest in.
  10. And last but not least, and maybe I have mentioned this before, you get to be you. Not mummy you, or wifey you, but the person that is really you!

Getting away on a mums only holiday, does wonders for you, your sanity, your equilibrium and your family. Because of course you miss your offspring – and coming home to them is always something to look forward to. I was re-energised and ready for back to school routine and chaos. One thing to remember, there is no such thing as a perfect mother, we are all doing out best. You should live to your own expectations and no one else’s


Have you ever gone away on your own since becoming a mum? Do you make time for yourself?

How to Prepare Yourself (and your child) for their New School!

Shiny new shoes.

How to Prepare Yourself (and your child) for their New School by Sue Atkins. UK Parenting Expert.

From the moment, you play peek-a-boo with your baby, you are preparing them for the process of moving away from you and learning about independence. Separation can be a difficult emotion not only for you as a parent but also for your child. As your child matures and gains in confidence, they grow into independent beings and it is important that you prepare them to fly the nest one day.

Even in ordinary situations, some children experience some form of worry, apprehension, fear, anxiety or distress. Feeling nervous and anxious occasionally is completely natural for a child when they are faced with an unfamiliar or new situation. From toddler to teens, life is full of challenges and sometimes a natural reaction is for your child to retreat from the situation and to look to you for more reassurance.

During infancy, a baby clings to you when a stranger approaches; in early childhood children often fear new and unfamiliar situations; and as children grow and develop they worry about social acceptance, school performance or finding a group that they can fit into.

These are all normal reactions to life, but what if your child suddenly starts to get headaches, tummy aches or has nightmares about going to school?

School is a place away from home where your child will have some of their greatest successes, challenges, failures and embarrassments. It is at school that your child learns about how the world works and meets and interacts with people from outside your family, perhaps for the first time.

School is a place beyond your control so of course it can appear stressful and unfamiliar to your child regardless of their age.

It is also where children learn about themselves: their strengths, weaknesses, interests and how they relate to others socially. Children learn to perform in a way they never have to at home and they learn that they are unique, different and separate from you. So, school can appear fun and exciting but also rather daunting and stressful. There are new expectations placed on them whether it is starting school for the very first time or starting secondary school.

Starting school can be an exciting new adventure or a terrifying nerve-racking, nail-biting experience. This may depend on a number of factors.

A child who has attended a playgroup, or a mother and toddler group may feel more at ease with the new situation as they are used to and more comfortable with, the daily ritual of separation. I remember my son Will walking up the path to his nursery on the first day and striding in confidently to play with the jigsaws. It was me who had to fight back the tears and the strange feeling of rejection, as he didn’t seem that bothered to see me go!!! (But we had been going to the Mother and Toddler afternoons throughout the summer to get him used to the BIG DAY!!)

It can also depend on your child’s character, their ability to handle change or whether their friends are going to be joining them.

I really believe your attitude is of vital importance to this “Big Day” moment. If you appear nervous, anxious, worried, over-protective or guilty your child notices your tension and will react to it with anxiety, reluctance and hesitancy.

So, prepare yourself for the “Big Day” by being interested, supportive, and encouraging

Here are some positive parenting pointers.

Talk to your child about what to expect – the activities (if it is nursery or reception – the snacks, milk-time, story time or quiet time, the routines, the toys and the noise of other children) if it is starting Secondary school, the anxiety of finding their way around the maze of a larger building, the new homework expectations, the new friend issues, the new timetable or the new route home on the bus.

Take your child to the nursery, school, or secondary school to get the feel of the place and to get used to the lay out or the journey. With younger children, the place where they go to the toilet or hang their coat is of great importance to them and can really help them relax during their early days in a new environment.

Let your younger child know that it’s perfectly normal to feel nervous and worried about being away from you for a little while and get them to think of a familiar object or toy they could bring in with them for a short while until they get used to the changes.

I remember when I first taught in Reception a Mum taking her daughter’s hand and kissing the back of it and saying “Now you have my kiss so pop it into your pocket and when you miss me you can take it out again and give yourself a kiss from Mummy all over again” I saw her doing that only twice over by the sandpit during the morning!!

Think of some of your own personal ideas to diminish your child’s anxiety.

Find a “buddy” or special friend who your child could go in with or pal around with during the new experience. I remember the Mums at my children’s school got together in the summer holidays in one their gardens to have a BBQ where the kids chatted, played and got used to being with each other. It was in a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere where it was safe and familiar so it was a really positive and fun experience for everyone. It helped the transition into the school environment later that month.

Make the school ritual relaxed by laying out the school clothes or making the sandwiches the night before and getting your child involved in helping with the process. It helps take away some of the anxiety and is an opportunity for listening and chatting through little or big niggles

 What to do if your child has difficulties

Stay for a little while for the first day or two but always talk to your child’s teacher first about this, as some Reception teachers don’t always like this idea. As your child feels more comfortable, make your stay shorter and shorter and then just stay long enough to say goodbye properly.

I found children’s tears dried up within minutes once they got stuck into the Playdoh or toy cars while poor old Mum or Dad went home or to work feeling awful all day when really their child forgot all about feeling blue very quickly.

Be firm about attending school and don’t “give in” to staying at home. That sends the wrong message and really is making a rod for your own back!

Always come back on time so your child can feel secure and safe knowing you are waiting for them with a smile and a lovely greeting. With older children, don’t always bombard them with questions like “Well, how was it?” Let them relax and talk about it in their own time and just greet them with a smile and an “It’s good to see you”.

Always reassure and be accepting of your child’s worries and concerns. Always acknowledge your child’s feelings as it shows respect to their genuine emotions and it gives you an opportunity to help them learn to cope with new experiences positively.

Always stay positive and try to relax even if your child reverts to thumb sucking, clinginess, and bedwetting or having nightmares. These behaviours are usually only temporary setbacks and remember that you are creating a blueprint for how your child handles change throughout their lives.

Encourage your older child to ask for help if they get lost, or don’t understand their homework – encourage them to realise everyone is in the same boat and is only too keen to help.

Encourage your child to see Secondary School as a “Human Zoo” and not necessarily as a “Wild Jungle” – a place with lots of interesting animals and where the zookeepers are there to help them – not just to contain them!!!!

I hope you and your child grow, change and laugh together through the exciting but sometimes scary time of starting school and with your patience, understanding and love you find it a rewarding and positive experience for both of you.

About Sue Atkins 

Sue Atkins is an internationally recognised Parenting Expert, Broadcaster, Speaker and Author of the Amazon best-selling books “Parenting Made Easy – How to Raise Happy Children” & “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the famous black and yellow series as well as author of the highly-acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs, Apps and resources. She has just launched her new ‘Can Do Kid’ Journal to give children the gift of self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as ‘The Divorce Journal for Children.’

Sue produces ‘The Sue Atkins Parenting Show’ a weekly podcast which is bursting with Sue’s practical ideas, techniques and down to earth strategies for raising happy, confident, resilient children with strong self esteem.

Sue offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children from toddler to teen.

She specialises in supporting families through divorce. Sue has created a series of Divorce Cards to help start the difficult conversations about the changes that families face when they are going through divorce.  These simple cards help children and parents explore, express and prepare for the changes and challenges ahead.

She regularly appears on the award winning flagship ITV show “This Morning” and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and is the parenting expert for many BBC Radio Stations around the UK as well as the parenting expert on SKY News. She has a regular monthly parenting phone- in on BBC Radio Hereford & Worcester and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

 To receive her free eBooks bursting with practical tips and helpful advice from toddler to teen log on to and download them instantly today.


What is dry drowning?

4-year-old dies 1 week after swimming in pool – all parents should read this warning

This tragic story hit me straight in the heart.

As a parent, I try to protect my kids from danger whenever I see it.

But what if the problem is triggered by something imperceptible and the symptoms don’t come until hours or days later? How would you know that the two are connected before tragedy struck?

All parents should read this.

Summer is finally here, and with it comes family trips to the beach, picnics at the lake, and swimming lessons at the town pool.

Perhaps no one enjoys the swimming season more than children. Their parents, on the other hand, have to balance the fun with making sure their children safe.

Whether children are playing in the ocean waves or taking a dip in a kiddie pool, their parents are usually on alert when their children are in the water. Because all you have to do is turn your head for a second and tragedy can strike.

But even if you have full control over your children, the unthinkable can still happen. On May 29, four-year-old Frankie, or Francisco Delgado III, went swimming at pool with his family. Everyone had a fun time. Frankie’s parents kept an eye on him the whole time and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

But over the following days, Frankie started experiencing flu-like symptoms, before feeling a bit better.

Then almost a week after Frankie went swimming, the four-year-old woke up in extreme pain and screamed out loud. Seconds later, he took his last breath.

Frankie’s dad was with him when it happened. He immediately called emergency services and an ambulance promptly showed up and rushed the boy’s lifeless body to the hospital.

The doctors and nurses did everything they could, remembers Tara, Frankie’s mom, who watched them try to save her son’s life.

After a while, two doctors came to Tara and told her that they were unable to save little Frankie.

The boy’s lungs were filled with water and he had fallen victim to so-called dry drowning.

Dry drowning has symptoms, and if they’re noticed soon enough and parents seek medical attention in time, the victim’s life can be saved. Doctors recommend that parents keep an eye on three symptoms in their children, each of which might indicate that the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen.

• Difficulty breathing after swimming
• Drowsiness or sleepiness
• Forgetfulness or a change in behavior

Frankie’s parents wish they’d known this earlier. If they had, their son would be alive today. Now, they hope that Frankie’s death can at least serve as a warning to others. Read more about dry drowning, or secondary drowning as it is also called, here.

Watch Frankie’s mother tell her son’s story on this news report:

Please share this article with all the parents you know. Together we can help spread this important message so that no more children die from dry drowning!


Article reproduced from

The Joy of Ramadan Giving

Thank you all for all those who supported us in our Ramadan Campaign. Social media is to connect people together and we want that to make a difference in people’s lives. Thanks to all of you, our active followers and readers we managed to distribute all the collections from the 5 drop off centres a few days ago, with some amazing volunteers and the team behind Ahla Fawda and the passionate work of Nimat Farhat from Social Support Society.

We had some amazing volunteers on the day to help us give away all the boxes away. They came from international countries  including Brazil, Netherlands, Italy, Wales, and Portugal just to name a few. It was amazing experience, emotional and full of love. Children, students, working mums and grand mothers came united for this great experience: a time to give.



Over the last few weeks we have received many donations of clothing and shoes, which were sorted and packed for delivery. Special thanks to Nimat Farhat for partnering with us for this distribution and huge thanks to all our supporters and to our drop off centres for collaborating with us Totally Kids, Learn and Play, Dent de Lait, Play Town and Fox and Frog. A big thanks goes to all parents, and children who donated their shoes, toys, books and clothes to give them a new home.




Pre-loved means giving them a new home.

All that we are doing is a drop in the ocean for those families and children in need, but what matters is that we do our best and we do it from the bottom of our heart thats.

A special thanks to Ziad Assaf for his editing of the video and music. We managed to put a few smiles on those innocent faces.

We want to wish you all a Blessed Eid with your family and loved ones. Here is a short video to showcase all the work we put into making sure all your donations received a warm home just in time for Eid.

Enjoy watching it, without your support none of this could have happened.

Thank you!

Make sure you are subscribed to our YouTube Channel, to stay in the loop with the local scoop.


Pictures and Video by: Dina Maktabi
Video Editing and Music: Ziad Assaf