Good cop, bad cop

Tamara Nerima wishes she would live in her son’s head for just a day. Just one.

Nate is three. Tamara, every so often, posts her convos with Nate on her Facebook wall. (Do we still call them Walls?) These snippets of convo give us – her pals – glimpses into Nate’s mind.
It goes beyond kids saying the dandiest things – Tamara says that it is about her baby growing up too quick and right before her eyes.

Get this, on Monday, Tamara told us how Nate farted then went on to sing Maxi Priest’s Close to You. Tamara described the fart as the sound you would hear from a “dirt bike or nduthi”.

Last Thursday, Nate was talking religion. (Or something along those lines, I don’t have context.) Nate said he needs another God. Tamara asked why. He said because God didn’t fix me, “I need God to fix me.”

Early this May, Nate pointed at Tamara’s armpit stubble and tickled her to giggles. Then said, “But Mummy, you have to take this hair in your armpit and put it back on your head.”

The week before that, after three bedtime stories, Nate told Tamara he has a girlfriend. She was bemused and asked who. He hesitated. She prodded, Tell me, Baba. “It’s Elisa,” Tamara laughed, Elisa is your cousin. “Ayanna?” Tamara laughed harder, Ayanna is also your cousin. “Kelsey?” Tamara was rolling on the floor by this time. In a bashful whisper, he finally said, “No, no. It’s Njeri, Mummy. Njeri.”

And so it goes.

In between the cracks of all these convos, I asked Tamara how she disciplines her little man. (Party pooper.) How she returns his cheeky behind to the straight and narrow. She broke it down for me.

(Oh yeah, Tamara runs a food blog. The Cherry Tomato. You’ll want to try out her Chocolate Baileys Kahlua Cake. I’ve pinned the recipe for later.)


“Nate, No!” “Stop it!” “Don’t do that!” “Nate, I’m going to put you in the naughty chair!” “Nate, Mummy’s going to smack you if you don’t behave yourself!”

In the space of a day I find myself using all these phases at least once. As I look at those words, I think to myself, Anyone reading this probably thinks that my son, Nate, is a handful.

In all honesty, he is not. Nate is just a regular three-year-old boy grappling with growing pains. He wants to explore and learn. He’s exercising his new found freedoms of movement and speech. It’s what kids do. As long as something is not dangerous to him and the people around him, I let him be.

However, I am his mother and I have to make sure that within this explorative and adventurous nature, he doesn’t develop bad habits or become rowdy – there is a fine line between exploring and being naughty.

Disciplining a boy as a single mother is not easy. There are so many faucets that make this a parenting maze.  The most obvious is he is a ‘boy’ and I am a ‘girl’, as he likes to say. It’s a minefield and there are all these eyes on us. He is growing, and changing, and this is determined by everything around him. As a parent you have to be the constant, the voice of reason and the reality check.

I read many books on raising and disciplining your kid. There is no absolute way of doing it. Heck, there is no manual that is right. There’s the good old fashion rule by the fist, then there’s the extreme opposite of let mother nature teach your kids. In between these two polar opposites is everything else. Then I thought about how my mother raised me and if I want to raise Nate the same way.

I am very self aware and I am a people watcher, I treat people differently depending on their temperament because I believe this brings out the best in a person.

As Nate grows up, I am applying this same principle. I know my son; I have watched him as I tried all the different methods of disciplining him. I know how he reacts to different things and so when I reprimand him, I do my best not to bring out the worst in him.

When Nate was about a year and a half, I realized that kids mimic you and your behavior. Kids are sponges and pick up all your habits. They don’t distinguish between you and them. If Nate hears me shout at him, he will shout back at me because Mummy shouted, so it’s OK to; if Mummy says something, he will repeat it just because Mummy said it.

I made a conscious decision not to raise my voice – or use demeaning, negative language – when I am scolding Nate because all he did was imitate me. And it scared the hell out of him, too. If I said, “Nate, stop it!” he’d yell right back, “No, Mummy, you stop it!”
I don’t yell when I am scolding him. Instead I change my tone of voice to an octave lower. He immediately recognizes that it’s Mummy’s serious side and stops whatever mischief he’s up to. He will push boundaries sometimes. And only then do I resort to the good ol’ hand – I pinch him and put him in a naughty corner. It’s a bit like a time out where he can cry his little heart out and think about why he was pinched and is seated in the naughty chair.

On other occasions, I would benchmark Nate against other kids. Like if Nate was jumping on the sofa, I’d tell him, “You see, D is behaving; he’s not jumping on the chairs like you. I had to catch myself and stop telling him that because he began using D as his benchmark, “Mummy, see, I’m behaving like D.” In essence he was trying to be like D. That’s not a good direction to start your kids on because it kills their self-confidence. Never benchmark your kid against another kid. Ever.

The language you use is also very important. The way you address your kid has repercussions on them and their self-esteem as they get older. If you keep telling your child that they are bad when they do something wrong, they may grow up believing that they are bad. They may even begin to act it.

Getting your child used to negative affirmations from such an early age has a lifelong effect. So rather than tell Nate he’s being bad, I use softer terms like ‘naughty’. It’s serious enough to make him think about what he’s done, but it won’t dent him as much as telling him he is bad.

These two methods have served me well. He tends to calm down and go into deep thought then comes to me to apologize because he knows he has done something wrong. This gives me a chance to comfort him as well as explain to him what he did wrong and why Mummy got upset.

Sometimes, when he gets really upset and throws a tantrum, he often says he will tell on me to his Dad. That is the constant thorn in my side. I am a single mother to a boy of three who is looking for a father figure (It’s even gotten embarrassing because he calls his best friends’ father, Daddy. Imagine that awkwardness with his wife).

I have learnt not to take this personally. He is simply looking for the good cop. He was used to having his Dad there to run to but now, he’s not there and there’s a void he needs to fill. He is too young to understand the situation so I feel like sometimes his naughty streaks are a way of him acting out and trying to be an alpha male. So then, I have to put on the Daddy shoes.

This means that after disciplining him, I have to put on the ‘Daddy hat’, which is the ‘good cop hat’. What does that look like? Well, it varies. We could hug it out and then roll around on the rug playing with his toy cars. Or I could explain to him yet again why Mummy had to punish him.

Even at his early age, we struggle with power. As a boy Nate is genetically wired to be an alpha so he pushes boundaries constantly. I have to perfect the balance of disciplinarian, Dad and Mum.

I am learning as I go along. I don’t have a perfect method but what I have so far works for Nate and I.

And for me, that’s good enough.

A few words
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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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