Parenting: Creating a positive home
How do you leave the stresses and strains of your daily working life behind when you leave the office, and be the most positive parent you can be?
Anita Cleare of The Positive Parenting Project, Rachel Vecht of Educating Matters and Nadim Saad from Best of Parenting share their suggestions for some practical changes you can make to create a more positive home environment for your family.
- Pay attention to the transition between work and home
This is your best opportunity to get into the right mindset after a day at work. Take 5 minutes to breathe and clear your head and shift your brain so that when you enter the house you are in mummy/daddy mode’. Identify what works for you and set strict boundaries around this. And a simple tip from Anita, ‘make sure you eat and drink because you aren’t at your best if you are hungry or dehydrated’. Visualising the way you want to be and how you are going to deal with a situation that you didn’t deal well with previously can help you to become less reactive as a parent.
- Be the person you want your children to be
Children are highly observant and they are always watching us! So parents need to model the behaviour they expect their children to display. It’s important to show children we are sorry when we make mistakes and explain what we have learnt from the situation. Showing your children that you have an identity outside of being a parent and talking about your experiences in your day is incredibly valuable.
- Develop a healthy approach to screen time as part of a wider balanced life
Teach children the principles of self-regulation, help them understand the importance of a balanced life and role model this behaviour yourself, including empathising how difficult it can be. Rachel suggests creating a contract with your child that enables you to agree on the parameters between you and the consequences if the contract is breached. When it comes to screen time, try viewing this as one element of a balanced life, alongside hobbies and physical activity. Using devices can be offered as a reward for doing other activities rather than withholding them as a punishment.
- Use discipline to teach, rather than to make children suffer
Discipline is most effective when it focuses on teaching children to do things the right way, rather than punishing them for doing something wrong. Nadim uses ‘rewind’ with his own children; an intervention that allows them to try doing something again in the right way. As parents, we can create opportunities for children to put things right. Of course, sometimes there must be consequences to certain behaviours but these should be appropriate and applied in a calm way. Let’s remember that children are learning and will get things wrong sometimes – and so it’s important to ‘big up the good behaviour’ when they do something right.
- Create opportunities for your children to open up about their feelings…and listen to them
Children tend to close up when we ask them lots of questions. We need to give them the space to open up and empathise with what they are telling us. One way to do this is to create opportunities to talk, such as chatting whilst cooking together, where you can ask indirect questions without eye contact - this can help children to feel more comfortable in sharing their feelings. How parents react in moments of emotional meltdown is critical; children want to be heard and understood and need parents to empathise with them and reflect back what they have heard. As parents, we can help children to name their feelings – something that is actually quite difficult for them to do. This can open the doors of communication and build their emotional intelligence.
- Implement tactics to help everyone to keep calm
It can be helpful to think about how you are interpreting behaviour and avoid applying adult explanations such as ‘she’s doing that on purpose’. One suggestion is to remember the ‘of course mantra’; ‘of course a seven-year-old is going to do that…’ this can help us avoid mirroring our children’s behaviour! Recognising your triggers is important and there are lots of effective tools for helping the family to manage their angry feelings. Simply walking away (if your child is safe) or practical outlets such as scrunching paper or taking deep breaths can channel anger and ensure that nobody is made to feel bad for having a feeling.
By Kathryn Ryan, Senior Consultant, Cityworks
Panelist contact details:
Nadim Saad | Website www.bestofparenting.com | Twitter @bestofparent | Facebook @BestofParenting I
Anita Cleare | Website www.anitacleare.co.uk | Twitter @thinking_parent
Rachel Vecht | Website www.educatingmatters.co.uk/ | Twitter @EducatingM | Facebook @Educating-Matters
Released On 7th May 2019