bullying/cyber-bullying

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    PARENTING ADOLESCENTS – TIPS THAT MAY MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    Having worked with 8yr-18yr for the past 6 years, I have put together a few tips that may help your parenting skills. Learning what is going on in the heads of tweens and teens over the past number of years helps me to stay up to date on the many issues and problems they may face.

    I am also the mum of 4 daughters (12yr – 20 yr), there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way but I have learnt what battles to pick, what is most important to them, what may add fuel to the fire during the many disagreements along the way, and how important it is to keep communication open and mutual trust at any cost.

    Adolescents need to establish themselves as their own person – separate to but part of the family, connected to but independent from their parents. I have learnt many lessons from my own mistakes – after all this is how we all learn!

    PICK YOUR BATTLES

    Parenting a tween/teen means facing many issues that can either result in all our war or maybe less reaction and more understanding, can result in a peaceful solutinon. Try to remember what was important to you at their age, fitting in, feeling grown up and responsible, thinking you knew it all, believing your parents could not possibly understand what you are going through (they rarely believe we were ever teenagers). Try to pick the battles that really matter – take a breath before you launch in with your words of wisdom. I understand this is not easy but it really does make a huge difference.

    EVENT + REACTION = OUTCOME

    TRUST THEM UNTIL THEY GIVE YOU A REASON NOT TO.

    Without trust the relationship between parent and tween/teen is very tricky. Trust is the bond that keeps the relationship strong. I would suggest your trust your own child (regardless of other peoples opinions) until they give you a reason not to. Talk to them about the importance of trust within your family. When tweens/teens believe you do not trust them, they feel they have nothing to break, when they believe you do trust them they are less likely to break that trust. I see this over and over again – setting boundaries (realistic to their age group) and sticking to them helps the child to understand their boundaries. You know your child better than anyone else, if they have never given you a reason not to trust them – why would you question their trust.

    COMMUNICATION

    Communication is vital to any relationship – this is the same for the parent-child relationship, try to keep communication open at all costs. When you cannot speak to them, text them, write to them – it does not matter how you communicate to them once you do communicate. They are at a stage when they want to feel independent, capable of making decisions on their own, testing their boundaries – this is all ‘normal’ behaviour for a tween/teen. Their behaviour and the person is not the same thing. Try to separate the behaviour (typical to their age group) and the person. They are going through so many changes, physically, emotionally and psychologically, they are very often on emotional overload. This causes the irrational behaviour, silly decisions – try to separate the two, let a lot of the irrational behaviour go over your head and try to understand what might really be going on;
    did they have a tough day at school
    did they have an argument with a friend
    has their skin broken out (big deal to them)
    are they over tired
    are they stressed from exams
    are they lonely/not fitting in with they peer group
    It is so important that you try to see beyond the behaviour and cut them a bit of slack. Im not saying accept rudeness or lack of respect but the general moodiness, lack of chat – try to ignore.
    EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF VALUES IN YOUR FAMILY

    Think about what are the values in your family. Explain the need for values and what they mean. This is an area that I work on a lot when working with teenagers – it explains a lot of issues they face when it comes to;
    peer pressure
    family issues
    friendship issues
    Think of your relationship within your home like a tree:
    The roots are the things that hold you together;
    communication – love – trust – responsibility – traditions — whatever is important to your family, the branches are the many changes that will occur during your parenting years but whatever happens if you stick to your values, the roots will remain strong and in tact and will hold you together.

    Parenting is the most important job anyone will ever have and yet the only job that comes without any training – ask for help and supportt, it does make a difference.

    “The sign of great parenting is not the child’s behaviour.
    The sign of truly great parenting is the parent’s behaviour.”

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    Mobile Phones in Teenagers Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    Teenagers – The Effects of Phones in Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    In 2012 it was estimated that 1/3 of teenagers slept with their phones under their pillow. I wonder what that percentage would be today? It is a growing concern that lack of sleep is one of the biggest issues with young people – especially exam year teens.
    I recently ran a workshop for exam year students and asked them the following question;

    How does lack of sleep effect you?

    As you can imagine there were many different answers but all with a negative effect on the teen.

    Cranky – moody – irritable – lack of motivation – lack of concentration – eating too much or too little – and many more.

    The next question I asked;

    How many of you have your phones with you in your bedroom at night?

    I am rarely shocked (as a mum of 4 myself) but when approximately 75% of students put up their hands – I was visibly shocked.

    We spent the next 45 mins talking about the pros and cons of same. I could visibly see, for some, this was a lightbulb moment. They had never even ‘thought’ about the impact of having their phone with them at night. How this one habit effected so much in their daily lives.

    We, as parents, have to remember, this is a new world for all of us – a world run by technology. Our kids and teens are not getting enough support and advice as to how to live in this every changing world in a safe and happy way.
    If, even a few of the students I spoke to that day realised the importance of NOT having their phones in the bedroom during sleeping hours, I would be very happy.
    This one change in their daily lives can have a huge positive impact. I am well aware of the arguments this may cause in family life, but, unfortunately for us parents – this is our job!

    There is enough stress around exams in this Country, our kids do not need the added effects of exhaustion, moodiness, lack of motivation, irritability etc.

    Please feel free to get in touch should you have any queries regarding any of the above.

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    DO OUR YOUNGER GENERATION UNDERSTANDING THE MEANING OF SELF-RESPECT?

    I had an alarming conversation with a group of 17-19 year olds during an Easter workshop. The topic of relationships came up – I found it very upsetting to learn of the behaviour of girls and boys as young as 12 years of age. This behaviour is accepted among many as ‘normal’ – there lies my concern. I am obviously not talking about all kids but I am talking about many. I worry that the lack of self-respect (both online and face to face) is a growing concern.
    A few issues that really worried me;
    1. Girls putting up pictures of themselves in underwear online – as young as 12 years of age.
    2. Boys expecting girls to want to ‘please’ them regardless of the fact that they are not in a relationship.
    3. Boys discussing girls performance online.
    4. Boys choosing who they want to kiss in discos/parties – girls standing around waiting to be picked out only for the boy to move onto the next girl.
    I am afraid we have gone back 100 years here – please speak to your kids about self-respect, about what relationships should be like, about behaving in a way they are happy and comfortable with, not just to be in with the crowd. Listen to your kids if they do not want to go to discos/parties- maybe they are trying to protect themselves.
    I am going to talk to a few schools that I work with to suggest the possibility of 5th years talking to 2nd years to give them a bit of advice. To help them to make the right decisions for themselves. The group I spoke to said this would have been a great support for them at their age. They agreed that things are definitely getting worse. Social Media and American tv obviously have a huge impact on this. This is the world our kids are growing up in – they need education in this area, they need support, they need to understand the meaning of self-respect. I think it is a very hard time to be a teenager, we need to help them to deal with this ever changing world.
    If you have any queries relating to this please do not hesitate to contact me.
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    Why Parents Need to Show Their True Feelings

    What is one of the most important qualities of a healthy relationship? Authenticity – being who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly. Being authentic creates openness, connection and trust.

    Where does that leave us as parents – how much of our emotional selves should we put away and how much should we share with our kids.

    There is not a person on the planet who does not get sad, cranky, scared, or lonely, from time to time. Sometimes these feelings can stay around for a while. When our kids see or sense that there is something ‘not quite right’, they will watch us even closer than normal. If we do not explain why we are feeling a certain way, they will worry and come up with their own answers.

    Mom and daughter hands, outdoors

    We have a tendency to put on a brave face, to try to hide our upsetting emotions but is this the right thing to do?

    In my experience, both personally as a parent, and in working with other kids, this can be very confusing and upsetting for kids. We need to be as honest as possible and explain why we are upset, angry, lonely or sad as this will help our kids to understand it is ‘ok’ to feel like this. I do not mean to share our innermost feelings but possibly to explain, in an age appropriate way, why we are upset, sad etc. Difficult emotions can become threatening when they come with a bag load of unknowns. All feelings are part of living a healthy, happy, fulfilled life, once we know how to handle them, and this is what we need to pass on to our kids.
    Coping skills for kids is such an important part of their development and they need us to equip them with the necessary tools to enable them to deal with whatever may come their way.

    When our kids see us being ok with our troubled feelings it gives them permission to do the same. They won’t have the skills to manage them all for a while, and that’s ok. What’s important is that they see that everyone feels bad sometimes, and that they have opportunities to learn how to deal with these emotions in a healthy manner.

    Nobody is perfect, we can only do our best, and our best is good enough.

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    Emotional Brain (Medium)

    Anxiety – What is it? How can we help our anxious kids to be less anxious?

    People with anxiety have something in common – their brains have a unique wiring that is different to people who don’t have anxiety. This causes them to interpret things as harmful, even if they aren’t.

    We are all wired to notice and respond to threats in the environment. This is something that happens in all of us, and it is a healthy normal thing to do. It is something that has kept us humans alive, so when it’s happening in the right doses, its a great thing.
    For people with anxiety, this happens a little too much. An anxious brain is an overprotective brain. It does exactly what healthy, normal brains are meant to do, but more often. What this means is that people with anxiety tend to overgeneralise – their brains and their bodies respond to things as though they are dangerous or threatening, even when they aren’t. Explaining this difference to an anxious child/teen can help them to understand why they can feel like they do and more importantly that they can train their brain to feel less anxious with practice.

    For anyone with anxiety, or for anyone who loves someone with anxiety, it is important to remember that brains can change. Anxious brains are strong brains – wilful, determined, cautious – and as much as brains can change in ways that aren’t helpful, they are also open to changing in ways that are. Mindfulness and exercise are two things that have consistently been shown to strengthen the brain against anxiety. This doesn’t mean that anxiety will completely go away. We all need a little bit of anxiety to predict danger and to keep us safe.
    The more we can understand about the workings of the brain, the closer we get to understanding how to influence it in ways that will lead to a healthier, more enriched way of living.
    Take the time to show your child/teen a clear picture of the brain and how it works, pointing out the amygdala (controls strong emotion, fear and panic) and explain how they can help themselves to be less fearful about situations. The brain is a muscle and can be trained to work in the way we want it to work by practice. Mindfulness and exercise are great ways of helping the brain work in a healthier way. Helping your child to reach outside his or her comfort zone is also a great way to help with anxiety as it builds her confidence in trying new things. Start very small and build up when you feel he/she is ready.
    There is a lot of help out there to help those suffering with anxiety. Get the support you need to help alleviate this issue.
    If you have any questions regarding this post, please give me a call or email me and I will get back to you.

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    How To Get Your Child To Talk To You

    Listen and hold your tongue.

    Kids want to be heard. They want to be understood. If we rush in to give our opinion – they aren’t going to feel heard or understood. Bite your tongue – literally if you have to. This simple and obvious skill took me a long time to master. Silence is uncomfortable, but very necessary.

    What I have learned is that some kids don’t verbalise their feelings quickly. When I nod and show I am listening – they tend to continue to talk. They continue to tell me more.

    Do not give advice – unless it is wanted.

    The number one complaint I hear from kids (my own included!) is that they do not want our advice. Well that’s confusing? Your daughter cries to you about her friend drama or your son talks about the mean kids on the bus. You naturally move in with your words of wisdom. It can be very hard to hold back on this one. Try to listen first, let they get it all out without interruption.

    Sit with their feelings for a bit. Commiserate about how that must have made them feel.  Sentences like, “That must have been so hard” or “That must have made you so angry” will help continue the conversation.  Just hold your tongue!

    When your child is done venting ask them, “What do you think you’ll do about it?” Hear what they have to say. If you have advice at this point, soften it with something like, “there might be another option. You can…” This will help your child feel like you are working with them and not lecturing them.  Try not to jump in with your advice before they are finished talking.  Very often if we listen to them, and let them get it all out, they will end up solving the problem themselves.

    How you word things can be the small change that makes a big difference.

    Do not ask direct questions – instead say something like, “I wonder…” In front of your sentence. For instance:

    Your son tells you he is angry at his best friend and he is never going to talk to him again. Instead of saying:

    “What did he do to you?”

    You might say:

    “Oh, you seem so angry. What happened?”

    Sounds pretty much the same – I know. But, trust me – it makes a difference. Most kids (not all) are more likely to answer the second question. Especially if you stay silent after making the comment.

    Change sentences like:

    “What is good about it?” or “What is bad about it?”

    to

    “What is the best part about it?” or “What is the worst part about it?”

    For some reason – the first sentence can sound judgmental, while the second is acknowledging the feeling and asking for them to tell you more. Just try it out yourself and you will see what works for you.

    Every child is different. Every conversation is different.

    Every child needs someone they can go to when there are troubled, worried or confused about something.  Who will they go to if that person is not you – the internet, their peers?  Is this what you want?

    NOBODY knows your child as well as you do. Ensure the person they go to is YOU!

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    How and when do we know what to do with our lives?

    My daughter showed me this recently, how appropriate it is as we near the end of school for many and the begining of new things to come. Not everyone will know what they want to do with the rest of their lives as soon as they leave school , the most important thing is taking the first step in something you are interested in or passionate about and the doors will open from there. Always stay true to who you are – and follow your dreams, only you can make them come true – take the first step and believe in yourself.
    It took me much longer than most to find what I was supposed to do with my life, but now that I have, I fully understand what it means to love your job – it is never a hardship to go to work, I love every aspect of my job. How lucky am I – it took a lot of self belief and passion but it was worth it. When I am working I feel so complete at at ease with myself. Everyone has something to offer this world – take your time-one step at a time, believe in yourself and work hard – no one can stop you achieving your dreams, but yourself.

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    Parent (s) – Number One Role Model for your Child

     

    Being a parent in today’s world is extraordinarily challenging; to say that most parents are dealing with more than they bargained for would be an understatement.

    Taking a step back to notice the impact your behavior has on your child can become a great opportunity to promote positive change in both your lives.

    It is the norm to presume your sullen teenager (or younger child) is completely oblivious to your actions – this is rarely the case. Teenagers and children are usually very observant of parent’s actions and behaviors. Actions will always speak louder than words.

    Take the time to think about your actions and behaviors in front of your kids. Are you behaving in a way that you would want your child to believe as ‘normal behavior’, ‘appropriate behavior’. Do you treat others the way you want your children to treat others. Do you treat yourself the way you want your children to grow up treating themselves.

    I often come across kids who are very confused about this. They may ask;

    “What’s wrong with shouting at my sisters, my mum shouts at her sisters all the time”?

    “Why should I eat a good meal 3 times a day, my mum doesn’t, she is always talking about loosing weight”?

    “Why do I need to slow down and take time out for myself, my dad never stops working, he never has time for himself”?

    “Why should I turn off my phone at meal times, nobody else does”?

    “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”

    The way you value yourself, the way you treat others and the way you treat your time is a daily role modeling experience for your child. Is this a positive or negative role modeling experience for them? Do you put yourself down in front of them, do you speak badly of friends and/or family in front of them, do you value yourself and take time for yourself, can you say sorry, can you admit it when you are wrong?

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    Nobody is perfect, we will all loose our tempers, argue with family/friends, not take time out for ourselves – but this should not be the norm. The example we set out for our children and teenagers at home is the basis for the person they will grow into in future years.

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    If you behave in a way you are not proud of, take the time to explain it to your child/teen. Show them how you are going to make things right. Whether that is apologizing to someone, taking time to talk something through with someone, you will be giving your child a very important life lesson. Take responsibility for your actions. This is a lesson that will stand to them throughout their lives.

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