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    communication

    THE MANY VARIED VOICES IN YOUR TEENAGERS HEAD

     

    After 8 years of working with teenagers (male and female) I wanted to put together a few thoughts for parents – from the teenagers perspective. Many of these thoughts we may not think about but we do need to. There are many stressors in parenting teenagers today but there are many ways to make this experience a more positive one for the parent and the teenager. There will never be anyone more important than you in your teenagers life (not always visible!) but it is true. Think of your own relationship with your mother/father – was it the way you wanted it to be, were there things you would have liked her/him to do differently – learn from your own upbringing. It is never too late to make changes.

    When I work one to one with teens they do tend to be very honest about their feelings, their pressures, their stressors in life. I came across an article from Psychology Today that I am also using as it resonated with me. Together there are some very valid realistic points here, I hope it helps!


    Teen‘Dont Give up on me. Don’t hate me back. Don’t react to my many moods, I need you to be stronger than me. When my room is a mess – ignore it, it looks how I feel inside. When I give out and tell you that you are the worst parent ever, that I hate you, I never mean it – I always need you to be a parent first. I need your love, your understanding, your knowledge more than you will ever know. I know I can be very hard to live with but I need you to know there are days when my head feels like it is going to explode, days when I doubt everything about me, days when social media makes me question my everything, it can be so confusing. My feelings get hurt at school, by teachers, guidance counsellors but mostly by other students. I don’t always tell you because sometimes I feel ashamed that it effects me so much. I know you are mad at me. I don’t blame you. Sometimes I say such mean horrible things to you. I push you away and stop talking to you. I try to
    remember when this started, I remember a younger happier carefree version of me – what happened, when did everything get so confusing? Please dont’ give up on me. You are the one constant in my life, I need you.

    If I could tell you how to help me, this is what I would say:

    1. Take my electronics away – am I addicted?  Yes I am. I try to put my phone down but I can’t. I am so tired of being available all of the time online. Social Media is a new drug, we are all addicted to it and so many of us are getting lost in it. I will fight with you but please just do it – I need YOU to set limits on technology for me.

    2. Don’t yell at me – I know how hard it is not to yell at me – I know how frustrated you may be but please try to talk to me and not to yell at me – there are so many noises in my head already. When you yell it makes me feel so sad, I believe you are so disappointed in me, you are so sick of me. I question do you still love me?

    3. Give me space – I am a teenager, I need alone time – I need space. That is what teenagers crave. Please try to remember what you felt like when you were a teenager? Some things have not changed that much. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with me because I spend so much time in my room – Im reading, listening to music, chatting to my friends, don’t worry so much please. I know you hear all the horror stories about teens spending too much time in their bedrooms but you ‘know’ me better than anyone. Im just taking time out.

    4. Stop spoiling me – I need to understand life – the ups and the downs. I know you are doing the best for me but sometimes the best for me is;
    -letting me learn from my mistakes,
    -helping me to understand the value of money by giving me jobs to do if I want something,
    -teaching me life skills to prepare me for living life independently,
    -all of these will make me feel more capable and stronger in myself. I need to learn to be independent – to feed myself, wash my clothes, make decisions, have opinions. Please help me to feel stronger, more capable and more self reliant – if you don’t, who will?

    5. Find me someone I can talk to (that isn’t you) – there are somethings I cannot talk to you about. When you were my age could you talk to your mum/dad about everything? I need another adult to look up to, to open up to, to help me to see myself more clearly. Someone who is not part of my immediate family. Just another ear and another voice that I can learn from and express myself to. Sometimes I have things in my life that I need to talk about but because you are my mum/dad I may feel embarrassed, or feel that I have left you down or believe that you might be disappointed in me. Do you understand? It is not about you (because you are wonderful) this is about me.

    6. Tell me that you love me-I know you presume I ‘know’ you love me but honestly mum/dad I need to hear the words. I may pretend and act like I don’t care but I do care, I care more than anything. You are and will always be the most important person in my life and I love you. You are the person I rely on every day, you are my rock. In a world where sometimes I can feel so lost and alone at times – I know I have you.

    My rant is over, please take it for what it is. I know parenting is really hard and frustrating but you are an amazing parent and I love you. Please remember through all the fights and arguments I see ‘everything’ you do for me and I appreciate it more than you will ever know.( I know I could show you more).

    Love your frustrating, hormonal, moody, angry (at times) daughter/son who is trying to find her/his way in a very confusing, busy, overloaded world. She/he loves you very much.

     

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    The Importance Of Real Friends In Our Kids Life

    Friendships are an important part of childhood. For many this happens naturally and many kids enjoy positive friendships throughout their childhood and adolescence.
    Unfortunately, for many, this does not happen quite so easily. I come across so many kids/adolescents who are confused and upset regarding friendships. Maybe it is the effects of social media, American TV and/or peers but there are so many friendships based on the wrong things.

    What is a friend?
    A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am, someone I can trust and rely on.”

    The word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. The word friend is misused if it is a person we do not know but attach ourselves to online.
    And this is where the problem can lie.
    The true meaning of friendship has become confusing for many. This is something we really need to discuss more with our children. Help them to be very clear about what a friend really means. Explain to them it takes time to build friendships, they may make friends with many people over their schooling years but they will probably end up with 3/4 very good ‘real’ friends if they are lucky.
    Show them the meaning of ‘friendship’ by letting them see how you treat your own friends, what you expect from your own friends and what you are willing to do for them.

    Online chats pose a huge problem for kids today, pictures being posted without permission, comments being posted, people talking about each other online in a negative and hurtful way. Everyone needs to understand that this is not acceptable.
    I see far too many kids and teens who are seriously hurting because of many of these issues.
    Watch out for tell tale signs;
    *they may stay in their room for longer periods of time
    *they may become very distracted and angry
    *they may stop going out socially
    *they may stop attending sporting events/training
    I realise many of these actions can be put down to growing up but you know your child – if you notice a change in behaviour, follow up on it.
    Where problems may arise –
    Kids on the outskirts of the popular group – try to explain to them just because they are the popular group does not automatically mean they would make good friends. A lot of people following the ‘popular group’ do not end up with any ‘real friends’.
    Kids who are not sporty but may be in a sporty schools – this can be very hard, especially for the boys as the peer group tends to be tiered depending on sporting ability. There is a ridiculously large amount of slagging given to many kids because they are not good at sport. In the last 2/3 years I have seen a lot more boys than ever before and in my opinion some of the boys are becoming a lot more bitchy, nasty and mean and a lot more conscious of their appearance. Help your child to know the importance of believing in himself. Let him/her know you believe in them, ‘their’
    best is always good enough for you.
    Kids who are spoilt and used to getting their own way can find it hard to make friends. Help your kids to understand the meaning of playing, taking turns, sharing, kindness. They need the tools to feel confident around other kids and communicate in a positive way with them. Spoilt kids will very often have a much harder time making ‘real friends’. They may have friends who follow them around because they have money, big house, freedom etc but these friendships will not usually last.
    Kids need playdates to bond with peers. If you are a parent working full-time try to plan playdates for the weekend. During schools hours kids are busy in the classroom, there is not a lot of time for bonding. Don’t underestimate the importance of playdates – this also gives you a chance to see who they are mixing with, how they behave around other peers, and how they are treated by their peers.

    “The only way to have a friend, is to be one”. – Ralph Emmerson

    If your child is having a hard time making friends
    LISTEN – give them a chance to talk so you can understand better what may be at the heart of his/her struggle making and/or keeping friends. Some kids worry about getting teased and making mistakes others feel left out and rejected by peers.
    OBSERVE – Look for behaviours in your child that may be a turn off to other children. For example, does your child avoid eye contact with others? Does your child speak so quietly others can’t hear? Has your child problems sharing or taking turns?
    These are examples of missing social skills – all kids need social skills to make to make friends.
    SET FRIENDSHIP GOALS – Depending on how socially anxious your child may be, you may need to start with a very small goal.
    *Asking a friend over for a playdate
    *Asking to borrow something
    *Asking to join in
    *Sharing a toy with another classmate
    *Saying ‘Hi’ to a classmate
    *Set up regular playdates
    *Encourage extra-curricular activities
    *Have regular family games nights (teach them to win and loose gracefully)
    *Give your child ‘icebreakers’ – pack some snacks or fun toys that they can share with other classmates.
    *Speak to the teacher – do not let your child know you are speaking to the teacher this will further compound his belief that there is something wrong with him. But if you do speak to the teacher ask her to be discreet and try to sit your child with someone she feels they may bond with.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding the above.

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    5 Things that have made me a better mum.

     

    5 Things That Have Made Me A Better Mum

    Being a mum is one of the hardest jobs you will ever have. There are times when you might feel everything is out of control, your head is ready to explode, nobody is listening to you, you have cried from the frustration of it all, you may have yelled more than you would have liked, you may have felt you just cannot go on – welcome to the reality of motherhood.
    And then there are the days when your heart feels like it could burst you feel such pure love, you look at your sleeping child and see a perfection that you never thought possible, you get a hug that melts your heart, you see the love in your child’s eyes as you walk into the room, you feel a deep protective feeling towards them, you feel there is nothing in your world matters to you more than your child. You will always be your child’s number 1 role model – don’t underestimate the importance of the time you spend with them.
    This is list of things that made me a better mum over the past number of years.

    Understanding nobody is perfect and I can only do my best as a mum.

    I believe if we were all a little bit more honest about the ups and downs of parenting, we would be a lot happier. Understanding it is normal to reach emotional overload daily, normal to shout too loud, normal to shed a few tears, normal to feel lonely, normal to feel anger, normal to make mistakes. Parenting is a learning experience, there isn’t a day goes by that I haven’t learnt something new about being a parent.

    Learning how to listen.

    Listening is something you really need to learn. We all think we listen but do we really? When was the last time you listened without butting in? When was the last time you listened 100% without any distractions (phone, other siblings, tv, housework, work)?
    Active listening can be learnt and in my opinion is one of the most important things in parenting. Communication is key to positive parenting, communication is a two way street. If we want good open communication with our kids, we need to communicate with them too.

    Ignoring the small stuff.

    If the kitchen is messy because they are baking or maybe you haven’t had time to get around to cleaning it because you are involved in some way with the kids, so what! The kitchen will always be there, the kids will not always be kids. A clean home is helpful, a ‘perfect’ home comes at a high price. Why do any of us feel the need to have a perfect home – a home is where someone feels comfortable, relaxed, cosy, safe, happy – what does a ‘perfect home’ even mean? Don’t waste precious time trying to keep you home perfect – spend that time with your family or looking after yourself.

    Allowing them to make mistakes and helping them to learn from them.

    We cannot learn if we do not make mistakes. Sharing your own experiences with your kids helps them to understand it is ok to make mistakes. What is important is taking responsibility for your mistakes, learning from them and letting them go. Life is not perfect.

    Slowing down.
    I think this is one of the most important lessons for me. We are all on a treadmill every minute, every day – sometimes not getting off for days on end. Look at what we miss out on, as a mum, if you do not STOP. For me slowing down and looking at what is going on around me has been a huge lesson. When I slow down I listen better, I communicate better, I am less stressed, I am happier and most importantly I am teaching my kids how important it is to stop, get off the treadmill of life and appreciate what you have. Our kids are growing up in a technological run world where everything happens immediately. There are huge negative reactions because of this, they have less patience, less processing of information, less face to face communication, less time to just be, less time to spend on their passions or finding their passions, less time to get to know who they really are. Help your kids to slow down, help them to spend more time doing things they love to do (art, reading, dancing, listening to music, sewing, baking, playing sport). iPhones, iPads, tablets are taking up so much of our children’s lives now, as parents we have to help them to hold on to their ‘real’ world and understand the limitations of their ‘virtual world’. This will be one of the most important lessons you will teach them. Bribe them if necessary, to turn off their phones for family movies, family walks, when visiting grandparents, when chatting at home – implement necessary boundaries with their phones. We need to help them to find a balance – when they are on their phones, let them enjoy that time – when they are off their phones, they need to be able to enjoy that time too.

    Look after yourself.

    A stressed, overworked mum is no good to anyone. Find the time every day (even 10 minutes) that you do something for yourself. We can all find the time to look after ourselves – that is a choice. When you take the time to relax, take up an interest you enjoy, spend time with friends, not only are you a better ‘mum’ but you are also a better role model for your kids – teaching them the importance of looking after yourself. Why do mums feel guilty when they do something nice for themselves – loose the guilt. If you do not look after yourself, who will?

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    What is happiness? How can we pass this on to our kids?

    Recent research suggests that happiness is a combination of how satisfied you are with your life (for example, finding meaning in your work) and how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.
    Think of it like you think about weight: if you eat how you want to and are as active as you want to be, your body will settle at a certain weight. But if you eat less than you’d like or exercise more, your weight will adjust accordingly. If that new diet or exercise regimen becomes part of your everyday life, then you’ll stay at this new weight. If you go back to eating and exercising the way you used to, your weight will return to where it started. So it goes, too, with happiness. You have to train your thoughts and feelings. Try to remember physical and mental health are both important, you cannot have one without the other.  Both need effort to make lasting changes.
    You have the ability to control how you feel—and with consistent practice, you can form life-long habits for a more satisfying and fulfilling life. Try to notice when you feel happy –
    Where are you?
    Who are you with?
    What are you doing?
    Remember when you feel happiest and try to do more of it – whether it is spending time with friends or family, spending time at work or playing sport, painting or reading, get to know what makes YOU happy.

    There are too many people (adults and kids) looking for happiness in the wrong places – looking to make money, trying to hang out with the ‘right’ people, getting the ‘good’ jobs, trying to look ‘perfect’(whatever that is), sound ‘perfect’, dress ‘perfect’ – STOP. Social media has a huge impact on what we and our kids perceive as ‘perfect’, perceive as success, perceive as happiness.

    It is when we stop ‘trying’ so hard to fit into a very insecure idea of what can bring us happiness, that we may finally find true happiness. Personally, I know I have distanced myself from people I find negative and people who tend to spend a lot of time bitching and talking about others, because I know I do not feel good when I am with them. I try to spend as much time as I can with people who raise my energy levels, who make me feel warm inside, make me laugh out loud, make me feel safe and secure. Family for me is huge, for me there is no better time than sitting with my family, watching a movie, all cuddled up together on the couch (don’t get me wrong, this is not a daily occurrence) but I know it makes me happy. Spending time with my girlfriends is high up on my list, as I am lucky to have such great people in my life who understand me (most of the time) and who make me laugh out loud. I am extra lucky that I found a job that I am so passionate about. But, of course there will be days when I may feel sad, upset, alone (although I may be surrounded by people), and on these days I try to acknowledge these feelings and try to do something that will help me to lift my energy again to balance myself.
    We will all feel off balance from time to time – (parenting can push our buttons until we feel we could explode), but we need to understand these feelings are very normal. Whether it is family, jobs, friends or society that can bring us down, we have to acknowledge our feelings, so we can learn to deal with them in a positive way and move on.
    Why are so many people unhappy?

    Maybe it is the long grey Winter we have had.
    Maybe it is the far too busy lives we lead.
    Maybe it is the constant trying to be too much to too many.
    Whatever it is, please find someone to talk to – share your feelings out loud – be truly honest with yourself – get professional help if you need to but do NOT let another day go by without talking to someone and acknowledging your feelings. Remember it is ‘normal’ to feel down, to feel lonely, to feel alone, to feel frustrated, to feel confused – the important part is to talk to someone, get the support you need. You have to look after yourself first if you want to be able to support anyone else in your life.
    There are numerous people out there who can help you. You just need to take that first step – no-one can do that for you.
    Try to pass this message onto your kids as they need to understand what ‘real’ happiness means. What ‘normal’ feelings are and how important it is to learn to acknowledge them and to deal with them in a positive way. Talk to them about your feelings as this shows them it is ok to have negative feelings. If everyone was a bit more honest about their true feelings, it just might normalise so much for so many.
    Sometimes we are constantly running around trying to get fit, work hard, look great, be everything to everyone, and this can be a problem if it means we have no down time, no time to sit and talk to our kids, no time to listen to what is going on in their lives, no time to show them and to tell them how much we love them. Take a few minutes and really think about your life; it is never too late to make changes.
    Are you leading the life you want to lead?
    Are you spending enough time with the people who mean most to you?

    Are you making sure you have balance in your life?
    Do you know what is going on in your child’s life?
    Do you spend a few minutes every day talking to them?

    In my job I see a lot of lonely kids, kids who may have it all materialistically but who crave ‘time’ and ‘understanding’ from those they love the most in the world, those they look up to most in the world, those they mimic most in the world – their parent(s). Don’t underestimate how much they need you, whatever age they are, you are their parent and you will always be the most important person in their lives. Even 5 minutes a day is going to make a huge difference to them, if that 5 minutes is 100% for them and them alone. If your kids see you leading a balanced life, understanding what real happiness is, you are setting them up for a balanced happy life themselves. If they see you making changes to get a more balanced life, you are teaching them the life skill that we can all control our lives and we can all make changes to be in a better place.
    You are their number 1 Role Model.

    “What a child does not see, he can seldom later give.”

    – P D James

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    DOES THE WAY WE WERE PARENTED HAVE TO EFFECT THE WAY WE PARENT OUR OWN KIDS?

    One of the toughest things about parenting is that the results are not always obvious. If we rely on the immediate behaviour of our kids to measure how we are doing as parents, there will be days we feel we have done the best job as a parent and days we do not understand what is happening in our chaotic world – this is the norm.

    The messages we learn as children are powerful and can determine the way we look at things and deal with many different issues throughout our lives. But we must remember, if we did not receive positive and healthy message as a child, this does NOT mean we cannot give positive and healthy messages to our kids. Too many parents believe they cannot be good parents because of their own childhood and the parenting they received – this is not the case.

    There are two ways our own history can influence us as parents;
    1. We can repeat what we have experienced.
    2. We can push against what we have been exposed to and do things in a completely different way.

    Here are some of the negative messages that can become embedded during childhood and new ways to think about them.

    Old Message
    “I don’t know what a good parent looks like. I’m ruining my kids.”
    New Message
    Knowing what a good parent ‘is not’ is as powerful as knowing what a good parent is. If you take the negative from your own parenting and make sure you do not repeat this, you are one step ahead.

    Old Message
    “You have to be good to be loved.”
    New Message
    Nobody is always good. But you are always good enough. Try not to compare your kids to other siblings, cousins etc, let them know they are great just the way they are. We all make mistakes, loose our temper, make rash decisions – this does not make us unlovable, it makes us human.

    Old Message
    “Arguing leads to trouble. It’s easier to agree.
    New Message
    Disagreements are normal and healthy in every family. Setting boundaries is essential in parenting, this will usually lead to arguments, but you have to stand strong. It is always easier to say ‘yes’, that does not mean it is always right.

    Old Message
    “Kids should be seen and not heard.”
    Truth
    We all have a voice and its an important one, everyone deserves to be heard. We need to teach our kids how to be able to interact with other adults and peers, they need to be seen and heard to achieve this. This does not mean we have no privacy, there is a time and a place for everything. They need to know we will ‘listen’ to them when they have something to tell us – try to remember what was important to you when you were their age. If they come to you and you do not listen or show any interest in what they are saying, it may be the last time they come to you. Communication is vital in all stages of parenting.

    Old Message
    “Kids should do as they are told.”
    New Message
    Kids need to be able to say ‘no’ – this is one of the most important words on the planet. It is not the most pleasant when fired at us directly, but it is a word that we want them to know and to feel confident and strong about. Whenever you hear them say ‘no’, which very often will be at the most inconvenient times, know that your little being is experimenting with setting and protecting his or her own boundaries. It will be an experiment that will take time to master – and that’s ok.

    Old Message
    ‘What I want doesn’t matter.’
    The Truth
    ‘You matter, your needs matter.’
    One of the most damaging lessons that unhealthy families teach is that the needs of the child aren’t important. They will have various ways of doing this, including criticism, judgement, put-downs and neglect. The depression of needs will, literally, lead to depression and a malnourished self. We all have needs and we all need to be in an environment that is supportive of those needs. You matter and what is important to you matters. It is difficult to thrive when the things that are important to you are being crushed.

    Old Message
    Kids need to control themselves.
    The Truth
    Children have to learn how to understand their emotions and learn how to deal with them in a healthy manner. Anger, sadness, jealousy, spite – they are all important. If kids learn from an early age the importance of being able to express their emotions and deal with them in a healthy way – they will then be able to deal with the more serious emotions they may feel as they get older. In the society they are growing up in, this is of the upmost importance.

    This article could go on and on and on. It is such an important message to parents to realise they can parent any way they want to, regardless of the way they were parented themselves. Parenting is the single most important job you will ever have, yet the only job that comes without training. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice – you are not supposed to know all of the answers.
    Feel free to email me with any queries relating to the above or any other parenting issues.

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    TEACHING KIDS & TEENS HOW TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS – OUTSIDE THIER DIGITAL WORLD.

    We email, text, book holidays, meet partners, shop and maintain friendships online – never before have our kids and teens needed help connecting face to face.

    There are many positives to social media but unfortunately fewer opportunities to connect face to face, which can leave many kids and teens confused, upset, lonely and isolated on a daily basis.

    Kids learn by watching what is going on around them. They will learn by trial and error, just as we did. The more effort we make in teaching them social skills and the more they see us connecting face to face with our peers they better for them.

    Kids generally start out as being self-centred. It’s important for their development to understand where they fit in the world. Social Media instil a constant need for kids to think about themselves, how they look, what they are doing, how many friends they have etc. At some stage they need to move this awareness to outside of themselves and notice the world and the people around them. To become less self-centred.

    Here are some ways to guide them along;
    Let them speak
    Give them the opportunities to be ‘fully’ listened to. Give them time, let them understand the benefits of someone giving ‘time’ to a family member or friend. Let them know the feeling of having your full and undivided attention, this will teach them the skills of listening to others. They are living in a world where everything is rushed and patience is a becoming a thing of the past. Being in the ‘now’ with you once in a while will show them the importance of opening up and talking about their feelings face to face. It will give them the skills to talk to others.

    Gently help them to open their minds to other opinions
    Encourage their opinions, even if they are different to your own. Try not to interrupt them and jump in with your own opinions. To be able to appreciate another’s point of view is an essential life skill. Show them how to open up to other people and other opinions by helping them to open up to their own.

    Let them see you take a stand.
    It is an important lesson kids realise that they don’t have to connect with everyone or like everyone, but if they are going to pull away, they need to do it respectfully and not for the sake of it or just because that person may be different. Let them see you make a stand with people and situations, explain to them the reasons why you made a stand and how you made your stand.

    Help them to connect with beauty in all its versions.
    When we see or experience beauty in any form, we connect with it – whether its in nature, music, art or people. Beautiful was never meant to mean perfect. Beauty is flawed, different , quirky, interesting, non-conforming, ragged, unique. Help them to set their lens to a diverse definition of ‘beautiful’ by pointing it out when you see it. They are bombarded by a false unreal definition of beauty daily online, let them borrow your lens and learn from your lens – what you see, they will see too.

    Build empathy
    Expand their awareness of other people and what others might be feeling, by encouraging them to look at people from a different point of view. They are living in a very fast paced world where people can be viewed and judged in a matter of seconds, without any thought for the actual person and what they may be feeling and/or what they might be going through at that time. Empathy is a necessary social skill to make and keep friendships and relationships throughout life.
    When they tell you about something that has happened try to encourage a different point of view…’What do you think she was feeling when that happened?’ ‘What do you think would have been a nice thing to happen next?’ ‘How would you feel if that happened you?’ ‘If that was you, what could someone say to help you feel better?’
    The best lessons we will give our kids is through real life situations.

    They are important, but so is everyone else.
    We want to build our kids self-confidence and let them know how amazing they are and how important they are to us, but without letting them believe they are ‘more’ important, more deserving or more entitled that anyone else. Arrogance is the enemy of connection. Nurture their open, warm hearts and their capacity to connect and be seen, by encouraging them to see the strengths and the goodness in others as well as themselves.
    Being able to connect with others easily is not always a given but these skills can always be learned. It does take deliberate teaching and we, as parents, grandparents, carers, teachers, are in a powerful position to do that. Relationships are such an important part of life and being able to initiate and maintain healthy ones is a vital life skill. All kids will learn most from the adults around them. We have the privileged and vital role of guiding and nurturing them alone the way.

    “The single biggest problem in COMMUNICATION is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

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    THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDSHIP FOR OUR KIDS

    Friendships are an important part of childhood. For many this happens naturally and many kids enjoy positive friendships throughout their childhood and adolescence.
    Unfortunately, for many this does not happen quite so easily. I come across so many kids/adolescents who are confused and upset regarding friendships. Maybe it is the effects of social media, American TV and/or peers but there are so many friendships based on the wrong things.

    What is a friend?
    A friend is a person who is willing to take me the way I am, someone I can trust and rely on.”

    The word friend is misused if it is identified with a person who contributes to our delinquency, misery, and heartaches. The word friend is misused if it is a person we do not know but attach ourselves to online.
    And this is where the problem can lie.
    The true meaning of friendship has become confusing for many. This is something we really need to discuss more with our children. Help them to be very clear about what a friend really means. Explain to them it takes time to build friendships, they may make friends with many people over their schooling years but they will probably end up with 3/4 very good ‘real’ friends if they are lucky.
    Show them the meaning of ‘friend’ by letting them see how you treat your own friends, what you expect from your own friends and what you are willing to do for them.

    Online chats pose a huge problem for kids today, pictures being posted without permission, comments being posted on videos and chat rooms, people talking about each other online in a negative and hurtful way. They need to understand this is not acceptable.
    I see far too many kids and teens who are seriously hurting because of many of these issues.
    Watch out for tell tale signs;
    *they may stay in their room for longer periods of time
    *they may become very distracted and angry
    *they may stop going out socially
    *they may stop attending sporting events/training
    I realise many of these actions can be put down to growing up but YOU know YOUR child – if you notice a change in behaviour, follow up on it.
    Where problems may arise
    Kids on the outskirts of ‘the popular group’ – try to explain to them just because they are the popular group does not automatically mean they would make good friends. A lot of people following the ‘popular group’ do not end up with any ‘real friends’.
    Kids who are not sporty but may be in a sporty school – this can be very hard, especially for the boys as the peer group tends to be tiered depending on sporting ability. There is a ridiculously large amount of slagging given to many kids because they are not good at sport. Prepare your kids if they are attending a sporty school and are not naturally sporty. Make sure they realise there are so many other things they could be doing, debating, drama, music – whatever they have a passion for. This may not be the popular choice but it is a lot better than sending a kid to a rugby pitch who will never be a rugby player – the impact of this can be very damaging to his self-esteem. In the last 2/3 years I see a lot more boys than ever before and in my opinion some of the boys are becoming a lot more bitchy, nasty and mean.
    Kids who are spoilt and used to getting their own way can find it hard to make friends. Help your kids to understand the meaning of playing, taking turns, sharing, kindness. They need the tools to feel confident around other kids and communicate in a positive way with them. Spoilt kids will very often have a much harder time making ‘real friends’. They may have friends who follow them around because they have money, big house, freedom etc but these friendships will not usually last.
    Kids need playdates to bond with peers. If you are a parent working full-time try to plan playdates for the weekend. During schools hours kids are busy in the classroom, there is not a lot of time for bonding. Don’t underestimate the importance of playdates – this also gives you a chance to see who they are mixing with, how they behave around other peers, and how they are treated by their peers.

    “The only way to have a friend, is to be one”. – Ralph Emmerson

    If your child is having a hard time making friends;
    LISTEN – give them a chance to talk so you can understand better what may be at the heart of his/her struggle making and/or keeping friends. Some kids worry about getting teased and making mistakes others feel left out and rejected by peers.
    OBSERVE – Look for behaviours in your child that may be a turn off to other children. For example, does your child avoid eye contact with others? Does your child speak so quietly others can’t hear? Has your child problems sharing or taking turns?
    These are examples of missing social skills – all kids need social skills to make to make friends.
    SET FRIENDSHIP GOALS – Depending on how socially anxious your child may be, you may need to start with a very small goal.
    *Asking a friend over for a playdate
    *Asking to borrow something
    *Asking to join in
    *Sharing a toy with another classmate
    *Saying ‘Hi’ to a classmate

    TIPS
    *Set up regular playdates
    *Encourage extra-curricular activities
    *Have regular family games nights (teach them to win and loose gracefully)
    *Give your child ‘icebreakers’ – pack some snacks or fun toys that they can share with other classmates.
    *Speak to the teacher – do not let your child know you are speaking to the teacher this will further compound his belief that there is something wrong with him. But if you do speak to the teacher ask her to be discreet and try to sit your child with someone she feels they may bond with.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any queries regarding the above.

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    COMMUNICATION – -PART 2 (11 yrs – 18 yrs)

     

    “COMMUNICATION – THE HUMAN CONNECTION – IS THE KEY TO PERSONAL AND CAREER SUCCESS.”

    11 years – 18 years

    Teenagers are naturally anxious or insecure about where they fit in the world. Part of their own development is getting an understanding of what relationships they want or need in their lives. What really matters to them is who they matter to and who values them. They are very good at detecting who is genuine in wanting to connect and communicate with them, and who has other motives.

    Tweens and teens are trying to become independent of you, their parents.   This is part of their psychological development at this stage – there are certain things parents need to know and much more importantly there are certain things parents do not need to know.  Give them their privacy.

    We need to give our kids trust. They need to believe we trust them – without trust we have nothing. I would always suggest ‘trust them until they give you a reason not to’. If they believe you trust them, they are unlikely to break that trust easily – If they believe you do not trust them, they may feel like they have nothing to break.

    Try not to make decisions about your teenager to please others – family, neighbours, friend’s parents. You know your own child, listen to yourself.

    The most effective way to communicate with teenagers is to show an interest in what they are doing. Let them know you are always there for them. Let them know they can come to you for help and advice, no matter what.
    Have a time in the day that you both know ye can talk to each other – in the car, at bedtime, dinnertime, whatever works for your family.

    If your teenager comes to you and you are openly shocked by what they have told you and react in a negative way, they may not come to you again. If you are shocked, try to take a breath, suggest you talk about it later on – give yourself time to take in what they said and then to act in a reasonable understanding manner, try to remember how you felt when you were a teen. If you react dramatically and negatively and are not supportive/understanding, it may be the last time they come to you with serious matters.  This does not mean you do not address the situation, it means you address the situation calmly and rationally.

    Do not break your trust with them – if they ask you not to say anything to anyone else, keep your word. If your teen hears you on the phone later to family or friends telling them about your conversation, this may also  stop your teen coming to you again.

    If communication has broken down, for whatever reason, do everything in your power to build it up again. Write to them, text them – just be sure to communicate with them. Do not harass them, do not badger them, this may push them away. Take it slowly, one step at a time.

    You know your own child better than anyone else.  Trust your gut.  Do not be afraid to ask for advice from someone you trust or someone in the parenting field.

    Feel free to email me should you have any concerns in this area.

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