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    positive parenting

    THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING RESILIENCE IN OUR KIDS & TEENAGERS

    We want our kids to be happy, successful, healthy and safe – this is a natural wish for every parent. But the reality is ‘there are no guarantees – except for those we wish were not there’.
    Despite our hopes, prayers, and best endeavours the only guarantees we have are;
    no matter what we do, our children will experience pain and loss, they will be disappointed in life, they will make mistakes, they will be let down, they will get sick, they will miss out, they will be lied to, they will get sad………

    Even though we want to give our children a life without hardship, we know it is impossible. What we can do though, is make them resilient, teach them how to deal with life’s ups and downs. We do our kids no favours making their lives too easy – we cannot protect them from ‘life’ and the many challenges they will face growing up.

    By making our kids resilient we can tilt the balance in our child’s favour. We have to teach them to take responsibility for their actions, teach them the importance of sticking up for their values, show by example how to cope with the many difficult situations we all face on a daily basis. Show them you believe in them and support them, even if you may not agree with their choices all the time. Our children are not ‘us’, they are a separate identity, with original thoughts and ideas. A person with their own dreams and goals to achieve, this can be very hard for some parents to accept. Try not making the mistake of wanting your children to live your dreams, allow them to find their own so they can make their own mark in life – this is the true road to happiness and success. I see so many teenagers and young adults trying to ‘please’ their parents but at a very big cost – allow them to find their own way in life, support them, trust them and believe in them and you will not go wrong.

    Parenting is the hardest, most frustrating, infuriating, emotional job in the world but can also be be the most rewarding, wonderful and heartfelt job too, that gives our life extra meaning and purpose.

     

    “Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.”

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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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