1. Look after yourself first
“It’s like in an aircraft,” Shiela explains. “You put your own mask on first.” It stands to reason if you’re not looking after yourself ; you can’t look after others. Incorporate this into your daily routine. “Go for a walk by yourself or with a friend to de stress. This way you get exercise, time to chat and time to think,” she advises.
“Eat well, seek support from friends and family if you need it. Rest when you get the chance, rather than doing too much, operating from tiredness and neglect. Learn to say No, rather than doing too much and taking it out on your children. Remember, mornings begin the night before. Use a starchart and encourage your child to help out with a pre prepared lunch, setting out uniform the night before. Get up half an hour earlier and reduce stress for all.
2. 8 Minutes a Day make a child feel loved
Studies have shown just 8 minutes a day ‘one on one’ undistracted play with your child can significantly increase their self-esteem and confidence levels. “In the morning take time for a cuddle and chat with them. Your child will feel loved and secure and special. For fathers, Sheila suggests “When you come home in the evening, spend time playing with your child before you do anything else.” She adds, “The more attention you give – the less they demand it and challenging behaviours should reduce”.
3. Blame the Behaviour-Not the Child “That was a naughty thing to do”
Blaming the child lowers self esteem (‘ How could you be so stupid’)
A child can change how they behave; but not what a parent says they are; therefore if they get a negative message from you; they may take on the label ‘I’m stupid’
“When your child deserves your love the least, they need it the most,” says Shiela.
“Behaviour is usually about how the child feels. If they are behaving badly it’s often attention seeking or frustration due to limited language skills. Try understand how your child is feeling, if a child feels understood and loved, they have no need to act out. “An older child with a new baby in the house may not know how to express feeling less loved.”
4. Press the Pause button
When you feel angry Shiela has advice for coping with this. “A lot of child experts tell you to give the child time out, but really it’s you that needs the time out to calm down. Take action for yourself; not against the child. Move away if you are going to ‘lose it’ and breathe deeply until you calm down.
Instead of getting angry, try and let your child know you are listening to them. Shiela advises speaking quietly, making eye contact and using the childs own name. This, she explains, exhibits mature behaviour for them to follow. “Say for instance: ‘I’m happy to listen, when you calm down.” Misbehaviour that is ignored decreases over time.
6. Catch them being good
Shiela says this tip is about unconditionally loving your child not for what they do, but for who they are and to limit criticism. “It takes five positive encounters with your child to negate one negative one. “Notice their efforts. Say things like ‘thanks for keeping your room tidy’ or ‘your handwriting is very neat’ and you will notice them behave better as a result.”
7. “I” Messages
“Making negative ‘You’statements is heard as a criticism” says Shiela. “Instead of ‘you’re always late, you’re never on time’ instead say ‘I feel upset. I need you home for dinner on time because I have gone to trouble making a meal.’ State your expectations in an ‘I’ message (“I expect”) and you may get a better response,” she says.
8. A, B, C, C ,C of Discipline
Acknowledge: Acknowledge the feeling: ‘I see you are upset with your sister.’
Boundary: ‘We don’t push this family.’
Choice: “If you choose not to push, you’re choosing TV today
Consequence: “If you choose to push; you choose no TV today”
Consistent: Be consistent; parents rarely are.
Children learn from the behaviour they see, and parents are a primary influence. “You are the parent therefore get in charge of your own behaviour,” says Shiela. “Be a good role model to your child. Treat them as you would wish to be treated My experience is that what I put out; I get back”
10. Lighten Up
Families can’t survive on rules alone. Shiela reminds us to have fun with our families because children don’t stay young forever. “Do activities together and have fun with it,” says Shiela. “Bond with your family. Rule with love not laws, settle for less and be flexible. The more time you spend together and positive attention you give, the less they will demand and the better relationships will be at home.”
This article was written by Sheila O’Malley, Practical Parenting
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