Parenting Tips | How to listen

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Listening is not the same as hearing.  To listen means to pay attention not just to what is being said but how it is being said, including paying attention to the types of words used, the tone of voice and body language.  The key to understanding is effective listening. In this week’s ’10 Ways to’ we look at how to improve listening in the home.

  1. Do I listen? Ask yourself what type of listener you are. Are you focused or distracted? Empathetic or impatient?
  2. Stop shouting: Children do not respond positively to shouting so try always to speak in a calm manner.
  3. Eye contact: When talking to your child, get down to their level and look them in the eye.
  4. Be clear: Do your children understand what you are saying to them? Clarify if needed.
  5. Family meetings: Talk as a family about what not listening to each other causes within the family – ask if everyone would like things to be better.
  6. Reward: Notice good listening and reward it.
  7. Remember: Put a note up somewhere, like on the fridge, to remind you as a parent to listen.
  8. Make time: Make time – at meals, when children come in from school, when parents come in from work – to talk to each other and listen to your children have to say.
  9. Active listening: Practice actively listening to what your children say. Down tools and stop what you’re doing to listen, or ask them to wait until you can give them 100% of your attention (but not too long).
  10. Building relationships: Listening to your child and other family members increases positive behaviour in the home and improves relationships.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting Tips | Helping children to cope with bumps and bruises

When it comes to minor scrapes and falls, some children brush them off easily. Other children stop and seek sympathy with every scratch and scrape. Children can often seek sympathy for attention. Most parents, no matter how busy they are, will stop whatever they are doing when a child cries out from an injury. Children learn very early that crying gets attention.

Another reason for tears after falls is that children enjoy the kindness of the care they receive: the nursing from a parent, the kiss and hug, the plasters. Most children see plasters as the crowning glory for their cut or scrape. The plaster can signal for a number of hours or days that an injury occurred gaining further attention that the child may need and enjoy. Some children have low pain thresholds and any bump or scrape could be of great sensitivity for them. Their coping skills could be very low around injuries or blood and they get upset. The upset could last anything from seconds to an hour or longer.

Most children have bumps and scrapes several times a day so how can you support your child to stay calm and react appropriately to the situation? Here, we offer ’10 ways’ to support your child through minor tumbles and scrapes:

  1. If you have a very young child who is just becoming mobile, try to stay calm when they tumble over. React slowly and check out what is happening as you approach them. Allow them time to assert themselves before you take over. They may recover without you grabbing them up and examining them all over. If they do get up by themselves, praise them by saying “You toppled over but look you managed to get up again, well done, let me check your head for bumps”. This is giving your child attention as required but also letting them know that they have coping skills.
  2. When children do have accidents, focus on what happened and try to console them without scolding them. There will be time later to talk to them about the dangers of what they were doing that led to the accident. When they are hurt is not the time. It is important that the child has not learned that there is more danger is seeking attention than what was inflicted from the injury.
  3. Remember that often the worry of what might have happened becomes bigger than what actually did happen. The fear creates a great level of anxiety for both the child and the parent.
  4. Acknowledge that they are hurt, praise them for bravery and treat the injury. This could be kisses, cuddles or plasters, or all three. Move on. Continue to talk about their bravery but continue to acknowledge the injury if they need that also. Don’t dwell on it. Focusing on other things such as how brave they were helps them to move on.
  5. When it comes to sports, coaches often say that more and more children are leaving the pitch in tears from injuries. Help children to know they will recover and that it wasn’t done in badness (by their opponent). In games tackles are hard but it is part of the game. Help them to understand the difference between intentional and accidental.
  6. Make sure you are giving your child lots of positive attention when they are playing well, helping you, or doing anything about the home and engaging with you. Help your child to see that they have your attention. They don’t need to be injured to gain your attention.
  7. Never withhold attention to an injury as you may miss an actual injury complication. Breaks and sprains are not always obvious in a child.
  8. Explore how you deal with injuries. Do you blame others for causing them? Do you look for sympathy or complain when you get none? We are our children’s role models so our children reflect our behaviour.
  9. Explore self soothing ways of dealing with injuries and feelings of sadness: a special blanket, a hot chocolate, a movie they like to watch. Self soothing is important for when they are older. Help them to find ways to support themselves and they will grown into resilient and strong adults.
  10. Point out to your child how well they cope at so many things in life: going to school, making friends, visiting the doctor and other everyday things. Then reinforce this when small injuries occur. Later you can give them the hug for coping so well when they relay the story of what happened.
  11. Remember, resilience is the key to good future mental health.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 ways to’ parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting Tips | Enjoying quality time

cup-1031774_1920Many parents look forward to days-off so we can do activities with our children and perhaps take them to places such as the cinema, bowling, play centres etc. Without realising, we train our children into wanting to go places. They think the weekends are about being active and going out and about all the time. But children also like fun days at home with parents. They too may have had a busy week in school and may appreciate some time to relax. So slow down and keep it simple! Here are tips on spending quality, relaxed time with your children:

  1. Organise some arts and crafts. Children love sitting at the table for hours with glue and bits of paper, cutting and sticking. For older children, you could make it more elaborate and invest in some craft materials and really enjoy a day of make and do. Set yourself a challenge for the day.
  2. Why not visit plan a cooking session and help your child learn to cook a dish? This can be really great for children from the age of nine and upwards. For older teens it is so important that they learn to cook and understand the value of good nutrition. Enjoying a meal you prepared together is a lovely way to spend a few hours. Younger children might just enjoy making scones or fairy cakes; everyone can master something in the kitchen.
  3. Go for a walk near your home. There are lots of parks and, as we live in Ireland, plenty of fields. Children are learning all the time about nature so why not go and look at some in real life, as my young daughter would say. Bring a journal and note down what you see and what you find: leaves, birds, and insects, then Google what you found and make it into a great project.
  4. Simply just have a pyjama day. Play board games, computer games, watch old movies, play dolls and house or trial makeup. Watch your children play and engage with them. We are so busy all the time, running about and worrying. It is wonderful to have a day of connecting with your children.
  5. Invite some friends and their children over. We always intend on catching up with old friends but we are on-the-go all the time. So arrange a catch up on your day-off.
  6. Ask your child what they would like to do. We often plan so many things for our children that we think will be great and then we get annoyed when they don’t seem to value it. Often the simple pleasure of spending time with parents is more important to them.
  7. For parents sharing parenting, the weekend parent often gets a bad reputation for being the fun time parent as they have all weekend to entertain children. In my experience, they would much prefer to not feel this pressure and to do real parenting instead and keep the entertainment for special occasions.
  8. Parenting is about spending time with our children, getting to know them, having time to talk with them and time for them to talk with us. Making time and creating opportunities for talking is more possible when activities you introduce to them are simpler.
  9. In today’s world we need to help children understand that life is not about entertainment and being constantly on-the-go. It is about doing things that help us feel well and happy on the inside, that bring peace and balance to our lives and leave us ready for the next week. Many of the activities lead to moments of mindfulness where children learn to be happy in their own company in quiet ways.

This article is part of our weekly parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting Tips | Managing behaviour without idle threats

thinkstockangrykid-300x200It’s just over 40 days to Christmas. Chances are Santa has already been mentioned in your house. But is this because you are using Santa as a tool, warning children that they must behave now or they won’t get any presents on Christmas morning? Threatening children that Santa won’t come is possibly the greatest idle threat used by parents. You should not revert to this idle threat now that we are in November. Likewise, you shouldn’t use a child’s upcoming birthday as a reason to bribe or threaten them, nor should other annual events like Easter or Halloween be used in this way. Implement the parenting tools you know and use them for all 12 months of the year.

Here are some tips on managing behaviour between now and Christmas, without using the threat of “Santa won’t come!”:

  1. Focus on what you know about your children. They like routines and consistency. The first lesson in parenting? Stick to the routine.
  2. When children start to misbehave, the first step in dealing with the issue is to check that their basic needs are being bet. Ensure they have been fed, that they are warm, comfortable and not in need of sleep or feeling unwell. Remember that when us adults are hungry, tired, cold or unwell, it is very difficult for us to manage our behaviour.
  3. Recognise how your child responds to your actions. Some children know by one look that they need to stop misbehaving. Others know that they will get numerous chances. Some children will hear the tone of voice change while others will hear the loud shout up the stairs. Others will know their parent means business when they take them by the hand and remove them from a situation. Every child knows what their parent will do in any given situation and they expect this to happen. When we are not consistent in our approach, children are left confused and they also learn they can push boundaries.
  4. At times we can just get tired. It may seem easier to make an idle threat than to follow through with action. Life is challenging and there is a lot that can leave us tired and distracted; having the energy to parent is not always forthcoming. We have to dig deep at times.
  5. The more you threaten, usually the more anxious children become and consequently behaviour decreases even further. Research has reported that children are showing more and more signs of anxiety and depression.
  6. This year, leave the threats aside and instead develop traditions of preparation for Christmas. Look forward to the time-off work and school that you can spend together. If we stop using occasions (like birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, or Easter) to threaten children then we could really embrace them and enjoy the excitement such times can bring. We could plan for occasions and prepare and develop traditions around them, making the occasion wholly positive for everyone.
  7. Remember that Santa is meant to be a fairytale of innocence and magic. We don’t need Santa to support us when it comes to managing behaviour but we can enjoy the magic he will create on Christmas and the memories that will be made.

This article is part of our weekly parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

Parenting | Talking to young children about death

loving-1207568_1920We want to protect our children from hurt and trauma in life but death is as much a part of life as living is. In order to prepare children for life we must prepare and support them to understand and feel comfortable with death. This week, we offer ’10 ways’ to approach the subject of death and ways to support your child when they experience loss:

  1. Dealing with the loss of a pet, such as a goldfish, can be a way to introduce coping mechanisms. Have a light-hearted ceremony of some kind to remember the happy smiles the goldfish brought to the family. Children will handle this in many different ways: some will be fascinated with the science attached to it while others could be in tears for a week.
  2. In the case of a family bereavement, remember that the child has also experienced a loss. They may realise, for the first time, that we do not have everything in our lives forever. They will need support to understand how they are feeling. They may have a very great sense of sadness and loneliness over the loss and it may be the first time they have had this feeling. It is important to reassure them that this is normal and that it will pass.
  3. It is important to nurture them and give them comfort and solace. They will have questions for a long time and this is natural. We all have questions when someone dies. With your support children can cope with death and understand what has happened
  4. It is really important to allow children to experience a family bereavement. They should be included in what is happening to the family. If you try to totally shield your child from the loss they will sense that something has happened and be left with a very worried, empty, anxious feeling. Hiding the truth or excluding your child can cause a break in trust between you and your child.
  5. Allow your child to see that you are upset too. Children will be more confused if you tell them that you are okay when they know that you are not. Remember, children observe everything. Tell them that you feel sad about what has happened. Reassure them that it is okay for everyone to be really sad and that in time things will change again.
  6. Allow your child see the person who has died if they were close to them. Arrange a time when it is quiet for them to come and view the body. This will help your child to understand the permanent nature of death. While they might be initially afraid of the stillness of the body, they will remember that they loved this person dearly. Reassure your child that they are not really there any longer so they won’t be lonely, scared and lost in the box, as some children imagine they are. Telling children that someone has gone to sleep or gone to the sky is almost impossible for a child to understand. You can talk with your child about the spirit of the person if you wish and if this is something you believe but you must be careful that they are able to understand the concept.
  7. The funeral can really support your child to say goodbye just like it allows others to say goodbye. You may also need to do more than this with your child depending on whom it is that died. You can then have a special day each year with them where they decide how best they want to celebrate this person’s memory.
  8. Encourage your child to talk openly about the person who has died. It may take at least six months to recover from the initial shock and up to three years to accept that life is now different but that life will, and does, go on. If you feel after six months that your child is not coping very well with the death then it may be time to seek professional support such as Rainbows Ireland.  They offer free bereavement support for children and young people throughout Ireland.
  9. It can be helpful to create a special book, with pictures and memories of your departed loved, to help your children to remember them.
  10. It is really important that you as a parent seek support if you need to. You won’t be able to support your child if you neglect your own needs. It is very hard to cope with grief so don’t be shy about asking for help.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

For support and advice on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

 

 

Parenting | Accepting teen relationships

couple-690765_1280As children mature into teenagers, innocent childhood crushes on school-friends can give way to more serious romantic interest. By the time your child reaches secondary school, you can support them with dating. It is better as a parent to support this than to forbid them and have your child sneak behind your back.  Allow your child the comfort of being honest with you as they develop during this stage.

We offer advice on supporting your child through teenage dating:

  1. As children progress through their teenage years, the innocent dates will grow into relationships and become more serious. Talk about responsible behaviour and respect for themselves and the other person. Agree on dating rules.
  2. When you want to broach the subject of sexual relationships the conversation should start with the notion of responsible behaviour. Some parents feel strongly that if you talk to your teen about sex then you are encouraging them to be sexually active. This is by no means true. Don’t pretend that if you don’t talk to them about sex that they will remain inactive.
  3. Once your child reaches the teen years it is important to talk to them about contraception. You may wish to take your daughter to your family GP. You can visit the GP first and then allow your daughter go in alone while you sit outside the door and give her the opportunity to take responsibility for her actions and personal care. For the boys, ensure they understand about contraception. Support them to buy male contraception and ensure they know how to use them (there is no age restriction on the purchase of condoms). Ensure they know that they are responsible for their actions and should never expect another person to keep them safe. Each young person must know that they have to take steps to keep themselves safe when they decide to become sexually active.
  4. If you have this talk with your teen at an early age, it doesn’t mean they will become sexually active earlier but waiting until they are past 16-years-old is not wise. Be brave, you are teaching your child to be responsible. It is a part of parenting that so many parents turn a blind eye to. Relationships are a natural part of life and when teens are educated properly about them and about their own bodies they are less likely to disrespect themselves.
  5. Ensure your teen knows that they have control over when they choose to have an intimate relationship. Peer pressure can seem a heavy burden at this age. It can seem that everyone is experimenting but often this is not the case. Help your teen to be feel confident in many areas of life and to value themselves so they can decide what is right for them and not take any steps that they are uncomfortable with.
  6. The other area that is becoming more concerning in teen relationships is abuse. Teens need to know and recognise the signs of control and abuse. Just because they are in a relationship doesn’t mean they should lose their identity. Support your teen to have a voice and also to treat others with respect. Watch their relationships closely and talk with your teen if you notice that their treatment of their partner is not as it should be. Relationship abuse can start in teen relationships and parents need to be aware of this. (Women’s Aid have been working to highlight the issue of abusive dating relationships. Teenage boys in abusive relationships can get support from Amen.)
  7. For many parents there may be extra worries if they think that their teen could be gay, lesbian or bisexual. Parents can feel really anxious and don’t know how to handle this information. The most important thing to remember is that you love your child no matter what. If your child has come to tell  you this then they must feel safe in their relationship with you. It is important not to destroy this now. They need you more than ever as they go through a very challenging time in their life. Belongto offer supports for LGBT young people and their parents.
  8. You want your child to be happy and safe and to find their way in the world. We all want our child to find the easy path in life but that is not always possible. If we can love our children unconditionally they will have the support they need to find their path.  If we can find time to listen to them, to talk to them, and try to understand them, then we will be more confident that they will find their way.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie

 

Parenting | How to answer the awkward questions?

kids-1508121_1280Children are inquisitive. They love information. They ask constant questions because their minds are continuously processing everything they see and hear. Children come to their parents all the time to clarify the things they don’t really understand. As parents, we want to help our children learn and understand yet sometimes when they ask an ‘awkward question’ it is tempting to gloss over it.

There are so many issues that parents can find difficult to discuss with their children. Depending on our own experiences and beliefs, how ‘awkward’ a question is for us as individuals can vary hugely. For many parents, those awkward questions may include: “Where do babies come from? What is sex? What does gay mean? Why does he have two mammies? Why don’t I have a mammy? Why don’t I have a daddy? Why are some people homeless?”.

This week we offer ’10 ways to’ support us in answering those awkward questions:

  1. Don’t try to fob a child off by changing the subject or saying they are too young. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to get some information. By not answering awkward questions and telling children they are ‘too young’ to know such things, we are making taboos of so many subjects that are normal in our society. Children will learn quickly not to ask us anymore, and they may find other, perhaps unreliable, sources to answer their questions. A question will not go away until your child is satisfied with the answer they find.
  2. Be honest in an age appropriate way. This does not mean you wait until they are teens to tell them details (when you may be even more embarrassed). Give children little bits of information to match what they can understand as they develop. Plant the seeds and build the tree over time with them.
  3. At times a question may upset you yet this is no reason to not answer it. You may have to explain to your child that this question makes you a little sad but that you will talk with them about it. A parent absent from your child’s life is often very difficult to talk about and many parents worry that their child will feel the rejection they themselves may have experienced. But remember that children have a different relationship with and perception of an absent person in their life. They will not feel the same as you. Here we explore ways to explain an absent parent.
  4. Be factual and try not to make the information about any subject into a fairy tale. Educate your child about families and all the diverse families in our society.
  5. Try to have an open relationship with your child from the first days. Once they start talking to you, start talking and sharing with them. Remember, even though it may seem a long time away now, you don’t know what choices your child will make as they grow up and you don’t want them to think that you may be unsupportive of them in the future.
  6. Just because you explain once, that probably won’t mean that you’re off the hook. Children take pieces from each and every conversation. Some bits they recall and other bits get left behind. They will ask you again so try to be patient and answer them again. Maybe you can add in additional age appropriate detail the next time.
  7. There are many excellent books out there to support parents in talking with children about almost every topic. Perhaps you can get some books in the library and introduce them during story time.
  8. If your child has wrong information or understanding then correct them from the first error. Try to keep the information clear. Be open and honest or you will only create more awkward situations in the future. Always try to build your relationship based on trust.
  9. At times your child’s other parent might object to you answering these awkward questions. Try to talk with them and help them to understand why it is important to answer your child’s questions honestly. Provided you are sharing age appropriate information then you need not worry.
  10. Seek support from service providers such as One Family if you would you like support in talking with your child about challenging situations. Once you start to talk openly with your child and believe that you are the right person to help them understand the very complex world we live in then it will become easier for you.

This article is part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, and is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Next week we talk about teen relationships and sexuality.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email support@onefamily.ie.

 

Parenting | Recognising and dealing with stress

people-1492052_1920Many parents would describe themselves as busy but do not recognise when they are stressed. Recently I have wondered if parents are more stressed than they realise. The logistics of keeping our children’s lives running smoothly is very stressful. Added stress can come with parenting alone or sharing parenting and being a working parenting can pile on even more stress. In these circumstances it would be impossible not to feel stressed.

In order to cope we often convince ourselves that we are just busy. Some of us can cope better with stress but others may hide it well. If you fail to address the issues causing you stress, problems can arise with your health, your relationships, your well-being, your friendships, your social life, or the most importantly of all, your relationship with our children.

Here are some tips to help us recognise and manage stress in today’s hectic world:

  1. Some leading psychologists such as Dr Tony Humphreys would believe that all illness makes sense. That every little illness from a sore eye to cancer is our body telling us something. If we ignore the early warning signs then illness can come as a way to make us stand up and notice. It usually stops us in our tracks and forces us to take time off. As parents we are very conscious of looking after our children’s health but what do we do when we are feeling unwell? We battle through it. It is important not to ignore even the most subtle symptoms and signals.
  2. Finding ways to take time out as a parent is very difficult especially when parenting alone. As a parent told me recently, the favours are all used up for childcare in order to go to work, so how do you get time off to just take a break? It is crucial to find ways to have time off even if this is one hour a week or an afternoon a month. Find support from other parents. All parents are feeling the same way. Use play dates to your advantage to get some space to yourself and when you do, do not clean the house. Sit down, relax, rest. The housework will always be there.
  3. Talking to someone is really helpful in managing stress. Talking with other parents can be really beneficial as you will find that they are experiencing similar stresses to you. Look in your community and see if there are any groups you can join. It doesn’t have to be parenting, it can be any group that allows you an opportunity to meet other adults and chat when the children aren’t around.
  4. Find time at home with your children to just relax. Children can be involved in so many activities after school and during the week, so take time to sit together as family. Watch a movie or play a game and just relax the old fashioned way. Children really enjoy having pyjama days with parents, just staying in, sitting on the sofa and talking with each other. So much good can come from a day like this. Why not have a pyjama day once a month?
  5. Treat yourself now and again. Finding ways to value what you need is really crucial to good self care. Poor self care can affect your confidence and once your confidence is affected your parenting will be affected. Be aware of how you are feeling. Check the emotional thermometer on a daily basis and respond to it. You deserve the same level of care as you give to your children. Let your children see that you deserve care and respect too.
  6. Ask yourself why you are doing so much. If your child is happy to spend more time with their other parent (and this is workable) explore this as an option. Can you accept or ask for more support? Maybe there are some practical things your child’s other parent can do to help out. If this is not an option, explore the lifestyle you have created for yourself and your child. Is it necessary to be so busy? Is there any way to cut some things out so you have more breathing space?
  7. If you feel you have reached a stage whereby you are worried you cannot cope any longer it is advisable to seek professional support. You can see a counsellor, a parent mentor or your GP for advice and support. You can also call One Family’s Helpline for support, askonefamily on 01 662 9212 or lo-call 1890 662212.

This article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly series of parenting tips. You can read more tips here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports.

Join the One Family Parenting Group online here

Parenting | Talking to your daughter about her first period

girl-648121_1280Most women will remember when the subject of their period was first broached, usually by their mum or an older female relative. You may recall a fumbling two minute explanation that raised more questions than it answered or perhaps you were given a confident explanation and felt well informed and prepared afterwards. Chances are your ‘period chat’ fell somewhere in the middle. Dads won’t have these memories to draw upon but that doesn’t necessarily put you at a disadvantage when talking to your daughter. The important thing to remember surrounding the subject of periods, and other issues around puberty, is that your daughter feels she can talk to you about it; you are acknowledging that she is maturing into a young woman. Here are some tips around talking to your daughter about getting her first period:

  1. The age at which girls have their first period can vary from 10-years-old to 15-years-old. Girls need to have this chat with parents early on in case they are an early developer. Most of the time, parents will notice that their daughters are developing so they are prompted to explain about periods. Don’t leave it too late, it is important to have the chat in advance of her first period.
  2. Girls who live with mum will have noticed that their mum has a period so the subject will not be a total surprise. Many girls will have spoken to their friends about periods and may have information from friends who have older sisters. It is important that they have the correct information and not just school-yard gossip.
  3. Make a date with your daughter and do something special with her. Talk to her about how much she is growing up and how responsible she is becoming.
  4. In school, many children will follow the Stay Safe Programme in which they talk about their bodies and what they are capable of. Many 10-year-olds know where babies come from so in order to explain periods you need to explain a little more about babies. Fertility is the key message when it comes to periods.
  5. Children like information and they like to know how and why their bodies work as they do. Books can be very useful.  Explain how women and girls creates eggs (ovulate) and what happens to these eggs each month. Don’t make it so complicated that your child will be horrified by the content. Keep it simple but precise and factual. Help your daughter to to see how fascinating it is.
  6. Take them to the shops and show them the different feminine hygiene/sanitary products available and purchase a packet for them to have for the first time. Encourage them to have sanitary products in their schoolbag for emergencies as you don’t know when the first time will be.
  7. Ensure that sanitary products are bought in the weekly groceries. Encourage them to talk openly about periods. Periods do not need to be a hidden part of life although they are private.
  8. Some girls might be horrified at the thought of menstruating and horrified by their period when it occurs. It can take a few years for girls to adjust and become independent around managing their period.
  9. Girls may need pain relief so support them with this but also encourage them to know that life goes on. Try not to allow them to have time off school or activities as this can create a lifelong pattern. Moods can change also so they will need support to manage their emotions.
  10. In common with other aspects of parenting it is about being brave and supporting your child. Whether you are a dad or a mum raising a young girl you should take on the responsibility of informing your daughter about her period. It will give you a special space in your daughter’s life where they know they can talk to you and trust you with their deepest worries and issues.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

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Parenting | How to resolve issues with teachers

When issues with your child arise in schoolstudent-1647136_1280 it is important that you, as their parent, are notified. The teacher or principal may contact you to address the issue if they feel it warrants attention but in other cases it may be your child who has an issue with a teacher and comes to you.

When the latter occurs, you can be at a disadvantage as you are emotionally involved in the issue. How you communicate with the teacher or principal is an important factor in resolving issues fairly and promptly for all. Here are ’10 ways’ to support you to resolve your child’s issues with authority figures in school:

  1. When your child tells you of an incident in the school with their teacher, or any school figure, you must sit with your child and hear the full story. Understand the context in which it happened. Ask them to clarify when, and where, it happened and how they felt about it at the time. Talk with them about how they are feeling now.
  2. Only get involved if your child feels they need your support. Try writing a letter to the teacher and request a follow-up meeting. Let your child know that you are going to contact their teacher or principal. Ask them how they feel about this.
  3. While you can become involved, your child also needs to be able to talk to their teacher about what they are not happy or comfortable with in that teacher’s approach.
  4. If your child behaved very poorly stand up and acknowledge this. You are doing them no favours otherwise. Your child should always be treated fairly and with respect and should return this respect to their teacher.
  5. Hearing the other side is important as is getting the school figure to hear your child’s side of the story. If your child has been hurt by the school’s approach, they need to know that fact in order for any change to take place. Let the teacher or principal know that you want to understand the full story and you are prepared to work with them to achieve change.
  6. Ensure that you are not emotionally charged. Think about what you need to say and how you need to say it. Clear and direct communication is the key to assertive communication. Using ‘I’ statements are to be avoided (“I think, I know, I feel, I am etc.) as the tone of these can suggest you are blaming or condemning another person’s actions and conflict is the most likely outcome.
  7. In order to support our children to stand up for themselves and communicate assertively we need to strive to be role models for them. We need to champion them at all times. We need to stand tall beside them and support them. If we don’t support children to speak up and seek the right to be treated with respect they will not know they have this right as they mature into adults.
  8. If you have taken every step to positively engage with the teacher/principal and they are not interested in engaging with you then you need to engage with the board of management. Schools are there to provide a service to children and parents and at times they may need extra resources and support from their board to do this. The board need to be informed if issues cannot be resolved.
  9. Never hide abuse or intimidation in schools. Bring another parent with you if you feel your voice is not strong enough to talk with a teacher. Most teachers welcome parents coming to them with issues when they first happen before they escalate. Do not approach teachers in front of other parents or children. Give them the respect you are seeking for you and your child.
  10. During the course of the meeting, if you really feel that you cannot be supported, then leave. Go home and think about this again. Think about the language you have used and explore if you can change anything in your approach. Talk with a parent from the parent teacher council in confidence. Review the school policies and then try again.

This ’10 Ways to’ article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.

Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

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