Responsible Behaviour

Parenting | 10 Ways to Talk to Your Teenager About Responsible Behaviour

Responsible BehaviourMany parents dread the teenage years. Drinking alcohol, smoking, sex and many other issues come up when our children reach this age. Many of them are normal for this stage of development. At times we can worry too much about what the teenage years will bring so we ban everything, thinking if we take full control nothing can go wrong. The unfortunate thing is, you are not spending as much time with your child now, so you are not going to be able to control everything they do or everything that happens to them.

Here are some tips to help you survive the journey with your child and see them through the teenage years in a positive way:

  1. Try to not expect the worst. We hear so much from other parents and the media about what young people get up to. This is usually a smaller percentage than you would think. Try not to be afraid to hear what lies ahead for your teen. It can be a wonderful time for them and for you if you trust your skills as a parent and trust your child to make good choices.
  2. Try not to ban things. The more you say ‘no’ the more your teen will focus their energy on finding a way to get or to do whatever they want. Instead explore with your teenager how they can make good choices around what it is they need to do.
  3. Almost every teen will try alcohol, most likely between 14-17 years old. There is very little you can do to stop them from accessing alcohol if they really want to. Talk with them about your fears around what alcohol can do to a person. Talk with them about how they would cope. Who would they go to for support if they made the wrong choice? Talk with them about making responsible choices.
  4. At this age teenagers can also be in and out of many relationships. Some young people will engage in sexual behaviour before the age of 18. You can talk with them about self respect, feeling safe, saying ‘No’. Try not to back away from talking with your teen about contraception. Make a GP appointment for girls especially and help them get information about their options. Introduce your teen to literature around relationships. By supporting your teen to be armed with the correct information you will be supporting them to make the right choices. Just because you give them this information does not mean you are giving them permission to engage in sexual relationships, but making sure that if they choose to they are doing it in a responsible way.
  5. Allow your teenager some freedom. If you can start in the very early years to give your child opportunities to make choices and act in responsible ways then as teenagers you will have some idea of what your teenager is capable of. Teenagers need space and need for you to trust them. Start from a place of trust, if they prove unable to act responsibly, then take away the freedoms and start again.
  6. Be very clear with your teenager about boundaries in the home and the community. Stick to your principles. Ensure your teen understands the boundaries and why they exist. Review them regularly as you will need to shift the boundaries as your teen grows and shows you how responsible they can be.
  7. Be fair. Listen to your teenager and hear what they have to say. Try not to do things because that is how you were parented or because you feel you are expected to parent in certain ways. Be confident in how you parent, you know your child best and you need to trust your instincts. If you really feel you are out of your depth seek professional support. Call the askonefamily helpline on 1890 662 212
  8. Try to be not too strict with teens. Allow them downtime. Do they really need to get up by 10am at the weekends? Why not get a piercing? What about it if they wear to much make up or dye their hair? Choose your battles wisely and be open to hearing their views. Explore the issue for yourself. Educate yourself about Facebook and other social media. Share your views with teens and try to reach agreement with them.
  9. Although you are asked to be open to the challenges of the teenage years you must also be very clear about what you expect from your teen. Follow through and do not change the rules to suit you. Deal with issues when they arise and try not to imagine every wrong choice your teen will make. Making mistakes is part of growing up, making them in the safety of your family and home are what you want. You can then be there to offer support.
  10. Try not to criticise your teen. They are trying their best. Life can be hard for them too. Do not belittle the challenges they face. Although they are very near to adulthood they are still children so allow them these years to explore, learn and understand the type of person they are and want to become.

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.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Thursday 24 September from 5pm-6pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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 | 10 Ways to Relate to Your Teenager

Relating To Your TeenagerOften parents will say they had a great relationship with their child until they became a teenager. Many of us will know every move our child makes up to the end of primary school and then suddenly they begin second level. There are many changes that you could be facing – you may no longer be taking them to school, they may be getting public buses, there is a wider catchment area for the school so you no longer know the parents. All these factors can lead to parents becoming just as anxious as the child about the start of secondary school. At this stage the key to survival is realising that you can’t control your child. Your role is to teach them responsibility and allow them the opportunity to be responsible.

Here are some steps you can take to support a positive relationship with your teen:

  1. Trust them, you have had 12 years of hand holding and now it is time to start letting go.
  2. Expect your child to be responsible. You will not know what they are capable of until you let them try. Support them to be responsible by allowing them the space to make up their own minds.
  3. Meet them where they are at. If it seems like they are not able for the level of responsibility you offer, draw back a little and start again.
  4. Talk ‘with’ them, not ‘at’ them. Try to hear what they have to say. Let them express their opinions, don’t react, just listen.
  5. Do not jump in with your answers. Support them to explore the issue they have and to come up with reasonable solutions to it. Allow them make the decision on how they move forward and address their problem.
  6. Take time to be present to them. Sit with them and watch what they like to watch. Be available to them as much as you can. The more time you spend in their company the more you will understand their world. It is more complex than you might imagine.
  7. Do not trivialise their issues. Life can be very complicated and they need your support to find their way through it.
  8. Remember, they are now growing up, in a few years they may move out. Question what you are doing with them and for them. Is it the right thing? Are you still treating them like children, but expecting them to behave like teenagers?
  9. Value what they have to say. Ask their opinion on family matters and issues within society. You may be surprised what you learn about your teenager. It is healthy to get them talking about how they feel and how they see the world.
  10. Try to say ‘yes’ to what they need and explore with them how they can achieve it. While we have to be realistic and responsible with what we allow them to have, we can also enable them to gain extra things they want. At times it can feel like our children think we have an endless supply box. As parents, we have to remember that teenagers can be very self absorbed, their world is far more important than ours, but it is how we share our worlds that decides how lifelong bonds can be formed.

Staying separate from their issues is very important. Explore with them but do not become immersed in their life. Allow them space and some freedom within reasonable limits and with clear boundaries. Enjoy your teenager, in a few short years your work will be done and they will fly off to be their own person. If you create good relationships now you can be sure they will always come back to you for support throughout their life journey.

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.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Build and Maintain a Close Relationship with Your Teenager 

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Thursday 17 September from 5pm-6pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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 | 10 Ways to Settle Back into the School Routine

back to school Settling back into the school routine can be very challenging. When you are parenting school age children, the best way to make a plan is to do it together with your children. Whether is it September or another time of the year, here are some tips to support you.

  1. Call a family meeting. If you have not tried this before try not be skeptical as it can be very effective. By bringing the whole family together you are making a statement – This is our family and our issue to resolve together, which is a really good principle to parent by. If you need extra advice on how to do this, read our ’10 ways to’ run a family meeting
  2. When you have all the family in one place then make your statement – School is back on, how can we ensure a good term ahead for everyone?
  3. Ask each person to say what they need in the next term. You should expect various responses, from ‘no nagging’, to ‘not wanting homework’ to needing ‘time out with friends’. This is normal, take note of all suggestions.
  4. Once you have a list of what everyone needs, then you can start to explore if and how these needs can be met.
  5. If you have older children, maybe they can offer to help meet the needs of younger children. Such as supporting them with homework.
  6. Be sure to name your needs and be reasonable. Try to keep them very specific, e.g. “I need to know homework is done every day. “I need everyone in bed at a reasonable time.” “I need everyone to take a level of responsibility around getting ready for school in the mornings.”
  7. Agree what each person can do for themselves. “Everyone has their own alarm clock.” “Everyone makes their own sandwiches, once they are over about 7 years old. Your job is to provide the food, agree what needs to be available, but you do not have to be responsible for filling the boxes.
  8. Once you have agreed on the key principles of what everyone needs to do, allow some space and variation in how each person achieves them. If you have older children and teenagers try not to schedule every minute for them. Allow them choose when homework will be done. It is their homework. Allow them some choice around free time after school before homework starts. Allow them to choose when they eat. You can prepare dinner, but is it reasonable to expect everyone to eat at the same time? You can also agree on family time and when you schedule some time together as a family.
  9. If we try to control everything our children do, we are just setting ourselves up for failure – along with exhaustion! As parents, it is important we remember that our role is to prepare children for life. Allowing them to make choices and have some control is part of this process. If your child is never allowed to plan their own time and make reasonable choices, how will they learn? How will you know what they are capable of?
  10. Look after yourself well. In order to parent our children effectively, we must learn to parent ourselves. Take time out for you. Be creative in how you can get this time. You will have thought of many of your own needs during this process and your children are not responsible for meeting them. You need to find ways to meet them yourself. In this way you will have the patience and energy to listen, understand and engage in positive ways with your children.

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.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to manage Homework With Primary School Children 

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 7 September from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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 | 10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Preschool

ABCAs summer winds down, we are thinking about school again. For parents with young children, this means looking into preschools for your children. Sending your child to preschool for the first time is a big step in both your and your child’s life, and it is important to make sure both of you are prepared to take that step. There are many ways to see if your child is ready for preschool, and in this week’s edition of our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we look at ways to prepare your child for preschool.

  1. Sit back and look at how much your child has grown in the past 3 years. Ask yourself if you are fully supporting them to be more responsible, allowing them make choices and have more control over what they want and how they do things.
  2. Ensure your child is toilet trained, and able to manage in the toilet unaided.
  3. Ensure your child can use a spoon to feed themselves, that they can recognise their belongings, get out their lunch and tidy away by themself.
  4. Support your child to learn the rules of friendship, taking turns, sharing, asking for what they want and being inclusive of all children.
  5. Play school with them at home. Help them act out any fears around school, and through role play help them understand what will be expected of them in preschool.
  6. Explore with them how they need to behave in preschool and what will happen if they misbehave.
  7. Talk with them about the other children who will be there, and how they will be very friendly with some though may not really like some children. Encourage them to have time for everyone and to aim to be friendly with all the children.
  8. Visit the preschool in advance. Understand the policies and procedures in advance as a parent, and help your child know what their day will look like in preschool. There are great differences between many preschools.
  9. Keep preschool fresh in your child’s mind in the weeks leading up to them starting. Help them be confident by preparing them well and encouraging them to practice at home by asking questions and resolving small disputes in a positive manner
  10. Don’t put any pressure on your child. It is not university, so relax about whether they know their colours and numbers. They will learn if they are happy and feel supported to do so.

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.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to manage Homework With Primary School Children 

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Tuesday 1 September from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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.

Shared Parenting

Parenting | 10 Ways to Do Your Best When Sharing Parenting

Shared Parenting How do you know what is best for your child when you are sharing parenting?

  1. One Family supports children to have contact with both of their parents if it is safe for them to do so. We know it can be very challenging but often for children it can benefit them greatly to know they have two parents who can and want to care for them.
  2. What age children stay over with the contact parent from raises great debate for the families we work with. The best way to judge this is to look at the relationship your child has with their other parent. Has the other parent lived with them since birth? Are they familiar with the other parent getting them ready for bed and bathing them? Is your child emotionally attached to the other parent? If the answer is generally yes, then most likely your child will do well on sleepovers, once they settle into a routine with the other parent.
  3. If you have a new born, it is often felt that for the baby it can cause great anxiety if they are separated from a main caregiver. Mums are hugely important in this stage of development. That is not to take from the value of the father’s role, but separation anxiety at this young age can have lasting impacts on children.
  4. For children who are of school age, toilet trained, talking and able to express themselves to some extent, overnights can work out fine. Often they are anxious about the parent they leave behind. It is important to let your child know that you support them to have a relationship with both of their parents. Assure them that you are fine when they are not at home and that you will look forward to seeing them when they come back.
  5. Older children (12+) need to have a voice around contact plans. At this stage of development they are keen to spend time with friends and social gatherings. Not wanting to go on contact is nothing to do with either parent usually; it is more often about your young teen wanting to have their needs met. Allow young teens some space to voice their needs and support good contact around this. At this age, it is all about making ‘dates’ to see your children.
  6. Flexibility is the key to good shared parenting. Although you may have a clear plan detailing contact arrangements, children will change over time. Even if a child is unwell or something happens in school or in the family, this can affect how they feel about contact on any given day or week. Try not to get upset if your child doesn’t want to go on contact sometimes. It can, of course, be very hard not to see your child, but maybe the plans can be adjusted – a shorter visit such as just going for something to eat or, if your relationship is stable enough, inviting the other parent to come along for an hour.
  7. Try not to see contact as your time with your child, but your child’s time with you. Any contact is better than no contact, unless it is not safe for children. The quality of interaction with your child is what makes the difference in a good parent-child relationship.
  8. Be flexible with the other parent. Allow things to be a little free. Children will have family events and occasions with friends that they don’t want to miss. Try not to cause your child to miss out on things that are important to them, because you want to own the contact time.
  9. It is very important that both parents are on time for contact – both dropping off and collecting. However, things can and do happen. Try to remain calm and not to see this as an insult to you, as often nothing is meant by it. Encourage the other parent to keep to clearly agreed times so that you and your children are not anxiously waiting.
  10. Build up contact slowly for children. Start off with short stays and fun things and then move more into normal parenting things in the home. Increase the time slowly until you have reached a schedule that works well for the child and the parents. Be open to allowing your child good contact. It can be very hard to part from your child at any time, but try to believe the other parent loves them too and trust that they will care for the child as well as you do in their own way.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Positively Maintain Contact or 10 Ways to Successful Shared Parenting

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic or any parenting issue on Tuesday 25 August at 5.45pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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 email support@onefamily.ie.

Toddler Tantrum

Parenting | 10 Ways to Cope With Toddler Tantrums

Toddler Tantrum A toddler’s life is full of wonder and awe. Many toddlers are fearless explorers and just want freedom to do things for themselves. For someone so young they can be very sure of what they want and making plans on how to get it. For parents the wonder is usually how they are still alive at the end of everyday with the things you catch them doing or trying to do – Jumping off steps and window ledges, climbing trees, eating dirt, scaling shelves, dancing on the kitchen table and drinking from the toilet are just some of the many daily behaviours of a toddler.

How can we avoid the battle of wills and allow our toddlers some freedom and still kiss them goodnight safely tucked up in bed? It is hard, but not impossible. Allowing children of this age freedom to explore is very challenging for parents. Our job is to keep them safe, but preventing them from doing things can cause even greater challenges in the form of tantrums – a fight for independence!

  1. The first step is to know that your child is keen to explore, they want to try things for themselves. We won’t know what they are capable of unless we let them try. They won’t know what they are capable of unless you allow them to try. Confident children are those who have been allowed to try, try and try again.
  2. Stay calm when you see your toddler climbing a tree in the back garden. Admire their ability and determination to succeed. Try coming close, saying nothing and watching them. Know that you are ready to catch them if they fall or to offer admiration when they succeed. Shouting in their direction may scare them and cause a fall. Supporting them to explore helps to develop their confidence and competency.
  3. The question is how you can allow them climb safely. What can you construct in your garden to keep them safe and allow them climb. Our fear comes out of safety for the child. So if you can create safety then you don’t have to be so fearful.
  4. Watch them grow. At times we forget we are parenting a child – someone who is growing stronger everyday and more capable every day. We forget to grow with them. Reflect on how much you do for your child that really they are capable of doing for themselves. How many parents are still spoon feeding a 2 year old, how many have 2 year olds in cots? What are you really doing for your child in this case?
  5. For toddlers you have to be able to allow them grow. Give them opportunities to do things for themselves – give them the spoon, it will be a longer and messier process, but it will pay off in the end. Responsibilities enable children to become more capable and most importantly develop their self esteem.
  6. Allow your toddler to make choices. You may think that asking a 2 year old what they want to wear or eat is looking for trouble or plain silly. However, when you offer a choice you will learn very quickly that they know exactly what they want. Offer small choices, such as this tracksuit or these jeans, not the whole wardrobe. Ask them would they like yogurt or fruit, milk or water. By starting at an early age you are telling your child that you know they are they have power within the family and that their voice is valued in this home. If you wait until they are older you may have many challenges along the way and it can be very difficult to change long learned behaviours.
  7. Manage your stress. Often when parents are feeling very stressed about work, life, relationships and the responsibility of parenting it can cause us to parent in ways we had hoped not to. Become aware of the triggers and try not to let it influence your parenting. We usually parent in a less democratic way when you are stressed. Identifying stressors and putting measures in place to deal with them helps to notice that you don’t get as flustered or overwhelmed.
  8. Try to say ‘yes’ to toddlers instead of a stream of ‘no’. Think about how often you say No to your toddler and then explore ways in which you can give more Yes answers to them. This is not about toddlers getting their own way, but there is only so much they can understand, so allowing them to do more things can be the best way for them to learn about the world.
  9. Have some fun. When you have a toddler you will most likely have survived at least two years of parenting. You had wished for the day they could walk and talk. Your child will not be a toddler for long, so treasure this time. If you can put yourself in their shoes it will help you see that they just want to explore the world.
  10. Remember. Toddlers are not aiming to drive parents wild; we do that to ourselves. If we allow them the space they need to grow soon they will have passed another stage with great success and you will start to see the real character of your child. This character is formed at toddler stage, so trying to stop areas developing usually will not work; it is more about sanding off the rough edges and giving them guidance.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Parent Through Stressful Times

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Tuesday 18 August from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

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.

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.

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support Your Child On Leaving Cert Results Day

Results DayLeaving Certificate results day … It is a day that parents and teenagers have anticipated for many months, or possibly even years. So many feelings have been generated while waiting on these results, a summer spent wondering what the future holds. For many students, they will also soon be receiving their offers of college places through the CAO. Remember – no matter what the results, life will go on and everyone will find the path that suits them best. Here are our tips on how to support your young person at this time.

  1. Take your child’s lead. If they are feeling sad, feel sad with them. If they are delighted, feel it with them. As parents, we usually want to try to ‘fix’ things for our children, but it is important not to do that and to realise that the feelings our children have, even negative ones, are the most important thing to acknowledge.
  2. Plan a special day with them no matter what the results are. Your child needs to know that you love them as much today as you did yesterday. The result is just a result and life will go on. A special day will help to celebrate all they have achieved in their school years, and show them that either way, they worked hard and deserve to feel proud.
  3. Feelings are the key area of focus this week. Your feelings and your child’s. Make no comparisons. Try not to mention what they should have done – they know. Tell them you are proud of them, talk about all the things they have been so successful at in the last 17/18 years. Talk about their strengths, keep it positive. In a few days time you can help them explore next steps.
  4. Talk with your child in the coming days/weeks. Explore all the options they have. Seek professional support from the various help lines so you know what options are out there. Maybe something will come up that was not considered before.
  5. Unless your teen is keen to return to second level and try again, accept the results and move on. The college offers will come out, maybe your child will get what they want and maybe they won’t. Talk with career guidance experts. There are many routes to the career your child hopes for. It may just mean they have an extra couple of years study to do to get there or could explore an alternate route. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
  6. At times we can forget that the results are not ours and that they do not reflect on our parenting abilities. If you are feeling upset for your child, talk to a friend about your concerns. It is hard when our children grow up and become young adults. Watching them prepare for college, or move out of home, or take their next step into adulthood, can be a difficult time for parents.
  7. If you need some emotional support in the coming days or weeks, why not call our askonefamily helpline on 1890 662212 or 01 6629212.
  8. Allow your child time with their friends. At this stage young people can get great support from their peer group. Set reasonable boundaries with them around celebrations.
  9. Talk with other parents and agree on where teens are going, how they get there and get home. Talk with your teen about responsible behaviours. Support them to know you expect them to make good choices around what they do in the coming days.
  10. Do something fun with your child this week, help them see and feel all the things you love about them. Whether they are happy or unhappy with these results, help them smile and see all the world has to offer to them.

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.

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. Next you might like to read ‘10 Ways to Support a Young Adult‘. You can read the full series here.

Father&daughter on beach

Parenting | 10 Ways to Talk About An Absent Parent (4-8 years)

Father&daughter on beachWhen children start school, it usually becomes more obvious to them that many children have two parents. Not of course always in the same home, but present to some extent in their lives. Therefore, children may start to ask questions about their own parents. For children in Catholic schools, the First Holy Communion preparation often encourages children to explore family trees and this can be the first time it becomes obvious to them that one of their parents is not a part of their life.

Here are our suggestions on how you can start to talk to your child (aged 4-8 years) about their other parent:

  1. The first step is creating a nice space for you and your child to talk without interruption. There are lots of books written on this topic – a list is available from One Family, which you can use to read to your child to introduce the topic. When you are reading about the giraffe that has no daddy, or the penguin that has no mammy, you can then start to relate this to your own child.
  2. Tell your child that they do have another parent. Tell them a little about them at first. Show your child a photograph of their other parent, if you have one. You can tell them you were tidying up and came upon it.
  3. Talk with your child about the day you found out you were pregnant, or that they were going to be born. Tell them a positive story about how you felt. You can then also tell them a little bit about how their other parent felt. Maybe they were scared to become a parent as they knew it was such an important job, they worried they would not be good at it. Tell them that you said ‘I can do it’ and took on this wonderful adventure with your child.
  4. Sometimes at this age, children will not ask that many in-depth questions. They may be happy with some basic facts and just move on, they may not even seem that interested. That is fine, but don’t use it as an excuse to bury the issue.
  5. Once you start talking about the other parent, stay brave and keep talking. You don’t have to talk everyday but now and again, drop in comments about the other parent. Tell the child something about the other parent that the child might like to know. Try to keep the information positive.
  6. When you don’t talk about the other parent, you may think that is good, you are not saying anything bad about them; but saying nothing about the ‘elephant in the room’ sends a negative message to children. Talking is key!
  7. If your child is curious or feels sad that their other parent is not involved, talk with them some more. Tell them about your relationship with the other parent. Tell them about things you did together and the fun you had, maybe you can do some of those things with your child.
  8. Create a shoe box parent. Many children don’t need to have the parent physically present, but they do want to have something that represents them. You can use this using an old shoe box. Tell them to decorate the box and then give them a picture of the other parent to put in it. Draw pictures with them that represent stories you have told them about the other parent. Give them bits to put in the box such as a small ball if the other parent loved football or something from the team they supported. A shell if you enjoyed going to the seaside. Pictures of food they liked to eat. It can be anything but there must be a story attached to it. When they want to feel close to the other parent or they need space to think about their family form, they can go and sit with the box, the stories inside it will comfort them and allow them to, in some way, spend time with this person.
  9. Be honest as much as you can with children. Be positive too. Children do not need to know the story of your relationship as a couple. Keep it factual. Tell them that you believe the other parent does love them, but they don’t know how to show it. Tell them that you don’t know if they will ever meet the other parent. You have no control over that.
  10. Try to explore their dreams. Ask them what they think it would be like if they met the other parent, what they would do? Try to identify what needs the child feels the other parent would meet. Then as the parent actively present to your child, see if you can meet any of these needs. If you can’t, acknowledge them and listen.
  11. Give your child permission to talk openly about the other parent. Often at school children will ask other children about parents. Make sure they feel confident to answer the questions. Usually when a child has a solid relationship with at least one adult who loves them they are often not concerned about who maybe absent from their lives.
  12. Finally, remember you can’t ‘fix’ it; you can’t undo the past and you can’t control the future. Allow your child talk with you and express their feelings. Just tell them thank you for sharing how they feel with you. You don’t have to justify it or try to explain it to them. Some things just cannot be explained. Children process information by talking and asking questions, they may ask you the same question many times over, this is the nature of children. Be patient with them and help them to process their feelings and the world around them.
  13. Help your children understand the diversity of the world, using books can really help to show them that their family form is wonderful just like any other family. Have belief and confidence in your family as a parent will support your child to know they have a great place in the world with a parent who loves them.

The hardest part in talking with your child about the absent parent is dealing with your own feelings. If you have not explored your feelings over the years and have tried to put aside any pain and heartache it caused you, then you may need to seek professional support before you talk with your child, during and after. One Family can support you with this.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Explain an Absent Parent, 10 ways to Talk to Your Child About an Absent Parent (0-3 Years)

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.

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.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Tuesday 11 August from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that anyone can join. Post your questions and share your experiences.

 

 

Parenting | Children’s Books About Families

Finding the right books to support your child during a time of family transition, or to help answer questions that can be challenging, can be difficult.  One Family has compiled a list of children’s books which may help your child to better understand their unique family and all kinds of families.

This extensive list includes books suitable for children from the age of 3 to teenagers, with sections on Divorce and Separation; Family Types; Adoption and Fostering; Death and Bereavement; and Stepparents and Stepfamilies.

You can read or download it here.

askonefamily_200px Logo_Small_LRFor support or information on any of these topics, our askonefamily helpline is available on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212 or by email from 10am-3pm, Monday to Friday.

 

Book Covers

Angry Child

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support an Angry Child

angry childChildren who are feeling very angry on a regular basis usually have some underlying problem that they need help in expressing.  Having to punish a child for the same repeated behaviour is telling you that there is something else going on, and it is time now to make a new plan to deal with it. Part of this new plan involves reflecting on what the actual issue is and asking why your child is feeling this anger. Ask yourself, how do they act around others? Does this behaviour only come out to you?

Here are some key steps to help you to understand why your child is so angry:

  1. Get a large page and map out your child’s feelings. Name the emotions that you see – note the day and time, what happened before hand? Ask yourself, are they hungry or tired? Did they have a certain activity in school or with their minders this day? What about siblings, what are they doing at this time? Was there contact (if sharing parenting with their other parent)? Try to create a very clear picture of what is going on at that exact time when the anger outbursts occur.
  2. You will need to keep an anger diary for at least a week if the behaviour happens on numerous occasions. Try to see what is similar in each event. What may be prompting the anger outburst? Is there something you can see that is a challenge for your child? If not, don’t give up. Keep the diary, keep questioning, and keep looking. Perhaps ask a close friend to look at it for you, maybe a fresh pair of eyes will help.
  3. The next step is to look at you. Look at all the same questions and more. What is happening for you at this time? Are you just home from work? Are you hungry or tired? Do you have company over? Is there another child over? Are you feeling stressed? Basically, you are trying to see if there is something happening for you which may be causing you to respond to your child in a way that triggers an outburst. Often we can hold on to some anger and let go of it as things improve; however one thing can be enough for you to erupt. Are you erupting?
  4. Hopefully you will have discovered something through this exercise. When you can identify the possible triggers for the anger, then you can set to work. Firstly, if your child is over 2.5 years it should be possible for you to sit with them and explain to them in simple words what you see happening for them. Name the behaviour; try to stay away from blame. You need to be a bit like a commentator of a football match. You are naming only what you see. Then ask your child how they are feeling now.
  5. Tell your child clearly what you need from them, e.g. “I can see you are really angry with me when you are not allowed to stay up late. I feel you kicking me and hitting out. I need you to have good sleep and be able for the next day. I need you not to kick me, because it hurts.”
  6. Encourage a little empathy around the feelings. What they are feeling, e.g. “I know it can be hard to go to bed, especially when it is bright and you can hear me in the kitchen. I know you have lots of stories to tell me.” Also what you are feeling: “I am tired at this time. I really love to hear your stories, but sometimes I have to get jobs done and get organised.”
  7. Make a plan to make a change. If your child is clearly telling you they want more of your time, then plan how you can make this happen. Can you add in quality one-to-one time together each day for 20 minutes? Can you have quality time at the weekends? Talk with your child, e.g. “I hear you saying you would like more time with Daddy. How about we make a calendar and put in pictures of things we can do each day and at the weekend?’”Assure your child that you will stick to that calendar, and do it.
  8. Talk with your child about how they can express anger in healthy ways. Reflect on how you deal with anger. Remember, you are their role model. Help them explore things they can do, depending on their age: jump up and down 10 times, take deep breaths, use words, have a signal, have a special place to sit. You will decide best what works in your home.
  9. When the plan is agreed, thank your child for the chat. Tell them it is good when you share and try to explore what is happening for everyone. Tell them you will talk again in a few days to see how they are feeling.
  10. Help your child to succeed in this new plan. Do not vary the plan when other things go wrong. The plan is for this behaviour only, so use it that way. If there are other issues, deal with them in similar ways but separately.

Let us know how you get on at implementing this plan. Share your stories with other parents in our new One Family Parenting Group on Facebook.

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.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Improve Listening In The Home

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.