Family Pride

Parenting | 10 Ways to Feel Pride In Your Family

Family PrideIt is important for you and your children to have a sense of pride about your family. No matter what form your family takes, what wealth you may or may not have, or what activities you may or may not do, being secure in one’s family and self – which will nurture family pride – is achieved through building strong supportive relationships. It is the quality of these relationships at home that has most importance for a child’s outcomes. When every member of the family feels cherished and valued, they experience higher self-esteem which contributes to family self-esteem. To build strong relationships, establish pride and a sense of innate family self-esteem, we must encourage positive emotional growth in our children and in ourselves. In this week’s instalment of our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we looks at some ways to nurture positive growth and your family’s sense of pride.

  1. When children feel a sense of belonging and sense of pride in their families, they can be emotionally strong. Developing family rituals and traditions can bolster this.
  2. Giving children messages of encouragement enables them to develop a positive sense of who they are.
  3. Remember that for your child you are the expert – you are the all important ‘big’ person. How you behave impacts most strongly on your child. Develop pride in yourself as a parent and show pride in your family unit.
  4. When you get it wrong say, ‘I am sorry, I made a mistake’. Saying sorry does not weaken your role as a parent and models positive behaviour for your child.
  5. Keep organised. Simple tools such as a hand-drawn weekly planner on the ‘fridge can help with organising activities, menus, homework time etc. Knowing what is happening helps children to feel secure. Don’t be stressed if you do not have an always perfectly clean and tidy home. It’s difficult to achieve with children! What is important is that your home provide a safe, secure and comfortable environment for your child. Every member of the family should treasure their home and feel pride in their space.
  6. Spend some time thinking about how you can best meet your child’s needs and if there are changes you can make.
  7. Examine your needs as a parent. How can you meet these needs? Remember that the key to positive and successful parenting is to parent yourself first. You must meet your own needs so that you can best meet the needs of your child.
  8. Show affection towards each other. Expressing that you care both strengthens and celebrates your bond as a family unit.
  9. Think about respect within your family. Do you respect your children as you do other adults in your life? Do your children respect you? If not, think about why this is and what changes could be made.
  10. Aim to be a ‘good enough’ parent; no one is perfect and we do not want our children to feel they have to be perfect.

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.

LIVE Facebook Q&A on this topic with Geraldine, 25 May from 11am-12pm on our NEW One Family Parenting Facebook GroupJoin in and post your questions.

Next you might like to read: 10 ways to Parent Self Care or 10 ways to Improve your Child’s Self Esteem

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.

Supporting A Child Who Is Being Bullied

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support A Child Who Is Being Bullied

Supporting A Child Who Is Being BulliedIt is agonising for a parent or guardian to suspect or learn that their child is being bullied while at school. The priority if this happens is to understand and support your child, while taking action to stop the bullying and doing everything possible to prevent it happening again in the future. As part of our weekly series of parenting tips, here are 10 ways to support a child who is being bullied.

  1. As a parent, you need to recognise that your child is being bullied. Pay attention to changes in your child’s behaviour, personality and routine.
  2. If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, and they are old enough to understand the language, ask them straight out. Otherwise ask them in an age appropriate way.
  3. Fostering really good clear ongoing communication between parents and children is the key to knowing your child and supporting them with difficulties. If as a parent you cannot do this, try to ensure that there are other adults in your child’s life that they will talk with.
  4. Encourage children to talk about their feelings, around the bullying and the bully.
  5. It may be difficult, but ask yourself if there is any possible reason that your child may have been vulnerable to being bullied. Explore what you can do to support your child in these areas – children want to fit in and be part of the group. How can you help them with this?
  6. Children with low self esteem and a poor sense of self worth may be more vulnerable to being bullied. Parents need to support children to increase their self esteem. It is important for parents themselves to consider their own level of self esteem as this impacts on children.
  7. Reporting the issue to the school and having regular communication to monitor the situation with the school principal is crucial.
  8. Children need to find their voice in the home and to practice being assertive in order to have the confidence to do this in school and in the play ground. Role play with your child, expect and encourage them to have a voice in the home.
  9. Do not blame, judge or criticise a child for being bullied. Offer reassurance and support. Empower your child to come up with ways to deal with the bullying. Try not to take over. Empowerment will increase self esteem and help your child see that they have the power to make change happen.
  10. Help your child to have positive friendships in school; many children need their parents to help them to make their friendships blossom. Practical ways to help are to organise play dates and be friendly with other parents to help your child find where they fit.

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 Monday 18 May from 11am-12pm on NEW One Family Parenting Group. Join in and post your question.

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.

Supporting Young People Doing Exams

Parenting | 10 Ways to Support A Young Person During Exams

Supporting young people doing examsExam time … Not a phrase that most parents relish! In any family, exam time can add extra stress and pressure to each member of the family. It is not only the young person taking the exam that is impacted so it is important to keep some thoughts in mind which may support both ourselves as parents and our children during this time. Here are our suggestions to help you and your young student experience a less stressful exam time:

  1. Do you remember what it was like when you were taking exams yourself? Most of us probably needed some space and didn’t want to get asked too many questions after each exam. With this in mind, try to provide the calm environment your young person needs to study and relax in.
  2. Offering this space to one child may have impacts on other children in the family, especially if they are younger. Try to spend time outside with younger children and organise some play dates for them if you can. You’ll have the school summer holidays to organise more time together as a family.
  3. Try to stay calm. Sometimes it can feel almost like we’re the ones taking the exam! We worry constantly and watch every move our children make; checking what they eat, if they’re sleeping enough, if they’re watching too much TV, if they have revised and studied enough. It is important that we support our children to plan and organise their own time. They can’t study all of the time, relaxation is also important in achieving results.
  4. If you feel concern that your young person has no interest in studying, remember that your relationship with your child is much more important than any exam result. We want our children to believe in themselves and to trust that they can do well. Help them to understand that exam results are not a reflection of who they are, but that they are just the way of our world, so exams are something that we need to do as well as we can. Let them know that you are proud of them no matter what the outcome. Trust in your child’s ability, they will find their own way in the world and they might not find their future path through academics.
  5. Try to have established a habit of sharing regular quality time with your child. It can be more difficult to do as they become teenagers and young adults, but make a date with them weekly if you can. Take time out to plan things together. To talk about life after the exams. To hear their fears and anxieties. Help them to feel valued and supported within your family. Remind them that there is a path for them. Exams may or may not be a part of it.
  6. Young people taking exams are quite likely to be extra moody or sensitive, maybe even rude, and may not show any interest in family pursuits or in their siblings. Try to support other children to understand what they are going through and maintain ground rules of respect within the home. It is okay for your young person to feel overwhelmed and act out these feelings, but they have to respect that they cannot make others’ lives a misery during exam time as it can be a lengthy few weeks. You know your child best, and some young people can experience particular stress around exams, so if their behaviour changes to an extent or there is anything that causes you particular concern, talk with them and seek professional supports.
  7. As parents, we need to look after ourselves during our children’s exams too. If you are feeling anxious about this time yourself, remember that exams are not just what life is about. They are, of course, very important pathways towards achievement in our society but if your child is not keen on them, try to remember that we have our lives and they have theirs. We always simply want what is best for them but we cannot force them to study, and may alienate them if we push too hard. Take time out for you during exam time. Self care – ‘parenting the self‘ – is the key to positive parenting, especially in challenging times.
  8. For parents who are sharing parenting, this may be a time to talk about establishing more flexible parenting patterns for a short while. It may not be ideal for the young person to move between homes during these weeks. Maybe one home is quieter than the other; maybe one parent has more time at home than the other. Naturally you will both want what is right for your child and work to put aside any difficulties that may exist or arise sharing parenting at this time.
  9. Celebrate with your child before the exams start. Tell them how proud you are of their achievements to date. Remind them of all they have achieved and what a wonderful person they are. Building your child’s confidence levels now can go a long way towards successful outcomes in the future.
  10. It is important that we trust our children. Sometimes we have to step back to allow them to take the lead. If they are taking the early exams such as Junior Cert, this is all new to them – it’s the first big exam they have ever sat. Even if they are in first year, taking end of term exams is a big deal. Trust that they will be fine. If they don’t make the effort, they will know that they didn’t and usually learn from this. The key here is to work with them around their confidence and their sense of how valued they feel in this world. When our children believe in themselves and know that we believe in them, they will succeed, whatever path they choose.

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 Monday 11 May from 11am-12pm on NEW One Family Parenting Group. Join in and post your question.

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.

Healthy eating

Parenting | 10 Ways to Encourage Healthier Eating Habits

Healthy EatingMaintaining healthy eating habits in our family can be difficult. As parents we try to teach our children that eating healthy foods is not only good for our bodies, but for our minds too. Here are some tips to remember when trying to encourage healthier eating habits in your family.

  1. Menu: Plan the menu for the week ahead and make a list of the ingredients you will need. When you make a trip to the supermarket, stick to the menu created.
  2. Bring children shopping: Include children by bringing them to the supermarket with you. Tell them you have a list of what to get and that you are only buying things that are on the list. Show them all of the interesting fruit and vegetables on display. Try to buy a new vegetable or fruit each week.
  3. Get children an apron: Involve children in cooking – children from 2 years upwards can help with family cooking. The more children are involved in preparing healthy meals the more eager they will be to eat or at least taste what has been prepared.
  4. Visit a vegetable farm: Let children see how things grow and maybe plant some vegetables at home. Go fruit picking and try making some homemade jams.
  5. Educate children. Talk to children about their bodies and about all the things that our bodies need to stay healthy. Introduce food as one concept. Talk about the different types of food and what they can do for our health. Try Google for lots of ideas or look to the 1000 Days Campaign for inspiration which explores the profound impact the right nutrition has on a child’s ability to grow and learn.
  6. Role model: Be a role model for your child. You must do as you say and eat your own veggies. Find ways to make them taste nicer by looking up some new recipe ideas. Try to get over your own childhood horrors of eating vegetables.
  7. Days out: Get into the habit of bringing healthy snacks as treats. Grapes, melon, dried fruit, wholemeal crackers, yogurts etc are all nutritious and delicious.
  8. 3 meals: Encourage children to have 3 healthy meals each day and if possible sit at the table together to eat them. Don’t make meal times and eating a big issue however. Children need to get positive attention for good behaviours. Forcing children to eat and making them sit at the table for long periods will cause poor eating habits and lead to poor health.
  9. Involve children: Ask children what they like to eat and involve them in making lunches and planning the menu.
  10. Reward: Reward children for trying new foods. They don’t have to like the food but trying it is what you want to see. Never only offer a new food to a child once. From weaning onwards, offer a new food at least 20 times over a period of weeks before you resolve to the fact that your child really does not like it.

This 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.

 

Setting Routines

Parenting | 10 Ways to Establish A Bedtime Routine

Setting RoutinesMany children find it difficult to settle down at bedtime which can lead to challenges. With the longer evenings of Spring and Summer upon us, it can be hard to maintain consistent bedtime routines, particularly in fine weather. For this week’s ’10 Ways to …’ post offering parenting tips, we look at how to establish your child’s bedtime routine. Here are some tips that should help:

  1. Adequate Sleep: How much sleep does your child need every day? Use the guide to help you choose an appropriate bedtime: 1-3 years: 10-15 hours including naps / 4-7 years: 10-13 hours with no naps.
  2. Reduce naps: Once children reach preschool age, naps are no longer necessary. It is best to get your child to bed early and get adequate sleep at night time. Early to bed and early to rise!
  3. Routines are crucial: Develop a clear routine around bedtime with your child and stick to it. The bedtime routine should start no later than 30 minutes prior to your child being in bed.
  4. Snacks: It is important to ensure your child is not hungry going to bed but be careful about food choices offered late in the evening. Too much sugar will not aid sleep.
  5. Consistency: Children are consistent in how they sleep and wake. If you let them stay up late, they will generally still get up at their usual time meaning that you’ll probably have a day ahead with a cranky child – and parent.
  6. Quality time: As part of your routine, plan relaxing, wind-down activities for the hour leading up to bedtime. Too much activity close to bedtime can keep children from falling asleep. Think about what play is good to help children relax and calm down.
  7. Share time: Parents and children need to relax together and reconnect after the day. Share stories from your day and talk about what is happening the next day. Children will sleep better when they have had time to tell you about any worries they might have and to share their stories, and they feel safe knowing what tomorrow brings.
  8. Behaviour: The right time to change behaviours is not when everyone is tired. Think about what is problematic and plan changes. Involve your child in the changes. Make sure they know about this prior to bedtime.
  9. The bedroom: Keep it quiet and calm. Make sure the lighting is just right and ensure your child feels safe. Baby monitors are great at all ages as they reassure a child that their parent will hear them if they call out.
  10. Support children in developing self soothing skills: Encourage your child to soothe themselves back to sleep.  Talk about what might help them to do this during the day, not at night time. Agree in advance what the child can do – can they come to your bed or do you go to them?

This 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.

Parenting a young adult

Parenting | 10 Ways to Parent a Young Adult

Parenting a Young AdultMoving from constant active parenting when our children are young to the parenting of a young adult can be difficult. Raising our children dominates our lives for so long that it can be tough to know what to do with ourselves once they grow up and begin to explore their independence and build lives of their own.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips, we share some ideas to support you to define and embrace your role as the parent of a young adult.

  1. Space; allow your young adult their own space. Accept that they may not want or need to see or call you as often. Let them know you will always be there for them, check in with them, and then move on and start to enjoy your own time.
  2. Try not to always question what they are doing with their life even if you feel they could make different choices at times.
  3. Listen to their plans and ideas, and support them as best you can. Hear what they are saying and smile.
  4. Allow them to make their own choices and to learn from the mistakes they make along the way, knowing that you are always there for them.
  5. If they still live with you, respect them as young adults in the home. Agree boundaries together but try not to control them by imposing rules.
  6. Try not to judge your child; they may drink or stay out all night at some time, is this often simply a part of being young and not having too many responsibilities.
  7. They might seem to you to spend their money foolishly but once they are not looking for a hand out, and meet any responsibilities they do have, be happy for them. For most of us, there’s a short enough window in life when we can enjoy what money we have before our financial responsibilities grow.
  8. Spend time with them and know them as an adult, watch how they are in the world and in their community. Let them go freely into the world.
  9. Make plans for your own life separate to being a parent. For many of us, our lives are consumed with raising our children and we might find that our own personal dreams are put aside. Take steps now around planning and achieving your dreams.
  10. Enjoy them; enjoy their energy and enthusiasm for life. It may seem like only yesterday that your child was a baby and now you see them grown, forging ahead and making their own way in life. They have the tools to do this. You have succeeded. Your roles may change but you will always be their parent. Take pride in seeing what they have become.

This 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.

Parenting | How do you parent your child who is now a young adult?

Young Adult

As parents, we experience many transitions as our children grow.

For so many years you may have felt physically exhausted raising your child. When they are a baby, you think it will be easier when they start to walk. When they walked, you realised it was still hard. You think once they go to school it will be easier and soon you realise the endless work involved in after school runs and play dates, not to mention homework. You may have dreaded the teen years. How would your child cope when they took their first drink? How do you cope when if they come home drunk? What about pregnancy? What about exams? Will they get into university?

Well, you and your child have survived all of that and they are now a young adult. They have possibly moved out, but where are they living and with whom? You dread to think. What do they get up to when they are too busy to call? Or maybe they still live at home, but you never actually see them; just the delph and washing piling up. You can’t do ‘time out’ any longer or make plans with them. They are busy living their own life now. It seems that your job as mum or dad is no longer required.

This can be very hard. We wish all the time that our children will grow and develop, gain and achieve, and be successful and happy. We worry so much about them and try to fix life for them, and all of a sudden they are grown up. You were watching them but still you never noticed that they were reaching this stage. Now you’re wondering what your role is.

If your young adult has moved out then you can really feel like part of your body has been removed, a part that you looked after very carefully for so many years. Even if at times it was a part you wished was independent, really you were always so glad to have it. Now it’s gone and you wonder what to do. It can be very hard to let go of your child, to trust that they know what they are doing and that even if they don’t, they will learn as they go, just as we did. Life is for making mistakes!

At times they will call you and say they were out of credit, they will come by for Sunday lunch and be delighted when you give them a few bits and bobs for the week ahead. They know how to cope with everyday issues; they can deal with the annoying flat mate or the bossy colleague. They may spend their money foolishly – well, lucky for them as the bills will start soon enough. And they get by, happy out. They may wish at times that someone would do their washing, but amazingly enough they have even learned how to use the washing machine. The time has come when they don’t need your advice every day, because you have prepared them well for life.

Why is it that you mourn the loss of their childhood? You often wish that they were small again and close by. Letting go is really hard, but seeing your young adult free in the world, loving life and living their dreams makes it all bearable.

Once your child gets to this stage wish them well, listen to what their plans are and support them as best you can. At times you may not want to support them, or even talk with them; for example, when they make what you feel are foolish decisions or when they seem selfish, always putting themselves first. Just remember that this is what you have wanted for them. Be there for them when they do call, and don’t dwell on why they didn’t before. Share what you have with them even if you are still waiting on a birthday gift. Listen to them and hear them, try not to tell them what to do or what to think. Allow them own their own life and wish them well. Let them know you will always be there for them, for as long as you live and then move on and start to enjoy your own life.

If your young adult is still living with you, try to agree boundaries with them. Treat them with respect and ask for cooperation. You do not need to parent them as if they were a child. Trying to baby your young adult will cause you to lose them, if not physically then emotionally. Sit with them and agree what you both need from each other and agree ways forward. Enjoy them and stay calm. If they are not worried that they only had three hours sleep, then why should you be worried?

For so many years our lives are consumed with raising our children and for many parents, our own personal dreams are put aside. If you are still in the early years of parenting, try to make time for your dreams. It can be harder to know where to start and to even know who you are, if you wait until your children are all grown up. Take steps now around planning and achieving your dreams. This will also support you to parent now. When we look after our own needs and try to ensure we meet them, we will be much more positive and able to meet the needs of our children.

Active parenting is just one part of your life. When you have completed this chapter, look to the next and find new things and new relationships to fulfil your needs. Look back with fondness on the memory of bringing up your child, but don’t hold onto the past and wish for your child back.

Your child, thanks to you, has found their own life and their own way in the world. This really what you wished for, it was the plan all along. You have not only survived, but you have succeeded in your task. You have supported your baby to become a young adult.

Learn to enjoy your young adult.

If you are struggling with how to cope now that your active parenting days have come to an end, call our askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12 / 01 662 9212. We may be able to support you to understand what your young adult needs from you now and also help you to explore your future.

Giving Up

Parenting | 10 Ways to Cope When You Feel Like Giving Up

Giving UpMany parents have really bad days and weeks with children and at times we can question ourselves. We can wonder if we are the right person to parent this child. Would someone else do a better job? Would our child be better off with someone else?  Sometimes parents even think about putting children into care as they are feeling so much despair. Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations and behaviours in ways we wish we had. Days when we want to scream and run out the door, days when we do scream and days we wish our children would run out the door!

It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. Parenting can be very overwhelming and we are often doing it with limited sleep which reduces our coping skills. Parenting is the hardest job in the world at times, and the most unrecognised and unsupported. When doing it on your own it can be even more difficult as you don’t have someone who can take over when you feel you need a break. Even parents in a relationship can feel like they are doing it alone.

It is when these feelings start to set in that it is really important as a parent to reflect on your own self care. Usually when we feel this way there are many other things going on. We are stressed by relationships within our family and our ex partners or we are stressed about money or housing problems. Our heads are full of so many issues that all seem to be going wrong and falling apart. Then when the children start to act up, it is like that’s the final straw. Usually the children are more challenging because they know and feel that you are not present for them. They have needs which are not being met and they don’t know how to tell you about how they feel. All they know is how to act it out.

Can you put certain measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care, such as:

  1. Learn to recognise your levels of stress. Take time each day to reflect on how you are feeling.
  2. Try to identify things that went well each day, no matter how small they are.
  3. Try not to give all your energy to what is going wrong. Explore who can help you, what steps can you take.
  4. Make a list of the issues you need to resolve. Try to be less critical of yourself. Name the things you are good at, focus on these.
  5. Create time to think and plan – can children go on play dates to allow this happen for you?
  6. Talk with your children about what is going on and help them to form a plan with you. Hear what it is like for them.
  7. Don’t give up. Your children need you and no one can replace you. You need to believe that you are the right person to parent your children.
  8. Join a parenting group to get support from other parents and learn new skills and knowledge which will help you understand your children.
  9. Identify your needs. Where are the gaps? You will need to be creative in finding ways to meet these needs. By parenting yourself you will be able to parent your children.
  10. Seek professional support if you feel really low. Call the askonefamily helpline to talk with someone. Talking can usually help you understand what is going wrong and what changes you can make. Seek support from your GP or contact your local social worker if you feel you need support around mental health, addiction or abuse.

Remember, there are people out there who can and want to support you to parent. Ask for the support if you can. It does not make you a poor parent if you need to get support from others. Nobody can parent on their own, being brave enough to ask for help and support is what makes you a great parent as you recognise that you and your children need help.

Free, confidential information and support is available from the askonefamily helpline on 1890 662212.

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.

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Address The Awkward Questions.

Next you might like to read: 10 Ways to Parent Self Care,  10 Ways to Parent Through Stressful Times or  10 ways to Develop Coping Skills In Your Family.

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.

Awkward Questions

Parenting | 10 Ways to Deal with Those Awkward Questions

Awkward QuestionsChildren are so inquisitive. They love information. They ask constant questions as their minds are continuously processing everything they see and hear in the world around them. 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 (and maybe run for the hills and hope when we get back they will have forgotten!).

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 is gay? Why does he have two mammies? Why don’t I have a mammy? Why don’t I have a daddy? What is homeless?” 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 then they will in time find other sources – perhaps unreliable sources – to answer their questions. A question will not go away until your child is satisfied with the answer they find.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ parenting tips series, we explore some strategies that as parents we can put in place to support us in answering those awkward questions that our children send our way.

  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.
  2. Be honest in an age appropriate way. This does not mean you wait until they are teens to tell them things (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. If you make any issue into a taboo when children are young, they will be less inclined to talk openly with you when they are older. 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 that 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. Plant the seeds of knowledge and allow your child to process the information and to know they can come back to you when they need to ask more questions.
  8. If your child has wrong information or understanding, such as about who their dad is or if they have the same parents as their sibling, then correct them from the first error. With many families we work with, children are growing up with step-parents having previously had a relationship as a baby with their other biological parent who separated from the family and they may have forgotten this. Try to keep the information clear, show them photos if you have them, be open and honest or you will only create more awkward situations in the future which can lead to your child losing trust in you. 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. Once 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 you might like to read: 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Sex Education, 10 Ways to Explain An Absent Parent or 10 Ways to Talk To Your Child About ‘Where Do I Come From’.

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.

10 Ways to Support Your Children Through Times Of Change

Supporting Children Through ChangeAt times we make big changes in our lives and we plan around how we can manage these changes for us as adults. However, it is important also to explore what changes are taking place for your child and to support them through this.

At times children don’t react to change immediately but a little later on. This can even be a few months in, when they realise the change is permanent.

There are many things to watch out for in children during times of change such as:

  • Change in sleeping pattern.
  • Crying more than normal.
  • Feeling that other children are not their friend – a shift in their level of confidence.
  • Developing behaviours such as phobias and generally a change in behaviour.
  • Difficulty cooperating.
  • Becoming clingy.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Many others, as each child is unique and will respond in many different ways.

This week in our ’10 Ways to’ series, we offer five guidelines for times when you know that change is on the way and five for dealing with sudden changes.

If you are aware that change is on the way try to follow these five simple guidelines:

  1. Talk with your child about the changes ahead and ask them how they feel about it.
  2. Try not to fix it. Listen and explore their fears and anxieties.
  3. Try to understand their needs and think of ways you can support their needs to be met. Keep talking with your child, they forget and at times don’t understand exactly what you mean.
  4. Give your child extra time during these periods. Try to give them more one to one time so they have time to talk with you and stay connected. We can often be more busy ourselves during times of change but children need our focused time.
  5. Involve your child as much as you can in what is happening. Help them to understand what the change is and why the change is taking place.

If change happens suddenly then the key factor again is to talk with your child. Here are five guidelines to help support your child during times of sudden change:

  1. Try to explain why the change is happening.
  2. Try to give them space to explore feelings. You may be upset about the change so be sure it will affect your child also. Even if the change is not impacting on them, the change in how you are will.
  3. Check in with your chid regularly around how they are.
  4. Reflect on any changes you have noticed in them. Do not ignore behaviours and get into punishments and consequences. Think about what the child is trying to tell you through their behaviours. Remember all behaviour makes sense. What is the sense of this behaviour?
  5. Be patient with children, it can take time to adapt to change.

Change is good for children at times; it’s good for us all. It can help us see that we can cope and things will be alright. At times however change has great impact on us. We may not even be fully aware of the impact. Try to take time to reflect on your needs as well as your child’s needs. Talk with people involved in your child’s life about the changes taking place so they can also support your child at this time. Remember children can be impacted by any type of change:

  • Losing a friend due to moving away
  • Moving house
  • Starting school
  • New minders
  • Not seeing family members as much as they use too
  • Parents going back to work or starting work
  • Change in the routine at home
  • Loss of someone through death
  • A parent leaving the family home
  • A change in parent’s behaviour
  • Stressed parents
  • A new sibling and so much more…

If after a long period of time, over six months or a year you feel your child has not adapted or learned to cope with the changes that have happened it may be worthwhile exploring supports outside of the family. There are many things such as art and play therapy that can really support children. Also by accessing support as the parent you may develop skills which will help you support your child and understand why they are struggling with the changes.

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.

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic on Monday 30 January from 11am-12pm on One Family’s Facebook page. Join in and post your question.

Next you might like to read 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills In Your Family. 

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Find Support When you Feel Like Giving Up.  

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