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10 Ways to Parent Through Stressful Times

Parenting can bring many challenges and when you are stressed these challenges can seem even more difficult to face. Here are some tips on how you can manage your stress levels and teach your children that while it may be unpleasant, stress is a part of everyday life. However, it is also important to show them how to manage stressful situations and to help them develop their emotional strength in order to cope with life’s challenges.

  1. It is vital that parents learn to manage their stress and to develop strategies for dealing with difficult life and relationship issues.
  2. When parents cannot manage their stress this rubs off on children and they can become stressed or depressed.
  3. Learning the importance of support and the strength inherent in being able to ask for help is a skill that will take parents a long way.
  4. Children can also become stressed in their own right so parents can model good stress management for their children.
  5. In order to feel good about ourselves we need others to care about and care for.
  6.  Knowing what help is out there in times of stress can bring a real sense of relief.
  7. Each of us needs a support system and this can come in many forms. Family members and even just one close friend can make all the difference to our emotional well being.
  8. Parents with children of similar ages can provide excellent support for each other through the mutual sharing of experiences.
  9. In order to parent well you need to be a good parent to yourself. Minding yourself is the key to keeping your stress levels down.
  10. Keeping a focus on your child’s well being can also have a diminishing effect on your own stress levels.

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 Survive Sleepless Nights

With a young child, one of the most trying times can be night time.  We all expect to be awake with babies and infants, but what if your child is 3 years of age and still waking you at night? Parents and children need their rest after a long day of work, school, or play, although sleep is often interrupted by a cry for help from another room.  As parents, it’s impossible to ignore our children, yet we all need a good night’s sleep and we want the same for our children as well.  Not getting enough sleep can affect how we parent and many other aspects of our lives. We explore 10 Ways to Survive Sleepless Nights.

  1. If you know to expect that your child might call you during the night, it’s best to just accept it rather than dread it, as children will pick up on your anxiety.
  2. Try to get to bed yourself very early at least 3 nights a week – even if you don’t really feel like it – so you can get hopefully 4-5 hours of continuous sleep before the first call from your child.
  3. Stay calm during the night. Remember that it’s okay to forget the rules at times. If they will sleep well in your bed take them in, or get into bed with them if you can. A double bed for young children can be great if you have the space; at least you’ll have room then!
  4. Talk with your child during the day about sleeping. Praise them if they sleep well and try to encourage them to call you when it starts to get bright, not when it is dark. Encourage self-soothing such as cuddling up with favourite teddy bears. Be extra generous with praise for any attempt they make to sleep better in their own bed without calling you. Talk to them about how sleep fills them up with energy for the next day and how they need it for the busy day ahead of them. Help them to understand and like the idea of sleeping, and talk with them about why parents need sleep too.
  5. Try to ensure that during the day (not at bedtime), that you talk over things that are happening with them too. All kinds of things can play on your child’s mind that you might not be aware of: new home, new baby, getting in trouble, starting school etc. Dreams can wake them with anxiety.
  6. If you live with another adult take turns to get up to the child – take every second night – then at least you are both getting a good sleep a few nights every week.
  7. What if you have two children waking in the night? If safe to do so, and you have a big bed and side rails – and you have not been drinking alcohol or are impaired in any way –  it can be good to take them on a sleepover into your bed on occasion. This could mean you all get to sleep till morning, or at least the early hours.
  8. Try not to focus on how little sleep you get. Remember that a lot of parents are in the same situation. Think about how you might be able to incorporate opportunities for sleep into your own routine. If you travel on public transport, perhaps take a nap on the bus or train; or have one in the morning at home if your child is at creche or school. Explore if anyone can mind your child once a week for a few hours during which you can look forward to some sleep; for example, arranging rotating play dates with another parent.
  9. Build some positives into your day. For example, look forward to some nice breakfast to give yourself a boost to get going. Something like fruit and yoghurt doesn’t have to cost much or take a lot of time to prepare. When we are really tired, we can feel somewhat low, especially if we’re parenting alone without many opportunities to plan for some sleep for ourselves; so it’s very important to actively build in these little positives to our routine.
  10. Support your child to sleep well by following a bedtime routine and providing them with a restful space. What is the room like that they sleep in? Do they like it? Do they have cuddly teddies they have a good bond with during the day? Have they a night light? Is it a calm, secure, peaceful area?

Along with this post, you might like to also read ‘10 Ways to Establish a Bedtime Routine.’

’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

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

Image credit: Pixabay

Parenting | Ten Ways to Incorporate Outdoor Play

outdoorsResearch tells us over and over again how valuable the outdoors is for us all. However how often do we really go outdoors, other than just getting to the car or catching a bus? Although the Autumn/Winter seasons can be a little harsh, children still love the outdoors at this time of year.

Children learn so much from being outdoors. They can climb and jump much more freely; they can get dirty and have fun! Outdoor play can really support a parent’s wellbeing too. Most adults would acknowledge that going for a walk increases their wellbeing and helps them deal with any challenges they may face.

This Winter, see if you can introduce some outdoor play to your children’s lives. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Go for a nature walk. Every part of Ireland allows you to access a field or park of some sort. Take yourself and your children for a walk to see what nature has to offer. Collect leaves and berries, nuts and cones. Make a project of it, if you wish, when you return home. Help them identify the different leaves and the nuts and cones that match each tree. Talk with them about what berries you can eat and which ones are just for the birds.
  2. Bird Watch. There are many lakes and water ways around the country which are great for bird watching. You can join an organised group or just visit the library and get some idea of the birds in your area. Make it a treasure hunt to see how many you can spot in the one afternoon. Most children are fascinated by nature. Bird Watch Ireland has great resources and often organise free family-friendly events around the country, as do Bat Conservation Ireland and many other wildlife and environmental organisations.
  3. Take a picnic and practice some mindfulness. Having hot chocolate while sitting in a field or near a lake or river is very healing. Children again can feel very relaxed and often talk more openly with you about any challenges they may have. Home offers a lot of distractions to you both.
  4. Visit a local forest. Children love the leisure of walking through forests and not having to hold hands with an adult all the time. Children enjoy their freedom and it is crucial they have these opportunities as they grow. Allow them climb up hills and roll back down. Allow them dig and collect treasure. The things that fascinate them most are likely to have arose the same feelings in you once upon a time.
  5. Make it social. Often when we plan days out and play dates they involve indoor activities which can cost a lot of money. Why not take a ball to the park? Go cycling? You can hire bikes in many forests and parks. Take a kite, the weather is here! Blow bubbles.
  6. Become an artist. What could be more therapeutic and fun than taking the sketch pads and markers to a lovely spot outdoors. Ask your children to draw what they see. It doesn’t matter what age they are, they will attempt this. You can then talk about what you see and maybe have some new art work to pass onto family for Christmas or to hang in your home.
  7. In the garden. How many gardens are left idle all winter? Once the grass stops growing we can feel our work is done till next spring. If you have access to a garden, encourage your children to spend time outside there every day. When children go outside and run about freely they can burn off vast amounts of energy. If you keep them indoors all day you may have more troublesome behaviours, as they find it hard to use up the stores of energy indoors. Often when they come back in, they settle into some quiet time and things can run a lot smoother.
  8. Walk. Do you really need to take the car or bus so much? Look at where you can introduce some extra walking, even simply getting off the bus one stop earlier. Try it out for a few weeks. Children will become more energetic as they get used to it. You may have to allow some extra time to get to where you are going, but it will be worth it. Children will become healthier and fitter, and most likely will have fewer colds over the winter months. Just wrap up snug and warm.
  9. Make it social. Organise to meet up with friends in the park. You can have a chance for a chat with other adults while your children enjoy being with some other children. And you won’t have to tidy up the house when  go home. Surely this is enough of an incentive to meet and play outdoors! Visit a pet farm together and maybe see Santa outdoors this year, as opposed to crowded shopping centres. Even if your child is terrified of Santa, as some can be, they will enjoy the outdoors.
  10. Finally, mostly my experience is that adults don’t like outdoor play and generally feel that the outdoors poses a risk. I would ask you to challenge this concept this coming winter. Winter can be the most fun time to be outdoors. Try it and share with us on Facebook what you discover.

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.

Join our new One Family Parenting Group which is a closed Facebook group (meaning that only members can read posts) that everyone is welcome to join. You could post questions and share your experiences, and take part in a live weekly Q&A with Geraldine.

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 / 01 662 9212 or email support@onefamily.ie.

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10 Ways to Talk to Your Children About Death

Talking about Death250x250When someone in the family or community dies, children are at times kept away from it. Death is a very normal part of life and children, like adults, need to know and understand what is happening, at an age appropriate level of course. They also need closure and support to deal with the loss.

Many children’s first experience of death is that of a pet; it can be great for this to be a first experience as no matter how upsetting the loss is, it will not be as great as that of a family member.

When talking with children about death:

  1. Tell them the truth, someone has died, they will not be able to come back. Talk with them about where you believe they go to after death.
  2. Allow children to ask questions, although you may be very upset at this time, children need information to cope with the death. The more details they have the easier it can be for them. They will want to know how they died and why. You may not have all the answers and tell them if you don’t.
  3. Allow children be part of the funeral and days leading up to the funeral. Allow them time to look in the coffin when it is quiet. Allow them to examine the dead person and put things into the coffin with them, if they wish to.
  4. Bring them at a quiet time, not the first time you visit the coffin, allow yourself some space to grieve and then allow your child time with you.
  5. It is okay for children to see you upset. Sadness and grief are part of our human emotions. Children need to know we have them and your role is to support them to cope with these feelings.
  6. Always tell anyone working closely with your child about the death so they too can support the child in the weeks and months ahead.
  7. Children will continue to ask questions for what seems like forever.  Be patient with them and give them permission to talk and share memories of the dead person.
  8. Start your own traditions around how you will remember the dead person. Will you visit the grave, let off a balloon every so often, look at photos and talk about the good memories. Children don’t want to forget, so even though this may be hard for you to cope with at times when you need to get on with things, tell them it is okay to talk and remember, even if it does make you sad.
  9. If a child loses a sibling or an unborn sibling, share this with them. Create memories for them. It is very important that you can talk with them about this. They will know something has changed in the family, in you. It is important that as a child they know what has changed. We often want to protect children from terrible things that happen, but keeping them as part of the unit, close to you and helping them understand, is much more beneficial for them long term. Finding out as an adult about such things can be more heart breaking.
  10. Children will go through the stages of grief just as adults do. Support them and if at any stage you feel they need more support than you can offer, seek professional support for them through programmes such as Rainbows, Seasons of Growth, Play and Art Therapy and many other services.

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 Tips | Learn to self-care

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Everyone has bad days with children, days when we don’t handle situations well, days when we want to scream and run out the door. It is normal to a certain extent to feel this way. 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.

The lead up to Christmas can pile on additional stress. Our heads can be full of so many issues that when the children start to act up, it can be 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.

It is important to put measures in place to help you recognise when you are starting to neglect your own care. We offer ’10 ways to’ care for yourself as a parent:

  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 theaskonefamily 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.

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

 

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 | 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 | 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 | 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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