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School bus

10 Ways to Prepare Your Child for Preschool

As summer winds down, it is time to start thinking about school again. For parents with young children, that means looking into preschools for your children. Sending your child to preschool for the first time is a big step in both you 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 parenting tips, we look at 10 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 really 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 their 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 and 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 over the summer time. Help them be ready for school. Help them be confident by preparing them well and encouraging them to practice at home 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 week’s ’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 emailsupport@onefamily.ie.

Image credit: Pixabay

10 Reasons why Children Misbehave and the Power of Positive Attention

Misbehaving One way or another children will misbehave, but understanding the reason why can give parents the opportunity to develop positive coping mechanisms to address misbehaviour and in turn develop stronger and more positive relationships with their children.

  1. When thinking about the reasons why children misbehave it is perhaps useful to think firstly about what misbehaviour actually is.
  2. A lot of behavior is more an expression of energy and enthusiasm than any desire to misbehave.
  3. Misbehaviour may be the expression of the need for limits to be set.
  4. Building healthy self-esteem requires parents to provide their children with a predictable, safe environment.
  5. Positive attention is an essential ingredient to raising confident, happy children
  6. A child who receives regular positive attention learns that they are a valuable human being and learns ‘I am a worthwhile, interesting person’.
  7. Attention-seeking behaviour in children arises out of very real needs and any attention is better than no attention.
  8. Positive attention means using positive feedback to point out to your child the things that they do well.
  9. Be generous with praise and encouragement when it’s due.
  10. When you reward your child with an incentive be sure to add a comment that causes your child to think about doing the right thing.

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.

Active Listening

10 Ways to Improve Listening in the Home

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. For this week’s ’10 Ways to …’ post offering parenting tips, we look at how to improve listening in the home.

  1. Do I listen? Ask yourself firstly 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 with each other and listen to what others 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 week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is compiled by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Remember, if you need a friendly ‘listening ear’, our askonefamily lo-call helpline is available on 1890 662 212.

Playing

10 Ways to Make Play Dates Positive

“Play date” or “playdate” is a US expression that has become popular in Ireland in recent years.  Simply put, a play date is an arranged appointment between parents for their children to get together for a few hours at home. Play dates support children to form friendships, to practice their social and relationship building skills, and increase their confidence. Friendships are an important part of life, and start in the preschool years. As part of our weekly series of parenting tips, here are our tips to help create positive play date experiences for your children and you, their friends and their friends’ parents.

  1. Play dates start with parent and child dates. Parents need to make time to meet other parents. Extend an invitation. It could start with arranging to be at the playground in the park at the same time.
  2. Some parents are not in a position to invite your child over to play at their house. Don’t expect the invite. Play dates are for your child’s development and they don’t need to get invited to other homes all the time. They will be happy for it to happen in their own home.
  3. Parents need to actively engage in play dates. Children need support to play well with other children. Always remain in the room with young children and as your child gets older, continue to fully supervise and always remain within earshot with doors open.
  4. Talk with your child prior to a play date. Agree what games will be played, what toys they are willing to share and in what parts of the house they will play in.
  5. Help children engage well in the games, both your child and the visitor. Support them to solve problems rather than you making the decisions. You are responsible for the visiting child’s well-being so you must protect their feelings also.
  6. Make sure you have the contact numbers of the visiting child’s parent/s or guardian. Be aware if they have any special needs or dietary requirements.
  7. Play dates are about play so avoid sugary treats.
  8. Praise your child after the play date. Tell them how well they did; be specific about what went well. Later talk with them about what did not go well and plan what to do differently next time.
  9. Be aware of how you deal with behavioural issues with your child and others. Be assertive in how you communicate with children and ensure they experience positive interactions in your home.
  10. Talk with the other parent if things are really not going well. Both parents will need to work together to support young children to play well. Don’t make judgements on children; they are young and have so much to learn. Our job as parents is to help and support them, not judge or condemn them.

This week’s ’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.

Developing Family Rituals

10 Ways to Develop Family Rituals and Traditions

A family ritual, or tradition, is a practice within a family that has special meaning to family members. Family rituals provide a sense of belonging and continuity. They bring families closer together. It is often hard in our day and age to escape the pressures and daily stresses that make up our lives, but having rituals creates an opportunity for children to feel secure. Family routines and rituals not only improve family relationships, they also improve health and emotional well being, particularly for children.

As part of of our ‘10 Ways to‘ series of parenting tips, here are some ideas to help you in developing family rituals and traditions for your family.

  1. Think simple, not extravagant. An example of a simple and easy ritual is to eat together at least once every week.
  2. Set aside time each week. Create a time where you and your children can be together to play.
  3. Create your own special activity. For weekends, birthdays or celebrations, decide with the family how you really enjoy celebrating these occasions and go with that.
  4. Include your children in the planning.
  5. Create rituals that are meaningful to the whole family.
  6. Be different. Don’t be afraid to start a new or different kind of family tradition.
  7. Celebrate success. Acknowledge achievement within the family.
  8. Don’t be a perfectionist. There’s no need to stress if it does not work out exactly the way you envisaged and planned.  Things go wrong sometimes. A sense of bonding between the members involved is still created.
  9. Create a Family Event Jar. A family jar or box is a decorated jar used to save for the next big adventure. Decorate it with pictures and words of places you want to visit or have visited, or activities you enjoy. The jar becomes a daily visual reminder for all family members of something to look forward to.
  10. Rituals and traditions are something for all family member to enjoy together. Don’t fight your natural inclinations. You probably won’t stick with a tradition that isn’t working for all members of the family.

One Family offers a range of training options to help parents and guardians to build on their parenting skills which you can find out about here.

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on 1890 66 22 12.

Image credit: Freedigitalphotos.net/arztsamui

Parenting | Ten Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

School's outFor some parents the school holiday is a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others for many reasons such as not being able to take time off work, lack of childcare options and tight budgets, and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to develop as many resources as we possibly can.

As part of our ’10 Ways to …’ series of  parenting tips and in celebration of the upcoming school summer holidays here are some tips on how to make school breaks enjoyable for all members of the family so you won’t hear the infamous “I’m bored” – hopefully!

10 Ways to Make the Most of School Breaks

  1. Time off: If you work outside of the home, plan your leave in advance for school holidays. Get the list of days off from the school at the start of each term and use this to plan your time off. If this is not possible, try to finish early over a few days during the mid-term.
  2. Plans: Make plans with children prior to school breaks. Making plans in advance for the days off will ensure that children are clear about what will happen. They will cooperate more if they are involved in making the plans.
  3. Family: Engage the support of family as much as possible at school breaks. If you share parenting with your child’s other parent, agree a system for the school holidays in advance. Grandparents and other family members can love having the chance to have some extra quality time with the children, maybe even a sleepover. Make sure to involve children in any plans and give them the information they need in advance.
  4. Friends: Make plans with other parents for play dates. Maybe you can set up a shared rota?
  5. Fun: Even if you have to work, try to have fun with children during the break. Fun doesn’t have to mean expense. Activities such as cooking, arts and crafts or having a picnic at home are really enjoyable things to do in the comfort of your own home. Plan fun activities out such as going to the park, feeding the ducks, a walk on the beach or going swimming.
  6. Library: Libraries often hold events for children on school breaks and are also a great source of information about what is taking place locally, such as nature walks or music workshops.
  7. Clear Out: Children can really enjoy helping at home. Take the school break as an opportunity to do a spring clean. Get the children involved in planning what needs to be done, make a colourful chart together. Maybe they can clear out their wardrobes and bring some clothes, toys or books to the charity shops. You may find hidden treasures as you go along, to have a dress up day when you finish!
  8. Socialise: Take school breaks as an opportunity to meet other families. There are lots of websites supporting families to meet up and do activities together. If you are feeling isolated, check out the One Family Social Group for starters. It provides a supportive environment for parents to enjoy a day out with other parents in similar circumstances, and is great fun for the children. Email us or call us if you’d like more information.
  9. Routine: It’s important to try to keep the bed time and meal time routines in place while children are on short school breaks. This will ensure that they will not get over tired, and as they are still in their routine when school begins again, the transition will be easier for everyone.
  10. Enjoy: Most of all, enjoy the break from homework as this allows time for other things in the evenings – don’t dread the school breaks.

Next you might like to read more about establishing routines.

‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

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

Questioning Child

10 Ways to Understanding How Your Child May Feel During Separation

Whatever the circumstances, parental separation is hard on families and big changes must be made. Keeping their children at the centre of parenting and responding to the thoughts, feelings and questions a child may have, will help parents to help their child.

Research shows that children normally experience one or more of the following reactions to the separation of their parents:

  1. Loyalty conflict: Children often get caught in the middle.
  2. Does Mum or Dad love someone else?: Although Mum or Dad might not love each other, it is important to reassure the child that they love him/her.
  3. I don’t want to come over today: As they get older, children’s interests vary. They may not want to visit a parent and may just want to spend more time with their friends.
  4. Fantasies of responsibility and reconciliation:  Children may feel they are responsible for their parents’ separation. They may dream up plans to get their parents to reconcile.
  5. Why don’t you love Mum or Dad anymore?: It is not uncommon for children to ponder this question. Often children will blame the parent who they believe initiated the separation and view the other parent as a victim.
  6. If you do not come home, I will never speak to you again: The purpose of a statement like this is to make the parent feel guilty so that they will return home.
  7. Anger: Children between the ages of 8-16 years can experience intense anger. They can often be most angry with the parent they blame for separation, but they may express anger only towards the parent they view as the ‘safest’, usually the resident parent.
  8. What should I tell my friends?: If you want your child to share the situation with others, you must be able to do the same. Encourage your child to be honest about the situation.
  9. Why are you separating?: Children are more likely to ask this if they have not been given a clear explanation for the separation.
  10. Worry about the future: The child may worry about the future. This is more likely to occur where there is parental conflict around contact and maintenance. Parents need to listen to their child’s worries and talk honestly and openly with them about any concerns.

One Family’s  Family Communications –  Parenting When Separated course starts in May 2019 please see details here.  One Family also offer a range of services to parents sharing parenting or parenting alone after separation. You can find out about them here. If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamilyhelpline on 1890 66 22 12 / support@onefamily.ie.

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.