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Parenting | Tips for Halloween fun

Halloween, having its roots in the Gaelic Samhain festival, is a wonderful time for family fun and games. As parents, we need to take precautions to ensure the safety of our children without taking away from the fun. Here we offer tips to make Halloween safe and fun this year:

  1. Consider having a party in your own home for your children and some friends. Trick-or-treating can start about 4pm and a little party from 6-8pm.
  2. Play some games at home such as biting the apple from a string or finding coins in green gunk (wall paper paste mixed with green food colouring makes excellent, low-cost goo). Click here for more games ideas.
  3. Try making costumes at home which can be great fun and cost effective. Use flame-resistant materials and if you plan to go out to trick-or-treat in the evening, you might want to attach reflective strips to dark-coloured costumes.
  4. Experiment with face paints until you get it right. Let children practice on you, they’ll really enjoy that. You might like to test a small area of your child’s skin for allergic reaction in advance, follow the instructions on the packet.
  5. Try making Halloween treats together – children enjoy supervised cooking. Making things together will support good quality relationships.  Here are some good Halloween recipes to get you started.
  6. If you are going trick-or-treating, encourage children to learn ‘tricks’ such as singing a song or reciting a poem. People like to see children make an effort in order to get the treat. In fact, performing a song or poem on the doorstep was expected in most parts of Ireland until recently. Children feel very proud of themselves when they actually do it.
  7. Be vigilant and aware of safety at all times. Agree a route (for trick-or-treating) in advance and what doors they are allowed to knock on. If you are driving anywhere, remember to slow down and watch out for other excited little trick-or-treaters.
  8. Never allow children under 14-years-old out on their own. Children should never be allowed into the homes of strangers. Always be very close by, watching the engagement and ready to intervene, if necessary.
  9. Be conscious that young children may be anxious or scared at Halloween. It’s dark, there are lots of scary figures about.
  10. Finally, just have fun!

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.

 

 

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.

Homework

Parenting | Ten ways to re-establish the school routine

HomeworkSettling back into the school routine can be very challenging. When you are parenting school age children, the best way to make a plan is to do it together with your children, here are some tips to support you.

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

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

For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or on 01 662 9212.

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.

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 | Father’s Day

man-863085_1280Many children will be looking forward to some special time with Dads, Stepdads and Granddads on Father’s Day, though it is also a day that can bring challenges. In One Family, children are at the centre of our work and we support parents to help children to have contact with both parents where possible, unless it is not safe for a child. It can, of course, often be challenging for separated parents to develop good communication in order to implement a shared parenting plan, but the positive outcomes for children are very much worth the effort that parents put in.

Successfully sharing parenting can seem difficult, especially if parents are experiencing hurt or anger. When two parents can be there for their child, we ask parents to allow each other the opportunity to parent. Children need so much love and time; they can never have too much. There is room in your child’s life for both of you. Developing a shared parenting plan may be challenging, but when you do figure it out and see how your child flourishes, you will know it is worth the effort.

For Dads parenting alone, there may not be anyone to help your child make a card or shop for a little gift. Or even to acknowledge the day at all. Why not acknowledge it for yourself? Own it for you. You don’t need someone else to tell you how great a parent you are. You do everything from braiding hair, to playing football, to helping with homework, to planning your family’s weekly meals. Acknowledge, embrace and celebrate your achievements, even through the tough times. Allow yourself a Father’s Day treat, and plan to celebrate the day with your child.

If your child’s Father has chosen not to be present in their life, or is otherwise absent, you may worry that your child is excluded from the celebrations. Or that your child may feel a little sad, and so might you. Acknowledge this for them; it is okay to feel this way. Maybe it is a day you can talk about it together with your child. Share memories, and talk with them about all the wonderful people that are in their life. Ask them what they would like to do if Dad was there, and then plan something fun to do together with your child on the day.

This year, whatever your circumstances, perhaps you can plan a day out with your child on Father’s Day? Plan for quality time together. Plan a picnic, pitch a tent in the garden, have a barbeque. Invite some friends over and have your own soccer tournament. Children just love being busy and having fun, it doesn’t have to cost much. Make some plans today to have fun and create memories, and if it is not possible to celebrate with your child this Father’s Day, perhaps you can plan to share it on a different day in the future.

Whatever you do this Father’s Day, it is a day that is about children. On Father’s Day, we encourage thought about what your child needs from you. What can you do now to support your child through life, whether this means being physically present in your child’s life on a regular basis, consideration of the financial support a child requires to help them to have what they need to grow, develop and succeed in life, or working to develop a shared parenting plan.

Father’s Day is about valuing children’s presence in our society, and looking at what we can offer them. So Dads, Mums, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Stepparents, Guardians, Friends – everyone is important in a child’s life and we all can help them to grow, to feel loved, and to know they are valued.

This  article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Next you may wish to read:

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-successful-shared-parenting/

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-explain-an-absent-parent/

https://onefamily.ie/training/10-ways-to-positively-maintain-contact/

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.

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.

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.