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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.

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

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 | Tips for Halloween fun

halloween-519445_1920Halloween, 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. Visit Bord Bia for Halloween recipes to make together.
  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.

 

 

Parenting | Accepting teen relationships

couple-690765_1280As children mature into teenagers, innocent childhood crushes on school-friends can give way to more serious romantic interest. By the time your child reaches secondary school, you can support them with dating. It is better as a parent to support this than to forbid them and have your child sneak behind your back.  Allow your child the comfort of being honest with you as they develop during this stage.

We offer advice on supporting your child through teenage dating:

  1. As children progress through their teenage years, the innocent dates will grow into relationships and become more serious. Talk about responsible behaviour and respect for themselves and the other person. Agree on dating rules.
  2. When you want to broach the subject of sexual relationships the conversation should start with the notion of responsible behaviour. Some parents feel strongly that if you talk to your teen about sex then you are encouraging them to be sexually active. This is by no means true. Don’t pretend that if you don’t talk to them about sex that they will remain inactive.
  3. Once your child reaches the teen years it is important to talk to them about contraception. You may wish to take your daughter to your family GP. You can visit the GP first and then allow your daughter go in alone while you sit outside the door and give her the opportunity to take responsibility for her actions and personal care. For the boys, ensure they understand about contraception. Support them to buy male contraception and ensure they know how to use them (there is no age restriction on the purchase of condoms). Ensure they know that they are responsible for their actions and should never expect another person to keep them safe. Each young person must know that they have to take steps to keep themselves safe when they decide to become sexually active.
  4. If you have this talk with your teen at an early age, it doesn’t mean they will become sexually active earlier but waiting until they are past 16-years-old is not wise. Be brave, you are teaching your child to be responsible. It is a part of parenting that so many parents turn a blind eye to. Relationships are a natural part of life and when teens are educated properly about them and about their own bodies they are less likely to disrespect themselves.
  5. Ensure your teen knows that they have control over when they choose to have an intimate relationship. Peer pressure can seem a heavy burden at this age. It can seem that everyone is experimenting but often this is not the case. Help your teen to be feel confident in many areas of life and to value themselves so they can decide what is right for them and not take any steps that they are uncomfortable with.
  6. The other area that is becoming more concerning in teen relationships is abuse. Teens need to know and recognise the signs of control and abuse. Just because they are in a relationship doesn’t mean they should lose their identity. Support your teen to have a voice and also to treat others with respect. Watch their relationships closely and talk with your teen if you notice that their treatment of their partner is not as it should be. Relationship abuse can start in teen relationships and parents need to be aware of this. (Women’s Aid have been working to highlight the issue of abusive dating relationships. Teenage boys in abusive relationships can get support from Amen.)
  7. For many parents there may be extra worries if they think that their teen could be gay, lesbian or bisexual. Parents can feel really anxious and don’t know how to handle this information. The most important thing to remember is that you love your child no matter what. If your child has come to tell  you this then they must feel safe in their relationship with you. It is important not to destroy this now. They need you more than ever as they go through a very challenging time in their life. Belongto offer supports for LGBT young people and their parents.
  8. You want your child to be happy and safe and to find their way in the world. We all want our child to find the easy path in life but that is not always possible. If we can love our children unconditionally they will have the support they need to find their path.  If we can find time to listen to them, to talk to them, and try to understand them, then we will be more confident that they will find their way.

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 | How to introduce quiet time in your home

girl-1561943_1920As parents we can often feel the pressure of keeping our children engaged in activities with friends and play dates. We ourselves feel we must connect with other parents along with tending to seemingly endless daily tasks. It can seem manic at times and constantly busy. We find we don’t have much time to just sit with our children. There is value is just sitting with each other, doing nothing, thinking about nothing in particular, just simply being in each other’s company, relaxing and unwinding. We can forget how comforting it is to just sit still. It is important, especially in today’s hectic world full of distractions, to teach children the importance of just being.

Try to incorporate family time where you are present in each other’s company. Dark evenings by the fire are ideal for this. Simply stay inside with your children, staying cosy and warm and just chill out in their company. Calm time, quiet time, nothing special time! (The Danish have a special word called hygge that describes time spent at home with others in a cosy atmosphere.)

What are the ground rules?

Mobile phones and TV may need to be off limits in this quiet space. The time and day would need to be prioritised just like all other activities. Think of it as an activity you have paid for up-front. You usually never miss these activities. Don’t allow it to be optional. It is quiet time but it is not silence time, you can talk if you choose to or sit in quietness. Whatever activity you choose, make it your space and your time. Let everyone have their say; dream it up and then plan what is realistic.

What quiet activities could you try?

  • Mindfulness involves focusing calmly on the present while acknowledging feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. If you talk with your children about the business of life and introduce the concept of mindfulness to them I am sure they will want to try it. It may be difficult at the start if you are all used to be being busy.
  • You could introduce some nice colouring books from the mindfulness series, there are so many to choose from for adults and children.
  • Massage is another option for quiet relaxation. You can learn some simple massage techniques from YouTube.
  • Listen to quiet, relaxing music. There are hours of relaxing music compilations also on YouTube.

How long should quiet-time last?

This only need to be half an hour of your week, longer is great but it doesn’t have to be an entire evening. It shouldn’t be something you dread. A the parent, you need to take the lead and support your children to feel happy and safe in their own company, not doing anything specific, only relaxing. Each week you can try new things and bin them if you don’t like them.

Create the space in your home and see if you can feel the positive energy it can create for you and your children this autumn and winter.

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

 

Parenting | Supporting your child when they can only see failures

success-1123017_1920Success and failure starts at a very young age for us all; starting with learning to crawl and walk, we constantly deal with successes and failures throughout our lives: passing exams, getting onto the team, winning medals, getting a place in college, securing a job, etc.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking to see your child hurt because they think that they have failed. How can we protect our children when we see them suffering? Here are ’10 ways’ to support your child when they suffer the setback of perceived failure:

  1. The first step should be to sit with them and listen without judgement. All you can do is listen and name the feelings and clarify what you are hearing. Help them to make sense of what is happening. Help them to see the picture more clearly and allow them to make their own plan. By wrapping your child up in cotton wool you are disarming them instead of making them stronger. Life will have many challenges for them so you must help them to see and believe that they do not have to face them alone.
  2. Look at what went wrong. Explore the choices they made and why they thought that choice was the right one for them. Empower them to come up with new plans. How could they do it differently next time?
  3. Older children do not want their parents to protect them, they often want to fend for themselves. However, if they suffer a knock to their confidence, you need to recognise when to step back in and help restore their confidence. Reassure them that family is there for them.
  4. Talk to them about the need to develop coping skills. Help them to identify the skills they need to cope with the stresses of life. Life will throw many challenges at them from relationships to college, exams and the workplace.
  5. As parents, we have to explore how we see things. Do we ourselves look at life as a series of successes and failures?
  6. We need to explore how we cope with really stressful times. Do we talk about it and ask for help or do we close down. Help your children to see from a very young age that talking it out is always helpful.
  7. If you are really concerned for their wellbeing, you may have to insist on them visiting a GP or counsellor. Getting professional support can be a good choice. Many young people may see counselling as an American concept from television. Talk to them about the benefits of getting support from the right professionals and that they need not feel any stigma attached with engaging in services. Jigsaw provides free, confidential mental health support for young people aged 12-25.
  8. It is important to always actively listen to our children. Hear what they are saying, get to know them and how they think. Allow them talk and tell their stories. This will support them to come to you when they are older. If you consistently jump in and tell them what to do they may choose not to come to you as they grow older. If you don’t know there is a problem how can you help? You are always the best person for your child to come to.
  9. We must teach our children that life is actually not about success and failure but about trying our best, learning and trying again. Do not give up.
  10. When there are such challenges going on for a child, a teen or young adult, it is really important to look after yourself. Talk with family and seek professional support for yourself so you can stay strong and be there for your child. Remember, parenting your child starts with parenting yourself.

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.

Parenting | How might your child react to parental separation?

breakup-908714_1280Whatever the circumstances, parental separation is hard on families and big changes must be made. Keeping children at the centre of parenting and responding to their thoughts, feelings and questions, will help you to help them during this difficult time.

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

  1. Children often get caught in the middle; loyalty to one parent can cause conflict.
  2. “Does mum or dad love someone else?”. Although mum or dad might not love each other anymore, it is important to reassure your child that you both continue to love him/her.
  3. “I don’t want to come over today”. As children get older their interests change. They may not want to visit a parent and may just want to spend more time with their friends.
  4. “Is it my fault?”. Children may feel they are responsible for the separation. They may dream up plans to get you and your ex-partner to reconcile.
  5. “Why don’t you love each other 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. When a child makes threats such as “If you do not come home, I will never speak to you again”, the purpose of this is to make the parent feel guilty so that they will return home.
  7. 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. The child may worry about the future. This is more likely to occur where there is parental conflict around contact and maintenance. As parents, you need to listen to your child’s worries and talk honestly and openly with them about their concerns.

One Family are looking for responses to the first ever National Shared Parenting Survey from parents who have separated and are sharing parenting. The data gathered will finally give a voice to parents and their children who are sharing parenting, which can inform appropriate policies and services in the future. Please take ten minutes to complete this anonymous survey. Take the survey here.

If you need support, information or advice, contact our lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12.

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

 

Parenting | How to make day trips run smoothly

llama-935947_1920How many times have you taken your children on a day trip and five minutes after you arrive, or five minutes into the car trip, you feel like saying, “That’s it! We are going home.” We put time, energy and costs into organising days out, yet it can sometimes seems that your children just don’t care.

The stress of organising the event can leave you exhausted and with little energy to deal with what might be normal everyday behaviours. It becomes something bigger and you may be inclined to overreact. Coupled with this, children can be more excitable on days out. The excitement will make it harder for them to manage their emotions and behaviour. They can’t stop fighting and they won’t do what you ask of them.

Teens, on the other hand, may show no excitement. They may be so difficult to motivate, you wonder why you bothered. Feeling disheartened, you just want to go home and cry or maybe stomp about the house to let them know how angry or upset you are. The day out was not just for the children, it was for you too and you feel disappointed: you wanted this time out to relax and have fun with your children.

There are steps you can take to make things go a little smoother so the fun days out are fun from the time you wake up. Read our “10 ways to” have enjoyable days out this summer:

  1. Keep it simple. Think about what your child can cope with. If they are not use to travelling too far then don’t plan a long trip. No matter how good you think the far away venue may be, it may not be worth it. This goes for holidays too.
  2. Tell your child about the trip in advance. Some children love surprises but many don’t. If they are not aware of what is about to happen it can really upset them. Keep as many elements the same for them as possible: eat at the same times and eat the same types of food.
  3. Talk with your child about what you expect of them on the day out. Try to come up with some ways of keeping them safe but still allowing them some freedom.
  4. Dress children for play and not for photos. Too many children are over-dressed on play days out. Let them get dirty, have fun, roll in the sand. They shouldn’t come home clean; it is not a good sign! Bring spare clothes, bring the wipes and try not to worry.
  5. Dress appropriately yourself. Wearing your lovely white trousers may not be the best idea. It is all about fun, so dress in a way that supports you to relax and enjoy your time with your children.
  6. Photographs can cause lots of trouble. Take them if you can but making children pose can create stress for no reason. Fun days out will create memories in a child’s mind. They don’t need photos to have those memories. You can keep other things from the day and stick them in a scrap book to remind you of the day.
  7. If problems arise, stay calm. Think about it from your child’s point of view. Take a break, sit down for a minute and make a plan. Think about what is causing the problem. Are we hungry, are we tired? Whose needs are not been met? Can I do anything? The least you can do is acknowledge the need, if you can’t meet it at that time acknowledging it helps. If you can identify the problem and solve it things will improve.
  8. Allow them to cry; it doesn’t mean you have to leave. There are parents all around you. They know how hard it is. If you can stay calm your child will feel it and they will relax.
  9. Following on from that, stop worrying about who is watching. We put too much pressure on ourselves as parents to perform perfectly all of the time. Be the best parent you can and try not to let others knock your confidence.
  10. Do it more often!

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.