Parenting | Your newly confident five-year-old

people-70979_1280It is amazing to look back after your child’s first year in school and see how they have grown in confidence. However, along with this new found confidence comes a good dose of cheekiness. They have truly found their voice and will no longer conform. Now, when you ask them to tidy their room you may get a very clear, “No, I am busy!”. When you ask them not to strangle their younger sibling they reply, “They hit me first!”.

You might be relieved that they are getting school holidays, presuming that it is the influence of bold children in school that has turned them into somewhat of a naughty terror. However, it may not be fair to blame the influence of other children; your five-year-old has had ten months of daily mingling with the world and they have realised that they can do things for themselves. Every day they have been encouraged to sort things out for themselves in the classroom and in the yard. They have watched and they have learned. They have discovered they can survive without their parents with them all the time. They are strong, they have skills and, for sure, have their voices that we hear loud and clear at home.

Children should have the safety of home to say no, to test the boundaries and to stand up for themselves. As parents our role is to help them understand the rules of play, of negotiation and respect for others, including their parents.

Here are some tips to help you get started over the summer months:

  1. Welcome your child’s new found confidence. Tell them how great it is to hear them voice their thoughts.
  2. Talk with them about how they can say what they are thinking in a respectful way.
  3. Help them to figure out ways of dealing with anger that doesn’t inflict hurt on others.
  4. Ask them what rules they think should be in place in the house. Get them to help you write down some house rules that all the family can stick to.
  5. Talk with them about how confidence is a good thing, how we all need to say no at times and how this has created positive change in the world. Maybe you can think of some local heroes or ones from fiction or history to help children see how this is a talent they are developing and one they should use wisely.
  6. Talk with children about negotiation. We don’t always want to do what we are asked to do, and neither do they, so encourage them to negotiate with you to reach agreements.
  7. Help your child to understand that families and community, just like in the classroom, need co-operation. If we can all agree to do something, even if we don’t particularly like doing it, then we can move onto something more enjoyable.
  8. Stay calm when your child shouts demands at you. If you get into a shouting match with them they will win because you will feel guilty later. Tell them, in a calm voice, that you need to move away until they are ready to talk. Acknowledge that they are angry or upset, or whatever emotion it is you detect. Never ignore their emotions. When they calm down, thank them for doing that and start over. No sulking!
  9. Every time your child uses their talents, tell them how great it is to be developing these skills. Our job is to sand off the rough edges of these skills. Support and encourage them. You want strong and vibrant children.
  10. Look after yourself. Give yourself some break time so that you will have the patience to parent. This way you can support your child to gain control of all these skills and talents that are emerging.

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 | Your teenager’s summer of freedom

youth-570881_1280This summer a whole new set of parents will experience, for the first time, their young teens at home and off school for three whole months. Teens will be so excited, but many parents may be questioning the logic of the Department of Education and their annual three month holiday for teenagers. They are still very young so they have to be monitored and cared for but how can you do this for three months and hold down a job?

Here are ’10 ways to’ support you and your teen to have an enjoyable summer:

  1. Firstly, do not panic. You have worked hard preparing your child for life. This freedom is the first real test of how responsible they can be. It may be absolutely necessary to leave them at home for part of the day while you get to work. Talk with them about keeping safe without causing fear. When they are at home go over safety rules with them. Make sure they answer their phone and check in with you. Ask them to call you if they are going out or if anyone comes over. This way at least you are aware of what is happening.
  2. It is all about demonstrating responsible behaviour. Once you see them act in this way it will support you to move forward. If they cannot be trusted alone, you will need to look at childcare options for them. They will not like having to go to a minder but if they are not capable of being home alone for a period of time you have no choice for now. Let them moan that you are being over protective and don’t trust them, that is to be expected.
  3. Aside from childminding options, check in with their friends’ parents. There are likely to be some parents at home at times. If you arrange teen dates, it could work well for everyone. Parents rather young people hang out in small groups. Talk directly to the parents yourself about any plans.
  4. Talk with relatives and see if they can go on holidays to anyone for a few days, here and there. It is good for them to get to know cousins and other relatives a little better. It would also give them some added independence to do this without you. I am sure you can return the favour at some stage.
  5. Encourage your teen to make a plan of action for the summer. What do they enjoy? Can they participate in sports, join a book club or some hobby group? Three months would be great opportunity for them to really pursue an activity they enjoy when they have time to do it. It would get them up and out of the house and keep them busy and motivated.
  6. Allow your teens to rest. Try to accept that teens are different to adults. They like to sleep late in the day, watch TV, listen to music, spend all day on their phone and sit in their pyjamas until dinner time. They can’t get a job yet so they have the luxury for a very short period in their life to enjoy doing nothing. Once they maintain the boundaries and the rules of the home they are not harming anyone. Of course they should also help with household chores as usual. Allow them dictate a little what they would like to do.
  7. Talk with them about what is appropriate for them to do and where they can hang out. Think about allowing them to travel on the bus alone, if you have not done so yet. It is scary to allow your child such freedom but unless you give them responsibilities you cannot expect them to learn. You prepare them for life by adding responsibilities layer by layer. You also get braver each day as you see them cope and make positive choices.
  8. It is not a good idea at this age to give teens the responsibility of looking after younger children. Be cautious and know that teens do not always have the patience and tolerance required to manage younger children. It may be a step too far to leave them home alone together. It may be better to look at other options around caring for younger children.
  9. Take time out with your teen this summer if you can. Get to know them as young people heading quickly towards adulthood. In a few years they will most likely have jobs and busier social lives, and parents will be far from important in their lives. Enjoy your last few summers with them.
  10. Try to think back to when you were their age. Don’t nag them and worry that their brains will freeze up over the summer with the lack of use. They will most likely be fine.

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.

School Holidays

Parenting | 10 Ways to Manage School Holidays

School HolidaysFor some parents the school holidays are a respite time with a more relaxed routine. However, it can be a nightmare for others and so requires a lot of planning and management. As parents we learn quickly that when raising children it is important to have as many options and resources as you can possibly gather. Managing childcare over the summer months can be a challenge and early planning is the key.

  1. Research what summer camps are running in your area. What are their price ranges? Children love to engage with their peers. These interactions help them to develop their confidence and learn new skills. They may need a little support to attend at first.
  2. Co-ordinate with other parents to find out if any of your child’s friends are attending summer camps. It is always nice to know somebody.
  3. Can you set up a play date rota with another parent? You could plan your leave with each other. Even if it only works for one week, it can be very helpful.
  4. It can be lovely for children to have special time with grandparents and build their relationships. Can you stay at grandparents also and commute to work from there? Is your child old enough to leave with a grandparent for the week? Or maybe a grandparent could come and stay. If you can rely on a grandparent, maybe work in a few treats for them during the week to help them feel appreciated.
  5. Plan with other family members. See if you can support each other during the summer months. Maybe friends would also be open to helping out. Count each week separately. It will most likely be impossible to have one plan to cover the whole summer. If you have friends or family who can help out, try to plan a day out during the summer or have them over for a fun day to thank them.
  6. Try shortening your week if you are working outside of the home. Can you take a small amount of leave each week to shorten the work week rather than taking blocks of time? Can you take unpaid leave or parental leave? Of course bills still have to be paid and not all employers will offer flexibility so it can be tricky, but if this is a possibility then it can relieve childcare pressures.
  7. If you and your child’s other parent are sharing parenting, can you coordinate on holidays to develop a routine to share the care over the summer period?
  8. Is there a minder in your area who will take on children for the summer time? Can you negotiate a good rate with them?
  9. Children manage change well, once they are kept informed of the plan. Young toddlers can thrive once the routine around sleep and eating times is maintained. As it is a temporary measure children can often enjoy the different experiences and gain from them. It makes the holiday period more interesting when new things are happening.
  10. Summer time can be expensive, ideally planning for summer time should start months ahead. Setting aside a little each week if you can, can go along way to easing the costs of the summer holidays.

If you are lucky enough to have lots of holidays to use over the summer time, enjoy the time with your child and plan days out. They don’t have to cost money, but spend the time in a different way with your children so you feel the summer was something new and fun.

Coming up next week: 10 Ways to Have Fun This Summer.

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

LIVE Facebook Q&A with Geraldine on this topic Monday 22 June from 11am-12pm in our NEW One Family Parenting Group. Join in to post your questions and share your experiences.

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