What does it take to create parenting magic in families?
Here is a list of ingredients......
Learning to cope with disappointments
I believe it is very important to teach a child right from the beginning
to learn to cope with disappointments. Learning to cope with
disappointment is easier if children are given the opportunities to
experience these feelings when they are very young. The world
can be a very disappointing place and children need to know and
understand that things happen in spite of and regardless of their
For instance, you can prepare for
a wonderful days outing to the beach, park or play ground, only to have
it cancelled because of changing weather. Children need to
learn about these types of disappointments and how to handle their
emotions when they occur.
As parents you can model
responses to your child, helping them to express their feelings around
it, to talk about it and to accept and move on from it.
See your child as a person and respect them. Treat them as you
would expect to be treated. Be as respectful of their feelings,
boundaries, hope and fears as you would expect them to be of
yours. Children are people and to know this is to give them
Encourage your children to treat their siblings with equal respect and to honour each others privacy. Respect is mirrored by the parents' behaviour of each other.
You cannot teach what you do not do.
Never be afraid to say no
One of the greatest
gifts you can give your child is to say no rather than maybe or
perhaps. Children need to learn they cannot have everything they think
they want. Overindulged children become self centred adults unprepared
for their future.
It may well be the kindest, most loving
response to your child in many situations, but often parents have
enormous problems with this. Some parents worry that their child will
have hurt feelings and feel let down by them if they say no.
However, saying no, when appropriate, teaches children that limits and
boundaries are part of normal daily life and affords them opportunities
to experience this and therefore to grow emotionally.
Help your children to handle their negative emotions
I very much support the belief that it's a child's right to be a child for as
long as possible. However I also believe you do a child no favours by
letting them think that the world revolves around them. Their natural
egocentric state protects and validates them enough without being
overly protected from hurts and disappointments.
Intuitively, all loving parents know how much to shield their children from the
world's sadness. I am not advocating growing up before their
time; rather I support the idea of helping children to handle their
negative emotions as they occur.
Coping with being let down by others
Children need to learn to understand that other people can and will let them down in
numerous ways. Help them to talk about these disappointments,
and to feel the feelings rather than suppressing and not understanding
them. Not apportioning blame either to the person or to
themselves is an important new understanding that parents can help
Learn to listen to your own reactions and to realise that tirades of put downs against other people when heard by your children always models harmful ways of
Spoiling your child
You can never spoil a child with an overabundance of love and attention, but you can spoil them by not putting guidelines and boundaries in place.
When people remark that you'll spoil that child with attention, just remind yourself that if solid boundaries are in place right from their earliest moments, and if you
are firm and consistent with them, you can never spoil your children
with too much love.
Begin sex education early
Begin when your children are very young to introduce them to age appropriate ideas around sex education with as much ease as you can.
Then you will never have to anticipate "the talk" with them as you will be constantly
refreshing, updating and educating them as they grow.
When the going gets tough, lighten up and try not to take yourself too
seriously. Raising children is certainly a serious job, but
when viewed as a project with little fun involved, no-one's interests
are served and life becomes a chore.
Remember to inject some lightness and fun into each day.
Eat your meals at the table together
Eat your meals together around the table rather than in front of the
television. Some of the best and most intimate times of
growth for families can take place around the table, where children
learn how to participate in conversation, taking their turn at both
listening and talking.
This becomes the place where
the day's activities are shared, problems made known, and where
opinions, values and life issues are learned.
I'm sorry, I was wrong
Never be too proud to apologise to
your children when you make a mistake or an incorrect decision. It
takes courage and integrity to admit you are wrong rather than to blame
everything and everyone else except yourself. What a
wonderful gift you give when you teach this to your children.
- Here is a selection of parenting resources and activities for families available on the Internet. Enjoy!