Setting Limits.

Setting limits.

Setting limits with our kids is something that is so important but hard to do. We can set too many limits so that every time they can be seen as doing some thing wrong. We can set too few limits where Our children can persuade us to bend the rules (particularly in the area of sweets – or food generally or technology).

When we think about limits it has to be for those things that we really value in our home and for our children. That will be different for every family. If our limits are clear to our children but they are set with kindness they will still be unhappy if they have to follow it and they don’t want to, but we see this as an opportunity for them to express their feelings. The limit may lead to tears and tantrums but that is ok. We remain with them to know that they are still loved but they still cannot do xyz.

If we don’t have too many limits then we are more able to apply the ones we have and be prepared for their unhappiness. We can then deal with it positively. If there are constant limits this is a greater challenge for you and your child. Sometimes we have to review our limits.

I have recently given up on expecting my children to sit down for a whole meal at home. This is partly because they spend a lot of time with us in the living room. They sit and will engage in conversation frequently but when you put a meal at the table it is like they have ants in their pants! They can sit well for a meal when we are out so I have decided that I can live without this at home. The meal is still set out on the table and there is still the expectation that they will sit down but if they don’t I don’t get upset about it anymore (they are in the same room just not sat on their chair -they could be standing!).

This change to my limits has meant that we now don’t have daily conflict about them sitting down at the table and has allowed us to engage in other conversations at meal times.
Limits can change and children can be flexible and adaptable to different situations. E.g. later nights in the holidays! Sometimes we need to look at how we can also be flexible to then give us the strength and patience for those absolute limits we need to set (no you can’t have sweets for breakfast, dinner and tea! 😆).

The problem with boys!

The problem with boys!

Boys are notoriously bad at telling you how they feel but boy do they show it! They can come across as being uncooperative, rude or aggressive when really they are just trying to tell you that something is wrong.

Boys are brilliant at finding solutions.

They will put effort into their behaviour in order to get the outcome they wish. Even if the path to this is a negative one!

It takes a lot of patience from the parent to really get to find out what is going on. The behaviour that there are doing will be difficult to manage. Parents need to take time to be with their sons. No agenda, no demands, just your attention. This attention along with giving them some vocabulary to talk about the problem can help you both!

It is by having no pressure that boys can start to talk about what is happening for them. A parent reported to me that she was listening while her teenage son was tidying his room and she hadn’t heard him talk so openly since he was young.

She was ‘just listening’ (not asking!).

During this current mental health crisis it is vital that we show our boys that they can talk to us. That we see that they are struggling and they have have come up with a solution, But maybe there could be a different one. This takes time and patience. Boys can take ages and ages before they open up, they really test that they can trust us, that we are not going to get angry or start trying to interfere.

The results are really rewarding and can help in minimising conflict in the home. Have a go this weekend and just sit and listen to your boy.


Setting Limits

Setting limits.

Setting limits in a way that helps to solve a problem rather than create a problem is tough. To be clear, I’m not talking about stopping kids running out in the road sort of a limit. I’m talking about behaviours such as winding people up, nasty comments and being demanding.

Poor behaviour = poor feelings

Traditional approaches would have us send these children away without any idea of why they are behaving this way. But if we see behaviour as a message. Poor behaviour =poor feelings , we can deal with it a different way.

Practical tips!

Setting limits does not have been done by pulling out a military tone and thinly disguised annoyance. Look the child in the eyes, or Let them know that you are close (oh you have to be close – shouting across the room definitely doesn’t work!) and state calmly that they are not to … Then (this is the science bit!) ask them what is mkaing them feel so bad.

You may be surprised at what you get!

If they are really angry you may get a bit more of that but I usually repeat that some thing must be making them feel really bad to be so angry would they like a hug? Or a ride on my back where I try and buck them off (using physical play to help disperse the physiological affects of getting angry).
You may get tears. Crying is a natural response to dealing with stress. Children need to have opportunities to cry where they know they will not be told off or shouted at for crying. Where you just listen. No solutions or quick fixes. Just listening and reassurance.

Why do do they do this?

All of us have our own ways of dealing with the stresses of daily life (glass of wine, sport etc) we also know where we can go if we need a good cry or scream. Children have the same needs but not the same tools. They will show they are stressed through their behaviour. They will get your attention – any way they can.

This is because you as their parent are the person that they look to to create a safe environment for them to feel better. You did it when they were a baby. They cried and you held them and comforted them. It is more complicated as they get older and the demands on them are not under your control. But they will let you know. Set that limit and then see what they really need.

How to be a patient parent!

How to be a patient parent.

Ok. I talked about being playful first thing I the morning. You may have read it and thought ‘No way, I haven’t got the time’. Or ou may know that this really pushes your buttons and drives you mad.

So, what can you do to change this pattern?

Firstly, by recognising that this is a pattern that you and your kids are stuck in. When you can look at it more objectively you empower yourself to do something about it. You, as the adult, have the skills to be able to change. Children will remain with what solves their problem.

Secondly, plan for what you are going to do differently. But left be planning to leave earlier so that you feel under less pressure, having balls or toys in your pocket to start a game.

Finally, getting a listening partner. This is someone who you can exchange half an hour with where they just listen. No advice giving, no platitudes, just listening. This person hears your frustration and annoyance. Your reasons as to why these little things bother you so much. By developing this partnership, but gives you the internal resources to find the energy to do things differently.

To find out more about Listening Partnerships have a look at the link below or come in to the free parenting workshop on the 4th Feb 2-4 in Harrogate (see events!)
All the best for the week ahead. Change is often hard but definitely rewarding! Tracy

5 ideas for keeping the Merry in Merry Christmas – parenting in the holidays!

Despite whether it is this week of next the holidays are upon us! For some parents and kids this is the best time of the year, for others the most challenging, and lots somewhere in between.

As children get older they develop their own likes and dislikes. Which of course, have to be different to their siblings! This can leave parents in a no win situation. So what can you do?

1. Talk to the kids about their expectations of the holidays. Is it big days out or lazy days at home? You can then scatter in bits of what each of them would like. This also means they are more likely to join in the other activities as well.

2. Keep some routines. Kids can find it hard when the strict school routines change to none at all. Having a loose routine, such as snack break at 10.30, can help kids to keep track of time and not be asking you for food every five minutes!keeping to a fairly regular sleep routine makes sure that they end the holidays rested. Particularly if they are early risers!

3. Keep learning. If you have more time than usual with your kids you can try and share some of your interests. Your favourite children’s book, painting, etc. Kids enjoy seeing what adults do and seeing if they can have a go.

This also goes for chores. In the holidays you may be able to let the kids do the chores alongside you as there is less rush. This is good, not only for them to appreciate what you do for them, but also gives them a sense of responsibility in the home. Research tells us that kids that do chores and help out their parents give them skills to become successful adults.

4. Still keep learning! This time think about what opportunities your kids have for thinking. Baking can be fun. The pic is my kids Christmas baking! Letting them get a bit bored can help them to think of activities for themselves. Even though they have those presents they may still get bored! Don’t run around finding things for them to do!

Older children should be able to learn about moderate risk and should be able to play out, even in the cold! The older children also need some time without direct adult supervision! The world of phones and phone watches make being in contact with kids so much easier that you can give them some freedom (often harder for the parents than the kids!).

5. Finally, think about what you would like to get out of the holidays. Which friends would you like to catch up with? Do you want to meet together as families or have an adults night out? Sometimes large group day outs can be fantastic but don’t always recharge your batteries.

Kids can get disconnected and play up if your attention is on catching up rather than the activity that is happening. So think about what is the best r and r for you and plan this in too!

Have a lovely Christmas and keep an eye out for my new year sessions. Make the change in your family in 2018!

21st century parenting -Parent guilt!

Parent Guilt. A modern phenomena?

There have been a few articles out recently in the number of hours that parents now spend with their children. We now spend more time with our children than we ever did in the past. Many families also now have two working parents. Is it any wonder that with such competing demands for our time and attention that parent guilt is so common.

The impact of social media

Social media fills our living rooms with perfect families. Our friends all look like they are having an idyllic time with their kids. They are all smiling! Reality is never like this. Be rest assured that at some point on that trip somebody cried or had a tantrum! Maybe we should add a code to our status that adds some reality.

Some parents worry about posting ‘real’ images of a family days out as they think they will be perceived as bad parents. There’s that parent guilt again! In fact, when I get groups of parents together, the feeling of relief when we can share some real stories is immense. Negative feelings such as shame and guilt are stopping us from accessing help. Not specialist help but the help we get from talking to each other. Realising that you are not alone. And trusting that each and every one of you feels better for knowing that! Freeing us of parent guilt.

Is learning new skills admitting you were wrong?

The perception that we have to be a perfect parent runs deep. I was talking to a parent of grown up children. She became upset when we were talking about the amazing parenting strategies that I use and that have worked in our home. She was upset because she hadn’t used these strategies with her children but could see the value in them. Parent guilt!

The strategies I use are really forgiving. There is no ‘you have done that wrong!’ I live in the real world where the stresses and strains of a full on life are real. I reassured her that we do the best with what we know at the time. She was reassured that she had done her best. But her grandchildren were going to experience different ways of being with her and she would be able to enjoy it. Banish the parent guilt!

So what can we do about parent guilt?
  • Talking to other parents is a really good start. Sharing those stories and realising that we are essentially all the same is hugely liberating.
  • Have a go at some new parenting techniques. Honestly there are some new ones out there! It doesn’t have to be all reward charts and naughty steps. These approaches sometimes add to parent guilt as we forgot the reward, or we send them away to their rooms. Connecting with children when they are struggling can help them but also banish parent guilt. You are there with your child helping them to manage their emotions.
  • Set time aside to play or have ‘no nag’ time with your kids regularly. Learn to love those games that you hate but can delight in how much your kids love them. If doing this in an open-ended way is challenging put the timer on! 10 minutes of Lego or monopoly is better to them than none at all.
  • Feel ok about them doing more for themselves. This is a big area for parent guilt. Children demanding things and making you feel bad if it doesn’t happen right away. Just know that children developing independence skills, heading to the shops, making their own drinks and snacks, helps them to develop confidence and feelings of control and capability.
  • Be kind to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up or feel bad if parenting is not going as you would like it. Recharge your batteries. Take a deep breath. Focus on one thing that you would like to change. Plan to do something different – add some play, respond in a different way. And see what happens.
  • Join #b4Ishout on twitter to share and get ideas on things to do before you shout!

If you would like to hear more about how to let go of parent guilt get in touch. Sessions can be offered for groups of parents in the home or at local coffee shops. So let’s help each other and let go of parent guilt!

Listening to an anxious child. For parents and educators

Have a read of my recent blog on listening to an anxious child – my listening superpower!

How listening helps an anxious child

How can this apply to early years settings?

This article from Hand in Hand parenting describes the same approach for early years settings. It can take more time initially, as you listen rather than distract, but the long term benefits significantly outweigh this.

I am parent whose child struggled with this for 4 years of school and for whom this approach has worked. I would recommend you have a go. Parents and staff! I would love to hear your comments on how it went!!

#b4Ishout … what are your calming strategies?

#b4Ishout is the new hashtag for parents to share the strategies that they try to keep calm when the kids behaviour is challenging.

What strategies can we use?

Strategies can include the use of humour, distraction by a child’s interest, catch games, rough play, having a break or taking a breath.

All families have amazing and unique ways of what works! Share yours here are give some fabulous ideas to other parents who are trying to do something else before shouting.

Just the process of being aware that you are about to shout and wanting to do some thing different is the beginning of a big change!

Will this really make a difference?

Bo Hejlskov Elven talks about the principle that those who take responsibility can make a difference. This empowers us as parents. We can make the difference! He also helps us to see that kids do well if they can and that some of the modern demands that we put on children are above their ability to manage so they may respond how we don’t want them to.

Why #b4Ishout?

<>By taking this moment #b4Ishout it helps us to rewire ourselves to pause before responding to our emotions and frustrations and see things from the child’s point of view.

If you want to learn more about #b4Ishout contact We can deliver talks to small groups of parents in nurseries, schools and family homes!

Parents are important people!

Why is refocusing on building strong family connections so important. Why YOU and I, the parents, are the most important people in our children’s lives.

In this fast moving quick fix society there is a lot to disempower parents. Parents are having to cope with demands and issues that no previous generations have had. This is with no change in the amount of support that parents get access to. Learning about these issues does not make you a bad parent or your child a bad kid. It makes you an informed parent. We all make the best decisions with the information that we have at the time.

Parents getting together to support each other should be the norm. I call it peer support. We know that such support can then help us do a better job. To help us find that last ounce of patience or ability to play. And our families benefit.

Take some time to just be with your children, to just listen (no fix it’s or nags), to play (This applies to your teens as much as your twos!).

Thank you for listening and have a lovely weekend x Dr Tracy Laverick

Children crossing the road and how play can help!

Helping children become independent crossing the road, and how play can help!

Crossing the road is something we do many times a day with our children. But how can play help them to do it independently and safely! In today’s busy world it is sometimes easy to hold on to the hand of your child as you cross the road and cross. No mention of the road or the traffic or what they need to look out for. We may even cross between two cars or not wait for the green man. This is understandable as we may be rushing to get them to school on time or we need to rush off elsewhere. However, identify some times when you can do this more slowly.

Children who are unaware of crossing the road may be shouted at (for their safety!) but they are more likely to be frightened by the shouting than understand why they are being shouted at.

Set up play with cars and tracks at home to ‘play’ at crossing the road. And play with what can happen. Explain calmly that cars can hurt if they were to touch you. This isn’t about scaring them though! It is about empowering them to know how to cross the road. Let them take charge. They have to tell you if it safe to cross. Ask them where would be the best place to cross. The level of independence with this will increase as children get older.

When primary age children are confident at crossing the road they are internalizing what they need to do. Looking, listening and crossing safety should become second nature. This is important before children hit their teenage years. Teenagers brains go through massive development and so if we are expecting them to learn to cross the road and it isn’t already automatic they can struggle to appropriately assess risk.

Many children have almost constant adult supervision, allowing children to develop independence and take charge at important things such as crossing the road can help their self-esteem, see that they can make good decisions and Develop vital skill set for the next stage of childhood!

Enriching Parenting Series

This is from the Developing Independence section of the Enriching Parenting Series. This comprehensive look at modern parenting is being launched on the 3rd November 2017 at the Yorkshire Hotel Harrogate. £25 per person for the opportunity to come along and hear Dr Tracy Laverick and to receive a range of resources and parenting support.  Contact for more information and to book.

Further information can also be found at Seminars 2017 . Enjoy techniques and approaches to get you out the house in a morning and have confident kids and non-judgemental support. Come and find what works for you!

The power of listening

In our quick fix world it can be hard to remember the power of slowing down and listening. I asked a group of education professionals what made a good boss. Most of them came up with someone who listens; To their ideas or their problems. When the same group were asked how much they were listening to children, without interruption or to offer a solution, the number was much lower.

By showing our children how much listening to them can help they are more likely to listen to others (including their parents). They can struggle to answer direct questions so listening to children generally involves just being there. By your presence when they are upset or angry they can tell you what is happening for them but only after they feel reassured.

You may find that what you thought was the issue is not the issue at all. We have all had children who have cried over the wrong colour cup or the broken biscuit. These are just opportunities to have a good cry or tantrum in order to clear themselves of negative feelings.

Listening to children’s upsets rather than trying to fix the problem also allow them to develop new skills. They learn that they can get through emotions. That they can be upset or disappointed but then be ok, with adults to reassure but not to fix. Children learn that they can come up with their own solutions to problems. That even being listened to is a solution. They learn to manage fears and anger by knowing that these are normal emotions and they serve a really good purpose.

Parents can feel under pressure for their children to stop being emotional. I passed a Mum in the shop yesterday telling her child to stop embarrassing her. Culturally we worry about what other people think of us in public places but sometimes we need to put that to one side and listen.

Listening can be hard to do but it can have a big impact on the emotional wellbeing of children. Letting them work their feelings with your support will allow them to develop emotional resilience for when you are not there.

For more information on modern parenting join me at a seminar or talk. Modern parenting must haves or raising confident children. Contact for more information or to book.

Technology Children. Here’s how technology can help your children.

Technology Children. What should we know?

Not all technology is the same. As parents we need to be able to distinguish between what we are happy for our children to use. And what technology we would like them to use less often.


When we are looking at the technology children play, games are often high on the list! There are some great educational games out there. Problem solving, puzzles and strategy games. These are games to talk through with your children. What are they doing? How are they working that out?

You can separate off games that are ‘just for fun’. They can still play them but not all the time. This is the balanced diet for technology in the same way as for sweets.

Social media

The technology involved in social media apps is something that as parents we need to be aware of. Children can believe all that they see on social media. As parents we know that what is portrayed on social media is not always true. This is the message that young people also need to hear. The likes button gives all of us a boost. This technology is designed to make us to respond to likes and therefore want more of them! Great if we get them, but what about those times when we don’t? Talk this through.

How technology can help

As parents we don’t need to see all technology as bad. Improvements in communication technology can mean that we are able to call our children (and they can call us!) on watch phones. GPS technology allows us to see where our children are.

Research show some us that the new generations of children are not drinking or smoking as much. This is attributable to teenagers spending more time in their room. If you also like technology, why don’t you join them? Don’t see it as a barrier but as an opportunity.

Children can use animation technology to create their own movies and engage in imaginative storytelling.

Finally, technology is here to stay. Our children need to be able to use it. It forms a significant part of our working lives. Supporting them to use it well. To be able to help others through its use. And to understand that it is only opinion which rarely gives us the whole story. By supporting and learning the technology with your children can be rewarding. And they can also teach you!

Join me at a parenting seminar on Modern Parenting must haves for more about this and other modern parenting dilemmas. Contact for more information and to book.