Kids doing chores – when should parents step back?

When children are young we are keen to help them develop their independence. We celebrate each milestone with pictures and journals. Once they get older we can fall into a pattern of running around after our kids when really there are many things they can do for themselves.

There has been an interesting generational change on the social expectations of our children. High profile cases in the 90s, increased car use and the rise of social media has led to many parents being fearful of the world out there. And yet as children they were probably out and about at an earlier age than their children are now.

For parents there is something great about being needed by your children. By them still relying on you – and it may be a much quicker way of getting them out of the door when you are in a rush in a morning! But don’t forget to reflect every now and then. What CAN your children do?

Children form comfortable habits as much as adults and they Will find it easier for you to run around for them than do it themselves. But we do know that successful and resilient adults are those who haven’t had everything done for them. Who have learnt to contribute to their family. Who look for what needs to be done and takes on their share of the responsibility. That is why chores at home do not need to be paid for. They are something that every member of a family needs to do. They are a contribution.

By celebrating their independence at each stage and giving them the space to do chores (and the expectation from you -very few choose chores!) you are helping them with a ‘can do’ attitude. You are teaching them skills for their adult lives and a positive work ethic. By spending time around the family doing chores and having conversations you are providing protective factors for the world out there, either online or in reality!

To look further at the research on how chores help the development of independence skills join us at the Modern Parenting Must Haves seminar in September. Contact tracy@enrichingparenting.co.uk for more information and to book.

Sound Families. 5 ways to achieve a ‘sound family’

What is a ‘sound family’? No not the phonics groups! But families that are doing ok. They are ‘sound’. So often we aim to have the perfect family, or the healthy family or the outdoorsy family and if we are lucky all the members of the family are into this. But what if they’re not? We can perceive ourselves to be failing. This can lead to our own anxieties as well as tension with the kids. So what can we do?

1. Accept that it is ok for everyone to have their own interests and some space to do them (even the parents). Our interests are what help us to relax and enjoy ourselves and are important for switching off in busy lives.

2. Allow time to switch off and do nothing. Kids have very busy days at school and often don’t respond well to questions about their day as soon as they get in. Notice what they want to do when they come in, sit and chill or have a snack. Give them some space before lots of questions.

3. As a family have good mobile phone/tablet habits. Phones and devices should not be in bedrooms. They should be charging downstairs. Computers and laptops should be used downstairs as well. The internet and social media are isolating. To have your children used to sharing these with you and talking about things in a non judgemental way will help them to come to you if there is an issue. Make sure the adults also model time away from their phones!

4. Encourage your kids to meet with other kids! Getting out of the house, walking to the shops and shopping with friends are all positive activities. Learning to negotiate on the playground and to listen to your instincts about who you do and don’t like are important skills. If they are always in the presence of adults they don’t develop these as readily – they just rely on the adults.

5. Be in the presence of each other. Spending time as a family, whether it is all together or a girly day out or trip to the footie. Learn to play their favourite game on the console. Sometimes it is in these quieter times, no agenda, no questions that you can have the best conversations.

Happiness at all times of the day and night is not an achievable aim for a family. Being content to be with each other, to have time together and apart can help build close bonds and a ‘sound family’.

Join me for seminars and talks on rising confident children and Modern Parenting Must Haves. Aimed at parents of school age children at which time lots of support falls away. Parents go back to work and there is limited advice for parents (other than individual opinions). All talks are research based and provide enough information for parents to adapt to what works for them as a family.

If you are interested in a  talk for your parent group, business or school please contact tracy@enricingparenting.co.uk

For more information from America on the impact of smart phones and social media you might want to look at the link below.

https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/534198/

 

 

It takes a village to raise a child?

Many might assume that this African saying is not relevant in modern parenting. The trend of competitive parenting and ‘mum shaming’ has prevented lots of parents from having realistic, positive discussions about some of the challenges of parenting. There can be a mismatch between how parents are wanting to parent and their parents, and tensions can occur.

The use of social media to share our parenting experiences has also led to a skewed idea of how we are all doing. A day out with tantrums, arguments and a lot of rain can still lead to a lovely smiley photo to post. Or the opposite is true and life is presented as only being manageable by loads of alcohol. Every family has their moments and we are all just trying to do our best.

So, how can the village help? Firstly, connecting with people. This can be the hardest bit. Sorting out childcare, getting diaries together, negotiating different interests etc etc etc. When babies are young nct groups and play groups can be a good way to meet other parents. This can become harder as children get older and you may have less contact with other parents. Join interest groups and have regular dinners with grandparents. I’m not saying that this is easy but the effort will be worthwhile.

You may find that you are in these groups but that conversations end up as competitive or judgemental. sharing some information on how you like to parent can be helpful for others to understand. You could send them some ‘interesting articles’ or links. Information shared in this way can then be good topics for discussion without anyone feeling that they are doing it wrong!

You can then model listening. You don’t need to give advice or comment but just listen and be supportive to the person sharing. Being listened to is really powerful and empowering. Too much advice can be judgemental and make people feel as everyone else has the answers that they don’t.

Hopefully by being there for each other and listening we can help parents to feel supported by their village. Parents who feel well supported then have greater resources to listen and manage their child’s emotional responses to the broken biscuit!

The Parents Time to Talk group is one place where you can find this village. It’s aim is to provide a space that is supportive for parents. Join us on a Thursday eve at Indulge 8-9pm or set up one of your own!

Working with the cry of ‘I’m bored!’

For school age children to be truly creative they need to have the space to be bored and then to figure out what they can do to stop themselves being bored. The summer is a great time to practice this as there are less urgent demands of needing to leave the house at a certain time, structured activities and clubs etc.

For children that cannot read you could put picture cards in a room with some ideas of what they could do, particularly if they are unused to this, or a written list for older children. Once you have checked that the room is ok for them to play, you can leave and find some thing else to do. If you are in the room they are likely to default to asking you or relying on you to solve problems for them.

Some children will immediately be drawn to the outside, others to crafts or games. This is a time when they can experiment with activities that they enjoy and make them their own. Or they may find some of those toys that have been gathering dust in their bedrooms and play with those again (always put play with your toys in your room on the list!)

There is a flip side to the time out of the room for you! When you return you have to be very interested in what they have created. Listen well to the rules of game that may be impossible to understand or love the smell of the ‘rose perfume’. You can comment on how well they have played on their and how they have managed to occupy themselves.

You will notice that watching tv and playing on a tablet/computer have not yet been mentioned… these can be on the list but only if you know that they are being inspired or creative with them. Like coding their own game, creating animations or singing along with the Horrible Histories crew! These can be on the list.

For older children getting outside and playing with other children (if there are some around) is also great to do. Children need periods of unsupervised social activity to develop their social muscles. To learn to negotiate and compromise. Modern technology such as phones and watches can make it easier for parents to be in contact with their kids without needing to be right next to them. Send them on errands to get something from the shop or help out a neighbour.

All of these help to build emotional resilience and a sense of responsibility in children. This alternated with times in the day where you really get down and play (no phones or tv) with the kids and laugh and have fun with them will help them retain emotional balance. So enjoy some time to yourselves (or build up to it!) and enjoy time to play. Have a lovely summer!

If you would like to hear more about building emotional resilience in kids come along to Modern Parenting Must Haves seminar in Harrogate on the 16th September 9.30-12. Contact tracy@enrichingparenting for more information and to book.

Why is playing so hard when you’re all grown up?

The art of playing is really hard. As the adult you need to hand the reins over to the kids and follow their play. This is easier said than done. Some adults find it hard to let go and allow their children to lead. Some just can’t help themselves but start controlling the childs play. Why is play so hard?

The urge that we have to control play is exactly the same for the children. They want to control what happens. Children can get really frustrated if adults don’t do as they’re told and start changing things or sending the play in a different direction. Play is a child’s way of engaging with the world. They learn to think, to problem solve, to be imaginative and to work with others. The ability to give clear instructions or to take on the views of others are invaluable skills.

They can also play out events that have puzzled them or that are worrying them. Having the time to act this out and then move on is another vital skill for emotional well being. Children need to process emotions and come out the other end by themselves. They then learn that most situations they can deal with. Children are so used to a high level of supervision and support that they can develop a mindset of ‘I can’t do it without an adult’. When often they can (and their parents probably did!)

Adults are so used to managing events in a child’s life that sometimes they don’t even realise they are doing this in their play. It is essential that parents get down and play with their kids but this means taking the orders! Children of school age know what it is to be challenged. The school curriculum is very challenging. At home, being able to win and get ‘one over’ an adult can be liberating and a huge confidence boost (they know that you can win you don’t need to prove it!) this adds to their self esteem piggy bank so that when they hit challenges at school they approach them with confidence.

The world is there to be explored and examined and turned into lava. Kids are amazingly creative. They are sponges to new (accurate) information but sometimes if they want a dandelion to be a fairy sun then go wth it!

Such ideas can trigger strong feelings for parents.  Join us for the parents Time to Talk group at Indulge Hornbeam Park Thursday 3rd August. Or the Modern Parenting must haves! Seminar in September. Contact tracy@enrichingparenting for more information and to book.

Summer’s approaching! Feeling overwhelmed already?

Despite the rainy weather summer is 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 summer? 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 become some of the most successful adults.

4. Still keep learning! This time think about what opportunities your kids have for thinking. Letting them get a bit bored can help them to think of activities for themselves. Providing some materials or books for them to dip into over the summer can help them. Don’t run around always finding things for them to do! Older children should be able to learn about moderate risk and should be able to play out, or complete experiential activities such as making perfume from flowers or making bows and arrows from the woods. 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 summer 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 happy holiday and don’t forget that the Time to Talk group is still going on at Indulge Cafe Hornbeam Park 8-9 Thursday 3rd August. So if the holidays are a bit of a rollercoaster come along and find the Time to Talk.

If you want to know more about the research and why this stuff works come along to the Modern Parenting must haves in Harrogate on the 16th September. Contact tracy@enrichingparenting.co.uk to book.

How to support your child friendships, some hints and tips

Do you worry about your child’s friendships? It can be hard as a #parent to see your child out there having to manage with others. Not all of whom might be so positive to them.

What can you do? Should you jump in and manage it or should step back? Children need opportunities to manage dispute or difficulty with others by themselves as this is a great skill to have as a teenager and into adulthood. However, they may need a bit of coaching by you to feel that they can do this.

First, you need to provide listening opportunities so that your child can tell you if there is an issue that they cannot manage. Then you can talk through what your child could say or do to manage the situation. You could also have a go at role playing the situation or use the camera. Make it fun and empowering.

When watching them play it is good to see if they are using the skills. Don’t jump straight in but see if they can have a go. They might come to you for reassurance. Do this and then let them join in again.

Quiet or shy children may find this particularly difficult. Sometimes playing with children of a range of ages can help quieter children to feel more confident by either take charge of the younger ones or following the example of older children.

If you are concerned that your child is being bullied you need to support your child and work together to address it. Talk to the adults at the school or setting to make sure that the issue is properly dealt with. Doing this together with your child allows them to see that they are able to gain control over the situation and that finding help can be effective.

Remember that you are the role model for your child so how you interact with others (and them!) will impact on how they interact. Try to be the adult that you want them to be, including how to manage difficult situations.

This can be really challenging to do as #Parenting is a really emotional business. Dealing with our own emotions first can help us to be the role model we want for our child. Come along to Modern Parenting must haves workshop in #Harrogate to discuss this and other strategies for modern parenting challenges! Contact Tracy@enrichingparenting.co.uk to book your place.

Raising girls

Boys and girls develop at different rates. Girls tend to develop language and people skills at a very young age. They want to talk and share their understanding of the world. We often shape their language by the ways in which we talk and describe the world to them. What do you point out to your daughters?

To ensure that they are access the whole world around them it is good for them to get messy, to jump in muddy puddles, to explore nature and creepie crawlies, play with building blocks and trains. A girls brain is just as open to maths and science as a boys. These experiences are good to come early as girls soon develop their own likes and dislikes!

As they go through primary school girls can start to distance themselves from us with their wish to become independent early. However we are still their rock from which they can explore. As they start to grow up we need to ensure that the opportunities that we do have to spend time together and chat are available. The route to your counsel is clear.

Model good life habits to your daughters. How do you relax? How do you encourage them to relax? If conversations tend to be focussed around a range of demands try and make it rule that one morning a week will be demand free. If children learn a good balance early this will see through times of stress.

Girls can become reluctant to laugh as they become concerned with how they are perceived by others. Letting loose and being silly is now much more challenging as all can be recorded and commented upon. So put the phone down (takes away stress of being watched) and work on what really makes you both laugh. Is it silly animals on tv? You trying to have a go at a gymnastic move? Or any other games that make them laugh!

Girls use role models around them to make their choice. Role model how you want your daughter to be. Show her how to look after herself by looking after yourself. Particularly when it comes to rest and relaxation. #Harrogate #parents #enrichingparenting

Want to learn more about modern challenges for our kids? Join me for Modern Parenting must haves seminar in September 2017 Harrogate. Simple evidence based information for you to adapt to your home. Come and join me on this modern parenting journey. 

Siblings- how to manage cries of ‘it’s not fair!’

The development of positive sibling relationships can be one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent. Feeling like a constant referee, being triggered by fighting or arguing in the house… then the next minute they are getting on like a house on fire and having a go at you for getting in the way! As a parent you can’t win.

What they learn with their siblings are life lessons. So we can’t just ignore them (although on occasion walking away (or even lying on the floor) is the best option if you don’t feel able to manage their heightened emotions).

We can encourage kids to see that we love them as individuals and value what makes them different. By modelling this we aim for them to see each other as unique. If one gets invited to a party but the other doesn’t, that is ok. We don’t need to fix that. It can even be seen as a positive as they get some special time with you!

Expectations vary with age and levels of responsibility and personality. A younger sibling should not get something just because an older sibling does. Helping children understand the graphic, and that everyone’s situation is different, but in the end we all want to get along and enjoy happiness in our lives, will take a small step towards combatting the ‘That’s not fair’ sibling cry.

As a parent these can be some of the greatest challenges as we try and negotiate our role in their relationship. Encourage them to negotiate with each other, to see if they can problem solve together. Siblings also need time apart if possible, they need to find their own way, likes and dislikes. To move away from a sense of entitlement to a voyage of discovery.

This is so hard! Our FREE Time to Talk Parenting group gets up and running again in August (3rd, 10th and 17th) 8-9 pm at Indulge Hornbeam Park, to help through those wonderful (and challenging) summer holidays! See you there #harrogate #parents #enrichingparenting

Why bother? (And why you should!)

Why bother reading this post? Why bother finding special time for the kids? Why bother going out to somewhere new? These are things I grapple with regularly. It seems like hard work doing something new where the benefits are uncertain. This morning I have been reading about the wonderful Bradley and I have also listened to the chat by the young royals. This reminds me why.

There is no manual that tells you what parenthood is going to be like. Children are precious but they also need to be independent even though we don’t know what their lives are going to hold. They have to live their childhood, and that includes the boredom over the next few weeks alongside the exhilaration of trips out and holidays.

We need to prioritise our mental wellness so that we can ‘contain and manage’ our kids emotional ups and downs. You don’t have to feel that you are mentally unwell to do something to maintain wellness. That would be like only exercising each time you hit a certain weight. Better to keep things topped up regularly if you can.

Our social media society can make this harder due to the perfect family images that are portrayed. There were just airbrushed models but now the whole of life appears airbrushed as well.

In July I have attended 4 parent sessions to listen and share some of the realities of parenting. It is inspiring and energising to hear from other parents and to know that we are not alone. We laugh, we listen and we chat. This is a safe space. No one is given judgement or even direct advice. Everyone’s situation is unique and you only share what you want.

In August I will run another 3 parent sessions and I know that they will help me to keep calm and play more with my kids. I will be able to weather their emotional rollercoaster or if do lose it (which will probably happen at least once) I have somewhere to go to move on from it! (With ☕️ and 🎂 😊)

If you would like to join me and other supportive parents then email me at tracy@enrichingparenting.co.uk or twitter @EnrichingParent we would love to have you along. Let’s bother together! #harrogate #parents #enrichingparenting http://<a href=”http://honestmum.com/category/brilliant-blog-posts/”><img style=”margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto; display: block;” src=”http://i.imgur.com/fJzNWoE.jpg” alt=”Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com” width=”301″ height=”189″ /></a>

Why do they have to cry?

It is hard learning to allow children to feel their emotions, knowing that they are supported, but not to jump in and fix it for them. We hate to hear them cry and will do all sorts to stop them crying. Change the biscuit, new juice etc.

Sometimes though we should be looking to help our children through their cry. It is a powerful lesson to them to know that they have been upset, nothing changed, but they feel better. Once we have felt the emotion fully it usually goes away.

There have been Facebook posts on looking after yourself to look after your children, which I totally agree with. However, what you sometimes find is that you can be relaxed and then still immediately be triggered by something that the kids do.

Looking after yourself is in order to draw on this reserve to manage your own emotions when your children are struggling to manage theirs.

This containment of our own emotions then allows us to ‘be there’ and connect with our kids when they are working through an emotion. It stops us from interfering and redirecting their feeling because we find it hard. Sometimes kids needs a good cry or rage to then move on and feel better. Or as I heard through handinhandparenting this week an ’emotional poop!’ 🙂

When kids say distressing things

When they are feeling out of sorts kids will say anything to try and express how they feel. This can come across as ‘I hate you’ or ‘I hate myself’. Such phrases cut to the heart of all parents and will trigger strong responses from us.

How can we help them to see themselves as the wonderful human beings they are?

1. Label the things they try hard at. They don’t need lots of stickers or rewards but to know their attempts have been noticed. ‘That’s great I like that you come off your tablet/let your sister have a turn/tried some peas. These need to be frequent but don’t need to be accompanied by big celebrations.

Children are exposed to negative messages about themselves all the time and we should try to put in at least 5 positive messages for every negative one! Hard work but worth a try!

2. Give children an emotional vocabulary. They use the phrases they know as they might not know other ways to express complex feelings. Boys are notoriously bad at not using words to say how they feel and particularly benefit from hearing feelings vocabulary from a young age.

Put an emotion word on the fridge and as a family try and notice when you are feeling that emotion. Also helping to see that emotions link to other things such as tiredness can also help children to see why adults are so bad at being consistent e.g. I get grumpy when I’m really tired!

3. Children gain confidence and learn through success. Research has shown that younger children (up to 10/11) learn best through their successes. The more they are able to achieve the more they will work at it. This is through play as well as any other activity your child may do.

As the adult you don’t need to win. When playing games with kids and joining in with their play you can let them take the lead. They can explain what to do and how to play. This doesn’t mean that children should never lose but if you top up their positive feelings with winning first they make much better losers! They should still win much more then lose though. Other settings give them lots of experience of what it is like to find things hard so home is a great place to develop their confidence.

Have a go at some of these confidence building activities for your kids and notice how both them and you are feeling!

Come along to our September seminars in Harrogate this year. To explore further strategies and the research behind them! More info at www.enrichingparenting.co.uk

4 ways that being a good parent is like trying to lose weight!

Believe it or not there are several was in which trying to do the right thing, whether it is raising kids or keeping an eye on your weight are similar!

1. The more motivated you are the easier it is. The energy that you are able to put to keeping calm, joining in play, being emotionally available for your kids will all pay off in what you get back (if you also look at no. 3!). Set yourself small realistic goals. With the summer coming it may be to do one trip each week, don’t go for every day! It is too big. Remember the little things that you used to enjoy as a kids- going to the park, picking daisies, playing football or throwing a ball against a wall.

2. Meet others in the same boat. Weight losing groups work because of the mutual support. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is as everyone in the room has the same goal. This is where parent resource groups come in. We are all there to do what’s best for our kids. We start looking at what is going well, then a tool that we could use and finally we talk about anything you like for 3 or 4 minutes. Short and sweet but really energising (see no. 1!).

3. Notice when things are going well (like getting on the scales!). Often we don’t take time to look back and reflect on the family and what is going well and praise ourselves! If we have come up with a brilliant limit and then distraction so that the siblings have not fallen out, be pleased with how you did. If you coped with managing a play date and everyone left in one piece, fantastic!

Finally No. 4 Be kind to yourself. We can never stay on a diet 24/7 for ever. But if you have a bad day, you are tired, work is stressful. We give in to temptation. We may also be short with our kids, shout rather than keep calm and really not want to join in another game of Kerplunk (other games are available!). That’s ok. If you can take yourself out the way, have a drink and let yourself breathe. This is also great for your kids to see that when you find things too much (which they do all the time!) you have positive strategies that deal with it. Your happiness and energy then translate in a better time for them, later!

So contact tracy@enrichingparenting.co.uk to join a parent support group. It is free and great for taking some time out to recharge the parenting batteries! (Harrogate Thursday 8-9pm)

Dads are parents too!

Don’t forget the dads! So much is focussed on mothers and their children it can seem as if dads are sidelined. But dads are sooo important. We know that involvement from dads in a child’s education is one of the most important predictions of a child’s success at school. The models that dads give as to how to manage challenging situations can help guide our sons and daughters.

It can be tough for dads who have been brought up with strict discipline and the old ‘boys don’t cry’ philosophy to show their more tender sides to their children. But connecting before correcting and getting down and playing heartily with the kids if so rewarding. And of course you get to pass down the good old dad jokes!

Have fun on Father’s Day and don’t forget to really throw yourself In there with the kids! They’ll laugh and laugh and so will you 😆

https://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video_thumb/DCltK6jXoAAd1lx.jpg:small

Taking a step back

Sometimes we need to take a step back before we can make a step forward. When you are in the middle of the weekly grind, of work and school, it can be hard to notice the patterns that we have got in to. Tragic news events make us reflect on what we are doing but we soon fall back into old habits.

Don’t! Make sure you spend time with your family without looking at a screen. Put the timer on the phone and then put it down. That next 10 minutes is just for them. Get on the floor, play games, learn the weird games that your child may invent and you have no hope of understanding! Let them sit on your back for a bronco ride (even though their feet now touch the floor!). Really see who they are and how they are changing.

Aim for a new pattern: 5 positive interactions for every negative one (at least!). Teachers try and aim for this in schools and kids become more resilient if they know they have some positives in the bank! Or make them laugh once a day..

Take a step back- on this weekend of connecting with others, how can we do that all the time? When people are connected they feel better and more positive. Who are you going to connect with this weekend and how can you make that last?

The Value of Support