R – E – A – C- H
As parents we have often played with ideas of what our children will grow up like, what career path they might follow and who they will be like in the greater family as their personalities remind us of an Auntie or a Grandpa. However, the best parenting we can do for our children’s sake is to enable each of our children to each experience a loving stable environment, where they feel heard, unconditionally loved and understood.
Sounds idyllic and in all the busy-ness of today’s world it is sometimes a big ask for parents to consistently give that. We can hire the best child care available, but no-one can replace a relationship with Mom and Dad!
So how do we provide all the emotional support our children need and fulfill all our other responsibilities? By spending focused periods of time with our children, when they know they have our undivided attention. If this can take place at the same time each day, you can create daily rituals, such as bed time stories together which are always a shared time of the day. These routine treasured times of the day with Mommy and Daddy, if parents are fully present for their children, embed the deep knowing of their parents love. For some children it may seem to never be enough, so finding extra one on one times with each child is sometimes worth squeezing into the day where possible. Once the child is school going age, they are old enough to look forward to special times together at weekends, or in an afternoon after school. Trust will be over time and when a child knows they can trust their parents word, they will also be calmer about waiting for the time you can have together, whether it be doing an activity together or an outing. Shadowing Mommy or Daddy doing practical things around the house such as “helping” prepare breakfast, hanging up the washing, or choosing the toys to go in the car for a younger sister area simple ways you can fill a big sister or brother’s need to be involved and have your attention while you are achieving domestic tasks! Show your appreciation, and they will be affirmed and be willing to do more things with you as you go about your day.
Whatever routine, they have with their care givers, during the day, keep the same basic routine with your little ones at weekends, so they feel secure throughout the week, key areas to keep in routine are nap times and meal times, bath and bed time. These keep the rhythm of the day together, thus possibilities of over-tired , stroppy children is less likely.
Reflect – what is your child telling you? When your child is full of emotion and telling you a long story, try to experience what your child is feeling and how you would feel in his situation. Reflect back to him only the feeling eg you 8 year old son says ” I hate Mrs Smith , she yelled at me in front of the whole class” rather than going into trying to get more details just pick up the feeling he is expressing ” It seems you are very upset about that” – by reflecting the emotion, you are leaving the space for him to say more if he wants to.
Encourage – ask your child to tell you about how they are feeling. Never assume what they are feeling. Say “tell me more…”
Accept – whatever your child is feeling. Never tell them what they should or should not feel. Who are we to tell them that their feelings are right or wrong – we are not inside them! We need to validate their feelings, but not condone negative behaviour. So we can say something like, “I can hear you felt very embarrassed when Mrs Smith shouted at you today.”
Choice and Change – If he is still distressed then help him find an alternative solution to the situation – Invite him to look for another way to have responded, such as ” What do you think you could have done instead of throwing the books on the floor?” You will be surprised how often even younger children can think of a better solution!
Hold or Hug – Appreciate him for sharing his feelings with you. Hug or hold and say “thank you for sharing that with me”
Having made peace with their turmoil they will run off and play happily.
Based on Heads and Hearts – Emotionally Intelligent Parenting Programme designed by Leonie Henig.