Lock down has been bitter sweet for many of us. One thing I know a lot of us working parents can relate to is for once- having time.
Time to do what we want such as spending time playing with the kids.
Walking in nature.
Reading, writing, crafting or cooking.
Time to reflect on who we are and what we do and why?
In essence, we’ve had time to play, be creative and indulge in those things normally we have no time to waste doing.
But for some we’ve had to continue to work on the front line and keep our country going, working harder than usual. Whatever situation we found ourselves in during this strange time in our history, one thing is for sure, we’ve all felt a need to embrace some down time more and find ways to occupy ourselves and this is what most of us plan to hold onto leaving lock down when returning to our old lives.
Play is a word usually associated with children.
But the benefits of play are ageless, the only question is, can we remember as grown-ups how to play?
As a child, I had a toy called a ‘Jack in the Box. I loved nothing more than watching as a clown like head popped out to startle me. Despite expecting it, each time, I always felt surprised and delighted. It was simply fun.
Where did that joy of something so simple disappear to?
Where has all the excitement and anticipation in life gone?
Have we grown up and forgotten how to play and have fun for funs sake!
Play encourages laughter, which is well known for its healing and anti-aging properties, a useful side effect for us grownups. And if we enjoy physically active play, it can help keep us fit and healthy. Even non-physical activities release chemicals in the body, such as endorphins, which reduce stress and tension.
That’s why recreation (another grown up word for play) is part of the U URSELF Routine. You can find out more about The U URSELF Routine by clicking here below
Recreation is vital because, when we take parenting too seriously, we miss out and deprive ourselves as much as our children of all the fun in life.
Life is meant to be fun!
If it doesn’t feel that way to you at the moment, then you’re not playing enough.
Indulging in frivolity when we are supposed to be working, however, can have negative connotations. Others may think we are immature or don’t take our work seriously. But if we stressed less and had more fun in work, we’d take fewer sick days off and look forward to going to work each day, resulting in more productivity.
Children instinctively know how to play. They understand the benefits and enjoyment it brings, it’s their main priority in life.
It was once ours too, so why did we stop playing and having fun?
As grown-ups, have we shut that box closed so tightly, that we are now more afraid of what may not pop out, than what will?
We are all capable of having fun, we just have to entertain the idea of opening that box and learning how to play again.
We are all born to be creative and with our own unique talents. And there’s no better time to express them, was there something you once did or would like to do such as; playing a musical instrument, singing, painting, writing, crafts, tennis, martial arts, carpentry, or gardening?
Have fun, and don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been playing this week? Why not share your fun on social media and inspire other grown-ups too!
Lockdown may have kept some of us apart but if you are fortunate to live with people you love, then give them a hug right now (but please, do not hug just yet those who live outside of your home due to Covid-19).
Did you know that a 10 second hug releases oxytocin, increasing your bond with your child and decreasing anxiety?
That’s why this hormone is known as ‘The love’ hormone.
And that’s why, the next time our little ones push our angry buttons, it’s better for everyone to have a hug.
When our children constantly want and nag and fight for our attention, what they’re really craving is that human, loving, connection. A simple kiss, cuddle and a long hug is all it takes to bring us present together, in the moment.
Being a Present Parent means we are not just there physically, but in mind and energy too. We are focused on one another completely. Everything we do for our children is an act of love. Even listening to them chat about their day at school or childcare or reading them a story. Those things all mean more than money or possessions. But we need to be paying attention, or we’ll miss out as much as our children on some (much cherished in years to come) Us Time (you can learn more about Us Time and The U URSELF Routine in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child and on Present Parenting in The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available now from all good book stockists such as, Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble.
Love equals Time and Attention, and that’s the most loving investment we can make in our children’s lives. We can always buy more stuff, but we can never buy more time. Once spent, it’s gone forever.
Love in the moment.
This moment is all that counts. And all those loving moments soon add up!
Our childrens unwanted behaviour is not their fault, they’re not being difficult, annoying, ungrateful or selfish, it’s just more loving ‘Us Time’ they’re really seeking.
It’s not how our children behave or the things that happen to us in life that’s the problem, it’s how we choose to deal with what happens.
Problems and disagreements are part and parcel of parenting, which we can’t eliminate, but we can learn how to deal with and overcome them.
Offering a reassuring hug, kiss or smile is all it takes to repair a kink in the chain of love that connects us.
Disagreements will always occur in loving relationships, but if we take action to resolve things as soon as possible and are willing and able to work through issues with our children, we strengthen our bonds.
I know this can be difficult when they wake us at two am in the morning, we may know that there are no monsters under the bed, but a three-year-old may not.
At those times, particularly when we are tired and angry, we can unintentionally miss the opportunity to give them an explanation, hug or a kiss, and to make them feel better, especially if they are behaving undesirably.
Yet this is when they are crying out for help, and yes, attention.
Ironically, it’s those times when they misbehave and don’t understand their own emotions that, we end up getting upset and angry with them, when all they really want and need is a cuddle.
Each time we find ourselves overreacting, we can stop and try to shift direction, and replace that in the moment reaction with a hug. It means bringing our awareness back to the present moment, and acting from a place of love. Not automatically reacting unconsciously in the heat of them moment, trying to stop our childrens behaviour.
Once upon a time, we were our children’s number one fan, we adored everything they did. Even a poo on the potty was cause for celebration and hugs of proud appreciation, but as they grow, the focus changes.
But is it our children who change, or is it us who change how we view our children?
BONDED BY LOVE
It’s those everyday acts of love such as cooking them tea and chatting about their day, that strengthens the bond we share with our children.
Expressing our love a little longer than expected, reinforces our love.
Next time, try hugging your child a couple of minutes longer than usual and feel the love transmitted back and forth.
That’s our bonds strengthening and reconnecting us to one another.
Well I call it super because it’s a natural, yet, highly nutritious food. Its good for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, increasing those feel good hormones known as serotonin, giving us energy, stamina and reducing inflammation and bloating.
It’s so versatile it’s an easy way to add nutrients to your child’s diet.
Following last week’s blog post I received messages from parents who said they tried the egg and cress sandwich and their children didn’t like it. Some children don’t like sandwiches or egg, but if it was the watercress putting them off, its more likely the healthy green look of it than the taste.
We can get around this fear of the healthy green stuff by letting them grow their own.
Kids love to feel connected to what they eat, and are more likely to eat watercress if they’ve nurtured it from seed. Children are just in awe of growing watercress; the main reason is it takes only days to grow where’s, most other fruit and vegetables take months from seed and children lose interest and forget.
Seeing before their eyes a mop of cress growing from a simple egg shell is mesmerizing for little ones and the really great thing is, very small toddlers can do this too, it’s so simple. No need again for allotments or even a garden or window box, just an empty eggshell. As an added bonus it can be grown inside the home all year round, making it cheap, quick, convenient, educational and fun.
Something as simple as growing some seeds can also help develop their caring nature, the plant is after all a living thing.
Seeing their efforts transpire into something they can pick and eat is a wonderful self confidence boost, giving them an – ‘I did that’ sense of achievement. It also offers them the chance to get creative too.
HOW TO GROW YOUR OWN
Take the tops off the eggs and remove the egg from inside, put this in the fridge in a sealed container for later to cook with. Wash the inside and outside of the shells and wipe dry. Let your little one’s paint or use felt tip pens to decorate their shells with funny faces and leave them to dry for a few hours. If you don’t have any eggs or don’t fancy all the fuss then simply wash out a used yoghurt pot and follow the same procedure. You could turn this activity into a recycling education by looking for containers such as margarine tubs you’d normally bin, to plant in, showing children the real value, that so-called rubbish can have.
Dip some cotton wool balls in some water and squeeze any excess water out so they are damp, not soaking, and put a ball into each shell and add on top one tsp of cress seeds to each egg shell (you can also use chia seeds the same way they are genetically related to the cress seed family) and place the shells into an empty egg carton or holder, you usually find these plastic ones in your fridge or use egg cups if you prefer.
Leave in a light place such as the window sill but be careful not to expose it to too much direct sunlight, that can dry them out. Allow your child to sprinkle them with a little water each day if dry and needed, and show your child how the cress grows towards the light, then watch the miracle unfold and cress hair sprout from the shells in a matter of days! Don’t forget to show your child the furry root hairs of the cress seeds growing on the cotton wool, they’ll be amazed.
Then when the cress has grown usually within a week, snip the sprouting cress hair and get sneaky with hiding it in their meals, add to sandwiches, salads, pasta, soups and stews- whatever you choose! Try adding it to cheese spread on wholemeal bread or even peanut butter sarnies?
Or give this super summertime soup a go;
Watercress Super Summertime Soup (super, simple and speedy to make!)
A knob of butter
A stick blender
1 x large peeled and diced potato
1 x large leek finely chopped
A bunch of watercress
600 ml of vegetable or chicken stock (maybe more depending how thick you like your soup?)
Half a teaspoon of ground cumin (if your child prefers bland food you can leave this out)
A generous grinding of black pepper
A dollop of double cream
Then let the cooking alchemy begin
Sauté the leek in the butter on a low heat.
Add the stock and diced potato bring to the boil then simmer for half hour. Make sure to keep stirring throughout as it can stick to the pan.
Add the watercress with the pepper, stir with love for a couple of minutes.
(I don’t add salt when I’m cooking for children and personally I use chicken stock so I get enough flavour from that, along with the cumin and black pepper but if you’re cooking a batch for yourself or other grown ups then feel free to season with salt and pepper to suit your preferred taste.)
Puree in a blender, I find using a stick blender quick and easy for soups. I love that thick gloopy, velvety consistency but if you or your child don’t you can add more stock initially or do what I do and add hot water from the kettle while blending to get it just right. Its surprising how thick this soup gets.
Add the dollop of cream stir and serve immediately. If you are going to store some in the fridge or freezer for later then don’t add cream to soup now, add to the soup when serving. Personally, I like it with or without the cream but when I’m trying to lose a few pounds I usually omit the cream but kids will likely prefer it with the cream.
This is a powerful detox soup for us grown ups too so grab yourself a bowl.
So, here’s some facts per 100 grams of watercress.
TOTAL SUGARS 0.2
VITAMINS A, C, K
Watercress is packed full of calcium and manganese for healthy eyes, skin and healthy blood clotting.
As always, the priority is on our children eating a well-balanced, overall diet and enjoying the mealtime experience. Not making them sit at the table trying to force them to eat their vegetables or clear their plate. That’s why The U URSELF Routine (click here or the button to find out more)
includes food and the mealtime experience. My book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child has a whole chapter dedicated to this, for a sneak-peek take a look below
Let me know how you and your little ones get on with watercress this week and feel free to send me your own sneak it in recipes so I can try with my little and big ones and share with other readers, if you have any pics feel free to send me those too 🙂
Now children are gradually returning to childcare and school many parents are concerned about boosting their children’s immunity.
Covid -19 is still present in our society, it’s not gone yet, despite some easing up on lock down restrictions, and children can be affected by it too.
There’s not one magical solution to prevent it or boost our childrens immune system but there are a few things we can all do to help.
A good routine as always is key.
Exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a variety of nutritious food is fundamental to any routine. But now this is more important than ever when it comes to assisting our children’s immune system.
You can learn more about the benefits of implementing daily routine in your child’s life by reading my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child, available from all good book stockists now.
Our children need water to help their bodies function properly, so we need to keep those hydration levels topped up throughout the day. If they are not a fan of water then try infusing their water with fruit, so they get a natural flavour without the sugar dump of a smoothie which can cause a sudden sugar high, resulting in a sudden dip in energy.
As our childrens immune system is still developing, they need all the essential amino acids, which can be found in, poultry, fish, eggs and yoghurt.
If however we are raising our children vegan, this can pose a problem, as there’s no one single source of plant food that will offer all the essential amino acids our children need. Therefore, we need to make sure they get a good variety of plant based foods, such as, beans, lentils, rice, oats, grains, seeds, root and leafy green vegetables.
It’s a good idea to increase these in your child’s diet, whether they are vegan or not if they are fighting any type of viral infection, as essential micronutrients maybe depleted, such as the minerals, selenium, zinc and iron and vitamins C, D and A.
Selenium can be found in tuna, mushrooms, cottage cheese, herrings, cod, chicken, courgettes and brazil nuts.
Zinc in lamb, shrimp’s, haddock, egg yolks, and nuts such as almonds, pecan, brazil and peanuts and also green peas, turnips, oats, rye and whole wheat grain.
Iron can be found in pork, lamb, pork and beef liver, lentils, spinach, parsley, prunes, raisins, dates, pumpkin and sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, pecan, brazil and cashew nuts.
For Vitamin C, try these immune strengthening, infection fighting foods- cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, lemons, limes, melons, oranges, kiwi fruit and grapefruit.
Vitamin D is needed to keep our little one’s bones strong and healthy and help fight tooth decay. Try feeding them, fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel or cottage cheese and eggs and get them outside for some sun (but don’t forget the sunscreen factor 50)
Vitamin A, will help to protect them against infections and frequent colds. For an antioxidant immune boost, include in their diet plenty of carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, pumpkin, broccoli, tomatoes, tangerines, papayas, apricots, mangoes, melon and watercress (try adding watercress into their sandwiches, egg and cress make a lovely combination giving them their vitamin C, D and A in one sitting)
As well as adding fermentable fibre from beans and fruits, like bananas that they can digest and use as energy, while feeding their good gut bacteria, and including pro-biotics such as yoghurts can lead to numerous health benefits for our children.
One of the biggest challenges most parents face though is getting their children to eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet of fruit and vegetables.
The easiest solution I’ve found is to approach this issue from a child’s perspective – which basically means – make food fun!
GROW YOUR OWN
A small vegetable patch in the garden, window box, or allotment can be a great investment, providing fresh air, fruit, vegetables, nature, exercise, education, and a fun hobby for some Us Time together.
Involving them with food shopping, preparation, and spending time discussing ingredients and where they come from, looking at recipe books, watching cookery programmes, and the cooking and preparing of meals provides children with basic general knowledge and understanding of the world.
Assisting us in meal preparation will also teach them mathematical concepts such as weighing, timing, and food in its natural state, and the scientific changes it goes through, such as solids melting.
Giving them a part to play at meal times by way of laying the table and helping us out also boosts their self-esteem. And having a regular mealtime routine ensures they get the right type of food they need at the right time.
A lot of children today think their food originates from a Supermarket. We can educate them about food and where it comes from when we involve them and grow our own, this encourages healthier eating too. Sowing, planting, picking, preparing, and cooking their own food teaches them the whole food process, from where it comes from to how it ends up on their plate. And provides a sense of achievement and pride, helping them feel connected to the food they eat, as well as encouraging them to experiment with new foods they wouldn’t normally.
To read more about Food and The U URSELF Routine you can take a sneak peek inside The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child below.
Eating high calorific foods, reduced activity levels and increased alcohol consumption were some of the thing’s lockdown comforted us with.
But moving forward it’s time to get out of our comfort zone on the couch and get going again.
With the easing of lockdown many of us moving forward will want to make some changes. Whether its healthier eating, more exercise or reducing our alcohol intake.
NO PLAN IS A PLAN TO FAIL
For positive change to be effective we have to plan ahead.
KEEP A DIARY OR JOURNAL- If you write down your goals in a way that inspires you, you increase your chances of success in achieving your goals by a whopping 30%!
KEEP FOCUSED – If you can measure your progress when working towards your goals, this figure increases to a staggering 60%!!!
SMARTER- As a Coach one way I help clients increase their chances of success in any endeavour is to, make sure my clients create SMARTER Goals.
These are: –
SPECIFIC – YOUR Goal, e.g. to be a certain dress size.
MEASURABLE- Size 10 e.g. is the measurement you want to be.
ACHIEVABLE – Make a meal & exercise plan to achieve your goal e.g. fruit salad for breakfast, soup for lunch, fish & salad for supper- aerobics 3 times a week.
RELEVANT- It must mean something to you, e.g. to look amazing in your bikini.
TIMED- when do you want to see the results, e.g. 6 months from now in time for your holiday in Spain.
ENTICING- How would that impact your life in exciting ways e.g. feel confident to start dating again.
RECORDABLE- Recording and Reviewing your results along your journey will keep you motivated to continue and help you change your plan if somethings not working.
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT- So for example if your goal is not to drink alcohol on a weekday, you have to make sure that you have no alcohol in your house to tempt you. If its to eat healthier then a good plan would be to stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables, so you have a handy snack available when you need it and have fresh wholesome foods to include in your meals.
PREPARE AHEAD- when going to work planning what you’ll have for lunch and taking your own packed lunch will not only save you some pounds money wise but also weight wise if you choose healthy options, so if one of your goals is to lose weight or just be healthy this will help you achieve that goal.
Also, by shopping in advance for groceries (when you are not hungry, I recommend eating something before you do your grocery shopping) that are healthy and batch cooking meals on your day off and freezing them, you ensure that when you get home from work, exhausted and starving, that you’ll have something quick, convenient and healthy to re heat.
My 5 Moving Forward Changes are;
To eat at least 2 servings of fresh fruit a day
Make a third of my diet vegetables
To only drink alcohol at the weekend
To do weight bearing exercise 3 times a week
To stop eating processed meats like ham, bacon, sausages etc…
What’s YOUR 5 Moving Forward Changes?
Now its time for you to break each change down into mini changes and make them SMARTER by answering the following questions.
I will achieve the following (e.g. Lose weight and be a dress size 10) ————————————————————————————————————————————————————
I will achieve this because (I want to look good in my bikini on holiday)————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
Here are the things I need to do (my mini goals) in this order to achieve my goal.
First: (e.g. snack on fruit) —————————————————————————–
Secondly(e.g. increase my vegetable intake) : ———————————————————————–
Thirdly (e.g. remove all alcohol from my environment):—————————————————————————
Fourthly (e.g. order some home weight bearing equipment such as handy dumbbells and some resistance bands and make an exercise plan):————————————————————————-
Fifthly (e.g. make a shopping list to include plenty of fresh fruit vegetables and fish and no processed meat):—————————————————————————–
Today I will start by (e.g. looking for healthy vegetable soup recipes on the internet) ——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
For this I need access to the internet, find some recipes to follow, to buy a hand blender and some ingredients and I will get these from the supermarket and the internet ———————————————————————————-
I will know when I’ve been successful in achieving my mini goal when- (e.g. I find a healthy soup that I enjoy eating and is quick and easy to make.)
I will reward myself for achieving this by – (e.g. buying a new bikini in my goal size 10) ——————————————————————————
The obstacles I may face are (e.g. not finding a recipe I like or can quickly or easily cook)————————————————————————————————————————————————————
To over come this I’m going to- (e.g. try a few different recipes on my day off, when I can take my time and then make a big pot of my preferred soup and freeze for the rest of the week) —————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-
I will review my progress ( e.g. in 2 weeks’ time on the 15th of July)——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
This is the progress I’ve made (e.g. I’ve lost 4 pound)————————————————————————————————————————–
I will be ready to tackle my next mini goal when (e.g. I have formed the habit of having home made soup for lunch everyday for 2 weeks)———————————————————————————————————
My next mini goal is (e.g. to start weight bearing /resistance exercise/ to join my local gym or buy some resistance weights I can use at home or do push-ups & sit-ups)——————————————————-
And then start the 12- step process above again for measuring that mini goal. Until eventually you will be on the path of achieving all 5 of your Moving Forward Changes.
Don’t dive straight in and try to achieve all 5 Moving Forward Goals at once, start with the easiest one first then, once you feel you are in good stride with that mini goal move onto the next, ideally leaving two weeks between them.
Don’t forget to keep a journal or diary of- your goal, your progress, your setbacks and success!
Let me know your goals moving forward, you can tweet me #My5MovingForward or DM me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. When you share your goals, you make then real and commit so share with your friends and family too
Or if you’d like 1:1 help in achieving your goals email me today email@example.com or take a look at our Mumatherapy page for more information. link here
The easing up of lock down brings with it a mix bag of emotions for all of us, some excitement and relief, others apprehension and tension.
The problem as in everything in life is that we are ruminating on the past or fearful of the future, neither of which exist. We need to bring our attention back onto the here and now. I call this Present Parenting and its something that requires some practice and effort, not because it’s unnatural and we have to learn how to be more present, but because we’ve formed the habit of Auto Pilot Parenting, which is not natural but an unconscious coping mechanism in response to today’s busy world. We just have to remember how to naturally be, which is what we will do through the following exercises.
Think of an activity you would like to try out for this ‘Present Practising Activity’. For me, cooking is a good activity to practise being ‘Present’.
Pick something stimulating or a bit challenging, this will keep you interested and focused on the task at hand for longer.
Choose a time when you are by yourself to start with, it’s easy to get distracted when our children are around.
Now go and do it. If it’s exercise, get up and go for a run, even if it’s just up and down your stairs for five minutes. Try not to think of something that you’ll have to wait to do such as taking up a new hobby like knitting. Of course, this would be a great present practising activity to do but not if you haven’t got any wool or knitting needles as that’ll become your excuse to put this exercise off until they arrive tomorrow. As we know, tomorrow never comes. Whatever you choose, do it now. Not later or tomorrow, this is a Present Practising Activity—the time to do it is now.
As you engage in this activity, stay focused on what you are doing and feeling in each moment. You may hear that annoying little voice in your head telling you, ‘This is stupid, stop wasting time, you’re too busy, there’s lots of more important things you should be doing’. But don’t let it bully you into unconsciousness. Stay present!
When cooking, I get absorbed in what I‘m doing, I need to concentrate to prevent chopping a finger off or burning myself.
I stay engaged by choosing to cook different dishes each time to challenge myself and keep me present, if I wander off mentally, I could ruin my evening meal, so I focus on the task at hand. This way, I experience the different tastes, textures, and smells, and I’m not thinking of anything else except what I’m doing, making it also therapeutic, as any worries are forgotten. Time seems to fly by in this flow state. Then once we practise feeling in the flow in new activities we enjoy, we know we can experience this day to day in general too.
If you can’t think of a specific activity to practise being present in, and don’t like cooking, then try practising while having a bath. Feel the warm water surround you, notice the sparkling bubbles floating on the surface and the scent of the soap. Feel your skin wet and soapy, and take in the full experience of having a bath. Luxuriate in this refreshing experience. How often do you bath without thinking about these things or without really enjoying the experience?
That’s because when bathing, we are usually somewhere else in mind, and instead of relaxing in the present moment and enjoying the pleasurable experience, we take it for granted, and it becomes another Auto Pilot chore.
Anything we do often tends to end up this way. We become desensitised by its familiarity.
To appreciate the little things and stop our minds from wandering off on a rampage of doom and gloom, we just need to stay in the here and now, the only place we can ever really be!
Don’t forget you can get a- FREE 35-minute hypnotherapy anxiety relief down load, simply by signing up to our Happy Childcare Newsletter now (you’ll get invited to do so each time you visit our site and we’d love to have you in our club!)
During the last 9-10 weeks, the focus has been on how families will manage all confined to the home together, mum guilt over working from home and being there but unavailable to our children, home schooling, managing unwanted behaviour and siblings fighting and arguing. Now it seems there’s a concern more on returning to work, sending our children back to school and childcare and re adjusting to some sort of normality that we all lived before lock down.
To address these fears and anxieties I’ve put together a brief video on EFT -Emotional Freedom Technique, known as Tapping. I have to admit, even as a hypnotherapist I was initially sceptical that something so simple like tapping on parts of my body, could be an effective tool for transformation and healing body and mind, and overcoming addictions, fears and phobias. But I was wrong!
Since sharing that video on IG TV and Youtube, I’ve had a few messages asking some good questions, so I’ve written this blog to address those and explain in more detail about what EFT is and how to do it.
How to do it?
Basically, take two fingers your index and middle finger on the hand you use most, I’m right-handed so I’d use my right-hand fingers, then on the opposite hand (my left) tap the fleshy side of your hand where you’d do a karate chop. You don’t want to hurt yourself; you’re not actually fighting you but apply enough pressure so you can feel it. That vibration should shoot some energy down that point, while saying three times this sentence’ –
‘Although I have this fear (or you can say anxiety), I am willing to love, approve and accept of myself anyway.’
Say this out loud, you may feel a little self-conscious, silly or cynical even to begin with but that’s that voice, your ego, trying to stop you, trying to maintain the norm. Don’t listen to that resistance within you telling you you’re fine as you are, you wouldn’t be reading this blog in the first place if that was true or this was stupid.
How bad do you want to relieve your anxiety?
There’s nine tapping points we are going to tap on, you can watch the video here, https://youtu.be/zLX8YlfJ4QY to see how it’s done. We start with the sentence and tap on our karate chop. If you don’t believe you’ll relieve your fear or anxiety you could say the following sentence;
‘Although I don’t believe I’ll relieve this fear / anxiety I am willing to love, approve and accept myself anyway’
When you say this sentence tap three times on the karate chop with 4 fingers on this point, see the video on where this is and how to do it. It can be hard for many of us to say we love accept or approve of ourselves, so if you can’t bring yourself to say that either yet say-
‘Although I don’t believe I’ll relieve this fear / anxiety, I am okay.’
Then follow with 2 fingers tapping;
Beginning of the eyebrow ‘I can’t get rid of this fear’
Side of the eye- I just can’t do it
Under the eye on the bone ‘this anxiety’
Under the nose – ‘this fear won’t go away’
Chin- ‘no way is this anxiety going to go’
Collarbone where a tie knot would go- ‘’this fear / this anxiety’
Under the arm in line with the nipples- ‘I’ll never be free of this anxiety’
Top of your head using all your fingers in a claw shape- ‘this fear / anxiety’
What can I use it for?
I’ve found Tapping can work for most things. A couple of weeks ago I had a fit of the hiccups, as you’ll more than likely know getting rid of these annoying little beggars is not easy. In the past I’ve tried everything from being shocked, punched, holding my breath, drinking water but nothing ever worked but this time, I decided to tap saying-
That’s all I said while tapping on the 8 points, 3 times each and instantly like magic, they just stopped!
Despite having seen this tapping work for many of my clients in the past for all sorts of different issues, it even amazes me now how something so seemingly simple and quite absurd, can work so effectively well. But no matter how bizarre, I never question anything that works for anyone!
How does it work?
We are all made up of energy, in fact everything is, even that lifeless looking rock on the ground. When our energy becomes unbalanced or disrupted in some way, we have energy blockages. This was first identified by Dr Callahan in 1980 and termed TFT- Thought Field Therapy and later in the 1990s Gary Craig continued Callahan’s work and founded EFT Emotional Freedom Technique.
Emotions are not bad; we need them, they are what lets us know we are alive and helps us to understand how we are feeling. Through tapping we can reconnect to our emotions and restore balance. Usually we adopt habits such as eating or drinking alcohol which is how many of us, I know, have coped with being in lock down. These habits or addictions try to numb and supress those emotions or stress that we find uncomfortable. Tapping brings them to the surface helping to reconnect our mind and body in a healthy way. It brings us present to the problem, this is important and the reason why we will use a negative statement to address the problem, while tapping on certain parts of our body.
COMMON Q & A
Should I just be saying my anxiety or can I say something positive when tapping?’
I said ‘This anxiety’ in my video and in this blog to keep it simple but I usually ask clients to say-
‘This anxiety won’t go or I’ll never get rid of this anxiety’ And variations on the issue, so for weight loss I’d ask them to say-
‘I’ll never reach my dream weight’ ‘I just can’t stop eating crisps’ or whatever cravings they have, etc….
We don’t say positive statements or affirmations as we would in hypnotherapy because we are working on the issue, of approving and accepting ourselves despite our issues. And the subconscious part of our minds can’t reject this, as we are telling the truth, so if you feel anxious and you say – ‘I’m feeling great’ the anxiety will be heightened by your mind telling you that’s not true and so you feel like the tapping doesn’t work. The tapping unblocks the energy that has been caused by the issue, so tapping to unblock the positive doesn’t make sense, that’s why we tap on a negative statement.
Measure your anxiety levels before & after tapping.
I recommend you write down on a scale of 1-10 your level of anxiety before you do the tapping exercise – 10 unbearable -1 feeling no anxiety.
Then do a round of tapping and then rate you level each time. You do initially invoke your anxiety because that’s what you are bringing to the surface. In our everyday lives we try to ignore it, so it manifests in different ways, in EFT we are acknowledging we have it and trying to work through it. 😊
The Enemy Within.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy, this is the block we are working on and the block that’s causing your fear or anxiety.
We spend so much of our time and energy disapproving of ourselves and speaking unlovingly towards ourselves, never accepting who we are fully. But if we want to change, we have to do the opposite of what we’ve been doing if that hasn’t been working for us, and if that means trying something new, then so be it!
When we tackle our self-doubt head on with juxtapositions that mix the negative statement with the positive, our sub conscious is not on the alert. We get to sneak in the back door. This way we aren’t lying to ourselves or putting pressure on ourselves.
I’d love to hear how you get on with EFT, so please do get in touch or if you are interested in booking a 1 on 1 Mumatherapy Coaching or Hypnotherapy session with me after lock down, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me on Twitter anytime.
Then you can get a- FREE 35-minute hypnotherapy anxiety relief down load, simply by signing up to our Happy Childcare Newsletter now (you’ll get invited to do so each time you visit our site and we’d love to have you in our club!)
As a childminder I can relate to this mum guilt. Both of my children were born into my childminding business so from day one they had to share me with other babies and children.
I suffered from this- ‘mum guilt’ constantly, especially when my children became older and more independent as, they could see me every day caring for babies and other people’s children and I felt they mustn’t have felt special, as I tried to treat all the children equally. So, if another child wanted to play with my childrens toys, in their house, my children were encouraged to share. Sharing your toys with other children is tough enough when you are a baby or toddler but it’s harder sharing your Mum. When they can see you spending your time and energy doing other things or on others, and not putting your attention on them, they can feel unimportant.
That’s how I can relate to all those working parents who now have to adapt to working from home, whilst also caring for their children. Multitasking the two is very difficult to say the least. When we are visible but inaccessible to our children, it’s like saying to them that they’re lower down on our list of priorities or second best to whatever else has captured our attention.
WORKING FROM HOME
While we are physically around them, they can actually see what is more important to us at that time other than them. Whether it’s working on the computer, taking phone calls, Zooming a meeting or writing up that report, at that moment, they are not as important to us as the thing or the person we are currently occupied with. Most young children don’t understand that we have to work, or even what work really is for, they just physically see us occupied elsewhere, so they do all they can to make us conscious by demanding our full attention, any way they can. Usually this is seen as misbehaving and we tell them off, adding to our guilt further. But at these challenging times you should go easy on yourself, no one can expect you to do the same job as you would at work while caring for your child, and the bottom line is, none of this is you or your child’s fault so try to enjoy this time together as much as you can.
If you make them feel involved while you are working, you’ll get more done than constantly fighting off their attempts at vying for your attention. If you have to write that report for your boss, give your child some paper and crayons and ask them to write a report with you and turn it into a fun game, they wont notice you are distracting them if they are enjoying the distraction in your company. When we include them, we are not multitasking them if they are involved and enjoying the process, so let’s get them involved.
Most people can do what we do, with the exception of being a parent to our child. All these things that keep us busy seem important at the time, but it doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life—it’s all a waste of time. It’s who we are with and the time we give that counts in the end!
Luckily, my children never got jealous (that I know of anyway?) they always felt involved and they have embraced all the children I’ve cared for over the past sixteen years as part of their family, even referring to some as bothers and sisters, but I feared it could have gone the other way too and they could have ended up resenting the other children or me, for the business I chose to be in, ironically to be ‘there’ for my kids.
But over the years I’ve reasoned that there were lots of benefits also for my children, and had I gone out to work commuting and working late and not around at all, equally they would have felt neglected. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. All parents worry or feel anxious on a daily basis (more so now while we are faced with the Coronavirus, Covid-19 pandemic).
That’s why I created my Guilty Buster and The Worry Buster Technique exercises in my books, to address guilt and worry. So whenever I was feeling the- ‘Mum guilt’ -I would do the following exercise, one is from book one.
Guilt is a waste of time and an emotion that’s draining. Instead, we are better off channelling our energy into doing something to resolve issues that cause us guilt.
We can start by trying this guilt busting exercise and writing our answers down;
Think of the thing that makes you feel guilty. For example, not reading a story to your child before bedtime.
Ask yourself how long and how often have you spent your time feeling guilty about not doing it?
And how long are you going to continue feeling guilty and punishing yourself over it?
Then ask yourself why you just don’t do it in the first place?
You may find the reason for not doing something that’s making you feel guilty is lack of time?
Therefore, it may be just as quick, and feel a lot better, to just do the very thing, that you have no time to do, rather than waste the time and energy feeling guilty about not doing it.
Make a list of anything and everything that is making you feel guilty right now and go through each thing on your list and try and turn it into your guilty pleasure. Ask yourself what good reasons can you find for doing/not doing it?
For example, you may feel guilty because you have to work and miss playing with your child.
But your good reason for working is to pay the bills and buy your child the experiences and things they need to grow and develop.
Maybe you feel guilty over a long soak in the bath or reading a book in peace alone?
But you can reassure yourself that time away from your child is exactly what you need to relax and be you again. Giving you the chance to miss them and enjoy their company more when reunited afresh.
This exercise can help you to understand that to regain your sense of self, you need this guilty pleasure.
As a consequence of using your time to do things you want to do, you will feel happier, making you a calmer, more content and relaxed parent.
We all need time and space away from our children occasionally if only to feel refreshed and able to cope with their everyday demands.
The truth is, even if we could give them a hundred hours a day, it would never be enough. Our children’s need for our time and attention is insatiable, and can never be constantly met, no matter how hard we try or how much time we dedicate to them.
It’s not selfish to satisfy our own needs or do what we have to do to provide the best life for our family. It’s the one thing that prevents us feeling resentment toward our children for taking up all our time and energy. Therefore, it’s the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and our children.
THE WORRY BUSTER TECHNIQUE
First, think about something that is worrying you at this moment regarding your child.
Now, write down all the reasons why it is worrying you, and note how worrying about it has helped the situation or how it has made it worse.
Then, work out how long you have been worrying about it, and decide how much longer you want to keep on worrying about it.
Next, write a list of all the possible ways that you can try to help solve the problem or make it less of a worry. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of, regardless of how unrealistic they may sound at first.
Now, choose one way that you can take action on the problem today.
Finally, go and take some action and do something to change the situation now.
Can’t find a solution right now?
Then just decide to relax and step back and accept, for now, the way things are.
Clear your mind of the problem and do something else until a solution comes to mind. Busy yourself with chores or exercise and let the solution bubble away in the back of your mind unhindered by you.
You’ve proactively looked at the issue by doing the ‘Worry Busting Technique’. Now the only thing you can change is to stop worrying about something you cannot change becauseif there is nothing you can do about it, then why waste time and energy worrying?
SHARE YOUR LOCK DOWN PARENTING PROBLEMS & EXPERIENCES
Worrying will not help or change anything. After all, most of what we worry about never actually happens anyway, and if we are doing all that we can do right now, then there is no need to worry about anything else.
I hope these simple exercises will help you at this difficult time, as much as they have helped me and the countless other parents that I have worked with in the past in overcoming guilt and worry.
Thanks to those of you that have emailed me for sharing your thoughts on Lock down and parenting, please keep your stories and experiences coming in so I know what to blog about each week that will be most beneficial at this time.
We’ve all dreamed of lazy days in our pjs, watching daytime TV, with no work or responsibilities but now we’ve got it, we can see the dream was far better than reality. We all need structure to our days and a reason to get out of bed and get dressed each day. When everyday becomes a prolonged holiday it just gets boring, yes we had fun eating and drinking what we pleased, sleeping when we felt like and not having to exercise as much, but when there’s no U time and Us time becomes more of a chore we can’t escape, everyone’s esteem suffers. Now more than ever, you and your children need routine.
Routine – The Habit of all Happy, Healthy and Successful Parents and Children.
Having worked with so many different children of all ages from all walks of life, I believe there’s no such thing as a naughty child, a fussy eater, or a child who cannot sleep.
There are only children who lack routine, and therefore, develop their own habits in the absence of those routines.
Our children’s routines are simply their everyday activities, such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time. Most children already follow some sort of routine, whether it’s one that has been structured for them to follow, such as being put to bed at seven pm every evening, or one they have naturally adopted where they nap when they are tired around three pm each day. Both become habits ensuring adequate sleep.
Whether formed naturally or created by us for our children to follow, habits in life can work for or against us. For example, only eating junk food is an unhealthy habit, brushing our teeth is a healthy habit.
We can do them both every day without even thinking about it unless we choose consciously not to do them. This is hard work, anyone who’s ever tried to go on a diet will tell you—the craving takes over. Breaking old habits can be a real struggle. Particularly if those habits provide us with pleasure or comfort, which most do. As human beings, we are all creatures of habit. We like the predictability and safety that our habits provide, like an old friend, we can rely on them to be there for us when we need them. As it’s so hard to break old habits and resist temptation, it’s best not to let our children develop unhealthy habits in the first place.
The problem then is not the habits themselves, it’s whether they are healthy and helpful for our children or not.
If our children’s habits are sporadic or dictated by the whims of our children’s moods and emotions, they are not consistent routines. Routines should become automatic habits that should not depend on outside circumstances or feelings. What’s important is understanding our children’s habits and being able to influence or change them in order to steer them down the healthier, automatic highway.
To do this, it’s essential we offer them alternative ‘healthy habits’ and the best way to do this is to provide them with a healthy, consistent routine.
Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic world. Lack of routine causes confusion, and that results in misbehaviour.
When our children don’t know what is expected of them, when it’s expected, and why we expect them to do something, they get confused, angry, and upset.
We might insist they go to bed at seven o’clock, but if that’s not what they are used to doing, and they don’t know why they must go to bed at that time all of a sudden, then they’ll kick up a fuss. This emotional outburst will be even more severe if they are tired.
It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to, giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow until eventually, those instructions become an automatic habit.
Children just don’t understand the reason why they are being overly emotional is because they are tired, hungry, or frustrated over something out of their control. Our role as parents is to identify their misbehaviour as a sign that they want us to take charge, direct them, or reassure them in some way, not to punish them for their behaviour.
This is when routines are useful because being young and uncertain on how to react or behave is scary enough without children having to worry about when they are going to eat their next meal or what time they need go to bed. A regular routine takes care of all of that for them, and for us as parents too.
In the absence of routine, children can become labelled as naughty when they’re actually hungry, tired, bored, restless, or attention seeking. We naturally assume that attention seeking behaviour is bad, but if our children are in constant need of our attention, then we need to identify this as the problem and find out why.
And again, routine helps us to do this because if we can rule out our children’s unwanted behaviour as not being a result of hunger or tiredness, we now know there’s another issue that needs our attention.
It’s easy to overlook issues without a routine in place as we won’t have a clue what is wrong with our child, making it easier to blame their behaviour as being the problem rather than finding out what problem is causing the behaviour.
That’s because their behaviour is tangible, we can see, hear, or feel it even. So, if it’s unwanted behaviour, the behaviour is the only problem we see, and we tend to react to their behaviour by trying to control or stop it with some form of punishment or threat.
Children may think they know what they want, but they are not mature or experienced enough to decide what is good or bad for them.
That’s when they depend on us for guidance, not punishment.
No doubt they’ll want to play all night long, but only because they don’t understand the importance of rest in their lives and the impact lack of quality sleep has on them. When they fight their need to sleep, inevitably, they become over tired, and as a result, they become out of control and emotional with no understanding of why.
Lack of routine in their lives can make it easy for them to do their own thing based on how they are feeling at any particular time. But their feelings aren’t reliable—routines are. We have to take a proactive approach to parenting and provide for their needs before they need them. Such as ensuring they go to bed at a consistent time every evening. This way, we limit and eventually prevent unwanted behaviour caused by tiredness.
If our children get enough time with us, adequate sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and plenty of recreation and love, then, those habits will obviously serve them better. Whereas a haphazard approach, left to their own devices, unsupervised, in an environment where they have complete control of what they do, staying up late, eating junk food in front of a screen is a recipe for disaster.
Now I’m not suggesting any of us allow that to happen intentionally, but letting our children stay up later than they should, occupied by a screen, can become a sneaky habit. Sometimes, for the sake of our sanity, we need a break, and the modern age babysitter, aka, the moving screen, is quick and convenient. It also delays the tantrum we know will erupt before bed, and in some cases, provides a lullaby for children to eventually drop off to so we don’t have to face that dreaded situation.
But this catch 22 is a short-term solution to a longer-term problem.
Even if they fight it, all children need and like the predictability that routines offer, but it’s also good for us parents. It’s far easier and less stressful than fighting and arguing with our children, and it gives us the time for ourselves that we all need. When we all follow the same routine, harmony follows us. It gives the day order, and time serves a purpose in our lives. We become more organised and productive and able to plan ahead and pre-empt things ahead of time.
If we are trying to get some peace and quiet to unwind and relax, then we need to put our children to bed. That way, they can grow and recharge, while we enjoy our evening relaxing and recuperating. For that to work, we must establish a bedtime routine, or else we are making tomorrow an even harder day than today.
As parents, we now know that we want routine, and our children need it, so let’s give everyone what they want and need. But what routines exactly do our children need?
No matter how unique our children are, all children need exactly the same things to be happy, healthy, and successful, that is;
Parents and carers who love them unconditionally and spend time with them, making them feel valued.
Somewhere safe to call home.
A routine which includes, recreational play time, sleep, exercise, love, and food.
It’s about the small, consistent things that we do for our children that will make all the difference to their health, happiness, and success long term.
It’s not about grand gestures, gadgets or gifts, fancy clothes, or holidays to exotic Islands riding camels across the dessert. Although, these positive experiences and material possessions can and do make a difference to their wellbeing too. But ultimately, being a loving parent who offers a stable routine is the best gift that we can give our children today.
And it’s the gift that keeps on giving because the sense of love, security, belonging, and comfort provided by a routine while young will stay with them as adults, helping them to feel more confident as people and happier in themselves.
THE U URSELF ROUTINE
As parents, we are responsible for our children’s habits.
The U URSELF Routine is a routine that allows us take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children.
And that’s why U Time is part of the U URSELF Routine that I created.
It’s a routine I used with my own children as well as helping other parents and their children that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s tried and tested, and it works. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool, making it easy to deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour when followed consistently on a daily basis.
Although I have created and used the U URSELF Routine with great success with my own children and have taught it to parents and children I have worked with over the past sixteen years as a Registered Childminder, Parent Coach, and Therapist. Only you know what is best for you and your child and your family as a whole. Each and every family has their own way of doing things and their own setup. Therefore, it’s you yourself who will ideally decide the routines you want your child to follow. The U URSELF Routine is aptly called the U URSELF Routine because it’s you yourself who will implement this routine and, ultimately, it’s going to be you yourself who will make your child happy, healthy, and successful.
If you are interested in reading more about the U URSELF Routine in detail, you can download my book now which covers the routine in depth, The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child from Amazon or order a copy from Waterstones or Barnes & Noble
But I’ll offer a brief overview as follows.
It’s one routine as a whole that comprises of seven different yet co-dependant aspects. In order for you to remember them, below is a useful mnemonic to help you, using the words ‘You Yourself’ abbreviated and spelt U URSELF. These combined are what I refer to as the U URSELF routine.
Those seven, separate, yet co-dependant routines combine into one solid tried and tested routine. Offering an outline of what every child needs and why, to be happy, healthy, and successful.
Individual in their own right, each are co-dependent on one another because it’s pointless addressing our children’s behavioural issues if we aren’t addressing their sleep issues or other areas of their lives. As each aspect of our children’s lives impacts one another, there’s no point addressing your child’s sleeping habits if you don’t look at their exercise and recreational habits too. Like a missing piece of the puzzle, leaving out one area will fail to give us the whole picture. All the pieces or parts of the routine need to be collectively addressed at the same time.
We all do it, we focus on an area we feel is the problem and try treating that problem or try to tackle that area head-on, failing to find the solution we are after.
We need to encompass our children’s habits as a whole in all areas. Even those areas we are happy with that cause no issues.
They may be a good eater, but what are they eating and when?
I’m guessing chicken nuggets are most popular in these days of lockdown!
This can all have an impact on their quality of sleep and be an underlying cause of their sleep problems.
The U URSELF routine will prove to be a useful, informative, motivational guide.
Even though much of it is common sense, having a motive or understanding the benefits of each aspect will give you the motivation and knowledge to stick to the routine, particularly when times become challenging. We are all cooped up indoors together at this time through no fault of anyone’s but tensions are high and patience in short supply. If you are finding your childrens behaviour difficult right now you may also like to take a look at my other book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available to download to Kindle now.
If consistently followed, The UURSELF Routine is a reliable blueprint to guide you, but not if it’s just on paper. You can read about it, and I can keep writing about it until we are blue in the face, but without taking action to implement it, it’s worthless common knowledge. You have to be proactive in encouraging and following it with your child.
That’s where most routines fail, our motivation wanes over time. When we lack motivation, we can never encourage our children to follow the routine, and without encouragement, routines are not carried out frequently enough to become habits.
Over time, with a consistent approach to the U URSELF routine, becoming over tired, starving hungry, bored or attention seeking will be eliminated most of the time as the routine endeavours to meet those needs in advance before it’s too late.
By offering our children food before they are hungry or by putting them down for a nap just before they desperately need one, we help them to feel understood, cared for, and content. This prevents tears and tantrums for both parent and child, because trying to soothe an over tired baby to sleep is a very stressful time for all in earshot, so it’s never a good idea to wait until it’s too late.
The U URSELF Routine is designed to help children feel good. Feeling good about themselves is crucial to being happy, heathy, and successful. That’s why Esteem is part of the U URSELF Routine.
The U URSELF routine also allows us to take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool. When followed consistently on a daily basis, the U URSELF Routine as already said helps us deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour., so we are able to see where the problem lies.
Routines also help us to proactively pre-empt beforehand our children’s behaviour so we can plan and accommodate for those times when there have been interferences in their routines.
You’ll soon find that life is so much easier when we all have a routine to follow each day!
Carve the path for your child to walk, or tread the hot coal’s that follow, it’s up to you.
I’d love to hear your lockdown parenting adventures. I would especially love to hear some positive stories, and the good outcomes that you have found from this strange period in our history, you can email me email@example.com
In these empty days of lockdown, for once, it gives us the opportunity to do all those tiresome jobs we’ve been putting off. My filing cabinet and accounts are in the best shape I’ve ever seen them, while my husband’s been doing all those odd jobs around the house that he never usually has the time to get done!
As a parent to a young toddler you may already have your hands full, especially if you have older siblings at home that you now need to home-school but this is the ideal time for lots of parents to potty train.
I’ve been potty training (as its termed, I’d rather call it ‘toilet coaching’) toddlers for the past 16 years and I know that, in those first few years it wasn’t a task that I relished. Now however, I’ve found if the timing is right and the child is ready and the environment is supportive, toddlers will more or less train themselves, with a little fuss and excitement that is!
As parents we just have to make it an enjoyable experience for our children and try to allay our own anxieties. This new routine of using the toilet independently takes a lot of skill and practice to master, but if they are ready, master it – they will!
ARE THEY READY?
So, if you think your childis ready, that is they can,
Understand basic instruction, I find many children can’t articulate themselves well at this age but they understand lots. They have the vocabulary and understanding tucked up inside their heads even though they may not yet use it verbally, that’s why it often feels like they start talking in sentences overnight, so even if they cant say what they want, if they can understand what you want them to do such as ‘Sit on the potty’ this is a good indicator.
Also, they may not like the wet or dirty cold discomfort of a soiled or wet nappy and may tug at it, point or lay down as if to say ‘Change my nappy now!’ this too is a good indicator.
As well as if they notice they need to go to toilet before they go or display signs to you, they are about to go. In my experience I’ve witnessed children going to hide behind the sofa and curtain or hold onto their nappy, especially at a certain age, when they start to feel a bit more self -conscious and like to go somewhere private as we normally would when we use a toilet in a bathroom. Or they suddenly stop what they’re doing and make a funny face as if to hold it in or their face flushes as they are straining to let it go. They become aware they have wet or soiled. They can often tell you if they have the vocabulary to do so such as saying ‘poo, poo’ although I’ve found this term can mean either a wee or a poo some don’t differentiate between the two. At this stage though they may still not be able to let you know they are about to go to toilet before they actually go, but there maybe physical signs as above such as going to a certain place when they feel the need to go. At this stage we have to be proactive as parents and observe our children carefully, taking the lead from their cues. Another cue is some children have bowel movements at a certain time each day like clockwork, this is so useful to know when it comes to toilet coaching. If we know little Johnny has a poo at around 11am we can have the potty at hand ready and waiting to limit the mess of an accident. As their bladder capacity increases their nappies will remain dry for longer periods of time too which is a good sign they can hold on.
If they can then hold on until they reach their potty or the toilet, remove their clothing and sit on the potty or toilet, then they’re ready, although this will take some practice. There are things we can do to help such as dressing them in clothing that is easy to remove. I prefer to toilet train when the weather is nice, usually during the school holidays when there’s no school runs or too many children. Easter or May half term or the six- week summer holidays are ideal. We can allow our children the freedom to run around in just their pants and a vest around the house as the temperature is warm and this is the easiest clothing to remove. Its also usually the time when we take time off to spend with our family. At the moment time home with our family is something most of us have.
I’ve found children between 2-3years take to toilet coaching a lot quicker, any younger and its difficult for them to control their bladder or rectum and any older, their voluntary control sometimes becomes a bit lazy as they haven’t been practicing, but there’s no exact age to start, only you will know your unique, individual child, even if you’ve got ten children, each and every one of them will be different and will learn things at different times and at different rates. Their siblings may all have potty trained at 18months but if little Johnny is two and a half and still not ready then you have to wait until they are.
LEARNING TO GROW UP
I usually set aside two weeks if possible, of no going out to soft play etc… and focusing solely on the goal of toilet coaching.
I also find it very helpful if I have more than one child of appropriate age, who is ready also, to coach both children together. This way they motivate and learn from one another.
What I’ve found over the years is that children love to grow up and do the things the older children or us grown ups do, which is more than helpful at times like these.
Many parents buy their children a potty to play with from a young age, way before they are ready to understand what it’s for. I personally don’t recommend doing this as over the years I’ve encountered children who do just that- play with their potties or use them as seats to sit on, especially now you can buy these fancy thrones that sing and light up.
I know we want to make the process attractive and fun but most children I find are naturally drawn to the big toilet, especially washing their hands afterwards with the liquid soap in the sink. They don’t want more singing toys; they want to be like us. We are their greatest role models, I know for most of us its almost impossible to use the toilet ourselves without an audience of little people tagging along, and this can be good, especially if you have a son following his father and observing and imitating his dad, this helps him to learn, likewise, our daughters can learn from us mums.
It’s also great when our children attend childcare settings such as a childminder’s, where they are surrounded by children of various ages, at some point they will experience being the baby or youngest child, middle child and then the oldest and they learn from the other children and copy them. This is great when it comes to toilet coaching as they will see the big boys going to the bathroom to use the big toilet and will naturally want to be just like one of them.
It seems ironic that – the bathroom or toilet is the one place I stop the babies and nappy wearing toddlers going into, one -through fear of germs while crawling round the ubend and two- losing toys or ornaments down the loo (this is more common than you may think!) so the banned room as you can imagine is their run to place as soon as my back is turned. Its attractive because its somewhere they know I don’t want them to go without me!
We don’t want to create germ phobia particularly now in this time when they will already be watching us obsessively handwashing and disinfecting the house several times a day, due to the current coronavirus epidemic. Yes, it’s more important now than ever before to wash our hands thoroughly and teach our children how to do so, but again we must make this a fun experience not get neurotic. If they have an accident in the bath that looks like a scene from ‘Kevin and Perry -Go Large’ then don’t panic, keep calm, cool and collected, this is what we call a learning opportunity.
They don’t do this on purpose to upset us so, just remove them from the bath while explaining to them what has happened, where its come from, how it’s a normal bodily function to get rid of what his body no longer needs, and give it a name so he can recognise it.
Remember babies and toddlers seldom get to see their faeces, its in their nappies which we change so, being able to see it helps them to identify with it, I call it ‘Poo, Poo’ your child may find a better or at least a funnier name for it. Just be consistent when referring to bodily waste so your child is clear what you mean when you say it, so for example, if your child likes to use the term ‘Wee, Wee’ you may throw them when you ask them to go for a ‘Pee, Pee’.
NOW IS NOT A GOOD TIME
Sometimes though they maybe ready but we aren’t, this is what happened to me with my first child, I had just arrived home from the hospital after giving birth to my second child and was in the middle of breastfeeding him when she announced ‘I need a wee wee on the potty!’ and ripped off her nappy.
No way I thought as I flew up from my seat to come to her aid, but she just did it…. sat down and wee’d and that was that. I was relieved and over joyed she had achieved her first independent pee on the potty and she was chuffed to be getting all the attention. And that was that. ‘No more nappies’ used to be our daily mantra!
And it worked, she put on her big girl knickers and basically toilet trained herself with little coaching from me. I know I was lucky, I’m not bragging, I’m sure her baby brother coming along and hogging her lime light helped in her gaining the praise and attention she was used to, so the timing although initially I didn’t feel was right- worked out perfect!
But we had done other things leading up to it, such as reading books about potty training so she could associate the potty with going to toilet, not as an object to play with or sit on. I kept the potty in the cloakroom toilet so it had a place too, so she understood we only go to toilet in this place.
But you also need to feel ready, ‘toilet coaching’ is just another new routine that you and your child will need to get used to and like all new routines it requires patience, energy, and understanding on everyone’s part.
The secret to successful ‘toilet coaching’ will largely depend on how patient we are and how we encourage our children to use the toilet or potty.
It means showing unconditional love even when they’ve had an accident or wet their pants for the eighth time that day. It’s tempting to expect them to change overnight because we want them to, but children won’t change if we force or rush them.
HANG IN THERE & PERSERVERE
Routines present opportunities to learn new and better ways of doing things, but they are best carried out in a calm, relaxed, and patient manner. Telling them off or rushing them is unproductive. So regardless of their age, I think more important is understanding your child and their needs and choosing a time when you personally feel both mentally and physically strong and determined. It’s easier for us to give up and put the nappy back on our children if we are tired or frustrated ourselves.
We just have to take it one day at a time. No matter how much we prepare our children or no matter how prepared we think we are, we will still find toilet coaching difficult at times, likely when we are mopping up yet another puddle in the living room or worse. That’s why we need to choose a time when we can commit one hundred percent and start as we mean to go on. Once we have decided to go for it and they are using pants and not nappies we need to keep the momentum going. Going back to nappies only tends to confuse children and means any effort made previously in toilet coaching was all in vain and a total waste of time, tears, effort, and energy.
WHEN SHOULD WE WORRY?
I do however, know of children who have been toilet training for years, there can be a number of factors why this happens including, physical developmental issues or emotional ones but on the whole, setting those issues aside, if your child is ready the process will be more like weeks before they are dry throughout the day rather than years, so don’t worry.
The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’
When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.
If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.
It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.
If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor. They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day. Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all.
If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition. Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?
Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?
Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as this current change in our lifestyles due to lockdown?
Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful. This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too. (You can read more on this in my book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child.)
This current situation can be stressful for a small child, especially if their normal daily routines have been disrupted.
What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children. We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!
GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY
What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting. In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time. Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development.
What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future. A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pull up, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see. A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.
And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower. Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves. They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility. Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my other book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting.
Children only fail if they fail to try. Highlighting their successes should be our main focus. One wee on the potty is better than none at all, they haven’t failed because they had an accident while toilet training, they’ve succeeded at least once by trying.
They will learn their most memorable lessons through failure, and these will be the lessons they will tend to not want to repeat again. Allowing them to fail can be difficult, failure is deemed far from being successful, but they learn how to overcome obstacles and challenges firstly by observing us and seeing how we react to situations (so getting angry, frustrated or upset over some spilt wee on the floor won’t help) and secondly they learn more from doing than being told. I’m an advocate for what I call ‘Present Parenting’.
Present Parenting is consciously parenting by staying present in the moment and being aware of everything going on around us. It’s thinking before we respond, not just about what’s going on, but how and why? It’s understanding our children’s behaviour and how they are feeling and taking all of this into consideration. Although, we can only experience this when we learn to lighten up and see things how they really are instead of catastrophising and making mountains out of mole hills.
Have you ever heard the saying, ‘If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry?’
I know it can be hard at times. I had to fight back the tears when my two- year-old threw our brand new digital SLR Camera into a potty full of pee!
It would’ve been one of those perfect memory making moments to capture and look back on and laugh at years later now she’s a teen. But at that time, the camera stopped working!
Our children’s behaviour can be challenging, but is it really all that seriously bad?
And finally, don’t feel intimidated or compare you or your child to those so-called perfect parents who magically toilet trained their baby of 12 months over night. Every child is different and develop at different rates, its not a competition, so relax.
This can be a very rewarding time for both you and your child, they will feel pride and achievement once they master this new routine like a ‘big boy’ or ‘big girl’ which they will love immensely, but it can also be an emotional time, especially for you as a parent as its one of the first signs that your baby is growing up!
Stay Proactive, but most importantly Stay Present,
If Cabin Fever has set in due to Covid-19 lock down, then relax and take 2 minutes out of your day for some much needed #UTime and watch this short video to ease your mind.
The most proactive thing we can do to influence our children is to be a positive role model for them to follow and for this we need to behave appropriately ourselves, which can often be challenging when our children are pushing us to our limits and triggering our angry buttons. Particularly now when we can’t seem to escape.
Affirmations are a great aid in lifting up moods, releasing tension and creating confidence.
For fun try this little exercise now.
Say three times with a big smile on your face;
‘I feel good.’
‘I feel good.’
‘I feel good.’
And feel how good that feels.
You can literally feel how good that feels, can you not?
USING AFFIRMATIONS WITH OUR CHILDREN
And affirmations can be most beneficial and helpful for our children too!
Where negative statements can be accepted as true in our children’s mind, so too can positive statements. We call these Affirmations, and they can be used to counteract and overcome a negative, unhelpful belief, or reaffirm something wanted, bringing about positive thoughts and feelings. They’re positive statements said as if they are already true.
While saying it, we simply can’t, but not feel good. We may feel a bit silly saying them at first, but children are less self-conscious. They will find affirmations a fun way to program their minds and to plant and grow positive suggestions in their subconscious. But what’s really great is if they can accept these positive suggestions while young, then there will be less reprogramming to be done as they get older.
To encourage this habit, they need to think of a positive statement in the present tense that they can relate to. The language needs to be simple, using words they would use in everyday speech and that’s appropriate for their understanding. If too complex, they’ll be less likely to understand or take the statements on board. It’s better they choose their own affirmations they feel comfortable with saying, these can be written if the child is old enough, to compliment and reinforce the verbal affirmation, but are best said aloud repeatedly.
They need to be short, simple, positive, uplifting, motivating, and believable. Such as; ‘I am now learning more and more every day.’
Whenever they encounter difficulties, we can try and encourage them to repeat to themselves these positive, affirming, statements;
‘I can do it!’
‘Anything is possible.’
REPETITION IS KEY
Repetition is key to affirmations and the more they practise using positive affirmations, the easier they get and the better they start to feel about themselves and their capabilities.
This probably won’t surprise you to know, but while children are speaking and thinking positively about themselves, it’s impossible for them to think negatively, and then fear, worry, anxiety, anger, and frustration disappear (Same for us grownups too!).
This is useful if they are struggling in some area, such as learning how to read, instead of listening to their self-defeating mental chatter, they can replace it with positive self-talk and could say;
‘I enjoy learning how to read, reading is fun, and I am now finding it easier and easier to read.’ We can clearly understand how this approach is more helpful than what children usually say such as;
‘I can’t read, I hate reading, it’s hard.’ Convincing themselves with their own words that they cannot read, not realising that they are the ones holding themselves back. Children confuse lack of experience and confidence in something, such as reading, as a lack of ability, and believe they do not, cannot, and will never be able to do it. Any mistakes they encounter only reinforce this, knocking their confidence further.
Giving our children tools and techniques such as using ‘affirmations’ gives them coping mechanisms and preventative tools to cope, before they need them.
As a society, we don’t tend to address our children’s mental health until it really demands attention, at this point, we are usually quite late in the intervention process.
Especially when it comes to anxiety. We think they’ll get over it, grow out of it, etc… but it builds and builds until it becomes an explosive, volatile, emotional bomb, too hot for us to handle!
THE POWER IS IN OUR HANDS
How we react and respond in the heat of them moment makes a huge impact on our childrens well -being.
Think for a moment of the most, angriest, anxious, uptight, on edge person you have ever known.
Now try to recall how that person made you feel when in their company.
I bet you didn’t feel relaxed and at ease.
You probably also felt anxious and on edge around them.
You can feel this negative energy. Like a contagious virus, it spreads to others.
Likewise, positive, calm, relaxed, and happy people spread those feel-good, healthy feelings too.
What kind of feelings are you sharing with your child, and how do you think they feel as a result?
If you haven’t already then, to unwind and de stress watch this affirmations video that I’ve created to help you, and allow those images and words to wash over you like a sea of tranquillity. Watch it at least twice a day for the next 30 days and you’ll start to feel a lot calmer and at ease.
And if you would like to learn more about Present Parenting or are still having any issue’s managing your child’s unwanted behaviour, you may like to read my book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting.
Available from Amazon and all good book stockists now for pre-order along with my other book The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child (Kindle edition available to down load now).
Stay Powerful, Stay Proactive and most importantly Stay Present,
Happy 14th Birthday Son, we’re sure this will be one you won’t forget (lock down 2020!)
We are so proud of the young man that you’ve become I don’t think any parent could wish for a better Son than you, your love and respect shines through in all that you do and your polite and caring personality makes us so proud to be your parents.
We have to thank you Dylan. You were easy from the start.
Easy conception, easy pregnancy, easy birth and easy to love.
I also want to thank you for making me a more ‘Present Parent’.
First time around as a new mum everything’s new and frightening. You just don’t really know what to expect or know what you are doing?
It’s a learning process full of doubts, tears and fears!
So caught up in dirty nappies, sleepless nights and parenting anxiety, it’s hard to enjoy those first few years as a new mum.
But by the second child most of us are feeling a bit more confident, but alas, sadly for some, complacent.
You taught me how to enjoy being a mum. And how to appreciate every minute as special. And you always make us smile!
Your love made ordinary moments most would take for granted as precious and unique.
You made me notice them.
You made me present to the joy of being a parent and of being your Mum. A privilege I’ll always hold dear. Such as the time when you were just three years young. I was taking you to the Dentist, when as we were holding hands and crossing the road out of the blue you said;
‘I love you Mum.’
I can still remember to this day thinking that this was such a good moment in my life. I wanted my mind to photograph it forever, so that when we were both older, we could look back upon that ordinary moment, with fondness of a great time. A time when we were both truly present together, enjoying one another’s company.
We were just going about our daily business. Yet, it was such an extraordinary, emotional moment for me. So much so that, I can still feel those positive, loving, warm, fuzzy feelings deep inside me, whenever I recall that moment now.
As normal and mundane as a trip to the dentist with your child may sound, I can guarantee that in years to come, you too will realise how special those everyday moments in time really are. Even if those moments do not feel like it today. Even the loss of their 1st tooth!
One day, those simple everyday memories, will be where you will linger longingly, wishing you could go back to.
Noticing, appreciating and being fully present in those moments we are spending with our children today, is what Present Parenting is all about.
Because one day those moments, will be some of the best moments in our lives.
They truly are priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time, that we all too often take for granted because, we are disillusioned by the concept that, the work and worries that occupy our minds, are the things that need our attention the most.
Yet, neither now nor in the future, will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do.
It’s who we are with, and the love and time we give that counts!
If today was the only time we had left on Planet Earth, chances are we would not want to clean our house or work overtime, schmoozing our boss for a pay rise. Chances are, we would want to spend our time with our loved ones, having fun and letting them know how much we love them, while appreciating, how much we too, are loved by them.
We don’t always remember the dates or details in life, but we always remember how we felt, this is what our children will always remember too. It doesn’t matter what we have or achieve in life, it’s all a waste of time, it’s who we are with, and the love and time we give that counts!
Childhood doesn’t last forever. When our children reach their teens, it’s going to be too late to regret, not having had the time to, paint, play, cook, read, sing, dance and enjoy our time with them, while young.
Make the most of now, and start to live in and enjoy each and every moment with your child, from now on. Tomorrow is promised to no one, stay present and be generous with that time. If you knew this was your last day ever with your child, you would hang on to their every word and not waste a single second of that time, and bear in mind, one day will be the last day you spend together.
There’s no time like the present, and no present like time!
If most of us grown-ups are petrified by this COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak then how do you think our children are feeling?
No news is good news, as they say.
We may be led to believe that it’s educational and informative for our children to follow the news because it allows them to know what the world is really like, but how often do you see or hear good news?
Does that mean that in reality there is no good news?
And no good people or experiences in the world, only bad?
Does the daily news really offer our children a balanced, realistic view of the world?
Or does it just highlight all the doom and gloom to sensationally sell more newspapers and boost ratings?
Unfortunately, bad news sells!
It’s what the majority of people like to hear about. It’s debatable whether the Pollyanna Gazette would be as popular?
Fortunately, life is not all doom and gloom, but if our children are being exposed to bad news every day, then they may start to believe it is.
In fact, they will likely become accustomed to it and expect bad news, associating more with it than any good news they may hear.
We should take care to protect our young, innocent children’s impressionable minds. Regular exposure to such negativity could cause nightmares, and some sensitive children could become fearful, sad, or depressed.
We do not, however, need to hide the truth from our children or try to protect them from hearing about anything unpleasant. Quite the opposite, it’s actually beneficial that they are aware of both the good and the bad news.
Yes, bad things happen in the world but so do good things too. We just need to give our children a more balanced outlook and show them what’s good about life more often than highlighting the bad news.
There are devastating diseases spreading across the globe today, there was in the 90’s too when Aids was an uncurable epidemic, and yes people are experiencing poverty and tragedy in the world, even today, but our children do not need to feel sad, fearful, or guilty because of that. It’s not their fault. Our children have a right to be happy, regardless of what’s going on in the world. Undoubtably, they will have a hard time being happy and carefree if they are aware of all that’s going on, which is out of their control.
If they want to make a contribution to society and a positive difference in the world, our children will have to learn how to free and empower themselves.
Something they can only do if they feel good. It’s hard to be an up lifter when you’re feeling down or fearful. This is where we can positively help to direct their attention on good causes.
Some people may think that you can’t shelter your children from the real world, scary stuff happens every day and it’s happening more and more. Not reading about it or watching it on TV won’t make it go away. I totally agree, but watching and reading about it won’t change anything either.
Just as exposing our children to scary stories can cause anxiety and fear, it’s pointless to highlight it unless we are willing to address the problem. Children do worry, they magnify things, and they don’t understand life as we do. When they hear there’s a murderer on the loose, even if that murder is in a different part of the country or even the other side of the world, they will have nightmares of the murderer coming to their house to get their family. They just won’t understand the back story. Maybe the murderer killed someone he knew on accident and has no intention of hurting anyone? But that won’t matter to a young child.
As a childminder, I’ve had to reassure and calm many a child down over something in the news that was bothering them. One child was petrified of a tsunami washing their home and family away and desperately didn’t want to go to school in case it happened.
As a therapist, one of the first things I advise my adult clients with anxiety to do is stop listening to the news. It’s amazing how that one simple thing makes them feel better in such a short space of time.
Taking a proactive approach and preventing our children getting caught up in bad news and taking action to personally change the world positively when we can will yield the most beneficial results.
Spreading love, joy, and happiness instead of doom and impending disaster as each individual person, one by one, we can impact those around us. Starting with ourselves, is what will make a difference to society as a whole.
We can’t change current epidemics, pandemics or the like or even other people, but we can and do affect our children, negatively or positively.
As an influential role model, you decide.
Because how we parent does make a difference to the future news, and the world we live in.
So, you survived another half term holiday, but secretly are jumping for joy that your little people are back to school or childcare right?
You’re not alone.
Spending Us time with our children is precious but often it can feel more of a challenge for most of us.
If your child’s behaviour can be difficult, spending Us Time together may not be something you relish doing.
You may or may not be surprised to know that many parents have admitted openly to me that, they actively look for distractions away from their children. And lots of parents feel a sense of relief when they drop their children to childcare or school and go to work.
This is not because they don’t love their children, quite the opposite, they really do love their children, they just don’t understand their behaviour or how to manage it, making time together more like hard work than fun, and they don’t want to upset their children or themselves any more than necessary.
If that sounds familiar, then you may be interested in reading my book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting because when we can understand our children’s behaviour better and they can understand us, Us Time becomes a more pleasurable experience.
Children need and want our attention, and they don’t mind how they get it.
That means if they don’t feel they’re getting enough of it naturally, they will force us to pay attention to them, usually by misbehaving.
When we have more than one child this spreading of our time and attention can be difficult, we’ll look at this in a minute when we address individual Us Time for each child, but first let’s uncover the art of intervention.
THE ART OF INTERVENTION
Knowing when to intervene in our children’s behaviour and when not to is a fine art to master. It takes a lot of thought, patience, and practice. We have to stop ourselves from flying off the handle at every incident and decide if it’s really such a big issue.
Does our children’s behaviour warrant a reaction from us that is likely to upset not only our children, but ourselves too?
If it’s not that important, then we have to learn how to let it go. Nine times out of ten, none of its really that serious anyway. This is not an excuse to get out of correcting our children’s unacceptable behaviour though—they have to abide by the rules in order to keep themselves safe and healthy.
IF IT’S NOT YOUR BATTLE THEN DON’T
It’s knowing the difference between those times when we need to correct them and knowing when they have to learn how to correct themselves. For example, when they are squabbling with friends or siblings, it’s not always necessary or helpful for us to jump right in and intervene.
It’s important to step back and let them get on with it at times and let them argue amongst themselves and learn how to resolve their own issues. This is the only way they’ll learn how to get on with other people and how to resolve conflicts in a safe, nurturing environment.
When our children hurt the ones they love, it teaches them when they have overstepped the mark. It offers them the opportunity to apologise and make up, or forgive the other person too if they feel they were justified. Silly little squabbles can be resolved between children without adult interference, so if it’s not our battle, then we don’t need to fight.
We have to find ways to proactively involve our children in the process of managing their emotions. By making our children part of the solution today, we equip them to understand and manage themselves in the future. This potentially removes unwanted behaviour in the future.
Our children can be part of the problem or solution. We are not going to eradicate tantrums and unwanted behaviour, but how we approach it and involve our children in resolving it, is what makes all the difference.
Let’s say toddler Tommy has hit baby Johnny on purpose because baby Johnny was holding Tommy’s favourite Teddy and wouldn’t let it go. Auto pilot Mummy may smack or shout at Tommy and say ‘You’re the big Brother, you should know better.’ But obviously, Tommy didn’t!
Now, Auto pilot Mummy has reinforced hitting or shouting to resolve conflict.
But Tommy still hasn’t been taught how to share. That was the lesson there that auto pilot Mummy completely missed. She could’ve taught and coached Tommy by explaining that Johnny was a baby, who, like Tommy, doesn’t understand the concept of sharing and that certain toys belong to certain people.
All Tommy knew and was interested in was it was his favourite Teddy not his little brothers, and he wanted it back!
Johnny didn’t want to give it back though, so Tommy would do anything in his power to reclaim his beloved possession. And he did, he hit out. Proactive Mummy would have first made a fuss of baby Johnny who was hurt, not a fuss of toddler Tommy.
Cue proactive Mummy’s chance to explain and teach Tommy, once baby Johnny had calmed down and was okay.
It’s frightening for a toddler to see how he can actually hurt someone he really loves, and at first glance, to auto pilot Mummy, Tommy’s reaction looks deliberate, as if he wanted to hurt his baby brother. But despite what morally he thought was right, it was his teddy after all, it wasn’t intentional, he hasn’t developed morals, this is something he’ll learn from his parents and being in these uncomfortable situations. The truth of the matter is, he simply couldn’t control his emotions.
Instead of ostracizing Tommy and sending him to the naughty step or giving him a label such as naughty or bad boy, proactive Mummy needs to involve him and show him that she loves him, but his behaviour was not appropriate.
It’s proactive Mummy’s moral duty to make it clear that Tommy must never put his hands on anyone and to empathize that she understands he was hurt that Johnny had his favourite teddy, and she knows why he reacted the way he did, but hurting someone else because he feels hurt doesn’t resolve things, it makes it worse. Giving him examples helps him to make connections with how his actions make others feel, for example, explaining to Tommy that what he had done was not acceptable and that baby Johnny now feels hurt like that time when_______, then filling in a blank with a time when Tommy was hurt and upset.
This invokes empathy. He may cry as he realises what he has done was wrong. He’s learnt a powerful emotional lesson here. This is proactive Mummy’s cue to offer a little reassurance, such as a kiss or a hug.
ALL EMOTIONS ARE OKAY
This way, she demonstrates that’s it’s okay to get angry and have these emotions, they are not bad, they are trying to teach us something, and that she accepts that he was angry and that happens sometimes, but there are other ways to release that anger. So next time he feels that way, he can come and talk about his feelings. This helps open up a channel of future communication.
On the other hand, he may still not see that what he has done was wrong, so, as proactive parents, we have to be on the lookout for any repeat behaviour again so we can reinforce that lesson until he gets it.
We also need to encourage him to make it up with his baby brother, maybe kiss baby Johnny better to show his affection and forgiveness, which is important. Having a family group hug makes Tommy feel forgiven and included again and Johnny feel better too, and as a parent, peace and love feels restored.
Coaching behaviour shows unconditional love, a naughty step shows our love comes with conditions.
Anything other than unconditional love will feel like hard work because it usually relies on our children meeting our expectations, which is always going to be difficult.
It’s great to spend family ‘Us Time’ together, but trying to please more than one child at the same time can be difficult. Each will have different interests from the other, and will likely try to compete for individual attention, but being blessed with more than one child can make finding time for each one challenging.
Although generously giving of our time can become a stretch, each child will benefit from the attention of one on one time, making them feel special and important.
That’s why it’s important to factor in ‘US Time’ for each individual child by asking each one to write a list of the things they would like to do during US Time.
One child may be a football fanatic but if your other child isn’t, then taking them to football matches isn’t going to be the time they will enjoy. Of course, there will be times when they will have to tag along, but this isn’t what we class as ‘Us Time’.
Family Us Time is still important, and finding things we all like to do is a lot easier when we have a list to look at and see where everyone’s preferences lie so we can plan to do those things together, alongside individual Us Time.
What negative beliefs to you believe about yourself?
Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.
If not overcome, self-limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success and happiness. Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority figures such as from parents and teachers.
If a child is told that they ‘Will never be any good at_____’ fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their subconscious mind. They then believe them to be true, even if years later they have proved them to be wrong. Often, they will look for ways to prove those authority figures right, albeit subconsciously. Then, when their negative self-beliefs and attitude inevitably causes them to fail, they’ll think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never be any good at it, and look—they were right!’
We need to challenge our children’s self-limiting beliefs and find out where they came from and whether or not the source was correct or reliable?
Seeking to prove them wrong, rather than right, and reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do. There will always be things they find challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid them or believe they are unachievable, nothing is impossible with the right support and encouragement.
Children under seven are very impressionable, they particularly take in things that upset them or stand out as most significant, especially traumatic events. They then sort and store these experiences in their subconscious mind for future reference, which then becomes available to assist them in the future.
This is helpful if the information is right or is intended to keep them safe in some way, but sometimes it can be wrong, misguided, and outdated. Information received while young is based on a young child’s perspective and may not be appropriate to them as they get older. Even when they have grown up and outgrown it, they may still be acting, thinking, or feeling based on those past experiences.
‘Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.’
This causes them to create fears and restrictions on themselves, and if others impose limiting expectations upon them, they add to a child’s own self-limiting beliefs, especially if they believe them or they remember situations or comments that reinforce them.
Fortunately, with the right encouragement, support, and belief, children can combat and overcome these self-limiting beliefs.
Children believe others over themselves most of the time, so, if they have fallen off a bike many times, their mind will tell them ‘You can’t ride a bike.’
But if we can convince them that they can. With some patience, persistence, and practice, they’ll believe us and start practicing until they eventually learn how to ride that bike. Because we have said and believe they can, they start to believe it themselves.
As Proactive Parents, we need to show them that their limiting beliefs are inaccurate and find evidence to support why they can do something that they believe they can’t.
If they say they are no good at sport, we can remind them of an occasion when they were, such as when they came first in the egg and spoon race. Our job is to question their beliefs and point out how vague they are being, by asking them in a confused tone;
‘Sport? … What sport in particular are you no good at?
And; ‘What do you mean by no good exactly?’ This will make them think less generally.
If they reply; ‘I mean I’m no good at rugby.’
We could say; ‘Well that’s not all sport, that’s just one activity, but why do you think you are no good at rugby anyway?’
They might reply with; ‘I didn’t score a try last week.’
We could then ask; ‘Did everyone else score one?’
They may respond; ‘No only two people scored a try.’
We could continue; ‘So are none of the others any good at rugby also?’
To which they would have to honestly reply; ‘No some are good.’
Regardless of talent, ability, qualifications, experience, money, or even if they follow ‘The Seven Steps to Success’ which we will reveal in later blog posts, none will make a difference without our children having Self-belief.
If they don’t believe that they can do something, then they won’t be able to do it, even if we are really encouraging and believe in them. Their self-belief influences everything, including their performance throughout school and academic potential.
These self-beliefs often lead to success in areas they feel confident and believe they can do well in, but in those they don’t, they’ll likely avoid or not do so well in.
There will be a variety of subjects in school, some they will not always enjoy, but they will be more likely to persist if they believe they can achieve good results in them, and we can help them build their self-belief by;
Believing in their capabilities — If we do, then they will.
Giving them responsibilities — Showing them that we believe and trust in them when it comes to important matters and giving them responsibilities makes them more responsible.
Helping them — If they are struggling in any subject at school, or any other area of their lives for that matter, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, we can help them overcome these obstacles and succeed by getting them the help, support, and resources they lack or need.
Encouraging them to be proactive — Taking action will give them the confidence to believe that they can achieve anything, even if they fail. It’s the fear of not being able to do a thing that stops them from believing they can. They have to gain confidence through achievement, and self-belief through doing and proving to themselves they can.
Complimenting them — Pointing out their efforts as much as their achievements and being specific. A general ‘Well done’ is not enough, we need to elaborate. Well done for what exactly? To replicate their success, they need to know exactly what it was they did so well in order for them to apply that to something else in the future.
Not over doing it — If we are too general or praise them when it’s not due, then they will not believe our praise to be genuine. Our children’s self-belief comes from the support and encouragement of others, including ourselves, but words of encouragement or trying to boost their ego with praise alone, will not work. They have to believe and feel good about themselves for genuine reasons. No matter how many times we tell them they are the best at something if they know they aren’t, they won’t be fooled. And the more they perceive us to be lying about what they think they can do, the less likely they will be to accept our genuine praise or compliments.
No matter how much praise we give or belief we have in our children, it’s what they believe and achieve, and whether it’s important to them or not, that counts, which is down to their own self-image. We’ll look at self-image in later blog posts too but over the last two weeks I’ve noticed the emails I’ve received from parents have revolved around sibling rivalry and arguments, especially during half term school holidays, so next week we’ll address The Art of Intervention.
As Proactive Parents, we are preparing our children physically, emotionally, and socially for life in the real world without us. This doesn’t just mean when they grow up and leave home, it means when they have to go anywhere or do anything without us, such as starting school and childcare.
The foundations we build to support them now, such as having routines and fostering self-confidence and self-belief within them will be essential.
Our children are our prize possession, so we have to make them feel like the prize. Their self-esteem will be determined by the respect, admiration, and appreciation they receive.
That’s why we are ultimately aiming for a Selfish child!
This word is not to be misunderstood or taken in a negative, egocentric context though. Here, when referring to making our children more selfish, we mean we are helping them to build more of the five self’s below;
SELF-BELIEF – What our children believe they can do, achieve, or be.
SELF IMAGE – How our children view themselves, for example; how they see their intelligence or physical attractiveness.
SELF RESPECT – How well our children look after and treat themselves generally, including diet and exercise.
SELF CONFIDENCE – How our children act or assert themselves and how sure they are in their own ability.
SELF ESTEEM – How our children regard and acknowledge their good qualities and think and feel about themselves in general. Including how much they like themselves or believe that they are a good person, deserving of all the good that life has to offer or not. And how close their ‘real self’ is in alignment with their ‘ideal self’. That is—how they feel they measure up against the version of themselves they think they should or the way they want to be.
These five selves all impact upon one another, but not always. One child may have a good self-image and find themselves attractive, but may not have any confidence in their academic ability. Another may excel at sports but have low self-esteem in every other area of their life, it just depends on what they place value or importance on in their lives.
Children just want to fit in and feel like everyone else. If such a definition as ‘normal’ exists, then that’s how we want to help our children feel.
We can do this by validating at every opportunity that how our children feel is normal and okay, such as, it’s normal to get angry when someone snatches a toy off them.
This can be difficult, as our first response to our children’s undesirable behaviour is to insist they act or feel a certain way that’s more acceptable. For example, if they get angry and shout or hit out at the injustice they think they’ve received from the other child who snatched a toy off them, our first reaction would be to tell them not to be angry and that ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ and usually we insist they say sorry to the other child they have upset, but we can often forget to validate that their feelings of anger were normal under those circumstances. Because they can’t articulate in words to the child who snatched the toy off them how they feel, they get frustrated and angry. Yet most if not all children would feel the same.
The reason we don’t validate their anger is because we don’t like to see our children angry as it can be an unkind, ugly emotion at times, so we try to prevent or stop it, and this serves to make our children feel bad or wrong for feeling angry.
We can only go so far in helping our children though, they play the most important part themselves, so it’s time to step back and allow them to be themselves.
This should come naturally, yet with so much influence and input from others, over time, they can find being themselves is not so good. That’s when they try to change themselves to fit in or to become accepted by others. This can be damaging to their self-esteem and can affect their self-confidence in all areas of their lives, sometimes creating unhealthy habits.
Our children knowing themselves is essential to their happiness, health, and success. But only they can learn who they really are and discover what they really like, without knowing this, they will be aiming at the wrong goals in life.
Socrates the philosopher once said ‘Know thyself’ but this can be perplexingly difficult for our children at times as they are constantly changing.
We can support them in their uncertainty by helping them form a positive impression of themselves and life in general while they are young. This is important because they carry their beliefs about themselves as a child into adulthood, and those beliefs determine what they do and who they become in the future. Our children will become whoever they believe themselves to be. Yet a large contribution of beliefs and their self-image will be formed from other people’s perspectives.
Unfortunately, other people’s negative opinions about them can stick in their young, impressionable minds, even as adults. These create self- limiting beliefs’ which we will explore in the next blog, that can hold them back if not challenged.
The word enuresis derives from the Greek word ‘to make water.’
When children initially start potty/toilet training, we can’t expect them to be dry at night, overnight. Taking precautions to protect the bed such as using waterproof sheets and putting them in pullups to sleep in is a sensible option, along with expecting night-time wetting. While in a deep slumber, a child’s muscles relax, making them unable to notice they need a wee until they are wet.
Regressive behaviours like bedwetting don’t keep children awake though, sleeplessness is usually a symptom of laying in wet pyjamas or bedding. This can be a good motivator for not wetting the bed in the future, being wet, cold, and uncomfortable at night is not a nice feeling.
As long as we don’t get mad or upset with our child, this is how they will learn.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE
We can help minimise the frustration to ourselves by changing sheets immediately, with minimum fuss, by always making their bed up twice, with two layers of waterproof sheets and normal sheets, just in case. This preparation means if they have an accident during the night, this limits the time and disruption of having to completely remake the bed. Simply throw off the top layer of wet sheets and waterproof, then underneath there will be more dry sheets and another waterproof sheet.
The actual issue of bedwetting does need exploring, but shouldn’t prevent them from sleeping once their pyjamas and bedding has been changed.
If they are under five, then it shouldn’t present much of a concern, especially in the toilet training stages. Making sure they use the toilet just before bed so they don’t fall too deeply asleep and have an accident or wake up needing to go to the toilet in the middle of the night helps.
It’s also a good idea to limit or stop the amount of fluid they drink prior to bedtime, offering only sips of water after four thirty pm, not milk or juice.
SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE
If they have not gone more than a few months dry at night after successful potty training in the day, they could have a developmental issue with their bladder, this can be hormonal and usually nothing to worry about. There are treatments available, and you can discuss these with your doctor.
They could also have a small bladder capacity, if this is the case, you will probably notice that they urinate often throughout the day and find they are often desperate to go. They may wet at night due to emptying their bladder too frequently during the day.
Either way, it’s always advisable to consult your GP if you are concerned at all. If they’re still bedwetting past six years of age, medical causes, as well as emotional factors, need to be looked into with their doctor to rule out any medical condition.
Once they have been dry at night for several months to a year but then regress back to wetting at night, this nocturnal enuresis would suggest some sort of emotional stress or anxiety is responsible. If your GP has ruled out a physical problem such as a water infection, we can be proactive by looking for any apparent patterns, such as, do they only bed wet on certain days such as school days and not at the weekend?
Does it happen early on in the night or toward the end near morning time, when mum is on night watch or dad, how often a night/a week/ a month does it occur?
Are there any causes that influence the episode, such as, have they been emotional throughout the day because they fell out with their best friend or because dad is working away for the night?
Our children’s fears and insecurities may seem so trivial and insignificant to us, but the smallest changes can have a huge impact. Looking at what is currently going on in other areas of their life is helpful.
This is where the U URSELF Routine comes in handy, we can notice if another area such as their eating or exercising and play habits have changed too.
We may even already be aware of a possible cause of emotional stress for them such as having a new baby sibling, bereavement, moving to a new house, starting childcare, or a parent leaving home.
All of these things can be stressful for a small child, emotionally challenging, and are common underlying causes of regression.
If stress and anxiety is the culprit, we have to handle the situation just as empathetically and positively as we would a physical medical condition that is also out of their control.
BOOST THEIR SELF-ESTEEM
This means praising them when they call out mid flow in the middle of the night for making good progress by noticing as it is happening, how we react in response will either help or hinder their progress at this point. Getting frustrated and saying things such as ‘why didn’t you get up and go straight to the toilet sooner, or, not again, or, I thought you had grown out of this’ will only damage their self-esteem. This is the next part of the U URSELF Routine that we will explore in the next blog ‘Esteem’
What we want to do is focus on what we want them to achieve, not on what we don’t want. Highlight the positives, such as the dry nights, and ignore the wet ones as best we can in the presence of our children.
We can encourage and motivate them by offering to buy them some nice new pjs or bedding with their favourite tv cartoon characters on them once they have successfully gone a whole week with a dry bed. How we phrase that reward is important, so keep it positive and focused on the dry bed. Instead of saying you can have a new pair of pjs if you don’t wet the bed. We want to motivate them for staying dry, not put pressure on them not to wet the bed. When they do succeed going one night dry, we want to make the biggest fuss possible by showering them with praise and exaggerating how happy we feel for them, this is a chance to give their esteem a boost!
MOTIVATE TO PROGRESS
What we don’t want our children to do is form a habit of bedwetting for either attention or feeling they have no control over their bedwetting.
In no circumstances should we encourage this behaviour further and be tempted to bring back the pull up training pants for bed time.
Once out of nappies and pull ups for several months, they are through with that baby phase of development. What they need most now is responsibility over their progress, they can’t do this by going backward in how we treat them. They need to feel the wet cold discomfort to register they are wet, and this is something we want to motivate them to avoid in the future.
A nice cosy, warm, dry, comfortable nappy or pullup, only motivates them to stay passive in their development. There’s no urgency to progress by controlling their bladder. I’ve potty trained many toddlers over the years, and I’ve always used pants and knickers over commercial pull ups, a cheap pack of pants are usually cheaper than pull ups, and we can throw the soiled ones away if needs be, the same way we would a disposable nappy. But children learn far quicker by having accidents that they can feel and see.
A pull up still feels like they are wearing a nappy, so I’ve found when parents choose this as a toilet training option, progress is much slower. I know pull ups are safer, easier, and less messy, but long term, they just delay the process. A couple of weeks of accidents, patience, and practise in real pants is the quickest and best long-term, effective, solution.
GIVE THEM RESPONSIBILITY
I always find that children who are given responsibility over their own lives, no matter how young, overcome challenges and progress quicker than those whose parents do everything for them and take control. This doesn’t mean not helping or being involved as a parent and leaving them to sort out themselves, but taking a back seat at times. It’s natural to want to love, protect, support, and do everything for them, but this can serve to make them feel as though they are a passenger on their journey of life. Events and experiences are out of their control and influence. There often seems little point in them making much of an effort to try or change.
Helping strip their wet bedding off their bed and putting it in the washing machine with your help, then choosing what fresh bedding goes back on their bed next or what pyjamas to wear all involve them in their own self-care. Instead of feeling low self-esteem at what can be an embarrassing time, they now display self-love and respect. They are helping themselves, and we are allowing them to feel good in a situation that could make them feel bad if handled insensitively.
It’s their bedwetting issue to address and solve. This way, they’ll look for solutions rather than feeling helpless and resigned to a life of wet nights, forming a habit that may be difficult to change later on. Now, in no instance are they responsible or to blame for their bedwetting, we are not suggesting that ever, but if anyone has any influence over changing it, they do!
And they will feel confident to try if they are given encouragement to do so. Our aim is for them to take conscious control over their issue, not be a passive allower.
Fostering this self-reliance is what will help them to build self- confidence, making them feel they can handle situations themselves.
They don’t feel guilty or as though we are punishing them if they feel they are helping in some way and having choices and responsibility.
SEEK THE CAUSE NOT THE SYMPTOM
Children want to be independent, that is why there is often conflict and tantrums, because they want to be able to do things for themselves. Managing conflict and tantrums is covered extensively in my soon to be published book, The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting. But let’s just say for now that their bad behaviour isn’t always that bad.
The less of a big issue we can make out of their bed wetting, and the bigger the fuss we can make over a dry bed, the quicker the preferred behaviour will become a habit. We can best help, however, by uncovering the source of their underlying emotional issue or anxiety they are currently experiencing and focusing on that, rather than the presenting symptom of bedwetting. Once that has been addressed, the bed wetting, in time, if not left long enough unaddressed to become a habit, will resolve itself.
Well it’s happened the first coming of age milestone, our first-born turns 16!
It’s an emotional day.
Like all loving parents, our children are our life. Everything we do, we do it for you. But soon you’ll be doing stuff for yourself, now you’ll have your national insurance number you’ll be able to work and legally able to do other things we’d rather you didn’t. But so far parenthood has been a very rewarding journey, full of love and laughter, and we just want you to know Holly how very proud your Dad and I are of you.
You had a tough entry into the world, giving me a tough time in the process, but since your initial birthday you have been an easy child ever since, and we want to thank you for giving us the best 16 years of our lives so far.
You’re funny, confident, caring, and full of that zest for life.You are always up to trying new things and giving anything a go, always facing your fears with determination, whilst always being thoughtful and empathetic towards others.
We’re so eternally grateful for everything you have taught us, especially all that’s good about this world.
We can all remember that moment we brought our first-born home from hospital.
On tonight’s Snow Moon I will reflect on the day you were born.I remember that snowy February day like it was yesterday, my husband Paul putting the car seat down in the middle of the living room and us both staring at our new arrival Holly, for what felt like hours.
We were just in awe of her. Scared and anxious at the same time.
All those fears surfaced.
How would we cope?
What do we do if she cries?
How will we know what she needs?
What if we don’t know how to be good parents?
Now on her sixteenth birthday, as a Mum, I feel so proud, privileged and happy to have come this far, to have learnt so much but more importantly, to love and feel loved by such a smart, wonderful, funny, kind and crazy daughter.
The pride and love I feel for her every day are overwhelming. Making that difficult birth and all those doubts and fears pale into insignificance.
Yes, even the toddler tantrums and teenage angst has been worth every minute.
So much so, I feel saddened that she is growing up way to fast, and I long for those baby days back.
Yes, children change your life in many ways, but always for the better.
It may be hard to imagine now when you’re in the thick of dirty nappies and sleepless nights, but it’s in those ordinary moments together, that one day, you’ll linger with your memories longing to go back.
Parenting is a very rewarding time and can be lots of fun if we let it. Enjoy and treat every day as a special one, because while your child is young, every day really is special and full of firsts. First words, first steps, first pee on the potty, first day at school, first boyfriend, all of which are magical moments for you and your child to cherish.
Believe me, the time really does go so quickly, one day you are crying into your pillow, begging for some sleep while they are teething, the next you are crying into a tissue as you are waving them off to university!
One day in the not so distant future, those dreaded night feeds, school runs, class assembly’s, duvet days and trips to the dentist, will become the best moments in our lives.
Today they are ordinary every day events, although tomorrow they’ll become the most extraordinary, priceless, irreplaceable nuggets of time in our lives. Time that all too often we take for granted because we are disillusioned that the work and worries that occupy our mind, are the things that need our attention the most.
Yet, neither now nor in the future will anyone or anything, ever bring us the joy, fulfilment or happiness that our children do.
After environment, other physical factors such as Illness and pain can be a cause of sleep disruptions. If a child has a fever or rash, are severely lethargic or unresponsive, then we can assume they’re ill and need immediate medical attention. Teething or colic pain is not always visible but should subside of its own accord. Not helpful when trying to get a good night’s sleep, I know, but there are over the counter remedies to help with this period. If constant over a few days, then it may not be teething. You should always contact your GP or out of hours if you are concerned. Even if it turns out to be teething, it’s always best to get it checked, as our children can’t let us know how they are feeling. But we can usually visually tell or sense if our children are responding differently, always follow your gut instinct, you know your child better than anyone else.
If unsure of the severity of their pain, there’s a general test I like to recommend; next time they awake crying at night, let them hop into bed with you. If their pain magically disappears as soon as they jump into bed, it’s not going to be pain keeping them awake.
We can be sure pain is not the cause of their sleeplessness because pain remains, regardless of where or who they sleep with.
If your child has a chronic medical condition or they have experienced stress or trauma, such as a parent leaving, you might feel sorry or guilty and encourage them to co-sleep with you for comfort. We need to reflect on the beliefs we have around our children’s illnesses or circumstances to see if we are trying to overcompensate unnecessarily. Asking ourselves honestly whether they need our comfort to help them go to sleep, or whether we are interfering with their necessity to sleep alone because of our own emotions and beliefs.
Are we looking for comfort and company, or projecting our own fears and anxieties onto them?
If they are ill or under any sort of stress, they will need to sleep more than ever.
It’s tempting to comfort and soothe them to sleep at these difficult times but when will the cut-off point be? The odd night is normal such as when they are sick or have had a bad dream, but if we make it a regular habit, we could still be sleeping with our teenagers!
I know all those attachment parents out there who believe co-sleeping is best will be going wild right now, everyone’s entitled to parent their own way. I’m not saying my way is right and their way is wrong, but I have a strong attachment bond with my children, and we haven’t co-slept.
Attachments come from love, and I believe routines provide all the love and comfort our children need to feel safe, secure, healthy, and happy. Routines make us proactive and responsive as parents, helping us meet the needs of our children before they desperately need them. Mums need a good night sleep to be emotionally and physically available to their children.
We also need to maintain a loving relationship with our partners to keep that bond strong too, something sharing a bed with our children makes impossible.
I’ve encountered many parents who have this attachment parenting style, who reject routine and let their children choose what they eat, wear, and when and where they sleep. Personally, I’ve not found these children any happier than any other child. I don’t think children are experienced or capable of making the best choices for themselves. Given the choice, what child wants to go to bed early, on their own, or eat vegetables over chips?
That doesn’t make us unfair for insisting they do though. But that’s just my opinion. I’m an advocate for having close physical contact with your child. I kiss and cuddle my teenagers, and tell them I love them more than once every day, and have done so since they were born.
I also encourage them to be themselves and express how they feel and comfort and reassure them in times of need. But even though they are teenagers now, I still know what’s best for them, and yes, they both still have a bedtime routine and are in bed at a set reasonable time on a school night. Call me old fashioned, but I want them to get all the rest they can and to feel refreshed for school the next day. Obviously, they’d prefer to be on their electronic devices, but we take them off them at bedtime so they can’t. I’m not punishing them though. I’m helping them.
I encourage you to try letting your child lead the way if you want to experiment, then come back to a routine if that’s not working.
It’s a lot harder to provide consistent routines and to encourage our children to adopt healthy eating and sleeping habits, but that’s the kind of nurturing that being a parent is all about. They can spend the rest of their adult lives making their own independent choices regarding what’s right for them, until then, let’s show them the healthiest ways.
As previously said, we offer our children routines for their own good, out of love. That doesn’t mean that they are going to feel good about them in the beginning though.
If we have co-slept with our child for the last six years, but now would like them to move into their own bed in their own room, then we need to understand how they might feel. From their perspective, we’re telling them to move from the shared, warm, safe comforts that they have always known to the cold, lonely, dark, unknown room across the landing.
Understandably, this new bedtime routine would upset them and seem more like a punishment for growing up. Their behaviour toward the changes, which could lead to angry or emotional protests or regressive behaviours such as, bed wetting or clinginess, is not intended to upset us for moving them into their own room. This is merely a normal reaction to change and to feeling afraid, anxious, or unsettled.
Regressive behaviours are their way of showing they still need us, or simply a coping mechanism to return to that time when they felt protected. In those moments, they need reassurance from us that everything will be okay. We must be understanding. Calming any fears they have in a calm and confident manner whilst still communicating to them it’s not a bad change in circumstances, it’s just different!
Children have difficulty sleeping for all sorts of reasons, and it is possible that they can have too much sleep too. Routine is the only way to avoid too little or too much sleep.
We need to know what time they go to bed, when they wake up, and how long they sleep for in total throughout the night and day and make changes where necessary. Once we can rule out the amount of time they are sleeping as the issue, the next avenue to explore is lack of recreation or exercise throughout the day, an issue the U URSELF Routine will be able to address
WHY WON’T YOU SLEEP?
Other reasons include; an inability to relax, their environment, nightmares, attention seeking, illness or pain, bedwetting, worrying, or more commonly; their inability to personally pacify themselves to sleep alone.
All of these can be resolved once identified. Once they are, a nightly routine will emerge. But a routine won’t guarantee our children will skip happily up the stairs to bed when the clock strikes seven. They’ll still be reluctant to sleep and won’t want to be isolated from the exciting activity of the home. Especially if they can hear us or their sibling’s downstairs having fun, chatting or laughing at the TV, making bedtime an issue.