Proactive Parenting

Starting Childcare or School

Starting School or Childcare for the first time, is just as anxious a time for us parents as it it is for our children so, it’s just as important to plan ahead and prepare ourselves as much as them.

It is vital that we paint a positive picture beforehand to our children when it comes to starting school or childcare and that we make sure they view any changes optimistically as a positive, enjoyable experience. We can do this by telling them about all of the fun things they will get up to at school such as painting, play dough, and meeting new friends.

Giving them something to look forward to builds excitement and helps them to understand what to expect. A proactive approach would also be taking them to visit the school environment to meet the teachers or carers before they actually start. Also, explaining to them why they are going there, when they are going, who else will be there, and what is expected of them when they are there?

It is also a good idea to encourage them to ask any questions that they may have, such as where are the toilets?

Or where is the Lego kept?

Answering their questions and making it clear to them that we will be back to collect them after they have had a play, helps to alleviate any fears or concerns that they may have.

This preparation is essential before they start. School, nursery, or a child minders home, are always full of new people and unknown experiences. At first this can be daunting for any child, especially if they have never been left with anyone, other than family members before. Being proactive means, we expect that our children may not take to a new place or person straight away, we understand that we are asking them to go to an unknown place, full of unfamiliar strangers.

We may know it’s a safe place but our children may not, so we have to communicate this to them, this means being careful not to project or transfer our own anxieties, worries or fears onto our children.

TRANSFERENCE

Our children pick up automatically on how we are feeling. We may be telling them how much fun it is going to be at school, but if we are anxious and fretting over whether they will enjoy their first day or not, they will sense it.

When they sense our apprehension, they will think that there is something to be afraid of, and that they should be scared or worried too. Equally, if they excitedly run into school on their first day with not so much as a backward glance or goodbye, then that’s okay too. They don’t have to be happy or sad whenever we are not around. It’s natural that our children will not want to leave us because, they love us and want to be with us. We provide them with warmth, safety, comfort and love, but if they can’t wait to leave us and try out new things, it also shows what a great job we have done in helping them to feel secure and confident without us.

We just have to allow them to settle in, in their own way, in their own time. Providing we feel relaxed and optimistic about the changes, eventually they will too.

This can mean leaving our children, despite their kicking and screaming protests, all incidentally staged for our benefit. If this is too much to bare then, finding someone else to drop them off, until they get used to being left may help.

Guaranteed they will not perform so much, in front of an unemotionally, detached, audience, especially if they know that person is not going to give in to them, or lavish them with attention.  As a childminder, I have seen it hundreds of times over the years, whenever I drop other people’s children off to school, they skip in happily, yet if their parents take them, it’s a full on, award winning Oscar performance, of tears and tantrums.

KEEP A CLEAR PERSPECTIVE

 Keeping a clear perspective of the situation, and remembering that we are sending our children to school, and we are not evacuating them as some children once endured in the war, helps.

The worst thing we can do is, show our children our own anxiety. Being mindful of how our own emotions have an effect on our children and refusing to offer them any undue attention when they are over reacting is critical.

As children, we may have felt insecure at times, and there may have been occasions that caused us apprehension, such as going to school, but they were our issues and feelings not our children’s. Even if our children do display anxiety or emotions that are distressing, we need to be able to calm and reassure them that, everything will be okay. We cannot do that if we are panicking or emotional ourselves.   Keeping in mind that children who experience the most separation anxiety, usually are those whose parents are anxious about leaving them.

We convey our fears by; continually kissing our children more than once when dropping them off, calling them back for a kiss or a cuddle once they have gone off to play, picking them up or carrying them in our arms and apologetically confirming how they are feeling with words like ‘I know, I’m sorry Mummy won’t be long’.

All of these behaviours are going to naturally upset our children further. This is made especially worse if, a teacher or child carer has to physically prize our children off us as though they are taking our children away from us against our will.

Once we stop feeling anxious, we can actually help to proactively prepare our children for change, and they will relax too.

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Recreation, Us Time

ONLY BORING PEOPLE GET BORED

I’m sure many of Us Parents have heard that dreadful saying ‘I’m bored!’ since the children have been off school, over the past week or so?

The school summer holidays pose a real challenge for most of us, as we compile packed itineraries, lists and mind maps of where to go and what to do, to entertain our childrens endless wants and desires.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain. We did it every Sunday without fail but my brother and I never bored of it, in fact all week we look forward to it.

As a child, I loved nothing more than our Sunday walk through the forest or hike up our local mountain.

Granted we only had 3 TV channels back then when I was a child, where children’s programmes were only aired for an hour at lunchtime. And we didn’t have computers or phones then, so I never felt as though I was missing out on my screen time. Walking up a mountain or playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Playing tag with the other children in our street was our entertainment.

Often, I hear ‘It’s boring we’ve been here before.’ when I take children out somewhere.  As though every trip should be somewhere new and exciting. I fear, Children are just losing their ability to entertain themselves and have fun naturally these days.

And childrens play places are cashing in at our expense. When I was a child a trip to the farm or zoo was a once a year treat, we were lucky to get a bag of sweets or a pencil with a rubber from the gift shop at the end of our visit. Now children expect expensive toys at the end of every day out. It’s not our childrens fault these venues strategically place the gift shop full of toys, at the end of an attraction where we must walk our children through to leave.

But the result is, as parents, we no longer feel a fun family day out is good enough, when our children are clutching onto a fifty-pound toy, demanding they want it!

We know that we can get the same toy half the price from the supermarket, but we also know, all our children will remember is how horrible we were for denying them that toy, not all the fun we had having a picnic next to the peacocks!

WHATS NEXT?

Its vital children have the chance to relax and unwind, this doesn’t mean sleeping. Stimulation overload is a very real problem facing our children, affecting their mental health. Encouraging them to listen to relaxing music, read a book or comic and take time to daydream is vital. Most children today see this as being bored but there’s a lot of benefits to boredom.

As parents we are so busy in our own lives, we feel guilty when we are not providing busyness for our children, but what we all need and crave is time out from this busyness. One Monday morning about twelve years ago, I remember asking a parent how her weekend had been, here’s how she replied.

‘Friday after school I took the children to football and gymnastics, then Saturday morning they had karate, and in the afternoon, I took them swimming at that new pool with all the big slides, but they got bored after half hour so we ended up in the park. But then they had worked up an appetite so we went for a burger, then onto the cinema. I think they are getting too old for animated films now though, as they soon got bored mid- way and all they did was fight with one another then all evening. Then You’ll never guess what?’

One Busy Mum!

I shook my head in disbelief thinking, what there’s more?  

As she continued

‘Sunday, I found out they had a big homework project that took most of the day up, I’m just so tired, I can’t wait to get back to work today!’

One TIRED MUM!

Wow, Wow, Wow!

All that nonstop entertainment, time and expense and at the end of the day none of it made them happy.

What would I wonder?

Too much can be just as bad as not enough. This conversation took place many years ago but over the years I’ve found, children are becoming a part of ‘The What Next Generation?’ of dissatisfied children. An enjoyable picnic in the park is just never enough. Children seem to be asking their parents ‘what’s next?’ before they have even finished doing what they are currently doing.

Leaving most of us worn out, skint and frazzled by the end of the day!

There’s not much left to the imagination anymore, and the absence of a TV, mobile phone or computer, can make our children feel bored. Unfortunately, being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Being constantly occupied with people or electronic things, prevents contemplation and creativity.

Children are so used to this type of stimulation they cannot play alone or even with each other anymore, they just don’t know how to occupy themselves without these props, so they say they are bored. I have an answer for that; ‘Only boring people get bored.’

There’s more for children to do today, than any other time in history. There’s so much choice, variety, toys, opportunities, and experiences, it’s hard to believe that the word bored still exists in the English language.

Back in the Depression and Wartime days, children really did have nothing to play with, nowhere to go and little to do, yet they never seemed to get bored like the children of today do. They had no other option, they had to amuse themselves and they knew how to play and have fun naturally.

My children learnt early on, never to utter those words ‘I’m bored.’ As soon as they did, they knew I would find them a list of things to occupy them, such as cleaning jobs or homework.

On hearing what I had to offer to alleviate their boredom, they suddenly remembered they had lots to be getting on with and got on with it!

We help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics.

Ironically, we help alleviate boredom, by allowing them to become bored. This means occasionally removing toys and electronics. This is not a punishment, so to prove that to them, we have to join them in this practice too.

This is probably something we will struggle with more than our children; I mean can you actually imagine a day without your phone, computer or TV?

We’d fall so behind on the soaps, social media, and junk email!

Boredom would eventually disappear, however, and our children would come to realise all there is naturally around them. They may struggle at first to find things to do, but given the alternative, such as cleaning their bedroom, they would soon find something to do which is more fun.

What could you be doing that’s more fun instead?

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Esteem, Recreation

Does The Grass Have to be Greener?

Over the past fifteen years as a Childminder, I’ve had the opportunity to observe different age groups of children, all playing together. At the beginning of my career, I felt the need to structure and plan activities and to keep them all busily occupied.

Now, experience has shown me that children require as little adult intervention as possible, and more free choice and opportunities for spontaneous play.

This is when they have real fun and enjoy each other’s company, and when you hear real laughter and joy.

When we interfere or try to entertain them constantly, they don’t learn how to amuse themselves, and inevitably get bored when left to their own devices. This can lead to negative or positive attention seeking behaviours. 

Our children crave our time and attention and delight in any we offer. They look to us for acceptance that they are doing it the right way. But when it comes to play, there is no right or wrong way, so we can encourage them to do it their way.

Even if they are technically wrong, we can allow them to think for themselves and show them that we don’t mind. If they colour the grass purple when drawing a picture, then that’s okay, it’s their picture, we can approve of it exactly as they want it to be. The grass doesn’t have to be greener!

Show them that we don’t mind if they colour the grass purple!

There’s a time and a place for formal learning and fact finding and a time and a place for freedom, love, and acceptance. Our children won’t grow up believing the grass is purple, because we haven’t corrected them or criticised their picture when they were three years old. They’ll soon learn its green by themselves, if given the opportunity to play outside. But they will grow up to feel creative, confident and with a healthy level of self-esteem, when we give them the freedom to express themselves in way’s we don’t think are correct.

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U Time

Returning to Work after Children

Going back to work after spending time at home, looking after the children, can be nerve wracking. But there comes a point for most of us, when we feel ready to get back into it, or feel we need to financially return to work.

There’s also those mums amongst us, who may never have had a job or career before and now feel ready to take on a new challenge, and that can be a scary prospect initially.

It’s also a very exciting time!

Nerves and excitement are much they same, those fluttering butterflies you feel in your stomach when you fall in love, feel the same as those you feel when going for a job interview.  So, let’s not confuse our excitement for the journey ahead, as all bad.

IT’S AN INSIDE JOB!

Still feeling like a bag of nerves contemplating job interviews?

Well time to turn your anxiety and fear into courageous confidence instead!

Read on to discover how, when it comes to job interviews, getting hired is an ‘inside job’ that can work for you.

YOU’RE WORTH MORE

When looking for employment people tend to stay within financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth.

When clients who are looking to find a new vocation come to me for coaching, they nearly all have one thing in common; they never set their sights high enough.

When looking for employment people tend to stay within, financial income comfort zones, and cap the amount they think they are worth, overlooking those positions offering higher salaries. Don’t just limit your search to a job that is in your current earning bracket, when you realise how precious your time and skills are to others, your earning potential increases.

WANT IT!

Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

However, you must want the career not just the money it brings, if your motivation is job satisfaction then you’re more likely to get the job you want, and to do it well. Know what you want from an occupation and what you have to offer. Think of things you enjoy doing, past, present and future, and seek possibilities in those areas.

Interviewers can smell the difference between candidates desperately needing a job, and enthusiastic people who passionately want the job. So, take a deep breath and relax!

BE SELF- AWARE

That is why being self- aware of your own motives can help in getting hired or not, it can also help in coming across as confident.

Interviewers want to see how quick you can think on your feet and how self- aware you are. It’s not what you say that counts, but how you respond to a question, so be conscious of your strong and weak points in advance, because they will ask you about them. Ideally think of a weakness beforehand that you can turn into a positive, for e.g. you could say:

‘In the past I always had to work late, but now I’ve learnt how to prioritise my time more effectively.’

This will say a lot more about your strengths than your weaknesses, and will help you to stay present in the moment at all times. If you’ve planned well, then there will be no need for you to think of an answer, while the question is still being asked.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin:

‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!’

BE PREPARED

So be prepared and research the company and role, the more information you have the better. Also look at what similar posts and other companies have to offer, this is useful to know, especially if you get offered the position.

Beforehand visualize the interview in every detail as you would like it to be, and focus only on what you want to achieve. Arm yourself with an abundance of your strengths, so you will be ready whenever an opportunity arises to tailor your skills to the job role.

Buying a new suit or getting your hair cut will also prepare you and boost your confidence, and will be one less thing to worry about. Moreover, when you are looking good, your confidence will shine through, and building rapport will be easier.

BUILD RAPPORT

Remember you are both there for the same reason- to fill the vacancy, so relax and show the real you. If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths, and say to yourself ten times ‘I am the right person for this job’

If you are feeling anxious and nervous take some deep belly breaths.

Subtly match the interviewer’s body posture, tone and speed of speech, this way you will build rapport a lot quicker. And once that connection has been made, you will feel more comfortable and able to concentrate on the conversation.

A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY

Ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get the job though, it’s not always the best candidate that gets the position; it’s who the interviewer feels are the best interviewee on the day.

Afterwards ask for some feedback, and when you get home write a few notes on what did or didn’t go so well, so you can refer to them in preparation for next time. Remember to keep things in perspective, it’s not a life or death situation, no matter how important it may feel to you at the time. View it as practice and experience, leading up to the real thing- your dream job.

Good Luck!

If you still need help with job interview nerves and confidence then get in touch, maybe Mumatherapy https://happychildcare.club/mumatherapy%e2%84%a0/ can help you get hired?

Learning, Proactive Parenting

HOMEWORK FUN FOR EVERYONE!

Of course, we can make a cardboard dinosaur better than our five-year-old can, but where’s the fun in that, if they have to watch us?

Push our children to succeed or push them over the edge, it’s a fine line to tread?

Knowing how far to push them and when, is unique to each parent and child.

It’s something that intuitively and instinctively we come to know, the more proactive and involved we become in their learning and behaviour.

It’s natural we want our children to do well at school but if we become too involved and take -over, we miss the point of what the learning objective is.

Teachers also have a good understanding of our children’s ability, more than we do.

When children are set homework projects at school, the whole point of the exercise is for our children to learn something by doing it themselves. Hopefully while enjoying the process as much as they can.

As well-meaning parents, sometimes it can be hard to let our children do this for themselves and easier for us to do it for them.

Yes, maybe it does feel rewarding, watching our children parading our elaborate creations on the school yard?

And naturally, seeing how proud our children feel doing so, makes us feel good?

But do we want our children to feel proud of our efforts or their own?

Teachers want to see what the children can create and what they’ve learnt in the process, not what we are capable of. 

Teachers also have a good understanding of our children’s ability, more than we do. They’ll know that it’s our work not our children’s, if we produce an artistic masterpiece or solve an almost unsolvable equation.

It’s getting messy and having fun in the process that counts.

Of course, we can make a cardboard dinosaur better than our five-year-old can, but where’s the fun in that, if they have to watch us?

They don’t care how perfect it looks. It’s getting messy and having fun in the process that counts. We can still help if our children are finding something challenging, but stepping back at times maybe a good idea?

Sometimes, it can be possible to be a bit too present as parents!