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.

#ProactiveParenting #ProactiveParents #PowerfulParents #PresentParents #PresentParenting

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Proactive Parenting

Did Your Child Get a Space at the School You Wanted?

Yippee School Admissions Time!

It’s that time of year when, we discover if our little ones have got a place in the preferred school, we’ve chosen for them.

As I chatted to a friend at the school gates last week, who was devastated her child didn’t get into the primary school his siblings attended, I felt her pain.

I remember that dreaded anticipation myself many years ago!

Would my first born get a space in the School, I perceived to be the best in the area we lived in at that time?

Oh, the joy when I finally received that letter telling us she had got a place.

Off we went excitedly to buy her new school uniform. Such a proud first moment was her first day at school.

Then I had to relive all that stress, anxiety and worry once again two years later, when my Sons turn came to find out if he had a place?

The sleepless nights and despair I felt when I discovered that the catchment area boundaries had changed, and a new Welsh School which was opened within twenty feet of our house, threatened his place in his Sisters school, which we all loved because, I hate to honestly admit it, but all the parents seemed affluent and the learning league table for results was high.

On top of that, the school was rated a green for very good. The rating system was based on four colour coded categories; green, yellow, amber and red, this colour coding was to demonstrate how much support the schools needed. But relying on that colour system would have been pointless because that all soon changed anyway, as the School colours slipped down when the headteacher changed, something not too uncommon for lots of schools.

Again, the relief, when I received that letter saying my Son had a place in his Sisters school was exhilarating.

I wanted to throw a ‘Thank Goodness Party!’

DOUBTS FEARS & TEARS

Yet looking back, there was no reason to celebrate, and all that stress, worry and anxiety was for nothing, as I removed my children half way through primary school, from that much sought- after, Welsh Medium School, to an English Medium School, (nothing to do with the language may I add).

Initially when I chose the Welsh School, I was happy with that decision.  A few years later that decision no longer felt like the right thing for my children, leaving me to make the proactive decision of changing their schools.

A lot of parents felt the same way as me at the time, and also wanted to remove their children, but they didn’t as they were fearful how it would affect them.

I on the other hand feared how keeping my children in their current school would affect them?

But it was a decision I needed help with, so I proactively involved my children in the decision-making process, every step of the way.

This took a lot of the pressure off me to make the decision and gave them a choice.

My Daughter was keen to change schools, my Son however, was not so keen.

I asked them both to individually list the pros and cons for staying in their old school and moving to the new school. This was discussed verbally, then I drew up a pros and cons list (putting it in writing helped us all to physically see the outcome.) Both children had more pros for moving and more cons for staying put.


list the pros and cons

The decision was made instantly based on those lists.

I didn’t dwell on it or give them time to worry about the consequences, I took immediate action and within a week, they had both moved to a new school.

Today they are now in High School, but they have never regretted moving schools and the only affects it had on them at the time, were positive.

They’ve made great best friends that otherwise they would never have met and are both confident and sociable, and despite joining a new school mid-way through their primary years, their academic ability has soared. 

Children are much more resilient than we give them credit for, it’s us as parents that have the doubts, fears and tears, not our children.

PARENTAL INTUITION

The initial idea to change schools came from my own parental intuition. I could have taken the easy option and ignored what I felt. I could have found many excuses to keep them in their old school but that would have kept me reactive as a parent, not proactive.

I probably would have been complaining to the school over issues that I was unhappy with for years, and would have always wondered, what if they had gone to a different school? 

Proactivity quashes regrets before they fester.

Feeling confident to take -action, comes from that parental intuition that we all have, which arises from knowing and loving our children. 

This insight is invaluable to tune into, as it helps us to know how our children will respond to certain people, events, or situations in advance. This gives us time to take the necessary steps, in order to avoid situations turning out undesirably.

Fortunately, this proactive approach arising from instinct or intuition, is something we naturally do as parents, most of the time anyway.

Although my Husband and I made the right choice in moving our children to a different school, and both of our children excelled in their new school, none of us regret them having gone to the old school.

My children made some great friends there (as did I, I’m still friends with some fab parents from their old primary school today)

And my children also learnt how to speak Welsh fluently at a young age (which I’ve no doubt is the reason they do so well in this subject now, as its now a compulsory GCSE subject in my Children’s English Medium High School.)

In addition, my children learnt how to change and adapt to new circumstances, build on their self- confidence and form new relationships, all invaluable skills to learn at a young age.

ACCEPTANCE

We all learn from experimentation and experience.

That’s why nothing happens in vain. When we view any experience, circumstance or relationship this way, we free ourselves from worry, stress and anxiety. Its all a learning opportunity. This helps us to accept what is, even if what is, isn’t what we want!

As parent’s, we need to accept that we won’t always make the right choices or decisions all of the time. And that’s ok, because we can, and will learn from all of them, good or bad along the way.

As long as we keep moving, we will make progress and rid ourselves of paralysis by analysis. By doing what we can, we can feel confident in the knowledge that we are always doing our best.


Its all a learning opportunity.

We will then be free to relax knowing that, we cannot control everything that happens to our children.

And this is a good thing, because we cannot learn everything for them, there will be times when they will have to learn for themselves, often the hard way.

Therefore, the most proactive thing that we can all do as parents, is to decide today to stop worrying about our children’s; behaviour, education, health, happiness, safety, success or whatever else is worrying us at the moment, and take- action to do something about it.

If its out of our control and we can’t do anything about the outcome or circumstances, as in the case of not getting a space at a preferred school for our child, then acceptance is the only choice we really have. This means letting go of the illusions of how perfect that school would have been, and how our children have lost out. There’s no loss, as they never had that space to begin with. There’s no loss, as there are alternatives, and alas, other schools that could end up being just as good, if not even better in the long run?

We can only do the best we can do, at any given moment in time, with the knowledge, experiences and resources we have at that time.

Circumstances change and so do we.

My priorities and perspective on my childrens initial primary school changed. So did the influential people at that school, and the school’s performance and colour coding. Had I known all that years ago, then I wouldn’t have worried for a second whether my children got a space at that school or not?

You may be experiencing joy and exhilaration, as you open that envelop that says your child has a place at your preferred school?

Or you may have doubts, fears and tears, as you hear your child has not been accepted?

But fear not, things are not always as bad as they seem. And years from now, like me, you may look back with relief, that actually, what you thought your child was denied, was in fact the best thing that could have happened?

Stay Present,

Em x