Behaviour, Powerful Parents, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present

SIBLING RIVALRY AND THE ART OF INTERVENTION

So, you survived another half term holiday, but secretly are jumping for joy that your little people are back to school or childcare right?

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

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.

At least at work we get a lunch break!

 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

FIGHT 

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.

TOMMY VS JOHNNY

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!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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.

PROACTIVE PARENTING

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.

Photo by Joseph Gonzalez on Unsplash

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.

MAKE DAILY INDIVIDUAL US TIME FOR EACH CHILD

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.

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

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.

If you would like an issue covered in next month’s blog posts, please email me the issue to emma@happychildcare.club

Until next time, Stay Proactive, Stay Present & Stay Powerful

Em x

Thanks for featured image Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOLLY

where have those fifteen years gone????

We can all remember that moment we brought our first-born home from hospital.

I remember that snowy February day, 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?

When?

And why?

What if we don’t know how to be good parents?

Now on her fifteenth 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, beautiful 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.

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. 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.

Happy Birthday Holly Love Mum & Dad xxx

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TO DO OR NOT TO DO?

Surely, none of us would have chosen to become parents in the first place, had we thought we would end up angry, frustrated, nagging, stressed out, sleep deprived, nervous wrecks?

WHAT HAPPENED?

We become parents with the sole intention of enjoying every moment with our children, and to love, cherish and appreciate the joy they bring.

Ok, admittedly before our bundles of joy arrived, we envisioned a beautifully decorated nursery, where our new arrival would sleep like a baby, peacefully through the night.

We never thought as far as the colic, teething, bedwetting, sleepless nights, and the crayon all over the walls, or the bombsite a toddler would create, in their once beautiful bedroom.

And it’s doubtful any of us could have imagined tantrums in the supermarket and brawls on the playground, as we daydreamed of building sand castles at the beach and sunny days playing in the park?

But have our children let us down, or have we all just been naively seduced by the notion of what parenting should be like?

The truth is parenting can be a joyous experience full of fun times together, but like any other relationship, it does take a lot of time and patience to build rewarding, loving relationships with our children.

It doesn’t matter what parenting tools or techniques we use, or how much advice we receive from others, without enough time to devote to our children, it’s all worthless and ineffective.

The good news, however, is that it only takes time to build those happy, healthy, and successful relationships with our children.

But we have to make the time for it.


STREAMLINING

Having too many things on our ‘to do list’ takes our time and attention away from our children.

We would certainly all be more effective and more relaxed parents, if we did not have so many plates spinning in the air. The frustration arises, when we try to keep all those plates in the air and the inevitable happens, we drop a few.

As our children are those closest to us, they’re naturally more loving and forgiving than anyone or anything else in our life.

We certainly can put them off a lot easier than we can our Boss or our Tax Return. Sadly, for those reasons they are the ones who suffer the most when we are busy doing too many other things.

Even when we are spending time with our children, all too often we tend to still be thinking of past work or relationship issues, or fretting about the future, instead of concentrating on them.

Understandably with our busy schedules and hectic lifestyles, our minds can and do easily wander from the trivia of our children’s conversations or complaints, to our more pressing grown up issues.

We will all be more efficient and effective parents though if, we learn how to streamline our commitments. For parenting to run smoothly, we have to be organised, but too many diaries, schedules, plans and to do lists, just keeps us constantly busy.

Seeing in black and white everything everyone else wants us to do, and how much has to be done, can feel daunting. And putting a slot in our diaries for our children’s ‘Us Time’ can easily get lost.

The less plates we have spinning, the less breakages we are responsible for, so it’s time to drop those ‘Time Takers’ once and for all.

Keeping one diary and one intention for the day; to be happy spending time doing what we love, with those we love most, is all we really need.