PARENTS frequently ask ‘Am I getting it right?’ Sue Jameson will discuss this concern in her talk, ‘Parents under Pressure’, at Cuidiú’s annual conference tomorrow.
The conference theme is how to approach parenting and stress in a positive way, and David Coleman, clinical psychologist and TV parenting guru, will also speak.
Jameson, a tutor for Cuidiú, urges mums and dads to be ‘parenting clever’, to avoid the big spats about unimportant stuff, but to set clear rules about the things that are important in your family. “You can fight endlessly with adolescents about the state of their hair/bedroom/clothes. None of these is important. What’s important is their safety — knowing where your child is and who with. For these, you need clear ground rules — where are you going, who with, what time will you be home? Plus, a commitment to phone at a designated time,” Jameson says.
Recognising what’s normal child behaviour will reduce parental stress, says Jameson.
“Children of all ages lose control and get very angry. They can be overwhelmed by the intensity of their feelings,” she says.
Avoid the word tantrum, “because of its negative connotations. Parents can be frightened by the extremes of a child’s behaviour, which can be very noisy and very big. It’s a matter of remaining calm, so you can calm your child. Realise the behaviour a child puts out there is designed to catch your attention.”
Ideally, a parent wants to help the child see that it’s normal to have big feelings and that there are better ways to manage them. “Give them words to describe the feelings — ‘I can see you’re very angry’ rather than saying ‘don’t do that’.”
When helping a child manage big emotions, keep them safe. “Think ‘time-in’ rather than ‘time-out’,” says Jameson. “Ensure they’re comforted. Some children need space to let loose. Most respond to positive touch. Divert them — say what they can do rather than what they can’t.”
Teach older children negotiation skills.
“Make them part of the solution. They need to know the answer won’t always be ‘no’, that if they approach things differently the answer might change.”
* Conference tomorrow, Sat, May 18, in Stillorgan Park Hotel, Dublin. Visit www.cuidiuconference2013.eventbrite.ie and Cuidiú’s new website, www.cuidiu.ie.
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