What really matters - Parenting advice for 2017

ON the cusp of a new year, ditch the guilt about the parenting gaffes you made in the last year. Instead identify one or two ways you’ll do better in 2017.

Stella O'Malley with her children Róisín and Muiris. Picture: James Flynn/APX

Psychotherapist and author of Cotton Wool Kids Stella O’Malley shares some worthwhile New Year parenting resolutions.

De-schedule your life:

“Parents often say there’s one day a week that’s a write-off — they’re hurtling from one deadline to the next. Identify the day. Figure out if you can eliminate one event that’d ease the pressure.

“There was one afternoon a week when my daughter was going to ballet and my son to hurling. We got rid of the ballet. The teacher said she wouldn’t be able to go back — she’d have missed too much. She went back a year later — there was no bother. Don’t let anyone press the guilt button.”

Teach your children appropriate safety measures:

“60% of nine-year-olds in Ireland are driven to school. More than 80% of nine-year-olds in Germany walk to school unaccompanied.

“Parents need to teach children how to cross roads safely using pedestrian crossings, how to ask for help when they need it, and how to act responsibly in uncertain situations. Discuss with them how they can anticipate and avoid difficult situations. It’ll give them a lasting sense of confidence and responsibility.”

Allow children to fail:

“The only way your child will learn to ride a bike is if parents let go of the handlebars. They’ll fall. They’ll cry. Let it happen — they’ll learn to dust themselves off and start again. Getting in the way of ‘golden teachable moments’ deny children growth opportunities.”

Identify values that matter — avoid being swayed by ‘performance parenting’:

“So what if Johnny next door got 650 points in his Leaving Cert? Achievement comes at a price. It’s important parents focus on the values that matter most to their family, instead of spreading themselves too thin in hopes children will be successful according to society’s values. Quite often, traits that can’t be tested aren’t valued.”

Get your own shop in order:

“Parents say: ‘I didn’t get a chance to go to college — I’m going to make sure the kids go’. If parents want to go to college, go — don’t impose it on your kids. If parents’ natural and noble desire for their children is to have a better life than they did turns into narrow-minded focus and obsession with success, children feel burdened.

TOP TIPS

- Happy parents make for happy kids. Children learn to smile from their parents.

- Do a ‘done’ list (what you’ve done with kids).

- Resist comparing yourself to other parents. People bluff – they don’t tell you the harder part of family life. And they’re not coming from where you are.

- Parents set the tone in a household — anxious, stressful, easy-going or cheerful.

- Protect the joy in day-to-day family life. Identify pace of life that suits your family/lifestyle.



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