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See your child differently and you will see a different child - 5 ways to turn your parenting around

Parenting is a big job, and one that does not come with a manual. Over the years there has been many experts professing to have the secret to ‘well behaved children’ but as the time has passed the days of super nanny and the naughty step have gone and the approach to parenting has changed considerably.

In the book 'There is no such thing as naughty' Kate Sliverton writes to encourage parents to get to understand a child's development and experiences using empathy to look at the situation from the child's point of view, and consider what is creating the behaviour a child is displaying. A huge turn around from the 'do as I say' culture and how many of us were parented!

"See a child differently - See a different child"
Dr Stuart G Shanker

As a parent and grandparent, myself I am all to aware of how difficult it can be to keep calm and carry on when you find yourself drowning in washing, short of sleep, watching chaos descending in front of you, whilst also listening to kids fighting and crying knowing that you have to get to work in 15 minutes. Even just writing that raised my blood pressure!

calm parenting
Keep Calm and Carry on Parenting

And then there’s the holidays! If you are a parent right now looking at the summer holidays in dread, you definitely won’t be on your own. This does not make you a bad parent, just a real one!

My current understanding around parenting started about 23 yrs ago. I had the inspired idea to live in a caravan with my boys who at the time were 7 and 9. Although I thought this would be an amazing experience for us all, I soon found out I was very wrong! It was in fact, the most difficult time in my own life and it would have been hard for me to parent as well as I would have like to wherever we lived.

We had all gone through a lot of change and upset and now we had left the security of our family home and were living together in a tiny space. A recipe for disaster as I reflect on it now, but back then I thought a fresh start would help, and I certainly didn’t have the conscious thoughts around parenting that I have now. There is a story my boys tell (mostly to embarrass me!) which involves me chasing them with a spaghetti spoon around the caravan site and into their tiny caravan bedroom where they got wedged between the beds trying to escape!

Of course, this approach was never going to work, it didn’t help the behaviour, and things got progressively worse for all of us for a while.

We laugh about this time now, but at that time I really did not know what to do. I was distressed, they were distressed, and everything was uncertain. I do not advocate chasing your child and waving a spoon at them as this way of parenting as it really doesn’t work! I have since acknowledged this and apologised to them (and begged them not to keep telling, what is now a very exaggerated version of it!)

What I learnt a little later on, was that their behaviours were showing me some of my own wounds, feelings and emotions. I had, unconsciously projected how I felt on to them and I saw them hurting and my hurt inner child was tiggered, I just wanted it all to stop. I desperately wanted to be close to my children, but at that time my own responses were creating the opposite effect, and that was also painful.

My own therapist at that time helped me notice that when I was feeling better in myself, my boys felt better too. When I was able to stay calm, that calmed them and the whole situation. Simple!

Of course, my understanding of parenting that I have today didn’t just happen overnight, it was a process of working on my own wounds, sitting in a vulnerable place with my own pain and piecing it together bit by bit. I had to learn not to judge myself, or my children; I often reminded myself that I was once a child too and despite my own unmet needs I was showing up every day for myself and my children and slowly my capacity for self-compassion started to grow.

imaginative pretend play
Re Parenting yourself is the key to successful parenting

The more I parented myself, the better parent I became. Because my children’s behaviour was a reflection of how I felt, as things got better, I stopped being triggered and was able to fully connect and be with them at the times they needed me.

So, I learnt that parenting was first about how I felt, about allowing myself to heal and about re parenting myself. How we parent is not about our children but about us, we are children in adult bodies with adult responsibilities and sometimes that’s hard to manage, and that’s okay.

A child is a little human trying to find their way in the world; the role of a parent is to create and hold the connection as we help them pave their way to being themselves, whilst providing them with a safe base from which to launch and return to when they need to.

Connection is something we all need, no matter how old we are!

Connective parenting is a parenting style that understands the importance of building strong and healthy relationships with children. It is a simple concept based on focusing on the emotional needs of our children, nurturing a sense of empathy, and understanding, and creating a safe space for open and honest communication.

mum and child connecting
See the world from their point of view

In today's fast-paced and technology-driven world, the art of connecting to our children this way is more important than ever. Children are exposed to a multitude of distractions, from social media to video games, and it can be challenging to keep them engaged and focused. But with the right approach, a deep and meaningful connection can be formed with children that will stand the test of time. Once this is in place you will find the need for ‘discipline’ is replaced by a mutual respect, and if there is a time to put your foot down, then it will be

So alongside self-awareness and self-compassion here are a few things you can do to turn your parenting around using the connective parenting approach:

1. Be Open and Honest - The key to connective parenting is open and honest communication. This means really listening to your child's needs and concerns and being willing to share your own emotions and experiences. Encourage your children to express themselves and create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable talking to you about anything.

2. Show Empathy - Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. As a parent, it's essential to show empathy towards your children, even when you don't initially understand where they're coming from. By putting yourself in their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective, you can show them you are on their side, and this will build a deeper connection and develop a sense of mutual respect.

3. Practice Positive Reinforcement - It's essential to acknowledge and celebrate your children's successes, no matter how small they may seem. Positive reinforcement can help to build self-esteem and confidence and encourage your child to continue striving to be the best person they can be. Instead of focusing solely on negative feedback, make an effort to highlight the things your child is doing well.

4. Create Rituals and Traditions - Creating special traditions and rituals can help to strengthen family bonds and create a sense of nostalgia and connection. This could be as simple as a weekly family game night or a favourite film to watch together. Building shared experiences with your children can create lasting memories and a sense of togetherness.

5. Set Clear Boundaries - While connective parenting is all about building relationships, it's also important to set clear boundaries and realistic expectations for children. This can help to establish a sense of structure and routine, which can provide a sense of safety and help them understand their own limits and need for boundaries.

I you would like to chat more about this or any other concern you may have get in touch: 0785585353

1 Comment

Love this blog !!

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