In most parenting dilemmas, we have a choice about how to respond. Often, the decision boils down to a choice between being a policeman or a coach.
Put crudely, the job of a policemen is to catch people doing things wrong and punish them for it. Whereas a coach is someone who helps you to develop better ways of doing things.
For me, positive parenting is all about spending as much time wearing the coach’s hat as possible. That means catching children being good and encouraging them to do it more often.
Ground rules are a brilliant way of helping children focus on what good looks like and helping them do it more often. If there is a particular behaviour that you want to change, rather than focusing on using consequences to minimise that behaviour, think about introducing a ground rule to maximise the right behaviour. Continue reading →
Reward charts are a fantastic positive parenting tool for encouraging the behaviour you want from your children. Whether it’s helping out around the house, being polite or using the potty, a reward chart is a great option for focusing your child’s mind on the right behaviour and motivating them to do it.
Reward charts work best when the target behaviour is clearly defined, when the rewards are achievable and when your child actually wants the rewards. Breaking habits takes effort – from both you and your child – and reward charts work best when both of you are fully on board.
Here’s a few tips to help you get the maximum effect out of using a reward chart. Continue reading →
Why do children lie? Let’s be honest, all children experiment with lying. It is normal and – although it can be quite shocking for parents – it is not necessarily the start of a slippery slope to immorality and delinquency. Apparently, the average 6 year old lies about once an hour!
But why do children lie?
Although we might feel that we are setting a clear moral example, society’s attitudes towards lying can be a bit confusing for young children. Sometimes lying is ok. In those circumstances we urge our children not to tell the truth – e.g. not saying that someone has a fat bottom (when they have) or not telling someone about a surprise or a present. Continue reading →
Setting a few clear ground rules for children puts you in a really positive place as a parent because it lets children know exactly what behaviour is expected from them. It also helps make sure that both parents are on the same page when it comes to the big issues. The best ground rules are simple and positively stated (i.e. they tell children what they should do rather than what they shouldn’t do). Here’s a few examples of how ground rules work:
(This is an excerpt from a 60 minute workplace parenting seminar delivered for Cityparents at Mayer Brown LLP)
Triple P parenting self-help workbooks are an ideal solution for parents who want to learn more about positive parenting but who can’t attend a parenting course.
The books cover all the same material as the acclaimed 8-week Triple P parenting courses – helping parents to discover and implement positive parenting strategies for managing, educating and caring for their children – but with the added convenience of being able to read it on the train or dip in and out as time permits. The workbooks guide parents through a 10 week series of reading, thinking and practice tasks designed to build good relationships with children, encourage their learning and development and manage their behaviour in a positive way. There are three Triple P parenting self-help workbooks to choose from, depending on the age and needs of your child: Continue reading →
Parents often ask me “How can I stop my children doing X?” The first step is to turn it around and think about how you want them to behave instead. Do they behave that way ever? How do you respond?
Nine times out of ten, parents fall into the trap of paying far more attention to the behaviour they want to stop than to the behaviour they want to encourage.
We’ve all done it. The kids are playing quietly for once. They’re not fighting over the remote or bickering about whose turn it is or yelling for help, string, biscuits or anything else. So you make the most of a precious moment to make a cup of tea after a hard day’s work. Or, more likely, to run around trying to complete the million jobs you still have to do as part of your ‘second shift’.
Whatever you do, you don’t go and disturb the kids because that might break the magic spell…. Continue reading →
When it comes to children, no two parents in the history of this planet have ever had exactly the same approach to parenting. This is hardly surprising since co-parents have (by law!) grown up in different families and have had different experiences of being parented. Parenting style is seldom the critical factor in deciding who we fall in love with – and many of us are attracted to our opposites. So when parents disagree about parenting (to some degree or another), it’s just par for the course.
Having delivered parenting courses for many years now, it is a rare workshop where I don’t hear the words “The problem is my husband/wife/ex-partner/mother-in-law. How can I get him/her to parent differently?” When parents disagree about the right way to bring up children, it is invariably the other person who is doing it wrong!
Telling someone they are parenting all wrong is a conversation that is unlikely to go well. And since there isn’t only one correct way to parent, it will invariably provoke confrontation and negative emotions rather than constructive problem solving. But when parents disagree about parenting, there are ways to talk about the issues in a more helpful way. Here are a few tips to help keep parenting discussions child-centred and positive. Continue reading →
Sibling conflict can really leech the fun out of family time. A day of constant mediation between bickering children sends the best of us running for the wine feeling like a battered referee after an ill-tempered football match rather than the nurturing and wise moral guide we aspire to be. We tie ourselves in knots trying to be even-handed (how do you know who started it?!), desperately garnering wellbeing for all sides, with usually only guilt or despair to show for it.
So what can we do to survive and minimise sibling conflict? Here are my top tips for staying sane and reducing the bickering. Continue reading →
Triple P® Online is a fantastic solution for busy working parents who can’t make it to a parenting class. It’s interactive and easy to use and you can log in whenever and wherever it suits you. The eight sessions are a lively mix of video clips, online worksheets and personalised activities covering all the same parenting tips and strategies as an 8-week parenting group. Plus, you can also sign up for podcasts, emails and text reminders.
The Triple P online parenting course come is two versions – one that is suitable for parents/carers of children aged 1-11 years and one for parents of tweens/teens aged 10-16 years. Here’s a sneak peek of the course relating to younger children:
Welcome to the parenting teenagers years! During this stage of parenting there will be no handy help from midwives, health visitors or mother and toddler groups. You won’t be swapping tips with other mums or dads at the school gate and no one is going to give you a ‘How To’ manual for Christmas. When it comes to parenting teenagers, you are on your own with only self-doubt and the internet to help…
So, in the spirit of comradeship, here are a few simple rules that I found out the hard way. Stick to these and – yes, it might still get messy and there will definitely be difficult moments but there’s a good chance you’ll come out the other side with a healthy relationship with your adult son/daughter and a smile on your face. Good luck! Continue reading →
Toddlers’ brains are only half-finished. As a result, toddlers think in fundamentally different ways from adults. For toddlers, the impossible is just as likely to be true and the laws of the physics don’t exist. Interpreting toddler behaviour according to adult logic is therefore pointless – and it sometimes leads us to draw conclusions that aren’t always helpful. Toddlers make much more sense if you step inside their heads and try and see the world from their level of development.
So here’s a quick guide to what every parent needs to know about toddlers’ brains in order to interpret toddler behaviour accurately.
Why can’t toddlers walk from A to B without being distracted by a leaf?
The part of the brain that enables adults to focus on a task and resist distractions is called the pre-frontal cortex. The pre-frontal cortex is involved in thinking, planning and focusing and it isn’t well developed in toddlers’ brains. Continue reading →
Dealing with teenage tantrums isn’t always easy, especially when you’re juggling work pressures too. Teenagers can go from nought to ten out of the blue, sometimes over quite trivial triggers. And they often express those emotions forcefully – not very comfortable when you’re the one in the firing line! It’s not surprising things can get messy.
When someone shouts at us, our hackles rise and our emotional temperature shoots up. Often, our volume goes up too and we find ourselves shouting back. Similarly, when we see someone we love distressed (sad, hurt, upset) our first instinct is to want to solve the problem, to make whatever is causing their distress go away.
Unfortunately, both of these instinctive responses can lead you into deep water when dealing with an emotional teen.
To override these unhelpful instincts, you need a plan (and you need to stick to the plan). Faced with teenage tantrums, remember the plan and do the same thing every time: first deal with the emotion then, afterwards, deal with the problem. Continue reading →
It’s no fun living in a war zone. Children fighting can really take the joy out of family time and make the most saintly of us wish to be elsewhere. Sibling conflict is a common family problem most families will experience children fighting, arguing, bickering, teasing, and refusing to share at some point or other.
Some squabbling between siblings is to be expected, but it becomes a problem if it is the usual way children treat each other. If not dealt with effectively, arguing often gets worse or escalates into aggression and physical fighting. Brothers and sisters need to learn to resolve their disagreements and behave in a polite, co-operative and caring way with each other (see Managing sibling conflict: why siblings fight).Continue reading →
Teenagers and toddlers have a lot in common. An ability to go from 0 to 10 on the tantrum scale completely out of the blue, a stubborn refusal to follow guidance, fierce fixations on particular objects or activities and a single-minded pursuit of the pleasure-right-now principle (to name but a few).
I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to trying to work out why children behave the way they do. Partly it’s curiosity and partly it’s a way to stay calm in the face of unreasonable and unpredictable child behaviour. If I’m able to imagine my tantruming toddler as a Play Robot that has got stuck on ‘Go’ then I find it a lot easier to achieve the emotional distance required to stay calm when he ramps it up at the checkout in Tesco’s.
Now we have reached the teenage years, I have been searching for an understanding of older children that will help keep me sane in the face of their more maddening behaviour. And I think I may have come up with a few! Continue reading →
Being a parent I have discovered that I do not have endless patience. Like a muscle that has been regularly exercised, I hope that my patience has strengthened through raising children. But when they are giving out the medals at the Calm Parenting Olympics, you will find me applauding in the stands, not on the podium.
For a long time I believed that this lack of infinite patience was preventing me from being the mum I wanted to be. At the end of my tether, after yelling like a fishwife yet again, I would beat myself up for failing to stay calm and promise that next time I would do better. But next time, exactly the same thing would happen: Continue reading →