Help at Home
Parenting is not easy! There is no instructional manual that comes with your baby and speaking to others can often give conflicting advice - other people always know what you should be doing to make your child eat, sleep and behave like a model child, which can often just make you feel worse about any problems you may be having at home!
The amount of times I have had parents ask me - "How do you do it? How do you control 30 children when I can't make my 1 child do as I ask?"
The answer is not simple, as no two children are the same. However, there are many things that we can do in a day to keep children motivated, on task, following instructions, working hard, and also to help them control their thoughts and emotions. Here are some things that might help at home.
- Love and respect - Children need to know that they are loved - so tell them. Even when they have done something wrong, you still love them and they need to know this. As teachers, we are always telling the children that it is ok to make mistakes. The way we change things for the better is by what we choose to do to about our mistakes. It can be hard to not lose your temper when your child has done something wrong, but often this can just aggravate a situation. If you are able to talk calmly through the situation together and ask your child to point out what they could/should have done differently, this will have the greater impact for the future.
- Clear boundaries - Children will push against you and test you. You have to mean what you say and do not deviate from this. There is no point saying to a child "Don't do that or you won't be going on holiday," if one week later you all go on holiday. This is an empty threat and children quickly realise this. If you say there you are going to put a ban on an item for a period of time, stick to it and don't back down!
- Choices - Sometimes we can give our children too much choice which they can't cope with. For example, when your little one won't get dressed as they have a whole wardrobe to choose from. Narrow this down and tell them they have the choice between two items, the red jumper or the blue. They still have choice but now you are in control and you get the end result of them wearing a jumper! Also limit the time they have to choose. Let them know that they have to the count of three or you will choose for them. Suddenly, you have a child who couldn't choose at all, making quick decisions from the choices that you wanted them to have in the first place!
- Sleep - This is critical for children's health and development! Teacher's can always tell the children who have regular calm bedtime routines. Limiting time on gadgets (especially not in the hour before bedtime) will help with sleep, as time on screens reduces the production of melatonin, which controls your sleep/wake cycle.
- Food - is good for your mood! Our minds are effected by what we eat and drink. Plenty of water and fresh fruit and vegetables can alter a child's mood/behaviour compared to a sugary diet.
- Rest and Relaxation! - This is so important in our busy lives that we need to teach this skill to our little people to equip them for adult life. This can be different for different people. it could be listening to music, drawing, reading, watching funny film, having a bath or going for a walk. Suggest different things to see which is best for your family. What is important is that you are together and in the moment. Not looking at a screen, answering phone calls or texts, but connecting with each other.
- Keeping active - exercise is so important, not just for our physical health but for our mental health as well. As we exercise, our bodies decrease the production of cortisol (a stress hormone) and release endorphines which help to regulate our moods and are our bodies way of making us feel good. Make time to play football, go cycling, play on the trampoline, or start yoga or running together.
- Talking - Last but often the most important! Sometimes we hold on to things that bottle up inside and can feel much worse than they actually are. Opening up about our feelings can be hard for us to do but once we start it can make our problems feel so much better. Encourage your child to talk, making them feel like you have time for them and are really listening. Often children will say that their parents don't have time to listen as they are always too busy. So, put that phone away and make time to chat, laugh and be together.