It might sound obvious, but giving your child the best start in life begins at home. A positive home life lies the foundations for future success and stability.
Your home should be a nurturing place, where your child feels safe, loved, heard and respected.
Developing an environment where children and families will thrive needs a positive approach… which is sometimes, easier said than done, particularly as all parents can come under pressure and stress from time to time.
Your home life can often be the most difficult to manage, especially if you have a large family and are juggling jobs and other responsibilities.
However, there are some positive techniques which if persevered with can lead to a better-behaved, happy child and less-stressed parents.
Setting boundaries from an early age can be crucial in making sure that parenting is a positive experience by making sure your children know what is and isn’t acceptable. Boundaries are the bottom line and make children feel safe and secure, helping families understand how to treat each other.
When establishing boundaries, keep them simple and consistent, and don’t leave any room for misunderstanding. Children are smart, and if you give them wiggle room they’ll certainly find it. As they get older, they’ll definitely start picking up on the words you don’t use, rather than the words you do, so make sure you’re clear about what you mean.
With younger children, you may need to explain to them why boundaries are important in keeping them safe, for example, why they shouldn’t touch a hot oven. Toddlers and children need the consistency of limits, whether that’s only agreeing to give them one biscuit as a treat or allowing them to play with one toy at a time.
As children get older, they’ll start to push boundaries by testing limits. You’ll need to work together to adapt these limits to reflect their changes in age, behaviour and attitudes.
You may need to negotiate with older children and teenagers when boundaries become more focused on safety and wellbeing, as there may be differences between your values and those that are being taught to them through friends, peers and media.
Looking after a child can be incredibly stressful and keeping firm boundaries in place can help minimise the stress and worry caused during difficult moments, as you’ll be able to refer to them when dealing with conflict. Make sure to acknowledge when your child understands sticks to the rules you’ve set for them so that they continue to feel positive about your relationship.
Discipline is an area of parenting that a lot of parents and full-time carers can find challenging. Many people often confuse discipline with punishment, making it a negative part of parenting. It’s important to remember:
How can you discipline your child without it becoming negative?
When faced with conflict, it can be hard to keep your patience and shouting is often an easy solution. No one is perfect, and most parents struggle to not lose their temper, but by encouraging mutual communication and encouraging listening, you can minimise the resentment caused by big arguments.
Alternatives to negative forms of discipline (such as smacking, which has emotional and long-lasting consequences) can include:
For older children and teenagers, withdrawing a specific privilege can prove to be a successful way of implementing discipline.
Healthy and effective methods include:
Taking care of yourself might be the last thing on your mind when you’re taking care of a family, but it’s important to make sure that you’re not neglecting your own needs.
It’s easy for stress to take over your life, but through planning and preparation you can set aside regular time for yourself to help manage stress.
Selfcare can take many forms and means doing whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries. Whether you enjoy exercise, music, reading or a long bath, make sure you allow time for yourself.
It’s easy to lose track of your personal relationships, but make sure you try to find regular time with your own friends, even if this is a midweek coffee every few weeks. Listening to someone else’s problems is often a great way to forget your own, and you’ll also enjoy being able to disconnect from life as a parent and enjoy downtime with people you care about.
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