How To Keep Your Parenting Cool – Part 1by Dr Emma Gray - 26th February, 2015
Being a calm, laid back parent is something that most parents aspire to. We all realise that we are the architects of our children’s personalities, the single biggest influence on them. And it is not just the things that we plan to teach them that they learn from but from every single thing that we say and do.
Children are like little sponges, soaking up what goes on in their environment in order to work out their rules for living; beliefs about themselves (either ‘I am good enough’ or ‘I am not’), beliefs about others (both how to treat others and expectations about how they will be treated by others) and beliefs about the world (whether it is a safe place or not).
These rules will determine their psychological well-being both now and for the rest of their lives; the likelihood that they will experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression is set in these early years. So if you shout, they will learn to shout, if you push and grab, they will push and grab, if you smack, they will smack.
This is an enormous pressure, especially because as usual the theory is one thing, the practice, another ball game entirely. So the Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists at The British CBT & Counselling Service have put together some tips to help parents keep their cool and so teach their children to do the same.
Part one of this blog will look at the first of these.
1. Understand what is going on
A good plan and the good execution of that plan starts with a comprehensive understanding of what is going on. Start with yourself. What does your child’s behaviour provoke in you, what meaning are you attaching to it? Do you feel that your child’s behaviour means that they don’t respect you, don’t love you, don’t care about you. Is their behaviour triggering memories of when you were a child? When you have identified what you are bringing to the table put this to one side, this is not about you, work through your stuff at another time, with your friends, partner, a therapist, but not with your child.
Once you have cleared away your stuff (and any accompanying feelings of anxiety, anger or depression) it will be easier to think about your child and what is going on for them, meeting their needs is the goal of parenting so try to stay focused on this. What is your child trying to communicate with their behaviour, what needs are they trying to get met? Are they anxious about something, angry, sad? If they are old enough sit down with them quietly and try and work it out together, giving them the message that they are important but also teaching them that the best way to sort out a problem is to think it through with someone that you love and trust.
Our best and most successful relationships are with those whom we can empathise, so improve your relationship with your child by putting yourself in their shoes. Part 2 of this blog will continue these ideas.
This is the first part of a multi part blog. Click below to navigate to part 2.