They say that magic is a child and indeed, many of us would give the world to be able to return to our ‘wonder years’ for a few fleeting moments; for others, however, childhood was a difficult time, characterised by the absence of love, or even neglect and abuse.
When we become parents, we can choose to repeat negative patterns, projecting our pain onto our children, or we can instead choose to make a better, more positive future for both our children and ourselves. In order to do so, we need to learn a few vital skills. These are just a few:
1. Anger Management: When kids are playing up or engaged in a full-blown tantrum, keeping our calm can pose a major challenge. But ‘losing it’ and screaming is not only ineffective; it provokes anxious reactions in our bodies that are unhealthy (increased heart and breathing rates, etc.). It also projects our anger onto our children, who absorb this anxiety and can find it difficult to control their temper both in their childhood and later in life.
*Speak nicely but firmly to your child when you want something; when you warn a child that you will take away a toy or not take them to the park if they keep acting up, follow through with the consequences. Be consistent.
* If your child is beyond the reasoning stage, invite them to a short time-out.
*Don’t suppress angry feelings too long or you could explode, reacting inappropriately to an insignificant trigger from your child.
* Analyse what makes you angry and make a plan of attack for those situations.
* If you need to, leave the room until you collect your bearings.
* Seek support somewhere, whether it be from your partner, friends or family.
2. Being Involved: Childhood passes by in a whisper; when you look back at how you raised your children, make sure you did the right thing by them in terms of encouraging their talents, enrolling them in sporting and artistic activities and just being a regular ‘soccer mum or dad’. These will be some of your child’s best memories.
3. Be Positive: If positive parenting is an aim, avoid excessive criticism and negativity. Keeping a positive attitude has a plethora of consequences for your child, determining how they will handle stress as adults.
4. Be Affectionate: The warmth of a parent’s embrace, kisses and hugs, and an endless string of ‘I love you’s’, will boost their sense of self-worth.
5. Have Fun: Show your kids you are not afraid of being silly. Respect rules and routines, but once in a while, join your kids in breaking them.
6. Allow children to set goals for themselves, but make sure they have them: Good parenting is a fragile balance between encouragement and respecting your child’s independence. Working towards goals is a key aspect of personal satisfaction for children and adults alike but it is a skill that is best learned early. Whether improving a grade, making the football team or learning to draw does it for your child, help them to realise their full potential.
7. Read together: Not on the iPad or the computer but from a real, illustrated, hard-back book. Together, build a collection of books your children will want to share one day with their children.
8. Giving Back: No child is an island; from the time they are little, encourage them to find a cause they like and would like to support; their own confidence will increase as they discover the extent to which they are capable of improving the lives of needy people or animals.