For Parents

As recently as last week I had a(nother) parent tell me that what keeps them up at night the most is the terrifying thought that they’re ‘failing’ their children.

We hold ourselves to higher standards doing the toughest gig in town, and it doesn’t help that we compare ourselves to others (and they’re air-brushed families online).

Your child comes to you when they’re hurt or facing a problem.

So, what are some of the signs that we’re doing a great job?

When your son or daughter heads to you before their friends, you’re truly connected. You’ve created an anchor and a safe harbour for them to seek solace or even advice.

By showing true empathy and acknowledging that their hurts and problems are real for them, you create powerful trust through which open and honest communication can flow.

Your child knows that ALL feelings are OK.

One of the cornerstones of raising emotionally intelligent children is teaching them that ALL feelings are OK, but some behaviours are limited.

When children come to us knowing that whatever they say (“I want to hit my brother”) they won’t be shut down. By being accepting and open, our children will express themselves freely, and when we allow our feelings to move we are creating the ideal conditions for excellent mental health.

“Don’t worry so much” or “You’ll be OK” come with good intentions but a life time of hearing this leads to a lack of trust in their own emotions and therefore a repression of them. Blocked emotions can have very unpleasant outcomes.

You allow your child to explore THEIR interests

You might have preferred your son to play Rugby rather than Badminton but we need to leave our own desires out of our children’s pursuits. Expose them to all manner of interests and then let them freely explore. .

Eventually we all pursue what we really love. If we define grit as ‘the passion and perseverance used towards achieving a long-term goal’ then it’s worth remembering that passion has an equal place with perseverance. If we force a square peg into a round hole by insisting they learn the violin because you’ve decided it’s important, all sorts of things can go wrong.

You can apologise

Repairing relationships is part of growing them. Put aside your pride and any old-fashioned notions of parents always being right. Saying ‘sorry’ is not an act of weakness but rather one of love.

Sincere apologies are an opportunity to connect and create intimacy, workshop better ways to handle tricky situations and model the importance of that simple word in relationships. It also provides a chance for them to practice forgiveness!

Your kids do increasingly more for themselves

Your job is to put yourself out of a job! Redundancy is the end game.

Kids should be able to cook by the age of 9. And lots more. Independence leads to responsibility and we all know how profoundly significant responsibility can be for a life well-lived.

Everyone is having FUN…. most of the time.

A light-hearted approach to life is needed sometimes to lessen the load. Kids are wired to play and by letting them enjoy free, unstructured play time is crucial to their well-being. Engaging with them in fun, frivolous, humorous activities breeds closeness and connection.

At the end of the day, the rule of thumb is….be the adult you want your child to become. Simple but not always easy. But my guess is you read this list and nodded your head more than you shook it. You’re already awesome!


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