Monday, 26 November 2012

Children Learn What They Live...

Last year, I decided to complete a short parenting course "The Incredible Years" (aimed at children aged approx. 4-8 years old).  I wasn't particularly struggling with any aspect of parenting but I thought I would go and see if there was anything I could learn... and I'm pleased to say that I did!  I learnt more about myself and how to turn a situation around so that your child *thinks* they have "won" but in fact you, the parent have!  (Cue evil laughter!!)

One thing that struck a chord with me - and is now stuck on my fridge! - is a poster we were given with some sentances that will change how you parent your children.  

A child who is criticised, learns to condemn.
A child who lives with hostility, learns to fight.
A child who is ridiculed, learns to be shy.
A child who lives with shame, learns to feel guilt.
A child who lives with tolerance, learns to be patient.
A child who is encouraged, learns confidence.
A child who is praised, learns to appreciate others.
A child who lives with fairness,learns justice.
A child who lives with security, learns to have faith in people.
A child who lives with approval, learns to like themself.
Children who live with acceptance and friendship, learn to find love in the world.

"Incredible Years Cymru: The Welsh Centre for Promoting the Incredible Years Programmes"

We all as parents have probably used negative attention towards our children, more than likely unintentionally.  Seeing this poster every day has helped me to change - ignoring "bad behaviour" as far as possible and praising good behaviour!  A simple step but not always as simple to enforce... much lip-biting going on while I got used to the "ignoring" part!

I made a pact with myself - to praise both of my children everyday for whatever aspect of their behaviour warranted a "praise".  On the darker days, this may just be as simple as "Well done for walking home from school nicely"... or even just "Well done for smiling!"  (Even if it did last for only 5 minutes - but say the last bit in your head!).

And always avoid the "slimy slug"!  Try not praise your child and then say something negative immediately afterwards, for example, "well done for reading you school book, but I wish you would not fidget aroud when you're supposed to be sitting still".  Children often only remember the last command or sentance said to them so they will not have taken in the praise, and just remember the criticism!  This technique also works for adults too!  Try turning the phrase into a positive, so next time you catch them sitting still without fidgeting, praise the "sitting still" action and don't mention the lack of fidgeting! 

The pyramid below forms the basis of the programme... daily situations can be dealt with by using the pyramid, starting at the bottom.  Play a little every day to promote your relationship with your child and combined with praise, this will reduce the number of times you have to rise to the top of the pyramid... it's not all good at the top, you know!

 Our primary school also uses the Ysgol Dina programme which follows on from The Incredible Years and so the continuation through their schooling helps to reinforce the postive messages.

I'm not a parenting expert so only know what works for me and my family... you can have a look at the Incredible Years website - it's quite "wordy" though and is aimed at childcare professionals and parents.  I found out about the course via my Health Visitor, so if you're interested in a future course, I would enquire with your local HV and they should point you in the right direction!

Good luck with any situations you may find yourself in, and remember, you're not alone!