Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Christmas and families

Christmas is often seen as a time for families. And whatever shape and size a family is there are often complex dynamics involved in interacting within the family unit.

Whether we come from a family we perceive as 'happy' or not, being a parent is not easy. We often come to parenting with preconceived ideas about how parenting and families should be. Many people struggle to shake off negative experiences from their own upbringing, which can come to the fore when we find ourselves parenting. Often parenting is as much about what we don't want for our children as it is about what we want. And our partner may have different views from us, to further complicate things.

Counselling Psychologist, Flora Maclay who works with many children and families at First Psychology's Edinburgh and Borders centres has been scouring some well known parenting books for some of her favourite parenting tips.

Top parenting tips

"Once finished, forget it"

Children forget quickly but some parents just cannot let a matter rest. Parents who are slow to forgive their children write off days of their lives with ongoing psychological warfare, quickly draining their emotional reserves. Lack of forgiveness also ensures that tensions remain high and maximum home unhappiness is guaranteed. Solution: Holding grudges only produces parents with hyper-tension - not stable, loving children. This is a major trap that parents fall into, so after each incident, forgive your little one and start again with a clean slate. A misbehaving child should be disciplined then and there, and the episode followed immediately by forgiveness. (New Toddler Taming by Dr Christopher Green)

"Lighten up"

Enjoy your kids. Being with them out of guilt or obligation is second-rate - they sense you are not really there in spirit. Experiment to find those activities that you both enjoy. Take the "Pressure to achieve" off your kids. Remember to laugh and muck about. (Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph)

"Be responsive rather than reactive"

Counter-intuitive parenting: Sometimes "go away" means "find a way to stay"
Knee-jerk reactions kick back! Ask, listen, discuss, and decide together especially when you feel a knee-jerk reaction coming on. (Girls will be girls by JoAnn Deak)

"Survive and thrive"

We've got great news for you: the moments you are just trying to survive are actually opportunities to help your child thrive. At times you may feel that the loving, important moments (like having a meaningful conversation about compassion or character) are separate from the parenting challenges (like fighting another homework battle or dealing with another melt-down). But they are not separate at all. When your child is disrespectful and talks back to you, when you are asked to come in for a meeting with the principal, when you find crayon scribbles all over your wall: these are survive moments, no question about it. But at the same time, they are also opportunites - even gifts - because a survive moment is also a thrive moment, where the important, meaningful work of parenting takes place. (The whole brain child by Dan Siegel and Tina)

So which is Flora's most recommended read? "If you read one book about parenting I would recommend 'The Whole Brain Child' by Dan Siegel which pulls together practical suggestions with an understanding of the underlying biology of the brain," says Flora.

Seeking the help of an expert

If you feel it may be beneficial to seek the support and help of a trained professional, First Psychology Scotland has many practitioners who are experienced in working with children, young people and families.

For further information about our work with children and young people, please click here >

For further information about our work with families, please click here >

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