Wednesday, 27 March 2019

How to establish healthy parent and child relationships

The relationship between parent and children is the first – and arguably the most important -relationship in any child's life. In adolescence, the nature of this relationship may change dramatically as children look for increased independence from their families and begin to make their own decisions. But it remains as important – if not more so.

In today’s digital society it’s easy to be overbearing in an attempt to keep your child safe. However, as this article from Psychology Today shows - the relationship a parent has with their child is central to an individual’s personal development and mental health. It is our job to develop the relationships our children need to be able to function as adults when they grow up.

As our children grow, our parenting style needs to evolve. It shifts from being the caregiver and decision maker, to that of advisor and enabler. When children are younger they look to their parents to make appropriate decisions on their behalf, as these children grow they turn to us to guide them, equip them with the skills and insight they need to make sound decisions for themselves. We still need to ensure that we are still safeguarding their interests and making sure they don’t engage in risky or dangerous behaviour, but as children make the transition from child to teenager to young adult, emotional support is usually sought, rather than offered.

Here are our three top tips for establishing healthy parent / child relationships

Talk about trust

Our job as parents is to help children transition into adulthood. To do that positively, requires trust. Trust is borne out of transparency and freedom within boundaries. Be up front with your child about what your expectations are of them, the levels of behaviour that is required and the consequences if they don’t comply. Being open and honest with your child is key to building trust. This article looks at ways in which we can give our children more freedom and why it’s important for your parent / child relationship.

Give me some space!

Even young children require a degree of personal space. A time or place where they can feel safe and able to reflect. By creating physical boundaries for our children, we are showing our respect for them as individuals. Although it may seem harmless to encroach on your child’s space when they’re younger, as they get older this can be perceived as interference. And rather than strengthen your relationship, this will only serve to add friction. It’s also important not to assume that your child’s need for personal space is the same as your own.

Avoiding anxiety

Regardless of their age, our children look to us for confidence and inspiration. They need someone to show them the way, yet encourage them to follow their own path. It’s a delicate balancing act and being a parent is fraught with anxiety: too much freedom versus not enough freedom; too much fussing versus not enough... When we get anxious about our kids, this can lead to us doing too much for them. It’s called over-functioning and it’s a sign that we’ve forgotten where we end and where our child begins. Yes, it’s true that as children grow they may be influenced more by their peers, but it’s still up to the parent to provide them with a confident, consistent, competent role model to look up to – however anxious we may feel on the inside. 

For more information on the parent / child relationship, read our previous blog post

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

How to keep the loneliness at bay and be happy by yourself

There’s a big difference between being alone and being lonely. In today’s digital world, it’s easy for people to feel alone – with friends and acquaintances constantly posting updates of their full social lives and all the fun they’re having.

It’s important for us to get used to being alone from time to time for our own personal growth, as this Psychology Today article outlines - however being alone too often, especially when it’s not done out of choice, can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness

Loneliness is the feeling of sadness that arises when we feel we have no friends or company to interact with. It’s not just about being alone either. It is possible to feel lonely in a room full of people, if we feel that the people we’re with do not care about us, value our input or understand how we’re feeling.

It’s natural to feel lonely from time to time. This is absolutely normal. It can happen when we move house, change jobs or schools, or have to attend events or functions where we do not know anyone. These temporary feelings of loneliness only become an issue when they’re accompanied by a more persistent feeling of isolation, which can lead to depression and anxiety.

When we are lonely, we tend to put the needs of others before ourselves. And that’s not OK. We put up with bad behaviour, as the fear of being alone is greater than the reality of what we’re putting up with. We go out of our way to make other people happy so they will stay with us, rather than focus on our own expectations and desires. Unfortunately all that this serves to do is make us feel more resentful and dissatisfied, which in turn only exacerbates our feelings of loneliness.

The key is to learn how to put a value on our own company. How we choose to spend the time that we have on our own plays a large role in our sense of personal fulfilment. Some people choose to create specific goals to help keep focused, some prefer to find an activity they enjoy and spend as much time as they can perfecting their skills. Try doing these three things to help to keep the loneliness at bay:

Practise self-love

Spend some time thinking about what your mind and body needs to feel fulfilled. This article from Psychology Today offers some great advice on how to do this.

Keep yourself occupied

Loneliness manifests itself often when we have too much time to dwell on our situation. By keeping busy, we can use the time we have alone productively, which helps the time to pass quicker.

Be grateful

Rather than focus on what is missing from your life, use some of your alone time to take stock of what you do have and the elements of your life that you are grateful for – maybe you love your job or where you live – this practice can help to keep the loneliness you’re feeling in perspective.

The mental health charity, Mind, offers some great advice on how to make new connections, as well as information on how to seek help if you feel your loneliness may be as a result of an underlying mental health issue. Read more here.

We’d love to know what you do to help keep the loneliness at bay, leave your comments below…