Useful tips for parents
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Being A Healthy Parent: Look after you! Being a parent requires energy and time, looking after yourself is vital to feeling confident and positive.
- Take a bath! Just a few moments relaxing in your own space can relieve stresses and pressures and help you to recharge.
- Sleep! Trying to get into a regular sleeping pattern can help you to feel energised and refreshed.
- Healthy Eating! It sounds simple but a healthy, balanced diet can help our bodies fight off illness, feel energised and generally improve our well being. Try adding an extra glass of water into your day, or try a new vegetable.
- Exercise! This doesn't have to be an expensive gym membership! Take a walk to the shops or cycle through woods. The National Trust is a great source of information for free, local parks and outdoor areas.
- Be social! Make sure that you have the opportunity to talk to other adults and enjoy aspects of life that aren't just about being a parent. Think about your networks - friends, colleagues, family, anybody from clubs or church that you attend. Maybe phone or meet up with a friend or family member.
- Self awareness! Recognising your own feelings can be key to being a healthy parent. Children will pick up on how you are feeling and often mimic the way you behave so knowing what stresses you out, what makes you angry, what makes you happy and knowing how you react to these feelings an be key to remaining in control.
- REMEMBER -You are not alone! There are lots of other parents who face similar situations, worries and concerns. Take time to speak to other parents and carers, look at online blogs/web forums for parents and join local groups.
Take a look at the Change 4 Life website for inspiration!
Communication: This is the key to all relationships and can be vital in ensuring we get the best out of our children and that our children get the best out of us!
- Praise, praise, praise! Everybody likes to feel that they are a good person, that they are valued and that someone likes or loves them and children are no different, they require lots of this! Notice any positive things your child does, even putting their shoes on the first time you ask them! Tell your child what it is exactly that you like about them or what they have done and they will be more likely to do it again! When children hear you talking to other people about how great they are, this can also have a massive impact on their self esteem.
- Family Meetings! These can be a useful time for everyone to discuss current situations within the family such as practical issues such as football matches clashing with birthday parties, school trips, sharing achievements or positive things. Try and schedule a regular slot that suits you all so that everyone knows they will have a chance to talk about things. This forum can be used to help with negotiating e.g. what time you expect your child home from a party or other social event.
- Reflection! Take time at the end of each day, maybe at bedtime, to reflect on your day. Try and notice just one positive thing that your child did and one positive thing that you did, this ensures that you end your day on a positive note, no matter how difficult the rest of the day may have been!
- The 4 C's! Calm, consistent, confident and clear! Remembering these can ensure that arguments are minimised and the communication between you and your child/ren is effective.
- Timing! Sometimes there is a time and a place to talk about certain things so try and recognise when people, including you, are tired, distracted or not feeling happy; this can be the difference between an argument and a calm conversation.
Having Fun: Fun can sometimes be the last thing that we think about, especially when there are so many other daily jobs we need to do as parents but it's a really important part of family life and can help your children's development.
- Games! Board games, card games, team games, hide and seek, eye spy...any type of game can be a cheap, hassle free way to inject a burst of fun into the family and can be used with any age child.
- Cooking! This can be a quick and easy way to have fun together and children love to eat food they have made themselves. Try making pizzas - you can buy the base and then use pots with different toppings to all create your own pizza.
- Go outdoors! Take a look at The National Trust website for lots of local parks, walking areas and ideas for family fun. Pop along to your local Children's Centre who can also offer some great fun activities and advice on things to do.
- 10 minutes! Having fun together doesn't need to require hours of your time as a parent, just 10 minutes on a daily basis can be more than enough to share some wonderful moments and have lots of fun!
- Water play! Getting some paintbrushes and water and 'painting' the floor, fence or wall can be great fun for children and requires very little clean up as it's only water!
- Be prepared! This really can be the motto that ensures your plans go as smoothly as they can! If you have any long car journeys or trips that you foresee your children don't enjoy or cope with then spend some time beforehand planning things that might help e.g. games for a car journey, regular breaks, distractions such as comics, colouring pads or handheld game devices. Being prepared will help you to cover many possible situations and therefore help you to feel confident and calm about the upcoming situation.
- Research! Use the internet to search for money saving vouchers and great deals on days out. Trips such as the zoo or theme parks can be very costly and so look for vouchers, including 2-for-1, kids go free etc. online or in newspapers, magazines.
Keeping Safe: We all want to make sure our children stay safe and there are simple steps that can be taken to ensure this happens.
- Home safety! Window locks, plug covers, stair gates are all available to buy in the shops. Contacting your local Children's Centre can give you some home safety and advice and resources.
- Internet! This can be a source of concern for most parents. There are lots of resources available so have a look online. Remember that social networking sites do have age restrictions for a reason and adhering to these can help keep your children safe from dangers such as bullying. The Police have a specific unit for internet safety and can be a helpful source if you feel that your child is already having problems in this area.
- Communication! Simply keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child can be key to keeping them safe. If children feel that it is OK to talk to you without getting into trouble or scaring you, they are more likely to share their worries or fears with you.
- Knowledge! Knowledge can be power and keeping as up to date as you can with the latest technology can ensure you are able to keep track of what your children are doing. Understanding how social networking sites work, privacy settings, parental controls, instant messaging such as BBM and WhatsApp can help you protect your children from becoming vulnerable online.
Staying Strong: Being a parent can be a difficult task and it's important to remember all the things that can be done to help you remain strong.
- Consistent! Remember that children need to see that you mean what you say. If you set a rule, boundary, consequence or reward then make sure you stick to it, if it doesn't work as well as you hoped then don't worry, you can adapt it for next time.
- Reflection! Parenting is something that you will be learning all the time! You will need to change your approach as your children grow and change and looking at what went well and what didn't go well can help you in future.
- The Perfect Parent! THERE IS NO SUCH THING! Every parent makes mistakes, gets stressed or worries and that is OK. Parenting is trial and error and about learning from your experiences.
- Ask for help! Asking for support with something that you are finding difficult is a sign of strength, not of weakness! By working together as a team, whether that is with family or with professionals, you can ensure you are doing the best for your children.
- Love! You are part of a family and one thing that binds you is your love for each other. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember this but taking time for a hug or just telling each other that you love each other can help maintain your strength as a family.
Keeping your child safe online: As a parent you'll probably know how important the internet is to children and young people. They use it to learn, play, socialise and express themselves in all types of creative ways. This may be through sharing photos and videos, blogging, gaming, or even developing their own apps. It is a place of amazing opportunities.
The technology children use in their daily lives can seem daunting. You might worry about the risks they can face online, such as bullying, contact from strangers, as well as the possibility of access to inappropriate or illegal content. To help them stay safe, it's important that you understand how your child uses the internet.
- I have asked my child to show me sites they use! By doing so, your child is including you in their online life and social activity. Show an interest and take note of the names of their favourite sites. You can then re-visit these when you are alone. Take your time and explore the space, find out how to set the safety features and learn how to report any issues directly to the site.
- I have asked my child to set their profile settings to private! Social networking sites, such as Facebook, are used by children to share information, photos and just about everything they do! Encourage your child to set their privacy settings to private. They need to think about the information they post online as it could be copied and pasted anywhere, without their permission. If it got into the wrong hands, somebody may wish to use it against them or worst of all try to locate them in the real world.
- I have asked my child about their online friends! We know that people lie online about who they are and may create fake identities. It is very important children understand this. Whether they are visiting a social network or a gaming site, the safety messages are the same. Children and young people must never give out personal information and only be "friends" with people they know and trust in the real world.
- I have set appropriate parental controls on my child's computer, mobile and games console! Filters on computers and mobiles can prevent your child from viewing inappropriate and possibly illegal content. You can activate and change levels depending on your child's age and abilities. You can also set time restrictions for using the internet or games. They can be free and easy to install. Call your service provider who will be happy to assist or visit CEOP's parents' site for further information. Explain to your child why you are setting parental controls when you talk to them about their internet use.
- My child has agreed to tell me if they are worried about something online! Sometimes children get into situations online where they don't feel comfortable or see something they don't want to see. By opening up the communication channels and talking to your child about the internet, their favourite sites and the risks they may encounter, they are more likely to turn to you if they are concerned about something.
- I know where to get help if I'm concerned about my child! The CEOP Safety Centre provides access to a range of services. If you are concerned that an adult has made inappropriate contact with your child you can report this directly to CEOP. You can also ?nd help if you think your child is being bullied, or if you've come across something on the internet which you think may be illegal.