On Being a Parent

Well, what an amazing newsletter Leah wrote last week! It brought me to tears.  I was off on holidays in Northern NSW with my eldest daughter and my two grandchildren.  I handed over the responsibility for the newsletter to Leah. Little did I know she would say such amazingly lovely things about ME! I am truly blessed to so supported by her, both as a mum and in doing the work that I love. If you missed last Leah’s email HERE is a link. 

As Leah mentioned Harry and I had a trial run at being parents when we were first married. We’d just returned from two years backpacking overseas and we had nowhere to live, no money and no job.  I got for a job as a Cottage Parent which provided us with a house and a salary.  All the household bills were paid and food was provided while Harry re-established his Handyman business

We were “parents” to 5 teenagers who were all wards of the state. Three of them were doing VCE and the others were a year or two younger. If you have a child who has done VCE you’ll probably be cringing at the idea of having 3 at once in the same house. To be honest it worked really well. They actually supported each other and all passed.

During the two years we were with these kids I learned a lot about parenting. I read every book I could lay my hands on. I had regular “coaching” with a Social Worker and I felt very supported.  My terms of employment meant I was paid for 24 hours a day but I had to take 3 hours off every day to do my own thing and I had to take a weekend a month off.  I learned that it was important to take care of myself.

Prior to going overseas Harry and I were volunteer leaders with a youth organisation that did some fabulous work with under-privileged kids. As leaders we had access to amazing training in communication skills, active listening, problem solving, goal setting, self-esteem building and values clarification. My Uni course in Occupational Therapy also included subjects like child psychology, family therapy, counselling, all the main medical subjects, plus lots more.

As you can imagine, this gave me some really good knowledge and skills when it came to parenting my own children. When I look at them now I think Harry and I did a pretty good job. Of course we made plenty of mistakes and I have to confess I yelled and smacked on occasions.  No doubt the kids could all benefit from a little therapy to clear their mother issues but they are all very lovely, kind people.

My son, in particular, drove me crazy when he was young.  Clearly, it was never his mission in life to please his mother. He was far more interested in playing with Lego and riding his BMX than doing what he was told. A huge turning point in my relationship with him was when he was ten years old and I learned a process called Sleeptalk for Children. I’ve talked about this before in the Enews but you have no idea how profound the changes were after just a few nights talking to him while he was sleeping. He was happier, more co-operative, more organised, more affectionate and calmer. It was truly a miracle. You can read my story about James HERE on Facebook.

I recently recorded a 60 minute training video for parents to learn how to do Sleeptalk that you can access HERE. If you have children between the age of 2 and 12 then I highly recommend this training. It’s currently just $29.95 and I would love your feedback.

So with plenty of experience under my belt and a glowing endorsement from my own daughter here are my top ten tips for parenting:

  1. Be respectful. Never insult or put your children down. Be careful of their self-esteem. Give and expect respect in return.  Your own self-respect is an essential ingredient of good parenting. Without it you will struggle to raise respectful children.
  2. Remember that ultimately you have no control. You can guide and encourage them but you can’t lock your children up. They will make their own decisions.
  3. Your children’s behaviour is not a reflection of you.  YOUR behaviour is a reflection of you. No matter what your children do, how they dress, how they relate to other people, don’t take it personally, be embarrassed or behave badly yourself. Dr Christopher Green, author of Toddler Taming, says that seeing a mother have a tantrum about her toddler having a tantrum is much worse than the toddler having a tantrum.
  4. Remember how you felt when you were their age.  Whether it’s interrupting their favourite TV show to have dinner, trying to get them out of the bath or the swimming pool or dealing with them if they are scared in the night do your best to put yourself in their shoes.  You will automatically relate to them with more kindness.
  5. Avoid saying no straight away. When my kids wanted to do something that I was not comfortable with I would help them think it through. I would ask them how they planned to get there and get home. How they planned to pay for it. How they could ensure they would be safe. How they could make sure I felt comfortable about it. Usually they would decide it was all too much trouble and change their mind.
  6. Use logical consequences not punishment.  Help them to make amends when they do something wrong.  Write an apology note, clean up the mess, use their pocket money to pay for the damage etc.
  7. Teach them self-control.  Have you seen the marshmallow experiment?  It is a study where children were given a marshmallow and left alone in a room. They were told that if they didn’t eat it by the time the researcher came back they could have two marshmallows. Statistically, the children who had enough self-control to wait became more successful as adults.
  8. Don’t blame your children for how you feel or behave.  When you say something like “You made me so angry I lost my temper,” it gives them permission to do the same.  Children copy you. Take responsibility for your own emotions and practice self-control.
  9. Take care of yourself. Have at least one activity a week that is for you. Play a sport, have massage, attend a Yoga or Meditation Class, spend time with friends. Recharge your batteries regularly. We have an awesome 6 week program for new mums to set them on the right track from the beginning. (More about that next week)
  10. Learn SleepTalk for Children.  This takes two minutes each night and it protects your child’s self esteem and can help with a whole range of childhood issues. PURCHASE ONLINE HERE    I also work one on one with parents to coach them along the way.  (By the way…  I used Sleeptalk with Leah for many years.)

Have a great week,

Warm Regards,
Alison Burton

Simply Natural Therapies
41 Tunstall Square
East Doncaster
VIC 3109
03 9842 7033