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Parents survival guide for tough times

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Parenting can be extremely hard work and it’s easy to end up feeling out of your depth and overwhelmed. At times like these it is so easy to tell yourself that you are inadequate and spend time caught up in self-blame. If this rings true for you and you are going through a phase of worrying about one of your children, have a read through our parents survival guide for tough times for help and practical suggestions.

  •  Use a mind over matter approach when things feel too much. Remind yourself that all children go through periods of being unsettled and that the most important thing in their world is to know that they are loved.
  •  Give yourself a break and forgive mistakes and words spoken in haste. Remember you are human and like everyone else are capable of saying things that you regret. If this happens, know that a genuine apology counts for a lot within a family. Not only does it soothe misunderstanding away it also models adults taking responsibility for their mistakes rather than denying them or collapsing into guilt.

Set boundaries

There are certain core conditions that help home life run more smoothly and making a commitment to show your kids that they are loved regardless of their behaviour, is something that will help ease difficult times. Similarly holding firm boundaries about what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour is another act that will support stability. Although children rail against rules, they ultimately feel safe within a fair and consistent container, so let them know what the consequences will be if they cross a certain line and stick to what you say. Thirdly staying in your power and giving yourself permission to make final decisions will help you and them remember that you are the adult parent in the relationship.

Have good communication as one of your baselines and return to this again and again. There will be times when kids don’t want to talk but in these times you can still let them know that you are there for them as and when they need you.

  • Sometimes a letter, email or text is a better way of saying things.
  • Give your children more responsibility over time to identify what is going on with them and ask them what they think would help.
  • Separate out the behaviour from the person and the symptoms from the cause.
  • Be clear in your communication with your kids that it’s what they are doing that you don’t like rather than who they are.
  • Remember that all behaviour is rooted in something else, so when they are fighting or complaining more than usual try to take a step back and consider what maybe currently upsetting them.

 Keep calm!

Children often take their feelings out on those closest to them and may well lash out at you during times of stress. Avoid taking these feelings on as evidence that you are not a good enough parent. Instead see it as a sign that they trust you and feel safe enough to express difficult feelings. Be vigilant about your inner voice and what it is telling you about your parenting.parent  survivalIf memories of your own difficult childhood are coming up as a result of watching your own children struggle, try to separate out the two events.  The fact that you are aware of your child and wanting to help them are all good signs that you will do everything you can to protect their problems from becoming insurmountable. Sometimes getting outside help for them and /or for you can make a huge difference.

Relaxation time for you

As much as possible put some positive things in place for yourself. It may only be feasible for you to grab the occasional half hour but make sure you take whatever time you can to relax, recharge and offload. Book time in with friends to chat or just hang out and have dinner or watch films.

If things feel really too much reach out for help. You can approach your GP or a parent support service. Remember that reaching out is a sign of strength not weakness.




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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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