Thursday, May 19, 2016

How to Become More Effective Parents

by Gavin Bollard -
As new parents, we mostly start out with a fairly positive parenting style. Everybody knows that babies cry a lot, so we’re more or less prepared for the initial onslaught. When it threatens to overtake us, there’s often someone willing to help out, after all, babies are cute.
As time goes on, and the crying continues and the nappies get larger, it gets harder and harder to get support. It’s hardly surprising that so many couples break up when their kids are in the “terrible two’s”.  It’s a very hard time for the whole family.

Luckily, just past the terrible two’s things start to get better rapidly. The worst is over… unless you have a child with an "ism". Then it could continue for several more years, or even indefinitely.
Watch Out for the Negative Spiral
Suddenly attitudes around you change. Your child’s defiance is no longer cute and their outbursts actually do quite a bit of damage. Almost overnight, your child-minding options disappear because suddenly your child is too much for anyone else to handle.
It’s these circumstances that cause family friction which can eventually devolve our parenting styles into negative self-depreciating behaviour that helps nobody and simply increases stress in the family. If you’re already in that spiral then the good news is that with a few changes, you can take charge of your life once again.
Fatigue – Inhibits Effective Parents
First of all, it’s important to remember that we are all tired, whether it is because of a long day at work, lack of sleep or general all-round irritation. Nobody functions well when they are tired, parents don’t and neither do kids.
Consider Over-Stimulated Kids
In particular, don’t forget that if your child has an ism, there’s a good chance that their environment is overstimulating them. Kids with isms may become overstimulated from lots of things including classroom noise, smells and even fluorescent lighting. It’s no wonder that they’re tired and grumpy when they arrive home from school.
Avoid the Blame Game
It’s easy to blame the kids, your spouse, yourself or your wider family who won’t help out. Assigning blame might make you feel better in the short term but it won’t resolve the problems or improve your circumstances.
As the parent, you need to be the change that you need in your life.
Adjust Your Living Hours
If you’re tired, you need to try to align your “living hours” more closely with those of your kids. Sure, maybe you used to be a night owl. You have to accept that those days are over – for the next sixteen years at least.
Adjust Your TV Viewing
You might love television but now you’re going to have to pick and choose what you watch because your viewing hours are going to have to shorten. Spending time sitting in or near your child’s room while they fall asleep is more likely to help you (and them) relax, than watching TV.  Perhaps you could sit outside their room with a book or a magazine instead?
If your child goes to sleep, you’ll get time to yourself, so it’s worth investing an hour to make sure that it happens. Leave your child alone at night and the hidden toys will come out – or they’ll start to keep their siblings awake.
Consider Medications
You also have to remember that one of the most common side-effects of common medications for kids with various isms is loss of sleep.
Remember, You are Number One
As parents, you need to look after yourself if you want to be the best parent that you can be for your child  – even if that means taking regular breaks from them.
Nap Time = Time Out
If you are a stay-at-home parent, you can use your child’s nap time to get some time-out for yourself.  This only lasts up to a certain age so after that, you need to find more creative ways to get some time out.
Divide and Conquer
If you have a partner, then you, the primary caregiver, have a lot of opportunities that single parents don’t have.  In particular, you will either have time in the morning before your partner goes to work or if they’re an “early worker”, you’ll have time in the afternoon when they get home.  
Either way, you need to grab that time and make it your own.
Exercise for Endorphins
If your partner leaves at 7am, you may be tempted to sleep in (after all, you are tired). Don’t.  Instead use the time when your partner is home to do a morning walk or some other, preferably out of the house, exercise.
You’d think that exercise would make you more tired but the truth is that once those endorphins kick in, you’ll feel a whole lot better. After exercise, have a shower and spend a little time getting yourself ready for the day.
Wake Up Earlier
I know parents who say that they struggle to get a 5 minute shower because as soon as they are out of sight, their children are running amok. The solution for people with partners is usually to get up earlier.
In fact, there’s no reason why your partner can’t get your child breakfasted and ready super-early – it’s far better than being late – and it might just help your child get to sleep at night.
Respect the Need for Breaks
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, then there’s a good chance that your main tasks are complete once your kids are at school. All that is left is the plethora of house maintenance chores.
Break for Parents
Take a break before you engage the house. Do something that you enjoy. If you choose something addictive like TV or computing, set a cap of 30 minutes, otherwise the whole day can pass before you realise that you have other things to do.
Schedule an additional break 30 minutes before the kids are due home. That way you’ll feel rested and more able to take on the challenges that come home with them.
Break for Kids
When the kids do get home, respect their need for a break. About 10-30 minutes should be enough time for them to get changed and grab some food. Do not let them engage with computers, tablets or television in this time, you need them to be focused – and those things are addictive, particularly for kids with various isms.
Move into Homework Routine
Once the kids are settled, it’s homework time. If you struggle with homework, you might consider splitting the homework time into two halves; one half for now and the other half for when the other parent gets home.
Make the homework last a set period of time and be available for your kids during that time. This reduces problems with kids rushing through their homework without trying – if they finish before time, they have to “study”.
The cap also stops academically slower kids from having to spend hours doing their homework. Just sign their homework at the point where they ran out of time and let the teachers know that you capped it there.
If your kids routinely disturb each-other during homework, you may have to put them in separate rooms – or at worst, have them do their homework in separate stages.
Prepare the Evening Wind Down
After homework, you’ll probably want to give your kids some free time before and after dinner. Unless they use that time for fighting, this is good as it will give you all a chance to relax.  
Shut Down Electronics
Be sure to shut everything down just before bed and in particular, to collect all portable gaming devices such as mobile phones, iPads, androids and gaming devices.  Do not let your children charge these devices in their rooms.  Not only will they prevent them from sleeping but they are also a major fire hazard when stored under pillows.
Quiet Reading
Finish the day with quiet reading for the last half hour before sleep. Doing this may help your child to switch their focus from the problems of their day to fictional characters (which helps sleep) and it may also reduce the amount of “gaming thinking” that goes on once they try to sleep. Computer games are so addictive for kids with isms that they often go to bed thinking about gaming problems and can’t sleep as a result.
You won’t necessarily have a perfect day by following these steps but you may find that it makes things a whole lot easier.
Posted by Kids Are Special

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