If you’re reading this article as a parent, I’m sure you’re not surprised to discover that parenting stress is at an all time high. Psychologists have labeled parenting stress as the distress a parent feels when you feel out of control, when you feel the demands placed on you are too high, or you don’t have the coping resources to achieve these demands (Deater-Deckard 1998).
Impact of Parenting Stress on Working Mothers
When we investigate the question – what is parenting stress – we need to look at the impact that work-life balance has on a mothers ability to cope.
I often talk about the fact that when women conquered the right to go to work, they were left with two jobs – one as a career and one at home. In our counselling and life coaching sessions, working mothers often tell me they ‘clock-off’ one job and ‘clock-on’ to the next job as they progress from the office to home life.
Regardless of who takes on the home duties (thank-you to many partners who are taking on more responsibilities at home) – someone has to do it! You either pay someone, or ask for help from a family member/close friend to clean your home, look after your children, cook and pay the bills.
Or… You/your partner/housemate – have to do it!!
Unfortunately, because mothers tend to take on most of the childcaring duties, they are usually the ones doing the second job at home.
A 2019 Study Conducted by the University of Texas, the University of Maryland, and the University of Southern California found that women with children and a heterosexual male partner undertook most of the housework.
The study identified the following predicted Minutes of Mother’s Time in Activities, by Marital Status based on a 24 hour period.
Note: Based on American Time Use Surveys (2003-2012). Model controls for extended family member, number of children, children under two years old, children ages two to five, education, employment, race, age, and weekend diary day. Source: Joanna R. Pepin, Liana C. Sayer, and Lynne M. Casper, “Marital Status and Mothers’ Time Use: Childcare, Housework, Leisure, and Sleep,” Demography 55, no. 1 (2018): 107-33.
The results showed that over a 24 hour period mothers across the board where spending around 2 hours per day on childcare. However, women in heterosexual marriages and those cohabiting spent almost 3 hours a day on housework. Whilst this was more than single mothers, both were spending a significant time over 24 hours engaging in household chores.
Most interesting was the study found that married mothers were sacrificing their sleep and leisure in order to keep a tidy home.
I can relate to this after deciding to swap my gym workout for housework this morning – just to be able to fit it all in.
Physical aspects of parenting stress
“Maternal stress has been linked to harsh parenting, maternal depression, and poor cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development in children and may have long lasting effects on the well-being of both mother and child.”BeLeu, R (Associate Professor of health policy and administration at Penn State)
Research shows that high levels of parenting stress have been associated with increased risk of:
poorer physical health
less effective parenting
Stress in general has a detrimental impact on your health and wellbeing. It inhibits your general functioning and has been related to long term illness.
Impact parenting stress has on your child
Parenting stress has been shown to lead to:
harsher discipline or withdrawal
insecurity in children
increased child behavior problems
Parenting stress can be managed and controlled
In summary, stress is not good for anyone. It impacts your physical and emotional wellbeing and reduces your ability to concentrate Stress can cause long term health issues and has a detrimental impact on your child/ren. It also directly impacts the quality of the relationships you build with those you love most.
If you are experiencing significant parenting stress, download my free Calm with Confidence – Calm Parenting Program. This program has been designed to arm yourself with proven parenting skills that will support you to feel more confident and calm in your day to day parenting life. The best part is that it’s absolutely free.
There are many theories on child behaviour. One which is widely taught is the theory of Child Temperament. Temperament is divided into three types:
Feisty (find change difficult and need lots of consistent routines)
Slow to Warm Up (take time to adjust to change and new people)
Easy (go with the flow and adapt to change very easily)
The type of temperament your child was born with, will directly influence how your child operates in the world, copes with change and stress, is motivated to change behaviour and socialises with others. When you understand your child’s temperament, you can then shape your parenting to suit your child’s needs. This makes parenting so much easier and significantly reduces your child’s stress. It also really supports your child to succeed in the world and feel really well supported in the process.
Why it is so important to understand child temperament?
As a parent of two young children who are growing up very fast, I understand first hand how challenging parenting can be. Over the years I have learnt personally and professionally how important it is to spend time getting to know my children. This means I have to take time to play with them, listen to them and gather as much information that I can from their teachers, other family members and friends, in order to see them in different lights. I think this is crucial for guiding them through life.
Every child is different. So many parenting books and experts give parents generic tools that are meant to be a one-size-fits all approach. On top of this we have layers of judgement and criticism towards parents who are perceived to not be doing the right thing. So, if you’re a parent and you’re feeling really confused about how to understand your child – YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
The reason why it’s so important to understand your child’s temperament is because your child is unique. What suits one child is not guaranteed to suit your child. Think about the adults you know. How many of them are exactly the same? even your best friends and you share different interests, motivations, likes and dislikes. So why would we expect our children to be any different?
Why parents choose a particular style of parenting
Parents often try to fit into a particular parenting style in order to:
follow family, social, societal, religious etc norms
avoid potentially making a mistake
feel in control
do the ‘right’ things
and so on
Whatever style you choose, it’s REALLY important to be flexible and mold the style to suit your child’s individual temperament needs. You may need to alter things a little or even change the style to suit your child’s particular needs.
A good example of this is the ‘Controlled Crying’ method parents use with young children to support them to sleep. This parenting style does NOT work for every child. For instance, if you have a child with a ‘slow to warm up’ temperament, you will really struggle with the ‘Controlled Crying’ method. So understanding your child’s temperament for instance has a direct impact on how you should parent to support your child to get to sleep.
So, take time to understand your child. Get to know your child’s need from your child’s point of view. In doing so, you will find parenting so much smoother and you will be doing your best to give your child the best chance to succeed in life too.
When to stop breastfeeding causes mothers a lot of stress if things have not gone according to plan. One of the most common issues new mothers face is the stress of knowing when to stop breastfeeding. The guilt associated with having to stop breastfeeding earlier than expected can be very debilitating to a mothers confidence. Breastfeeding is meant to be such a natural part of motherhood and we are told over and over again how important it is to breastfeed.
However….the rules regarding when to stop breastfeeding keep changing!
When I had my eldest daughter (now 10), the World Heath Organisation (WHO) recommended mothers to stop breastfeed babies from a minimum of 12 months – up to 2 years. However, it was not common for mothers to breastfeed past 12 months. I remember other mothers thinking I was a bit strange for continuing to breastfeed my baby at night to comfort her up to her 2nd birthday. Yet now, the recommendation has increased again. Now the WHO recommends mothers breastfeed up to 2 years and beyond.
The Push To Breastfeed has led many mothers to feel stressed about when to stop breastfeeding
It can be very stressful when you decide to stop breastfeeding. This may be the result of not having sufficient milk supply, you or your baby not enjoying breastfeeding, falling ill (ie mastitis) as a result of breastfeeding, your baby rejecting your milk, having to return to work and so on. It can be difficult for new mothers to reconcile having to stop breastfeeding. However, if you are unable to breastfeed (for whatever reason) the key things to focus on is the health and wellbeing of your child and yourself during this new phase of parenting.
Having to accept when breastfeeding isn’t working
I was shocked to find I did not produce anywhere near the same amount of milk I had produced for my first child. No matter how much breast pumping, herbal drops or food I ate, my second baby was not putting on enough weight. So I had to accept it was time to top up with formula. I really wanted to keep the closeness I really enjoyed during breastfeeding. So I start with breastfeeding and then finished with formula whilst she held on to the other breast for comfort.
Despite other mothers and ‘experts’ telling me my baby would start to reject my breast, this never happened. She eventually moved to having just bottled formula during the day and breastfeeding for comfort at night. I personally wanted to continue this closeness, but the focus was 100% on what my child needed to be healthy. 100% breastmilk was not getting the job done the second time around. So once I accepted this fact, I knew it was time to stop breastfeeding. This led to a win-win for both of us.
So, how do you know when to stop breastfeeding?
The first things to ask yourself is: “Does my baby need more milk to be healthy?”
If your baby’s needs are not being met with breastmilk, then it’s time to invest in a good quality milk formula. This way you ensure your baby’s health is your number 1 priority.
Similac is made with HMO. HMO feeds good bacteria in the gut and contains nutrients to support brain development, eye health and developing cells.
Earths Best is certified organic and non GMO and is designed to be as similar to breast milk as possible. It is also high in protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.
Will baby breastfeed after bottle?
The primary focus of any parent needs to be on supporting the nutritional needs of your baby. One of the most common complaints of new mothers is baby’s biting them, mastitis, cracked/sore nipples, lack of interest from babies, or gagging on too much milk. These are important issues that need to be addressed.
One of the keys to a happy baby when feeding, is a mother feeling calm and happy herself. Pain whilst breastfeeding is not conducive to a happy mother!
There are many health professions such as lactation consultants that can support mothers who are having difficulty. However, if you have reached a point where you and your baby are just not happy, there is no reason to feel guilty or bad for swapping to good quality formula feeding.
When bottle feeding try to ensure:
your bottles are always well sterilised
your milk is well prepared (eg test a drop on your arm to ensure its not too hot)
do not over dilute the formula
maintain the same regular nappy checks and maternal health checks to ensure your baby is gaining sufficient healthy weight
always leave home with enough formula so you can feed your baby when required
What if I have to stop breastfeeding because I need to return to work?
Whilst many work places are much more accommodating to breastfeeding in the office, it is not often practical for a mother to have a carer bring her baby into work in order to breastfeed, or to leave work a few times per day to feed her baby. If you can easily and quickly express milk for a carer to feed your baby, that’s great. However, if it’s becoming stressful, rethink how you can make your life easier and happier for you and your baby.
Pumping breastmilk is an option, however, it us not always easy
Personally, with my youngest child, I spent hours pumping to try to stimulate my breastmilk and I still never produced enough milk. So whilst pumping can be a great option, if it’s quick and easy. It can become very stressful if it takes too long and is painful.
Switching to formula if pumping breastmilk is not an option makes sense in a number of cases. If you find yourself in this position, remember that your primary goal is to ensure your child grows up healthy and strong. The key is to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients required from a good quality formula and that you are both feeling happy and healthy.
If possible, try to breastfeed up to 6 months of age
The WHO highly recommends exclusively breastfeeding up to 6 months of age to achieve optimal growth, development and growth and protection from common childhood illness such as diarrhoea and pneumonia. So if you can keep the 6 month mark as your goal, that’s the ideal. However, this is not always possible. So if you find yourself in this position, look for a brand like Similac or Earth’s Best that will provide as close as possible nutrients for your baby.
The key is to focus on your baby’s health, not on being the perfect mum. Take the guide of your health care professionals and seek help when you feel things are not working out the way you’d planned.
If you are feeling distressed about deciding when to stop breastfeeding, make an appointment for a phone consultation or an in house visit to help for mums. You’ll be surprised what a talk to an expert can do for your confidence, happiness and health as a new mother.
One of the most common complaints in modern life and particularly from mothers is – “Why don’t I have enough time to do all the things I really need to do in my day?” The question on most people’s minds is how to save time in daily life. It’s a common complaint of both stay-at-home and working mothers. Mothers often feel exhausted by the magnitude of their daily tasks and feel like they don’t stop all day. However, many mums go to bed wondering why they still can’t get through their to-do lists. Can you relate to this?
It Doesn’t Have to be This Way. Here are my Top 3 Tips To Save Time & Regain Your Valuable Hours
Tip 1: How To Save Time In Daily Life – INVEST IN THE BEST GADGETS
Adults need between seven to nine hours of good quality sleep per night for optimum health and function. However, most women (approximately 60%) fall short of this and most mothers get even less. Poor quality sleep leads to poorer memory, high stress, reduced productivity, loss of focus and concentration (in addition to all the negative health consequences of prolonged lack of sleep). So can you imagine how much more efficient you would be if you invested in good quality sleep? This is where the Dodow comes in. According to the developers of Dodow, this compact device aims to retrain your brain to fall asleep. It achieves this through slow rhythmic light, scientifically designed to quickly quiet your mind, slow your breathing and relax your body.
How much time do you spend cleaning the floor, particularly cleaning up after meals and playtime? Mothers often don’t realise how much time they spend tidying up (on top of the actual house cleaning). Whilst it’s important to have a clean and tidy home, mothers often guilt themselves into cleaning and tidying every spare moment they have. This leave little time to achieve the really important tasks on your to-do list.
Obsessive cleaning can also become a habit and can actually become a way to avoid other tasks that seem stressful or overwhelming. This is where the Braava Jet Robotic Floor Cleaner can really save time. The creators of this cleaner state that it cleans the floors for you. You simply pour water into the jet, attach a cleaning pad, place it on the floor, and press play. This means you can still maintain your tidy home without having to feel guilty or wasting your precious time.
The Morning App is a cheap and easy quick-win time saving gadget for mothers. It shows you all your most important items at a quick glance, such as the weather, traffic, calendar, headlines, and tasks that must be completed today. It’s customizable to meet your specific needs and will help to keep you focussed throughout the day and avoid procrastination.
TIP 2: How To Save Time In Daily Life – SET PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
If you’re like most busy mums, you probably have a running to-do list constantly spinning through your mind. The problem with this list, however, is that it is never-ending. It leaves mothers feeling like constant failures because the list just grows from day to day and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.
The key to saving time, is to take a few moments out of your day and look at everything on your to-do list. Divide this list into things you can delegate, things that can wait until later and things you have to do yourself (or that you would like to do). Then being realistic about the amount of time you have available set aside and commit to specific times in your diary to complete the most urgent tasks. Make sure you physically tick these items off your list and celebrate any wins whenever you can. This way you will also become much more conscious of all the great things you are achieving throughout your day.
TIP 3: How To Save Time In Daily Life – MASTER YOUR THOUGHTS
According to psychologists, human beings have around 40,000 negative thoughts per day. These negative thoughts weigh you down and can lead to lethargy, procrastination, depression, stress and anxiety. Negative thinking is the killer of productivity. The worst part of negative thinking is that it is much more powerful than positive thinking – in terms of brain chemistry. In order to regain control over your day, it is imperative that you pay close attention to your thinking styles and how they might be impacting on your self esteem. There are many self-help strategies for reducing negative thoughts and boosting more positive ones.
Question your negative thoughts
One of the most powerful technique is to question your thoughts in the moment. For example, recently a client mentioned she was finding herself obsessed with making friends (being noticed) by a famous parent in her son’s sporting club. She began to get anxious before her son’s games, just in case she might see the famous parent. Her mood would be dependent on whether or not he spoke to her at the weekly game. She would spend hours thinking about what might happen at each game and what she could wear, or say to the famous parent to make him notice her.
What’s behind your thinking?
We spoke a lot about what was underlying this obsession. What was really going on here? Why did she feel she needed this famous person’s approval? She realised she was basing her own self-esteem on whether or not she was popular and liked. Being friend’s with a famous person made her feel important. This was the key point.
She soon realised this was NOT the best way to boost her self esteem. In fact, she realised this pseudo-friendship had no bearing on her self-worth. The next week, she stopped herself every time she thought about the famous parent. At eat point she would remind herself that she was attending games to support her son and she wanted her friendships to be based on mutual respect. She focused on what was really important to her and allowed her true self to shine through and grow as a result.
YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS – VALUE IT & DON’T LET IT GO TO WASTE
Try putting even one of these time saving techniques into practice this week. Test how much time you can regain in your life. You will be surprised at how much more efficient and productive your can be.
Stress causes a bodily reaction. This is why you may experience stomach aches, headaches or bodily pain when stressed. This is also why stress has been linked to so many serious health conditions – the body cannot endure being placed under stressed year after year, without some form of consequence.
Long term stress, or chronic stress pushes the body to be in a regular state of tension. This tension, over time, is what causes the body to have negative physical reactions (i.e. shoulders, neck, stomach, head and lower back pain). When you are stressed for a long period of time, it places the heart under constant and regular stress, which can then result in heart attack or stroke. Stress also takes a toll on your immune system which can lead to depression, or chronic fatigue.
The level and extent of your stress has an impact on your health long term. Whilst we cannot avoid being stressed, we can address the extent to which stress affects us. Learning healthy response strategies through counselling and life coaching for instance, will provide effective strategies for dealing with potentially stressful situations. Being more balanced by living a healthy lifestyle also can significantly reduce physical and mental stress and improves overall wellbeing.
What is Anxiety
Stressful events can lead to feelings of anxiety. Anxious feelings can be fleeting – like panicking before you have to speak publicly. However, when anxiety takes hold, it tend to cause a range of negative feelings, such as:
imagining the worst
inability to concentrate
When anxiety lasts for a while and you find yourself not coping well with day to day life, it can become chronic. This is when anxiety can become debilitating and significantly impact daily functioning or performance.
When we think about anxiety there is a tipping point. Anxiety (or mild worry) is good for us when it gets us ready (pushing you to train harder or study more to ensure you’re ready for a performance). However there is a point where this positive motivation turns into negative hinderance. This occurs when you allow your mind to race with negative thoughts. These thoughts often lead to procrastination, avoidance or general poor performance and ultimately sabotage your motivation efforts.
When anxiety takes hold, it can begin to interfere with future performance and lead you to become more anxious in the future worrying about whether the anxiety is going to kick in at the worst time again.
Where you ever taught how to deal with stress or anxiety?
The problem is that we rarely taught how to ride the anxiety wave. It’s common to panic when any signs of anxiety set in. You may remember the negative impact anxiety had on you the last time it passed over the threshold from positive to negative anxiety.
Become more attune to anxiety and use it to pump you up, rather than to bring you down!
So… are stress and anxiety the same?
The answer is that they are very related, yet slightly different. Understanding the difference if useful because it helps to separate events that may be causing you stress, versus your thoughts that are caused by the stressful events,
The way you see a stressful event and the way you cope with it, will determine your level of stress each day. Most reactions to stress are caused by expectations. It’s important to look at your expectations to see if they are impacting on your stress levels. For instance, as a parent you may expect your home to be tidy all the time. If you see mess, this causes you to be stressed and then worrying thoughts such as “I am a failure, no-one ever helps me, no-one cares, this house is disgusting….” will set in and cause you to feel anxious on a regular basis. This is NOT good for your health. So it’s vital that you review where your stress is coming from and whether you can adjust your expectations from time to time to reduce your levels of stress.
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Have you ever wondered which parenting style is best?
If you walk into the parenting section of any bookstore you’re bound to find a multiple of books with authors claiming they have the answer to best parenting. From researchers to mums to famous people – everyone seems to be an expert in parenting. Parenting advice comes in all shapes and sizes. No-wonder parents are so confused about which parenting style is best to achieve peace and harmony at home.
The developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind (and later Maccoby and Martin) spent years researching parenting styles. They found the most commonly used parenting styles and deciphered which parenting style is best. The categorized parenting into four broad parenting styles:
The Four Parenting Styles
Authoritarian parenting – placing demands, but low responsiveness
Authoritative parenting – placing high demands and expectations
Permissiveparenting – placing low demands and responsiveness
Neglectful or Uninvolved parenting
So which parenting style is best?
Over time the researchers concluded that ‘Authoritative’ parenting was the most highly recommended.
What is Authoritative Parenting?
Authoritative parenting combines warmth, sensitivity and clear boundaries. It has been found to produce the most positive results academically and emotionally in children.
Authoritative is different to Authoritarian parenting which is rigid and creates a demanding environment for children. In contrast, parents who engage in Authoritative parenting are observed to be in control. They also parent with the best interest of their children in mind. Authoritative parenting centers on setting limits, reasoning with children, and being responsive to their emotional needs.
Authoritative parenting sets high standards for children. However, these standards are coupled with empathy, respect and are nurturing. Authoritative parents are supportive to children’s needs, clear on their expectations and parent consistently.
Examples of Authoritative Parenting
Meal times are usually the place where parenting styles are put to the test. Fussy, messy and distracted eaters can push parents buttons. The reactions parents have towards a child’s refusal to eat, highlights their parenting style very clearly.
The Authoritarian parent is likely to get angry and demand the child sit there until the meal is finished.
The permissive parent is likely to make something else the child prefers.
The Authoritative parent is likely to discuss why the child does not want to eat and the reasons why it’s important to eat in that moment
The Neglectful parent is likely to ignore the child’s demands completely or provide a meal that is unsuitable in the first place.
Benefits of the Authoritative Parenting Style
There are a range of benefits to choosing the Authoritative parenting style for both your child. Research shows this style tends to produce:
Secure attachment – helping a child to feel secure, understood, and calm
Improved academic performance
Reduced anxiety and increased self confidence
Steps to introducing an Authoritative parenting style
There will be times when you notice yourself slipping back into your old parenting habits. However, with time and commitment you will start to see the benefits of this parenting style.
It’s very important to begin by ensuring that you have worked on your own self-esteem and self confidence. Parenting styles are highly influenced by how you feel about yourself, particularly if you are suffering from low self-esteem. You can work on yourself at the same time as introducing a new parenting style. Make sure to make yourself a priority too.
Authoritative Parenting steps:
Decide on your family’s clear boundaries and make sure you discuss these prior to enforcing rules around them
Ensure the rules are fair and everyone understands the consequences that may happen as a result of behaviour (particularly older children)
Be consistent – don’t bend the rules because you’re tired, overwhelmed or because you feel bad
Don’t dismiss your child’s voice – listen and take on board your child’s perspective and explanations of behaviour
Be flexible and adaptive (ie if your child has a good reason for bending a rule, take this into consideration when assessing the consequences of the behaviour)
Encourage independence in a manner that is healthy and safe for your child
At the end of the day, you can decide which parenting style is best for you. With each parenting style you have the flexibility to intruduce rules and boundaries that suit you.
The Authoritative parenting style highlights the significant benefits for your child. However, you can decide on the boundaries you set, the rules you follow and the manner in which you implement these rules. Be consistent, be warm and trust in your decisions to produce the best outcome for your child.
Want to talk about the best parenting skill you can absorb and take on board and live by? It’s the four keys to successful parenting!
As a parent you are likely to be focusing on so many things that are not relevant. These things often lead you to feeling more stressed, more anxious and to develop unrealistic expectations for your children. In turn, these feelings lead to stressful parenting, rather than more successful parenting.
A Happier Child
In order to parent more calmly, we really only need to focus on four key parenting outcomes. These four outcomes end up resulting in a:
happier home life
more successful child
So what are these 4 key outcomes that lead to successful parenting?
HEALTH – Is is my child healthy?
SAFETY – Is my child healthy?
HAPPINESS – Is my child happy?
SECURITY – Is my child feeling secure?
How you manage to achieve these four outcomes is up to you!
Where is your parenting focused?
We shouldn’t be focusing on what other people think about our children.
We should be focusing on what our child needs in order to feel healthy, safe, happy and secure.
YOU know your child best. You can take advice, read books, watch shows and seek professional help. BUT…. at the end of the day, as long as your goal is to end up with a happier, safe, healthy and secure child. You can know in your heart you are achieving successful parenting!
As I’m sure that you’ve discovered, people are quick to tell you their opinions on how best to parent. However, every child is unique and what works for one, is not guaranteed to work for another!
The Development of the Four Keys to Successful Parenting
I developed the four keys to successful parenting as a system to achieving Calm Parenting. I realized very early on as a parent that most parenting books focus on the steps to achieving particular outcomes, like getting a baby to sleep. But what happens when your child does not follow the steps to achieve the desired outcome. For example, your child won’t sleep in a cot alone!
Parenting books are good at proving guides to achieving an outcome – like safely swaddling a baby to sleep. However, there is a gap when the steps do not lead to the desired outcome. Such books just focus on a behaviour – SLEEP. So, the result is many parents, like myself, end up feeling stressed focusing on the sleep outcome without dealing with issues controlling sleep, like mood, temperaments etc.
What we should be focusing on how to help our child feel happy, safe, secure and healthy – so that sleep will be much easier to achieve?
The 4 Keys: Detailed in the Book Perfect Mum: How to Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood
One time my daughter and I went to the library. There was a little girl there. In the middle of looking at the books, my daughter decided to hit this little girl who was playing beside her. The girl began to cry. I apologized profusely of course to the mother and child and left wondering what was going on with my child.
We returned to that same library a few weeks later. The same mother and child happened to be at the library again. My daughter spent no time repeating the same behaviour with the same girl. The girl began to cry. I apologized again, however, this time the mother berated me, saying I must be a terrible parent and that this child has a problem.
The interesting part was, I went back to the library and I saw the same mother and the same girl and guess what? This time, the little girl hit another child and left her crying. I laughed a little bit to myself because by then I had research that little kids often hit other children to get attention because they don’t know how to express that they actually want to be friends.
Coming back to the four key outcomes for successful parenting
As a parent, I could have started to question myself, my child and my parenting by simply focussing on the outcome – the hit! However, once I started to evaluate my child’s behaviour based on the 4 key outcomes to successful parenting, I calmed down and was able to deal with things in a much calmer and proactive state of mind.
Evaluating Events Based On The 4 Keys To Successful Parenting
HEALTH: I researched childhood behaviour and realized this was normal. Yes it was something to address and change, but it did not reflect that my child had anything ‘wrong’ with her as the mother had originally suggested.
SAFETY: The hit was not hard and did not cause any physical damage. It was definitely a shock for all of us and not nice for the poor little girl. However, no-one was hurt.
HAPPY: I realized my child needed some teaching in how to make new friends. Being an only child at the time, we organized many more play dates after this. Needless to say, this hitting behaviour never happened again.
SECURE: I made sure I separated the behaviour from her as a person. The behaviour was not acceptable, but she was still a good person at heart. This made it easier for her to listen, absorb and learn.
Above I have analysed the 4 keys with simple questions
Is My Child:
These four simple parenting questions, led me down a much calmer and proactive parenting path. The outcome was a success and I learnt something very valuable about my child’s behaviour in the process.
Becoming a More Rational and Calm Parent
When you look at the four keys to successful parenting, you can start to be more rational about how you respond. You can be more rational about your views on your child’s behavior and look at them in better perspective too.
Hitting can mean a range of things. In this instance, my child was trying to get attention. In another instance, it might be that the child’s observing aggressive behavior and role modeling. It might be that the child’s feeling neglected and is acting out to get any attention. The key is looking deeper than on the surface.
Regularly ask yourself these four key parenting questions
The most important thing about these four keys to successful parenting is to assess and then only address when these 4 keys are not being met. For example, if your child is eating too much junk food which is causing tooth decay, it’s time to change eating patterns. If your child is often anxious, it’s important to address this and so on. However, if someone tells you off for giving your child the phone in public. Ask yourself, “is my child healthy, happy, safe and secure”? If yes, dismiss the comment!
Your child is not going to be happy all the time. That’s not normal. Your child is going to have emotional reactions. But generally speaking, happy kids are talkative, they’re affectionate, they’re smiley, they’re playful, they get excited about things, and they generally engage with you. If a child is disengaged, then it’s time to adjust your parenting in order to support higher happiness.
Wrapping up the Four Keys to Successful Parenting
So these four key outcomes to successful parenting are where you want to focus on in order to be a consistently calm and confident parent. It’s really simple. Regularly ask yourself … Is my child healthy, happy, safe, and secure? If something’s not working, just try something else until you get back on track.
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This delicious Leek Mushroom & Pumpkin Risotto is so quick and easy to make and all the family will love it. You can replace the mushroom with chicken or just leave it out all together if like. The pumpkin and leek are flavorsome enough too. This is one of many Recipes from Help For Mums designed to Help The Earth & Boost Calm Parenting
Leek Mushroom & Pumpkin Risotto – Ingredients
300g of pumpkin – diced
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary
½ tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 whole leek – sliced
1 large garlic clove – crushed
2 bunches of bok choi – steamed
1 cup of spinach leaves
½ cup of fresh parsley
Pinch of salt and pepper to taste
1½ cup of Arborio rice
750ml (3 cups) of hot chicken stock
2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese (optional)
Preheat oven to 200°C
Place the pumpkin and mushrooms in a baking tray lined with baking paper and season with rosemary and sesame oil
Bake for 30 minutes, or until pumpkin is soft and tender, but not overcooked
Remove, dice the pumpkin – stand aside (you can cook this while you are preparing the rice)
Heat the olive oil in a rice cooker or a large pot
Fry the leek and garlic in the oil until tender
Add the bok choi and spinach and stir until tender and soft
Add the rice and stir
Add the fresh parsley, salt and pepper and stir
Once all combined add 1 cup of chicken stock and stir until absorbed, then add the second cup and wait until absorbed and then the third cup – stir continuously
Finally add the pumpkin and mushroom and stir
Combine with the Parmesan cheese (optional) to create a beautiful creamy consistency and serve.
Note: Depending on the strength of your rice cooker, you may need to add more water as you’re cooking.
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The 5 Key steps for How To Stop Complaining And Be Happy
Step 1 – UNDERSTAND THE IMPORTANCE OF CHANGE
The first step to learn how to stop complaining and be happy is truly believe that it is important to do so. So this is where we begin – convincing you that your complaining is doing more harm than good.
Negative behaviours and language actually change your brain structure – for the worse and the converse is true for positive habits. In depression for instance, where negative thinking becomes heightened, we start to see chemical changes in the brain that continue to alter the chemistry of the brain.
“In depression, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the brain. It’s simply that the particular tuning of neural circuits creates the tendency toward a pattern of depression. It has to do with the way the brain deals with stress, planning, habits, decision making and a dozen other things — the dynamic interaction of all those circuits. And once a pattern starts to form, it causes dozens of tiny changes throughout the brain that create a downward spiral.”
Alex Korb, Ph.D. ( author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time)
Negative thinking, such as complaining, leads to more negative behaviours and a tendency to see the world around you more negatively. So, the more your complain, the more you will continue to complain – and the cycle goes on and on.
In addition to the negative impact complaining will have on your brain chemistry, it can have a very detrimental impact on your relationships. Whilst it is important to speak up, perpetually complaining about things you cannot, or do not want to, change (e.g. world events, friends/partner’s behaviours, the weather) can lead to a lot of frustration. Friends will offer you support and understanding, but may also grow tired of your inaction if you continually complain about the same things without taking steps to improve your life.
Step 2 – MAKE A COMMITMENT TO CHANGE
Now that you understand how important it is to learn how to stop complaining and be happy, you can decide “TODAY is the DAY I will stop”. It’s important to undertand there is a difference between venting your frustrations and asking for support AND perpetually complaining. The former is usually short-lived, whilst the latter is long lasting and very repetitive. To stop complaining, does not mean you become an annoying person who can show no empathy to others and pretends the world is perfect. To stop complaining, means changing your lens and focus.
In order to change ANY behaviour, you need to make a commitment to stick to this change. Complaining is just a bad habit. Like eating too much junk food every afternoon, or avoiding exercise to watch television. You have rewired your brain to tap into negativity and to voice this negativity on a regular basis to others in the hope of getting support, or fostering more complaints.
So decide right now you are going to become more conscious of your negative speak. Think before you begin a conversation and ask yourself, am I just complaining here? Common complaints you may recognise in yourself are things like:
“I’m so tired, I had the worse sleep last night”
“I’m sick of this cold weather”
“Did you see the news last night, wasn’t that story terrible”
“I hate my job”
“I can’t afford that, I don’t earn enough money”
“I can never wear anything I like”
“I’m sick of cleaning up after you”
All these things may be legitimate, but if you voice them too regularly, you will feel that the world is a very negative place and your lens will perpetually be negative too. This means you will lose sight of the positive things in your life. You will miss the good things that are happening right in front of you.
Step 3 – PAY ATTENTION to the complaining
One of the things I often ask my counselling clients to do when they want to learn how to stop complaining and be happy, is to start paying attention to how they speak to themselves. A LOT of complaining occurs internally. For instance, you are rushing to get to work and someone is taking too long to turn in front of you. This causes you to miss the green light and you are delayed even more. What do you say to yourself in this moment? If you are like more people, you internal thoughts will go something like this:
“you stupid idiot… where did you learn how to drive… I’m going to be so late now…. you can’t be scared on this road – you have to go for it, I’d be almost there now…”
These are the moments when complaining becomes truly ingrained. It is in these moments that you need to catch yourself. When you hear these negative thoughts in your mind, think about ways you could reframe the situation and think more positively and reduce the complaining.
In the example above where you have been delayed due to another driver, ask yourself if this REALLY is the reason you are late. The truth most likely is that you didn’t give yourself enough time this morning to get ready or you were delayed for some other reason. As a result you left the house late. The person in the car in front of you (whilst annoying), is not doing anything wrong really. He is just trying to be careful in order to avoid an accident. So you just need to calm down. Accept you are late and make sure you leave on time tomorrow to compensate for any possible delays like this on the road again.
By reframing (with all true statements), you can difuse the complaints and start to reduce your internal tension.
Step 4 – LOOK FOR THE POSITIVES
Complaining leaves you with a negative filter and can result in low self esteem. It’s impossible to learn how to stop complaining and be happy if your focus is on the negatives. You tend to start looking for things to complain about and too easily join in with other people complains aswell. This makes it more challenging to focus on the positives around you. As a said before, you don’t want to be fake and pretend everything is great if it isn’t. However, you want to open your eyes to the wonderful things, people and opportunities that are happening all around you.
Think about times when you have been upset by something someone said or did. How has this impacted your relationship with your children, friends, family or co-workers? Have you found it difficult to focus and be ‘fun’ in that moment? Most likely – YES. The key here is to put negative experiences aside until you can address them and be in the ‘now’. Be conscious not to allow negative impacts to affect other aspects of your life.
Be on the look-out for positives. Watch your child play and be moved by their kind interactions with others. Catch a glimpse of a couple having a loving embrace. Really savour your morning treat and think about all the delicious flavours your comsuming. Appreciate your partner’s long hours at work as a reflection of trying to support your family. There are so many things to be happy about in this world, if we just pay more attention.
I do think all the time. A simple thing like watching someone running for the bus and seeing the bus driver wait to collect this rushing passenger – makes my day. I think about how happy both parties will feed. The bus driver will feel good about doing something to help another human being. The passenger will be relieved and have a good-news story to tell when she arrives to work that day. It has nothing to do with me, but I can take positives from that and allow it to improve my own mood. It’s simply, but very effective.
Step 5 – BE MINDFUL to be Happy
Mindfulness is a huge part of stopping to complain. It places you in the moment and draws your attention to the little joys in life. A simple mindfulness practice in the shower each morning can start your day off on the right path.
Stand in the shower for a moment and focus on the drops of water as they touch your skin. Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the water as drips down. Listen to the water falling onto the tiles. Open your mouth and taste a few drops. Place your hand out to feel the drops as they caress your fingers.
It only takes a few minutes, but it allows you to concentrate on the positives of a simply daily task. It quietens your mind. It does not take any extra time – you have to shower anyway. However, it has a hug impact on your positive mood, stress levels and how much you will complain that day.
There are lots of places you can be mindful that do not take up extra time in your day. You can focus when washing your hands, brushing your teeth, or combing your hair. Just think about all that involved in each process and allow yourself to be fully present in that moment.
So take this 5 step challenge to learn how to stop complaining and be happy today. You will see the positive impact this has on your life immediately.
Parenting Support Doesn’t Have to Come With A Dollop of ‘Expert Advice’
After many years working as a professional therapist, I’ve come to the realization that people often provide advice and recommendations based on what THEY THINK you need, or believe your SHOULD do, rather than on what you actually want or need. Parents often come to me for parenting supporting to help deal with this issue which often becomes pronounced once you have a baby.
As a parent, it is common to complain about how stressful, exhausted or upset you feel today. However, this often results in those close you wondering how they can help you, even if you have not asked for help! It also occurs out of judgement. For example, someone offers you help with your parenting, based on how well they think their parenting is going. they start to play the martyr. They may think “if only you would act like me, or do as I do. I have to take over or intervene, your life would be so much better.” I hear this a lot when it comes to children sleeping. Often when you have children that go to sleep easily, you assume your sleep methods will work for every child, but this simply is NOT the case.
This has really bothered many parents for years. It is quite stressful when people close to you decide to give you unsolicited advice. It is not always easy to say “NO THANK-YOU”, without offending those who believe they are helping you.
Parenting Support From Unwelcome ‘Experts’ Can Lead to Resentment
Whilst it is easy to get angry and resentful when receiving unsolicited advice, I have come to realise that we need to take some of the blame. Personally, I know I have complained about things I didn’t want advice on, just needing to vent, especially when I’ve been tired. I have also agreed or gone overboard putting myself down or talked about my own misfortunes in an attempt to make someone else feel better.
Have you ever heard yourself saying things like “I get it, this also happened to me and it was even worse”. It is very common to say things like this to try to convey deeper empathy, but in the process of doing this, you can also portray a very negative perspective of yourself – as if your life is full of negativity and drama. You then by default tend to imply that these stories only portray a very small part of my life.
I have left conversations feeling frustrated and annoyed with myself for doing this, because I know this opens me up to receiving advice I am NOT searching for! But…sometimes we need to learn the hard way…
People LOVE To Be Problem Solvers When Providing Parenting Support
People love to be problem-solvers. The problem with this, is that often people are giving advice, when really all you want is someone to just listen. In the busy world we live in, you are often seeing people in spurts. During these spurts you are likely to be having a few issues, but this is NOT a reflection of your life overall. These same people are not likely to see you straight after the millions of wonderful experiences you have had in your life. You are also unlikely to talk about all the great things in your life, for fear you might be seen as boasting.
Your friends are unlikely to hear about the moment you:
receive a promotion at work
are surprised by your child cuddling you or saying “I love you”
receive a bunch of flowers from your partner or a close friend
are told your parents are proud of you
complete a challenging course
break your Personal Best record playing sport
prepare a delicious meal for the first time from your new recipe book
sort things out with the person you were upset with this morning
Are You Engaging In Bad Conversational Habits That May Be Confused For A Request For Parenting Support?
It is very easy to get into bad habits with close friends. You may naturally fall into the trap of complaining with them or avoiding telling them about your personal wins (especially if they are going through a hard time).
Whilst you don’t want to boast, there is a real downside to doing this. You WILL provide a very skewed and often negative picture of yourself. You will also get frustrated when you receive advice you didn’t ask for. For example, if you are a tired parent who is co-sleeping with your child, you are likely to receive advice over and over again about why you should STOP co-sleeping, when all you really want is someone to just give you a hug, listen or tell you it won’t last forever. You may also just want someone to ask “is there anything you need to help get through this tired time?”
Choose your support network
We all need to vent from time to time, so chose who you vent to wisely. Choose friends who can just listen without passing judgement and without trying to fix things. At the very least make a point of saying you are not looking for solutions, you just need to vent.
Balance your conversations
Make sure you are also telling others of your ‘wins’. This is where your friends get to know the ‘real’ you and can see that whilst things may be difficult in one area, life is pretty great in other areas. Before you meet people to have a chat, think about the person you want to project. By all means get support from others, but just be mindful of letting others know when you really want their help.
If you have deeper issues to discuss, it would be best to save these conversations for a professional therapist who is trained in helping you resolve this issues without judgement.
Parenting Support – Your Personal Reminder
Place a big reminder of your wall at home, or in your phone that says DON’T COMPLAIN TO EVERYONE & SHARE POSITIVE STORIES TOO. Focussing on the times in your life when things are going well, is also a personal reminder that life is balanced. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid to start a conversation by saying “I’m not looking for advice, just an ear today”
Lizzie, you have given me the best advice. Thank-you so much. I couldn't see out of the stress and anxiety I had put myself in after becoming a mum. I felt so guilty for not being able to breastfeed properly and the arguments this was causing at home left me feeling hopeless. I finally see the light and you have given me the confidence I needed to support myself and my child. thanks again