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    9 months ago · · 0 comments

    Four Keys to Successful Parenting

    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 child
    • happier home life
    • more successful child
    calm parenting and successful parenting

    So what are these 4 key outcomes that lead to successful parenting?

    1. HEALTH – Is is my child healthy?
    2. SAFETY – Is my child healthy?
    3. HAPPINESS – Is my child happy?
    4. 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?

    Successful parenting and Calm Parenting
    successful parenting

    The 4 Keys: Detailed in the Book Perfect Mum: How to Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood

    I wrote in detail about the 4 keys to successful parenting in my book – Perfect Mum: How To Survive The Emotional Rollercoaster of Motherhood. At the time of writing that book I detailed a range of experiences I had in 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

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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:

    • Health
    • Safe
    • Happy
    • Secure?

    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

    successful parenting

    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.

    successful parenting

    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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    4 years ago · · 0 comments

    Separation Anxiety In Toddlers – 5 Steps For How To Best Overcome It

    How To Ease Separation Anxiety In Toddlers

    separation anxiety in toddlerSeparation anxiety in toddlers is very normal, however, it can still evoke worry and guilt in mums having to leave a crying baby behind. The good news is, it usually dissipates with age and careful strategies which we will discuss in the 5 step process.

    Regardless of whether you are a first time mum, or a seasoned parent, separation anxiety in toddlers is often a source of great anxiety and stress. As a parent, you always want the best for your child, so it can be heartbreaking to see your little one crying as you leave, or even getting upset when being held by others. Because there is a misconception that children should just easily transition to new experiences and to new people, parents often (incorrectly) blame themselves for their child’s separation anxiety and this causes further anxiety and guilt down the track. These emotions can make the separation process even more difficult and drawn out for both you and your toddler or baby.

    The good news is there are easy to follow steps you can implement to aid your child through transitions. This process will also be much smoother if your understand your child’s temperament, which we will go into a bit more detail in the 5 step process below.

    5 steps for how to overcome separation anxiety in toddlers

    How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 1: Getting to Know Your Child’s Temperament

    You may be thinking “what does this have to do with easing my child’s separation anxiety?” Well, it is actually the key piece of the puzzle that not many people talk about and yet it is SO… helpful to parents when going through separation anxiety in toddlers. Research tells us that approximately 65% of children fall into 1 of 3 temperament characteristics. Slow-to-warm Up, Easy, Feisty. Each one of these responds very differently to new environments and new people. If you work out your child’s temperament, you with then be able to assess the best way to deal with separation anxiety based on your child’s temperament.

    Each of these 3 temperaments responds uniquely to new environments

    Slow to warm up

    The slow to warm up child takes time to adjust to new environments and people. They need lots of security and attachment to parents. These babies do not like to be held by people they do not know. They need to feel comfortable and then they will relax and be the life of the party. These children need gradual introductions and repeated similar introductions. So ensuring your child is left with the same carer in childcare for instance, will make the transition MUCH smoother. Also, this child is better off attending childcare a few days a week, rather than one day a week. The reason for this is that by the time ‘day-care day’ returns you toddler will have forgotten about it again and the separation anxiety will once again begin.

    Feisty

    The feisty child needs rules, boundaries and structure. So, this child will want to be very clear of the process of transition. Keeping the routine and simple and clear as possible will really help this child to adjust. For instance, going through the same motions in the morning on your way to childcare, or when leaving your child with a babysitter will help your toddler to feel comfortable about the separation process. You may also have a routine after childcare pick up which you can maintain consistently for your child to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible.

    Easy

    The easy child will find new environments much less stressful and will adapt to new environment with greater ease. With an easy temperament there may be signs of separation anxiety, however these will typically only last for a short period of time. They will only represent in times of extreme stress or uncertainty.

    How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 2: Ensure the care in which you are leaving your child meets the 4 Quadrant ‘Perfect Mum Book‘ Rules

    In order for you to feel OK about leaving your child crying in someone else’s care, you need to feel comfortable about where you are leaving your child. In the Book Perfect Mum, I talk a lot about the 4 essential parenting quadrants which centre around four critical questions:

    Is Your Child

    1. Safe?
    2. Secure?
    3. Happy?
    4. Healthy?

    When you can answer “yes” confidently to these 4 questions, you are much more comfortable about the emotional aspects associated with separation anxiety in your toddler. For instance, when you receive images throughout the day from your day-care centre showing your child is happily playing, you feel comfortable that question 3 (is my child happy) has been satisfied.

    Step 3: Repetition is the Key

    Your child will feel much more comfortable being left within an environment that feels comfortable. Whilst it may always be his/her preference to stay with “mummy’, your child will find the separation much easier if you ensure things are kept relatively similar and the environment is not completely alien. When beginning a new childcare arrangements, start slowly if possible. Begin by attending the centre together a few times, then leave your child for 1-2 hours and eventually build up to the required day-care length of time. Repeating the process several times will help your child to feel safe and secure being left somewhere without you (quadrants 1 and 2 above).

    How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 4: The Comforter

    Choose a special toy your child can bring from home to provide familiar comfort throughout the day. You can also select a special toy your child likes at childcare. You can talk about how exciting it will be to see your child’s special toy again when you arrive and go together to collect the toy. This little routine can give your child something special to look forward to and because you have been talking about it, the toy provides a comforting reminder of you if they begin to miss you throughout the day.

    How To Ease Separation Anxiety In ToddlersStep 5: Avoid dragging out the drop off

    This step is probably the toughest for mothers experiencing separation anxiety in toddlers. As a mother, you want to leave your child in care feeling happy. However, the longer you stay to comfort your child, the harder it is for your child to separate and make the transition. Quick and comforting goodbyes are usually best. Your child then becomes accustomed to this routine and will not draw out the tears begging you to stay. You can tell your child “mummy is coming back to pick you up” when you leave. Then when you collect your child, repeat this again – “see mummy came back to pick you up”. This helps your child to feel secure and to trust that everything is going to be OK. Then at pick up, if you’d like to stay a bit longer to play with some toys together or read books, this is the time when you can take as long as you like to leave.

    Following these 5 steps to easing separation anxiety in toddlers will really help to make transitions into other people’s care much smoother. There may be tears from time to time, especially if your child is feeling unwell or overtired. However, you know the tears will only last for a very short period of time. It is important to note, though, if your child continues to feel anxious, or the anxiety is getting worse, it’s time to intervene. Talk to the carer/s about what might be happening. Assess whether the childcare arrangement is suitable for your child. Further, don’t be afraid to make a change if you feel it’s in the best interest of your child.

    Lizzie O’Halloran, Founder of Help For Mums and Author of Perfect Mum & Refresh Your Life

    separation anxiety in toddlers