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Parenting Workshop Journal

Over the next few weeks I’d like to share some thoughts with you on how we can make our teenagers capable and happy, it is based on current research and on the Danish way of parenting, The Danes since 1973 have been voted consistently as the happiest people in the world, so what’s their secret?

You may have heard of “Hygge” pronounced hooga, the Danes class this as the quality time spent with family and or friends, social interaction is the single most indicator to happiness and also a longer life. In our modern day, it can be a challenge to spend time together as a family, most parents work and have commitments outside the home but there are small changes you can make which might make all the difference.

We know our teenagers like to spend time alone often in bedrooms, welded to Xboxes or iPhones, but this, in reality, might be making them more withdrawn and unhappy. The competition is relentless on social media, and our children wait eagerly for likes and comments, sometimes faced with disappointment or worse still, unkind comments. By looking at other’s lives and what they have and comparing it to their own, children may feel unfulfilled and inferior. As adults, we might be able to process that this world is not real. My favourite quote about FB was “When you post your status’- don’t forget that I really know you”. However, our children may be unable to realise this as they do not have our experience, and here is where we need to help them.

One solution to address the balance is to limit “tech time”. Despite what our children tell us, they will not be the odd one out as “everyone is on it”. Discuss as a family and set limits to technology – it’s important for our children to be able to amuse themselves away from the constant stimulation of technology. It is also important they have time to relax away from it, have downtime and have other hobbies. The is an app called “our pact” which many parents find useful, which helps to limit time spent on technology and parents also have the power to disarm devices – a useful sanction.

So here is the task for the week: quickly count up the amount of actual time you spend with the children talking, hanging out, engaging in activities together, then think of how you could put your Hygge time in. It doesn’t need to be a grand act – watching a film, chatting about the day, drying dishes – are all a start, and trust me your child will love it (even if they say they don’t)!

Could you discuss together what they would like to do with you? Just the fact that you’ve asked will make them feel valued. One last thing – if they decline your invitations at least they know you care enough to have asked.

All good things come to those who wait?

Do you ever stop to think how we’ve become used to getting things quickly in the modern day? How waiting for things is almost a thing of the past? Having to wait is almost viewed as a serious breach of our rights, when in fact, in life, waiting is quite normal and helps to instil tolerance and patience, both of which help to give our children balance and promote realistic expectations. Children who are used to instant gratification are often unhappy as they face disappointment on a day to day basis when in fact waiting patiently and dealing with disappointment is a daily occurrence in life and will help children become balanced, realistic and happy adults. By promoting these skills we will certainly help children build resilience. In the modern day of education our children are subjected to greater testing and competition, however, the ones with these skills will bounce back much quicker as they will learn to appreciate that some things take time and effort, and waiting is all part of that.

How many children do you hear of who receive presents before their birthday or Christmas or expensive treats on a regular basis as part of their regular routine? How many children insist they must have the latest i-phone on the day it comes out or insist their parents queue for hours when the latest X box game is released? It’s a trap many of us fall into as parents as our instinct to provide for our children is natural.  But by actually doing this are we hindering them?

Children will learn tolerance and patience if they have good role models, unfortunately we ourselves have become accustomed to the “instant world”. Why in shops now do staff have to say “sorry for your wait?” when I’ve only been in the queue two minutes, perfectly reasonable to me? When out shopping last week an old lady in front of the queue was having two minutes chat with the cashier, the couple behind me in their 50’s and old enough to know better where huffing and tutting when likely this might be the only conversation this lady might have had all week.

So how can we help our children to learn its ok to have to wait to perfect a skill?  Its normal not be able to do something instantly or fail first time! I’ll leave that for you to think about but in cultures where tolerance and patience are valued, their children are definitely happier and more successful. There may be a time sooner than you think where you think “it won’t do them any harm to wait for that.”

The importance of role modelling behaviour to our children

I have used the following poem by Dorothy Law Nolte many times to illustrate to adults how vital it is to be a good role model for our children. The old saying “Do as I say not as I do”, is an ineffective tool for discipline as children copy what they see and not what they are told. By role modelling positive behaviour you set the bar high and this reinforces to your child how to behave well.

Children Learn What They Live

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

I don’t think there is a nicer compliment you can receive more than being told your child displays a good quality of yours such as kindness or patience. However when reflecting on perhaps more negative behaviour, ask yourself is there a role model close to them who needs to change their behaviour? Currently in school we are promoting the Ready To Learn Values, and resilience is a major part of this, therefore:

If children have role models who try again if they fail, they will follow.

If children have role models who are respectful to others, they will follow.

If children have role models who see the brighter side of life they will follow.

If children have role models who work hard and have ambition they will follow.

Parents are the real educators in a child’s life, if they have good role models it will make a real difference.