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to spend time alone often in bedrooms, welded to Xboxes or iPhones, but this, in reality, might be making them more withdrawn and unhappy.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.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

No, it’s not Christmas just yet, but it’s back to school time for our children and for some children it’s the start of a new era such as starting secondary school or moving into a year group where they have chosen their options or started the GCSE learning.

After the long hot summer holidays it can be difficult for our children to get back into the routine of the school day and managing their time, we can help with a few simple tips. This does not mean you organising their equipment and time but setting a routine so they can take ownership and responsibility in being ready to learn at school. By doing this your child will become confident and it will also make your life a lot easier.

Morning routines are so important but often I hear parents telling me they can’t get their child up, this is something your child can regulate themselves and be responsible for, by parents doing this for children they don’t learn to take responsibility.  Many children who come late to school tell us it was their mum’s fault for not getting them up, when in fact they are old enough to do this and it gets them into good habits for later life.

So here’s the solution, a simple alarm clock!  Yes, it worked for us and will work for them. Discuss with your child how long they need in the morning to get ready and to be at school in plenty of time, and let them set the time on the clock. If you don’t hear them up and about then by all means wake them and ensure they physically get out of bed and start getting ready.

Before your child goes to bed let them get out their clothes, and again it is their responsibility to have uniform and kit ready – not yours,  and by expecting this of them it really will benefit them for life. Each pupil should be able to pack their own bag, again by doing this the night before it will ensure mornings are much less stressful and hectic.

So now, your child gets themselves up, has packed their bag the night before, and is correctly dressed as misplaced items have been found the night before and the day is off to a good start for everyone!

Breakfast is important but not all children are ready to eat early, so a drink is always a good thing and ensure money is on their dinner card so they can access breakfast in school if they wish.

One last thing:  bedtime is important for children, on average they need at least 8.5-10 hours sleep per night, so just be sure electronics and phones are off or not in the bedroom, and they will be much happier in the morning if they aren’t tired.

Good luck in making the changes, and  I’d welcome any feedback if it worked or to offer any tips on further strategies, please contact me at

Helping teenagers to resolve conflict

Teenagers, at times need our support in maintaining and resolving issues in friendship groups, this is a very normal part of their development and especially true with female friendships. If we look at normal social development in the teenage years its little wonder our children fall out with friends from time to time. According to John P. Dworetzky, Introduction to Child Development, 5th ed., (West Publishing, 1993).

At 13 

  • uncertain, unhappy, and sensitive
  • convinced that everyone else is watching and judging
  • friendships tend to be group-focused; more squabbling than a year ago

At 15

  • very anxious to be liked
  • friends are very important; may have one or two “best friends”

Children who have a good empathetic understanding of the feelings of others will be happier as they will be able to form friendships and resolve conflicts easier.  Later on, they will be able to form caring relationships in adulthood. When in a conflict with another, it’s useful for a child to try and understand why that person is behaving as they are, it makes work situations easier in later life and generally studies show that adults able to demonstrate empathy are successful and happier in their life. This is where your child needs your help as their developmental stage is against them.

By parents jumping in and going into defence mode when their child is upset over a fall out is not a good idea and can inflame an already emotionally charged situation, remember that girls especially can fall out over something very small and be friends again just as quick. Girls especially can often be distraught at fall outs and when emotion is raw what may be easily resolved can feel like a major incident so, the first thing to do is listen, listen carefully and do not comment or react until the whole story has been told. Here are a few tips which may help.

  1. Wait until they are calm and run through the known facts face to face, not over text.
  2. If do you receive a frantic text during the day, advise them to go to staff if they feel under threat or extremely upset. You can’t communicate over text, just offer reassurance and deal with the whole picture when you are home.
  3. Do give examples of when you’ve been hurt in friendships and how it was resolved. Showing empathy and giving real examples is very powerful for children to see that things can get fixed.
  4. Discuss possible options to resolve it and carefully consider the possible outcomes, it will be more difficult to resolve if you or your child has vented anger on social media or involved others in what is a private matter.
  5. Remember children copy everything and you are their first teacher, if you use abusive or emotive language your child will view this as a normal reaction and it may hinder social relationships.
  6. Always remember that you have heard one side of the story and your child may not always be the innocent party, it’s usually a mixture of 2 sides so don’t be afraid to clarify points and ask the question “was that a good idea to have said that?”

Situations often settle down if handled with care and sensitivity, if you feel the situation is much more than a falling out we are on hand to support further and please do contact us. If you feel your child does have more friendship issues than others or you are concerned please contact me, I have lots of practical tips for parents to use to help their child through what may be a distressing time.