Advice Column, Parenting

How to be a more present parent

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All parents want the best for their children.  We take care of them and see to it that they are safe, fed and educated.  We do the best that we can, with the knowledge that we have, in each moment of this minefield called parenting.  In addition, parents are forced to work long hours to make a living and it seems, for so many, that little to no time is left to foster healthy, positive relationships with their children.

Children thrive in relationships where they feel acknowledged, valued and heard. Cindy Glass, Director and Co-founder of Step Up Education Centres says ‘being a mindful parent simply means that you take the time to see, hear and understand your children, despite the challenges that life inevitably throws at you. “I see you, I hear you, I get you” will transform your family!’

Cindy encourages parents to remember (and practice) the below points:

Each of your children is a unique individual with a unique set of circumstances

Your home environment is only a small part of the complete list of influencing factors in your child’s life, so it is very important to make it count. Every child is in some way influenced by the behaviour of others in their school and social environment. Creating a positive, uplifting environment at home where we as parents take the time to listen – really listen to our children, will result in children being more open in sharing what’s happening in their lives, and what they’re thinking and feeling. Eating supper around the dining room table just a few nights a week, for example, will encourage discussions, cement relationships and build happy memories for the whole family.

Don’t take it personally

Our children’s choices and behaviours can lead us to question our competence as parents. However, their thoughts and emotions are sparked by a myriad of influences including social media, peer pressure and their concept of themselves. If we don’t take their behaviour as a personal affront to our parenting, we are better able to take a step back and allow our children the space (with our gentle guidance) to navigate their own path.

Teach your children the art of making effective mistakes

Embrace, own and learn from the inevitable mistakes that will be a part of our children’s lives.  Acknowledge that we are all on a journey of learning and to learn effectively, mistakes are a given.  Choose to be a non-judgemental ear to listen.

Set clear, but fair boundaries

We often parent the way we were parented.  You can choose to do things differently with your children.  Teaching an understanding of choices and consequences is essential.  Don’t just talk- the -talk, walk-the-walk.  Our children do what we do, not always what we say.

Try and organise activities which are fun, silly or even challenging

Be vulnerable, laugh with and at yourself and with your children.  Challenging activities (like zip-lining or hiking) will give you opportunities to encourage and support each other.

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