Reactive parenting is when all the tears, tantrums, and struggles happen, making us feel powerless, as if our children and their behaviour is out of our control.
So here’s 5 Proactive Pointers to put you in control, without being a controlling parent.
1. The Night Before
To alleviate the morning panic and chaos, decide what everyone will wear and lay school uniforms, PE kits, bags, shoes, homework etc.. out the night before. And make lunches or put the dinner money in an envelope ready.
Ironing school uniforms in the morning when running late is a nightmare!
To save time and stress, choose an hour or so a week (I personally love Sunday mornings to do this) to blast through the ironing pile in one go, and ask your child to read their schoolbooks to you as you iron (of course never leave the iron unattended while children are around). Then that’s homework and iron ticked off in one go. 🙂
Alternatively, pay someone else to do the ironing?
2. Delegate Chores
Affordable ironing services will pick up and drop off ironing and the time and stress they save makes up for the cost.
Shopping online to save time parking and packing can also help.
So can getting the kids to help around the home. Children like to feel grown up. They enjoy sorting the clothes into colours, putting the washing machine on, and pegging the clothes on the line.
When we include them, we’re not multitasking them with chores because they’re enjoying the process.
The difference is the way in which the task is approached and how we treat them. Instead of our children competing with the vacuum cleaner for our attention, while we scream and shout at them over the noise, we can involve them in what we are doing. We stress-less and get help to complete chores, while enjoying some fun ‘Us time’ together.
3. Do it Now
Make a habit of dealing with things as soon as you can, instead of saving them for later, so they don’t all stack up to be an insurmountable mountain, that you have no energy to tackle.
Check your diaries and to do lists today, and do all the things that can be done now.
If there’s too much that can be done now, is all of it necessary?
If not, can you get rid or delegate it?
Having to buy or make a costume for our children’s Christmas concert, for example, is much easier and far less stressful, if we tackle it the day we find out about it. I’ve often set the school letters aside and thought; ‘I’ll do that nearer the time, at the moment, there’re more important things to do today.’
Then before I know it, the costume has to be taken into school the next day for the show, and I have no time or resources to make one and no time to shop around or get one delivered from the internet either.
Think now or never when you get that letter!
4. SAY ‘NO’ TO TIME TAKERS
Time Takers come in all sorts of disguises, they’re not always people but all have one thing in common, they need you, but you don’t need them.
They can be jobs that need doing, places you have to go to, commitments you don’t need, want or enjoy. Feel free to make your own list, as this will be invaluable in taking that time back in the future. Here are some examples to kick start you off:
• Your boss asks you to do over time.
• Your partner wants you to entertain their friends.
• The dog needs a walk.
• The school needs a volunteer.
• Family is coming to visit.
• There’s a course you must take.
• A friend wants a gossip.
• Email & Social Media notifications keep going off.
• Your Sister needs a babysitter.
• Your Dad needs help with the gardening.
• Your Mum needs a lift to the hospital.
• The housework/decorating needs doing.
All can feel like they urgently need attending to, and all are worthy, loving acts, but you don’t have to be the one who attends to them all, all the time. Doing too much can feel like you’re being stretched beyond your limit, and this scattering of time and attention, anywhere and everywhere, can result in you going nowhere and doing nothing fast.
It’s about learning to say ‘No’ without feeling guilty or upsetting other people, and like anything else, it gets a lot easier the more you practice saying it.
We need to practice saying ‘No’ more often to others, and stop saying ‘No’ to ourselves.
We know what we should be doing to help our children, but often, we just don’t know how or where to start?
Well, routine Muma is the place.
When we’re busy, stressed, and short of time, routines guide us in the right direction, so no one’s confused about what they should be doing, when, and why.
But what routines exactly do our children need?
A routine which includes;
Recreational play time,
Routines create a clear route for us to guide our children. You can read more about The UURSELF Routine here
We’ve all dreamed of lazy days in our pjs, watching daytime TV, with no work or responsibilities but now we’ve got it, we can see the dream was far better than reality. We all need structure to our days and a reason to get out of bed and get dressed each day. When everyday becomes a prolonged holiday it just gets boring, yes we had fun eating and drinking what we pleased, sleeping when we felt like and not having to exercise as much, but when there’s no U time and Us time becomes more of a chore we can’t escape, everyone’s esteem suffers. Now more than ever, you and your children need routine.
Routine – The Habit of all Happy, Healthy and Successful Parents and Children.
Having worked with so many different children of all ages from all walks of life, I believe there’s no such thing as a naughty child, a fussy eater, or a child who cannot sleep.
There are only children who lack routine, and therefore, develop their own habits in the absence of those routines.
Our children’s routines are simply their everyday activities, such as going to bed or eating dinner at a certain time. Most children already follow some sort of routine, whether it’s one that has been structured for them to follow, such as being put to bed at seven pm every evening, or one they have naturally adopted where they nap when they are tired around three pm each day. Both become habits ensuring adequate sleep.
Whether formed naturally or created by us for our children to follow, habits in life can work for or against us. For example, only eating junk food is an unhealthy habit, brushing our teeth is a healthy habit.
We can do them both every day without even thinking about it unless we choose consciously not to do them. This is hard work, anyone who’s ever tried to go on a diet will tell you—the craving takes over. Breaking old habits can be a real struggle. Particularly if those habits provide us with pleasure or comfort, which most do. As human beings, we are all creatures of habit. We like the predictability and safety that our habits provide, like an old friend, we can rely on them to be there for us when we need them. As it’s so hard to break old habits and resist temptation, it’s best not to let our children develop unhealthy habits in the first place.
The problem then is not the habits themselves, it’s whether they are healthy and helpful for our children or not.
If our children’s habits are sporadic or dictated by the whims of our children’s moods and emotions, they are not consistent routines. Routines should become automatic habits that should not depend on outside circumstances or feelings. What’s important is understanding our children’s habits and being able to influence or change them in order to steer them down the healthier, automatic highway.
To do this, it’s essential we offer them alternative ‘healthy habits’ and the best way to do this is to provide them with a healthy, consistent routine.
Children especially like the predictability and stability that routines bring in an otherwise chaotic world. Lack of routine causes confusion, and that results in misbehaviour.
When our children don’t know what is expected of them, when it’s expected, and why we expect them to do something, they get confused, angry, and upset.
We might insist they go to bed at seven o’clock, but if that’s not what they are used to doing, and they don’t know why they must go to bed at that time all of a sudden, then they’ll kick up a fuss. This emotional outburst will be even more severe if they are tired.
It’s best to have a routine in place that they are used to, giving them a set of instructions that they can learn to follow until eventually, those instructions become an automatic habit.
Children just don’t understand the reason why they are being overly emotional is because they are tired, hungry, or frustrated over something out of their control. Our role as parents is to identify their misbehaviour as a sign that they want us to take charge, direct them, or reassure them in some way, not to punish them for their behaviour.
This is when routines are useful because being young and uncertain on how to react or behave is scary enough without children having to worry about when they are going to eat their next meal or what time they need go to bed. A regular routine takes care of all of that for them, and for us as parents too.
In the absence of routine, children can become labelled as naughty when they’re actually hungry, tired, bored, restless, or attention seeking. We naturally assume that attention seeking behaviour is bad, but if our children are in constant need of our attention, then we need to identify this as the problem and find out why.
And again, routine helps us to do this because if we can rule out our children’s unwanted behaviour as not being a result of hunger or tiredness, we now know there’s another issue that needs our attention.
It’s easy to overlook issues without a routine in place as we won’t have a clue what is wrong with our child, making it easier to blame their behaviour as being the problem rather than finding out what problem is causing the behaviour.
That’s because their behaviour is tangible, we can see, hear, or feel it even. So, if it’s unwanted behaviour, the behaviour is the only problem we see, and we tend to react to their behaviour by trying to control or stop it with some form of punishment or threat.
Children may think they know what they want, but they are not mature or experienced enough to decide what is good or bad for them.
That’s when they depend on us for guidance, not punishment.
No doubt they’ll want to play all night long, but only because they don’t understand the importance of rest in their lives and the impact lack of quality sleep has on them. When they fight their need to sleep, inevitably, they become over tired, and as a result, they become out of control and emotional with no understanding of why.
Lack of routine in their lives can make it easy for them to do their own thing based on how they are feeling at any particular time. But their feelings aren’t reliable—routines are. We have to take a proactive approach to parenting and provide for their needs before they need them. Such as ensuring they go to bed at a consistent time every evening. This way, we limit and eventually prevent unwanted behaviour caused by tiredness.
If our children get enough time with us, adequate sleep, nutritious food, exercise, and plenty of recreation and love, then, those habits will obviously serve them better. Whereas a haphazard approach, left to their own devices, unsupervised, in an environment where they have complete control of what they do, staying up late, eating junk food in front of a screen is a recipe for disaster.
Now I’m not suggesting any of us allow that to happen intentionally, but letting our children stay up later than they should, occupied by a screen, can become a sneaky habit. Sometimes, for the sake of our sanity, we need a break, and the modern age babysitter, aka, the moving screen, is quick and convenient. It also delays the tantrum we know will erupt before bed, and in some cases, provides a lullaby for children to eventually drop off to so we don’t have to face that dreaded situation.
But this catch 22 is a short-term solution to a longer-term problem.
Even if they fight it, all children need and like the predictability that routines offer, but it’s also good for us parents. It’s far easier and less stressful than fighting and arguing with our children, and it gives us the time for ourselves that we all need. When we all follow the same routine, harmony follows us. It gives the day order, and time serves a purpose in our lives. We become more organised and productive and able to plan ahead and pre-empt things ahead of time.
If we are trying to get some peace and quiet to unwind and relax, then we need to put our children to bed. That way, they can grow and recharge, while we enjoy our evening relaxing and recuperating. For that to work, we must establish a bedtime routine, or else we are making tomorrow an even harder day than today.
As parents, we now know that we want routine, and our children need it, so let’s give everyone what they want and need. But what routines exactly do our children need?
No matter how unique our children are, all children need exactly the same things to be happy, healthy, and successful, that is;
Parents and carers who love them unconditionally and spend time with them, making them feel valued.
Somewhere safe to call home.
A routine which includes, recreational play time, sleep, exercise, love, and food.
It’s about the small, consistent things that we do for our children that will make all the difference to their health, happiness, and success long term.
It’s not about grand gestures, gadgets or gifts, fancy clothes, or holidays to exotic Islands riding camels across the dessert. Although, these positive experiences and material possessions can and do make a difference to their wellbeing too. But ultimately, being a loving parent who offers a stable routine is the best gift that we can give our children today.
And it’s the gift that keeps on giving because the sense of love, security, belonging, and comfort provided by a routine while young will stay with them as adults, helping them to feel more confident as people and happier in themselves.
THE U URSELF ROUTINE
As parents, we are responsible for our children’s habits.
The U URSELF Routine is a routine that allows us take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children.
And that’s why U Time is part of the U URSELF Routine that I created.
It’s a routine I used with my own children as well as helping other parents and their children that I’ve worked with over the years. It’s tried and tested, and it works. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool, making it easy to deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour when followed consistently on a daily basis.
Although I have created and used the U URSELF Routine with great success with my own children and have taught it to parents and children I have worked with over the past sixteen years as a Registered Childminder, Parent Coach, and Therapist. Only you know what is best for you and your child and your family as a whole. Each and every family has their own way of doing things and their own setup. Therefore, it’s you yourself who will ideally decide the routines you want your child to follow. The U URSELF Routine is aptly called the U URSELF Routine because it’s you yourself who will implement this routine and, ultimately, it’s going to be you yourself who will make your child happy, healthy, and successful.
If you are interested in reading more about the U URSELF Routine in detail, you can download my book now which covers the routine in depth, The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child from Amazon or order a copy from Waterstones or Barnes & Noble
But I’ll offer a brief overview as follows.
It’s one routine as a whole that comprises of seven different yet co-dependant aspects. In order for you to remember them, below is a useful mnemonic to help you, using the words ‘You Yourself’ abbreviated and spelt U URSELF. These combined are what I refer to as the U URSELF routine.
Those seven, separate, yet co-dependant routines combine into one solid tried and tested routine. Offering an outline of what every child needs and why, to be happy, healthy, and successful.
Individual in their own right, each are co-dependent on one another because it’s pointless addressing our children’s behavioural issues if we aren’t addressing their sleep issues or other areas of their lives. As each aspect of our children’s lives impacts one another, there’s no point addressing your child’s sleeping habits if you don’t look at their exercise and recreational habits too. Like a missing piece of the puzzle, leaving out one area will fail to give us the whole picture. All the pieces or parts of the routine need to be collectively addressed at the same time.
We all do it, we focus on an area we feel is the problem and try treating that problem or try to tackle that area head-on, failing to find the solution we are after.
We need to encompass our children’s habits as a whole in all areas. Even those areas we are happy with that cause no issues.
They may be a good eater, but what are they eating and when?
I’m guessing chicken nuggets are most popular in these days of lockdown!
This can all have an impact on their quality of sleep and be an underlying cause of their sleep problems.
The U URSELF routine will prove to be a useful, informative, motivational guide.
Even though much of it is common sense, having a motive or understanding the benefits of each aspect will give you the motivation and knowledge to stick to the routine, particularly when times become challenging. We are all cooped up indoors together at this time through no fault of anyone’s but tensions are high and patience in short supply. If you are finding your childrens behaviour difficult right now you may also like to take a look at my other book The Powerful Proactive Parent’s Guide to Present Parenting, both books are available to download to Kindle now.
If consistently followed, The UURSELF Routine is a reliable blueprint to guide you, but not if it’s just on paper. You can read about it, and I can keep writing about it until we are blue in the face, but without taking action to implement it, it’s worthless common knowledge. You have to be proactive in encouraging and following it with your child.
That’s where most routines fail, our motivation wanes over time. When we lack motivation, we can never encourage our children to follow the routine, and without encouragement, routines are not carried out frequently enough to become habits.
Over time, with a consistent approach to the U URSELF routine, becoming over tired, starving hungry, bored or attention seeking will be eliminated most of the time as the routine endeavours to meet those needs in advance before it’s too late.
By offering our children food before they are hungry or by putting them down for a nap just before they desperately need one, we help them to feel understood, cared for, and content. This prevents tears and tantrums for both parent and child, because trying to soothe an over tired baby to sleep is a very stressful time for all in earshot, so it’s never a good idea to wait until it’s too late.
The U URSELF Routine is designed to help children feel good. Feeling good about themselves is crucial to being happy, heathy, and successful. That’s why Esteem is part of the U URSELF Routine.
The U URSELF routine also allows us to take charge and to feel Confident and Proactive as parents, guiding us in what we should be doing and when, just as much as our children. That’s why it’s such an effective and valuable parenting tool. When followed consistently on a daily basis, the U URSELF Routine as already said helps us deduce a lot from our children’s behaviour., so we are able to see where the problem lies.
Routines also help us to proactively pre-empt beforehand our children’s behaviour so we can plan and accommodate for those times when there have been interferences in their routines.
You’ll soon find that life is so much easier when we all have a routine to follow each day!
Carve the path for your child to walk, or tread the hot coal’s that follow, it’s up to you.
I’d love to hear your lockdown parenting adventures. I would especially love to hear some positive stories, and the good outcomes that you have found from this strange period in our history, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
What negative beliefs to you believe about yourself?
Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.
If not overcome, self-limiting beliefs can become the enemy to success and happiness. Especially potent are those beliefs created by authority figures such as from parents and teachers.
If a child is told that they ‘Will never be any good at_____’ fill in the blank with a subject, these negative comments stick in their subconscious mind. They then believe them to be true, even if years later they have proved them to be wrong. Often, they will look for ways to prove those authority figures right, albeit subconsciously. Then, when their negative self-beliefs and attitude inevitably causes them to fail, they’ll think ‘Well, the teacher did say I would never be any good at it, and look—they were right!’
We need to challenge our children’s self-limiting beliefs and find out where they came from and whether or not the source was correct or reliable?
Seeking to prove them wrong, rather than right, and reinforcing the things that our children are good at and can do. There will always be things they find challenging, but they shouldn’t avoid them or believe they are unachievable, nothing is impossible with the right support and encouragement.
Children under seven are very impressionable, they particularly take in things that upset them or stand out as most significant, especially traumatic events. They then sort and store these experiences in their subconscious mind for future reference, which then becomes available to assist them in the future.
This is helpful if the information is right or is intended to keep them safe in some way, but sometimes it can be wrong, misguided, and outdated. Information received while young is based on a young child’s perspective and may not be appropriate to them as they get older. Even when they have grown up and outgrown it, they may still be acting, thinking, or feeling based on those past experiences.
‘Self-limiting beliefs stack up, and children are constantly adding to them over the course of their lives as they discover more and more things they can’t do.’
This causes them to create fears and restrictions on themselves, and if others impose limiting expectations upon them, they add to a child’s own self-limiting beliefs, especially if they believe them or they remember situations or comments that reinforce them.
Fortunately, with the right encouragement, support, and belief, children can combat and overcome these self-limiting beliefs.
Children believe others over themselves most of the time, so, if they have fallen off a bike many times, their mind will tell them ‘You can’t ride a bike.’
But if we can convince them that they can. With some patience, persistence, and practice, they’ll believe us and start practicing until they eventually learn how to ride that bike. Because we have said and believe they can, they start to believe it themselves.
As Proactive Parents, we need to show them that their limiting beliefs are inaccurate and find evidence to support why they can do something that they believe they can’t.
If they say they are no good at sport, we can remind them of an occasion when they were, such as when they came first in the egg and spoon race. Our job is to question their beliefs and point out how vague they are being, by asking them in a confused tone;
‘Sport? … What sport in particular are you no good at?
And; ‘What do you mean by no good exactly?’ This will make them think less generally.
If they reply; ‘I mean I’m no good at rugby.’
We could say; ‘Well that’s not all sport, that’s just one activity, but why do you think you are no good at rugby anyway?’
They might reply with; ‘I didn’t score a try last week.’
We could then ask; ‘Did everyone else score one?’
They may respond; ‘No only two people scored a try.’
We could continue; ‘So are none of the others any good at rugby also?’
To which they would have to honestly reply; ‘No some are good.’
Regardless of talent, ability, qualifications, experience, money, or even if they follow ‘The Seven Steps to Success’ which we will reveal in later blog posts, none will make a difference without our children having Self-belief.
If they don’t believe that they can do something, then they won’t be able to do it, even if we are really encouraging and believe in them. Their self-belief influences everything, including their performance throughout school and academic potential.
These self-beliefs often lead to success in areas they feel confident and believe they can do well in, but in those they don’t, they’ll likely avoid or not do so well in.
There will be a variety of subjects in school, some they will not always enjoy, but they will be more likely to persist if they believe they can achieve good results in them, and we can help them build their self-belief by;
Believing in their capabilities — If we do, then they will.
Giving them responsibilities — Showing them that we believe and trust in them when it comes to important matters and giving them responsibilities makes them more responsible.
Helping them — If they are struggling in any subject at school, or any other area of their lives for that matter, mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, we can help them overcome these obstacles and succeed by getting them the help, support, and resources they lack or need.
Encouraging them to be proactive — Taking action will give them the confidence to believe that they can achieve anything, even if they fail. It’s the fear of not being able to do a thing that stops them from believing they can. They have to gain confidence through achievement, and self-belief through doing and proving to themselves they can.
Complimenting them — Pointing out their efforts as much as their achievements and being specific. A general ‘Well done’ is not enough, we need to elaborate. Well done for what exactly? To replicate their success, they need to know exactly what it was they did so well in order for them to apply that to something else in the future.
Not over doing it — If we are too general or praise them when it’s not due, then they will not believe our praise to be genuine. Our children’s self-belief comes from the support and encouragement of others, including ourselves, but words of encouragement or trying to boost their ego with praise alone, will not work. They have to believe and feel good about themselves for genuine reasons. No matter how many times we tell them they are the best at something if they know they aren’t, they won’t be fooled. And the more they perceive us to be lying about what they think they can do, the less likely they will be to accept our genuine praise or compliments.
No matter how much praise we give or belief we have in our children, it’s what they believe and achieve, and whether it’s important to them or not, that counts, which is down to their own self-image. We’ll look at self-image in later blog posts too but over the last two weeks I’ve noticed the emails I’ve received from parents have revolved around sibling rivalry and arguments, especially during half term school holidays, so next week we’ll address The Art of Intervention.