The latest blog post is from Rachael Barnes, a confidence and self worth coach. Rachael has joined us today to share her top tips on building better relationships with your kids.
My name is Rachael Barnes, I’m a confidence and self worth coach, and I work with ladies and children to help them build up their confidence levels. The reason I work with ladies and children, is because I believe that the negative messages that we hold about ourselves are created in our childhoods and can sometimes be passed down from our parents, because our parents feel negatively about themselves and the children internalise it. This is not done intentionally. For example, if the mum has an unhealthy relationship with food or she doesn’t think highly of herself, no matter how much she praises her children, some of those messages can be passed down to them. So I start working together to help her gain confidence, and sometimes I work with a child as well as often one will start joining the other, because strategies I help them to put in place will work for children as well as adults.
So, a little about me. I was a primary school teacher for 20 years, so I do love working with children one-to-one, and my background is in psychology. I have two boys myself. One is 15, and he has autism, and I have a very challenging 11 year old. So when I give people advice, I always suggest to try a number of different options as not everything works for everyone. Children are not textbooks, so I try to approach things in a laid-back way, with a bit of humour.
So I am here today to offer my top tips on how to build a healthy relationship with your child.
The most important thing with any relationship is communication. I find with children, to make it easier for them to talk to you, choose times when they’re relaxed. For example, if you are on a car journey, or a walk, or perhaps watching a film together. Not having full-on eye contact helps children to relax more.
What about when you don’t know how to bring something up? Perhaps you are worried that they’ve fallen out with a friend, but you don’t want to ask them directly. Just talk to them in general and allow them to talk to you about it.
Explaining Feelings Simply
It’s not always easy to put into words how you’re feeling. This can be difficult for adults, so for children it’s even harder. One tip I picked up when I was training is to give them an easy option by asking them to rate their day on a scale of one to ten. For example, my 11 year old, if he’s in a really bad mood, might say he’s feeling “minus 3 billion” so I can then ask him “Do you want to talk about it?” If he doesn’t, and he normally doesn’t, I take the pressure off and maybe ask him a few hours later by when he might say “I’m feeling a 2”. So whereas two doesn’t sound great, compared to minus 3 billion it is a big improvement. So I know that he’s feeling happier and it takes the pressure off him that he doesn’t need to talk about all his feelings, but knows I will be here to listen when he needs.
A second tip I picked up from another coach of the day, was talking about describing your moods like the weather, so you can feel “a bit cloudy” to say confused, or if “you’re storming” you’re feeling angry. It’s just makes it easier for children to be able to express how they feel.
Quality Over Quantity
Try and spend quality time with each of your children at a time. I know this is really difficult at the moment because there’s so much going on, especially if you’re working from home and you are suddenly all stuck together, perhaps you have pets as well in the house – it is difficult! So what I try and do is give each child 10 minutes quality time just for them, and it makes such a difference. For example, if they’re playing on fortnight, ask them to show you how to play. My son absolutely loves that game. I personally have no interest in it whatsoever, but he likes it when I take an interest. We’ve just started watching Outnumbered together, which he absolutely loves. It is looking for little things that they’re interested in that you can show you’re interested in too.
Anger is OK
It is perfectly OK for your child to have a meltdown or to feel angry, but it is not OK is for them to hurt you, their siblings, someone else, either physically or emotionally.
I normally reinforce rules such as no swearing or saying nasty words, but general anger is fine. What I try is to do it in a controlled setting, so maybe they go off to their bedroom or somewhere with a quiet space so they can relax. When I worked as a nursery teacher, I would give small children some scrap paper to rip up together. I worked with children who were from deprived backgrounds and had a lot of anger issues and that really helped. For older children, it could be helpful for them to do something to use up that energy – Such as going for a run around, playing on the trampoline. Activities such as this tell them their anger is okay, but here is how they can use it in a good way and communicates to them your message of “It is not okay to hit your sibling. It’s not okay to be cheeky to me, but I understand that you’re angry, and this is how we’ll get through it.”
Share Your Mistakes
Don’t be scared of sharing past mistakes with your children. Something that we all tend to do as parents is not sharing things that we’ve done, because we don’t want our children to repeat our mistakes. It’s not healthy for your children to think that you’re perfect and that you’ll never do anything wrong. When we do this, your child may be too scared to tell you about any mistakes of their own, in case you think less of them for it.
You don’t have to go into lots of detail but it could be things such as, my first business, when I took over a nursery business when I was seven months pregnant. Complete mistake. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I have learnt from it and I moved. Sharing things like that that are safe just shows your children that it’s okay for them to make mistakes, that life is a learning experience, and that they are okay.
So that’s my five top tips for today! If you’d like to learn more about my page, it’s called “Rachael Barnes – Building Confidence and Self Worth.