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Opinion - Parent your way to happier children

PUBLISHED: 12:27 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:27 22 August 2018

Parent your children to be happy  Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parent your children to be happy Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Certified parent educator Andrea Rippon’s advice for making your children happy

A lot of parenting is intuitive and it’s important that you maintain this trust in yourself.

It’s a job that requires you to be constantly adaptive and flexible - and sometimes all you have to depend on is you.
It’s also important to be confident – even when you know you’re winging it.
Remember you’re a leader and your children need to know that you’ve got it, even if you don’t feel like you have. The bonus of trusting that you’re ‘on it’, whatever problems you and your children face (and there will be some) will lessen your feelings of stress. This will help you to respond to situations, rather than react to them.

Parenting is not about being perfect – it’s about being ‘there’, doing the best you can do, repairing what’s gone wrong and having the stamina to keep going, no matter what is being thrown at you.

Confident, informed, decisive parents tend to raise confident, informed, secure children, so any help you can get to increase those qualities in yourself is essential.

There are a lot of parenting books out there that can help you – I find them invaluable – they show new ways of approaching problems and give you strategies to deal with that. The challenge is to apply what you know into new behaviours at home. It takes up to 56 days to change a habit, so parenting is all about practice, practice, practice. This is where we can go wrong. It’s so easy to fall into established patterns, especially at times of high stress, when we find our responses are just not working. Sometimes we can recognise that we’re becoming our own parents - we’re dishing out a parenting style that was never ours to begin with.

Parenting classes aren’t there to help bad parents; they are there to build the skills of good parents. So if you want to set your child up for a happier, successful life, a parenting class could help you.

Here are three reasons why:

1. Research. Stay ahead by keeping up with the most recent research. From how to praise and discipline children through to living with and managing screen time, new research will give you best practice and advice on how to apply it in your home immediately. Research also tells you which areas of parenting need your attention and why. We know that parenting is more important than schools when it comes to academic achievement. “The bonds between parents and children, such as trust, open lines of communication and active engagement in a child’s academic life”, is what will help give your child the grades they need for their next step. [North Carolina State University]

A parenting class will tell you how to convert your reward/punishment tactics, or worse nagging, into a relationship that includes the qualities mentioned above.

2. Your parenting style needs to match your child’s personality. Knowing when to ‘step forward’ and when to ‘step back’ will be different for each child; and getting that balance right is essential as each of them learn to navigate social and academic situations. Research found that parents who use a style that is well suited to a child’s personality can halve their tendency toward depression or anxiety [University of Washington]. We need lots of skills and strategies at our disposal, so we can pick and choose as we see fit.

3.You need support. Last week, my sister told me about her book club. I asked her what books she was reading. ‘We have all sorts’, she said. ‘But actually it really isn’t about the book. We mostly talk about parenting.’ You are the most important element of parenting, so you need to find a network of support. It will give you some perspective, new ideas, increased confidence and the motivation to keep going.

I’m thinking of starting a Parent Club, with no books. Interested?

Andrea Rippon is a certified parent educator and a mum of two teenagers. www.parentingclass.co.uk She helps parents build strong, long-term relationships with their children (toddlers to teenagers) by using evidence-based communication skills. Her next open programme starts in September, 2018. She can also offer parent coaching by Skype or in person. If you’ve got a question for her, please contact liz.nice@archant.co.uk

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