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19 Mar 2019
Do not be over protective

There is always a nexus between parenting to protect the child and parenting to allow experiences that will give the child an opportunity to meet risk or challenge successfully. We hate to think our children may be hurt or feel unhappy. Such feelings are usually transient and not a life time blow.

Support the development of friendships, including the disagreements

Friendships are not always easy. Disagreements are par for the course. One certainly does not need to protect a child from normal disagreement between siblings or friends. Maintaining everyday relationships or friendships, rest on your child's ability to bond flexibly with others. Positive relationships are built on being able to communicate positively, to problem solve and find alternative solutions and the ability to demonstrate restraint. These should first be modeled and supported at home.

Do not be afraid to intervene, dictate boundaries of behaviour and follow through.

Pulling a toy from a friend because the child wants it now and is unwilling to wait or share ends in argument and tears. Parent suggestions of taking turns or offering another toy may not necessarily work. A parent might at this stage of non compliance have to remove the child from play for a few minutes. This can be done firmly and lovingly. DO not let the tears weaken parent resolve or make you angry. It is important to continue to renegotiate alternatives calmly and objectively and when all fails it may be necessary to end the period of play. It is then important to revisit later without blame what might have been better choices or ways to show restraint.

Model and teach how to be positively reflective and aware of how one acted.

Help your child to stop and reflect upon the way they behaved or tackled a problem and the impact it has had on how they feel and how others reacted. Reflect upon the good reactions as well as the ones that have gone wrong. Allow children to understand that expectations of how we behave can differ depending who we are with. The amount of restraint required in different formal and informal settings does indeed vary. Thus we might allow a child to lie on the floor and cry or scream in disappointment at home, but this is not so acceptable on the floor of a supermarket. Positive reflection is not the opportunity for a blaming or punishing session. Allow them to meet these challenges without negative comment.

Make good choices and thinking about how people react, a habit.

How we experience the events in our world, and our reactions to them, become habitual. Learning how to regulate ones feelings and inhibit negative reactions is a natural part of development. One does not expect the very young child to be able to hold their emotions. It is normal to seek the support of a parent, become over excited, to cry or to have a tantrum.

Nevertheless, even the young child needs to develop a sense of self reflection and be allowed to suffer the consequences of choice. Choices should not always be dominated, and controlled by adult thinking or the consequences softened by the parent. Children must learn to take responsibility for their own choices and actions. A child will not be ruined for life by being momentarily unhappy.

Children will meet a new set of stresses when beginning school. They have to meet the pressure of peer differences and friendships. In order to cope they will pull at the edges of the good or bad habits and responses they have learned at home. Parents will be responsible in part for those habits.


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