Encouraging our children to be responsible

One of the challenges of living with social distancing is that we need everyone to take responsibility for their own behaviour. Below are some tips on encouraging our children to become responsible from the Center for Parenting Education. This article was posted before our current Covid19 lockdown but many of the ideas are very useful.

If you have young people who are struggling to see why they should stay at home here is a great video from Foróige Bundoran/Ballyshannon Youth and Family Support Programme where young people tell us who they are staying home for

The impact of words

One of the more subtle ways to promote responsibility in your children is through the language you use. By communicating your expectations that your children will act responsibly, you can create an environment that encourages them to be accountable for their behaviors.

Be alert to “trigger words”

To avoid taking responsibility, children sometimes use phrases such as:

  • “It wasn’t my fault.”
  • “He made me do it.”
  • “I forgot.”
  • “It was an accident.”

When you do not accept these comments as an explanation for behavior, your children learn to take responsibility for their actions. For example:

“I forgot to feed the dog.”

Instead of saying “Okay, don’t let it happen again,” say “The dog is hungry. You need to feed him now.”

“It wasn’t my fault that Thomas’s papers fell. He left them too close to the edge of the table.”

Instead of saying “I’m glad you didn’t do it on purpose. Be more careful next time,” say “I know you didn’t do it on purpose, but you are responsible for what your body does. You need to pick up the papers.”

Give information positively

thumbs up language of responsibility

By noticing improvements and progress rather than commenting on failures, your language can communicate a sense of growth and hopefulness. You are giving the message that you believe that your child is capable of and willing to learn.

Rather than saying “When will you remember what you have to do to set the table?” you can say, “I’m glad that you put the dishes and napkins on the table. Soon you will put the cutlery there too. That is part of learning to set the table.”

“Catch your children being good” by praising positive behavior. Children want to be noticed and appreciated. If they are not recognized for behavior that is responsible, they may try to gain attention through behaviour that is not acceptable.

Use the language of “supportive care”

Instead of rushing in to help your children when they are having a problem, ask them if they want help or if they want to handle the situation themselves. If they want help, you can ask them what kind of help they would like.

Because this type of offering gives them the chance to solve their own problems or to decide in what areas they could use assistance, it encourages children to take more responsibility for their own care.

For example, instead of immediately offering to assist your child on a writing assignment, you can ask whether they want to do it themselves or whether they want help.

If they want your involvement, do they want to brainstorm ideas with you, want help organizing their thoughts, or want you to proof-read their paper?

Use Negotiable Rules

There are certain rules that parents will maintain as non-negotiable; these are often related to safety issues and there is no wiggle-room. But as children get older, more mature and as their judgment improves, certain rules can be shifted into the negotiable category.

By engaging your children in a process of negotiation, you are handing over to them some of the responsibility for following the rule. The result is that your children will more readily internalize the rules and gain self-discipline.

For example, as children get older, bedtime on weekend nights is an issue that might be open for discussion. Having had input into the decision and agreed upon the bedtime during the negotiation, your children are more likely to responsibly abide by the decision.

Employ Humor

The benefits of humor:

  • reduces tension,
  • helps children to see a situation from a different perspective,
  • increases cooperation,
  • builds stronger relationships between people.

In Summary

If you can picture your children as being responsible and treat them as if they already are, you will enhance their movement in that direction. Having a clear picture of how you want your children to be and believing they are capable of becoming that way, will increase the likelihood that they will rise to meet your vision and expectations.

You can get more articles, tips and resources at  https://centerforparentingeducation.org/

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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