Barnardos has launched a national telephone support service for parents in response to the challenges they are facing during the Covid-19 pandemic. This service will be staffed by Barnardos project workers who are trained professionals.
The government’s response to Covid-19 has meant that normal routines and sources of support are currently unavailable to many families.
Through their dedicated telephone support service Barnardos staff can provide support and advice to parents on the following issues:
- How to talk to your children about the corona virus
- Setting a good routine
- Managing children’s behaviours and sibling dynamics
- Managing aggression and family discord
- Home schooling/managing school expectations.
- Fostering natural learning opportunities in the home
- Healthy eating
- Accessing fun and educational activities for families and individual children
- Managing your child’s worries
- Self-care for parents
- Helping parents manage their own worries and anxieties
- Managing children’s online activity
Barnardos also provides specialist services and support in relation to bereavement, adoption and fostering.
For more information and to request a call-back from Barnardos click the link Barnardos National Parent Support Phone Service
The usual structure of our days may have been turned upside down recently but it is important to construct a structure that works for your family now. Here are some tips from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the World Health Organisation. Click on the image or download the pdf here Covid19 Parenting Structure Up
Sometimes when we face a challenge we just need to think about it in a different way. Mindset Finders are a fun way to help you change your perspective on challenges that we all face.
How to use your Mindset Finder
1.Either by yourself or with a friend, choose a Mindset Finder from the patterns below, that best describes the challenge you’re facing, or your goal. Follow the directions on how to fold the Mindset Finder. (Click on each picture below to see it more clearly)
2.With your thumbs and index fingers in the pockets, pick a
word from the outside of the Finder and pinch and pull for
each letter while you spell out the challenge. For example,
if your difficulty is that you got something “WRONG,” you’d
pinch and pull 5 times while you spelled out W-R-O-N-G.
3. Next, choose one of the 4 visible numbers, and pinch and
pull that number of times.
4. Finally, choose one last number and lift up the flap to reveal
a new Mindset to help you with your challenge.
Gozen who provided this material have asked us to share their terms of Sharing the ♥
1.We want to reach as many families, teachers, therapists, kids, tweens, and teens as possible! Please let others know we’re sending out printables every week by sharing this page: https://gozen.com/printables/
2. Join us on our FREE Facebook group where we are sharing positive interventions, printables, and resilience techniques every day! Go here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/scienceofhappinessforkids/
Family Meals- All preparing and eating together
More interaction between family members including teenagers
Having time to reflect on what is important in life (for parents)
Getting to know children better- their interests, friends and hobbies
Happy to be at home with children
Less stress (No rushing around, less pressure externally to get things done)
Having more energy to enjoy time spent with children
Teaching children new life skills- cooking, cleaning, tying shoes etc.
Being thankful and grateful for having family
Opportunity to explain to siblings about additional needs within family
- Keeping routines- waking up and going to bed
- Monitoring social media/screen time- children need to connect with their friends but not at 3am!
- Co-parenting- Social Distancing and Cocooning
- Education- Home schooling and those getting ready for Leaving Cert.
- Parenting alone and shopping- lack of support network
Active listening is a good way to improve your communication with your child. It lets your child know you are interested in what she has to say.
To practice active listening:
- give your full attention to your child
- make eye contact and stop other things you are doing
- get down on your child’s level
- and reflect or repeat back what she is saying and what she may be feeling to make sure you understand
It can be tempting to brush off our children’s problems, especially if we have had a bad day or if we are busy. But our children need to know that we are going to listen to them. This will make it more likely our children will talk with us about their hopes and problems when they are older. Here is an example.
Active Listening Example 1
Your child’s football game is at 6:00. You only have a short time to make dinner, help with homework, and get everyone ready for the game. While the kids play, you quickly start making dinner. Soon, you hear your son crying. He comes and tells you that his brother hit him and called him a bad name. You are tempted to keep making dinner while nodding your head at what your child is saying, but then you decide to show him you are actively listening. You stop what you are doing, turn to him, make eye contact, and summarize what he has told you and how he seems to be feeling. You say, “It sounds like your brother made you feel sad when he hit you and said mean things.” By doing this, you have let your child know that he has your full attention. He knows that his emotions and feelings are important to you.
Sometimes a child who is upset may not be able to name the emotion she is feeling. Active listening can be a great way to help her. Here is an example:
Active Listening Example 2
You pick up your daughter from preschool. She is crying and tells you that her friend took her favourite toy and stuck out his tongue at her. You show her that you are actively listening when you say, “It seems like you are sad about your friend taking your favourite toy.” Your daughter continues to cry and nods her head. She says that she thinks her friend will break the toy. You show her that you are still actively listening by saying, “So you are scared that your friend might break your toy.” At this time, your daughter calms down a bit. You and your daughter continue to talk, and she knows that it is okay to be upset. She has begun to learn how to label and cope with her feelings by talking to someone.
Using Reflections to Show You’re Listening
Reflection is one way for you to show you are actively listening to your child. You can do this by repeating back what your child has said or by labelling and summing up how you think he feels.
Reflections of Words
When you reflect your child’s words, you are giving attention to him for his use of words. This increases the chance that your child will talk more because he wants your attention. You don’t have to repeat exactly what your child said but what you say is usually very similar. You can add detail, shorten, or correct what your child has said. Here is an example:
Child: “I drawed some sghetti.”
Parent Response: “You drew some long spaghetti.”
In this example, the parent corrects the grammar, pronounces “spaghetti” for the child, and adds detail by describing the spaghetti as “long”.
Reflection of Emotions
When you reflect your child’s emotions, you watch your child’s behaviour and describe the emotions he seems to be having. This gives your child a word for the emotion and helps him learn that it is ok to talk about feelings. Reflection of emotions is not always easy. Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Take a guess even if you are unsure.
There may be times when you are unsure what your child is feeling. For example, your child may be crying but you may not know if he is angry, scared, or sad. Let him know that you are paying attention by saying, “It seems like you are upset or “It sounds/looks like something is bothering you”. Your child may not know himself what he is feeling and by talking you can figure it out together.
- Words aren’t needed all the time.
You can let your child know you are paying attention to how she feels by what you do even if you don’t say anything. You can just sit with your child while she is upset or stay physically close and hold or comfort her.
- You don’t always have to agree.
Sometimes it is difficult to summarize or label your child’s feelings because you think he should be responding in a different way. Telling your child to stop feeling a particular way does not show your child you are trying to understand how he feels. Help him deal with and understand his feelings, by talking with your child about his feelings.
- Talk about other feelings.
Children may have several emotions at the same time. For example, your child might feel sad and afraid at the same time. Show your child you care about what she is showing on the outside and may be feeling on the inside by talking about all the feelings.
- Don’t worry about getting it wrong.
Sometimes when parents are learning active listening skills, they worry that they will incorrectly summarize and label their child’s feelings. You should not worry. Children usually correct their parents if their feelings are described incorrectly. If your child corrects you, try again. Reflect what he has said to you, and expand on it to give him more words and to learn ways to describe his feelings.
Have questions? Need tips? Want to practice?
Check out Quick Tips https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/communication/quicktips.html and Answers from Experts https://www.cdc.gov/parents/essentials/communication/answersfromexperts.html for more info about active listening!
Click through the links below to watch videos and practice your skills for communicating with your child.
- Playtime: Communicating with your Child available here https://www.google.com/search?q=play+time+communicating+with+your+child&oq=play+time+communicating+with+your+child&aqs=chrome..69i57.6194j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#kpvalbx=_EK6NXrqeFYGa1fAPxuOn8A040
- How to use positive communication https://youtu.be/mEqaNDwaKfk
- Communicating with your child- what would you say? Available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3oKwCk5k3w
- Communicating with your child – what would you do? Available here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISGsnvULhOc
This material has been adapted from the Parenting section of the Center for Disease Control website https://www.cdc.gov/parents/index.html
Advice that many professionals and parents request from Parents Plus in this Irish Times article with Professor John Sharry
In the past 20 years the use of technology has invaded family life. Whereas previously there was only the TV to contend with, now we have the internet, video games and smart phones all interrupting family life. When I first started clinical work with families, the number one battle for parents was to get their children to come home on time, now parents battle to get their children out of the house into the fresh air (and to leave the screens behind).
While technology has given us incredible ways to communicate with others, it has also interrupted our communication with our nearest and dearest. If you were to visit an average family home these days you might find Mum on social media, Dad checking emails, the daughter reviewing YouTube videos and the son watching live-streamed videos – no one is talking to each another and all the attention is on the virtual world.
A growing reason for couples seeking marriage counselling are related to screens, whether this is an addiction to pornography or social media, online affairs or simply couples spending more time online and less time communicating with each other.
As well as the dangers of cyber-bullying and the addictive nature of the internet, the excessive use of screens are associated with poor health and sleeping habits.
In my clinical practice, I have come across many teenagers who use the internet throughout the night (often not known by their parents). I remember one girl who would wake several times a night to check if there were any further “likes” to one of her posts on social media. This constant checking of social media or being online all the time is driven by a normal teenage desire to fit in but, amplified on social media, it leads to increased anxiety, poorer concentration and interrupted sleep.
In addition, teenagers, especially boys, are accessing pornography at younger and younger ages (some from the age of 10) and there is evidence that this is distorting their normal sexual development with a growing number becoming addicted in early adulthood, wreaking havoc with their ability to form healthy relationships.
Given the highly immersive and engaging nature of the internet and social media, it is hard for real world healthy activities such as sport, home projects or even walking in nature to get a look in. Even doing homework is made more complicated now that a lot of it is completed online, when alluring, distracting online material is just two finger clicks away.
Remember that Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter have no interest in your children’s improved concentration or long-term health; they simply want to lure them back to log in as frequently as possible.
So, how can you respond as a parent to all these challenges?
How can you be proactive and take steps to help your children and teenagers be safe online and to use technology responsibly? Below are some ideas.
Join in and understand your children’s technology
The first step is not to see technology as “all bad”. Take time to get to know your children’s technology and encourage the positive educational and entertainment aspects. Indeed, technology can be a source of connection between you and your children. Joining them to play some of their video games or using shared social media email and texting can be an important way to stay connected with them as they get older.
Adopt a gradual approach
When your children start using technology it is best to adopt a gradual step-by-step approach based on trust and your child’s age. Start conservatively, and slowly give them access.
When children are young, all internet use should be supervised directly by parents and the child should not know passwords.
As they get older, children can be allowed some time unsupervised, but parents should check their history, know passwords and install appropriate safety software, and so on.
Children should gain access to new technology (like a social media account) only once they have discussed safety and learned about the platform together with their parents.
Create technology-free times and zones
Make sure to limit technology in the home and to set aside times and places when only real world activities and conversations are allowed. For example, you might set family rules such as:
– No phones in bedrooms after 7pm (to ensure a good night’s sleep).
– No technology at mealtimes (to allow time for family talking).
– One hour screen time during weekdays (to allow time for homework and sport).
– Agree that notifications are turned off on phones and social media is checked only a few times a day.
– Have a social media free day such as Sunday when you have family events.
Talk through safety with a child before you introduce a new technology. Go through any potential issues together and ask questions, such as:
How can you ensure you are safe online? What would you do if someone spoke negatively about you online? How can you make sure your phone use is not addictive?
As children become older teenagers they will be responsible for their own technology use, but it is important that you continue to talk to them about safety and responsible usage. Discuss the current dangers and challenges (which are constantly changing) and how they can can manage these.
Negotiate with your children
Listen to your child’s wishes about technology and give them choices. For example, the rule might be that they have a set amount of screen time (for example, 30 minutes) each day of the week, but they can choose when this happens. Children may be allowed more time once they show they are responsible, complete their homework and chores. It is perfectly appropriate to communicate to children that technology is a privilege rather than an entitlement dependent on good behaviour and co-operation (and which can be removed if children don’t keep rules).
Take time to change habits
Many parents are in a situation where poor technology habits have become the norm in the home (TV on all the time, eating in front of screens, phones in the bedroom) and they want to change this. In these situations, take time to negotiate these changes with your children and then gradually work towards them. For example, you might start a conversation saying: “I am worried that there is too much phone and tablet use in the house. It is interfering with homework and time with the family. We need to agree a better routine around this. What do you think?”
Playing with your infant
Parents of children aged birth to 3 years:
Put some time aside to play with your child. Your child will move from ‘exploring objects’ to imitating you, to pretending to be you (Baby See, Baby do – this is role modelling). This is a great step forward in your child’s development as it indicates that they recognise you as somebody separate from themselves and somebody important that has separate feelings and thoughts about things.
- Play ‘copy my face’ with young babies. Babies only a few hours old will try to copy some of your actions like sticking out your tongue.
- For a younger child, hold a mirror in front of their face and watch their reactions.
- For an older child, give the mirror (preferably a light plastic framed one) and watch how they view themselves.
- Get close to a younger child – Play ‘clap a clap a handies’ and watch baby’s attempts to copy you.
- Put some time aside to play with your child. Role model building blocks and other games, but do not ‘correct’ the child if they cannot do exactly like you. It is important to let them learn at their own pace, but role modelling will help them develop.
- Use correct names for items, such as soother, bottle, etc – this will promote language development.
To find out more about the Key Messages to support your parenting see https://www.tusla.ie/parenting-24-seven/0-5years/
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How to: make a treasure hunt for your child
No matter what the occasion, treasure hunts are great fun and an easy way to keep kids entertained.