By Emily Tonn, RMHCI
July is Purposeful Parenting Month, a time to renew focus on building strong, positive and healthy relationships with your children. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with parents and families across various settings. While each family system is unique, there are common challenges that often arise.
Communication: Parents often express worry that they aren’t communicating “correctly” or that they “don’t know what to say.” Many parents seek guidance in the area of appropriate and effective communication. Don’t avoid communicating due to fear of saying the wrong thing. Consider that you can communicate with your child even if he/she does not respond back. Communication does not always need to turn into a conversation.
Feelings: Share your feelings with your children, within reason of course. Not only is it “ok” but it’s encouraged. You are your child’s best resource. “Happy feelings” aren’t the only good feelings. All feelings are good because they alert us to behave or react a certain way. You can tell your child what you felt, explain why you felt this way (on their level) and then share with them what you might do to feel better in similar situations. Children need to experience that all feelings are real and acceptable. There isn’t something wrong with them if they feel a certain way. These distorted beliefs could hinder them from approaching you with their feelings or concerns.
Time Management: If you feel like you are being pulled in a million directions every day, you most likely are! How do you manage your time? Becoming more pro-active with calendar management can positively impact you and your family. I use very effective strategies with parents on this topic and every time more effective time management, clarity and organization is noted. I hear things like “I never knew how much I really do” “Finally my family is on the same page” “For the first time in a long time I feel like I’ve got things under control” “I have time to myself!”
Stress: “My kids seem so stressed, how can I help them?” When I get this question, I always ask the parent(s) “How stressed are you and how are you managing your stress?” This is not meant to make a parent feel badly, it’s about an awareness. We work together to implement effective strategies for stress management and mindfulness which the entire family can utilize.
Life is busy! Implementing strategies to help with managing stress and time as well as connecting through communication and sharing feelings are all great ways to renew focus on relationships with your children.