To look after your family, the most important thing is to first look after yourself. We know this might seem unnatural, but it is so important to be a role model to your children on how to self-care. It also has the added benefit of reenergising you so that you can be the most effective parent you can be. It is important to practise the 5 steps to wellbeing:
Connect: Spend time connecting with the people around you and developing these relationships. These relationships will support and enrich you on a daily basis.
Be active: It is important to discover a physical activity that you enjoy and that suits your mobility and fitness. Exercising has amazing health benefits, it releases chemicals called endorphins that trigger positive responses in your brain.
Take notice: There is so much beauty around us that a lot of us miss, normally whilst we are glued to our phones. Awareness of the world around us and how it makes us feel is important. It helps us reflect on experiences and truly appreciate what matters to us.
Keep learning: There are so many ways to expand our knowledge of the world around us, and fun ways to do it! Set yourself a challenge and try something new, rediscover a hobby or sign up for a course. You never know, it may take you in a previously unexplored and exciting new direction.
Give: Over the past year we have seen so many examples of people supporting their community and those around them. It can be incredibly rewarding to do something nice for a friend or stranger, and it may influence them to give to others. The beauty of it is that your small act of kindness could positively impact countless lives.
These steps are equally important in supporting children. What might seem trivial to you can be a huge worry to your child. Telling them not to be silly is a sure-fire way to stop them sharing their worries with you in the future.
The final say
Listening and offering advice but giving your child(ren) the final say for how they handle the issue is always good practice. Acknowledging their feelings is so important too. Telling them “I can see you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or angry about this. How do you think we can solve it?” is far better than saying “oh, don’t worry about it, it’ll all work itself out”. You’re not expected to have all the answers, the idea is for you to facilitate them to work out their own plan of action.
Sometimes children can have feelings that they can’t explain or don’t have a name for. For example, they know they have butterflies in their tummy but can’t put that feeling into words. This is where it is good to help them name those feelings.
There are books out there that explain emotions very well. For younger children I love ‘The Colour Monster’ by Anna Llenas or ‘My body sends a signal’ by Natalia Maguire. Mood cards (available online) can be good too as children can simply pick the card from the pack that has the face on that corresponds most closely to how they are feeling and then you can discuss the feeling this represents. Generally, the cards have information on the reverse to help you have a conversation with your child and often include questions for you to ask if you’re stuck.
A ‘Feelings Wheel’ is a good tool to have too. You can find these online by simply typing in ‘feelings wheel’ into a search engine. They show the eight main emotions that everything else stems from and can be helpful with older children. Alternatively, give the film ‘Inside Out’ another watch. It is a lovely reminder of dealing with emotions, which could also be a great end of week treat!
If you have found this article interesting, why not join one of our free Family Learning workshops. To view all upcoming courses and workshops, please visit our website.