Parents are heroes. Even so, there are times when all of us need a helping hand. When life gets too much, and you’re worried about your child’s happiness – or your own ability to cope – TIC+ is here for you. Alongside our specialist counselling services, try this Parenting S.O.S guide, which pulls together the best advice we’ve learnt since the charity began back in 1993. It’s your first step towards fostering a healthy relationship with your child and getting things back on track.
Interacting With Your Child
Children thrive when they know they are loved and making their parents proud. It’s easy to overlook them when life gets hectic and stressful, but by stopping everything for a moment to give your child a cuddle, a kind word, praise for a small success or a gentle push to try new things, you’ll give them reassurance and a noticeable boost in self-confidence.
Nobody said parents have to be perfect. We all make mistakes, lose our tempers and say the wrong thing – but it’s how you move forward that matters. Hold up your hands, apologise to your child and give your reasoning (eg. you were in a stressful situation). It’s healthy for kids to see this, as it reminds them that they can also make a mistake – and put it behind them.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them doesn’t make you a mean parent, even if it feels that way sometimes. It’s so important for children to know where the line is, so they can learn to stop themselves before their behaviour becomes acceptable. But remember: you have to stick to your guns or you’ll confuse them.
Never forget that you’re the adult – and your decision should be final. Backing down because your child threatens a tantrum is an unhealthy family dynamic, and will also make them believe they are in control, which can be unsettling and scary.
Helping Your Child
If your child’s behaviour gets worse in the short-term, it’s not necessarily cause for concern. As they grow up and life changes around them, most children go through a spectrum of emotions, which might prompt anything from tears and sleeping trouble to anxiety and friction at school. The good news is that these problems are often only short-term and children usually grow out of them with time and a little family support.
If things are challenging in the longer-term, there’s no substitute for simply talking to your child. Find a quiet moment, approach the subject gently, and you’ll be amazed how even the youngest children will open up. Don’t push them too hard, but instead ask gently about examples when their behaviour fell short (eg. “What made you angry at the football match?”). Let them tell you what happened – and listen.
It’s not always easy to get teenagers talking face-to-face, so use technology to your advantage. A carefully worded email or text message can be a great way to share your worries, letting them know that you’re there for them without causing embarrassment. In time, it might even lead to a conversation.
Don’t assume that you know it all. While it’s up to you, as the parent or responsible adult, to decide what’s best for your child, it can be useful to ask what they think would help solve their problems – and see if you can decide on a solution together.
You and your partner should work together, so find a quiet moment when the child is not around and discuss the situation to make sure you agree on the problems and their possible causes. It’s vital for both parents to adopt the same tactics and rules, so you can give your child a consistent set of boundaries and back each other up when they are tested. If you aren’t on the same page, your child will realise – and use it to challenge your authority.
Taking Care Of Yourself
Your relationship with your child might feel stressful, and your parenting might not always be perfect, but don’t jump to the conclusion that you’re failing or at fault for the situation. Children often hit out at those they love, and may not be in control of their strong emotions – so pick yourself up, shake off the guilt and carry on.
Don’t beat yourself up for your own mental health issues, or assume that you’ll pass them on to your child. Just the fact that you’re reading this webpage shows how deeply you love and care for them – and the power of that love will help protect them against these issues. Help is always on-hand at TIC+, for your whole family.
We all have days when things seem impossible, and if you can’t shake these feelings, don’t be afraid or ashamed to admit it and ask for help. You’ll be amazed how just talking to someone you trust and getting their advice can make your problems seem a little smaller. This is far better than bottling up your emotions and struggling on with a difficult situation.
We all need someone to lean on, and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask your friends and family for help – even if that just means an afternoon’s childcare so you can get back on top of things. Chances are, they’ll have tougher times someday, too, and by then you’ll be back in a position where you’re ready to help them.
As a busy parent, it’s easy for your child to become your reason for existing – but don’t forget the value of some ‘me-time’. This doesn’t have to mean something big, like a holiday or training for a marathon. But do make time for little pleasures like sitting back with a DVD or getting a takeaway with a friend once a week.
Many struggling parents are reluctant to ask their GP for help, afraid they’ll be blacklisted as a ‘bad’ parent or have their children taken into care. Rest assured, this would only happen as an absolute last resort when children are being neglected or abused. Admitting that you’re struggling shows that you want the best for your child, and GPs are trained to support you with referrals to a range of counselling services including TIC+.
TIC+ offers a Parent Support & Advice Line. If your child lives in Gloucestershire and is between the ages of 0 and 25 and you, as a parent or carer, would like support, please get in touch. To make it easier to reach out for help we offer a choice of ways to contact us on Freephone 0800 6525675 or web-chat. Whichever option you choose, there is no need to make an appointment, drop-in anytime during our open hours.
Alternatively, if you would like to arrange counselling for a young person who lives in Gloucestershire and is aged 9-21, they can get support from our TIC+ counsellors. All they, or someone they trust, needs to do is call us on 01594 372777 or text us on 07520 634063 to give us some details so we can arrange an appointment.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, call NHS 111 (on 111) or the Samaritans on 116 123. There’s always someone there to help, and any conversations you have with them are confidential.
For more advice check out our SUPPORT RESOURCES page!