You Don’t Have to Be Like Your Parents

How to Change Your Parenting Style

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by Judy Arnall, BA, CCFE

Do you come from a “dysfunctional family?”  Is your ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score so high that you worry about doing the same to your kids? Can parenting habits change in one generation? Yes, you can change your child’s destiny! Many parents with ACE scores as high as 7 has raised children with 1 or less. You can too!

If you were raised by less than stellar parents, here are some changes you can make to become the parent you wished you had, for the next generation that you are raising. You do not have to repeat negative parenting habits with your own children. You can change your parenting style from over permissive or authoritarian, to a collaborative/democratic positive parenting style.

  • Fake it until you make it. Act like the parents you admire. Copy what they do.
  • Start with yourself. Learn to love you. Change self-talk into positive, loving thoughts about how you look, and what you do, and who you are.
  • Learn the language of respectful communication. Take a course through colleges, universities, churches, parent centers or community centers. Learn how to use I-statements, active listening and problem-solving.
  • Learn child development through courses, or books, to help you know what to expect from children at different ages. Only 23% of parents know child development past the infant stage, and it’s essential for parenting.
  • If you were excessively criticized as a child, consciously make the effort to encourage your own children and hold back the negative.
  • If you were not hugged or touched as a child, make a concerted effort to hug, cuddle and hold your own children, even if it feels alien to you.
  • If you were hurt, upset or sick and were told to “buck up, suck it up, or shut up”, give your child comfort by saying “It’s okay to feel what you do.”  And hug, caress and pat your child with non-sexual touch.
  • If you were ignored as a child, respond right away to your own children.  Give focused attention when they need it and even when they don’t. It’s ok to have fun with your children.
  • If your parents never played with you as a child, read, talk with and play with your own children.
  • When you are angry, take a time out. Your time-out. Not your child’s. What need of yours is not getting met?  How can you meet it? Work on your anger first and you will make better parenting decisions when you are calm.
  • Forgive your parents. They probably did the best they knew how at the time, with the resources they had.
  • Know what your triggers and hot buttons are. We all have sensitive areas in parenting, no matter what our background was, and our awareness of them helps us to come up with alternative behaviours and coping strategies.
  • Start looking at your life through the lens of gratitude. Being grateful enriches life.

Parenting, for the most part, is a learned pattern. We can change parenting patterns and develop new ones. When we become aware of our shortfalls and make a conscious effort to change how we behave, we become really good at parenting after lots of  practice. Don’t worry if you make mistakes. Rome was not built in a day. Even with new learned behaviours, in times of stress, we tend to fall back on our old habits. Apologize and vow to do better next time. With renewed commitment, we get better at changing old habits with time, practice, information and continuance. You can change family dynamics in one generation and give your child the healthy gift of less ACES in their childhood.  It all starts with you!

Baby Playtime: How Much is Enough?

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New moms often ask, “How much should I play with baby?”  The simple answer is, “As much as you wish to.”  Babies love faces and the best time to interact with those they love is face-to-face contact times such as bath times, diaper changes, and feeding times.

During those contact times, it helps to sing, talk, tickle, read, make facial expressions and use vocal variety to baby.  Don’t forget to smile.  Babies love facial interaction and they will naturally turn their head away when they have had enough.

Try to give baby some “tummy time” for several minute periods each day.  It helps baby to develop neck and upper arm muscles and it relieves pressure on the head so that the risk of plagiocephally (flat head) is reduced.  Many babies don’t like tummy time, on a hard floor, so it can be helpful to put baby on parent’s chest while parent is lying down on the sofa.  This counts as tummy time.  Also, keep in mind that tummy time can be several minutes, several times a day, instead of a twenty-minute marathon every day.

Baby carriers are a wonderful way for babies to be stimulated and entertained through the day.  Baby watching you make dinner from the elevated view of a backpack is fascinating for him and is just as stimulating for his brain development as watching “educational” videos.

In spite of our society’s intensive push to give early learning to young children, try to avoid worrying about how much stimulation and playtime she is supposed to be getting.  If you enjoy spending time with baby, interacting with your natural enthusiasm, rest assured she is getting enough stimulation!

http://www.professionalparenting.ca (403) 714-6766 jarnall@shaw.ca

10 Benefits of Living in a (low oil price) Recession

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In many parts of the world, we are coping with recession.  Are there benefits to a simpler life?  Yes, trimming-down lifestyle is a great way to focus on what is really important – family and friends. Here are some additional benefits:

  1. Kids learn how to do chores and become more self-sufficient.
  2. Kids learn money management because they need to earn enough to pay for their wants.
  3. Recessions reduce environmental impact because people buy less consumer items.
  4. Kids spend more time outdoors – camping, hiking, biking, geo-caching and playing
  5. Kids spend more time volunteering.
  6. Family dinners with home-cooking foster socialization with family members, siblings and friends.
  7. Low-cost activities are often the best for bonding – board games, video games, baking, gardening, camping, projects, walks etc.
  8. People take better care of their health with home cooking and nature/ outdoor activities.
  9. People are more creative; they start businesses or turn hobbies into ways to make income.
  10. People become more resourceful, such as learning to fix machines, mend jewelry, and repair clothing and toys.

If you are living in a recession economy, look on the bright side and see how freeing it is to let go of possessions and focus more an relationships.

Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE, currently teaches parenting at The University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Families Matter, and Alberta Health Services for the past 13 years. Judy is the author of the International bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the newly released Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.  

Parenting teacher Judy Arnall urges Parenting with Patience in new book

Calgary Herald

Judy Arnall admits it’s a bit strange to be talking about her parenting techniques while sitting in a car that her grown son is driving to Lethbridge.

But the fact that they are en route to the University of Lethbridge, where her son attends, could certainly be seen as validation that the techniques were effective, even if they might be unpopular among the tough-love crowd.

“I stopped giving my kids punishments when my oldest was 10,” says the author and founder of Calgary’s Professional Parenting Canada. “So I pretty much raised them all through the teen years — I still have two teens — and I’ve never taken away their cellphone, confiscated their computers, or grounded them or took the bedroom door off. If I could tell parents how great that is in terms of communication, I think parents would trust it more. But most parents still punish their kids.”

The mother-of-five certainly…

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