Have a family-friendly New Year!

2012 can be a great opportunity to adopt better practices with your family. Parenting guru Therese Sequeira tells us how to minimise stresses for the year ahead

Interview, Festive
Interview, Festive
Interview, Festive
Interview, Festive

My parents-in-law are due for their annual holiday and they always interfere when it comes to discipline. I don’t want to argue with them, but I don’t want the kids behaving like spoilt brats either. What should I do?
Get in early and have an honest conversation with your in-laws before they start interfering. Ask for their support without judgment and not their participation when disciplining your children. Explain what you see as their role as grandparents to your children and take the time to listen to what your parents have to say. Remember to manage behaviour consistently with your kids.

My five-year-old daughter’s birthday is in December so for around six weeks, she’s is being spoilt rotten (by in-laws and friends). By New Year, I’ve got Veruca Salt on my hands. How can I turn it around again?
It’s important that you celebrate your daughter’s birthday in the usual way that you do in your family so that she has her special day, which could become diluted at this time of the year. Ensure that she understands about being gracious for her gifts. For the rest of the time, do your best to encourage her ‘good’ behaviours – praise, spending time, talking and laughing with her; and have consistent, fair strategies for any misbehaviour. If you do this all the time, you won’t have too many problems with ‘spoilt’ behaviour.

I’m quite traditional and think children should write ‘thank you’ letters when people give them presents but my kids just will not do it. How can I encourage them positively?
It’s great that you like to teach your children the value of gratitude. Perhaps it’s time to embrace technology. Most children love having computer time so perhaps they could send e-cards or personalized thank you emails that they can decorate with clip art. You may have fewer complaints if you make it fun to send thank you messages electronically.

I’m fed up with my children bickering over their toys. I don’t want to buy the same things for all of them as they are of different ages. How can I handle the situation?
Parents need to encourage positive sibling relationships at all times. This includes encouraging friendship, problem solving, cooperation, appropriate language and respect. Create some rules now about how the children play and share their toys. Then, praise the children when they are following the rules. When they aren’t, act immediately, with consistent, fair consequences and stick to your decisions! Start this process now and you’ll soon see the difference.

I’d like my children to embrace the New Year’s resolutions philosophy, but don’t want to be a pushy mum...
Perhaps you can have family New Year’s resolutions? You may choose a ‘value’ or whole family behaviour that everyone (including parents) can work on for the coming year, such as learning to be more tolerant, having time for each other, being a good friend to siblings, practicing politeness, recognising each other’s good qualities or healthy eating.

My son has a friend from a very wealthy family, and the child’s parents always spoil him when he stays with them. Their generosity makes me uncomfortable. What do I do?
Allow your child to enjoy the time he spends with his friend’s family and ensure he is appreciative of any gifts he receives. Most people don’t give gifts to make others feel bad, so instead of feeling uncomfortable, try to see the kindness offered by this family to your son. I’m sure they get a lot of pleasure out of giving to him.

I want to have a better relationship with my children, but it’s difficult when they act up all the time. What’s your advice?
Try to remember that above anything else, you are your child’s biggest reward. Kids naturally want and need to spend time with their parents – and the root of ‘bad’ behaviour is often just their way of getting attention from you. Make sure you stay involved in their lives by considering the following important points.

Time: Be available for your kids as often as you can. Even stopping for 30 seconds to acknowledge something they are trying to tell you can make all the difference.

Affection: Kids need to feel loved by their parents. Holding, cuddling, tickling, hugging or holding hands can make a big difference.

Be interested: Get to know your kids and let them get to know you. Share interests as well as experiences.

Build their self-esteem: Tell them what they do well and encourage them when they try new things. Take the time to listen, too.

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