Looking after yourself

Have you, as a parent, decided that you need to look after yourself a bit more this year?

‘Looking after yourself’ is one of the five keys to positive parenting in the Triple P programme.

You’ve got to live it to give it. What small thing can you do today to take care of yourself? Every day, do one small thing that you enjoy and that satisfies your hands, warms your heart, or feeds your mind. How we feel about ourselves affects how we parent.

Some parents have said to me that they only care about what happens for their kids and they no longer care about themselves. They have said “my life is over now, it’s all about the kids”.  I urge all parents to take care of themselves, because that is all about the kids too. Your children have mirror neurons in their brains. Mirror neurons help us to detect emotion in other people.

If you think you can hide your sadness, depression, anger, annoyance, or frustration from your children, think again. Your children are like a radar for how you are feeling. Why? Because their emotional and physical safety depend on it. But not only that, if your child is picking up that you are sad or angry, they blame themselves. Deep down inside, they think they are the cause of your anger or upset, no matter how many times you tell them that they are not. And that’s not good for their emotional and mental health.

When I was teaching a social and emotional programme in a disadvantaged school, and I asked the students from preschool to Year 6 to name some emotions, they all said (even the littlies) “happy, sad, depressed, and angry”. They could only name those four emotions, because that’s all they heard their parent/carer saying and what they saw them feeling.

Diet and exercise are important to you too. Choose the salad sandwich over the chips. If you are not that keen on gyms or jogging, incidental exercise is good too, such as walking to school to pick up the children, or doing squats and stretches whilst hanging the washing on the line.

When do you take the time to focus on your adult relationships? Many parents tell me they feel isolated and judged in their role as parents. Who supports you whilst you have the important job of supporting your children? Where can you get support from caring and interested people?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or having persistent difficulties in your relationships, seek professional help and counselling.

You owe it to yourself and your children to be as well as you can be (intellectually, physically, emotionally, and socially).

~ Narelle Smith

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Categories: Parenting Skills

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