All families face struggles, but families formed through adoption often face challenges of their own. In this article we are going to focus on children who are adopted and some common struggles they may face.
Adoption is a lifelong journey. All adopted children will think at some point about their birth parents: “Why did they give me up for adoption?”, “What kind of people were they?”, “Would I have been happier with them?”, and “Do I have siblings?” are frequent questions. However, it is important that we do not generalise and think that all adopted children are the same. Some may have hardly any issues whereas others may find it more difficult. Adoption issues can affect adoptees at any age and at any point in their lives. It depends on their circumstances before adoption, their genetics, the age of adoption, the circumstances of their adoptive family… However, it is important to remember that all adopted children have experienced trauma or at least serious challenges, and these won’t go away just by being adopted.
Here are some common issues faced by adopted children:
- Loss: Whatever the reason explaining why a child ends up being adopted, that child has been separated from their birth parents. Some children may have lived with many foster families and so have lost multiple families.
- Rejection: Adopted children may feel rejected by their birth parents as they did not want them or could not take care of them.
- Guilt or shame: Some children may feel that there is something wrong with them that explains why their birth parents didn’t keep them.
- Grief: Adopted children may grieve over their lost parents and family.
- Identity and Self-esteem: We all develop a narrative of our life. We start to create our narrative based on the stories that our carers tell us (e.g., the story of your birth, your first day of school…). As we grow up, we continue developing our personal narrative adding our own experiences. Adopted children may have issues developing an identity because they are likely to have gaps in their narrative that they cannot fill. Questions about identity are particularly important during adolescence.
- Intimacy: Adopted children may find difficult to establish intimate relationships with family members, especially if they have lived with a few different families or if they have been victim of abuse.
- Mastery and control: Depending on the age of the adoption and on the circumstances leading to it, some children may feel that they have lost all control over their lives.
Here are some suggestions to deal with these issues for parents of adopted children:
Be honest and open
Adopted children may have identity issues, so it is very important that you help them create a solid identity and personal narrative. Make adoption a normal topic of conversation. If they have questions that you don’t have the answers to, just say so. When possible, have as much information about their birth family as you can. Don’t lie to your child about the fact that they are adopted or the circumstances of the adoption. Amanda Baden who has been examining adoption for 25 years, published a study a few years ago suggesting that it is best to disclose the information before the child is three. Baden found that those children who could remember being told (aged 3 and older) reported higher levels of distress than those children who did not remember ever having ‘the conversation’. One of the hardest things about being told later in life is realising that everyone else (grandparents, uncles, friends) knew the truth and didn’t tell you.
Some people may argue that it is best to wait until the child is old enough so they can really understand the ins and outs of the adoption process, but the reality is that we talk all the time with young children about things they cannot fully understand (e.g., space, the extinction of the dinosaurs). When they are little, they understand the basics of the adoption and as they grow, they will understand it fully, while knowing all the way that they were never lied to. If you lie to your child and they find out, say when they are 14, they will have to rebuild their own identity, which will damage their self-esteem and their relationship with you. If they find out that you lied to them about something so important, they will find it difficult to trust you again and they will question everything they have ever been told.
Consider keeping in touch with the birth family
A growing body of research shows that having some contact with the birth family can help children deal with the feelings of loss and grief associated with leaving them, as well as to develop their sense of identity. In addition, being in touch may help your child access important medical information, have more supportive adults in their lives, understand their cultural and ethnic heritage, and relate to the birth family as real people rather than denigrating or idealising them. Of course, each family is different, and you need to consider what works best for your child. This can range from talking about their birth parents to spending time with them.
Provide a loving home with a consistent routine and positive discipline
Research shows that all children do better in warm, affectionate, and stable households. This does not mean being lax or not having rules. The idea is to be very loving and caring but at the same time establishing clear limits. This will provide the child with a sense of safety.
Having a consistent routine is key for all children but even more for adopted children who have often experienced unstable and unsafe environments. Depending on the child’s age, they may have experienced a loss of control, so allowing them to make some decisions (e.g., which extracurricular activities to take, how to decorate their bedroom) will help them to build confidence and gain some sense of control.
Being too punitive in how you discipline your child may not be a good idea because it may deepen their low self-esteem. Instead, try to use praise (e.g., ‘You have tidied up so well!”) and rewards (e.g., “If you have a bath now, you can watch some tv later”) rather than punishments.
Work hand-in-hand with your child’s school
Children spend around 15,000 hours at school, so it is so very important that your school knows the circumstances of your child otherwise they won’t be able to support them effectively. Adopted children are more likely to experience school exclusions and leave school with lower-than-average educational attainment. However, provided children are well supported by their adoptive families and their schools, there is no reason why they cannot thrive academically. It is important that school staff undergo specific training, so they can support adopted children effectively.
Be careful with praise and avoid comparing your child to others
Some adopted children have low self-esteem and a deep sense of shame. If your praise is too exaggerated (e.g., “You are the cleverest boy ever!”), they may not believe you. Further, it is always better to praise their behaviours (e.g., “Look at how much effort you put in that test, you got an A!”) rather than their personality (e.g., “You got an A, how clever are you!”). In addition, try not to compare your child with their biological siblings or other family members as it can make them feel out of place.
Focus on your child’s mental health
Adopted children are more likely to experience significant emotional, social, and mental health difficulties than children who are not adopted. Most adopted children have experienced trauma, and they need time and support to work on it. Early negative experiences such as neglect and abuse alter the child’s brain structure and functioning, as well as the systems that deal with responses to stress. You can help your child by providing them with a stable and predictable environment both at home and school, so they start seeing the world as a safe place. Some children may need professional support at some points in their life.
Know what support is available to you
Some families may need a lot of support whereas others need little. Or they may need different support at particular life stages. Whatever your case, it is good to know what support is available out there in case you need it. Services like one-to-one support, mental health services, support groups, parenting classes, and mentoring can be helpful.
We hope you find this article useful. If you have any questions or would like to suggest topics for us to write about, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you need one-to-one support, do not forget to contact your REC Parenting therapist. They are waiting for you!
Ana and the REC Parenting Team
With the start of the academic year, new friendships are formed, others are left behind, social groups reshuffle and sadly, bullying may happen. Because let’s be honest, bullying happens in most schools. I am very weary when schools say that it doesn’t happen in their establishments. It does happen, the important thing is how the school community tackles it.
What is bullying?
Bullying happens when a child hurts another on purpose. The bully has more power than the victim, they may be stronger, bigger, or more popular.
Bullying is not a one-off quarrel. It happens repeatedly over a period of time. It is more frequent between the ages of 10-13 but it can happen at any age.
Types of bullying
- Emotional: Socially isolating the child, calling them names, laughing at them…
- Physical: Kicking, punching the child, damaging their property…
- Cyberbullying: It is a form of emotional bulling using electronic devices. The issue with cyberbullying is that the victim cannot escape their attackers. They get no rest from the bullying. Not even when they are home and are meant to be safe.
Who is at risk of being bullied?
Everyone is at risk, but the reality is that some children are more likely to be bullied than others. Children that are perceived to be different in any way, for example, because they are new to the school, are from a different country or a different religion are more likely to be bullied. Children with low self-esteem, those with disabilities or special needs are also at a higher risk. In general, children who are thought to be “weaker” or “different” are more likely to be bullied.
How to know if my child is being bullied?
- A sudden loss of confidence, the child becoming very withdrawn, moody, aggressive, throwing tantrums, being angry
- School achievement falling
- Not wanting to go to school: Finding excuses in the morning, complaining of feeling unwell in the morning
- Coming back home without their materials or broken materials
- Saying that they did not have lunch because maybe the bully took their lunch or took their lunch money
- Having bruises or cuts
What to do if my child is being bullied?
- Explain what bullying is and focus on behaviour rather than labelling other children (“They are mean”) or your child (“You are weak”).
- Make it very clear that it is not their fault in any way.
- Reassure your child that action can be taken.
- Encourage them to be assertive. This doesn’t mean that they must be aggressive but calm and firm about their feelings. Practice role play at home so that when they face the bully, they have the tools to respond to them.
- NEVER tell your child to sort it out by hitting the bully back. It rarely works and it can get your child into deeper trouble.
- Explore ways to extend their friendship groups, for example by joining new clubs.
- Encourage activities that encourage self-esteem such as drama or sports.
- Explore ways with them to approach the school even if they don’t want to. You can maybe propose that you talk together with their favourite teacher.
- DO NOT dismiss it as banter. If your child comes to you because they are being hurt or threatened, try not to say things like “Oh toughen up, it is just a bit of banter” or “Don’t be overdramatic, that has always happened and here we are”. Bullying can have dramatic consequences especially when the victim thinks there is no way out.
- Keep a bullying diary in case you need it in the future.
Why do some children bully others?
The answer to this question is a rather complicated one. There is not one simple factor that explains a child becoming a bully. Bullying behaviour is influenced by a wide range of home, individual, school, neighbourhood, and societal factors.
Children bully others to gain status in their peer group. They seek out approval from their peers by being tough, cruel and powerful or by gaining reputation. Bullies often lack empathy, and their need to belong to the group overrides any other feelings they may experience.
It is important to remember that bullies themselves tend not to do well across many aspects of life. They tend to have problems at school, and show high levels of aggression, depression, and anxiety. They also have difficulties managing their emotions, particularly their anger.
What if my child is the bully?
No parent wants to think that our child is a bully but when bullying happens someone is doing it! Let’s start by saying that is it NOT your fault if the child is the bully.
If your child is indeed the bully, you need a plan of action with the school. Together you need to find the motivation for your child’s behaviour. Why are they doing it? Professional support may be a good idea in these cases. Consider that many bullies continue to behave that way all their lives, so it is very important that you tackle the issue as soon as possible.
Finally, it is important to consider that bullying rarely happens in isolation. Usually, the whole class or the whole peer group know about it. Some children may encourage it, others may think it’s wrong but they may be afraid of saying something and risking being next, whereas others may defend the victim. It is really important that all parents have a chat with our kids about this issue, encouraging them to confide in us or other adults around them if them or others are being bullied. Stopping bullying is not only the responsibility of schools or of those directly involved in it, but of all of us.
This article is based on Professor Helen Cowie’s masterclass: The complete guide to bullying. Do watch it to find out many more resources and information. If your child is struggling with bullying do not hesitate to get in touch with your REC Parenting therapist. Do also drop us an email at email@example.com for any comment or question. We are here to support you!
Ana and The REC Parenting Team
The summer holiday is a good time to reflect on what worked and did not work during the previous academic year, allowing you to start the new one feeling refreshed (hopefully!) and with new goals. Doing so will help you to achieve work-life balance. This means giving equal importance to your career demands and your personal life. Work-life balance is more than a catchphrase: it’s a necessity.
Here are some tips to achieve work-life balance:
- It’s OK not to be perfect
There is no such thing as the perfect parent. It is important that we let go of that idea. You are not a superhero. There will be times when things won’t be perfect. Accept that this is fine, you are not failing, you are doing the best you can. And remember that for the most part, the idea of parenting we see in social media is not real. Don’t fall into the trap! Perfection is an unrealistic goal, trying to achieve it will only lead you to feeling stressed and unsatisfied.
2. Ask for help
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Remember the saying “It takes a village to raise a child”? It is true! And even more in the case of working parents and single parents. We all need help sometimes. Coordinate with other parents and family members. Take turns accompanying children to and from school, share birthday parties, and coordinate playdates so you can all have some free time.
3. Be flexible
Understanding that there may be moments when your family needs you more and other moments when your work demands your full attention is essential. Be flexible and be ready to re-prioritise when things change.
4. Do not neglect yourself
If you want to be able to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. If you are not feeling strong, you won’t be able to do well at home or at work. Remember to sleep and eat well, and exercise regularly. Many of us feel guilty when we have some ‘me time’, but we must learn to ignore that feeling! Think that taking care of yourself is the first step to take care of everything and everyone in your life.
5. Do not feel guilty because you work
Use the time that you have with the kids to enjoy them, do things together, and support them. Do not waste your time wishing that you didn’t have to work. Those thoughts are not helpful, especially if you have no other option but to work. You can be a working parent and a fantastic parent, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
6. Learn to say “no”
For many of us saying no is difficult. Maybe for you saying no is packed with guilt, you are a people pleaser, or you are afraid of disappointing others. However, think that your time and resources are limited, and you should put your energy and effort on the things that are important to you and your family. Whenever a request that you don’t want to do or can’t do comes your way, say no. The sooner you do it, the better so that you avoid unnecessary stress. Some ways of saying no are: ‘Sadly, I have something else going on’, ‘I wish I were able to’, ‘I don’t have the bandwidth to do it right now’, ‘Thanks for thinking of me. However, I am not able to’, or ‘I’m sorry, I’m not able to fit this in’. The more you do it, the easier it will become!
7. Set expectations at home and at work
The start of the academic year is the perfect moment to spend some time alone and decide what you want to achieve in the coming months. Similarly, it is a good time to hold ‘expectations meetings’ at home and at work. At home, establish with your family what will be expected of each one of you, the rules and the organisation of the household for the Autumn months.
At work, depending on your role you can have a similar discussion with your colleagues and team members. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of having to say ‘no’ as well as reduce disappointments, frictions, and arguments.
8. Change one unhealthy habit
Many of us have habits that are not the best for our physical and mental health. Perhaps you drink a bit too much, don’t exercise enough, eat too much processed food, or spend too much time on Instagram. Whereas it is not realistic trying to change all our bad (or not that good) habits at the same time, it is realistic to try to change one. Decide one habit that you would like to change, and go for it!
We wish you and your family all the very best for the new academic year. If you feel you need some extra support, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist. You can also get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org We are here to support you and your family!
The first day of nursery is a big day, not only for your child but for the whole family. In this article we give you seven tips to help you prepare your child for their first day.
1. Talk positively about nursery: Walk past the nursery, attend an open day or an induction session. Establish that this is their nursery and talk about when they will join. Take some photos or look at the photos on the website together. Doing this helps your child to achieve a sense of familiarity with it. If your child is excited about it, keep on talking about it regularly, for example, you can count the number of sleeps. If in contrast, your child is anxious it is better not to discuss it too much to avoid building the anxiety.
2. Talk about others’ experience at nursery: As a general rule, sharing your own or other family members’ experience helps your child understand that they are not alone in whatever they are going through. Ask them how they are feeling and validate those feelings. Try to avoid saying things like: “You will be fine”. Instead say things like: “I understand this is tough. I remember it was tough for me as well. Let’s see how we can help you to make things easier”.
3. Organise playdates with future classmates: This is a great way for you and your child to build some relationships.
4. Practice relevant skills: Sharing, turn-taking, putting their coat on (watch this video to learn the best method), taking shoes on and off, drinking independently from a cup…
A common question is whether children need to be potty trained before starting at nursery. This varies from nursery to nursery. Some will ask for your child to be trained before starting whereas others will support you in this transition. In general, it is best to wait for the child to be ready. If possible, do not rush to do it in the last few weeks before nursery starts. Consider that when they start nursery, children may feel uncomfortable asking a new adult to help them in the loo and may not ask, leading to accidents that will most likely upset them. Also, at the beginning they are more likely to miss the signs because they are in a new and stimulating environment. If your child is not potty trained at the start, allow them to settle at nursery, and once they are happy you can agree with their teacher on the best time to do it.
5. Engage in role-play: If the nursery has a uniform or a bag, practice wearing it and role play going to school. This can be a great activity if another child you know is also starting at the same nursery.
6. Remove their dummy or comfort object for periods of time: Try to remove them for the part of the day that they will be at nursery. Working on language and communication will be a priority at nursery, and this will be difficult using a dummy. Similarly, your child will be working on their fine (e.g., cutting, sticking) and gross (e.g., throwing a ball) motor skills and this will be difficult if they are holding a comfort object. Explain to your child that they will be kept safe at home or at nursery until they are finished.
7. Work on separation: Arrange to leave them even for a short period of time with a friend or a family member. Be confident when you leave and reassure them that you are coming back. Depending on how they feel, start with a few minutes and build up to an hour or two. If they are sad, tell them it is OK to feel that way and remind them that you came back as promised. Stay positive, discuss the great things they did while you were away.
What happens if your child cries a lot when you leave them at nursery? By the time your child starts nursery, they will have established a strong attachment with you and other caregivers. So, leaving you will most likely upset them. Parents usually ask if it is better to stay with their child while they settle or to leave straight away. Consider that your child needs to establish a bond with their new teacher. Why should they even try if you are there, covering all their emotional needs? The best thing when you get to nursery is to explain to your child that you must leave to go to work or run errands and explain that you will return soon. Usually, there will be tears, but your child will eventually settle. The teacher will be able to support your child better once you are gone through fun and engaging activities. Do not however sneak off, it is much better to be honest and say you are leaving. Your child will develop confidence in you that way.
If your child cries a lot, it may be a good idea to start with short sessions and gradually build up the time, keeping the separation routine consistent each time. For some children, it may take a long time but if they see that you are becoming anxious, it may be harder from them. Remember each child is different!
We hope your child has the best time at nursery! The information on this article is based on our masterclass: Choosing the right nursery for your child. Watch it here to learn more tips and useful information. If you have any questions, remember to contact your REC Parenting therapist or email us at: email@example.com We are here to support you and your family!
Should children keep on doing schoolwork during the summer holidays or should they be given a break? This is not an easy question to answer and depending on who you ask, you will most likely get different answers.
Educators who advocate for children doing work during the summer do so based on research showing that when children do nothing at all in maths and reading, they lose two to three months of learning. So, it is basically as if they ended the school year in March. This is a reasonably well-documented phenomenon called summer learning loss or summer slide.
It is important to consider that summer learning loss does not impact all children equally. It seems to be worse for neurodivergent children as well as for children who don’t speak the same language at home and at school (e.g., in our case, we speak Spanish at home but my children attend a school in English). Not only may these children forget the academic material, but they may also need to refresh the language in which they are taught. Summer learning loss has also been shown to be worse for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
Before you rush to buy workbooks for your child to do at the beach, however, it is important to note that other educators are not sure that summer learning loss is really a thing. This is because researchers have recently tried and failed to replicate past studies on this topic and therefore, the guidelines are not entirely clear.
So, what to do? We have carefully examined the research and our conclusion is that doing some work on maths and reading during the summer is positive for children’s learning. The key is how you approach it.
Consider that work does not have to be formal, especially in the case of the little ones. Support your child’s reading skills by taking them to the local library or bookshop and getting books, comics, or magazines they enjoy. Remember that the aim is not to learn new content but to keep up their reading skills. So, if your child wants to read about a topic that you don’t consider important or ‘serious’, let them! And even better, discuss their reading with them to show you care and that you value their interests. At the same time, you will be supporting their reading comprehension.
You may also support your child’s reading skills by reading signs when in the bus or the car, cooking together and asking them to read the recipes, or asking them to look for certain items in the supermarket.
To support your child’s maths, you can add car number plates when out and about, cook together asking them to calculate quantities, give them pocket money so they need to count coins, and play board games together that involve counting.
Other educators advocate that children should not do any work and just rest and have fun over the summer. We totally agree that the summer is the time for children to relax, have fun, and engage in activities they enjoy. However, there are plenty of hours in the day to allow for some reading or some of the maths activities we have mentioned. Having said this, summer work fails its purpose if it causes stress on kids and families. Resentment will most certainly not help your child’s learning. If engaging your child in any kind of schoolwork is damaging your relationship, it is probably best to leave it.
Whereas academic skills are very important, children’s socioemotional skills are also incredibly important, and the summer is an ideal period to practice them. Make the most of their free time by seeing friends and family, have conversations with them, and do things together. Allow your child to have free time when they can choose what to do. And remember that being bored sometimes is not a bad thing. Indeed, it can help develop their creativity!
Finally, the summer can be the perfect time to strengthen the relationship with your child without having to worry about schedules, music practice, or homework. Whatever you do this summer, have a great one! We hope that by the end of the summer you and your children feel refreshed and ready to start the new academic year.
I hope you find this article helpful. For any comments or questions, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org We are here for you!
One of the most important skills that we can teach our children is emotional competence.
Children who are emotionally competent do better at school, have more friends, are better liked by their teachers, and are more likely to help others.
What exactly is emotional competence? It is the ability to understand, express and regulate our emotions. Parents can help children be emotionally competent by talking about emotions with them. The more we talk about emotions with our children, the more emotionally competent they will become.
Here are a few things that you can tell your children to help their emotional competence:
- I am here for you, no matter how you feel
Children experience many different emotions and sometimes these emotions are accompanied by guilt or shame. Let’s imagine for example, that a child is incredibly jealous because his best friend made it to the school football team and he didn’t. He may also feel ashamed or guilty because he knows that he shouldn’t be jealous. If we tell him that we are by his side no matter what he is feeling, we are allowing him to feel whatever he is feeling. He may open up and discuss his feelings with us or with others and doing this is incredibly positive for their mental health.
- Why are you behaving this way? Let’s think about how you are feeling
The way we behave is a result of our emotions. So, it is important that we help our children understand that depending on how they feel, they will behave in one way or another. For example, if we point to our teenager that when she does not get enough sleep, she becomes very moody and irritable, she may choose not to go to bed earlier (as teenagers usually do) but at least she will be aware of this link between emotions and behaviours. She now can decide that whenever she has an important day ahead of her, she needs to go to sleep early.
- How you feel right now won’t last forever
Sometimes children experience intense negative feelings (e.g., sadness, anger, jealousy…) and they think that they will feel that way forever. It is very important to teach them that feelings don’t last forever, and that their intensity goes down as time goes by. This is a very important idea to remind children at times when they are feeling very bad and it seems to them that those emotions will never go away. By telling them that those feelings won’t last forever, we are protecting them against engaging in harmful behaviors such as self-harm.
- It is OK to feel what you are feeling
Children and adolescents want to fit in. They need to feel that they are ‘normal’. By telling them that there is nothing weird about what they are feeling, we are normalising their emotions and we are making them feel that they fit in just fine.
Something that tends to help children is telling them that you remember feeling that way when you were their age. When my son was about eight, he went through a period of feeling anxious on Sunday evenings when thinking about the school week ahead of him. By telling him that I remembered feeling that way, and that I remembered having a knot in my stomach (which was exactly what he was feeling), his emotions were normalized and although they didn’t go away, he felt that there was nothing wrong with him, and that it was OK to feel that way.
- Don’t let your feelings control you
To some extent, we can control our feelings. This is called emotion regulation and the best way to do it, is by changing the way we think about what we are feeling. For example, if a teenager is moving cities because his mum changed jobs, he will probably feel a mix of sadness, anger, and anxiety. The best way to control those feelings is to help him consider his evaluation of the situation, which is something he can control. We can tell him that he has two options: one is not to do anything and continue feeling miserable. The other option is to acknowledge that even if this move was not his choice, it can be a new opportunity to get to know a new city, make more friends, and become more resilient. We need to remind our children that we can control how we evaluate the situations we are going through. The situation they are experiencing may not be his choice, but how they evaluate that situation is his choice.
- Let’s put a name to that feeling
Very often and especially in the case of young children, they experience emotions but they do not know how to name them. It is important that we take a moment to put a label on their emotions because children tend to feel better just by doing so. Labelling their emotions also helps children understand the cause of that emotion, and next time they feel that way, they will be better able to understand what is going on.
So, just remember that it is very important to discuss emotions with your children. The more you do this, the more emotionally competent your children will become. Don’t forget that emotional competence is a super important skill to have in life. The more emotionally competent children, the better they tend to do.
If you are interested in this topic, don’t forget to watch Dr Harriet’s Tenenbaum’s REC masterclass.
I hope this info helps. If you have queries or comments, do drop us an email at: email@example.com
With many children already on holidays and many others about to start, parents are facing the challenge of how to deal with having them at home while you still need to work. This can be a tricky and stressful moment, especially if you cannot rely on your extended family, summer camps, or friends to lend you a hand.
Here are some ideas that you may find helpful:
- Set up expectations and limits
Setting up expectations is helpful so that everyone is clear on how things are going to work. Have a family meeting to decide the rules. Discuss expectations (e.g., organise your room, load the dishwasher, going out rules…). Decide the structure of the days so that the children know what to expect. Explain to your children the hours that you need to work each day or the specific times. For example, “I need to be at my desk and not disturbed between 9-12. Once I am done, we can go to the park”. Doing this everyday helps your children to manage their expectations and gives them stability.
You also may want to set up rules about when it is OK for your child to disturb you while you are at work (e.g., “You can only come into my study or wherever you are working if someone rings the bell, or if you have hurt yourself”). Avoid telling them to come in when there is an emergency, because you and them may have different ideas of what an emergency is! Clearly define what counts as an emergency.
Setting up expectations will help your children to be less upset if you are not with them, and you are less likely to get frustrated if they are not respecting your needs. Sometimes parents end up being ‘entertainers’ because we think that we need to fill every moment of our child’s life with ‘valuable’ experiences. We end up constantly organising plans for them. Remember that there is also value in children getting bored because that way, for example, they are more likely to develop their creativity. Similarly, it is good for children to be able to decide what they want to play with and how they want that play to look like. We all need to learn to be with alone with ourselves and this is not something children will learn if we are organising every single moment for them.
And remember, do not feel guilty if you are working over the summer holidays. You are doing what you have to do and the best you can!
2. Adapt your schedule to your child’s needs and routine (if at all possible)
If you can work flexibly, try to adapt your work to suit your child. For example, if your teenager sleeps until midday, use that time to work and when they wake up you can have lunch together. Or if you have a baby that naps in the morning and afternoon, use that time to get on with work.
3. Have a space only for you (if at all possible)
Working while the kids are at home may be tricky but working in the same room as the kids is definitely not easy! If possible, have a space in the house that is only yours while you are working and make it clear to the children that they cannot come in unless there is a real emergency. If possible, avoid working in the kitchen because someone is always likely to come in to get some water or a snack.
If you have to work with the kids in the room, encourage them to do activities that are not too loud, like reading, making a puzzle, building with Legos… Another option is for you to wear ear plugs!
4. Loosen up the rules
The holidays are a good moment to loosen up a bit. We are not saying to go totally crazy because children still need rules, consistency, and a routine (especially the little ones) but we can perhaps relax them a little. You may, for example, allow some extra screen time, let your teenager sleep in a bit longer, or let your 10-year-old go to bed 30 minutes later than usual. However, remember to make it clear that rule-relaxation only applies during the school holidays. Otherwise, your troops may rebel come school-time!
If you do relax the rules, start to go back to ‘normal’ a few days before school starts again so that your child has time to adjust.
5. Find your village
They say that ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child because it is true! If you have friends or family around with children, offer to organise a rota: you take their kids some afternoons or mornings and they do the same for you. Or if their children are doing the same activities as yours, organise a rota for drop-offs and pick-ups. Ask other parents how they organise themselves, they may give you useful tips and ideas.
Decide what your priorities are for the summer regarding work and family life. You probably will not have time to do everything, so planning ahead and deciding what needs to be done and what can wait will help you avoid frustrations and disappointment. Try to be realistic with your time. I don’t know about you, but I am way too optimistic with mine!
Plan ahead and be flexible. If things are not working out as you had planned, be creative and work out other solutions or strategies.
7. And above all…Enjoy your child!
The holidays are a time when we don’t have to follow a strict timetable and children have less obligations. Therefore, we are less likely to argue with our children about homework, sleep time or music practice. Use this time to chat with them, have a laugh, do things together that you both enjoy.
Sometimes, as parents we fall in the trap of thinking that we need to be always doing something valuable with our children. While this is great, remember that there is also value in ‘not doing anything’. Spending a lazy morning in bed, watching a movie in the afternoon, or playing videogames together, are all valuable moments. During these moments, you enjoy each other’s company and strengthen your bond. Now, that is valuable!
However your summer is looking, we hope that you have a great time and you and your family have time to recharge and enjoy yourselves.
Photo credit: Nappy on Unsplash
As Pride Month comes to an end, we would like to talk about the development of children living in same-sex and transgender families.
To do this, we are lucky to count Professor Susan Golombok as one of our experts. A pioneer in the subject, Professor Golombok has been studying since the 1970s if children living in lesbian mother families and gay father families are as well-adjusted as children growing up in different-sex families. More recently, she has also been studying children living in trans families.
What does her research find? All her studies demonstrate that children living in same-sex families do as well (as sometimes even better) than children living in different-sex families on a wide range of health, social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Children living in trans families tend to show the same outcomes, although it is important to note that research on these families is still quite limited.
Why might children living in same-sex families sometimes do better than children living in different-sex families? The path to become a parent is usually more difficult for same-sex parents because they often have to go through IVF, surrogacy, or adoption. The process is long and hard, and couples must be highly determined to have a child to persevere. Consequently, researchers believe that these parents tend to be very invested in their children. They give them a lot of time, dedication, and love, and these are the ingredients necessary for a child to thrive.
A question that often arises is whether children living in same-sex families will grow up to be gay or lesbian because they will identify with their parents. The evidence shows that children growing up in same-sex families are not more likely to be gay than children living in heterosexual families or those living in single-parent households.
Therefore, it seems that a child’s development has little to do with their parents’ gender identity or sexual orientation. What matters then? What matters is what happens within the family: Children need stable, loving, and harmonious families. Whether they are gay, transgender, or heterosexual.
There is, however, one important risk for children living in same-sex families: social stigmatisation. Although overt bullying towards these children has decreased in the recent past, low level stigmatisation is still quite prevalent. For example, using the word ‘gay’ in a pejorative way can be upsetting and harm children.
If you are interested in this topic, have a look at Professor Susan Golombok’s REC Parenting Masterclass, which gives lots of useful tips. If you have any comments, do not hesitate to drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We love hearing from you!