Happy New Year! At this time of the year, we're often thinking about how we can change our lives, and those of our children, for the better. I'm delighted to have a New Year guest post from Lesley McCall, an NLP practitioner and Hypnotherapist. She is experienced in helping people with parenting issues and with children who have special needs.
Nobody ever warns you do they? When you have a baby it's all excitement and blue sky with no hint of a cloud. Nobody ever warns you of the pain you will feel when your child is struggling – it’s like having your own little voodoo doll – they get hurt and you feel the pain. Suffering by proxy.
However if we can learn to be resilient parents it will help our children be resilient too and many studies have shown that resilient children make happier adults.
So what makes us resilient? The short answer is learning to cope with adversity. The gardeners amongst us know that if you raise seedlings on a warm windowsill with no draughts then they grow ‘leggy’ and weak. These seedlings will wilt as soon as they face the cold winds of outside and will struggle to survive. Far better to allow them some cool breezes now and then while they are growing to prepare and strengthen them for the outside world. In the same way our children would never have learned to walk if we had never let go of their hand.
So how do we become resilient parents? How do we maintain our perspective when our children are unhappy?
Think of it like this – if you are drowning then you can’t save anyone else—all that happens is that you both drown faster if you try. But get yourself into a boat and you can pull them in too.
Some Techniques that may help:
1. Positive Future Pacing
Anxiety is all about the future – anxious people imagine all sorts of disasters approaching. If all you can see is oncoming disaster, no wonder they are scared. When your child has challenges it's easy to fall into the trap of seeing the worst – but that’s no use to either them or you.
The truth is that you really don’t know what lies ahead. No matter what you have been told by medical professionals, health workers, well-meaning friends – they don’t know for SURE how it will turn out - nobody does. If someone tells you that in all probability such and such will happen say 'How do you KNOW ?' Always believe in the best possible outcome – you never know, it might happen.
2. Challenge negative thoughts – yours and your child’s.
The most influential person you listen to is you– so be careful what you say to yourself. Challenge negative thoughts – are they really true? How likely are they to happen?
3. Learn to be selfish from time to time- without guilt
Your child needs you to be strong - if you are stressed to the point of illness how is that going to help them? So take care of yourself so you can take care of them – eat well, learn to relax, take time out for you when you can. This all makes you stronger – better able to support everyone else.
4. Think Straight- perspective!
Don’t make problems worse than they are – and don’t invent them. If it hasn’t happened then don’t think about it – it may never happen.
5. Reframe the negative to the positive
‘My child can’t do ….but they can do ‘
‘This is never going to happen…..but something better might’
‘I can’t see a solution to this ……yet’
6. Remember – you and your child see things differently.
What hurts you might not bother them. Your child is not you. For example: if you are an extrovert then you might hate being on your own but if your child is an introvert then they may need to be alone to ‘recharge’ their batteries. They may not see being alone as a problem. Do not impose your ‘model of the world’ on them – they have different ideas, beliefs and views to you. If they say they are okay – believe them.
Finally always remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. If you offer your child unconditional love, support and approval then you – and they – are doing well.
If you would like my free relaxation techniques please contact me on
- Coronavirus guidance: What mainstream settings should do to ensure the inclusion of disabled children - September 14, 2020
- The scandal of the children with complex needs told they’re not welcome back at school - September 8, 2020
- Left stranded: the impact of coronavirus on autistic people and families in the UK - September 7, 2020