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Helpful tips from Somerset parents

Good advice from people who know

Every family is different and what works for one family may not work for all but, with the help of local parents, we have come up with some helpful tips and useful information on some of the most important areas of being a parent.

“How to emotionally connect and feel close with your child.” –  give your child love and affection.

It sounds obvious but it’s good to be reminded that children who are loved and valued get off to a great start in life. Hugs and smiles, genuine warmth and lots of positive attention will help your children build resilience and get them through the difficult times.

“How to have more fun with your kids”- the importance of play.

Physical activity, play and exploring the outdoors can provide great opportunities to have fun with your children and help the whole family connect with each other. Getting outdoors can also offer a valuable tool for helping young people to overcome negative feelings and moods.

“How to be firm but fair, creating rules with care” – setting boundaries.

Children thrive on firm but fair boundaries and consistent, loving approaches to discipline. Children and young people like to feel secure. There is no faster way to breed insecurity in a child than for them to believe there are no boundaries – and that even if there are, nobody cares if they are crossed!

“How to give children something great to imitate”- role modelling.

Children are born without social knowledge or social skills, and they eagerly look for someone to imitate. That “someone” is usually one or both parents. Parents are a child’s first teachers and role models. And usually children are more affected by what their parents do than by what their parents say. They learn how to behave by seeing how their parents behave and by following their example.

“How to help them express how they are feeling” – finding out what’s bothering them.

Feelings are normal it’s what we do with them that matters! When difficult situations arise parents can provide the opportunity for children to think about what they are feeling before problem solving and limit setting takes place. Giving children the chance to confront and discuss their core emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety means they are less likely to project them through challenging behaviour.

“How to talk to your children so they listen, and listen so they will talk” – the importance of talking and listening.

Tell children about what you are doing and engage them in conversation at every suitable opportunity. Answer their questions and encourage them to ask more. Create opportunities when they can listen to each other talking and contribute. Have time away from the television and computer to talk about things.

“How to have special time with your child” – reading and stories.

Sharing books with your child from an early age gets them off to a great start. Children are never too young to start loving books! Your local library is free to join and has free books for under-fives so they can have their very own books from the start. And a story at bedtime makes a great end to the day, even when they’re a bit older -especially if you can find books you both enjoy.

Books can also help children and young people to cope with the pressures of life. The Reading Well books have been chosen by young people and experts to help with difficult feelings and experiences that can affect wellbeing.

“Don’t forget the basics!” – eating, sleeping and looking after yourself

Eating – A varied and balanced diet that includes fruit and veg gives children energy and helps their development. By having a good breakfast to start the day, fresh fruit for snacks, only having sweets and crisps occasionally, and giving water instead of fizzy drinks, all helps. And it’s great if the whole family can sit down together to eat – with the telly off!”

Sleeping – A good night’s time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. The key to how much is enough sleep is whether a child gets up fairly easily in the morning, is alert and happy for most of the day, and is not grumpy. Establishing regular sleep patterns can contribute to development learning and growth.

Looking after yourself – The better parents feel about themselves and their role in the familyand society, the better equipped they will be to engage with their childrenin an encouraging and supportive manner. Studies have shown that thewellbeing of parents has the greatest potential to influence a child’sconduct, educational achievement and health.

Other important topics that were raised by parents

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