A few weeks ago we got a flyer in the mailbox saying there was a free Positive Parenting seminar at one of the local schools to be given by the developer of the program Dr Matthew R. Sanders. I’ve heard about this program before and have always been keen but 2 years into this parenthood lark I’d still not found the opportunity to do it. Luckily superdad took the reins with bath and bed and I escaped for a few hours – only briefly considering bypassing the school and heading to the local cocktail and tapas bar.
The promoters did well – I reckon there were close to 500 people there which is a really, really lovely thing to see in your local community – lots of people eager to improve their most important job – being a parent, carer or educator.
The Triple P Positive Parenting Program in a nutshell gives guidance and easy to follow steps to a happier family life – covering topics such as play, learning and discipline.
Dr Sanders was engaging, amusing and very easy to listen to – he also injected his talk with lots of light relief slides and videos on the big screen (to be honest though I think he could have probably cut a few of these out as I was much more interested in what he had to say – he was probably conscious of trying to keep the crowd engaged (awake) on a Monday night in a humid hall). He needn’t have worried – from a quick look around everyone was hanging on his every word!
A friend of mine messaged me just before the start saying she had to miss out due to a sick daughter and could I take notes – despite looking like a teacher’s pet I scribbled away and took photos of all the slides for her and am actually quite grateful for it as I also have a reminder of some of the things I found most helpful. At the start of the talk Dr Sanders asked us to share what we learned throughout our community and with family and friends so I thought this a great opportunity to spread the word.
There was a LOT of info given throughout the evening and for the full insights of the program I recommend highly attending a course or even just spending some time on their website – these are the things that stood out for me:
- Routine – kids like routine and predictability and do not thrive well among chaos (neither do adults). This is key for my life with an 8 month and 2 year old and I can now get a bit of me time each day (which is also important – see below). He also explained how having a set routine lessens stress for everyone – for example doing the same thing every morning making it easier to get breakfast/dressed and out the house. This has a fallout effect on the rest of the day for everyone – if conflict happens before even leaving the house it will continue to school or work and back home at the end of the day.
- Creating an interesting environment – bored kids are likely to misbehave. The thing I took from this point was that kids don’t need hundreds of toys – they need mental stimulation which can come from such simple things as a big cardboard box or collecting leaves from the garden. Their imagination is key and they need to be given a chance to use it. Also don’t be the entertainer – set your kids up with activities and and give regular feedback but let them lead the play. Always, always be available to them if they want to show you something or involve you – normally it will only take a few seconds or minutes of your time but will show the child you are interested and that what they are doing is valued.
- Share highlights of your day – communicate with your child like you want to be communicated to – share your experiences with them and always use polite tones.
- Use descriptive praise – I’ve read about this before and try and use it often as it makes a lot of sense. Praise what your child is doing rather than what they are. Saying ‘you’re a good boy’ can infer that an action will make a child essentially’good’ or ‘bad’ – what we should be saying is ‘what a good job putting your toys away’ or ‘you are eating really well tonight’. Use it the most when a new skill is being learned and then let it lessen. Try and let your kids problem solve for themselves rather than doing it for them – Dr Sanders used the example of a child not being able to open a box – show them how it’s done rather than opening it for them and they will gain confidence and independence. I think this was called incidental teaching and it’s the best way for kids to learn. Think ‘You can do it!’
- Watch your kids – it’s too easy to run off and hang the washing out while they are deep in play or chat to another mum at playgroup while they are busy – but try and make some time just to watch them – and when they search you out to find that they can make eye contact with you is very rewarding for them and will encourage them to keep playing independently.
- Discipline – the most important lesson – control your emotions. For any problem offer an alternative – ‘I know that you really want to jump on the sofa but that’s not what we do – if you’d like to jump let’s go over here and do it’. Also limit your amount of rules – choose your battles wisely.
His final and probably most important point was that there are no gold medals for martyrdom in parenting. Look after yourself and this will filter through to your nearest and dearest. Treat your family as a team and work together.
There was loads, loads more covered in the session and looking back at the photos of the slides a lot more valuable information for any parent or carer.
Do some more reading on their website or attend a session if you can – www.triplep-parenting.net
Parents, stay positive!