FIPTIPS: Parenting Tips from the Family Interaction Program

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As the Weeks of Social Isolation and Restrictions on our Movements Continue, Here are just 3 (and sometimes a few more) Simple and Useful FIP TIPS each week for those with Children at Home (including many of us at FIP!).

 

Week 6: Transitioning Back to School

With Queensland’s lower and senior grades returning to school next week, and the rest of the grades possibly returning by the end of the month, here are some tips to help with the adjustment back to school. During periods of transition and change it is normal to see an increase in some behaviours while children settle back into their previous routines. However, there are some things we can do to help make the transition a little smoother:

  • Get back into the swing of things. During school holidays and the period of online learning, the routines you used to have in place may have relaxed a little, or look a bit different. Talk about and practice the routines for school; including getting ready in the mornings, mealtimes, and bedtime routines. Try to keep it fun and light, you may even want to pack a practice lunchbox and have a picnic outside or in the loungeroom.
  • Avoid avoiding. When children are feeling anxious they may try to avoid the thing they are worried about. However, we know that continuing to avoid something can make our worry feel even bigger. Take the time to listen and empathise with how your child is feeling, and support them in facing their fear. Once they get past the initial hurdle they may even remember how much fun they have at school!
  • Be aware of your feelings. You may also have some feelings about your child returning to school, you might be worried about how they will go with the change, or might miss having them at home with you. Children are very good at picking up and mirroring the emotions that we experience, so try your best to keep things light and convey positivity and optimism about returning to school.
  • Use your resources. Just like the start of a new school year, teachers are prepared for children to take some time to transition back into the classroom. Let your child know that they can talk to you or their teacher if they are feeling worried about something. If you have concerns with how your child is adjusting talk to their teacher about things you can both do to help them.
  • Treat yourself (and them). If possible, try to organise a fun activity you can both enjoy once the school day is over. You might enjoy going for a bike ride together, or doing some special playtime!

Resources

Turn the morning ‘getting ready’ routine into a fun game! https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/behaviour/behaviour-management-tips-tools/-beat-the-buzzer-

Week 5: Responding to Your Own Needs

During this time of isolation, working from home, and home schooling, the demands we place on ourselves can be high, and it can feel overwhelming at times to get everything done. It is important for our own mental health to make sure we look after our own well-being that we can be there to support our loved ones. Here are our tips for the week on how to implement a little self-care into our lives.

  • Find some time in your day. Find a small pocket of time each day where you can focus on yourself. For some people that may be first thing in the morning before the children wake up, in the afternoon when the kids are watching a TV show or playing computer games, or in the evenings once the kids are in bed. If there is another adult in the house, talk to them about keeping an eye on the kids while you take some time to yourself.
  • Spark joy. Pick an activity that brings you joy – it may be sitting down with a cup of tea, doing an online exercise class, listening to a podcast, taking a bath, getting creative, or getting some fresh air.
  • Ask for help. This is a tricky time, so it may be helpful to reach out to others for support. You can phone a close friend or family member, or call support lines such as Lifeline (13 11 14) and Parentline (1300 30 1300). If you need more one on one support, you can talk to your GP about a referral to a psychologist (many are offering telehealth services).

 

Week 4: Responding to Children’s Education Needs

  • Manage your time. If you know your child needs extra support with an activity, schedule it for when you have the time to sit with them.
  • Set yourself up for success. You know the times your child is at their best, schedule more challenging activities when they in their prime time.
  • Be kind to yourself. Teachers spend many years studying before taking on a classroom full of students and it’s unrealistic to expect you to become a teacher overnight.

Week 3: Entertaining Children

With the recent Education Queensland announcement, it looks like many families will be at home with the children for a while yet. With this in mind, here are our top three tips for keeping the kids entertained at home.

  • Schedule dedicated joint play time: Having a set time where you sit down and play together, can help kids get on with independent play outside of those times (so you can get some work done). Make it a “play date”, put it in the calendar, or on the fridge, set your phone alarm or even give your child a “ticket”. Be sure to follow through and stick to your word.
  • Notice bids for connection. If you find that your child is making constant bids for your attention and they don’t seem to be able to get on with independent play, investing a small about of time (e.g. 5 minutes) will help them feel connected and secure. When bids for connection are missed (and this happens to all of us), kids will often settle for attention instead – of any kind. To connect with your child, sit with them, describe what they are doing, reflect what they say to you, and give praise for the behaviours you like. When it’s time for you to get back to your work, let them know when you can check in with them again.
  • Get creative. Setting the kids up with some creative fun can keep them entertained for hours – when you find just the right one for them. Here are some our favourites from around the web.

Week 2: Managing Meltdowns

A common theme that many of us have come across this week is that of increased meltdowns (kids and parents!). With this theme in mind, here are our top three tips for the week, plus a resource to check out.

  • Adjusting Our Perspective: Rather than seeing your child AS the problem, see them as HAVING a problem. Rather than seeing them as doing something TO you, see them as needing something FROM you.
  • Stay Close.  Although it can be uncomfortable to see your child having a meltdown, and we might be tempted to send them to their rooms to be alone, research suggests that kids actually do better with difficult emotions when a connected caregiver remains with them. If your child is being physically aggressive and it’s not safe to stay close by, make sure they are in a safe space, pull back on your interaction with them, and remain nearby.
  • Describe What You See.  By describing what is going on for your child, you’re letting them know that you ‘get it’. Knowing that someone understands is important for children (and adults!). You can say things like “You’re crying. You look really sad. You’re sad because I said you can’t have another cookie. I know you really love those cookies”. Describing and connecting in this way helps children to move on from their upset.

Resources:

A short video on staying calm when your child is acting out:

https://www.kidsinthehouse.com/adoption/parenting-adopted-children/common-challenges/tips-staying-calm-when-your-child-acting-out?qt-more_videos=1#qt-more_videos

 

Week 1: General Tips for Isolation

In Week 1, we at the Family Interaction Program put together some tips, activities and resources to help you maintain effective parenting and entertain your children!

  • Kids do well with structure and predictability. Where possible try to follow a similar routine each day.
  • Use your Parent-child Interaction PRIDE skills throughout the day. Notice the things that are going well and let your kids know.
  • Continue to practice daily special playtime. During these uncertain times one on one time will help your children feel more connected to you and secure.

Play ideas:

Preschoolers:

https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/play-learning

School aged children:

https://raisingchildren.net.au/school-age/play-media-technology