Positive Parenting Tips

Positive parenting may seem daunting at first, especially if your child is expressing behavioural, or emotional difficulties. However positive parenting focuses particularly on your child’s good behaviour, helping both yourself and your child identify the behaviours we would like to see more of.

It is however also not a means of ignoring negative behaviours, rather providing additional options to your child, so he or she may learn to choose behaviours that would lead to quicker and more effective results for both parents and child.

One of my favourite parenting books Children Are from Heaven, speaks about five messages for parents to provide to their children which not only helps a child feel safe, confident and in control, but also helps frame behaviours in a positive light for parents to understand why difficult behaviours occur.

These five messages include saying,

  1. it’s okay to be different, unique and who you are,
  2. it’s okay to make mistakes, let’s learn from them,
  3. it’s okay to express positive and negative emotions,
  4. it’s okay to want more, more time, more hugs and more space,
  5. it’s okay to say and hear no, with love knowing mom and dad are still in charge.

By simply saying these five things to your child you can help them see that what they are feeling is “normal” and okay, and that they can express themselves without fear or judgment.

Now that we’ve reviewed five ways of normalising emotion, let’s consider the top five positive parenting techniques that you can implement starting today

  1. Making eye-contact – this not only helps sustain attention but also provides you with an opportunity to talk on your child’s level, crouch down and seem less intimidating.
  2. Make your requests as clear as possible, instead of saying “go clean your room”, you can say “please go to your room and pack away your books, toys and clothes, then we’ll continue to play this game”.
  3. Give positive praise – when the situation calls for it remember to give praise to well-earned positive behaviours, “thank you for cleaning up your room Timmy, you even found all your socks
  4. Express yourself – linking to positive praise and the five messages, allow yourself also to model emotions for your child, let them see how you manage anger, joy, stress, and gratitude.
  5. Use positive phrases – instead of saying “no running” you can say “Sabrina you can walk”, and instead of saying “no hitting” rather say “Brian, we’re using soft/ gentle hands”.

By engaging in these five messages and five parenting techniques with the parenting style you’ve been using it may provide your child with understanding of their behaviours, modifying their responses and meet you halfway.

More resources:

  • Children are from Heaven –  Positive Parenting Skills for Raising Cooperative,Confident, and Compassionate Children by John Gray, Ph.D.
  • The positive Parent Raising Healthy, Happy and Successful Children, Birth-Adolescence by Kerby T. Alvy Ph.D.

Written by:
Alex Koen
Specialist Wellness Counsellor (ASCHP)
SACAC Counselling

How to Cope with a Burn-out or Overexhaustion

This blog is related to the previous blog: “Are people with a burn-out lazy people? NO, on the contrary”.

Seeking professional help to learn to cope with a burn-out or over-exhaustion is highly recommended. This can be a difficult step but the quicker you seek help the sooner you recover.

In therapy we will have a look at different aspects:

Step 1: Understanding

Psychoeducation on what a burn-out or over-exhaustion is (see my previous blog ) and reflect on what has contributed to you experiencing these symptoms.

Step 2: Short term change

In this step, we look at finding back a balance. To get you on a structured balance and feel a bit more yourself. With a structured balance, I mean looking at, among other things, lifestyle changes, sleep patterns, self-care, healthcare, nutrition, time management, relaxation, mindfulness, rest, work-oriented interventions.

Step 3: Long term change

If we stop here and don’t do step 3 the chances of you not feeling 100% better or you relapsing in a burn-out again are huge.

In this step, we look at how we can make a long-term effect by looking at your personal coping styles and where these coping styles come from. We look at how you cope with certain situations due to your beliefs, personality, your thoughts, and the origin of these beliefs. What has contributed to the existence of these beliefs (past experiences, upbringing, parenting, traumatic events, schools, bullying, friendships, relationships) and how can we cope in a healthier way that fits in this life phase that you are in.

Step 4: Relapse prevention plan

And last but not least we set up a relapse prevention plan for you to have as an instruction manual for yourself. This instruction manual will help you recognize the signals of your body sooner and that when these symptoms arise you know what you can do to help yourself. In this prevention plan, we will also look at risk factors and how the environment can contribute to help you prevent from relapsing.

The process of recovery from burn-out and over-exhaustion goes with ups and downs, but overall there will be an average increase in vitality. When you have a down the down will be less severe or last less long and you will recover more quickly from the down period.

Written by:
Flo Westendorp, Registered Clinical Psychologist
Extended Health Care Psychologist Certificate, MSc & BSc (Clinical Health Care Psychology)
SACAC Counselling

Hormones and Happiness

Hormones play a role on our level of happiness. Are you aware of the main ones?

Dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphin participate in the transmission of information in our body, between neurons (they act as neurotransmitters) or via the blood to the organs (we speak of hormones). Each of them is secreted in specific situations and is linked to the activation of so-called “positive” emotions. By focusing on these hormones, we can learn about our behaviors and situations that will trigger them.

  • Endorphin is produced during a significant effort: for example jogging or laughing. A few minutes is enough to feel the benefits. In addition to its short-term effects (sensation of pleasure, anti-pain …), endorphin is effective in limiting the harmful effects of stress.
    Tip: head over to the closest laughing or yoga club, or get ready for a good meal in front of your favorite comedy.
  • Dopamine is caused by situations that are assessed as pleasant by our brain and generates a feeling of pleasure (what we feel when we eat a piece of chocolate). The pleasure then felt becomes a great incentive to action our goals and create again this sensation. Dopamine then makes us want to experiment and take on challenges. In contrast, a low level of dopamine is found in people who have a tendency to procrastinate or lack enthusiasm.
    Tip: Break down your long-term goals into short-term achievable micro-goals.
  • Oxytocin plays a key role in our social relationships. Indeed, it is produced during positive social relationships (for example: a hug, compliments received or given, when we make or receive a gift …). It creates in us a sense of intimacy and trust that in turn facilitates social interactions and altruistic or cooperative behaviors.
    Tip: Allow yourself pure moments of tenderness. Take in your arms, your partner, your children or your animals.
  • Serotonin regulates our mood. It is known to be involved in the phenomena of depression. It is produced when we feel recognized for our true worth. It makes us feel serene and optimistic while a lack of serotonin promotes irritability and impulsiveness. Like endorphin, secretion of serotonin is facilitated by physical activity. In addition, exposure to the sun also promotes a satisfactory serotonin level.
    Tip: Learn how to value your successes. For example at the end of the day, take a few  minutes to write down what you did today.

I believe having an understanding of our body and how we can self-regulate our emotions is key. It helps us in being proactive and avoiding reaching out automatically for medication.

SACAC Counselling

Taking It Slow

The other weekend, I woke with a particular feeling. I just needed to take it slow that day. And so, that is what I did. Instead of going for a run at my usual spot, I walked, slowly, breathing deeply with my steps. I was struck with how right it felt for what I needed in that moment. My slow walk set the pace for the day, and inspired further slow paced activities.

There is much that has been written on the fast pace of our lives these days. And naturally, we do not always have the opportunity to take it slow. However, it is worth considering how we might consciously try to find moments to slow things down. As written in Sarah Wilson’s book “First we make the beast beautiful: a new story about anxiety”, it has been suggested that a big part of modern society’s stress comes from having so much of our life occurring at a speed that our bodies are not aligned with. That is, that we are out of sync from how we were originally designed to live.

Wilson quotes research that shows that mindful breathing while walking appears to be particularly helpful to reduce anxiety, in quietening our thoughts and providing an outlet for stress hormones. It keeps us present. This might look something like breathing in for three steps, and out for four steps, focusing on drawing energy up from the ground through your feet to the top of your head as you breathe in, and pushing energy back through your body into the earth as you breathe out. Walking though, is not the only way we can slow ourselves down. We can cook things from scratch, we can do slow yoga, we can hand-write, we can build something with our hands. Or we can simply block out some unscheduled time. Think about treating it as an experiment, and observe what the process is like for you.

Written by:
Thea Longman
DClinPsych/MSc, BPsych (Hons)
Registered Clinical Psychologist
SACAC Counselling