Helping children cope with grief

Most children are aware of death, but don’t really understand it. We all hope our children will never have to deal with the pain of loss and grief during childhood, but we can’t protect them from it. What we can do, is make them feel safe when it happens.

Young children will not understand the complete concept of death. Try to find out what your child does understand and what is appropriate for his/her age. Be aware of the fact that every child grieves differently, there is no manual for grieving. Show him/her that it is okay to feel sad, cry, or even be angry at some moments. Expressing feelings can help in processing the loss.

Don’t use euphemisms such as ‘he went to sleep for a long time’. It’s better to be direct and explain the person or pet has died. Using an euphemism such as sleep will make your child feel afraid to go to sleep, thinking he or she might never wake up again.

Attending the funeral can be helpful for closure, and in case of the death of a pet, arrange your own funeral. Give your child the chance to say goodbye in his own way and don’t avoid talking about the deceased ones: look into photo albums, talk about good memories and even cry together (if appropriate).

If your child is extremely upset or unable to cope with grief and loss, don’t hesitate to contact an expert!

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Insecurities as a parent

Everyone feels insecure sometimes – that’s perfectly normal. Showing your vulnerability to your child can help  in many ways. However, as a parent it is important to keep this insecurities under control. We need to be aware of our insecurities, and not let them lead us. Being anxious and worried all the time and project this on your child will create – not surprisingly – an anxious child.

Noticing this tendency in yourself is the first step. Try to recognize the situations in which you feel insecure or anxious, and what it is exactly that makes you feel this way. Talk about your insecurities. To family, friends, even a professional. Sometimes unloading your baggage can even be enough. Hearing you are doing well as a parent, and realize everyone makes mistakes – even the parents that seem to be doing everything perfect.

We are always comparing ourselves to other parents who usually appear to be ‘perfect parents’. Don’t forget people are selective in what they post on social media. If they are having a bad day, had a huge fight with their teen, they will not post this online. So remember: everything you see online is ‘biased’.

A lot of parents in the UAE left their home country and thereby their social- and support network. With the aim to help you meet other parents, socialize, exchange experiences, etcetera, we arrange parent support groups for both moms and dads. Feel free to contact us for more information.

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Parenting styles and their effects on children

Did you know there are different parenting styles?

You, like every other parent, have your own style of interacting with your child, whether you realize it or not. Parenting style isn’t determined by an isolated event, but by your overall behavior when engaging with your child. Whatever your style, your interactions undoubtedly have a profound impact on your child’s future.

How you were parented yourself, your experiences in life, and your values shape your personal parenting style. Your goals for your child and your definition of parenting success play an important role as well. Gaining more insight in your particular style can help you develop the skills needed to provide effective guidance and make better choices when it comes to parenting.

Diana Baumrind is a researcher who focused her research on parenting styles and their outcomes. She found four basic elements that influence the success of parenting: responsiveness vs. unresponsiveness and demanding vs. undemanding. Based on these elements and looking at the different strategies parents use, she classified 4 different parenting styles: authoritative, permissive, authoritarian and uninvolved. The style you use as a parent is influential for every important aspect of your child’s life and development, such as self-image, emotions, social skills and even academics.

Wanna learn how to be the best parent?
In our Parent Training we teach you all about parenting styles, help you recognize your own parenting style and how to use this in making the best decisions regarding parenting issues. Also, when you and your partner’s parenting style conflict, we help you in finding a way to work together.

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Nightmares

In dreams, children process the impressions they gained during the day. Dreams are therefore representations of the child’s emotions. Fear and anxiety are emotions which are expressed in dreams, also known as nightmares. Every child has nightmares every now and then, we do not need to worry about this.

Some aspects can be the cause of a nightmare. A busy day with a lot of new impressions can cause a nightmare, just like fatigue and a lack of sleep. Fever, illness, eating too late/too much or the use of medicine can also play in important role in the development of nightmares. Another possibility is the processing of an unpleasant event.

Nightmares can be a signal, there might be something an underlying reason for the nightmares. When nightmares maintain, try to find the reason for this and seek help from a professional. It’s important to deal with the problem as early as possible. Because of nightmares, children can develop fear to go to sleep and thereby cause sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can be harmful for the child’s physical and mental development.
Questions about this blog or are you in the need of a personal and customized advice? Feel free to contact us!

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Separation Anxiety

Children can feel afraid when saying goodbye. This is a normal stage of emotional development, but makes it hard for parents to leave their children with someone else. Separation anxiety is usually seen from infancy to the age of 3. The good news is that separation anxiety will pass.

Examples of things you can do as a parent to make leaving more manageable:
Practice at home, prepare and practice, create a routine, set limits and stick to them, have him/her distracted.

I understand it’s difficult for you to leave your child behind when he or she is upset. Try to leave without showing too much how hard it is for you as well. Keep in mind that in the end, this will be better for the child and will help with getting used to the process of saying goodbye.

If the separation anxiety is very heavy, increases or does not decrease after the age of 3, we strongly recommend to consult a professional. It’s important to extinguish the separation anxiety at a certain age to not cause further developmental problems.

Don’t lose hope!

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Lying

Honesty is an important aspect of our norms and values. Lying is defined as ‘intentionally say something that does not correspond to the truth’. Until the age of seven, children have difficulties separating fantasy from the truth. Additionally, they do not have an internal conscience yet. This means they do not yet have any feelings of guilt when lying. We as parents have to function as their ‘external conscience’, which means we have to teach them that lying is wrong.

From the age of seven, children know the moral codes of behavior: what is appropriate and accepted, and what is not?

Children often lie to avoid punishment, to meet expectations, or to meet their own needs. Other motives for lying are: feeling ashamed or wanting to impress other people

Set the right example by showing honesty. Encourage your child to be honest about everything and give compliments when he/she is.

Questions about this blog or are you in the need of a personal and customized advice? Feel free to contact us!

Marlieke & Muna 🙂

Rewarding children

An import element in parenting is to make sure the desired behavior will not be extinguished, but will remain or even increase. Research has proven that rewarding, also known as reinforcing, is the best technique to make this possible. But how can we do this?

Make sure it is realistic:

Set realistic goals. Try not to set the goals too high, because it is important for your child to have a feeling of success, not failure. Do you find it hard to find out how to set the goals? Discuss this with other people who know your child well.

Tailor for your child:

Make sure the system you came up with, is challenge for your child. Be creative! What might help is a ‘Reward Chart’. This chart will make it visual for your child to see what he/she is working for. For example: every time your child finished his/her daily chores, he or she receive a sticker for their reward chart. At the end of the week, when every day has a sticker, your child can choose an activity for the weekend that he/she likes.

Different kinds of rewards:

Make sure the reward you give your child is fun for him/her. Optionally, you can choose rewards together. Rewards can be materialistic (like a new toy), social (like a hug) or action (like an activity). If the same reinforcer is used too frequently, the impact of it might fade away. Try to maintain the fun and variation.

How to start:

Introduce the system to your child. Try to discuss together how to shape the system, so you can be sure it will work for your child. Be open for his/her suggestions and make sure all rules and conditions are clear for the both of you.

Positivity is the key:

Formulate the goal positive, in terms of concrete desired behavior. Don’t give up when you don’t see results immediately: adapting behavior takes a while. Be patient! Don’t focus on failures, these are not important. If your child ‘fails’ to show to desired behavior, show them you are still supportive and believe in them. Telling your child ‘I’m sure tomorrow you will succeed’, motivates to not give up. It is all about the successes!

Good luck!

Marlieke 🙂