In September I will be talking about Positive Parenting at the Cheltenham Wellbeing Festival, which has made me think about what may fall into the bracket of “positive parenting”, apart from the obvious- keeping children safe, nurturing, caring for, feeding, clothing, etc.
Mulling over my years of working with children and parents, what really stands out is that one of the best things you can do for your child is to find what makes you happy and be happy doing it with them.
I was recently on a short break in the Alps and found myself watching a man and his young daughter spending time together on a Stand Up Paddle-board (SUP) on a lake. It was so lovely to watch Them interact and it reminded me that children just want to spend some quality time with their parents. They love to play and what better way to be with their parents than to play with them.
If you refer to my previous post about finding a physical activity that you enjoy, why not take it one step further and find a physical activity that both you and your child enjoy doing together.
Imagine how much joy you will bring to your child if you find time to have fun, be active and play with them. In the early years we always refer to parents as being the best piece of apparatus a child can have, so why not be that apparatus. If you are enjoying yourself with them then they will be happy, learning, developing and your relationship will be flourishing.
Now, let me think of the many ways we may persuade ourselves that we just can’t do this:
- I can’t afford it
Of course this is a very genuine reason for someone not to feel they can take up an activity with their child. However, just going for walks in the outdoors with your child, be it out of the city or in the park and not being on the phone can be a joint activity.
How about swimming? What about Wild Swimming? Even though this term makes me laugh as where I come from (Africa), swimming in a lake or river is just called swimming, it’s a great activity when the weather is good. Give it a try, it’s amazing! Oh, and your child will love it. Think of the joy you will bring them.
2. I’m not fit enough
Well now is the time to start. Start slow with an activity such as yoga, cycling or walking. You could hire a canoe or try a dance class together. The options are endless.
Get creative and imaginative. Active rhymes and stories are loved by all young children. Use nursery rhymes or stories you know, or make up your own. Act them out, making the movements as big as possible. You don’t have to do all the moves, encourage your child to do so when you need a small break but continue to narrate, you will then still be interacting and having fun together.
3. I don’t like being active
Children learn from their parent’s habits. I have to admit, it frustrates me when I hear someone saying “that’s just how I am” as so much of how we are is based on habit and habits can be broken or changed. Would seeing changing your mind about being active as being a good parent change your mindset?
Just remember, you’re never to old to try something new and you’re never too old to play.
4. I don’t have time
Time is an issue for most modern parents. There are always so many demands on the To-Do-List but why should being active/enjoying time with your child/being happy be at the bottom of this list? If you can’t fit in 10 minutes of jumping on a trampoline or skipping with skipping ropes in your garden; doing kids yoga or playing hide and seek in your house, then I guess this may be a much bigger issue than time.
If you take 10 minutes of your time to do something fun with your child, it will calm you, it will make them happy and it may even remove the “I’m not a good enough parent” guilt, for a while at least.
5. I don’t like the outdoors
This can be down to exposure to the outdoors. Growing up in Africa meant I was either up a tree, on my bicycle or in a river so it makes sense that I love the outdoors. I did spend most of my 20s denying this but now I am older I find that being at the coast or in the mountains is food for the soul.
I can guarantee you that your child will love being outdoors and if they don’t, let us go back to point 3- they will have learnt this from somewhere…
Active Story Fun – fabulous mom & daughters
Go on, give it a try, it’s really not that hard, you don’t have to do anything scary, you don’t have to push yourself too hard, you don’t have to get too far out of your comfort zone. Just be a Positive Playing Parent, try something new and see how much fun you can have being a child.
By Tania Swift