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3 clever parenting skills that will help you survive the holiday season

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3 clever parenting skills that will help you survive the holiday season

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Instead of shouting, bribing and threatening try the following skill to get cooperation!

Skill 1: Describe what you see.

When something isn't working for you, or you children are doing something that is frustrating you, describe what you see without judging or complaining.

  • "I see two children who are wanting to both play with the same toy."
  • "I see a room with toys on the floor and clothes lying on the bed."
  • "I see three children who are feeling very upset because they are not getting what they want."
  • "I see all of you not quite knowing how to figure out which TV channels you are going to all watch together."
  • "I see some unhappy faces about the early bed time before Christmas".

Why this skills works:

  • it gives you more time to think.
  • it gives you time to calm down as you focus on what you see and not what you feel (usually if you are really angry you will end up making your children afraid)
  • it gives your child an opportunity to "SEE" what you are also seeing without feeling blamed or attacked.
  • it gives your children an opportunity to be proactive and respond immediately opposed to feeling you are telling them what to do now.

Skill 2: I need some time to think:

 This skills is great when you become aware that you may do or say something that you will feel guilty about later (ie shout at them, threatening them, punish them unfairly). And the only reason you would do this is because you are caught up in the heart of the moment.

Emotionally Intelligent Parenting- Robin Booth - Buying time

When you find yourself in a situation where you don't quite know what to do (because you are super angry, or just because you have never experienced a situation like this before), it can be really helpful to buy yourself some time to think, while still making it clear that this is to be taken seriously.

  • "I'm feeling really angry about what is going on at the moment. I need to take 5 minutes to get my head clear and to think about what we are going to do to make sure this doesn't happen again. In 5 minutes I will come back and then let's talk about this again then."
  • "I have no idea on how to handle what is going on now. So instead of doing something I am going to regret later on, I am going to go in the next room for 5 minutes to think about how we are going to manage this. Then let's talk about this again."
  • "I am so angry I feel like shouting and being really mean. So I am going to go next door for 5 minutes to calm down. When I come back, we will talk about this again to make sure it doesn't happen again."

NB things to remember:

  • You don't have to solve the problem now. All you are doing is creating a space for you to calm down and think clearer.
  • Your children will get that you are serious about what is going on, but are still looking for ways to be respectful. This will support them in cooperating with you later on.
  • When you come back into the room, start by DESCRIBING what happened (without blaming or attacking them)


  • it keeps you focused on something instead of being overwhelmed by your initial reaction
  • it gives you a respectful chance to get clear about how to handle the situation while your children still take you seriously.
  • While you are away, your children will also think about what has done, and this will help them step up to being more responsible about what happened when you come back into the room.
  • You are modelling an appropriate way to handle your intense emotions, such that they will learn this from you and live it throughout their own lives.

Skill 3: Focus on the positive instead of complaining what isn't working.

You want to feel more love and connectedness. You want your chidlren to  feel appreciated and loved by you.

Praise-Children- Building Connections - Robin Booth

So this holiday, even though there may be 100 things in an hour, or a day that bugs you, or makes you wish school had already started, look for what is working, or what they are doing that works for you.

Then 'praise them' for that, but by just describing what you see, and how their action has impacted or supported you.

  • "I noticed that you took out the grocery bags from the car without anyone asking you. That really helped me as I have a really busy afternoon."
  • "I saw this morning you and your brother had figured out how to agree on watching the same movie together. It made my hear squeeze with love to see you sitting there next to each other.
  • "I noticed that when I came home this afternoon, you turned the music down, even though I know you like to listen to it loud. It made me feel you were considerate of what I also prefer."


  • when you express authentic appreciation, your children feel more valued and are more willing to repeat that behaviour again.
  • you are consciously building the connection... and this not only leads to increased cooperation, but intense feelings of love and belonging.
  • you will begin to shift your parenting focus from what isn't working, to reinforcing those things that do work. You feel better about you and your family.

So there are three skills to thrive and not just survive the Christmas period
1) Describing what you see
2) Giving yourself time to think (so you respond instead of react)
3) Building them up by praising what is working.


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