Psychology and Allied Health Services

International Family Day

What a wonderful way to celebrate and highlight the importance of families and the bonds created within and between.  Family is the smallest building block of society and it holds the utmost importance in a person’s life.   Ideally, family provides a safe environment for each individual to develop in a healthy manner.

When you create your own family, you have many opportunities to do things your way – to make your family unique; to parent your children your way – to make changes, to aim for a harmonious, confident building and empowering environment.

Yet, it is so important to also highlight the difficulties that come with this – the social, emotional, economic and physical challenges for many.  It is often said that parenting will be the most difficult job you will ever do – yet also the most important and rewarding!

Innovative Resources put together 5 tips for parents growing positive relationships with their Children.  We’ve tweaked them a little but have a look below and see if any of these will help you create those ever so important foundational blocks (social emotional psychological) for your family.

Immerse yourself in their world – it’s about connection

As much as possible, when you are talking to children, try and be at their eye level.  Get down on the floor with them.  Remember to be playful!  Follow the child’s lead. Ask lots of curious questions about what they are doing when they are playing, what is the scenario they are imagining, who are the ‘players’. By spending time trying to understand and being open to our child’s imaginative world, we are demonstrating that we value what they value.  When we do this, children are more likely to come to us with worries or concerns when they arise.  Don’t forget when you are with your child you need to put the phone / tech away!  Be present.

Aim to reframe / Behaviours are communication

It is really easy, when we are feeling tired or overwhelmed, to interpret the behaviour of a child in a negative way.  Learning to think about these things differently can not only help build parent/child connections, it also reduces the stress you, as a parent may feel.  You are also then more able to interpret situations through a more positive lens.  It can be as simple as looking for the purpose behind the behaviour.  For example, what/who is my child missing, what do they need from me/us, what other challenges are happening for them?  We are then more able to notice the strengths in their behaviour as well.

For example, if a child is throwing a tantrum, take the time to notice if there are patterns?  Is there a trigger that we can notice; are there certain foods that may be making it harder for them to settle; are they feeling your stress and overwhelm that you may be carrying (even though you may not mean to) from your work / extended family / financial challenges; has there been heaps of changes in their world; does it only happen at certain times of the day?   We can also reframe these situations as opportunities to notice our child’s vulnerabilities, what can they talk about, how they are strong by trying to show you how they are feeling – even if they can’t quite vocalise their worries.

Another example could be when a toddler is always pulling everything off shelves, perhaps instead of being angry and frustrated at the mess (which admittedly, can be challenging) perhaps we celebrate the fact that they are curious, resourceful, determined and have an explorative mind.  Does the toys falling make a lovely sound; does it feel good to watch them fall; …..does it get your attention (good, bad or ugly)….

Does that mean we accept or ignore the behaviour? Not necessarily. But it may make it easier to acknowledge the child’s needs and help them find more constructive ways to meet those needs.  It also helps us become more responsive rather than reactive, which is good for the child, and for our own stress levels!

We are not born with the ability to regulate big emotions

For children, big emotions are inevitable, and they can feel scary, especially when the child is still learning how to manage them.  For a parent watching a child in the throes of ‘big emotions’ (a wild tantrum in the supermarket or tears at the school gate) it can be difficult to know how to help.

Sometimes it is as simple as consciously acknowledging that big emotions are going to happen and just trying to be there with them. Staying calm and unreactive (even though it may be very different underneath the surface) and just being there as a safe space for the child to work through the storm can help you feel more in control and can also help calm the situation.

This can reduce stress, and that sense of dread (if this is a common experience) and give you confidence they are doing no harm.  It also sends a reassuring message to the child that they can trust you to be there for them through the good and the bad.

Catch them being good – and notice it out loud

This is an oldie but a goodie.  Focus grows connections in the brain – so if we focus only on what’s not going well – we’ll grow more of that!   Unfortunately, we are wired to notice the negative – it’s part of our survival mechanism.  That means it’s easy to notice what isn’t going well. When talking to others, do you find yourself listing all the challenging stuff your child may be doing?

When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, chances are you will focus on what is not working rather than what is.  The problem is that when we, as parents, aren’t travelling so well, we tend to filter out the good stuff and only remember the hard things.

The good news is, that we can retrain our brain to take more notice of the wonderful things that happen!  This will not only be great for the child’s wellbeing, noticing the helpful things can help you feel much more hopeful and positive as well.

An easy way to focus on the ‘good stuff’ is to keep a great big colourful chart on the fridge and note down every time you ‘catch’ your child doing something positive.  It can be as simple as, ‘you helped me pick up that block’; ‘you ate some fruit’; ‘you came to the dinner table when I called you’; ‘you smiled and said thank you’; it doesn’t have to be a world record – any little thing you notice as fun or positive.  Depending on your child’s age, you could also just draw a picture of what they did or cut out a picture from a magazine and paste it on the chart.   Remember to tell them, smile, and give them a hug!

Once you are finding this part easy, remember then to write down all the positive things you notice yourself or your co-parent doing as well – you could use a journal if that suits you better.  This can be a great way to help rebuild your confidence in your parenting abilities. It can also be a constructive / encouraging document to reflect on later.


 Let them be brave; practice makes …… progress!

Every parent wants to keep their children safe – yet making mistakes is how we learn and grow. Failing is how we build resilience. Getting small injuries is how we learn the limits of our bodies.

Allowing your children to take (calculated) risks and try new things is powerful AND empowering.  It encourages your child (and us) to step out of their comfort zone in other areas of their life too and teaches them that the anxiety they feel when they do something new is ok.

Do you remember how it felt when you were being brave?  It didn’t mean that you weren’t afraid – but being brave is exhilarating; and can actually be fun!   How wonderful does it feel watching your child thrive in the world because they are confident and engaged.

What helps you feel more confident as a parent?

How do you show that?

How do you model that?


Contact our friendly staff on (07) 4723 8221 

and we will be happy to discuss referral pathways for you or yours.