Behaviour & Wellbeing

Drawing lines and setting boundaries at home can be challenging. If you're wondering how to manage tantrums, rebuild bonds, or help a child who is being bullied, our experts can offer an objective view and help you look at situations with a different attitude to find solutions that work

Dads ask:

How do I discipline my child successfully?

Question from Dad: How do you successfully discipline your child when they don't respond to punishment?

Response:

Tantrums are a natural part of your child's development especially in early childhood. Because there are aspects of the brain not yet fully developed, children tend to be impulsive and emotionally driven rather than breaking rules or displaying unwanted behaviour intentionally.

When your child becomes a teenager, the hormonal changes mean that their brain is in a state of rapid development, and understanding risk and consequences becomes harder once more.

Given these physiological and developmental influences on behaviour, it is much more productive to ignore unwanted behaviour, where possible, and praise good behaviour. Take time to explain why a particular behaviour is not acceptable and what they could have done differently.

Think about recent interactions with your child. Did you tell them why you were proud of them or why something they did upset you? Did you acknowledge when they remembered something important to someone else? Think about what you're saying and avoid blaming. Own your own emotions and don't give them choices if there aren't any. Are you in a place where you can both concentrate? Would it be more effective to discuss things later?

Whatever the age of your child, it is essential to be clear on consequences and to be consistent with all care-givers in your circle (nanny, childminder, partner, grandparent etc.) so that the boundaries are always clear. If you're not willing to follow through, your child will soon realise.

Where to go for further information

Understanding how consequences work and changing the language you use can be a simple step towards a more positive relationship with your child and a happier home.

If you've tried changing your tone, your words, or becoming more realistic with your consequences and are still struggling, our experts are here to provide you with further support.

Should you discipline someone else's child?

Question from Dad: How should I react when another child hurts or hits my child? Do I take my child and leave, or do I reprimand this other child?

Response:

This is a tricky situation, but one you will probably find yourself in more than once. Young kids are all about pushing boundaries and trying to figure out just how far they can go.

If you are in the park or some other play event and you see another child hurt yours, the first thing is to comfort your child as they are your priority. Ideally, the other child's parent will do their job and discipline their child.

It's best not to reprimand another parent's kid unless you have a very close relationship and it's been agreed on. People get touchy when others scold their child - I know I don't always appreciate it. But if the parent doesn't step up, I'd ask the child where their parent is and calmly (I know, it's difficult to do when you're upset) tell the parent what happened, and hopefully they will take care of the rest.

If there is no parent on the scene, I'd calmly explain to the child that hitting - or whatever they did - isn't nice. If you no longer feel comfortable I'd remove your child to another part of the park or playground, after all your child shouldn't be punished by having to go home if they didn't do anything wrong.

It's tough, but it's important that you keep your own emotions under control as kids will react to parents. Your child will get more upset if you're really worked up, and by being calm it will teach your child the best way to handle difficult situations.

Where to go for further information

It can be difficult to know how to discipline someone else's child or when to step in, but it's important to know your child is behaving as well.

Knowing your child is not egging on the other child is a good place to start. Whether you're worried your child is bullying - or being bullied - or you're working on your own discipline and reward methods, we have some tips and advice for you.

If you're worried that the issue is escalating and you'd like to discuss the particulars with one of our experts, please request a call.

Can I give my children enough support as a single parent?

Question from Dad: I'm a single dad who is bringing up two children. It's taken awhile but I finally feel more comfortable with the situation - however, I still have doubts. Can I really give my kids all the attention and love they could get from 2 parents? Do they need a female influence in their lives?

Response:

As a single parent you can often feel that there is a missing part of the jigsaw and two parents means double the love and attention, but that's not always the case.

What took me some soul searching - and time - to realise is that there are lots of female influences in my child's life. There are teachers, friends mums, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, care providers, and in some cases older siblings. Your child may not be missing out in the way to you think - it was a relief for me to know that their role models didn't need to come from inside our house.

Remember that it's quality time not quantity time that is important. The more the merrier is not always the case. Think about this - do you make every minute you spend with your children count? Do you turn off your phone and stop answering emails when you're at home? Do they know that you love them and are there for them?

I finally realised that I could only be the best parent I could be, and do you know what? So far, so good!

How can I protect my children from bullying?

Question from Dad: I was bullied growing up and as a father of 4 kids, I'm always trying to figure out what my kids might face and how I can prepare them.  Will they be subject to teasing or bullying? And what can I do to help?

Response:

I know from personal experience that the memories of being bullied live long and painfully for years after the event; from a lack of confidence, to taking things too far, to reading too much into situations, being bullied has had a lasting effect.

As a parent, we often fear that the experiences we had growing up will be magnified for our children... but it's safe to say the world of bullying has changed significantly since you were a child. With the introduction of cyber bullying I know I am out of my depth.

Sometimes there is a reason for being bullied but often the reality is that there may be nothing that a child does directly or indirectly to be bullied or teased.

What can you do to support your child? Talk to them. Be open and honest and talk about your experiences, and listen to what they have to say.

What is a bully? Do they feel like they are bullied? By who? How would they respond in certain situations - you might be surprised by the answers! Are they bullying someone? You probably don't want to think this but even the nicest of children can fall into this type of behaviour.

Let your child know that they can come and talk to you, that you will listen fairly and that you won't judge them if they are honest - however you will help guide them to different responses or ways of handling the situation. Create an open dialogue and never let them feel like they deserved to be bullied - or that conversation will be over for good.

If you're concerned the bullying is constant or escalating - think about where it is happening, and contact the adult in charge. For example, discuss the bullying policies at your child's school, and ask for their advice. Or talk to the coach about the behaviours being reported; but be careful not to point fingers, it's not about getting someone in trouble - this can make things worse for your child - it's about changing behaviours.

How can I juggle all the different demands from my children?

Question from Dad: How best do you deal with multiple (young) children when they each demand something specific for them at the same time, i.e. child 1 read me this story, child 2 let's play football, child 3 help me draw?

Response:

That's the thing about parenting it's an exercise in multi-tasking. It's no longer just about managing your own and your partner's time. You've now got children demanding your time with no concept of how it all works. All they know is they want your attention and they want it NOW! In my house even the dog wants in on the action!

Children are naturally self-involved and focused on what they want. Having them take turns and sharing (even someone's time) not only helps you to manage time, but starts teaching them lessons about how the world works.

First of all, try having individual time as well as family time. Plan these in advance so they know it's coming up and they can look forward to it. For example, I take my daughter to the local café for hot chocolate on a Saturday morning while my wife takes our son to the park for football. But we also have family night every Friday - and we take turns deciding what to do.

When things get a little chaotic, listen to the requests and see if there's a way you can do everything. It might mean taking a story to the park, and turning it into a picnic afternoon. Stories in the shade, footie in the field - everyone's happy.

Keeping time for your kids, your partner and yourself is difficult but managing time and expectations is key. Just like work, it's possible to do lots of different things if you prioritise.