Supporting parents to deal with the challenges of raising children

Des Mannion
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

It's tough raising children. When it comes to discipline it can be difficult to know how best to react when a child is misbehaving.

Whether it's the naughty step, taking away privileges and entertainment or talking things through with them, everyone has different methods and philosophies for dealing with children's difficult behaviour.

But we know that, increasingly, families want to adopt ‘positive parenting' techniques for disciplining children such as encouragement, rewarding good behaviour and setting clear boundaries and to move away from aggressive reactions like shouting or smacking.

Welsh government research has shown that in 1998, 88 per cent of adults polled believed that it was sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child. By 2015, this figure had dropped to 24 per cent. Also in 2015,  just  five per cent of parents said they were "comfortable" with the idea of smacking.

To help parents, NSPCC Wales is launching its own positive parenting campaign, Take 5. It urges parents of children aged between one and four to stop - breathe - and react calmly when dealing with tantrums, difficult behaviour and other challenging parenting situations.

Take 5 information will be online and also distributed in children's centres and public buildings throughout Wales. As part of the campaign, the NSPCC has produced five top tips for parents faced by challenging behaviour:

  • Look after yourself - it's much easier to take care of your child if you take care of yourself
  • Praise your child - affection and praise are more likely to see behaviour repeated
  • Don't expect perfect behaviour - all children misbehave sometimes
  • Be consistent - a child's behaviour improves when they know what the rules are
  • Remember, you're not alone - every parent finds it tough sometimes

The campaign comes shortly after the Welsh government's recent commitment to remove from law the defence of ‘reasonable punishment' in cases where adults are charged with assaulting a child.

Closing this loophole would bring Wales in line with dozens of countries including the Republic of Ireland, Germany and Spain and give our children equal protection under the law

It's not just the legal perspective of fairness under the law that needs to be looked at, but the impact that physical punishment can have on a child as they grow up.

Keeping your cool and finding ways to manage stress and frustration will not only help a child grow into a confident, happy and emotionally literate young person, it will also benefit parents - the vast majority of whom do not want to physically punish their children and regret it afterwards when they do so.

It's clear that attitudes towards parenting and discipline are changing from decades ago. The NSPCC has long championed a positive parenting approach with the focus on praising behaviour so that the child is more likely to repeat it, rather than focusing on punishment.

Des Mannion is head of service, NSPCC Cyrmu

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