5 things that changed my children’s lives
5 things that changed my children’s lives By Kylie Travers
My daughters have lived through significant life changes including domestic violence by their dad (my ex-husband), homelessness, moving cities multiple times and attending three schools.
Changes didn’t always run smoothly, with my daughters having emotional and behavioural struggles as a result. I implemented things to assist them with changes and since doing these five things, their emotions, communication and behaviour all improved drastically, along with our relationship.
1. One on one time
When I first left their dad I made sure I spent quality time with each of my daughters one on one. As as single parent it wasn’t easy to manage one on one time without the other child feeling left out. We came to an agreement where one night each week they each got to stay up and have their own time with me. My eldest loved using this time to paint our nails and talk. My youngest loved drawing, talking and doing craft activities. It was their choice what we did in that time and when they get that one on one quality time it reinforces how much I love them, strengthens our relationship and gives them the space to open up about any issues they might want to talk about.
This one on one time gave us an opportunity to discuss our life changes without them feeling put on the spot. I was able to share any upcoming changes, discuss the best ways for us to deal with it and if something had happened I had not been able to prepare them for we could discuss the best ways to manage it.
2. Don’t just say no, explain why
If you say no all the time and don’t explain yourself it leaves your child feeling like you are simply being unfair. When we were moving around and trying to get away from my now ex-husband I had to say no to my daughters requests a lot. I didn’t go into too much detail, I provided an honest explanation about anything they asked about or wanted to do.
Any time I have had to say no, if they asked why it is never “because I said so.” That’s no an explanation, it doesn’t alleviate any of their fears and still leaves them wondering what is going to happen or why something cannot happen. If they don’t get a straight answer from you, they will make up scenarios in their head which can cause further problems later.
Be open, honest and age appropriate with your answers. Allow your children to express their feelings around whatever changes are happening or decisions you have made yet be firm, let them know you understand and love them and that the decision or change is final.
3. Health and nutrition
Health and nutrition is often underrated when it comes to helping children with changes. When I was stressed and overwhelmed I defaulted to easy food laden with sugar, preservatives and other nasties. This impacted on my children behaviour, energy and attention spans. For starters, this sort of food is not fuel for their bodies. It clogs up their minds, gives them a quick sugar high then they crash and burn.
By taking an active role in what they eat, making sure it is healthy and naturally as possible, their emotions, thinking and energy were all more stable.
4. Be totally present
When spending time with your children be completely there. Switch off your phone, look them in their eyes, get involved in their games and let them know you are there. Playing with them while constantly checking your phone lets them know your phone is more important to them. If they can’t get your whole attention with the little things like playing a game, why would they come to you with the big things, like boyfriend issues when they are teenagers? The relationship you want in their future starts today. Helping them with big changes starts by being present for the small ones.
5. Treat them how you want to be treated
Children are people too. They might not be able to express themselves as articulately or concisely as adults, they deserve to be treated with respect, understanding and not to be just told what to do.
My daughters have seen a few different specialists over the years because of our life experiences. Each have said they have never seen such significant changes in children going through the things we did and it is a direct result of the things I implemented at home to help them.
How do you help your children with change?
Kylie Travers has gone from homeless to multiple international award winning CEO, author, speaker and advocate for ending domestic violence and homelessness. She shares her experiences along with tips to turn your obstacles into opportunities, achieve goals and construct a life you love at www.kylietravers.com.au
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