Kids are part of the team
Kids: they are the apple of our eye and if we are honest, at times, a thorn in our side...
We want the best for them. It may seem like that means making their life as easy as possible and protecting them from any difficulty. Not only is the instinct to do so strong, but the pressure from society reinforces that urge. Turns out, our gut feeling to "mow" all the struggle and responsibility out of little Lucy’s life is completely wrong, and according to science, it not only makes our lives harder but does not do Lucy any favours either.
So, to get some tips on what we should be doing we spoke to Martine Beaumont, a family therapist and founder of Select Wellness, an organisation focused on wellbeing.
Here are some things she told us:
“It is a great idea to frame your family as a team from the get-go. Don't wait till they are teenagers to introduce the idea of mutual obligation and the concept of family operating as a team. When my kids were 6 and 11 they complained about not going overseas like their friends. I let them know we didn’t have the money for that without making some changes. We then discussed and agreed we could cut out the cost of the cleaner, but they had to help me clean the house each week for two years. After two years, we got to go on their dream trip to NY.”
Martine told us that it is good for kids to understand the reality of what is going on for family members from an early age as they can feel it anyway. The trick is that they are not made to feel responsible for fixing it, that they know you are ok and that their needs will always be taken care of. The open environment of sharing is so important so even for parents to share what is going on at work or in other parts of their lives, creates a safe environment for kids to share what is going on for them.
Martine recommends what she calls a "State of the Nation" family meeting, or in melo terms The Huddle. We have written another blog on her thoughts and you can find under Family as a Team tile in the Content section of the app.
"It is good for kids from a young age to understand their parents have difficult emotions at times. This normalises how they feel, especially when they are on the teenage roller coaster. They learn that we all experience big emotions and that is ok" according to Martine. She says that it is best if parents are able to model expressing rather than acting out emotions. I.e. "I am starting to feel really angry because I am having to ask you to do the same thing over and over again" rather than yelling "For god’s sake do what you’re told!". If as parents, lose it which we all do at times come back and own it which will help your teenager be able to own their moments of disregulation.
So, let's truly involve the kiddos into the team that is our families. They are tougher than we think, and after all it is good for them. It builds their resilience, teaches them emotional regulation and over time builds those critical independence skills.