Useful Websites:  

 

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Raising Children Network: The Australian Parenting Website - the complete Australian resource for parenting newborns to teens

Parenting Australia

ABC Parenting

Kids Spot Parenting Centre

Parenting Ideas

Save Our Sleep

The importance of being Dad

COPMI - Keeping families in mind

 

For 24 hour advice and information for parents of children aged 0 - 18 call Parent Line:  1300 1300 52

Parenting is one of the most important and difficult things you can do - as well as one of the most rewarding. There is little training in how to raise a child. It is an enormous responsibility which is usually taken for granted (2).

Parenting styles may be different but we all share a common goal. We want our children to turn into healthy, happy, responsible adults who will be able to get along with others and able to cope with difficulties.

 parenting xsmallBeing a positive parent

Parenting doesn’t necessarily get any easier as time goes on. But there is good news. The longer you’re a parent, the more experience and perspective you have.

As a more experienced parent, you’ll be able to say, ‘It might be hard today, but tomorrow – or next week or next month – things will be different’. You know that the bad times won’t last forever, and the good times will come again. This can make it easier to stay positive and face any challenges (1).

Here are some more ideas on being a positive parent in the long term.

Focus on the positives
One of the best ways to keep a positive perspective on parenting is to remind yourself of what your children bring to your life:

  • unconditional love and admiration just for being you
  • hero worship – your children are probably the only people who think you’re the strongest, wisest and bravest person in the world
  • the chance to be a child again through sharing in the magic and wonder of your children’s play and learning
  • the chance to experience an amazing range and intensity of emotions, strengths and skills
  • the chance to reflect on your own values, attitudes and assumptions about the world
  • the chance to take time out from being a grown-up.

Look after yourself
Being a good parent over the long term will be easier if you keep looking after your own physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Here are some lifestyle tips that can help you stay healthy:

  • Get support when you need it. Anyone looking after a child needs practical help, personal support and good information.
  • Go with the flow. Lots of people notice that they have less free time and less social time after they have children. Don’t wear yourself out trying to do things the way you used to. You’ll find other ways to keep up with friends and family.
  • Make time for your partner and your relationship. For example, you could try setting aside one night a week as ‘date night’. Even if you can’t go out, you could get yourself take-away and skip the washing-up for a change.
  • Enjoy exercise as a family. You’ll feel better, you’ll set a good example for your kids, and you’ll have fun together! It can be as simple as kicking a ball at the local oval.
  • Eat a nutritious family diet – and try to eat together as a family most nights. Turn the TV off, and use dinner time as a chance to enjoy your food and catch up on everyone’s day. An added bonus is that you’ll model healthy eating habits for your children – which might help with any fussy eating.
  • Get lots of rest. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night once your children are sleeping independently at night. This will help you keep up with them during the day.
  • Quit smoking. Cigarettes might help you cope with stress, but in the long run they make you feel worse. A cigarette-free house is a healthier environment for your children too. You can get tips for quitting smoking from the National Quitline (1).

Connect with other parents
One of your best sources of help, support and friendship is likely to be other parents.

When you connect with other parents, you discover that other people share your joys, frustrations and concerns about parenting. You also learn that there’s a huge range of normal when it comes to children’s behaviour and development, and also parenting styles.

Start connecting with other parents and their stories through the parent profiles and parenting forums of the Raising Children Network.

Click here for more parenting resources

 

1. Raising Children Network: The Australian Parenting Website

2. NSW Family and community services

relationships xsmallRelationships are an important part of life, whether they are with a partner, friends or family. They can be a great way to have fun, create a special  bonds, as well as learn about yourself and others.

You might have a sense that a relationship is happy and going well when you:

  • Can laugh and enjoy someone's company
  • Feel safe and supported
  • Provide safety and support
  • Share ideas and feelings
  • Respect each other

Every relationship is unique, and you may have your own way of knowing that a relationship is right for you. Even when a relationship is going well, it is important that you still put effort into it and don't take the relationship for granted. Be aware of what you need in a relationship as well as what other people need. This way, your relationships have the best chance of growing and continuing to be strong and healthy (1).

Factsheets on relationship topics avaliable at ReachOut include:

For information about relationships, relationship issues, advice or counselling visit Relationships Australia or Relationships Australia - Victoria

 

1. ReachOut (2012)

Download handout here

Self-esteem building

Self-esteem is strongly related to how you view and react to the things that happen in your life. Suggestions for building self-esteem include: girl in field x small

Talk to yourself positively – treat yourself as you would your best friend. Be supportive, kind and understanding. Don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake (1). Talk to yourself in the same way you would talk to your friend if they came to you upset about something - you would try to convince them that they were OK, even through they may not feel good about themselves at that moment (2)

Challenge negative ‘self-talk’ – every time you criticise yourself, stop and look for objective evidence that the criticism is true. (If you feel you can’t be objective, then ask a trusted friend for their opinion.) You’ll realise that most of your negative self-talk is unfounded (1).  

Don’t compare yourself to others – some people are in the habit of comparing themselves to others, from the way they look, their marks on assigments, their friends, achievements and even personality (2). You need to recognise that everyone is different and that every human life has value in its own right. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Make an effort to accept yourself, warts and all (1).

Acknowledge the positive – don’t brush off compliments, dismiss your achievements as ‘dumb luck’ or ignore your positive traits. Allow yourself to feel good about yourself. Be aware of your strengths, rather than focusing on negatives (2)

Appreciate your special qualities – remind yourself of your good points every day. Write a list and refer to it often. (If you feel you can’t think of anything good about yourself, ask a trusted friend to help you write the list.)

Forget the past – concentrate on living in the here-and-now rather than reliving old hurts and disappointments.

Communicate assertively - the way you communicate with others gives them information on how you feel about yourself. Assertive communication encourages other people to treat you with respect, and helps you to feel good about yourself (2)

Tell yourself a positive message everyday – buy a set of ‘inspirational cards’ and start each day reading out a new card and carrying the card’s message with you all day.

Stop worrying – ‘worry’ is simply fretting about the future. Accept that you can’t see or change the future and try to keep your thoughts in the here-and-now.

 

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Have fun – schedule enjoyable events and activities into every week.

Exerciseit is such a good boost to the brain for all kinds of things but especially in combatting depression and helping you to feel good. Targets need to be step by step, such as starting with a walk round the block once a day, enrolling at a local gym class or going for a swim.

Be assertive – communicate your needs, wants, feelings, beliefs and opinions to others in a direct and honest manner.

Practise the above suggestions every day – it takes effort and vigilance to replace unhelpful thoughts and behaviours with healthier versions. Give yourself time to establish the new habits. Keep a diary or journal to chart your progress (1).

Seek out support to build self-esteem

Further ways to build self-esteem include:

  • Talk to a trusted friend or loved one about your self-esteem issues.
  • Browse the Better Health Channel for information.
  • See your doctor for information, advice and possible referral.
  • Read books on self-development.
  • Take a course in personal development.
  • Discuss your issues and get advice from a trained therapist.

If you would like to work on your self-esteem visit the Centre for Clinical Interventions who have an overcoming low self esteem information package and workbook to guide you through the process of building positive self esteem.  

Where to get help

  • Your doctor
  • Your local community health centre
  • School counsellor
  • Lifeline Tel. 13 11 14
  • Kids Helpline Tel. 1800 55 1800
  • Suicide Helpline Victoria Tel. 1300 651 251
  • Mental Health Foundation Tel. (03) 9427 0407, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Relationships Australia (Victoria) Tel. 1300 364 277

Things to remember

  • Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself.
  • Everyone lacks confidence occasionally but people with low self-esteem are unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time.
  • It takes attention and daily practice to boost a low self-esteem.

For more information about positive self-esteem go to ReachOut website

 

1. Better Health Channel (2012)

2. Reach Out (2012)

Self-esteem is your opinion of yourself. People with healthy self-esteem like themselves and value their achievements. While everyone lacks confidence occasionally, people with low self-esteem feel unhappy or unsatisfied with themselves most of the time (1).

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If you have positive self-esteem it means that you believe you are as "OK" as everyone else. If you have poor self-esteem you believe that you are not "OK" or that you are inferior to others (2). This can be remedied but it takes attention and daily practice to boost self-esteem.

Typically, a person with low self-esteem:

  • Is extremely critical of themselves
  • Downplays or ignores their positive qualities
  • Judges themselves to be inferior to their peers
  • Uses negative words to describe themselves such as stupid, fat, ugly or unlovable
  • Has discussions with themselves (this is called ‘self talk’) that are always negative, critical and self blaming
  • Assumes that luck plays a large role in all their achievements and doesn’t take the credit for them
  • Blames themselves when things go wrong instead of taking into account other things over which they have no control such as the actions of other people or economic forces
  • Doesn’t believe a person who compliments them.

How does your self-esteem affect your life?

Your self-esteem can affect how you feel, how you relate to other people, how you deal with challenges and how relaxed and safe you feel in your day to day life (2).

The way you feel

In order to be happy you need to like yourself. If you believe that you are not OK or if you are always putting yourself down, you are more likely to feel depressed, anxious or miserable than someone who has a positive view of themselves.

Your relationships

Low self-esteem can influence the way you behave with other people. For example: you might find yourself not saying what you really think, feel or want, and doing things that you don't want to do. Or you might find yourself trying too hard to please other people - agreeing with them and offering to do things for them in order to 'earn' their friendship (2).

Low self-esteem might also cause you to seek out reassurance from your friends because deep down, you may not be sure that they really like you. You might allow people to 'walk all over you' because you believe you have no rights and your needs don't matter. Being treated badly by others can in turn reinforce the belief that you are not good enough, and can lower your self-esteem even more.

Your willingness to move out of your comfort zone

Trying new things and moving out of our comfort zone is important for growing and developing as a person. Low self-esteem can hold you back from new experiences because you can become overly concerned with the possibility of failure or looking stupid.

How relaxed and comfortable you feel in the world

When your self-esteem is low, it can be difficult to feel relaxed and comfortable in day to day situations. For example: If you believe that you are not Ok, you might feel awkward and self-consious in many situations. You might worry too much about what others think of you, and might be constantly looking for signs that people don't like you. If someone doesn't acknowledge you, you might immediately assume that they don't like you.

The self-fulfilling prophecy of self-esteem

Low self-esteem can become a bit of a vicious circle. For example: If you don't feel OK in yourself you might withdraw from people, give out unfriendly vibes, not look people in the eye and not smile or initiate conversation. This kind of behaviour might make you appear cold and distant to others, and as a result they might make little effort to be friendly to you. You would then probably detect that people are not very friendly towards you, and then your belief that you are not very likeable would be reinforced.

This is called a "self-fulfilling prophecy".

      BELIEF - "I am not OK"

      BEHAVIOUR - Don't initiate conversation or look people in the eye

      FEEDBACK - Other people make little effort to be friendly towards you

      PERCEPTION - People don't like me; I am not OK (therefore the origional belief is reinforced)

Some people mistakenly think that good self-esteem means being "full of yourself" and arrogant, but this is not the case. People with good self-esteem don't need to be telling others how good they are, because they already feel OK about themselves.

Unfortunately it is often people with low self-esteem who boast or bully others. It can be their way of trying to build themselves up because they want to convince other that they are superior (if someone has to prove that they are superior, it is often because they do not feel OK about themselves) (2).

There are many benefits associated with good self-esteem - feeling good, taking up appropriate challenges, relating to people as equals and feeling relaxed in our daily lives.

Good self-esteem is not something you can achieve overnight but it is something you can work on over time. This is particularly important in situations where you are faced with setbacks or difficulties.

Click here for information about Improving Self-Esteem

 

1. Better Health Channel (2012)

2. Reach Out (2012)

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