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Five ways to handle the pressures of parenthood 

Parenting can come with a lot of pressure. Living up to the expectations of being a perfect mum or dad isn’t easy, and it has been known to take a toll on some people’s mental health. 

Below, five psychologists and parenting experts share their top tips for managing the ups and downs of raising children.

Set clear boundaries  

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Hanan Ezzeldine, the founder of Family Hub

Hanan Ezzeldin, founder of the online parenting platform Family Hub, has more than a decade of experience in teaching.

“Children need boundaries and limits in order to function. If the chores don’t get done, there has to be a consequence and they need to know that in advance. If they don’t do the dishes, remind them once, twice and then it’s no TV or no going out biking with their friends.  

She says setting boundaries from the start will avoid one of the biggest pitfalls: the power struggle.

“It can’t become a power struggle because 99.9 percent of the time, you will lose. The moment my voice goes up when talking to my kids, they know they’ve won the battle. Even if they don’t say it, teenagers really appreciate it when you speak to them like adults. Hear them out. They are the most undermined age group yet it’s so easy to deal with them if you treat them with a bit of respect. They might say things you wouldn’t consider, but a lot of times they have a point, so even if it’s against what we want to preach, try to compromise and give them a win.” 

Make time for yourself  

According to Kathryn Jezer-Morton, writer for US magazine The Cut, ‘camel mode’ is a term that refers to when parents make sacrifices and put their family before their own desires, interests and needs. This ultimately results in a loss of self.  

She says: “You are crossing a metaphysical desert of the self, without water, like a camel. Water is your sense of personal sovereignty — it lives inside you somewhere. But after you become a parent, it recedes from view and from mind.” 

Getting out of camel mode can be difficult, particularly if it goes on for years. However, Jezer-Morton argues that getting back to yourself is just as important as being a devoted parent. Whether it is playing your favorite sport, going on a holiday with friends or simply enjoying a soak in the bath with a good book, she believes that dedicating time for yourself into your schedule is essential for your own mental health, and the wellbeing of your family. 

Practice conscious parenting 

Leena Kapil
Leena Kapil, conscious coach

Leena Kapil, certified conscious parenting coach, advises that parents view themselves and their children as equals. Conscious parenting is a movement all about connecting to yourself, being aware of every action you take and recognizing how your behavior impacts your family. 

“No one is ever taught how to be a parent. The only thing we know about it is from how we were parented. That is not necessarily a conscious way of parenting. We are unconsciously following what we witnessed as children. 

“Conscious parenting can also help with anger management. If you are very, very connected to yourself, you can recognize when you’re being triggered. Just focus on your breath, pause, reflect, and sit down with your feelings. Most often, you will go down memory lane to your own childhood. Ask yourself what is making you so angry.” 

Share your struggles

Alfred Gull, German Clinical and Healthcare Psychologist at the German neuroscience center in Dubai, urges new parents to speak out if they are struggling. 

“New parents dealing with difficult emotions should be able to reach out to the person they trust the most, open up about their worries, and explain how changes in their life are making them feel.  

“They should also speak to those people who they assume expect them to behave in a certain way. Having these conversations helps to correct other people’s assumptions and improve their own self-esteem by demonstrating that they are ‘enough’. Because mothers understandably spend most of the time with new babies in the early days, some fathers can feel pushed out. So, it’s important that they find their own ways to form a bond with their child. Above all, parents need to talk about their feelings, because hesitation, indecisiveness, and procrastination on this front will only increase insecurity and anxiety.” 

Use the SOS technique 

Jo Frost Supernanny better parents
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British parenting expert Jo Frost, star of the TV show Supernanny, suggests using the SOS technique — step back, observe, and step back in — to handle stressful situations.

“Take a step back and don’t get caught in the tornado of it all, because at that moment, adrenaline is running. When a paramedic comes onto the scene, they’re not looking for the person making noise, they’re looking for the person who’s quiet because that’s the one who needs attention straightaway. The ability to step back and observe what the situation is, and to then step back in with action, allows us to decide at that moment in time how we are going to correct the behavior. So, it’s so important that you can refrain from jumping into a reactive state.”

Livehealthymag.com is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.

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