2. Parenting and family life

Combining family life and work can be very demanding and often very stressful. Working as a teacher often means long hours and family life has many demands too. It may feel like there are never enough hours in the day and you are forever chasing your tail. Remember that many working parents feel this way so you are not alone.

Toddler and pre-school

This can be a very challenging time in your child’s development as this is the age they are trying to find their own way and can quickly get overwhelmed. The terrible twos can start at any time from 1 year old to 4 years old and managing this phase is a learning curve for both parent and child.

Some young children do display challenging behaviour including biting, kicking, hitting or spitting. If you are experiencing this with your child, it is important not to feel low about this as this is far more common than you may realise. It is important to try and get down onto their level and explain things simply as possible. Some parents find a reward chart can help to keep behaviour on track but you may find a strategy that works in the classroom that you can use at home. You could also get a book that they can relate to in terms of behaviour and explore behaviours and issues through reading and play. Playing with dough, drawing and painting pictures, dressing up, playing with dolls can encourage creativity, imagination and expression of feelings. For more ideas, please read Family Lives advice on learning through play.

It can be difficult juggling a teaching job and family life as young children can often be demanding. If you are working, try to have some quality time with your child even if it is just sharing a book at bedtime. If your child is starting pre-school, then this can often change your childcare requirements as often the hours of their provision do not match your working hours. You may want to hire a childminder who can do pick-ups and drop offs. Speak to other parents locally or in your area to find out who they recommend. Make a visit and see how your children are with the childminder. Ask for references and check their Ofsted reports. As teachers, you may be well aware of safeguarding and child protection issues so do ask relevant questions to the childminder.

You may also see a change in your child’s behaviour when their routine changes. This is natural for young children, as often they are unable to express how they feel so it can come out in a change in their behaviour.

Parenting ‘tweens’

As your child moves from primary age towards secondary, this is another crucial milestone in your child’s development and needs. It is often the age where they are encouraged to become independent, they start having their own thoughts and opinions.

It is important to encourage them to be themselves but in the same breath, do ensure the boundaries are clear and let them know what you expect from them as they still need your support event though they might say the opposite. Boundaries may need to adjust as they grow so they are more suitable to their development. Some of the rules may need revisiting as what the boundaries were when your child was 6 or 7 may not be the same at 11 or 12. For example, now they are older, you might ask them to help more around the house or wash the car. Have clear consequences so they are aware of what happens if they do not stick to the boundaries within your family life.

It is also crucial at this stage that they know that they can come and talk to you about any issues or feelings they have. Try to encourage open communication as early as possible so this continues into their teenage years. They will be going through puberty and hormones which can add to their emotions. They will experience feelings and emotions that they haven’t had to before so it is about understanding them, relating your own experiences and giving them space to talk about how they feel.

Many young people can often come across inappropriate or misguided sexual education in the school playground especially in secondary schools. Your child may also be a victim of or see others being bullied. A recent survey by Bullying UK said that 31% parents said their child has been bullied online and only 55% of children were able to confide in their parents straightaway. It is therefore important to be prepared for any type of conversation so you are able to give your child your thoughts and the reality of situations or scenarios they may come across. For more advice on talking about sex, bullying, please visit the Family Lives website.

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