You’ve been waiting for it and here it is – 10 things I learnt from Steve Biddulph – The Secret of Happy Children!
The aim of The Happy Parent Project is to teach busy parents the strategies to being happy in amongst the chaos of parenthood. You can learn more about my programme 12 Steps to a Healthy Family here.
You can imagine my excitement then when I realized that best selling author, speaker and family educator Steve Biddulph (famously known for his best selling book Raising Boys) was coming to Geelong and running a show titled….The Secret of Happy Children! (Don’t be put off by his very un-fancy website – he’s so famous he doesn’t need to make it look cool!).
I jumped at the opportunity to see the man that helped me as a single Mum, raise my young son some 10 years ago, with his words of wisdom. I dragged my hubby along (yes, dragged would be the word of choice here – he did offer to stay home and babysit..!) and met up with my good friend who had also dragged her partner along. You know that you’re onto something good when a family counselor is able to have your tradie husband heartily laughing out loud when touching on a delicate and controversial subject such as discipline and smacking. Steve was hilarious, straight down the line, offered sound practical advice and really got us thinking about how we could do things differently. It gets 5 stars from me and from my reluctant husband.
Steve was kind enough to take the time to chat to me at the end of the night and has allowed me to publish my notes from the night. He has taken the time to review my notes to ensure they are 100% accurate, so on behalf of my followers Steve – thankyou!
Here’s the main points from the night that you may find useful.
Internal Guidance System: As parents we have an internal guidance system and we intrinsically know in our hearts what is right and wrong when it comes to parenting. But this system may have been damaged and its voice very quiet. A talk like this is aimed to help you listen more closely to your heart.
Independence: Our role as a parent is to make our children independent. It’s not to be their best friend or doing everything for them. Both our loving, and our firmness, equip them for life.
Boundaries: Children push the boundaries because they want you to show them where the boundaries are, and to help them learn to get along and be happy in a world that doesn’t revolve just around them.
Discipline: The age to start disciplining children is around 2 years of age. You can tell it’s time to start when they get this look on their face that you’ve sprung them doing something they shouldn’t. You know they should look sorry, but instead they look like they want to stick their tongue out at you! (I highly recommend going to Steve’s show just to see him do this demonstration – hilarious!) The reason you don’t start disciplining until 2 years of age is because this is when their visual cortex is developed enough to visualize your look of disapproval when they’re being naughty
What discipline means: What discipline really means is not punishment, but gentle teaching and talking through to help them live with not being always the centre of the Universe. You don’t have to be angry or mean to discipline, in fact it’s best to be relaxed.
Teenagers: Teenagers are almost at the point of independence when suddenly their neurological processes start to readjust themselves and they are taken right back to being dependent again. Steve says that to know the stage a teenager is at just deduct 12 from their age!
Love: There are 2 types of love required to raise happy children – soft love and firm love. You need a combination of both – you need to be warm but strong. This means that you need to be willing to have your child not like you sometimes for a few hours or a day or two if it’s for a good purpose but warm enough to be tender and patient. The reason we have to be tough and set boundaries is because our kids are going to need backbone and heart. Our kids lives are going to be tough and they have to learn that they have the strength to do it tough and still find happiness and enjoyment in life. It’s not all about getting their own way or being the centre of the Universe.
Slow down: Most of the problems with disciplining come back to the hurry that the adult is in. You know the kind – yelling at kids to get their shoes on because we’re late etc. Hurry is the enemy of love – we all need to slow it down.
1:1 time: If you want to increase the love between you and another member of your family you need to spend more 1:1 time with that person. Go away for a weekend or night together and connect.
Upset children: Often when problems arise with children, there is something else going on that has upset them. Always take the time to talk quietly with them – later that day or at bedtime, about how they are feeling. Upsets in children can be because of something they haven’t been able to tell you, or something they need help to figure out. You are their ally in figuring out life, and comforting them through its ups and downs, until one day they are strong enough and know how to do it without you.
Personal note from Steve: “When you are gone, they will carry you inside them forever. What a wonderful thing to leave behind”.
Steve has more shows coming up around the country which you can book here . I also highly recommend his books: (Please note that I receive a small referral fee from Amazon if you purchase the books via these links. I will alway disclose the products that I receive referral fees from and only recommend products that I 100% believe will support you in your quest to be a happy parent, and that I have tried and tested myself. The profit helps to keep this blog alive).