Dr Fiona Pienaar spoke at the Tatler Schools Live 2017 event yesterday, and focused on the dos and don’ts of raising a happy child.
The audience were captivated, and I’d love to share some of her key points. I hope you find them as inspiring as I did:
- Dr Pienaar started by saying that there is no such thing as, “perfect parenting” and we must remember this.
- She talked about the importance of attachment – that gaze that babies give you when they’re looking for reassurance, the same gaze that social media is in danger of making obsolete. There is a balance, of course, when it comes to digital equipment and social media, but it’s certainly having an effect on our children.We must remember that we are the models for our children.
Fiona almost had the room in tears when she spoke of one particular little girl of 9 years old, who said “ I wish my mummy would put her phone down and actually look at me when I talk to her”.
- There was talk of empathy and kindness, and again how we should model this to our children and teach them to notice others.
- Something that I found interesting was her thoughts on happiness. She said that of course happiness means different things to different people, but that we should also be happy with being content or satisfied. It’s important to not always strive for this perfect happiness.
- There was a lot talk on resilience and how to build it, and I have been scouring the Harvard website which she said had fantastic video content on the subject.We need to build our children’s skills to cope with life, and teach them about time management – remembering all the while that we are their no.1 models.
We need to teach emotional vocabulary, teach them that they are in charge of their own thoughts, and we need to help them understand emotions that they feel.
- We should not forget to ask them for their opinion.
- We should teach them that their emotions impact their behaviour.
- She talked about the importance of your child having at least one stable relationship with a grown up. One person can make all the difference.
- Be available and be aware! These two things are hard in this day and age, but are so important.
- Make a date with your child and stick to it.
- Have eye contact with them and listen to what they have to say.Young children are finding language more and more difficult because we are spending less time talking.
We need to talk to our children about feelings, and show them that we all experience stress but that we have ways to cope with it, whether it is a hot bath or reading a magazine.
- Delayed Gratification is another interesting point she touched on. We live in a world where we have everything at our fingertips, and no longer have a sense or a build up of delayed gratification. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, if I wanted to know the answer to something when I was a child it would take hours if not days to find the answer. Whereas now, it’s at the end of a click of a button.
- Lastly, she believes that it’s critical that we don’t allow our children to take social media into their rooms at night, at the same time remembering that we are the role models, and that children lead from example.
Dr Fiona Pienaar is the Director of Clinical Services at Place2Be.
Telephone Number: 02079235508