I recently caught up with Joanne Aitchison, author of 'Enjoy the now Teach for the future.' Love the title!!
Joanne is a published author with over 20 years experience working with children and young adults with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, whilst assisting parents to manage behaviours. She has been a Nanny both here in Australia and in England and has managed programs which support children removed from their families in the Cape (QLD) by child safety and placed in homes in Cairns. Her book "Enjoy the Now teach for the Future" is an easy to read book, which focuses on pro-active and engaging ways to manage children's behaviour's. It also has a section at the beginning that is interactive for parent's to work through together to ensure they are on the "same page" with their parenting journey.
I was keen to catch up with Joanne and ask her some questions on helping our children to grow up to be happy, healthy and respectful grown ups!
You are the author of 'Enjoy the Now, Teach for the Future' and have 21-years’ experience assisting parents. Tell us a little about what you do?
Currently I am a full time mum to a nearly 3-yr old daughter, with one on the way.
My book came about from running a small business where I would go in to families homes' similar to the super nanny TV show and assist with behaviour management concerns parents had. As you have mentioned, prior to this for 21-years I worked with children and young adults who displayed behaviour challenges, assisting their parents and carers to manage these behaviours, so home life became a more pro-active, loving and manageable environment for parents/carers and children to enjoy.
Did becoming a mum yourself change some of the parenting beliefs you had prior to having children, or did it just cement them?
I have read my book a few times since having my daughter. I found myself, as most parents do; getting caught up in the emotion of being a parent and carer to my daughter and not a teacher. I absolutely, am so grateful and proud I wrote this book prior to having children as I was able to look at issues/concerns without the emotion that is attached as a parent.
Taking on the role of a parent/carer can be tough, and too often we don't look at how our interactions with our children are without the emotion attached. But... when you are able to do this; when you can assess situations without over-reacting and letting your own emotion of the situation take over, parenting and teaching your children becomes so much easier.
What age group do you specialise with?
Age 0 - 25 years of age has been my career focus. Enjoy the Now ... Teach for the Future is more specific to parents with children aged 0-12 years of age. It is very important for parents' to remember that what you instill in your children between the ages of 0-12years will be their core person for the rest of their lives. To re-train what you have taught between these ages in teenage years only makes life harder for both parent and child. So putting in the 'hard work' regarding how you want your child to behave in the early years is most beneficial.
What are some of the more common concerns parents come to you with? Are there one or two questions you hear more than anything else?
The MOST common concern parents' came to me with was that they could not get their child to listen to them. The solution to this is so simple, but because a parent's daily life gets in the way, parents talk to their children whilst doing dinner; they expect children to focus on them whilst the child is watching TV or on the computer or other. You must look children in the eye when you are talking to them and expect the same from them when listening to you. This is not only best practice for ensuring your child is listening, it is also the best way to ensure respect; for both yourself as the parent and themselves as the child.
Another common concern would be dealing with negative behaviour when out in public. Parents need to support each other when they see other parents trying to discipline their children in public. (Of course in saying this, no level of abuse towards a child is acceptable). Consistency is the key to constant good behaviour and if a parent is too scared to discipline in public for fear of what other's will think/say then the child will jump on this knowledge and play on it EVERY time.
As a example, I have suggested to a parent who was struggling with their child's behaviour at the shopping mall to take the time out mat with them to the shopping mall and use it if their child will not behave as they expect; this happened, and the child very quickly realised there was no more 'getting away with it' when outside the house. The parent's rules must apply wherever they are! The best advice I can give when in public is to stick to what you would do at home.
The book covers a broad range of areas from bribes to tantrums and working with your child's teacher when they are at school age. Who is the book perfect for? Mums in general, mums who are having behavioural troubles, etc?
Enjoy the Now ... Teach for the Future is a perfect, easy to read, understand and implement strategies book for both mum's and dad's. At the beginning of the book there are interactive questions for mum and dad to work through together or on their own if separated, that enable each parent to look at the way in which they parent and assess if they are parenting on the 'same page'. The most effective parenting, regarding behaviour management, works when both parents engage with their children in the same way.
Children thrive and need boundaries and consistency. This in turn makes parenting life easy. So whether parents are struggling with behaviour management, their child's behaviour at kindy/pre-school or school, tantrums at home or in public this book will assist parents to look at their individual situation and work through it with practical, pro-active suggestions.
What are 3 key areas of raising young children (toddlers) that we may overlook but are truly key to raising happy and healthy children, in a happy and healthy household?
The most important key areas of raising children I have learnt in my many years of working with and now parenting my own is to show respect, consistency and boundaries at all times. If you don't display respect to your children they will not display respect back to you.
If you are not consistent with your own beahaviour, rules, expectations, your children do not know where they stand with you on a daily basis and will show this by displaying negative behaviour or otherwise known to many as 'pushing boundaries'. Children 'push boundaries' as a way of learning, but when it is your daily life as a parent to see these behaviours, you must to look at yourself as a parent/teacher and assess if you set the same rules/boundaries yesterday, the week before or just a few hours ago. If you change, so will your child's behaviour. Respect, consistency and boundaries are the absolute key to happy and healthy parent's/children and home life.
Finally, there is so much pressure on parents to live up to a 'standard', and in many cases we also put this pressure on ourselves (to have the perfect clean house, the child who doesn’t throw tantrums, etc). What is your advice to Mum's and Dad's who are feeling this pressure?
You are right! There is so much pressure to be a certain parent, to have our home lives a certain way and in many cases, it is only ourselves who place this pressure on ourselves. I think the best way to avoid this - or take it off if already there! - is to truly know that we as parent's are individuals. Our children are individuals. We must live our lives to the beat of our own drum; what works for us as individuals and as a family unit.
Life gets busy, children grow up quickly, but as mentioned above if we can keep the basics of life flowing; respect, consistency and boundaries - then as parent's and children we are all on a "winner".
We ALL need these 3 key elements in our lives to feel important, acknowledged, protected and LOVED.
Enjoy the Now ... Teach for the Future has been published by New York based publishing company Strategic Book Publishing and can be obtained via the following link ; http://sbprabooks.com/JoanneAitchison