The Real Skills Parents Need if We Want to Sleep Soundly at Night

There are so many instances in our lives as parents that can throw us into the deep end, emotionally speaking. Whether it’s a road trip where you are experiencing a lot of temper tantrums, travel troubles, and having to stay awake for longer than you are used to or the emotional onslaught that seems to feel like you are slowly coming apart at the sides, it can feel like it’s all too much more often than not. 

Common wisdom talks about learning to take control of the situation and not feeling so stressed, but as parents, there’s a lot of anxiety about the unknown. There are things that we pray don’t happen, and when they do, we panic in those moments. The adage that we must aspire to is “never rise to the occasion, but fall to the level of our training,” and while there’s no parental boot camp, there are skills that we can all have at our disposal that make us better at our jobs. Let’s show you the best skills you can have.

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Lifesaving Skills

There are so many times when we can feel that a near miss knocks the wind out of us for the rest of the day (if not longer, depending on your unique reactions to stress). Life-saving skills like BLS (Basic Life Support) can give you a thorough grounding in medical emergencies of a general nature. Knowing how to perform CPR is an excellent tool that ultimately, every parent should know how to do automatically. Once you have Basic Life Support certification under your belt, it’s easy to get a BLS renewal so you can continue to develop your skills. 

It’s also about making sure that when we recognize common threats, we know how to handle them within that moment. Part of this is about teaching our children the key skills in those dangerous situations, for example, knowing how to float on water and the “stop, drop, and roll” technique in a fire. However, we should also remember that in these emergency situations, we have to maintain composure and make quick but rational decisions when faced with a life-threatening situation. Lifesaving skills are crucial for us to develop for our children, but also to help anybody in an emergency situation.

Stress Management

Of course, we’ve talked about how stressful it can be as a parent, but if we continue to let stress overwhelm us, it becomes built into our nature and this means that we struggle with anxiety, but also we unwittingly pass these traits on to our children. It’s never too late to learn how to manage stress but what can you do as a parent? 

Understanding the best stress reduction techniques that don’t just help at the moment but ones that you can practice over time. There are common tools that we should all understand, such as deep breathing, but lots of us don’t necessarily recognize what it can do for our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the rest and digest mode. 

There is a huge range of tactics, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by sheer choice. Which one is the best? The best one is the one that actually works for you. One of the best tools to begin is, very simply, breathing through your nose. When we panic, we breathe through our mouths and we breathe fast. Taking control of your breath in stressful situations and breathing through your nose and into your diaphragm is a perfect starting point. The tool at this link refers to breathing through the nose for 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out, which can help control your HRV (Heart Rate Variability), and, over time, will reduce your stress levels. There are other ways to take control of your stress especially when you identify common parental triggers like running late, and getting up a little bit earlier in the morning can avoid that stress.

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The Skill of Education

Part of our stress can be the fact that we don’t know how to guide our children through certain things in life. This is why having the skill of education under your belt is not necessarily something we would consider from a stress reduction perspective, however, if we find our children struggling with learning in school or they hate their learning environment but we don’t have the ability to homeschool them, we can start to learn the skill of learning. 

We should look at learning as not reading something for the sake of memorizing it in case there’s a test on it, but remember that learning is about intellectual curiosity. You may have an internal block because you hated school and if your children are at that age where they are starting to feel the same it’s time to unravel this. You can start by showing a genuine interest in what your children are learning at school and checking their understanding by randomly asking questions about it. 

We also need to remember that education is about the “little and often” approach, rather than forcing our children to sit down for two or three hours after school, which will only serve to deaden any passion for learning. We can do things like counting or practicing times tables while setting the table or tidying up but we should also think about those seemingly academic tasks and turn them into opportunities for pleasure and relaxation. A very common example is establishing a regular bedtime reading routine, and this will help to slowly expand their vocabulary. 

We should also remember that it’s not just about what they’re learning in school but what is outside of class and supporting a wide range of extracurricular activities can help children discover their passions and interests which means that they may have more of an opportunity to link things they care about with those academic subjects.

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Communication Skills

There are a huge range of communication skills we need as a parent and in some ways, we can naturally develop these over time but it becomes harder when we have very little sleep and a whole range of extracurricular activities. Some of the best communication skills include:

  • Active listening by paying close attention to what your child is saying and then reflecting back on what you understood and encouraging them to continue expressing themselves. If your child doesn’t feel they are heard by you, they won’t feel like they are heard by many others. 
  • Empathy is crucial and being able to understand and share the feelings of your child and responding with compassion, not judgment is essential. As parents, we can easily downplay their struggles, but they are experiencing things that we once had to experience for the first time and it’s vital to remember this. 
  • Communicating our thoughts and directions in an age-appropriate way while also speaking at an appropriate pace is a very useful tool. 
  • Also creating an environment where your child feels safe and comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings is key to the skill of open communication and allowing your child’s time to express themselves without you interrupting or not correcting any communication issues will also help.

We all can feel that when we struggle with the skill that is parenting, there are so many little components to keep track of. Nobody can be a master at all of them, however, what we need to remember is that we have to give our children the skills they need to thrive, and while there are times when we need to step in, if we can be a parent with the bare minimum of stress this creates a comfortable environment for our children and this means that they will become the best possible version of themselves.


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