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Tanya Byron discusses facts about parenting and what makes a good parent.
Tags:what makes a good parent,parenting advice,parenting tips,simplymediatv
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Nina Sebastiane: Now the terrible twos really do to help to their name and can be a huge challenge to even the most patient of parents. Luckily though we have got Tanya Byron of BBC 3 house of tiny Tearaways with us and she is going to guide us through the toddler tension. Hi Tanya, welcome to the show. What makes a good parent?
Tanya Byron: I think one that doesn't worry too much about being a good parent actually I think may be the problem nowadays and I think I am part of the problem Is much as lot about the people in television is very, so much about parenting on television.
Nina Sebastiane: Or -- as dancing, Hey! That's a great thing. We all becoming more aware of what should or shouldn't do. Isn't that right?
Tanya Byron: Well, I think it's okay if it doesn't become too prescriptive. But I think what it count to I think the dangers I can get people to think am I a good parent or not? And actually the best kind of parenting I think comes from the heart is very instinctive. And I think if you try and parent by numbers, for a book like following a recipe that's where people starting problems.
Nina Sebastiane: Don't say that. I think you would thinking, oh must do that, mental note to self do that. What's the sort of most common behavioral problem you come across with the children that you see?
Tanya Byron: I work in health service. I am a consultant in the toddler mental health. So I work across the board. With little ones, I would say the most common problem is really the kind of book standard behavior problems, the terrible twos as you saying getting into the threes going into the fours the temper tantrums that define the aggression. There is an awful lot of sleep problems. Parents who are absolutely devastated by a lack of sleep because their children aren't sleeping. Some toileting problems which can be very distressing very devastating and a big, big problem for many parents is eating. Parents can just kind get kids to eat.
Nina Sebastiane: I think parents get obsessed about the eating in anyway. I know I do I know that if my daughter is gone through three days not eating what -- wanted to eat. It becomes almost like a sort of standoff.
Tanya Byron: And I think, because eating is so vital to survival and we are so kind of instinctly tuned into wanting nurture our kids in the best possible way. I think that's right and we can't get terribly neurotic. But I think the thing is, I mean I just written the book. So I don't want to say read books. But I think it's very important just to recognize that the more anxious and the more obsessed we get with doing the right thing by our kids, the less likely we are to make that happen.
Nina Sebastiane: It's interesting you said that, because I was looking through some of your books and there was one line that really grabbed me as a parent I thought was very profound thing and I have written it down. If you en tamper your child's behavior from an adult's perspective you are going to mismanage the behavior. And I just had to sit and I think about that. I should what I meant. Can you expand on that?
Tanya Byron: Well, for example eating is quite a good example. As you say parents get very emotional and often parents will say she or he that they are willful they have been difficult. They don't want to do this. They are trying to despite me and it gets into an argument and gets into a standoff as you were saying gets tense. Actually for toddlers, it's quite common for toddlers to show some phobic behavior. So toddlers will go through stage of suddenly not liking something new.
Nina Sebastiane: Okay and basically frightened to do anything new.
Tanya Byron: Yeah, could be strangers, could be socially, could be certain foods. And unless we can kind of in a very non-anxious way guide our children through that by being relaxed , by being fun, by making a game, by being firm and being firm and setting boundaries and saying you don't need to table until you eat that. But expecting that it was so conscious to begin with unless we can get ourselves into the percept of a small child sitting at the table, we are going to lose every single time.
Nina Sebastiane: Well, I took that to belief as well and please tell me if I have got through the wrong end of stick. If you do interrupt your child's behavior as an adult to an adult you are almost getting it do. Sometimes they don't understand what you are trying to communicate. Or you have go to keep it simple or in other words, you know occasionally as my biggest fear is I go to the supermarket and my daughter throws a complete panty on me and I can't control it. That's sort of a big concern. And sometimes you think well I am trying to reason with her. I trying reason with her in an adult way and perhaps that's not the way to do. I am giving her too much attention at that point.
Tanya Byron: If she is under the age of three, completely because children under the age of three in terms of their brain development the front lobes of the brain, which are responsible for moral reasoning social judgements, social behaviors are not fully developed. So to actually have a conversation with a child about their behavior under the age of three is meaningless because they cannot process the information as we as adults think we are imparting it.
Nina Sebastiane: -- she is only two. So I am trying to reason with it. But actually perhaps that's not the way to do.
Tanya Byron: When you are just feeling the behavior you are giving her more and more attention because mommy is talking and mommy is talking and mommy is talking. So with under threes actions speak louder than words. So be very clear right boundary and if she behaves in a certain way there is a particular consequence which she will follow through which she learns. She knows what makes time is better if I don't because she is just going to not let me have my treat at the end of the trick whatever.
Nina Sebastiane: Okay. I have just looking through the book and saying flicking through, there are lots of sections in this in particular that I stopped at, oh god that's fascinating. I want sort of look at that, how to set boundaries, how to tell your child sort of simply that you don't want that behavior. This is not the way that mommy and daddy like you to behave. And what struck me the most from this book was that actually it's quite simple. Messages that you are giving across are fairly simple.
Tanya Byron: really simple.
Nina Sebastiane: They will keep to the rules and keep to the rules and keep -- don't lay yourself perhaps be intimidated by the situation. Sounds like a crazy thing for parents to say to be intimidated by a two year old. But we are all in.
Tanya Byron: I think so, I think also and I think the reason the house as so really well is that, that it was a community. And I think that now parents are really isolated and I think when you are on your own with your kid a lot, you don't have your mom living there or your granny next door your cousins around the corner. Friends live far away from each other. I think parents can become quite isolated and quite anxious about their parenting. Until about people are afraid of being judged. So may be we don't really share with our friends whats really going or we don't want them to know that we child doesn't sleep.
So it becomes secret and it becomes frightening and people start stigmatized themselves and their kids. And is very simple and its fine to be open about and there are so many kids who don't sleep. And that's normal and that's fine. And is relatively easy to fix. But you just got to change kind of change your attitude and your beliefs and tell and it benefits.
Nina Sebastiane: If you found that children, learn about behavior sometimes from a sibling or a playmate and how do you workout, which child is a problem child and which child is just copycating.
Tanya Byron: Well, its never that straight forward and actually, when I were with families where a child has been labelled as the problem child, that always worries me, because you get in some , you get into a notion of yourself filling prophecy. If you think a child is a certain kind of person, you will give out keys that will set them up to behave in that way.
Nina Sebastiane: It's the I don't like parents and isn't and you say to a child enough times only you don't like carrots they say they didn't like it once.
Tanya Byron: Yeah they don't like it.
Nina Sebastiane: and they won't eat them until they are 25 when all of a sudden they realize actually they are quite nice.
Tanya Byron: absolutely and interestingly in the house because you have the benefit of filming 24 hours a day in would trust a family with say two children one was the angel one was the problem. And over process of time throughout the week you would find that actually the angel knew exactly how to push the problem child buttons to get that child into a trouble so they get that. So there's always a dynamic between siblings and it's really i think parents must labeling their children, because that's when big bigger problems can occur.
Nina Sebastiane: And what about the problems that perhaps bring to it, as you say obviously you know children can play up and see and make you know press mom and dad's buttons as well. But as you say you don't, the parents sometimes fall into a trap and sounds into a routine that they have to break.
Tanya Byron: Yeah, absolutely and I think the big challenge in the kind of work that I do is there are two things really one is fixing the problem behaviors, you know why was child -- how can we fix it. Why weren't they asleep how can we fix it? You know become a book standard as you say really simple, really obvious, its not rocket science type of approach. But the big question is always why have these parents got this problem and why haven't they not been able to fix it themselves. Because it's not complicated and then for me it's looking at the back story. So I brought families where there has been a huge period to post natal depression for the moms.
So she feels so guilty about the fact that she was in hospital one mother in the series from this book. She was in hospital, when her child was being weaned and because she was so poorly with postnatal depression and when she came out having not seen her son for ten months she is basically captive in a hitcher although he is now three, feeding him healthy food, she cant let go at that stage of development because of her own result feelings.
So it's kind of looking as adults. Its sort of saying to ourselves what are we projecting on to our child? What are we making them responsible for? They are not responsible for. It's our own stuff and we need to do with that properly.
Nina Sebastiane: It's a fascinating subject. Let's try and do couple of specific questions as well now. How would do deal with a child say who just point blank refuses to go to bed when they are told to.
Tanya Byron: Might need
Nina Sebastiane: Easily said than done. How to begin that process?
Tanya Byron: Well there are two options really that I would recommend. One is something that's very kind of hardcore which is good rapid return, which is you put them in bed and you tuck them in any kids and we say goodnight and then you walkout and they will scream and shout and get out. And you just keep returning and keep returning and you keep a log every night how many times you return them and it will go from 97 to 50 to 43 to 37 and it will go down. All of that something with more anxious children and more anxious parents where you would basically put your child to bed and sit near them but don't look at them and ignore them and just be present and just gradually over the next few nights move further and further away from the bed. So you are kind of increasing their confidence while you are sort --
Nina Sebastiane: But you would not sustain that depending on obviously how the background of what's been going on elsewhere.
Tanya Byron: Exactly. If I just to say the key thing with sleep problems is that actually a lot of sleep problems are fixed just when parents realize that if a child has a good sleep routine which is just basically tea, play then bath then pajamas then bed and story and then sleep. But what happens to a lot of children, because parents work is that they have that tea and play them have their bath and pajamas then they will say daddy comes home manic play child on the ceiling.
Nina Sebastiane: Absolutely hyper and then you can't get them down.
Tanya Byron: And then we wonder why?
Nina Sebastiane: Yeah, well actually in my house we had that at one point. And we got to the point now even if she is going to sleep half an hour later we do the routine.
Tanya Byron: Absolutely brilliant. That's right.
Nina Sebastiane: It's meant that , okay she goes to bed half an hour late but we don't have this kind of , daddy is back home excitement, everybody is stimulating a game and here we go. We are running out of time. I am going to have to pick one last question to ask you Tanya. You talk about the power of play and how that can improve a child's behavior. Is it specifically power of play or is it a tension between parent and child giving them positive attention rather than negative attention?
Tanya Byron: Its both. It's a good question. Its both. It's definitely about the attention and the quality of the attention. Attending to your child's behavior and rewarding them. So when a child is playing imagine your sports commentator and just literally comment , oh you are push each other, oh up the hill that's really good. You know the child is enriched by the fact that you are noticing everything they are doing. And lots of praise. But also there is huge amount of research that shows playing itself is so important in bonding and in cognitive development and emotional development and social skills development and communication. Something so simple, just do it a lot and your child will be very secure very happy that you have a great relationship with them.
Nina Sebastiane: Well Tanya, we have run out of time. I am sorry to say, but the book is The House of Tiny Tearaways along with the series with Dr. Tanya Byron. Get it if any of these is interested and that send us to me and - bought and take away. Thanks very much indeed for coming in.