There was no judgement in our group, which is why people opened up to talk about their issues – the positives and negatives of parenting. Before starting Kids Matter I was a bit anxious because whatever issues I was having, if they weren’t the same as the other parents’ then maybe I would feel embarrassed. I learnt that I’m not the only one; we’re all parents, in the same boat with the same issues.
Everyone was very friendly – the other parents and the facilitators. I joined the group, in part, because I wanted to connect with other parents, to make friends and learn about other people, and this was made easy by the homely, cosy atmosphere of the sessions. We had drinks and snacks, and laughed a lot; there was also time to touch base before starting the session each week. The group was mixed (mums and dads), which was nice. There were some subjects that were close to our hearts but we just all seemed to talk and it seemed to be okay.
My main area of concern with regards to parenting was discipline; how to listen well and discipline my children appropriately – gently rather than excessively. I was also interested in routine because I know that’s really useful when parenting.
My son is 7 years old and he doesn’t always listen. I’ve learnt that he needs age-appropriate boundaries; that I have to put some rules in place but also remember that he is only a child, and consequences need to reflect that. Sometimes because we’re adults we want to treat our children like how we would treat other adults, forgetting that their mindset is completely different. So, if the child is misbehaving; say my child hits me, I can’t hit him back. I need to find another way to tell him not to misbehave, and parenting programmes like Kids Matter do help. It’s not easy but you just have to keep trying every time.
We got booklets for every session (six in total) to take home, which are good reminders when, say, you’re having a troubled time with parenting and you can’t discipline your child, you can always pick up one of those booklets and then just read through it. It might help you, to just remind you, how to discipline your child in those difficult moments when you and your child have to sort things out together. We also had to fill out questionnaires before the programme and after the programme to evaluate how we’ve learned and developed as parents. Another good thing about Kids Matter is the reunion that happens six weeks after the final group session.
Since doing Kids Matter, I’m much better at putting things in perspective and reasoning things through rather than avoiding the issue as adults might do with one another when they want to avoid a confrontation. With children, we need to show them the way; we need to talk to them about what’s going on. This is how we help them along because they’re still little and their brains aren’t fully developed yet. The more I connect with my child, be with him, sit with him and let him know that I am always here, the easier it gets.
Now, my son listens more and so it’s calmer at home. I am more confident in my parenting – “confident” being a more appropriate word to “happy” because children are unpredictable; but if you put boundaries (like routines) in place to guide their behaviour, it’s much easier at home. I know that my son needs to feel safe. Talking takes time but is the best way; smacking is unnecessary (and is not allowed) – it is just a quick route, you know. I am better at making my expectations clear to my son, so that when I ask him to finish his breakfast he will do it (before he’d jump about and play and we’d be late for school) because I’ve explained that it will be much nicer if he’s on time as he’ll get to start school with the whole class.
How we’ve been brought up by our parents, our family…that is what we know in our head; that’s what we know so that’s how we bring up our children. But if that’s not right then we need to change our ways, you know? We have to change our ways to save us from headaches and chaos. No parent is perfect but Kids Matter helps parents learn new, better ways of doing things. I would recommend this programme to all parents, rich or poor. It’s a good programme.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual.
The attached picture is not a representation of the individual concerned.