As uncle, aunt, grandparents, how can we manage the children's visit at home? What is our role with them? What should our limits be?
Actually, there is no right answer. Depending on each one of us, our education, our values and our temperament, our actions will be distinct from each other.
Although we want to do our utmost to make the children feel comfortable and enjoy being around us, we are sometimes caught off guard and don't know how to intervene. Of course, we are not the parents and in no case are we present to disapprove of the child's interventions, at least never in the presence of the child. It is at this level that a certain discomfort is sometimes felt and we don't know how to talk about certain things without harming our relationship.
In my work with families, I regularly witness family dynamics. Sometimes I have a child and a grandparent, for example, and I have to say that the child's attitude is simply different. In fact, children don't necessarily behave the same way when the parents are away. But the child should be able to follow the same rules, whether mom or dad is there or not! The reality is quite different.
In fact, children, like adults, are influenced by their environment and the people they hang out with. No doubt you remember doing some "crap" when you were a child? It's conceivable that peer influence and your desire for fun may have surpassed family rules, even if you had the best parents in the world.
In fact, when a child is at home, they usually experience a sense of security and this feeling leads them to overcome certain fears, embarrassments and test the limits on occasion. It is at these levels that we are happy to be consistent, consistent and even coherent in our interventions.
As uncle, aunt or grandparents, our relationship with the children is more focused on play, camaraderie and exchange. However, even if pleasure dominates, should I intervene when behaviour deviates from the rules already established? The answer is: Yes, of course you should. However, it is important not to confuse the roles. Educational" is usually the role of the parent, but that doesn't mean we can't advocate good habits. It is just as important that the child witness different types of communication and approaches. This will help them to quietly develop their personality, communication and social skills.
Since there is no miracle solution, I am now suggesting some winning strategies to promote good communication and to help children become familiar with various environments.
strategies : RELATIONS
- Get the child to say please and thank you!
- Demonstrate harmonious relationships between you; this will allow the child to witness different types and kinds of relationships .
- Get the child to express himself or herself verbally using play (dolls, board games, blocks, etc.)
- Use interactive reading to discuss emotions and encourage exchanges
strategies : BEHAVIORS
- Family rules allow for consistency in our interventions and demonstrate to the child that the adults are talking to each other (for example: if the child cannot jump on the beds or sofa at home, it would be preferable that the same rules apply to your home). Of course, each family has its own rules. It is therefore up to you to clarify this with the people concerned.
- Reduce screen time: In fact, the use of screens leads to overstimulation of the brain. The child receives a multitude of information (images, sounds, lights, movements...) which leads to an immersive effect. Although some games and applications are appropriate, high exposure to screens decreases any interaction with the world around him. It's as if the child's brain is represented by a glass of water: when the screen is on, my glass of water fills up with information. At a certain point, there is an overflow of information... Finally, this overflow is felt in the child and can cause: anger, irritability, anxiety, loss of sleep, restlessness and lead to a crisis...
Strategies to avoid
- Avoid using punishment at the expense of parents or other family members(for example: if you don't calm down, I'll call your father and he'll come and get you). In fact, in such a situation, the child may perceive his father as the "bad guy". Moreover, this threat of punishment is simply negative and has no direct connection with the child's actions. Rather, the punishment leads to feelings of anguish and does not allow the child to understand that his action is unacceptable. The behaviour may simply come back later. It would therefore be preferable to allow a period of quiet time and thus encourage the child to return to calm (puzzles, reading, drawing, mandalas, soft music, relaxation).
- Make sure to use logical consequences (related to the event). For example, if the child has been rude, there is no point in forbidding him or her to visit a family member. However, it is important for the child to understand that his or her behaviour is not appropriate. In a case where the child is abrupt with a family member, the consequence could be to make up for it by doing a favour for example.
- It is best to explain to the child that what he or she has said has hurt us and that we do not accept that he or she is talking to us in this way. It is also possible for the child to receive a logical consequence: In case ofrudeness , for example, ask the child to make a gesture of reparation to the person concerned (draw a picture, please him or her, apologize)).
- It is around the age of 5-6 years that the child understands the notion: of the right to make a mistake. In fact, when the child is asked to apologize, he or she may actually do so because we have ordered it. However, setting an example will allow the child to develop this skill.
- It is important to know that the further in time the consequence is, the less the child will be able to make the necessary connections and adjust his or her behaviour.
strategies : FOOD
It is possible to wait until everyone has finished their plate before presenting the dessert. This allows the child to learn the notion of waiting and patience. The child may want to eat the dessert immediately as it is more appealing. However, the child may still be hungry after the dessert. Avoid offering a second serving of dessert, but rather present the plate that he or she did not eat. Otherwise, he can wait for the snack.
- Reduce the amount of sweets. Chocolate and soft drinks contain a certain amount of caffeine, so they can cause restlessness and less receptivity on the part of the child.
- Use dessert as a complement to the meal (fruit, stewed fruit, yogurt, etc.). When the child does not want to eat the food on his plate, we are inclined to negotiate: "eat a little more and you can have dessert". By insisting in this way, the child may have the impression that the food on his plate is less valuable than the dessert.
Finally, there are no perfect parents, just as there are no perfect uncles, aunts or grandparents either. However, it is important for everyone to establish guidelines, which will help the child find his way around. By setting clear, sharp and precise boundaries, the child will be less tempted to test the adult. In this way, interventions can remain more positive than negative. Our role is very important in the development of all kinds of skills, all that remains now is to trust our intuition. Let's not forget that teamwork is always a winning key. What's next?