Did you join us for Smiley’s 30-Day Challenge on Facebook in September? It was well received with lots of feedback from Mums who said it had opened their eyes to a different way of being with their children.

‘I really enjoyed challenging myself and my family – some were harder than others. Will go back and look at the days we didn’t do. Thank you for getting us to have new experience and teaching us different ways of communicating:-) much appreciated.’ 

If you missed it, you can download your copy by clicking on the image below. This brings up a bigger readable file that you can stick on the fridge or somewhere that you look every day to keep you on track.

Smileys30dayParChall_all for FB

Connection is the love that links us to our children

Before we started, I gave out my FREE download which explains what connection is and how to work out your child’s love language. If you know you child’s love language, then it makes connection (which is effectively parenting through the relationship and not through fear or rewards or bribery!!) easier.

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Connection is something I was introduced to by Dr Laura Markham who has 3 clear themes and echoes everything I believe to be true about nurturing children to reach their full potential. She is a Clinical Psychologist and Mum of 2 who believes in coaching and not controlling as a different parenting approach. Controlling comes from a place of fear and it really is a myth that you can control your children; or anybody for that matter.

If your child is behaving in ways that irritate you, it’s likely that they may be feeling overwhelmed by their feelings, tired, hungry or they are feeling disconnected from you.

What is driving you insane?

This is the definition of insanity:

‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ ~ Albert Einstein

Are you doing the same thing over and over with your children and expecting them to behave themselves? That’s what I do: expect the other person to change. Sadly, that doesn’t work does it? What if the other person doesn’t have the resource to change or the motivation? What if they don’t know how? What if they are scared to change?

In order to do things differently we need to re-wire our brains which means doing something new over and over again until we have created a new habit. We need to be clear about what it is we are going to do (our goal), commit to it and then make it happen. Baby steps are better that no steps at all.

My 30-Day Parenting Challenge uses different ways to be with your child and strengthen that blessed connection by creating more special time and looking at stressful situations in a different way.

‘This has been such an eye opener and a whole new world of thinking for me. I’ve loved it! Being a parent is a job I massively underestimated but when you have all this information at your fingertips and presented in such a way it is so helpful, it keeps you feeling positive even on those really tough days. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!’

Let’s look at some highlights from the 30-Day Challenge and see how Mums were not only challenged but delighted and supported by it.


Day 1 Work Our Your Child’s Love Language

If you are a regular here then you will have read my post about how to work out your child’s love language and once you know this, then you are winning. As far as first days go, my Facebook Page  was full of enthusiasm for parents who were joining in. I was so pleased at the response. It felt really exciting and hopeful.

One Mum wrote:

‘Here’s my creative love day!!! Had so much fun. I had to catch up with paperwork today and by 2pm little person was desperate for one of her friends to play with. No one free. Lots of tears. Laptop away. A reminder of her younger days with an hour playing with Happyland toys then onto moving into pre-teens with hair and make up hilarity……so many giggles!’

Here is that Mum and her daughter after experimenting with their make-up. Precious.

Day 2 Go the Whole Day Without Shouting

SMILEY TIP: I found this article ’10 Things I learned When I stopped Yelling really useful (in particular point 5 yelling doesn’t work and it breaks connection).

One Mum said the article was brilliant and asked the difference between yelling and raising your voice but still being in control. The feedback showed that what triggered yelling was tricky bedtimes, spilling Rice Krispies or when you felt like your child could be in danger.  One Mum wrote:

‘I found it wasn’t too hard and that normally when I get louder and shout they have switched off from what I am telling them. I found I was explaining myself better and they in turn seemed to follow what was being asked much better. Will try it again tomorrow’

And another said:

‘I think the biggest thing for me was letting my child trust their gut instinct. I loved reading the challenges and trying to move forward. I have a tendency to be a ‘shouty’ Mum and my children have told me that I haven’t shouted that much recently.’

 I think this one is the toughest challenging one of all. Being a shouter myself, I can see how this generated lots of feedback. Mums said it made them more aware of what their triggers were, why they did it and when they were not staying calm. Tired and hungry Mums and their children are also the perfect recipe for a bit of yelling and that would be around bedtime or the witching hour as some people like to call it. Somebody once said to me that they have a rule in their house that they don’t talk through walls or upstairs. I like this idea as a way of keeping the volume down in families.

Day 12 Use descriptive praise at least 5 times today and watch how your child responds to that

SMILEY TIP: (or should that be Dr Laura): Remember that non-specific praise backfires. Instead of: “You’re such an angel today.” Try: “I’m having such a good time singing with you today. I love it when we have so much fun together.”Why? Your child knows she isn’t a little angel, she’s a fallible human being — and if you forget that, she’ll need to show you by acting out in the worst way she can think of. Just too much pressure! 

In my blog post about praise I write about how for some people telling them how you feel about them or giving them positive praise is uncomfortable and doesn’t come naturally.   If you don’t praise your child, then they could form a negative belief about their abilities – remember a parent is a child’s mirror of how they behave and look. A child who doesn’t get positive feedback is like a child looking in a dusty mirror; they know they are there, but it’s not completely clear who they are.  Their reflection is blurry.  A child who gets too much negative feedback is looking in a broken mirror.  They may think they are bad and there is something wrong with them.

 Day 13 Say Yes to Your Child as Often as You Can

I like this article as it says,’ The fewer “no’s,” the better your day goes!’ That’s a good one to remember.

Smiley Tip: Make your no a yes. ‘Mum, Can I have sweets?’ Yes you can have them at the weekend when we watch X Factor. The language we use is so important. Ask them to ‘ remember’ instead of ‘don’t forget’.

“I found that I wasn’t just saying yes all the time – I really liked the yes you can have next week or in the holiday. The girls didn’t question it afterwards either were as when you say no you’re having to still discuss it four or five times afterwards!”

 Day 17 Be totally in the moment with your child

 Smiley Tip: Park your stuff. Put your phone to one side. If you are telling me that you don’t have enough time to do this because there are too many chores and other things to do. It’s time for a re-think of priorities. All relationships take hard work. Are you going to invest the time shouting, screaming, nagging and stressing? Or are you doing to invest the time and carry out a bit of preventative maintenance by strengthening your connection with your child?  Your choice.
Sometimes we think we are being with our children as we are in their company a lot. We only need to give them 10 minutes of special time every day to maintain that all important connection. Special time is not just being physically present, but being physically, mentally and emotionally available to your child and focusing all of your attention on them. That is something quite different and as you can see from the comments below, the results are amazing:

‘Had a fab day today. Consciously tried no raised voices, converting don’t do’s and no’s into positive s and had a brilliant 20 mins of in the moment imaginative play with my princess. Had to take a few moments beforehand to clear head but really worked… even got a ‘I love playing with you mum’ at the end. Feeling blessed.’

  ‘Today we had a great chat reminiscing about our holiday over breakfast this morning…no screens, no interruptions, no trying to do other things and eating on the go. Just us…sitting, chatting and laughing. Lush!’

Day 27 Get in training and teach your child something you do for them that you know they could do for themselves

SMILEY TIP: Write a list of everything you do for your children and mark off the things that you know they could do for themselves. Start working on the list and support your child learning how to do something new. This may require lots of patience as you know you could probably do it quicker yourself…..but that’s not the point!!!

 I can remember helping around the house. We had little jobs to do like clear the table, take the milk bottles out, make our beds or put our washing away. We used to get pocket money for doing it. Nowadays children have less time to do household chores and I know lots of people who have cleaners. Nobody really likes doing housework and I love the feeling when it’s all done and order is restored to my home.

‘Such a good skill for all children to learn – even if it isn’t everyday! Otherwise when do they learn?’

‘Letting them help me with chores and teaching things. I know the kids always love to help e.g. In the kitchen, but it’s hard to do. Things are done so much quicker with less mess when you do it yourself so giving time and time to learn is a big one for me.’

It’s all about balance

Whether you did or you didn’t do Smiley’s 30-Day Parenting challenge, I think it’s worth highlighting that those who did found that it:
  • made them more aware of their behaviours and their child’s responses to their behaviours
  • brought them closer to their children
  • have found learning new ways of being and new ways of approaching situations fun and interesting
  • showed them how parenting can be fun and not such a daily grind (it can get like that sometimes as that is part of life)

‘We have created the hug of the day which works for all 3 children  and the worry box is in full swing, I realised that all of them need time for their love language. I have taken a huge amount of knowledge from your posts so thank you. I’m also really trying to find my own strategies to find a happy balance with my emotions. Here’s to better parenting (hopefully)!’

Thank You for Taking Part

Lastly I’d like to thank all the Mums who took the time to engage with the challenge on Facebook and who put themselves out there. I know we live in a world where worry about what other people think and that we will be judged for what we say or do. Talking about challenging stuff in an open forum takes courage but it also makes it acceptable for other parents to talk about their experiences. We are all the same and we all struggle with the same challenges. None of us are perfect.

Love Smiley x

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