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6 steps to creating a stable home life

1. Maintain a daily routine

As much as possible try to follow a set pattern each day. On school days get the family out of bed at the same time, have a shower/bathroom roster, breakfast together, leave the house in good time for school transport. All these little things help young people feel secure and safe.

2. Make a fuss on special days

Go wild on birthdays – help them feel that your family parties like no other. It doesn’t need to take heaps of money – be creative. If it’s winter and likely to snow then make the day a toboggan Olympics or the largest snowman ever, or the snowball fight to end all snowball fights.

Food always works – try the largest banana split in the world (to give you an idea it involves using a clan drain pipe).

3. Include children in decision making

Children begin to feel uneasy, afraid and insecure when they don’t know what is happening. When huge decisions are taken and they feel in the dark. The answer is simple – involve them in the discussion. It will need to be age sensitive but don’t assume they haven’t already worked out something is going on.

4. Affirm their worth regularly

Adolescence is a scary journey and is often riddled with a sense of just not being good enough. If we seek out opportunities to affirm their worth (and take every one we get) then we will be shaping their self esteem – making it more and more healthy. A healthy self esteem equals a happy teenager. And what do happy teenagers make? – happy parents!

5. Encourage parent substitutes in their life.

Home life will be more stable if our teenagers relate well to other caring adults. If they connect with a family member, neighbour or youth worker then that takes some of the parental load, gives another person’s perspective and allows for our teen to (occasionally) raise some issues about us.

6. Keep consistent boundaries

All of us benefit from clear, well defined boundaries even though it seems to be human nature for us to push them a little (as an example car drivers and speed limits). Having said that the key word here is consistent. If there are two parents/adults then it works best if the boundaries have been pre-agreed and don’t vary from one parent to the other. The boundaries need to be the same day in and day out too.

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