We spoke with Tia Slightham who is Certified in Positive Discipline and trained in Positive Parenting Solutions. We found out how she deals with the guilt of being a working parent, her family’s rules around technology, and the first step to being the best parent you can be.
Are you a parenting expert?
To begin answering this question I’d like to first say that we all have passions and areas where we study and grow our expertise. For me, Parenting and Early Childhood Education are my areas of expertise, as this is where I have focused my attention and learning. I have my Masters in Early Childhood Education, and I am trained in Positive Parenting Solutions and certified in Positive Discipline. I have worked with kids and families for over 15 years and it truly is my passion. The best part about my profession is seeing the success families find after working to make positive changes in their parenting style. When parents commit to making small manageable changes, the light bulb suddenly goes off and they finally realize that parenting doesn’t have to be a struggle. Daily parenting can be a joy for you and your kids. Our kids grow up too fast – let’s not miss the opportunity to enjoy each moment!
What concerns do parents bring to you most often?
Parents come to me with a large spectrum of issues. They range from newborn to early teen years. The concerns start with what to do when bringing home a newborn, feeding, scheduling, and sleep and move to toddler tantrums, helping your child grow independence and responsibilities, how to stop back talking, technology management, sleep struggles and more. The three most common concerns that are brought to me are sleep, kids not listening, and technology.
The sleep issues revolve around teaching babies/kids to sleep independently and how to stop the bedtime battles. Parents struggle with how to put an end to bedtime stalling, needing one more drink, one more book, and one more kiss…sound familiar?
The issue around technology that’s most common is, how to get kids to turn off technology without losing their minds. There is a fair and respectful way to set up boundaries around technology, which will be successful and it doesn’t involve yelling, nagging or reminding.
The third common concern is how to get kids to listen without yelling and constantly reminding. This can be very frustrating for parents and their kids. This tactic doesn’t work for either party and there are ways to fix this cycle with effective, lasting results.
Is the issue more often with the kids or the parents? Or both?
This is an excellent question. Although most parents may be shocked by my answer, but the truth be told, the issues are more often with the parents. This is not being said to put down parents by any means. My message stems from the fact that parents often feel their kids are either too stubborn, won’t listen, refuse to cooperate, won’t sleep alone, and so on. Statements such as these can have an element of truth, but the hardcore fact is that they can be changed. Parents can make positive shifts in their kid’s behavior by implementing positive and effective solutions. The truth is, kids will continue to do what works for them. They will throw a tantrum if you react and give them attention. This shows them that their choice of behavior works. It’s our goal as parents to teach our kids positive behavior choices by parenting in a way that naturally makes this occur. There are many parenting tools/solutions that are simple and easy to implement into your daily routine. Once you start making changes you will notice your kids cooperating more, behaving in a positive manner and you will have happier kids!
The issues today’s parents struggle with, are they the same things parents of the past were challenged with as well? Or are today’s parents facing new challenges?
Many of the issues parents struggle with today were being dealt with years ago. Kids are kids are kids. They all grow up and strive for independence. They all get tired, hungry and crabby. They all lose their minds when they haven’t had their basic needs of food and sleep met. Parents are struggling to fit it all in and be too many places at once. In these regards, amongst others, we are dealing with similar issues.
Where we find new challenges is around technology. Kids and parents are buried in their devices and losing sight of true, deep, connections. Kids are looking for their parent’s attention more as parents are more distracted. They are searching social media or bringing work home with them. Parents are finding it hard to turn it off. Kids are growing up with devices and find it totally normal to have one glued to them at all times. The trouble around this is multi-level. A couple of these issues revolve around the fact that kids today are lacking true friendships. They are looking for how many “likes” they get on Instagram or Facebook to give them a sense of self-worth. The truth is, this is actually decreasing their self-worth and confidence, which is leading to more cases of depression and suicide. Along with this issue, we are dealing with Internet safety.
With all technology offers, kids are exposed to much more than they should be. They are in a way, being forced to grow up too fast. They are losing their innocence from such an early age, much sooner then they are mentally and physically ready for. If your child is going to have a device then there needs to be serious boundaries around technology. You will need to do what you feel is right for your family and your kids. You can’t let what others are saying drive your decisions. You know your kids best and you will know if you feel they are ready for the responsibility of a device.
As an entrepreneur, how do you separate work life from home life?
As an entrepreneur I work very hard to separate my work life from my home life. It’s about being super organized and knowing when too much is on my plate. It’s about letting go of my own parent guilt and knowing that I am only one person. I can only do so much, and therefore, organizing and prioritizing what needs to be done is key. For me being able to attend fieldtrips, volunteer at school, and be with my kids as much as possible is my ultimate goal. I know first hand through my own parenting and working with parents how important good quality time is for strong parent-child relationships. Sometimes something has to give and this is where you have to leave the guilt at the door.
One of the trickiest parts to keep separate is technology. I strive to keep my kids away from technology as much as possible and to have boundaries around using them. With my job, I am constantly communicating with clients or answering questions on my Facebook community page, emails and phone calls. The key is to create work hours and personal hours the best I can. Then I do my best to stick to this plan, just as you would a scheduled doctors appointment. Easier said then done, but these are my goals and they are a constant work in progress, just like parenting.
How do you manage screen time for yourself? For your kids?
Technology today is one of the biggest struggles we are facing as parents. We, ourselves, did not grow up with this obstacle and are learning as we go. In our home we have created concrete boundaries around screen time. Both of our boys, now 6 and 8 years old did not watch any television or screens for the first two years of their lives. This set the stage and they were never all that interested once it was finally introduced. We have never used screen time as a way to keep our kids entertained. Screen time was and still is, used in small increments. About 20 minutes in the morning when they wake and about 20 minutes before we head up for books and bedtime routines. This is our weekday routine. On the weekends, if the boys have been respectful, completed all their schoolwork and things that NEED to be done, then they get to have Ipads in their rooms for 30 minutes Saturday and Sunday mornings. The rule of thumb is “if you do what needs to be done, then you get to do the things you want to do.” These limits around screen time are general and sometimes they watch a movie on the weekend, but typically they prefer to play and often decide themselves, against screen time. My boys don’t have phones yet, so that will be the next hurdle we will conquer.
How does your website support your business?
My website helps support my business as it’s a place for clients and other parents to connect. Tia Slightham – Parenting Solutions is a way to set up appointments, find amazing resources such as parenting books and articles. You can read up on my “Expert Interview Series,” where you can find out more from various experts. Such as child psychologists answering questions about ADHD and Anxiety. Nutritionists informing you about how proper nutrition for you kids directly effects your child’s performance and so on. You can also subscribe to my site and read my blog, get updates, articles and parenting tools sent direct to your inbox to help you along the way. My blog is my way to try and reach, help and connect with as many parents as I possibly can.
What’s your favourite social media platform?
My favourite social media platform is Facebook. I love my community of parents and how we communicate and stay connected. As the community grows I am continually striving to meet the requests and needs of the parents involved. I love that it gives me direct access to you and your parenting needs. Together we work to decrease the struggle and bring the joy back into daily parenting.
What message, if any, do you find yourself repeating to parents over and over again?
I find myself repeating many similar messages to parents. This is a good thing, because it reminds parents that they are not alone. They aren’t the only ones struggling and working through a tough time. Asking for help is a positive thing – it means you care enough to want to make changes. It does not mean you are a failure, but rather the exact opposite. It means you are a success story, working to be the best parent you possibly can. I am often reminding parents that parenting takes time. Lots of good quality time. It takes patience and lots of it. With patience and time you can make small incremental changes, which have a giant impact. Making shifts and changes in your parenting is like running a slow and steady marathon. It’s not a race. Work one step at a time and follow your gut as to what feels right for you and your family.