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On the JJ Barnes Blog, I check out analysis of the top TikTok tips for co-parenting at Christmas so we can avoid family upset and have the best, and healthiest, time possible as a family.
Parenting At Christmas
I’ve never made any secret of the fact that sometimes I find parenting difficult. I’m always tired, always stressed, and I love these little critters with all my heart which means being the best parent I can is super important to me. Even when they’re driving me to distraction and making me want to hide in a dark corner, weeping, and refusing to come out.
As Christmas approaches alarmingly quickly, my thoughts have turned to how to be the best parent I can during what is a particularly stressful time of year. Magical? Yes. Wonderful? Yes. But also high pressure and riddled with duty and expectation. While, as parents, we can be great at turning on the performance of functioning and coping in public, as soon as we’re home and safe, the mask comes off and our stress can seep out and impact those we love most.
To make sure I have the best shot at making sure my family have the best time this year, and knowing I’m particularly stressed, I decided it was time to check out some tips and tricks for co-parenting at Christmas. To help me out, Parenting for Brain sent over their analysis of what tips co-parents on TikTok are repeatedly warning each other to remember.
Top TikTok Tips For Co-Parenting At Christmas
By collating the advice shared under ‘co-parenting tips’ on TikTok, Parenting for Brain established what topics the videos focused on the most, and it turns out healthy communication is the priority. 29% of TikTok videos urged the parenting community to speak appropriately with their co-parent. There was a particular emphasis on not talking negatively in front of the children (14%), perhaps due to the chances of arguments growing amid holiday stress and added financial pressures.
Following communication as the second most common topic is setting boundaries, with a quarter (25%) of the tips about making sure suitable measurements are put in place.
It’s no secret that the holiday season can stir up past feelings, so it’s no surprise half of these served as a reminder to co-parents about what their relationship should be with their ex and how becoming too involved with each other could cause upset and complications.
Facing the day-to-day stresses of parenthood, especially during emotional time periods such as the holiday season, can often result in people feeling anxious – particularly if they’re first-time parents or perhaps don’t have a solid support system.
Engaging with those in a similar situation can help combat this anxiety by creating a sense of camaraderie and community, reducing feelings of isolation and allowing mothers and fathers alike to find comfort in the fact they are not alone, and that how they feel is normal.-Pamela Li, Editor-in-Chief and expert at the parenting wellness brand Parenting for Brain
The study also looked at the key discussion points of parents’ queries under the #parentingquestions on the platform, and Pamela Li shared her insight into some of the common dilemmas.
Most Asked Co-Parenting Questions
1. Does anyone else experience parenting guilt?
Wanting to know if others felt guilty about how they parent their child proved the most common query related to validation on TikTok, appearing in one-fifth (21%) of posts touching on the topic.
This makes total sense to me as I work hard and for long hours, so I worry I’m not with them enough as it is. But at Christmas that worry is even worse. They are off school, they deserve to experience the magic of Christmas, and they deserve attention, but the work still needs doing, the chores still pile up, and parenting guilt can be an epic weight.
Parents, especially mothers, tend to struggle with guilt if they believe they aren’t spending enough time with their child. However, the amount of time you spend with your child doesn’t automatically determine how good of a parent you are!
Focus on the quality of the time you spend together instead. Connect with them, ask about their day, support their emotional needs – that’s the stuff that matters.-Pamela Li
2. How do you find time for yourself?
Interestingly, while most posts conveyed parents’ guilt about not spending enough time with their little ones, others sought advice on the best way to prioritise personal time. Of the queries that discussed routine, over half (57%) focused on how to find personal time as a parent – either to get chores done or simply have time to rest and recoup.
I crave alone time a lot, and rarely get it, but at Christmas when there’s not just the children who want attention but extended family popping up all over the place, the need to take a moment away to just breathe and be quiet is even bigger.
Alone time is something every person craves, yet it is one of the hardest parenting challenges to overcome as you have someone else that you’re responsible for at all times – especially if you’re a single parent or are alone for significant portions of the day.
As long as you ensure you have quality interactions with your child, you shouldn’t feel guilty for making time for yourself. In fact, it’s recommended to do so that you don’t become burnt out and so that you can make sure you’re in the best condition you can be while parenting.
In the same way that you might schedule a half-hour to help with homework, carve out a non-negotiable slot just for you. If this means you need to have a time-saving meal that night or leave reading a bedtime story to your partner, so be it.-Pamela Li
3. How do you discipline a child who won’t listen to you?
A common question that circulates TikTok’s parenting community is about how to respond to a child who refuses to follow instructions as this appeared in almost half (40%) of queries discussing discipline.
Christmas is a wonderful and exciting time but it also makes my kids loopy. The sugar, the energy, the anticipation, it all pressures their little brains and can bring out their worst behaviour. However much they love it, and however happy they are, I’m pretty sure we’re going to be looking at a few tantrums, strops, and refusals to tidy away the brand new toys when they are told to.
First, parents must work to build a supportive relationship with their child, that way they see them as a respected and caring caregiver.
Then, they should introduce positive reinforcement and adopt a “caught-being-good” attitude by praising good behavior rather than just focusing on punishing or pointing out the bad.
Finally, allow natural consequences. If your child refuses to go to sleep, let the struggle of waking up in the morning teach them their lesson about staying up past bedtime – rather than punishing them for a mistake they don’t understand they’re making.
That way, the child knows that there are repercussions to their actions and hopefully will start behaving to avoid them.-Pamela Li
4. Should you give children unrestricted access to devices?
Exactly half (50%) of the technology-focused questions were about whether children should have parental controls on their devices to filter out harmful or inappropriate content.
New gadgets, new games, and screen time to occupy kids during the aforementioned working hours is something I’m definitely thinking about. I definitely rely on screens sometimes, and I need that bit of quiet time so I can get work done without the chaos of crafting to deal with or the noise of energetic games. But I’m also anxious about their mental health and safety, and worry about how to manage it.
Whilst parental controls can be useful in preventing abusive content creeping onto younger children’s screens, parental controls with teenagers tend to be less effective – especially with social media.
Teenagers may interpret it as controlling behavior, and since they will likely figure out a workaround anyway, your relationship will be damaged without you having achieved your goal.
Instead, try having an open and honest conversation with them, speaking of the potential dangers and advising them on how to stay safe. Start a discussion about why parental filters are important and what you’re hoping to achieve by having them in place – and you might find that they’re more open to implementing them if it feels like a joint decision.-Pamela Li
5. What is an appropriate age for a child to go on a sleepover?
1 in 5 (20%) of the age-related queries revolved around what age is best to let a child stay elsewhere overnight, with parents concerned about allowing this milestone too early.
I know my girls are quite set in their ways about bedtime, and there’s not many places they feel safe and secure enough to go to sleep without me there to settle them. Even when they’re with a beloved grandparent there’s occasionally tears and missing Mummy. This makes it tricky to socialise in the evening and I am curious about when this milestone will be reached!
There’s no set rule for the correct age for a sleepover. It depends on the child – while some might be ready at seven years old, others might not be until 12.
Are they likely to be happy visiting friends’ houses without you staying? Can they do their bedtime routine on their own? Have they expressed excitement about having a sleepover? And remember, don’t be angry with them if they change their mind halfway through the night and ask to come home – rather, be proud of them for giving something new a go.-Pamela Li
Based on the TikTok data, the most common reason parents used the #parentingquestions was to seek validation (29%) from others experiencing similar challenges with parenthood.
This makes total sense to me. It’s so easy to question yourself, worry you’re doing things wrong or making choices that will be harmful in the long run because it seems like the easiest solution right now. Especially when things are stressful because of money, being super busy, or running out of time to get everything done, with Christmas being a prime example of all of those things colliding together. Finding other parents going through similar problems or making similar choices is reassuring. Everything is harder when you feel alone, so finding other people in the same boat is so comforting.
When sorted into categories, the five most common reasons parents were turning to the platform were to seek help with topics on:
- Parenting Style
Mothers appeared to rely on TikTok as a parenting community the most, as they accounted for 88% of those using the #parentingquestions.
Users also sought help with toddlers aged one to three, more than any other age group, with almost a quarter (24%) of queries relating to this stage.
This was closely followed by children aged three to eight (21%), whereas teenagers seemed the least troublesome, as less than 1 in 10 questions were associated with them.
TikTok For Parenting
While TikTok is a great way to seek support and advice from your peers, it’s important to remember that it’s a social media platform with a billion users.
Not only does this mean there’s a higher likelihood of misinformation, there’s also countless opinions on the correct way to raise a child being voiced.
It would be impossible to live up to all these parenting styles as they have vastly different approaches – especially as it is a global platform. You need to find what works for you and your son or daughter.
If you have genuine concerns about co-parenting your child, make sure that you consult a professional and take the advice you receive online with a pinch of salt.–Parenting for Brain expert
Sources: TikTok (analysed videos under ‘co-parenting tips’ and the hashtag section #parentingquestions)
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