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Expert advice for parents: Ask Jane

Answers to your questions from NSPCC parenting adviser

NSPCC parenting adviser Jane Petrie is answering questions from parents on a variety of topics, from the pressures of parenthood to improving communication with children.

She is a mother of three and a qualified nurse and health visitor specialising in parenting for the past ten years.

This month Jane has focused on your questions about behaviour and pornography on the internet.

She's also included tips that other parents have shared with us.



Encouraging better behaviour

Parent: "I am really struggling with my 11 year old son - he is a fantastic lad but constantly demands attention and never does what he is told. I often end up shouting at him and I hate myself for doing it! Can you help?"

Jane: "At 11 your son is facing moving to secondary school, pre-puberty changes in himself and his peers and the impact of this on friendship groups.

"All these challenges can unsettle children and he is looking to you as a role model. Your approval and support are important to him, but it sounds like he is struggling with how to develop his relationship with you.

"Children repeat behaviours that you give attention to. Emma from Stoke on Trent said: 'Try to remember they are not doing it to annoy you. They are just trying to communicate something and not sure how.'

"If you only attend to his irritating behaviour, he will tend to repeat it. So focus on his good behaviour. He needs to hear you telling others about the things that make him a fantastic lad.

"This will help him at a time when his self-confidence may be quite low and his stress levels quite high.

"Maddy from Kent suggests: 'Spending more quality time together does encourage good behaviour'.

"Make some 'special time' when you can be together, for example accompanying him to sports events or sharing a challenge on a computer game.

"He may think you are there to support him in the activity (and you are) but you are also gaining one-on-one time to talk about what's happening in his life.

"Enjoy your time together; tell him about your childhood, your passions and hobbies. Listen to his opinions about music, sport and current affairs. Agree to disagree on some topics, you don't have to hold the same opinions.

"The final word is from Stuart in Leeds: 'Just be patient and keep calm. Getting stressed or angry actually makes it worse so it becomes a vicious circle'."

For more tips see our free advice guides Keeping your Cool and
Encouraging Better Behaviour.

If you feel you are reaching the end of your tether with your child, you can
contact the NSPCC and talk to one of our trained and sympathetic counsellors.


Talking to young people about online pornography

Parent: "My son saw some pornography online six months ago and it really upset him. I've tried talking to him about it but it hasn't helped - how can I help him forget it?"

Jane: "I'm sorry your son has had such an upsetting experience. It may take him a long time to forget and he may be worried about talking to you in case you are upset too.

"He might find talking to someone else easier and our ChildLine counsellors may be well placed to help.

"However, while you say that talking with him hasn't helped, he obviously trusts you enough to have shared this with you.

"If he does want to talk, listen and say as little as possible. Then show him you have listened by summarising what he has said.

"If he seems reluctant to speak about this, it may be better not to ask too many questions. He may feel your wanting to talk about it is in some way judging him.

"If you can be matter of fact and stay calm, he is more likely to be able to put this behind him. Siobhan from Swindon says: 'Give him praise when it's deserved. Don't always concentrate on the negative stuff.'

"Young people are fascinated by video clips such as those on YouTube and the reality is they may be only one click away from unsuitable viewing.

"You can help block inappropriate content on this site by using its safety button - below this is another button where you can report such content. You can also use Google SafeSearch to help block inappropriate content.

"Parental controls alone do not protect children, they can often get round them. Your best plan is to encourage your child to talk and share concerns.

"Children learn through experimentation and are bound to make mistakes. As Lesley from Ruislip said 'Remember they are children and don't expect them to always behave. They are still learning about the world and how to communicate effectively'."

For more tips see our advice for parents on:


Further support and advice

For more information and advice, read our parenting guides about:

You can also contact the NSPCC if you would like to talk to someone or are worried about a child.

ChildLine 0800 1111

Are you a child?

Do you need to talk? Call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit us online.

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Don’t wait until you’re certain. Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

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