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Busy mum, Huma Mir, 32, certainly has her hands full with three lively sons under the age of ten. Her youngest son is two. When Huma came across the Incredible Years course, which promotes positive attachment between parents and their toddlers, she thought it would be the ideal opportunity to give her a better understanding of bonding with her children.

Huma’s Story

I take my youngest son, who is two, to playgroups at the Mayfield Centre and the Woodroyd Centre and I saw a couple of Better Start Bradford courses for parents with children aged 0-3. The Incredible Years course really appealed to me because generally as a mother, you come across certain situations with your children and you wonder if you are doing it right, especially if other people are around. I would try to ignore my son’s behaviour but then you feel like you are pleasing the people around you. I felt I would benefit from some guidance on how to handle tantrums and other challenging behaviour.

From the start I felt very comfortable doing the course

From the start, I felt very comfortable doing the course, they even put a crèche on so my son was occupied while I did the training. It was very informal and you weren’t ever made to feel like you were being ‘taught’. They would show us videos with different examples of parenting and how to overcome different situations. I remember all the videos clearly as they were very visual, which always makes things stick in my mind. The core of the course was when you got to discuss your own experiences and how you dealt with situations and how the other parents did – it made me realise that I wasn’t alone.

I learned how important play is for your child’s development

Throughout the course, I learned how important play is for your child’s development and how spending some focused time with your children can really keep them happy. Every session, there would be a pyramid of toy blocks to represent the Incredible Years’ Parenting Pyramid. The pyramid has words on it with the word ‘PLAY’ at the bottom. The idea is that through child directed play, this strengthens the parent and child relationship and forms the foundation for everything else. We learned many things such as being very descriptive when playing. With my son, for example I will talk to him as he picks up a coloured block, ‘that’s the red block you are picking up’. His vocabulary has really improved since I have done the course.

We were encouraged to praise our children continuously

We were also encouraged to praise our children continuously. I didn’t realise how much we need this until the course challenged us to praise ourselves and praise our husbands – you don’t realise that you don’t do enough of that generally and how good it feels. My husband was quite surprised when I actually praised him! The course was really funny at times. We had to do role plays where we had to act like our toddlers. It was hilarious watching the other mums throw tantrums. I told Nic, the course leader, that time management was a real issue for me and it was clear I was prioritising my chores rather than spending time focused with my son or actively listening to him. My son would be frustrated as he wasn’t getting my attention and I was getting frustrated because I couldn’t get my jobs done.

As I became more responsive to my son, he became more responsive to me

What I found was that spending 5-10 minutes with him and giving him my focused attention and letting him lead the play, meant he would be happier, occupied and then I would be able to also get on with my jobs as he now always gets the assurance that I am there if he needs me. As I became more responsive to him, he became more responsive to me. We would get activities to do at home with our children and family. One week, we had to play with our child using something from around the house as demonstrated in one of the videos we had watched. One day, my son was crying to watch TV and instead I filled a little tub up with water and we put toys in the water and took them out. My son absolutely loved it and spent a good half hour playing this game – it was such fun! I even applied what I had learned from the course to one of my older sons, who really does need my attention, which can be really difficult in a busy household. When he started to play up at bedtime, I made sure that he had 20 minutes of my focused attention reading a book together. What would have normally turned into an hour’s tantrum led to him brushing his teeth and going to bed happily.

Thanks to the course I have a much stronger bond with my sons

The Incredible Years team really looked after us, they came and did a home visit before the course started, and this made me feel that they knew me on a personal level. They would always check on us each week to see how we were doing as sometimes the homework could be challenging to fit in but they would always understand and make us feel so valued. Thanks to the course, I now feel that I have a much stronger bond with my sons. In particular my two year old listens to me and more importantly I actively listen to him.

About Incredible Years

Incredible Years Toddler Basic aims to improve parent-infant relationships and attachment by using positive parenting strategies. The project is aimed at parents, grandparents and carers that have a child aged between 12-36 months. Through two-hour sessions over 13 weeks, parents, grandparents and carers will learn more effective strategies to enhance their child’s emotions, how to help their toddlers handle separations and emotional regulation issues by using predictable routines.