Thank you to all of you who attended the workshop last night. Your contributions and willingness to share your vulnerability was inspiring. Here is the summary of what we covered last night.
The Four Steps to Bringing Mindfulness Into Your Parenting Style
- Sounds simple enough, but it is one of the hardest things for hard-working, fast passed humans to do. It takes practice to be able to do it when you need to. If you want to see the research on this check out MBSR. You may want to check out the Headspace app if you are interested in expanding your ability to become present. Or just take a couple of minutes a day to calm your mind and connect with the present moment. My teacher once told me “The best thing about birds is that they only sing in the present moment” -so try and listen to them!
- This is the game-plan that you create based on the specific behaviors you are working to modify or adapt to.
- This includes having some pre-set consequences so you don’t have to come up with them on the spot. Ideally your child comes up with them with you. That way you don’t have to surprise them with a consequence. You can calmly say from your very present state of being. “I feel really sad about this, but we agreed that if you did __ then ___blank would happen. Remember discipline is about teaching, not about punitive punishments designed to torture or make kids feel bad.
- Have a planned scaled response. Don’t treat severe behaviors and mild ones the same.
- Nobody loves your kids like you love them. For some reason, when they act out and overwhelm us we hit a breaking point and that love gets hidden away.
- In my experience, 9 out of 10 times children act out there is something going on for them- hunger, fatigue, sadness, depression, anxiety, self loathing, embarrassment at school- something has set them off. Even if we can’t give them a hug when they are in this place (my 3 year old kicks and pushes me away), we can still hold love and empathy in our hearts (even when handing out a planned consequence).
- Being able to truly understand how your child is feeling even when they are being nasty is the gateway to really being there for them in a deeper and more powerful way.
- Remember a key piece of empathy is truly knowing from your own experience what the other person is feeling.
- There is some myth out there that we should not show or tell our children how we feel about the things they do.
- I believe it is not only okay, but necessary to let them know that what they did made you sad, angry, frustrated, etc.
- It allows them to see you as a real human being with feelings and emotions.
- If you tell them how you feel they may just learn to tell you how they feel. Modeling is everything.
Parenting through Power vs Building Strong Relationships
There Are Two Sides Of Parenting
- Loving kind, compassionate, supportive
- Firm, confronting, boundary–setting
(Credit Steve Bearman, PHD, Founder Interchange Counseling)
Warning signs of a strained relationship include -resentment, defiance, lack of gratitude, withdrawn, isolation. limited interactions and short conversations.
4 key aspects of building a healthy relationship
- Respect -It is very hard to ever have a healthy relationship if we don’t respect the other person. Our kids are no different to any other relationship we are in. Respect for another human being is a key aspect of a healthy relationship.
- Connection –Merely habituating in the same place does not necessarily strengthen a sense of connection. I recommend making sure to have some 1-1 time with your teen/tween. Find a couple activities that are special to them or both of you and schedule when possible. Think of cell reception when it comes to connection. If you don’t have bars, its hard to talk.
- Independence – According to research, middle school students need to feel a sense of independence.
- Keep Talking – It is not your child’s responsibility to continually try to find time with you and talk to you about their life. Make it imperative to keep talking and keeping the communication flow open between you and your kid.
“Keep Talking” Tips
Unfortunately Tweens/teenagers do not have a great reputation for wanting to have deep conversations with their parents. Sometimes parents get lucky, but mostly there is resistance during this important developmental stage.
- Go for it – this is your child. There should be nothing you are not willing to talk to them about. You made them, you get to talk to them even if its uncomfortable. Birth is uncomfortable, waking up to change diapers at 2am is uncomfortable.
- If you are uncomfortable talking to them about something it is a really good sign you need to. Don’t ignore that resistance. It means its important. Not talking about it will only make it harder to not talk about the next thing. That pattern can actually be really dangerous for your child. Imagine not talking about walking across the street when they were young.
- Timing is everything. Try to figure out when they seem the most open to talking. For Some kids it is right before bedtime. For others, it is during a Saturday morning breakfast or in the car on long drives. Spend a little time figuring out when that time might be and make it a regular occurrence (not once a year, more like once a week).
- Be creative and never give up. Giving up on talking with your child is not just a teenage thing it can last much longer than that.
Parenting is one of the hardest things you will do in life, yet in our society we all try to do it alone. There is definitely a delicate balance at play here and getting support is a key ingredient to being the best parents we can be. I hope we can all focus on loving our children and not punishing them in the hopes they will learn a lesson we are not properly teaching. Focus on what is amazing about them and make sure to tell them. Continue to work on your own personal growth to properly model that for them.
And most of all, get support when you need it. Do not think you need to parent all on your own. There is no winning in going at it alone.
Feel free to reach out any time,