conscious parenting

Conscious Parenting: A Real Life Example

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 I’m here today to talk to you about conscious parenting—not just about what it is, but a real example that happened in my own home two nights ago.

 

I think this example is important because conscious parenting is a difficult topic. I had to hear about it over and over again, read about it, and learn about it, before I could really embrace it, take it in, and understand how I could use it in my own life.

 

The Story

A couple of nights ago, I made hamburgers. I thought that would be great! The kids would love hamburgers. We sat down for dinner, and my oldest daughter got mad—for what I thought was no reason. But she got mad. The burger was a little thick, and it kept slipping off the bun. She got mad at the burger and she threw it, and then ran away, and said, “Nobody’s helping me! Nobody’s helping me!” She came back to the table, tried to put the burger on the bun again, threw it, got mad, left again.  She tried going down to the basement.  She repeated this a number of times.  

 

And that was an opportunity for me to practice my conscious parenting.

 

Tying in Conscious Parenting

The first thing I did was take a deep breath. Breath is important because it slows everything down. It lowers your blood pressure, it slows down your heart rate, and it creates space in your body.  That breath creates space and space creates opportunity. That opportunity gave me the chance to either respond to my daughter with compassion or have more of a knee-jerk reaction.

 

Boundaries

A lot of people are concerned with conscious parenting, discipline and boundaries. I did set boundaries. I said, “I will not allow you to speak to me that way, but I’m here for you. So when you’re ready, I’m here for you. Please let me know how I can help you.”

 

The importance here was that I was trying to create a connection with my child. If I had gotten angry with her, and let her storm off, and said, “Yeah, you’re being ridiculous, leave the table. Stay in the basement.” That would have just created a disconnection. I took a deep breath, and laid down the boundary—because she was speaking in a really nasty way. “I won’t allow you to speak to me that way. I am also here for you.”

 

Inner Landscapes

This gave me an opportunity to remind myself about what was happening with my inner landscape. Conscious parenting allows us to be aware of what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling. On that day, unfortunately I had woken up at 4:30 in the morning, because my husband had to hop on a flight at that hour, and I really couldn’t get back to sleep. And that night I had a workshop that I was doing, on conscious parenting. I knew that I was going to be on edge all day. Partly because I was tired, and partly because I was anxious about the workshop, and all the other things I had to get done so I could leave for this workshop. It required me to take that minute and remind myself, OK, I have all this going on. That’s my inner landscape right now. I’m feeling stressed and I’m feeling tired. I reminded myself, so that I didn’t project that onto my child.

 

That also gave me the opportunity to remind myself that she has her own inner landscape. I don’t know what happened at school today. She might have gotten left out on the playground. She might have gotten yelled at by the teacher. Any number of things could have happened, and [that] I’m not aware of what her inner landscape is. And because she’s only six, she doesn’t have the vocabulary or the wherewithal that we do as adults—not that we even do. There are times I say things that later I’m like, Whoops, I was really angry, I shouldn’t have said it that way. Our kids do the same thing. So it’s not that we’re allowing it, not that it’s OK, but we’re accepting it—accepting the situation for what it is. She’s upset; she’s angry. I don’t know what it is, but I want that connection to stay.

 

Next Steps

I worked with her to make sure she knew I was here, the boundary was set, and I was also honoring that she’s a human being, she had experiences today, and what those experiences might have been to lead her to have this moment at the dinner table.

 

The exchange happened a few times where she got angry, left the table, and came back. I laid the boundary and offered the support. She got angry again. Left again. Finally, I just stayed quiet. I had already said what I needed to say. And I let her rant. And that’s a difficult thing to do, to hear your child just going and going and complaining. But she had this pent up energy that needed to be released and unfortunately, I was the target.

 

The point was I didn’t need to say anything anymore. Silence is golden. You’ve heard that. It kept me in a place where I don’t need to respond, I don’t need to react. I already responded. I can stay calm, try to focus on my meal. Next thing you know, and I’m not kidding, she bounced back. And it was like nothing ever happened. It was really bizarre. But that’s what happens.

 

What’s Going On

Our children go off on these temper tantrums, and we need to be there for support. Not to create more of a disconnection. When our child is having a temper tantrum, it’s telling us that something is going on, and we need to figure out what that is. In that moment, I couldn’t figure out what it was, because she was in the middle of this temper tantrum. But the next day we reviewed it, and we repaired it. And that’s the big thing. It’s not like I “allowed” what happened to happen. I allowed it to happen in that moment. Because there was nothing I could do to change the trajectory of where it was going. I could have only made it worse.

 

I let it be, offered that connection, and then the next day we reviewed it and repaired it. The way we reviewed it was saying, “Hey, remember what happened last night?” and we talked about it. And I explained to her, “I don’t like being spoken to that way. I understand you were frustrated.” And we talked about what she might have been feeling that day, what happened at school. It was hard for her to articulate that, but just giving her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and her opinion, and reflect on what happened and what her behavior was, and offer her some alternatives, like, “Hey, next time you’re angry about your burger, or whatever it is you think you might be angry about, these are some things you could do.”

 

It’s not going to change overnight. It’s that repetitive modeling of behavior that I’m offering to her, that over time, she’ll learn that when she gets frustrated, that that’s not the way to talk to someone or get your needs met. But it takes time.

 

I would love to hear from you! If you could, write to me, explaining the times that are frustrating to you, where you would like to implement this idea of conscious parenting. I would love to hear from you!

You Only Have To Do A Little To Make Big Changes In Your Family

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

Photo by {artist}/{collectionName} / Getty Images

 

Perspective

A lot of times—and I’ve been there—when things are crazy and we’re feeling overwhelmed with our children and our jobs and everything that’s going on, everything just seems a mess. And it’s really hard to find something that’s working well. But there’s importance in finding what is going right.

There’s got to be something that’s working well. As a coach, that’s my job: if you can’t find that, I help you refocus, to see what’s going on. I help parents relax, and get them to be able to take a step back, and get an overview of what’s really happening.

When you’re in that mess, it is so dark. It is so gloomy. It’s hard to see. When you’re stepping back, or you have someone else who can shine some light on what’s really happening, you see it from a different perspective. When you’re too close and up front, there’s no way that you can really see that there’s any possibility of good in the situation. So that’s how I partner with my clients—to help them focus, bring attention to, and relax around what’s happening.

 

Little Things Mean a Lot

What I want to share is that there are little things that are happening. Every day. Even things that maybe you don’t even realize. And it’s focusing on those little moments—it could be one interaction at breakfast. It could be that moment. For example, the other day I was upstairs, getting ready in the morning, and my littlest walked upstairs and just started crying, “Mommy, mommy, why are you getting ready? I wanted to snuggle with you.” And she was heartbroken. And in that moment, I dropped my makeup, I dropped whatever I was doing, and I said, “No problem, little one. Let’s go. We’ll hop into bed and snuggle for a little while.” And I snuggled with her. And it was that little moment that maybe changed the whole day for her. I don’t even know. But if I didn’t focus on that moment, and I didn’t realize that this was actually a great opportunity, it would have passed by. It’s about focusing on the small things that are really important.

 

The Potential Impact of a Seemingly Small Action

There’s an author by the name of Margaret J. Wheatley, who wrote the book Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic WorldAnd what she says is, “When the system is far from equilibrium, singular or small influences can have enormous impact.”

 

Had that interchange with my little child not happened, it could have spiraled into a whole morning of her just not feeling connected. It could have escalated her to have a bad time at breakfast, the milk could have been too hot or too cold, or her sister would have got in her way, or a whole number of things, whereas that small change, that small interaction really made a big impact in her day. It set the tone for the rest of her day: she got what she needed right off the bat.

 

We can find those moments. It doesn’t have to be at the beginning of the day, it could be at the end of the workday, right before bed, it can be whenever. But finding opportunities for small, little incremental changes will have an impact on your family.

 

You may think, “Oh, I want my family to be this way,” and “these are my goals,” and “I want my family to look this way and that way,” and “I want to feel this way.” You know what? Those goals are important, and that’s part of what we do. We set goals. Big goals.

 

However, in order to get to that finish line, you’ve got to take a step. Every single step makes a difference. So, yes, have those goals, but just focus on that one step. Take one step, and see what kind of impact it has for you. How does that make you feel and how does that make your child feel? With that in mind, I have some questions for you.

 

WHAT IS ONE BIG THING, SMALL THING, OR EVEN A TEENY THING, THAT YOU CAN DO TOMORROW, THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD?

I know you’ve been thinking about it. We always have these ideas, like, “Oh, I’m just going to try to wake up a little bit earlier, so that I can have my coffee before my kids come and interrupt my morning.” Do that.

Maybe you've thought, "I am going to get through bed time without screaming." Do that.

Or even I am going to have a night out with my best friend. Do that.

You have great ideas. Trust your gut and trust your wisdom and know that you have those resources and those strengths to make change. Tap into that and take a look inside, and see just one little thing. Say, “Today, I’m going to make one change.” That one change may make a difference. And maybe it won’t. But know that you’re making an effort.

 

WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU'RE ALREADY DOING WELL, THAT YOU'D LIKE TO KEEP DOING?

I know it might be difficult—we’re in the middle of a chaotic situation or time with our children. I know it’s hard. But there’s got to be one thing that I hope you can find that you’re doing, that you can do more of.

 

WHEN YOU SMILE, WHY ARE YOU SMILING? WHAT'S MAKING YOU FEEL GOOD IN THAT MOMENT? 

You’re making dinner, and it’s a hectic time, and you’re probably not smiling. But maybe it’s story time with your kids and you’re reading with them. And you feel a little smile come across your face. Why? What is happening in that moment that is making you feel that way? That’s really good. If you can tap into that, then you can focus on what’s happening.  Ask yourself, how can I make more of that happen? That’s what you want. That’s what I know I needed to focus on when I was feeling this way.

 

AND HERE'S A BIGGER QUESTION...

 

WHAT WOULD YOUR IDEAL MORNING LOOK LIKE, IF MORNING IS THE PART OF YOUR DAY THAT'S THE MOST STRESSFUL? WHAT WOULD YOUR IDEAL BEDTIME ROUTINE LOOK LIKE, IF BEDTIME IS THE PART OF YOUR DAY THAT DRIVES YOU NUTS AND ENDS UP HAVING YOU SCREAMING? WHAT WOULD THOSE IDEAL TIMES LOOK LIKE?

Imagine it, really. Focus on it, think about it. How would it feel, what would it sound like, what would it look like? All those ideas from that bigger image will start the ball rolling in thinking, “How can I get there? How can I start to make some incremental changes?”