Tag Archives: breathe

Mindful Parenting: Accept Not Knowing

Why are we obsessed with having the answers?

What am I supposed to do? How much should I push? When do I pull back? What is the right answer? When is this child ever going to learn….? What am I to do?

We seem to be constantly questioning ourselves and our competency. We’re never good enough. Perfectionism seems to be on the rise. Is it human nature or is it the chaotic world we presently inhabit that seems to foster addictions to performance and outcome — the “shoulds” of life? Most of us worry about what has been and what will come. It’s amazing how much one simple “should” can create anxiety in an otherwise perfectly fine moment.

We know that the key to less stressful living is to focus on the here and now, let go of the past, and stop overreaching into the future. The most precious moments and lessons we can pass on to our children come out of the times when we are completely connected in the moment. Whether it is a moment of screaming and meltdown from an angry or scared child to a moment of blissful adoration, connection is all that matters.

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The 10 Second Rule

“If only I could stay calm…”

“I just react… I can’t help it!”

Every success story I have ever received from a parent includes, I was able to stay calm. Okay, easier said than done, I know. Human beings are reactive. When we feel threatened, we automatically retaliate. It takes self-awareness and consciousness to intervene before that retaliation. Mostly we gain that self-control in the growing up process, but when our buttons get pushed, old stuff gets triggered self-control feels out of reach.

Without going into the old stuff here, suffice it to say that the amygdala section of the limbic system in the brain gets triggered when a button gets pushed, and we go into fight, flight or freeze mode. Especially when a button gets pushed, we need to gain some perspective so we don’t fly off the handle and react in ways we soon regret. To learn more about what happens in your brain at this time, read this.

Our reactions have very little reason attached to them. They are pure emotion and carrying through means at best we are ineffective in teaching our child anything and at worst, can be damaging. All effective teaching happens when both you and your child are calm and can be reasonable.

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The Pause that Refreshes

Your child reacts uncontrollably to something you have said. You either least expect it, highly disapprove of it, are hurt by it, or it reinforces what a terrible job you think you are doing in raising this brat. What’s your immediate reaction?

Let me guess. You react uncontrollably back. You yell, you blame, and you say and do things you swore you never would and regret it. Why do we do this when we know it doesn’t work? First because we’re human and human nature retaliates when confronted, afraid, and angry. The trick is not to feel confronted, afraid or angry—then you can respond in control of yourself.

This is where the Pause comes in. Stop yourself from doing anything. Breathe. Walk away, go for a walk, take a bath, sleep on it—take a break. This is the hardest step. “She can’t talk to me that way and get away with it! I’d be letting her know she won. She’s got to be taught a lesson or she’ll never learn!”

So let me try to convince you that none of that is true. You will only “let her get away with it” if you would rather sweep the incident under the carpet and not revisit the unpleasant event. She will only “win” if you declare yourself a loser. She will learn a lesson far more effectively when both of you are calm and she doesn’t feel blamed. Think about it. Children learn best when they are actively engaged in the learning process and feel good. When they are struggling to uphold their side of things behind a wall of defense, the only thing they can focus on is protecting themselves from what they expect—attacks from an angry parent.

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