I am sure that we can all agree that 2021 has been a year full of unpredictability, uncertainty, and instability, and it has forced us to accept the one constant we can rely on, the ebb and flow of change.
As we close out 2021 and move into the new year, let us take a moment to reflect on how we handled this unpredictability, the inevitable stress brought about, and how this played out in our parenting style and relationships with our children.
Perhaps there is room for improvement?
Instead of chastising oneself for less than perfect parenting, let us use this observation to fuel a more conscious and mindful way of raising our children in 2022.
To improve our approach, we need to have compassion for our struggle and forgive ourselves for the error of our ways. Redemption is possible if we understand how stress triggers past unresolved trauma, affects the biochemistry of the body, and ultimately impacts the way we parent.
Understand how stress triggers trauma
Any stress has the potential to trigger unresolved trauma. A situation that makes you feel the same way you did when you experienced the initial trauma will often result in a regression into a similar response reaction. Often this response is immature as much trauma lies unresolved from childhood. Sadly, we project our unresolved trauma onto our nearest and dearest, especially our children, as they seem to have this knack of bringing it to the surface. Despite our best efforts, it is challenging to reprogram our conditioned behavior pattern unless we do the inner work to heal these issues. Yet, healing is possible and necessary to stop the perpetuation of this cycle onto our children and the next generation.
Understand how stress impacts the body
From a biochemical perspective, stress activates the sympathetic nervous system and the fight or flight response. A rush of adrenaline releases from the adrenal glands, which is good in the case of an emergency. However, if one remains under chronic stress for too long, the body loses the ability to return to homeostasis. An over-activated sympathetic nervous system leaves one highly reactive, which does not bode well when dealing with children. Stress management is paramount to being a conscious parent as children respond to our energy and emotional state.
Conscious Parenting Explained
Conscious parenting is making sure you feel happy, fulfilled, and at peace within yourself so that you can be a more loving and compassionate parent to your child.
“The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” – Maria Montessori
Montessori spoke in length about the spiritual development of the teacher. However, this study of oneself applies in equal measure to parenting. Conscious parenting is not about being perfect. It is about self-awareness and taking responsibility for our thoughts, words, and actions. It is about healing our triggers and unconditionally loving and accepting our children exactly as they are, without trying to mold them into someone we want them to be or imposing our expectations for their lives. Conscious parenting is about observing and allowing the natural development and unfolding of the child to take place.
A conscious parent is mindful of their state of being and aims for balance, centeredness, and a sense of calm.
Here are 10 tips for becoming a more conscious parent
When feeling triggered, try this powerful 5-7-8 breathing technique. Breathe in for the count of 5, hold your breath for the count of 7, and then breathe out for the count of 8. This technique stimulates the vagus nerve, calms the nervous system, reduces stress, and balances emotions.
2. Slow down.
Bring your awareness to your speech and your movement. Consciously slow down and speak more calmly and quietly. Notice how you are moving about and consciously shift your pace into a more relaxed and calm manner.
3. Turn off your phone.
Turn off distractions and bring your full attention to the present moment whilst spending time with your family. You will instantly feel calmer and less overwhelmed by outside pressures.
4. Take care of yourself.
Remember, one can only give from a full cup, and our ability to care for others is directly proportional to the extent that we can care for ourselves. Self-care is an essential component for being a conscious and calm parent. It is not selfish!
5. Change your attitude.
Reflect on the words of Kahlil Gibran. ‘Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you, they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”
6. See your triggers as a mirror.
Often what irks us about our children is the exact behavior that we need to rectify in our own lives. Triggers indicate where internal healing needs to take place. Address your response to these triggers first and foremost so that you can return to parenting neutrally and calmly.
7. Role model.
Instead of telling your children how to behave, show them. Children learn best from example. Treat your children the same way you would like to be treated, with respect, love, kindness, and compassion.
8. Respect yourself.
How can we respect another if we cannot respect ourselves? Love and value who you are, shortcomings and all, and notice how this respect will naturally overflow onto your child. Respect your boundaries and teach your children how to treat you.
9. Spend time in nature.
Nature is medicine for the soul and brings a deep sense of calm, peace, and fresh perspective. Enjoy time together outside, and see how your parenting naturally shifts into a more loving, compassionate, and accepting approach.
10. Focus on connection through joy
Children respond best to the frequency of joy. Joy is our natural state of being. Shift your vibration by doing the things you love, follow your passions, dance, laugh, and play. Your energy will be a magnet for your child, and you will feel much closer and more lovingly connected.
In conclusion, and according to Dr. Shefali, the founder of Awakened Family, the most important questions to consider as we move into a more conscious way of parenting is; does my child feel seen, worthy, and as though they matter?
May 2022 be a peaceful and harmonious year for your family, full of mindfulness, love, and immense joy. May these tips help you remain centered and calm in the year ahead, no matter what it may bring.
Festive blessings to you all!
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