As parents, it’s so normal that we want the very best for our kids. From the opportunities they can access, to their values and the way they interact with others – we want to raise well-rounded, resilient people who are equipped with everything they could need to succeed in life.
An important part of helping kids be the best version of themselves is helping them achieve balance. In our last blog about a child in balance, we talked about
(1) the typical signs which show whether a child is in or out of balance, and
(2) how connected parenting is vital in helping them develop and express their feelings.
And yet, despite our good intentions to practise connected parenting – like welcome our kids’ emotions and holding a safe space for them to express the full spectrum of their feelings – especially big feelings like anger, fear and frustration – it can often trigger our own unwanted responses too.
Recognise your own childhood
In an ideal world, we meet our children’s big explosions and meltdowns calmly and with empathy. However, it is often easier said than done. When our child rages or tantrums it can trigger our own fight or flight mechanism. This is especially true if we grew up in an environment where there was yelling or violence. It can tap into our own nervous system, reminding us that we can still feel those danger signals going off inside. This can lead to a need to stop the feelings quickly, for both the parent and the child. That is why we move into yelling or wanting to punish our children when they get upset. We are often in our own state of panic. It helps if we can look at our own reactions and work through them, which will then assist us in being able to maintain a calm and balanced connection with our child.
Your child’s first teacher is you
It’s always good to remember that our role as parents is to guide and teach our children. We do this in every moment as we go about our lives. Our children learn about the world by the way we interact with it. As we model taking care of ourselves we help them to understand that vulnerability, self care, accepting support and asking for help are all parts of being human.
When it comes to teaching our children about emotional wellbeing, feelings, empathy, mindfulness, gratitude, resilience and compassion – then modelling it at any moment including when they are upset, is the best education possible.
If we can remember to look behind the behaviour and ask ourselves “what is my child needing right now” and prioritise connection then we are working towards creating trust, respect and harmony in our homes. If we practise the art of listening and playful connection, as well as holding boundaries and gentle limits we take steps towards parenting democratically, not from a place of control but one that focuses on guiding our children to be the best versions of themselves.