“For our love to serve our children, we must learn how to break things down into words that can help them – moment by moment – as when milk spills, or when a drawing is offered for approval. And even when we are angry, we can still use the kind of words that do not damage or destroy the people we care about”
From "Between Parent & Child" by Dr Haim Ginott
1. Be kind to yourself.
The saying, "We can be our own worst enemy” I believe certainly rings true when it comes to parenting our children. It is not helpful to waste any time berating your self for not doing enough with or for your children, not being patient enough, not having energy to take them to more activities or play dates, the list goes on and on. Continually asking "Why? and "How?" questions like “Why does my child say "No" to me all the time?" "Why won't he stay in his bed?", "How many times should I have to tell her to sit down while she eats?" - we can all fall into the trap of destructive cycles that do not work.
Here are some of the things you can do to be kind and take care of yourself as a parent
Spend the first 15 minutes of your day (even if it means setting an alarm before the earliest waker in the household) doing something for yourself - meditate; have a cup of tea; go for a walk; watch the sunrise .....
Acknowledge yourself for 1 thing that you are doing that works.
Write a short list for your partner of ways they could help reduce the stress.
Have a mentor that is older and wiser because they have been there and done that.
Schedule "me" time and time with your partner.
2. Acknowledge feelings, acknowledge feelings, acknowledge feelings and when you don’t know what to do…acknowledge feelings.
Psychologists will tell you that we "feel before we act!" Is this true? Think about the last time you decided to stay in bed instead of go to the gym or chose that pie instead of a healthy salad to eat, certainly the way you were feeling determined your choice. So, why is that we often demand that our child stop crying, calm down or not be angry? Expressing empathy requires that we view ALL feelings as acceptable and only put limits on the actions that result - this might sound counter intuitive but the truth is that acknowledged feelings result in improved behaviour.
When practising the art of acknowledging feelings, you will see little miracles occur in your interactions with others and especially with your children.
Here are some ways to practice acknowledge feelings:
Get down to your child’s level, make eye contact and connect:
Then do what every one of us do when listening to a friend,
Acknowledge with nods OR “Oh ..., or Mmmmm... or I see...
Listen and be present without comment or opinion makes a child feel heard and accepted.
Name the feeling. Here are some examples to try:
Instead of: “You’re Ok!’
Try: “Ow, falling over can hurt!”
Instead of: “Just try again, you can do it!”