Conscious parenting is a movement centering on the relationship between parents and their kids. Whom influences who? Whom teaches whom?
Conscious Parenting and Parenting from within, would assert that the relationship is flowing in both directions. Parents influence children and parents teach children AND children influence parents and children teach parents. Research tells that a wonderful predictor of good enough parenting and secure attachments is when a parent has made sense of their past. A great slab of our parenting struggles come from not being open to the learning and growing up our kids are helping us with. This block could be coming from our belief system/our BS or the internal movie we keep playing which no-one else knows they are playing parts in...causes a lot of pain when we keep buying tickets to the same movie and not choosing a new movie of reality. A big one of these I see within myself and the clients I support, is emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence and/or emotional regulation is a big and challenging part of parenting. EI is a greater predictor of life success than IQ is, so what are we modelling, what lessons are coming from our kids and what tools can be teach ourselves and our kids to increase EI.
A story to illustrate:
A little boy is forced to sit in a role within his family we could call the emotional expression seat. His mum has her BS surrounding a not imposing her needs and feelings on others, so outward expression is limited. His Dad has his BS surrounding male stereotypes of not expressing emotions, depression and anxiety so outward expression is limited. This little boy has the weight of emotional expression all on his little shoulders and with no skills. As behaviour is communication, what is being shared here? Another important part of mum is teaching her kids that even when you are at your worst I've still got you. So what does mum and dad need to learn from and become conscious of in their parenting? If mum wants her boys to know emotions, both challenging and pleasant one, are welcome, natural and that love is unconditional. Is there behaviour communicating this as well as their parenting words? Id argue, no. Mum and Dad are not conscious of the impact that they are having...actions speak louder than words after all. I gave mum some homework which was to step into the emotional expression seat within their family dynamic. She did it with great results, somewhat to her surprise. This homework was not easy for mum, expressing was the second step for her really, the first and rather challenging was the acknowledgment of her own feelings. There was a perfect opportunity one day and she grabbed it. Her son, who has a strong fight within his nervous system, was in the beginning stages of a down stairs tantrum. In addition to her practice of connecting to his feelings, she also connected to her own in that moment and gave permission for her tears to flow. She spoke to her son about her internal world in age appropriate language, without putting the blame on him an important element. The son 2years later speaks of this encounter with his mum as precious and mum speaks of it as a turning point in her conscious parenting journey.
Emotional regulation and EI can start in lots of ways, as in the above example. The importance of not placing blame is vital, never make a child say sorry for their emotions, ie "You need to say sorry for crying and making Daddy angry", please never do this. More will be blogged about this in coming blogs:)
Another easy and family fun way to support emotional regulation is via this awesome Calm Kit. Please download, use and tell us how your family goes with it. We've found wonderful results in our family. Enjoy.
Click here to download your CALM KIT :)