As a mom, I often reflect on my parenting skills. As a life coach and self help junkie, I am always trying to better myself and raise my level of consciousness. When you put those two things together, you get what I like to call Conscious Parenting. Below you will find my seven steps to conscious parenting...
1. Respect your children as people. Our kids have thoughts and feelings of their own. They are entitled to those thoughts and feelings. They are not us. Our children are here to be themselves, and nothing but themselves. It is our job to realize they are each individuals, and trying to teach them to be anything but who they are, can affect them psychologically.
When we tell our kids to be something that they are not, we are ultimately saying, who you are isn't good enough. This can lead to self doubt, conforming, and low self-esteem. It is not our kids' job to dress a certain way or act a certain way for our own comfort. It is our duty to let them just be themselves because that is good enough!
2. Validate your kids' feelings. All human beings are entitled to feel however they feel in all situations. What's worse than being told we shouldn't feel the way we feel?! I don't know about you, but when I'm upset about something, just hearing someone say it's ok for me to feel what I'm feeling, or that they understand where I'm coming from, is often all I need! Who are we to say that our kids shouldn't feel a certain way? Validating that it's ok to feel whatever our kids feel in any situation, whether we think it's rational or not, is so important.
When people grow up and never reach emotional maturity because they were taught to not feel their feelings, they often become emotional eaters, drinkers, or use other means to not deal with their feelings. Feeling our feelings is so important, which is why simply telling our kids that we understand that they are upset, and that it's ok, is one of the best things we can do for them.
3. Align your actions with your words. Yelling at your child to stop crying is counter productive. Telling them they can't play on the ipad for endless hours, and then you being on your smartphone incessantly, is sending a mixed message. Making our kids apologize for their actions, but never taking accountability for our own actions, is confusing. They best way to teach is by practicing what we preach.
4. Be conscious of the things you say, the words you use, and the way you act around your children. Our kids hear and notice everything. They are like sponges. If you are constantly talking about how difficult your child is, he hears you. If you tell your kid she is a bad girl, rather than explaining why you are upset with her, she may grow up thinking she's 'bad.' If you talk about your body and weight constantly, you are teaching them to be self conscious. If you regularly argue with your spouse, you are teaching your children to be reactive.
The best way to figure out if your words and actions are affecting your kids, is to observe them. They are our greatest mirrors. If they are quick to snap, maybe you are too. If they are bossy, without explanation, maybe you are too. If they doubt themselves, maybe you do too. Look at this as an excellent opportunity to work on yourself!
5. Open yourself to learning from your kids! Our kids are not inferior to us. Like I said earlier, they are people, just like you and me. They are not here just to be taught. They are here to be our teachers too. We can learn just as much, if not more from them!
One of the many lessons I have learned is how to be more present in everything that I do, rather than dwelling in the past, or worrying about the future. Watching a baby focus on a toy, a toddler on a playground, or a tween on an iphone, it is so evident that they are not concerned with what happened earlier in the day, or what they will do after these activities. They are present and living in the now.
Just because we have lived longer, doesn't always mean we know more. Pay attention to what lessons your kiddies have to offer!
6. Your kids feed off of your energy. It is very clear that our children feed off of our energy. It's important to stay calm whenever possible. If you pay attention, you will see when we get angry, it generally escalates the situation, and our children get more upset. I know when I stay calm when my two year old has a tantrum, it subsides quickly, and when my eleven year old is frustrated while doing her homework, when I stay calm, it is soothing to her, and she is able to regroup.
7. Be present and love as much as humanly possible! Set aside some time to put your phone away, turn off the tv, and just be with your kids. Play, talk, listen to their needs, and don't forget to love, love, love!
We are all just trying to be the best parents we can be, and that is something to be proud of no matter what! To be conscious parents, we must become more conscious in general. Working on ourselves will benefit our children more than we can imagine. It will allow us to not make the same mistakes we may have learned from generations past, and it will take less effort to be an awesome parent. The happier we are, the happier our children will be, and we have an amazing opportunity to raise emotionally healthy human beings!