How to Uplevel your Mindful Parenting
“Why are you doing that?!! What’s wrong with you?!! Why can’t you just listen to me?!!! Why do you have to always do this??!!” I screamed at my son one day (actually, one of many days).
How many times have you found yourself screaming at your child or getting really angry at him, only to later feel that awful feeling of shame and guilt wash over you, making you want to crawl into a hole and berate yourself?
Why, as parents, do we get so angry at our children, even though we don’t want to, and feel so awful for it afterwards?
Why, even after meditating, exercising, seeing a therapist and doing other self-care rituals to help us feel balanced, do we still find ourselves exhausted by our children?
Our frustration with our children really comes down to one main thing: our BELIEFS.
Your Beliefs Affect How You See Your Child
My child is doing this to ME.
My child is behaving “badly”.
My child is difficult.
My child sucks the life out of me.
Children who don’t behave are doing it on purpose.
My child is being bad when she’s angry.
My child is not behaving if she doesn’t listen to what I want.
My child is not going to amount to anything if he gets bad grades in school.
Our beliefs are the lenses through which we see our children, and we don’t have a chance in hell (pun intended) to respond differently to them or see them differently if we are operating through these beliefs.
The challenge is that many of these beliefs are deeply ingrained from our childhood, where we learned them from our caregivers, teachers and elders and the experiences we had with them, or from societal “conditioning”. In fact, much of our life today can be living through belief systems that we didn’t even choose for ourselves!
Your Parenting Is A Reflection Of What You Learned
Did your parents ever say to you “Don’t cry”, “Just be a good girl” or “You’re fine!”? What did we learn from this kind of messaging? We learned that it’s not ok to have emotions and we are “bad” if we don’t do what our parents want or what is deemed “socially acceptable”.
At a young impressionable age, when our brain is mostly in theta brain waves (this is the hypnosis state that our brains are in from ages 0-7), we end up wiring this messaging into our brains and nervous systems. This “learned” messaging ends up going into our subconscious mind and lives in our brains and nervous systems at an “unconscious” level so that we are not even aware of it…that is, until we choose to become aware.
Reaching The Breaking Point
When I got to the point of “I hate my child”, I knew something had to change. I couldn’t live in this constant yoyo of “being the good mom” and then suddenly triggered into this state of rage and venom towards my child. Here I was doing all the right things to become more mindful, like meditating and reading parenting books and some of it helped at times, but ultimately, I couldn’t bring all I had learned into the present moment with my child, and instead found myself triggered and angry…then resentful and hateful…and eventually guilty, shameful and self-loathing.
Not a good place to be at all. Can you relate?
So, how do we really shift our experience with our children from a place of pain and suffering and “it’s all hard work!” to a state of more joy, ease and connection…and so we feel like having children was actually worth it??! (sort of joking here).
Entering The World Of Conscious & Mindful Parenting
From a mindfulness perspective, if we become dysregulated in the face of our child’s emotions or behaviors, it means we cannot accept what is happening in front of our eyes. True mindfulness is the ability to accept and stay regulated with whatever is happening in front of you, even if you don’t like it. This is what I call “freedom”! But we cannot have freedom if we are operating from our conditioned beliefs.
So yes – we need to shift our beliefs about our children…BUT, ultimately, this involves shifting your beliefs about yourself.
Our children, as hard as they seem in the moment, are really mirrors to show us what beliefs we are operating from that no longer serve us. When you see your child as “bad” or “difficult” then it is very likely that deep down you feel (likely on a subconscious level) “bad” and “difficult” yourself. Or if you got a lot of love and acceptance for studying and being helpful, and negative attention for the opposite, then you’re likely going to see your child as “not good enough” or “bad” if she is unhelpful and not keeping up her grades or doing her chores.
Creating Better Relationships With Your Children
The key to having a better relationship with your children is to start to notice when you’re triggered by them. This is the first step of bringing mindfulness into the moment. Take a few breaths instead of jumping to react. Become mindful of how you’re feeling triggered and regulate yourself first through deep belly breathing.
The second step is to ask yourself: “What am I believing about my child in this moment?” Eg. He is being difficult because he’s not listening to me. The third step is to ask yourself: “Where did I learn this belief?” Because, you likely learned this when you were a child and from your own parents or caregivers.
Starting to become aware of the belief systems we are operating through helps us to become more “conscious” in our approach to parenting. When you shine light on the belief and understand where you learned it, then you are in a place of choice to choose whether that belief is serving you right now. If that belief is causing you pain and suffering, then perhaps it’s time to let it go.
What if you believed your child’s defiance is an expression of his needs and that a child’s needs are as important as your needs? Then perhaps from this perspective you could approach the situation in a more collaborative and productive way. But, if your own defiance was not approved of by your parents, then you likely won’t approve of it in your children. How did you feel when your parents disapproved of your views, wants or needs?
Change Your Perception, Change Your Experience Of Life
When we shift our beliefs, our perceptions of our children also shift. As Wayne Dyer says “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” This can be incredibly liberating! When we can see our children in a different light, then they are able to see themselves from this different light and have a much better chance of living into their true potential.
Your perception of your children is highly driven by your belief systems. So, the next time your child triggers you, breathe! Then laugh and observe the divine comedy of life. Your child is just helping you to see what you need to heal and transform within yourself. It is up to you to step into that challenge and shift your beliefs systems. Become aware, become conscious and watch how your experience of life changes to one of more ease and joy in this journey called parenting!
For more information on becoming a more conscious parent and feeling more ease and joy in the parenting process, please join me and 20+ experts for the Beyond Parenthood Summit, a FREE online event, airing May 6-16. Join here today: http://bit.ly/Afshan-BPS
Afshan Tafler is a Whole Life Coach who helps you discover your power to transform your health and your life. Through a combination of Mind-Body Coaching and transformational, scientifically proven energy psychology techniques, her expertise is to help you reprogram your mind and body for optimal health. Afshan is also a mom to a special needs child and is a proponent of conscious parenting. She was featured on the Mindful World Parenting Summit and is passionate about helping parents to thrive in their relationship with their child. You can connect with Afshan at www.illuminateu.ca.