I am often asked, after talking about the vital importance of our connection and presence with our children, "But how do you keep offering that when my child is driving me crazy???" Yes, it is hard, but I'm guessing you have the intention and the motivation to change. You want to offer your child the best of you, create as many happy memories as you can, enjoy your children and love them fully... right?
So, why then, do we react in the heat of the moment despite our best intentions? Why do we lose our patience and yell at our loved ones? Why do we end up so exapserated and frustrated with these little people in our lives?
The answer, or at least a big part of it, can be explained by brain science! Without getting too technical, this is what happens (to us all, by the way)....
Feelings we have had in the past, whether recent, or in our childhood, get stored in our brain, as part of our "emotional memory". They are stored because we haven't had a chance to let them out, and release them. Chances are, our parents didn't have the resources or support to listen to our feelings as children, and so our feelings got squashed down and stored in our "emotional backpack" of memories.
When we become parents ourselves, these long stored feelings suddenly surface, as they are triggered by our children having similar experiences that we had as a child. Our feelings come flying to the surface, and cause reactions that we never knew we had in us. The thinking part of our brain goes offline when this happens, so when we lose it, we aren't being rational, and we often say or do things we regret. For example, if we had a hard time starting school as a child, but were belittled, ridiculed or not listened to, it may be very hard for us to listen to our own children go through a similar difficulty. To understand more about how our buttons are pushed, have a readhere.
The good news is, that with some willingness, we can look at our buttons, or triggered feelings, find out where they came from, and rewire our brains, so that the button is not there anymore, or at least does not illicit such a powerful reaction in us. We can do this by releasing the feelings in our emotional backpack, by having a good laugh, cry, rage, or talk with a good listener. Clearing away the emotional tension we carry then allows us to be more present and able to connect with our children.
There are also some helpful things I've learnt that we can do in the heat of the moment, when a good listener is not nearby. These strategies can still be helpful if we are not yet ready to explore the underlying reasons why our buttons are there in the first place. I share these tips in my workshops and sessions.
Recently, a fellow Parenting by Connection Instructor and I gave a teleseminar called "How to Stay Present When Children Push Our Buttons." About 500 parents signed up for it, which tells me it's a topic that is important and deserves more attention.
With support, we can all change, and be more of the parents we want to be, rather than the out of control, reactive parents we sometimes find ourselves being! I'm here to let you know about the support that is here for you, and to offer you a big dose of self compassion, and understanding for the huge and often very emotional job of parenting, that we are all finding our way with.
So, I encourage to reach out, learn more about yourselves, and watch the relationship with your child transform as you do this.