I have a quote on my fridge, and you know how sometimes things just stick.... literally, this piece of paper hasn't been moved in over a year, despite the grubby hand marks and frayed edges. It's because I've wanted the words to stay with me, as an ongoing reminder of the choices we have as parents:
I've been teaching a wonderful group of parents this last month, and as always, I learn so much from who I share these ideas with, and from our discussions in the class.
I love how Parenting by Connection invites us to "reframe" our view of children and their behaviour... if we can learn to look at, and respond to, their challenging behaviours as a call for connection, we are far more likely to have a loving, cooperative child, than if we view these behaviours as something to be punished or ignored.
This "reframe" might look like offering a cuddle when your child is melting down over the sandwich cut the wrong way.... it might be "I know you really, really want that now, but you can't have it today" said with love and empathy, then listening to the cry as you hold the limit. It might be recognising that when your child has asked for many different things, but nothing is right, that they have some feelings bubbling up that need to come out, in order for them to think well again. Or it might even be offering your warmth and love, instead of distance or anger, when our child is lashing out at others...
Remembering we have a choice isn't always easy (hence my tatty piece of paper on the fridge - I need the reminder of these wise words often!), particularly when the things our child does really push our buttons, and we find ourselves responding in our "default" way, and doing or saying things we regret. But even after this has occurred, we still have a choice, to view ourselves with frustration and disappointment, or to choose self compassion instead.
We are doing a very important, often under-appreciated job - parenting! And as we are leading the way for others as we try out new ideas and skills like Parenting by Connection, it's easy to lose our way. Chances are we weren't parented this way, chances are we don't have others around us modelling what listening to a child looks like, chances are we have never seen warmth and connection offered to a child who is being aggressive, or throwing a tantrum.... so let's go easy on ourselves. We are slowly "unlearning" and "re-wiring" our brains. We are doing our best to embody a different way of being with our children, and ourselves.
There are many opportunities every single day to choose again, trust instead of fear... peace instead of anger.... and self compassion as you make these choices.