Tag Archives: Connected Parenting

Your Child DOES Come With A Set Of Instructions

Have you ever tried to put together Ikea furniture without following the instructions?  I don’t even know if that’s humanely possible.  Even with instructions, it’s frustrating and overwhelming at best.

When it comes to parenting and all the various ‘styles’ that are out there, I believe that as long as you do your very best for your child and commit to really being present with them on your journey together, there’s very little that can go wrong.

Wouldn’t it still be nice though if your child came with instructions that could help you figure it all out? I don’t know why they don’t tell you in the hospitals or in the parenting magazines, but they actually DO!

Perhaps it was so small you missed it when the stork delivered your bundle of joy or it was stuck to the inside of the wrapping, thrown out and left behind when you took baby home.

The fact remains that each and every individual child DOES arrive with an instruction manual to guide his or her parent through.  Shy child? Yep there is a chapter on that.  Difficult baby? – A whole section dedicated in there!  If you’ve got a problem, this manual 100% has a way to guide you through.

Now, before you start googling or getting your credit card out for Amazon… just hold off a minute. You already have a copy imprinted directly on your heart.

When my first child was born, I realised very quickly that he (and therefore, I too, as his mother), didn’t seem to fit in.  Born not quite at peace with the world, it took an incredible amount of soul searching and challenging of everything around me perceived as being ‘right’ to find our path together.

I sought answers from every expert.  Label us, please tell us what’s wrong!  But no amount of expert opinion could give us an answer.  In fact, the very opposite.  They simply reassured me that while our situation was definitely not ‘normal’ (…”the doctor has asked if you could please wait down the hallway with your screaming baby”…) he himself, was perfectly ‘normal’.

So it only left one other possibility to consider.  That it was me.  But while I was trying my hardest, I was still failing dismally and day after day, I would find myself staring desperately at my wailing child, images of sweet lullabies and walks in the sunshine fading further and further away.

One night, a few months in, he finally fell exhausted into one of his beautiful deep sleeps. I remember sitting there, outside his door for a very long time in the silence of the night, weeping until my tears ran dry and feeling emotionally drained.  I just sat there silent. And it was in that silence that I crawled back into his room, looked at my sleeping child and simply whispered to him “I’ve got this kiddo”.

I found renewed strength, took a sledgehammer to the images in my mind, in my heart, of what my child was supposed to be like, how it was supposed to feel and what society said he was supposed to do and I gave both of us a clean slate with no expectations.

Fiercely protective and burnt out from judgement being passed on a daily basis, I decided from then on to start walking to the beat of my own drum and the beat of my own heart.

I became responsive, instead of reactive.  I tuned into his world and was respectful of his individual needs, as opposed to what others wanted from him.  I found joy in his individuality, instead of despair.  I searched for him.  And I found him.

And in doing so, he and I began to thrive.  It didn’t become easier, in fact, it became harder. But I had answers.  I had confidence.  And I had trust.

Society at large often didn’t agree however.  More and more judgement was passed our way.  I cannot tell you how many times I heard through the grapevine or worse, overhead them myself, that I was doing it wrong.  That by not pushing him harder, or being tougher on him that I was only going to create bigger problems further down the track.

But tonight, as I yet again watched my happy, kind-hearted and well-adjusted child move confidently outside of his comfort zone, I give thanks for those early days that forced me to look deep within and learn to ignore societies expectations. And for helping me discover and open the instruction manual for my child that I so desperately needed to find.

If you ever feel lost or overwhelmed, just pause.  Quieten the world around you, open your heart and find the instructions that are sitting there waiting for you.  No-one knows your child like you do.  If it feels wrong, it is.  You’re born with that instinct, an unconscious connection between your heart and theirs.

It’s quite simply just parenting by heart.

And always remember… You’ve got this kiddo.

How To Reset When It’s the Last Thing You Feel Like Doing

Parenting is full of ups and downs. The ups can pass by all too quickly, without the time to really sit back and enjoy before yet another moment comes along to throw you back into a downward spin.  Daily, hourly, sometimes even in the same minute. Throw in sleep depravation, lack of ‘me-time’, adjusting to this new all-consuming role of motherhood and you can sometimes be navigating almost daily roller coasters.

Faced with moments like these, it’s important to remind yourself that whatever the circumstances, you always have a choice.  You can either multiply the stress and negativity by focussing on everything that’s going wrong or you can realize that despite the chaos that surrounds you, whatever the conflict may be that you’re facing, how you react is still your choice.  You have the power to change the outcome of any situation, simply by changing your attitude.

Even if you’ve already blown a fuse, you can still turn things around at any point.  No child needs a ‘perfect’ parent, they just need a parent who’ll make a promise to show up for them.  Someone who can sit with them when times are at their toughest.  And perhaps most importantly, a parent who will teach by example and show them that even though they make mistakes, even though they may do things that are undesirable, that they are all still loveable and LOVED.  That whatever has happened, anyone can turn things around and start over.

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Six Steps To Reset During Conflict

  1. Take a deep breath and a moment to pause.
  2. Give yourself some space. Even if you need to walk out of the room or get outside for a minute, get some distance to gain some perspective.
  3. Remind yourself that your children are acting like children because they ARE children.
  4. Shake it out. Give yourself a physical shake to get rid of all that negative energy inside.
  5. Return inside and try to approach the situation in a calm, empathetic manner. If your child was having their fifteenth meltdown of the day, perhaps you can try to understand how important that particular orange cup was to them or consider where the outburst is coming from – are they tired, hungry, stressed or over-stimulated? Find the root of the issue and work on resolving that, rather than simply reacting to their symptoms.
  6. Reinforce your boundaries with empathy, give your child a cuddle and remember that this too shall pass.

Prioritise your relationship with your child over the behavior. Trying to rationalize with an upset child or have them understand where you are coming from with an adult perspective is not going to go down very well when emotions are running high.

Remember that you don’t need to make an equally dramatic scene to match your child if you’re in public.  Being ‘seen’ to be doing something only validates the opinions of others around you, who quite frankly, don’t really matter.  I often remind myself that I have nothing to prove to anyone and no-one’s expectations to live up to except for my own.

Once everyone has calmed down, take some time to reflect back and consider the reasons why things went so out of control. Perhaps they’re out of a routine or facing some major changes.  Maybe it’s just that they were hungry or overtired.  Have a look at the situation from their eyes…the answers you find in your heart can often surprise you when you’re looking back with empathy.

Facing a challenge head on and being able to reset yourself back into positive frame of mind not only teaches your child about resilience and models great conflict resolution, it also gives you the tools to grow as a happy, confident and connected parent.