Parenting Expert Val Mullally gives a call for peace –  a  call to every parent to take action for a happier, peace-full world.  

Do you ever worry about what sort of world your children will have to survive in? 

What sort of future will your child have?

It’s scary to have people in control of situations who are not in control of themselves.

It’s time for change. We need to be clearly anti-war. War is not an option.

“The cost of war not only to lives but to minds and imaginations, to the integrity of whole societies, is still unsurpassed.”  Rowan Williams

Cost of War to Lives, Minds, Imaginations and Society

 

It’s time for us to do differently. It’s time to raise a generation of people who know that all of us need and deserve mutual respect. We all need to learn how to cooperate.

It’s time to raise a generation who will lead well.

It’s our job as parents – and as grandparents –  to raise that generation.

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”

Such an old saying we often don’t stop to think about the power of that statement. You, mothers and fathers, parents are the ones who rock the cradle. And grandparents, we rock the cradle too.  This task is so huge and so urgent that every one of us needs to be on board  to make peace a reality.  You, parents, are the ones who rule the world because you are raising the next generation. You are raising the next generation who will either continue to repeat the same patterns of using aggression as their tool of choice to force their own way, no matter what the consequences, or you can raise a different generation who know how to calm themselves so they can stay in the clear thinking “Green Zone”, and model how to find better, kinder solutions, that take everyone’s needs into account.

We, as parents – and grandparents – need to demonstrate by our own lives that any form of bullying behaviour is NOT OKAY.

Will you choose to set the example in your own home?

“There is a choice in everything, but in the end the choice makes you.”

The choice is yours. The opportunity is here.

We all hope we will be parents who act in a loving way, but, as my colleague Elizabeth Garry Brosnan says,

Hope is not a strategy

Always we hope for better, more, greater… but dear friend, hope is not a strategy!

If we want to stop having bullies running the world we need to have a quiet revolution in our homes and schools. We need a clear strategy to raise a generation of children who know how to navigate relationships in a way that is mutually respectful.

We CAN make the difference.

Homes where there is joy, where there is harmony, start with ourselves and with our family interactions.

And we have the potential to raise happier children who will create a happier, more peaceful world.

You are the cradle-rockers!

Decide to be one of the growing numbers of parents who have a strategy for a happier home, for relationships that model cooperation, communication and connection. Let’s rock the world! 

Let’s call for peace by living it. Let’s BE the difference that makes the difference.

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Last edited April 14th 2018

My Mirror Makes Me Fat

 

When you have one of those ‘not-feeling-beautiful’ days (or weeks or years!) do you avoid the mirror?

When we moved into our new home we bought a new dressing table.

Whilst I love thepiece of furniture, the attached mirror makes me look fat. Fat and hippy. The mirror distorts and enlarges the parts of me I least want to see enlarged. Do I really look that bad! I avert my eyes when I walk towards the mirror so I don’t have to see myself like that, or else I scold myself about how I should be working harder on my weight. Not that it helps – the fat image makes me feel ‘not ok’ and demotivates me from achieving my healthier me.

Ironically I have another new mirror in my house that has the reverse effect. I love this jewellery cabinet with a place for every pair of earrings, every necklace and my bangles. And when I look in that mirror I look thin! First time I saw this reflection of myself it jolted me.Then I got to quite like this mirror. Hey, I really look slim in this new dress. Great! But this mirror doesn’t really help either. I can kid myself I’m looking fine and that also doesn’t motivate me to make the health changes I really want to make.

I need a regular, kind and realistic look at myself to see how I am and to remind me of what’s working and what I need to do differently to be the healthy me I want to be.

I’ve been thinking that the same applies to parenting. There are those ‘expert’ books and people that are like the ‘fat’ mirror. They make you feel not good enough in your parenting. That ‘not ok’ experience leaves you feeling – ‘not ok’, not good enough – and instead of motivating – you feel resigned nothing is going to change no matter how hard you try.

Then there are the people, perhaps even your best friends, and the articles that are equivalent to the ‘skinny’ mirror – ‘You’re fantastic! You’re brilliant!’ And deep inside you know that’s not true. That’s not how you really are. And either you choose to pretend to believe the lie – and go on as you were (which ultimately isn’t helpful); or you remind yourself that’s just an illusion. Either way it doesn’t motivate you to be the parent you’d really love to be.

Imagine having a gentle, rose-tinted mirror that lets you see how you really are, in a way that helps you to really notice your best bits. The bits of you that you like and are working for you. This mirror accurately and kindly reflects what you need to work on. The good news is – you do!  I figure every parent has one or more of those mirrors in their home – they just haven’t noticed that mirror is there all the time.

So you want me to tell you where to find this mirror that will give you the helpful reflection you need about being the parent you want to be? I figure that mirror is our children’s behaviour. The thing is, our children love us and want to cooperate with us. And their behaviour tells us when our parenting isn’t helpful in creating the enjoyable and fulfilling family life we all need.

Many ‘experts’ tell us how to manage our children’s behaviour – but that’s not possible. The only person’s behaviour you can manage is your own. Rather we need to learn to understand our children’s behaviour – to recognise that all behaviour has a cause and all behaviour has an intention. Rather than focusing on how to manage your child’s behaviour, ask yourself, ‘What might this behavour be telling me?’

In other words, ‘How is my child’s behaviour an image of what’s really going on here?’  The family behaviour (including yours!) is a pretty accurate reflection on how things are really shaping up in your family.

The rest of this letter is sharing with you about my latest resource for parents who are facing the challenge of children’s challenging behaviour. If you want to know more, please read on:  

You may be wondering, ‘But how do I figure out what my child’s behaviour is trying to tell me?‘ I’ve been asked that question so many times that it’s spurred me on to produce resources for parents specifically on this issue. Some people are so keen to get this material that, rather than you having to wait for the book, I’m giving you some of the insights in my audio for parents: ‘Behave – an introduction to Parenting Challenges’, because I know parents are looking for answers now!

In this audio you will discover two significant signposts that help you make sense of your child’s challenging behaviour.  And when you have the signposts, you can understand how your children’s behaviour is a message. Sometimes it’s a message about what they need. Perhaps their behaviour is telling you they need you to be more consistent, more firm on boundaries, or maybe more relaxed. And you’ll also discover that their behaviour might be telling you when you aren’t looking after your own needs. They get ratty when we get ratty. They’re happy when we’re happy. They’re relaxed and go with the flow when we’re relaxed and go with the flow. After all, didn’t you have kids because you wanted it to be fun? Didn’t you want having kids to be an enjoyable, pleasant experience? If some days you feel as though you don’t like the parent you see when you look in the mirror, here’s practical help to discover how to use what your children are reflecting as helpful feedback to be the parent you really want to be! If you want to know how to see your child’s behaviour as a reflection to guide you to be the parent you want to be you’re only one click away on iTunes!

Last edited June 10th 2014

‘I don’t want to go to school’

Jamie had been excited about going to school until the big day came.

Suddenly she was clinging onto her mum’s shirt, her arms wrapped tightly around her as though she would be washed away by the tide of excited new pupils.

Her mum was embarassed that her ‘big girl’ was suddenly reduced to tears.

‘Now what do I do?’ she thought. The thoughts raced through her head, ‘Traffic’s going to be heavy today. Got to get to work. Can’t leave her here like this. What do I tell my boss? The other kids are going to laugh at her if she’s blubbing like this.’

Four year old Amy wasn’t as vocal as Jamie about her protest. But in the last few days before school started, she’d been very quiet and seemed to lose her appetite.

Both Jamie’s and Amy’s parents are worried about whether their child will settle at school.

What can a parent do when your child’s anxiety is eating away at her like a mouse with cheddar cheese?

The good news is that you, as parent, can make a big difference in how your child copes with school.

I came across a magical little formula about Anxiety recently on the cover of Chip Conley’s book, ‘Emotional Equations’.

Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness

Even though this isn’t a Parenting book, Conley’s approach can be helpful in responding to unhappy children. A parent can reduce a child’s Anxiety by increasing their sense of Certainty and reducing the sense of Powerlessness.

There’s a number of ways that you can help your child with this. Here are a few Parenting tips if your child’s anxious about starting school that will increase your child’s sense of certainty  and give a sense of having some  power in the situation, and this can significantly decrease your chid’s uncertainty.

1. Firstly and most importantly, no matter what stage of schooling your child is at, ensure that your child knows that his experience matters and that you are trying to understand. (Discover more about how to connect with your child so that he feels heard and validated: Childcare Concerns: How to Listen to Your Child)

2. Think what choices you can give him:

  • Discuss if he would like to meet a friend at the gate and go in together.
  • If he’s anxious about saying goodbye to you ask if he wants to say goodbye at the school gate or if he wants you to walk to the classroom door with him.
  • Give him a choice of what he’d like for his snack.

3. Ensure that he has the information and skills he needs, e.g. where’s the toilet, what’s the teacher’s name, how to open his snack box

4. Make sure he is being collected by someone he has a secure and warm relationship with. (Ideally Dad or Mum, or someone your child has a close, connected relationship with). Explain who will be there to meet him, and make sure that the person is there well ahead of time.is your child anxious about starting school?

A final tip:

Remember emotions are contagious. If you are stressed, frustrated or anxious your child is very likely to ‘catch’ that emotion.

So prepare everything well ahead of time to avoid last minute stress and focus on  being calm and centred.

Keep in mind:

Anxiety = Uncertainty x Powerlessness

I’d love to hear what other ideas you suggest.

P.S. For practical support on being the Parent you’d love to be, discover our online Parenting course:’ BEHAVE-WHAT TO Do When Your Child Won’t’ and face-to-face training offered by accredited Parent Coach Val Mullally MA.

 

 

Last edited August 31st 2017

Is your child anxious about school or childcare?

‘How do I know if my child is being treated okay?’ you may be wondering.

Parents can often feel confused about how to help when they are concerned about their child’s well-being at school. One key thing that  you can do is listen so that your child feels heard.

Imagine that your child makes a comment that concerns you.

Getting to hear what’s really going on depends on how you listen. This especially matters if you are worried about your childcare being anxious or unhappy at school or if you have childcare concerns.

Unhelpful responses some parents make:

Child: ‘I don’t want to go to school.’

Parent:  ‘Ah, you like school.  All your friends are there.’

or

Parent: ‘Just two more sleeps and then we’ll have the weekend. Then we can have lots of time together.’

or

Parent: ‘Now be good. And then I’ll buy you a sweetie on the way home.’

These responses aren’t helpful because they ignore your child’s experience of life and they shut down the conversation.

What your child needs is a safe space to be heard.

How to respond more helpfully:

Child: ‘I don’t want to go to school.’

First PARK everything that is going on for you – all those thoughts chasing around in your head and all those emotions that jump up and grab you by the throat.

PARK your own concerns so that you can really be present to your child.

Like parking your car, you can come back and pick it up later. Right now PARK all that’s going on for you and choose to be present for your child.

To really listen, here’s some of what you might need to PARK.

1. PARK your anxiety.

It makes sense that a comment like, ‘I don’t want to go to school,’ can get alarm bells clanging in your head. But your anxiety will get in the way of listening in a way that will really connect.

How to PARK your anxiety:

– Focus on your breathing.

– Focus on being calm.

– Focus on being present to your child.

2. PARK your busy-ness.

If this is important, other things will need to wait. Your child is only going to open up when they sense your undivided attention.

3. PARK your own need to ‘fix’ things immediately. 

A safe listening space is the best gift you can give your child right now. Afterwards there will be time to seek professional help, if needed. But you will never again have this first moment of what your child needs to share now. Choose to be fully present for your child now.

4. PARK your judgments.

Thoughts might jump into your head about what might have happened – judgments about the staff, about yourself or about other children.

You might have thoughts like:

‘That worker is a *!*&!’

‘I’ve failed my child.’

‘How could they …’

‘Oooh, this is all so terrible …’

These thoughts will wind you up. You need to  be calm to hear your child’s story first.

You might be jumping to conclusions.

Whatever the thoughts are, you can choose to PARK these judgements and focus on being present to your child.

5. PARK any feelings of guilt or anger. 

Yes, you may have many strong emotions coming up. But if you allow yourself to focus on your feelings of guilt or anger right now, you are putting the focus on yourself instead of on your child.

So now you’ve PARKed – what next?

When you choose to PARK your own stuff you can cross into your child’s world.  Only when your child really senses you connecting will they share what’s bothering them.

Make sure you are calm.

Choose your tone of voice, your eye contact and your body language to connect.

Child: ‘I don’t want to go to school.’

Reflect your child’s words (without adding anything extra) :

Parent: ‘You don’t want to go to school?’

Child: ‘Cos my friends won’t play with me.’

Parent: ‘Your friends won’t play with you? Tell me more.’

Keep your own stuff PARKed. Keep focused on being connected with your child. Reflect what your child says and adding ‘tell me more.’

Hold the listening space.

Keep connected and wait for your child’s answer.

Don’t rush in with more words.

Just hold the listening space for your child. Then reflect what you hear, using your child’s words.

When your child senses the connection, he’s likely to share.

Keep holding this listening space.

You will get to the point when your child has told you all he needs to say.

Whatever your child needs, be there for them.

Reassure them that you will deal with it. Give a cuddle or go for  walk. Trust your intuition to give what your child needs.

When you PARK your own thoughts, judgements and emotions you will find you are able to really listen to your child and to sense what ‘s needed, no matter how small or large the issue.

A few extra tips:

#1 Be careful to avoid talking about concerns about your child’s situation in front of your child. Children are listening even when you think they aren’t, and they are going to pick up your anxiety.

#2 Avoid trying to prompt the conversation with your child. If you push or pry or ask questions when your child is not ready to talk, your child will shut down down the conversation like a hedgehog rolls into a ball when it feels unsafe.

Your child will open up or close down depending how safe he feels.

#3 Avoid leading questions that can put thoughts in your child’s head that weren’t there before.

Questions like:

‘Did she smack you?’

‘Did she shout at you?’

are your thoughts. PARK them.

 

Hold a ‘clean’ listening space so your child can share his own story. When you are there to really listen, you may discover that your child’s upset is not big. The connection time will still be precious.

Or if it is a serious issue, at least your child experiences you as his loving and connected ally, who will take action on his behalf.

Please comment on your experiences of your child being unhappy at school or your childcare concerns (But please do not name staff or institutions in your comment).

Please seek professional help if you have any concerns.

Let’s not forget our appreciation for all the staff in childcare centres who are doing sterling work. Many of these are community based, not-for-profit centres. Most childcare workers follow this career path because they are passionate about young children. We all need to lobby for better pay, training opportunities and working conditions for the childcare workers who ARE taking good care of our children. 

If you are looking to train or retrain your staff,

Val Mullally is an experienced teacher, principal and trainer in Early Education.

She is also a skilful Siolta facilitator.

She offers regular Parenting courses  (also ONLINE) and is available to travel to offer training.

 

Related posts:  ‘Toddler Upset – essential reasons for responsive parenting’

Recommended Reading:

You Are My World – Amy Hatkoff

Why Love Matters – Sue Gerhardt

The Whole Brain Child – Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes – Peter Levine and Magie Kline

 

 

 

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Last edited September 02nd 2017

 

Val Mullally delighted to be presenting workshop on

“ Facing Challenging Times Together  – how childminders can help parents during transition times”

at the Childminders’ Professional Development Day  – Dublin City Childcare Committee on Saturday 20 April 2013.

Last edited April 17th 2013

It seems to me that being a parent (or carer of children) is rather like the job of a sound engineer. Most of the time nobody even notices the job that you are doing when everything Is going smoothly. But the moment that there’s some flaw or hiccup in the production, everyone becomes conscious that the sound engineer isn’t ‘doing the job properly’. We’ve all experienced those moments when the microphone feedback sends piercing shrieks through the auditorium, or the speaker’s voice is reduced to an inaudible whisper. That’s when we notice the sound engineer.

Likewise, it’s in the moments when something goes wrong with our children that we can feel like all eyes are upon us. And it makes sense that as parents we want to avoid that negative limelight. I’m speaking from experience. My son broke his leg when he was young, and it wasn’t only his pain that upset me, but the disapproving look and not-so-subtle comments from a family member, who gave the message that I hadn’t ‘done my job’. Keeping our children safe is certainly high on the priority  list of parents but, as a society, have we become so safety conscious that we deny our children the opportunity to thrive? Are we so focused on keeping our children ‘safe’ that their health and well being has moved to second place?

I’m thinking, for example, of the time when I was about eight years old when  I broke my collar-bone climbing a tree in our back garden. I am so glad that my mother did not stop me from climbing trees after that incident! I don’t even remember her telling me to ‘be careful’ once I was able to swing myself back up into my leafy haven. Kids falling out of trees was something that happened from time to time. I doubt if my mother worried that someone would think she was a ‘bad parent’ for letting me climb a tree unsupervised. Climbing trees was seen as something kids do.   When I was at the top of the tree in a strong wind, I was a ship captain sailing the wild seas. On calmer days I’d stay still in my overhead lair and watch and listen to the comings and goings of the neighbourhood beneath me. The tree tops were my refuge on days when I felt glum. They were the place where my imagination took flight. They were, without me even realising it, where I developed my sense of balance and spatial awareness. The tree tops were also the place where it was most challenging to keep up with my older sister. I can remember inching along high limbs, quaking with fear, but determined to climb as high as my big sister climbed. This is where I developed tenacity; where I tested my staying powers and my limits. Where I learnt what my body could and couldn’t do.

So my question is, in what ways is our over-safety mindset depriving our children? How is it affecting our children’s health and well-being when we are so focused on safety that we ignore their need to explore, to observe, to adventure, to test their own abilities? We need to think about the message we give to children when we jump in too quickly to ‘keep them safe’.

Perhaps in our well-meaning safety consciousness we are giving messages like:

Keeping your child ‘too safe’

Don’t ever listen to your body wisdom.                  

You don’t know how to make decisions.

Let other people to determine what you can’t do.

The world is a dangerous, unsafe place.

In contrast, through my experiences in the tree tops  I discovered:

My body knows what it can and can’t do.

I can make decisions. I won’t always get it right but then I’ll know how to do it differently next time.

I know how to keep myself safe.

The world is an amazing place.

Life is an exciting adventure to be lived.

I invite you to think back to your childhood experiences of free play. What are some of your favourite memories? Where did you play? By yourself or with others? Write down at least 5 of the messages you received about life without even realising it. What messages about life and about themselves might your children be absorbing, thorough their play experiences? What messages do you really want them to absorb? So what’s working and what might you choose to do differently? When we are tuned in to our own inner wisdom, we’ll sense when we need to intervene to protect our children, and when to quieten our own anxiety and leave them free to be. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about children’s need for free play. Watch out for my next blog in a couple of days, because I’ll be chatting about how focusing on being a ‘good’ parent can get in the way of achieving what you really want.

Last edited April 29th 2014

 

Perhaps you have one of those ‘school angel – house devil’ children; good as gold when out with others but driving you mad at home? Or perhaps your child’s behaviour is driving everyone mad. Maybe it’s some particular behaviour that you wish you could do something about – get them to listen, get them to be more confident, stop whining, stop fighting, stop bullying, stand up for themselves, do their homework. 
I don’t think that there’s a parent who doesn’t puzzle about what to do when it comes to dealing with challenging behaviour, at least some of the time.

Over the next few days I’m going to share three practical insights about challenges parents face and give you some helpful tips to help you create less stress and more fun in your home. I’m asking your to read this and then take time to REFLECT on what this might mean to your family – and especially to you as parent. It’s easy to read something, think ‘yes, ‘yes’ and then rush on to the next item in your agenda. But the three thoughts I’m going to share with you in these articles over the next few days could move you to a whole different and more enjoyable path of parenting. What it will take is time to let them soak into your mind?

So here’s the wildly challenging thought for today:
Getting your child to be ‘good’ might be bad for your child.

Yes, of course you’d like a ‘good’ child. ‘Good’ would be so much easier.

A child who always does what they are told. Who wouldn’t want a ‘good’ child!

Is ‘good’ what really matters?

But your focus on what you need now you might be overlooking the long-term cost of  ‘good’. That cost may be far too high. That cost might mean low self esteem, it might mean becoming a ‘yes’ person to whatever others demand, which will get in the way of your child’s fulfilment  and happiness in life. You want a child who does what he is told, right? But if that’s what you instil then don’t be surprised if this becomes the teen who does whatever anyone else asks: stealing, drugs, sex. Your ‘good’ child is likely to become a vulnerable target for others’ selfish desires. Because ‘good ‘ is about your child fitting in with your agenda, ignoring their own needs as human beings.
And who decides what is ‘good’?
What parent doesn’t wait for the school report, hoping to read the words ‘excellent pupil’, ‘well behaved’  – anxious about the teacher’s comment. And it makes sense that teachers tend to praise children who are compliant. In most school situations teachers are overburdened with too large classes, administrative demands, a syllabus to complete and the emphasis on examination marks. Our school system is set up to encourage ‘good’, also known as ‘compliant’. But the compliant child is not going to be the mover and the shaker that is what the world needs now. Do you really want a ‘good’ child or do you want to support your child to grow into the full potential of the unique, wonderful, awesome human being that he or she already is? The children who grow up to really make a difference in the world are very often the ones who didn’t ‘cut it’ at school.

Think of Einstein, Steve Jobs, Oprah, Richard Branson. I wonder if there’s a school report lying around some dusty attic for any one of those characters! I bet that would make interesting reading, and I doubt you would find the word ‘good’ on their school reports.
You’d be more likely to spot phrases like ‘daydreamer’, ‘doesn’t listen’, ”won’t settle in class’. Children in touch with themselves and with life don’t put their focus of fulfilling someone else’s agenda. They intuitively know they must follow their own inner calling.

So what are the words that are maybe used to describe your child that cause you concern?

‘Wilful or stubborn’ – They know what they want.

‘Daydreamer’ or ‘easily distracted’ – Their minds are on other more exciting things.  ‘Imagination is everything. It is a preview of life’s coming attractions.’ Albert Einstein knew how to use his imagination. That’s how he discovered such amazing things.

‘Needs to listen’ – maybe your child listens to his or her own inner rhythm.

So if you are dreading receiving one of those school reports, maybe it’s time to think again.
Take time to think about:
What am I actually focused on when I want my child to be ‘good’?
What do I really want, when I think long term?
In what ways could my child’s challenging behaviour actually be a positive?
What do I need as Parent (or support person to the child) to help this child to develop to his or her full potential?

Let’s move beyond ‘good’ to ‘happy’, ‘curious’, ‘interested’, ‘imaginative’ , ‘tenacious’ and all of the other crazily wonderful qualities that make your child a unique person who lives fully.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating wild, out of control behaviour. Rather I’m saying that as parents and people working with children we need to think further than ‘good’. But rather than striving for compliant behaviour we need to know how to create environments that encourage cooperative behaviour. That’s what the Koemba approach is all about. Watch out for my next blog in a couple of days, because I’ll be chatting about how if you  focus on keeping your child ‘safe’ it may not actually nurture your child’s health and well-being.

Last edited April 04th 2013

We’re excited at the release of our new YouTube clip ‘Teen Anger’ 

Teen angst can spill over into anger and aggressive behaviours. Parent Coach Val Mullally chats about a key neuroscience discovery that  helps parents recognise the importance of  choosing to respond.

 

Last edited March 07th 2013

You’ve just had a melt-down!  After Tantrum #7 and many attempts to figure out how to calm your toddler you lost it.  A few seconds later you feel as though you have just watched a bad movie, starring you as the Monster parent!  “I can’t believe I screamed at my child!  How could I have reacted that way?  What an awful parent I am!”  And it probably doesn’t stop there.  You continue to beat yourself up periodically throughout the day.

The Perfect Parent  

You remember all of those report cards.  If you’re like most people in our culture, throughout your life you received messages about how well you were doing, not just in school, but perhaps in sports, in attractiveness, and in how “nice” you were.  You may have been taught to strive for perfection.

And so you learned to measure and judge yourself.  Am I smart enough?  Fast enough?  Pretty enough?  And am I a good enough parent?  With self-judgment often comes self-criticism, which may consist of some fairly harsh, negative, mental thrashing (e.g., “What a bad parent I am!  Why did I lose my temper over something so silly?”).  Clearly such negative thoughts serve to tear down our own sense of competence.

The truth is:

  • There is no such thing as a “perfect parent” thank goodness!  How would your child ever live up to the expectation to be like you if you were perfect!  Talk about pressure!
  • Parents are human beings.  Human beings do not behave consistently all of the time.  You, as a human being and a parent, have many emotions that sometimes just push through your attempts to be calm and rational.  It’s human nature.

So while you may intend to always react calmly to your children, when the unexpected happens (e.g., You sniff out the stench in the house to discover your 10-year-old’s missing baseball socks under her bed, growing mold) you just might scream!

Instead of beating yourself up…

Try a little kindness.  Your child is going to see you get upset for a variety of reasons from time to time.  What’s important is that s/he also sees you treat yourself with compassion.

If you feel you have mishandled a situation with your child, rather than beat yourself up, try comforting yourself. You don’t deserve to be punished for your mistake, but that is what you are doing when you criticize yourself in a demeaning fashion.

According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D. the first step in a self-compassionate approach is to be aware of what’s going on inside:

  • Take a moment to notice what you are saying to yourself.  You might be thinking, “Of course I know what I’m saying to myself!” But most people don’t actually stop to hear the words and how harsh they sound; it has become automatic to say “What a dummy,” etc.  We end up sending ourselves these critical messages over and over again.  Unless you become more consciously aware of these messages, you continue to chip away at your own self-esteem.
  • Pay attention to the “tone of voice” you are using in your self-talk.  If you are calling yourself names, you probably sound angry, and harsh.
  • Then, just as you would comfort your child, or a good friend, be compassionate with yourself.  Soften your tone of voice.  Choose words that serve to comfort.  Practice an attitude of acceptance.  You might tell yourself, “That didn’t turn out the way I wanted…. Like every other human being on this earth, I made a mistake.” You could smile, and even give yourself a hug.  According to Dr. Neff, your body responds to that physical gesture of warmth and care.  It may seem silly, but self-hugging can help to soothe distressing emotions.
  • In this attitude of compassion, seek to repair the disconnect with your child.  For example, you might say, “When I found your socks I really just lost it.  I didn’t handle that well.  Would you like a hug?”  Then just listen.  At a later time you can restate your expectation that your child will put dirty socks in the laundry room.In the case of the tantrumming toddler, just be present.  Hold your child when s/he is ready to be held.  In a soothing voice you might say, “You were very angry when I said we couldn’t go outside…..And then I got angry and I yelled.  I’m just going to sit here now and be quiet.  Do you want to sit with me?”  Even if your little one is too young to understand your words, say them anyway.  Your child will hear your compassion.

I highly recommend the book, Self-Compassion, by Kristin Neff, Ph.D., who writes openly about her own struggles with parenting her autistic child.  Take a few moments to look at her website http://www.self-compassion.org, where she has a brief video clip and some guided meditations.

Last edited June 23rd 2012

What to Buy Kids for Christmas

Dear Santa

Mary says she’s tired of shopping. I see many grown ups who look tired of shopping.

What coud I tell them that would be helpful?

PercyPostElf

 

Dear PercyPostElf

Santa’s busy checking the toy production, so he asked me if I’d write back to you.

It’s so easy to spend lots of money buying things that people don’t really need at Christmas time. I worry most when I see people buying things they can’t really afford on credit cards.

I think they forget that the children won’t really have a happy Christmas if their parents are worried about the debt they’ll have to pay off afterwards.

Sometimes people spend too much at the after-Christmas sales.

Here’s my three questions before I buy anything for myself:

‘Do I love it?’

‘Do I need it?’

‘Can I afford it?’ *

They’re helpful questions to think about when you’re buying for somebody else as well.  The balance on the credit card may still be in the red six months from now if we make hasty decisions. Plan ahead what gifts you need to buy to afford impulsive purchases.

We’ll have a happier celebration if no-one’s feeling guilty about excess spending.

Love

Mrs Claus

* I learnt this from a wise lady called Martha Beck.

How to avoid spending to much at Christmas

P.S. Here are my other letters:

Day 1   What to do with Children’s ‘Great Expectations’?

Day 2  ‘Need’ or ‘Want’

Day 3  Dealing with Disappointment

Day 4  Christmas Surprises

Day 6  No Money This Christmas

Day 7  Christmas is for Giving

Day 8 When Sad or Bad Things Happen at Christmas

Day 9  When Grown Ups Fight

Day 10 An Attitude of Gratitude

Day 11 Can’t Forgive

Day 12 Christmas – What Really Matters

 

Last edited December 10th 2016