Respond; don’t react.
Listen; don’t talk.
Think; don’t assume.”
― Raji Lukkoor
I’d like to start a regular, monthly post of conscious parenting techniques, tips or resources that inspire me each month. Since this is the first one, I’ll wait to see if I have enough inspirations to share next month before I call it a “series,” but here, at least, is one month of “inspirations.”
The three techniques that I have been using successfully this month are Lead with Your Intention, Change Grumble to Gratitude (I made that title up, but the substance isn’t new) and Address and Move On.
Lead with Your Intention – After a bit of research, I’ve found that “leading with intention” is a known concept in business and leadership circles, but I first heard the phrase as part of Parenting Educator, Jollette Jai’s, Peace of Mind Parenting Training (now the Jai Institute of Parenting). In one of her talks, Jollette discusses the practice of leading with intention in the course of interacting with her child throughout the day.
Before she responds to a moment of upset for her son, she focuses on her intention going into the interaction. In one example, she uses the intention of acceptance, which I love. So instead of judging, dismissing or trying to help her son with his feelings, she mentally commits to accepting him in the moment with whatever comes up for him. In this way, setting an intention before responding, she is more able to keep her perspective and respond intentionally (hence the intention).
I really liked this idea and have used it a lot this month with my daughter. It only takes a second and can really transform a situation that I may have reacted to much differently previously. Before bedtime, when I can be impatient to get her in bed and on to my “more adult” tasks, I remind myself to be patient and understanding. With these intentions (that I often repeat as a mantra throughout, to keep my perspective should it start to falter), I am able to let her be the energetic three-year-old she is and take her time winding down naturally, in the loving embrace of her mother, rather than trying to force her to sleep or resenting the time it takes for her to settle down.
Change Grumble to Gratitude – This one has done wonders for me and I’ve really enjoyed using it. Simply, whenever I find myself grumbling about something – washing the dishes, being stuck inside all day in the rain, facing a long bedtime wind-down with my daughter (obviously I have issues here…), I immediately change the grumble to gratitude. So “Ugh, look at this messy kitchen,” becomes, “How fortunate we are to have such healthy food and running water.” Disappointment at being inside all day, becomes gratitude for a warm, dry home. Impatience at having to spend precious time in the evening helping my daughter wind down for bed, becomes gratitude for the opportunity to spend quality time alone with her, to leave her feeling loved, or simply for having healthy children. When I counter my initial “grumble” with gratitude, I can often feel a physical change in my body, from tense resistance, to a softening acceptance, and my attitude shifts as well.
Address and Move On – I don’t know if other parents experience this, but at times, I feel less mature than my children (or at least my oldest, luckily I haven’t regressed to infancy yet). An example is my tendency to hold on to things – negative emotions or thoughts – well after the event that elicited them has passed. A disciplinary exchange with my daughter – typically consisting of my asking her not to do something, her doing it anyway and my incredulous or higher octave response – can leave me seething or ruminating, long after she has moved on to other, happier, things. So this month, I have been working on addressing the situation and moving on, often by reminding myself “address and move on.” When I do this, now with more focus on responding vs. reacting (more on this at Authentic Parenting HERE), I find that my daughter and I are more in sync afterward. We both move on together, to happier things.
I hope that some of these things might resonate with you. If they do and you find them helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Thanks for reading!
What about you? Have you found any conscious parenting tools that have worked for you lately or old standbys that you’d like to share?