A martial artist once asked Bruce Lee, to teach him all that he knew about martial arts. Bruce held up two cups both filled with liquid and said, “The first cup represents all of your knowledge about martial arts. The second cup represents all of my knowledge about martial arts. If you want to fill your cup with my knowledge, you must first empty your cup of your knowledge.”
To create a life you love, find solutions to problems or discover what your life calling is you need to ’empty your cup’ by quietening the left hemisphere of your brain. The left hemisphere is the logical, analytical part of the brain that processes information sequentially. Give this part of your brain a problem and it will work on finding a practical solution for you. The brain is a wonderful tool, however, if you don’t know what you want, or you don’t know how to create what you want, logic, reason and analysis can have you going around and around in circles. This can lead to feelings of frustration or uncertainty and that’s when it sometimes gets too hard and we settle for what is.Read More →
One of the most frequent challenges parents tell me about is their inability to calm down in the moment. In the moment when your child is melting down over the colour of their cup. In the moment when they are yelling and flailing around on the floor. In the moment when they are screaming, “I hate you, go away!”. In the moment when you ask them to do something for the millionth time and they ignore you.
It’s hard to stay calm in those moments.
But you know you need to, right? You know that if you want to help your child learn how to effectively manage their emotions, then you need to learn how to manage your own first. And you’re frustrated and feeling like a failure because you just. can’t. Sound familiar?
The problem of course, is that when we meet our child’s big emotions with our own big emotions, the situation tends to escalate. But when we are able to remain calm ourselves, we are able to hold space for our child’s emotions. We are able to hear them, contain them, and reflect their feelings back to our kids in a way that helps them feel understood.
Most importantly, when we are able to stay calm and regulated in the midst of our children’s distress, we help them feel SAFE. And a nervous system that feels safe is a calm nervous system.
So the first step in helping our kids learn to self regulate, is to learn how to self regulate ourselves. If we can remain calm, and not fly off the handle, yell, lash out or use harsh tones with our kids when they are distressed, then we are able to soothe their distress and de-escalate the situation.
But HOW do you actually do that?
Well, the key is to get in early. When you are tuned into your own early warning signs you can put strategies in place to manage your emotions before they get out of hand. So, next time you start to feel your stress levels rising, try one of these strategies to calm down in the moment. They will help you calm down quickly so that you can respond to your child with intention, and help them feel calm too.Read More →
So often, when I ask parents what they struggle with most when it comes to mindful parenting, they tell me it’s controlling their own emotions. They say things like:
And the other thing they tell me (often in the same breath) is how stressed they are right now:
And so I’m not at all surprised that they can’t control their reactions under those circumstances. Of course they can’t! If this is you too, listen up, mama! You don’t need to know how to control your emotions. Your problem is not that you cannot control your emotions and reactions in those difficult moments. The problem is that you expect yourself to be able to! Because you are focusing on the symptom instead of the cause.
What you’re talking about, when you say “I can’t control myself” is exercising self control. But when you focus on self control in those difficult moments, you set yourself up to fail. What you need to be focusing on instead, is self regulation. And they’re not the same thing!
It can be hard for us as parents to know how to help kids with major life changes. But these changes and transitions are a part of life for everyone. Things like moving house, the death of loved ones, divorce, changing schools, or welcoming a new baby to the family, can all be hugely stressful for kids. And since their major life changes are often pretty major for us parents too, we often have no idea how to best help our kids though them.
But with a little bit of support from you, you CAN get through these difficult periods. In fact, these transition periods can even be an opportunity for learning, strengthening connections and building resilience and self confidence in your child.
When it comes to raising our families, I think it’s fair to say that most of of us are aiming to create a positive family culture where everyone feels heard, respected and valued for their unique skills and strengths. We hope that this positive culture will result in respectful, confident children. Children who know their own worth and feel both connected to the world around them and secure about their place within it. But of course, as we’ve discussed before, emotionally healthy families don’t just happen. They require intentionality. They require us to pave a clear path for our children and instil a strong set of values that guides their actions and decisions.
This is where the family meeting shines. However, a lot of parents tell me they’ve tried family meetings before and they did NOT go well. The most common complaint I hear is that kids don’t like them. They get bored. Don’t take it seriously. Leave before it’s over. There is arguing. Complaining. Eye rolling. Storming off. And in some cases, it descends into an all in brawl. So in complete and utter frustration, parents give up and cancel the whole thing.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! You can make family meetings work well for your family. Let’s talk about how to hold a family meeting that actually works! But first, why are family meetings important?
The family meeting is an opportunity to address the everyday difficulties that arise within a family while also reinforcing your family values and living out your family mission statement. They are great opportunities for learning and growth for both adults and children. And they can proivide a safe space for children to make mistakes, practice skills, and explore their own ideas and beliefs.
And there are so many important skills children get the chance to learn and practice during a family meeting: listening to others, communicating respectfully, managing differences and resolving conflicts, problem solving and even empathy. They are a fantastic opportunity to build resilience and strengthen connections and they can significantly reduce conflict within a family when they occur regularly.
They can also be tricky. Because while we have the best of intentions when it comes to family meetings, they can quickly become a source of frustration and further fuel conflict instead of reducing it. In fact, like many of the parents I speak to, maybe you’ve tried family meetings before but gave up on them because they seemed to make things worse. I hear you. It has taken many years for my family to get this right. But now that we’ve had lots of practice, our family meetings run like a (mostly!) well oiled machine.
So how do you hold a family meeting that actually works? Read on to get my top tips.
Fostering a sense of belonging in a family is an important part of cultivating a positive family culture. It is vital for our children that our homes are a space where they feel safe, connected, loved and accepted unconditionally.
Children need to feel they belong. And they need to feel that they are a part of something bigger than themselves – something important, and special. It is this sense of belonging that builds resilience in our children. It helps them develop healthy self esteem and self identity and gives them the confidence they need to manage challenges, to solve problems and to ask for help when they need it.
But a positive family culture doesn’t just happen on its own. Building a healthy, loving home – and family – requires intentionality. It requires us as parents to set clear guidelines – a pathway for us and our children based on our own big vision for what we want our family to look and feel like. And a great way to do this is by creating a family mission statement.Read More →