This blog post was written by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of The Conscious Parent, from Namaste Publishing. Here, Dr. Shefail outlines 5 important steps in the conscious parenting process. To learn more about her and visit her website Click Here. If you are interested in the process of conscious parenting, join in on one of our 4-week course offering. Click Here for details. Enjoy.
Strategies To Ensure Your Children Don’t Inherit Your Bad Habits
By Dr Shefali Tsabary
Many of my clients struggle with rage. Once caught up in this emotional reaction, they curse, yell, and are emotionally abusive.
These parents undergo a sequential mindfulness training program with me in which they first learn to identify their triggers and also delve into their history to discover how these painful reactions came into existence. They often find there was a missing element in their upbringing that caused them to adopt their reaction pattern.
Along the way, these parents learn how to take a time-out when necessary, preempting their tendency to become triggered. By breathing or counting to ten, they gradually disengage from their triggers. As they engage in better self-care, they don’t feel so on edge all the time. If they still lose their calm, they follow steps 1-5 listed below.
1. End Denial
Even though most parents would like to believe we are in control of our emotions and are able to handle situations in a mature manner, ever so often we will resort to the antics of a two-year-old. We are likely to rant, rave, cuss, fuss, flail, and pull our hair out. We are going to gossip, lie, threaten, bribe, and cheat to get what we want. Despite our best intentions, we will go stark raving mad at some point or other in front of our children. But it’s when we are in denial of this inevitability that we set many a trap for ourselves. When we are in denial of our “shadow” emotions – those reactions that seem to pounce out of nowhere, leaving us in unbecoming states of anger and fluster – we risk the potential of repeating such negative behavior over and over. Only when we accept our shadow and begin to understand its triggers do we change.
2. Keep the Feeling and Dump the Reactivity
Growing up, many of us didn’t learn adequate coping skills for when our emotions are triggered. As parents, we need to be able to model calmness and balance so that our children learn to handle their own turbulent emotions in a sane manner. It’s important to recognize our triggers, step away from them, and emotionally detach by distracting ourselves, counting to ten, or breathing in a way that centers us. As we develop the skills to take better care of ourselves, we less and less engage in emotional reactivity.
3. Own It
When we engage in less-than-desirable behavior in front of our children, the most healing thing we can do for ourselves and for them is to accept responsibility. Often we blame others for our actions, usually as a result of feeling guilty for having lost it. When our children see us placing blame on others, they learn to evade responsibility and adopt the habit of lying and scamming their way out of situations. This is an even more negative behavior to teach them! Our children need to see that we aren’t afraid to mess up. They also need to see that we have the courage to clean up our mess and grow from our mistakes.
4. Communicate Honestly
Speaking to our children in an honest, straightforward manner from the heart allows them to understand us as human beings, not just as parents. When we are transparent, so that they witness us openly talking about our feelings (which isn’t the same as dumping our emotions on them), they learn we are fallible just like they are. They learn that feelings are a normal element of the human experience.
5. Transform the Mess into Emotional Gold
When our children see we are willing to look at our emotional shadow and learn from this, they receive a powerful message that mistakes are opportunities for growth. They also learn to accept their imperfections instead of pretending they are above the frailties of human existence. Most of all, they learn that failure isn’t to be feared, but is the very foundation of emotional wellbeing and a fulfilling life.