Thank you for joining me in some collaborative parenting discussion.
Cameras have come a long way since many of us were children. Digital cameras snap shots with ease and instantly show the image on a tiny screen so you can retake, enjoy, and take some more! What happens if you don’t have your camera though? Surely there’s a time you’ve forgotten it…
Make use of the whole body camera – one that you always have with you.
As a parent one of the greatest tools you have is full body awareness. And you’re using it already so it’s worth using in a way that truly serves you and your child.
You might have noticed that you can recall the moments your child does not act the way you would prefer – all too well. You probably even remember the feeling that accompanies the not so desirable situation. Is it as easy to recall the moments where they are playing happily, sharing, feeling confident, cooperating, and respecting themselves and others? If not, this will help in many ways.
Start by intending to bring your awareness to the times your child is simply playing quietly, happy with him or herself, doing what pleases him and you, cooperating, and sharing. Depending on your child’s age you may have additional ideas to insert here – such as times of self-sufficiency or maturity with an older child or teenager.
Some parents declare intentions in the morning before everyone gets busy doing what needs to be done. This may be during prayer or meditation, or in a journal that they write in regularly. The point is to provide direction for your mind at the start of your day by saying clearly to yourself that you are paying attention to the times when your child is content. Remind yourself of your intentions during the day as necessary. If you are predominantly experiencing your children as oppositional or unhappy right now, try this exercise when they are sleeping.
As you notice your child, stop what you are doing and take a “picture”, but don’t take just a visual picture. Take in the experience with all of your senses – your whole body camera.
This picture is more elaborate and influential than the standard digital camera can capture. Choose to soak up every detail of your child’s in-the-moment well being.
How does she look? What is she wearing? How does she hold her body when she feels that way? How do you feel as you watch him? What things does he say or do? Is there any particular scent in the air? What do you hear – giggles or silence? If appropriate, touch your child gently or notice how it feels when he hugs you.
Notice how you feel as you observe and appreciate your child. If helpful, close your eyes to focus intently on the feeling you have in your body. Breathe deeply a few times, hold onto the feeling, allow it to penetrate your whole body, and imagine the “picture” being taken with all of your senses as it is stored for later access.
Begin using all of your senses to take as many whole body “pictures” of your child as possible. These experiences will help you gain valuable perspective of your children, their abilities, personalities, interests, as well as your own tendencies. You are likely to notice how much you really appreciate your kids and you can bring that experience of unconditional love into more difficult situations.
Are you are struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something invaluable with you: hope. If you would like to change how you respond when parenting feels intense, I invite you to consider this challenge.