Conscious Parenting Encourages The Child’s Natural Development

Lia has started swimming classes just before turning 4 months. The compelling proposition was that babies have innate water-friendly abilities and reflexes that will aid their development as a water baby. After all, they were immersed in fluid for 9 months!

Coach Wan from Happy Fish taught me a valuable lesson in developing a child’s abilities.  She propped Lia onto her shoulder, faced upwards, and bounced gently in the water so that Lia floats on her back.

She shared:

“Lia is small (size and age); we want to take advantage of this by getting her used to her buoyancy. This way, she won’t struggle with floating once she’s learnt to sit upright because she’s familiar with remaining horizontal in the water.”

She went on to explain how new skills are imparted through taking advantage of each stage of a child’s development.

This means that as parents, being present and aware to our children helps us to recognize where they are at in their development right now, as well as their strengths and their personality, and to take advantage of that to help them learn and embed new capabilities and understanding.

It means not forcing them beyond their current stage of development to attempt to cram advanced logics and concepts in hopes that they learn more, faster.

It means, being at peace with who they are now and encouraging that, instead of forcing them into being the concept of someone you’d like them to be.

Conscious Parenting Encourages The Child’s Natural Development

Conscious Parenting Is About Raising Ourselves Before Our Children

  • I fully accept that parenting is about raising myself, not my child.
  • I realize that the onus for change lies solely with me, not my child.
  • I am aware that my struggles are reflections of inner conflicts.
  • I will transform each challenge into a question that asks, “What does this say about me?”

~ “Affirmations To Raise Oneself”, The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary

Conscious Parenting Is About Raising Ourselves Before Our Children

Conscious Parenting Holds Up The Mirror

“The conscious parent may make as many mistakes as any other, but the difference is that they are able to face those mistakes and then ask themselves,”What do these mistakes say about how I need to grow?””

~ “Myth #1: Parenting Is About The Child”, The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary

It is common for us to feel guilt, anger or sadness directed at ourselves AFTER we commit a ‘parenting mistake’. We punish ourselves for our mistakes by directing guilt, anger or shame within, but blaming ourselves doesn’t forward or grow us. In fact, indulging in such behavior is a way to let ourselves off the hook. This indulgence distracts us from being honest to ourselves, because that might be painful. Learning how we played a part in the mistake means reflecting on the thoughts and behaviors that might’ve unleashed unconsciously.

The best way to serve your child is to love yourself by getting wiser and fixing these mistakes.

Conscious Parenting Holds Up The Mirror

Conscious Parenting Is A Partnership

“At the baby’s birth, we start from level 0. Both parent and child then progress and grow, learning together, learning about each other. Even with your 2nd and 3rd child, you start from 0 again, because each child is different.”

Wise words from the beautiful Rimi Yoshida, a Body Code and Emotion Code practitioner.

As adults we see ourselves as an authority to our children… why is this so? Who gave us the authority to make ourselves the authority? We start the same time they start! From Level 0! Which makes parent and child partners instead.

Partners learn to get along with each other. Partners negotiate. Partners argue and make up. Partners love each other deeply despite differences. Partners respect each other and learn to communicate with each other.

Let’s free ourselves from getting stuck in an Authoritarian role. It is tiring and stressful to pretend to know everything. Acknowledge this partnership. Partnering is a journey that encompasses adaptability and flexibility, allowing it to be fun and fulfilling for all.

 

Conscious Parenting Is A Partnership

Conscious Parenting & The Gift of Presence

Carol Dweck and Claudia Mueller’s famous 1998 study revealed the effects that praise has on a child’s relationship to achievement.

128 children were asked to solve math problems. 1 group was praised for their intellect (“you’re so clever!”) and the other for their effort  (“you must have tried very hard”). When given more complex problems next, the kids praised for intellect struggled more, whilst those praised for effort worked harder at the challenge. The kids praised for intellect showed lower task persistence, enjoyment and performance. When asked to report their task scores to an external group, they inflated their scores. This group of kids learned to define intelligence as a fixed trait, and showed signs of distress when they experienced a set back in their achievements.

So instead of practicing excessive praise, what could we do instead?

Notice when you dish out empty praise. It’s likely that the words “good girl!” or “clever boy” roll off your tongue without much thought. It take effort to respond to a child’s effort or achievement. Conscious parenting challenges you to firstly notice what you say automatically.

But more than that, a healthier alternative to praise could be simply ‘keen attentiveness’ paid to the child:

“I once watched Charlotte* with a four-year-old boy, who was drawing. When he stopped and looked up at her — perhaps expecting praise — she smiled and said, ‘There is a lot of blue in your picture.’ He replied, ‘It’s the pond near my grandmother’s house — there is a bridge.’ He picked up a brown crayon, and said, ‘I’ll show you.’ Unhurried, she talked to the child, but more importantly she observed, she listened. She was present. Being present, whether with children, with friends, or even with oneself, is always hard work. But isn’t this attentiveness — the feeling that someone is trying to think about us — something we want more than praise?”

*Charlotte Stiglitz, the mother of the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz

~ “How praise can cause a loss of confidence”, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, by Stephen Grosz

Conscious Parenting & The Gift of Presence

Conscious Parenting Allows Our Child To Be Our Light

“We need to give birth to a new vision of parenting. This vision would be based on what we know about the special bond between parent and child, through which even ordinary communication is a sacrament. It would be based on the reverance for what our children can bring to us, as well as what we can bring to them.

By their light, we see what is hurt and hidden within ourselves, and we open creatively to new ways of responding to problems. Through them, we understand that parenting is a spiritual process in which we get back tenfold the love we give.

This is different from old models of parenting, which have been parent centered and based on the idea that the parent is a static figure, all-seeing and all-knowing. It is also different from newer models of parenting that are excessively child-centered and equally out of balance.

We are reaching toward a new model in which the parent-child relationship is at the center. The emphasis is on maintaining the quality of the relationship rather than serving the needs of one person at the expense of the other.

Many of us parents are entranched in our own view of the world. We don’t think of our child-rearing problems as harbingers of healing. Often what we see is disrespectful, uncooperative children who make life difficult for us.

Even when we are in conflict with them-perhaps especially then- children can give us information about ourselves that we can’t get any other way. Our children can be a light for us if we let them.

We take a step toward conscious parenting when we understand how our painful moments with our children can become a road map for our own healing journey. Follow the map, and we don’t have to walk over the same broken ground over and over again. We can find a new path.”

~ Giving The Love That Heals by Harville Hendrix Ph.D and Helen Lakelly Hunt, Ph.D.

Conscious Parenting Allows Our Child To Be Our Light

Conscious Parenting Celebrates Virtues

We often see the world in good and bad, which affects the way we parent. Very naturally when our children do something that we approve of, we praise him or her. It usually sounds like, “good girl!” or “you’re a very good boy today”. It comes rolling off our tongue unconsciously.

Good and bad is a conclusion from which we judged an action (or non-action). The effect of this is, the child feels judged. This robs their power and their say in the matter; it is a projection placed upon him or her from the parent. Or Aunt, like in my case with my niece. She didn’t want to share her cookie with me. I got upset, and I chided her for being selfish, that her unwillingness to share doesn’t make her a good girl.

Was I the judge of her? Yes. I condemned her action and made her sit under a big neon sign that flashed the letters SELFISH. If I had put myself in her shoes for a moment before judging her so quickly, I might have seen it from another perspective. Maybe she was being careful about her things. Maybe she wanted to savor her cookie at her own pace and just wasn’t ready to share yet. The point is, she was doing her thing, not mine, and got called a bad girl for it. Pretty unfair isn’t it?

Step out of the world of good and bad. Step out of judging these little ones by the way we interpret their actions.

Take that moment instead to ask “why did you do that?” and hear from them. Acknowledge their virtues or the intention instead, like “Ah hah! You’re exploring colors!” vs. “your paining isn’t turning out very good…” or “I get that you’re trying to take care of your toys” vs. “stop pulling your sister’s hair, you’re a bad girl!” (in the case of the latter, it’s natural that they will act to protect/defend themselves when threatened – we do it too, does that make us bad girls and boys?)

Over time, your child will grow up exercising those virtues instead of grow up being afraid of that voice in their head that judges everything he or she does as good or bad.

Conscious Parenting Celebrates Virtues