It’s time to look past the behaviour

It’s time to look past the behaviour

The behaviours are never really the problem. The behaviours are the result of the problem, which is why behaviour management just isn’t cutting it. Understanding our child’s brain, how it works and how to care for it is the ONLY way to make real behavioural change.
— Allison Davies

Let me paint a scene for you … I’m sure it’s one you’ll all be familiar with, I can guarantee that every single parent has been here. Your child is having a full-blown meltdown. Something has happened and they’re a screaming, crying mess. Maybe they’re throwing things or lashing out at you. Maybe they’re screaming hysterically and maybe they’re telling you that they hate you. But what if I told you that your child’s behaviour is not the thing to focus on in these moments? It’s time to look past the behaviour and labelling our children as “naughty” or “non-compliant” and support them to really understand what’s causing them to act out in this way.

Behaviour is a form of communication. When our child is bringing a big behaviour to us, they’re trying to tell us about a need that hasn’t been met. If we only look at the behaviour being exhibited, we’ll miss what they’re really trying to tell us because what we see is roughly only 10 percent of what’s actually going on for them, a bit like an iceberg.

 Underneath all feelings are a set of beliefs… 

Beliefs about oneself, others or the world/life can either be limiting or supportive. Every feeling that your child has comes from:

1. An attempt to get a basic need met, or

2. a core belief about whether that human need will be met or not.
— Jolette Jai, Founder of The Jai Institute for Parenting

Maybe your child doesn’t understand what’s expected of them, or feels like their opinion doesn’t matter or wasn’t heard. It could be that they don’t feel safe for a number of reasons.  Maybe they don’t feel understood, appreciated or that they belong. Instead of distracting your child from these emotions, we need to start to give them to space to freely express them; to allow them to be in touch with who they are and what they need.

There’s a saying that goes “love them when they least deserve it for that’s when they need it the most” which is so apt in these situations. It’s easy to meet their energy with our own heightened emotions, to get angry or stressed because we don’t have time for a meltdown, embarrassed (especially if you’re in a public setting when a meltdown happens), or feel defeated because you’ve tried everything and don’t know what else to do. For parents of neuro-diverse children who may experience multiple meltdowns a day, it can be soul destroying. But reacting in these ways just puts fuel on the fire.

There have been many times that i have (and still do), feel ashamed and embarrassed by our autistic son’s behaviour, feeling alone in helping him, sometimes the professionals don’t even know what to do… so when that happens for me i know i need to support him in moving him away from the situation  he's in, give him space to come back on line (and me too), i need to take the time to truly hear him…

  I follow the steps of active compassionate listening.

1.       Listen intently. (Show your interest in what your child is telling you, even if you don’t agree).

2.       Refrain from interrupting. (This can be very hard to do. A tip I give my parent coaching clients is to place your tongue behind your teeth and hold if need be).

3.       Refrain from judgement. (It can show on your face or be heard in your tone of voice).

4.       Refrain from comparing yourself to others.  (We get a sense of comradeship when we say “oh yes that’s happened to me too, but what happens instead is that we take away from their experience of what they are feeling).   


 Debbie Reber, author of the book Differently Wired points out that what’s needed is for the parent to look at the situation from a place of ‘what is this child struggling with right now?’ and think about what they can do to support that child through it. “They can be supportive so their child doesn’t feel abandoned, but at the same time, not take their child’s energy on.” Make a decision to respond to your child instead of reacting to them. I know, it’s easy to say but it's so very hard to do in the moment!

Try instead to take a deep breath and see if responding in the one of the following ways helps:

  • Get down to their level. When we lower ourselves down to their level it helps to calm everything for a child in a state of overwhelm.

  • Recognise and acknowledge their experience with calm, soothing words like “It’s ok to feel this way” or  “We’ll figure it out” or “i’m here when you're ready”.

  • Repeat back to them with complete sincerity what they’re expressing to you. This helps to validate their feelings and make them feel heard and respected.

  • Do they need to remove themselves to calm down? Some children need to find their own space away from sensory overload. - We call this a ‘safe space’ and they are especially important at school.

  • And finally, listen intently and silently.

The word listen contains the same letters as the word silent.
— Alfred Brendel

Transformational Journalling

Transformational Journalling

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Things to have handy…

  • Your journal and some loose paper,

  • Coloured pens/pencils,

  • A pen and pencil close by

Inspired by the work of Suzi Lula, Transformational Coach and Self Care leader (find out more about her here)

1.    Set your intention

Maybe your intention is to release feelings, maybe you want to come away feeling clearer on something, refreshed, allow insight into something, if it helps, close down your eyes, focus on your breath, slow down your breathing and allow your heart space to open, feel into what the intention is, often it’s the first thought that comes to mind.

2.   Give Yourself a voice

Using loose leaf paper, allow yourself to be heard.

In a nonlinear way, give yourself full permission to express all of your feelings, knowing that you will immediately tear it up into tiny piece and throw it away, that no one will read it, not even YOU!

  • Write and write. Scribble. It doesn’t need to be legible. Your mind and heart will be far ahead of your hand. You won’t be able to keep up, it will at times become a line across the page

  • Write until you feel complete, it could be that you use:

    •  Free Form Writing

    • Non Dominant Handwriting

    • Dialogue / Gestalt

3.   Thank yourself and then tear up the paper

Thank the part of you that shared. Being Grateful for the relationship you have with your inner self...

  • Tear up paper into tiny pieces and throw it away right away or burn it

4.   Sit in heartfelt silence

Place your hand on your heart, breathe into your heart space and thank yourself for sharing. Acknowledge and appreciate yourself. Allow yourself to feel what is coming up for you.

5.   Offer yourself insight

Ask yourself what insight, message, realisation, revelation is here for you. Simply listen. Nothing might come at first. It may take many times of writing. the process isn’t linear. You might receive an answer later in the day when you aren’t thinking about it. You might receive something right away.

  • The insight might also come in the form of a picture, words, quotes or inspiration.

6.   Raise your vibration

Sit with the different energetic vibration and

  • Write the insight in your journal. The insight is of a higher vibration than the initial issue had. THIS is the point of Transformational journaling. To lift your vibration and have it aligned with Universal Truth, not by denial, spiritually by-passing, intellectual reasoning, but by truly PROCESSING … untangling, releasing and receiving INSIGHT.

**********

AND when you go back and reread your JOURNAL, it becomes a SPIRITUAL BIBLE, a PERSONAL WISDOM BOOK filled with “your” insights, messages, inspiration. It doesn’t by pass the shadow. It shows the shadow transformed and you keep with you the higher vibration.

JUST by looking back over the pages, your body will remember the high vibration and it will serve to lift you up in the moment so powerfully.

Each step is important.

TRANSFORMATIONAL JOURNALING INCLUDES:

  •    Intention Setting

  •    Free Form Writing

  •    Non Dominant Handwriting

  •    Dialogue / Gestalt

  •    Insights

  •    Self-Expression

  •    Celebration

  •    Acknowledgement

  •    Appreciation

  •    Gratitude

  •    Art, pictures, colors

  •    Quotes, Inspiration

Kylie

Caring for the caregiver: Essential self-care for parents and caregivers

Caring for the caregiver: Essential self-care for parents and caregivers

“Your transformation begins when you consciously change your motherhood paradigm from self-sacrifice to self-care.” Suzi Lula (Spiritual Counsellor)

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We’ve all heard the safety message when we fly on a plane … “In an emergency, an oxygen mask will fall, please attach your own mask before looking after those travelling with you”. The theory is great, of course, we need to ensure we’ve got oxygen in order to help others. But that message doesn’t seem to translate into our day-to-day life. So many parents, especially those with children with extra needs, are starving themselves of oxygen while making sure the needs of everyone else around them are met. They’re offering kindness to others, but not offering it to themselves. We’re parenting in a culture that encourages and expects parents, particularly mothers, to put others’ needs ahead of their own and so many of us are exhausted and overwhelmed by the daily juggle of work, life and families. And if heaven forbid, you do something for yourself, well that’s just selfish.


When we first had our children, I threw myself into everything I thought I ‘should’ be doing. I volunteered for local parenting groups, was on the school PTA, was helping my husband run his business and I even had my own small business. When two of our children were diagnosed with extra needs I just took it all on and expected that I could do it. It was all just part of the juggle of being a parent, right? I was often sandwiched in between two children with extremely high emotions and when our youngest daughter started school and I saw how easy it was for her compared to her two older siblings I hit rock bottom. I realised that I had depleted myself of energy by giving so much of myself to everyone else.

Why self-care?

“When your cup is full, you’ll be your best self: at your most calm, contented and happy. You’ll have the reserves of energy and love and patience you need to give generously to your little one.” Tui Fleming (Dear Mummy NZ)

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Maybe I’m swimming against the tide of societies’ expectations, but I firmly believe that honouring our need for self-care isn’t selfish, it’s essential. By taking care of ourselves we have so much more to give our children and those around us. Maybe society doesn’t hold it sacred enough, but it’s time to challenge ourselves to think differently about self-care, particularly for mothers. We need to move from where putting our own mask on first is a great idea, to where it’s a daily practice that helps us to thrive as parents, friends, partners and workmates.


The day I hit rock bottom was the day I decided to be kind to myself. I asked myself how everything I was doing was actually serving me. Was it building me up? Was it sucking my energy? I decided to make sure that I’m well taken care of so that my incredible humans get the best of me – not the tired, worn down, exhausted me that arrived at situations in a state of depletion. I know that the better I take care of myself, the better I take care of those around me.


One of the biggest changes as a result of giving myself self-care is how I show up with the children. They haven’t changed, they still push the boundaries, fight with each other, do things I’ve asked them not to do … but I have changed and my response to them is dramatically different, rather than reacting... I come from a space of abundance - rather than fear or scarcity, I come with more patience, graciousness and joy. I see a child’s actions as what need they haven’t had met rather than focusing on their behaviour.  

What is (and isn’t) self-care?

“Self-care is the art and practice of nourishing our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body.” Suzi Lula

For many people the words “self-care” brings to mind things like getting a manicure, going to the dentist or doctor (something that mothers often neglect) or having your eyebrows shaped. Sure, that’s a type of self-care and they’re all important activities, but what we’re talking about here is activities you consciously choose to do to feed your soul. It’s about giving yourself permission to have time and space with the intention to refuel you, time to help you find what’s truly important to you, honour your feelings and emotions and treat yourself with kindness. It’s about finding ways to fill your own cup to overflowing.   


So, what can you give yourself permission for today? Time for you? Exercise? Quiet? Journaling? A walk in nature? Take a moment to recognise what it is you need today and give yourself permission to receive it.

How do I start?

“The steps don’t have to be large, they just need to come first”. Suzi Lula

A couple of months ago I interviewed Suzi Lula about self-care and how we can implement it into our day-to-day. She suggested starting small so that self-care doesn’t become something burdensome that you feel like you need to add into your already busy day. You want to begin by asking yourself what you need today. It could be something as simple as having flowers on your desk at work, lighting a candle, being conscious of what music you’re playing. They’re all simple tasks but ones that connect with what “feeds” you, what builds you up. If you piece them all together you’ll find you feel a difference. You can listen to the full interview with Suzi here: www.heartcentredparenting.com/blog/2018/7/13/interview-with-suzi-lula


Listen to your body and learn what your needs are and how to fill them. I tried all sorts of things when I started out.

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  • I realised I don’t always like a guided meditation because sometimes I just need my thoughts and feelings to find their own way.

  • I walk barefoot each day on the grass.

  • I’ve always loved water so if I need to release big emotions I take a long shower.

  • I do a meditation when I wake up each morning.

  • I continually return to my breath throughout the day.

  • I journal at the end of the day with a gratitude practice and if anything big pops up I do transformational journaling. I recently wrote a step-by-step guide on how to do transformational journaling which you can read here: www.heartcentredparenting.com/transformational-journalling


A practice of gratitude is such divine self-care and will help you gain more awareness around your needs, your feelings and the awesome things that are happening within your days. In your journal, each night write down 2 – 3 things you’re grateful for; 2 – 3 feelings that came up for you throughout the day and the needs behind those feelings.

I have several brief mindfulness meditations available on my website that you might like to try. You can find them here: www.heartcentredparenting.com/meditation/


What’s standing in your way?

I can hear you now, “that sounds great, Kylie but I just don’t have time”. Suzi explains it like this:

“I can’t encourage you enough, that even when you believe that there isn’t enough time for you to work out … dare to work out anyway. You will prove to yourself that there is, indeed, more than enough. We forget about all our “to do’s” and how little time we have because we are immersed in something that enlivens us, lights us up from the inside out.”

So, today remember to pause, breathe and give yourself permission to make yourself a priority.  


Kylie

How turning towards Conscious Parenting made a profound difference to our Family

How turning towards Conscious Parenting made a profound difference to our Family

That rock bottom moment lead me on a journey of self discovery and awareness and a massive paradigm shift in the way i see parenting, I discovered Dr Shefali Tsabary and trained as a Parent Coach through the Jai Institute for Parenting.  This led to a passion for supporting all parents to gain a deeper connection with their children. I moved from parenting over our children, to parenting with them. From control and frustration to nurturing and thriving.

Sarah Watson - Clinical Psychologist

Sarah Watson - Clinical Psychologist

Join me as I talk to Sarah about PDA - Pathological Demand Avoidance. Teachers and Parents will learn how to best support children in the classroom/home environment.

To learn more about Sarah, Jamie or their work visit https://www.psyched.org.nz/meet-our-team/

Sarah Peck - Dietician/Selfcare Nutritionist

Sarah Peck - Dietician/Selfcare Nutritionist

Join Sarah and I as we discuss body kindness, how social media affects our body image, raising body aware children, food anxiety in children with learning differences.

Interview with Cat from Getting Lost

Such an honour to interview Cat about her and James's new baby - The Getting Lost game... a great way to explore New Zealand xox 

When what you expect isn’t what you get

When what you expect isn’t what you get

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Rhys and I often shake our heads when we think about our pre-child expectations for our future children. Like most soon-to-be-parents we wondered about what our child was going to do and who they were going to be. We learnt very quickly that one of the problems with our expectations is that we often expect our children to be different from who they are.

 

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From the moment he was born, we knew our son was going to think outside the box. His development was ahead of what was expected – he rolled the day he turned three months, crawled at five months and walked before he was one. We were the family at coffee group with the kid climbing trees all the time, the kid that others warned their child to watch out for. There were a couple of times when he was at kindy where I wondered if what he was doing was “normal”. We started noticing that he went through phases where he was fixated on one thing – he used to wear his Spiderman suit every day and I would have to peel it off him at night to wash it ready for the next day. I never really understood what was going on or what we were doing “wrong”.

The wheels really fell off when he was in year three at school and we quickly realised there was something more happening for him. Not long after we discovered our eldest daughter had dyslexia with underlying auditory and sensory processing disorders. We went from being a “normal” family to one with two children with neuro-diversities. Accepting the as-is of our situation is not easy. I’m human after all, with different emotions that pop up throughout the day – frustration, sadness, guilt, questions of why me?, what can I do about this? … the list goes on. I’ve learned that resisting the way it is for us has proven to be a waste of vital energy that can be better put towards getting through the day. If you too are in this place I just want to say I get it! I hear you and the frustrations you speak of, I see you and all the time and effort you put into meeting the needs of your child(ren). I hold space for you as you mutter under your breath “it’s all too hard today”.

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So how do you move forward into a place of acceptance and thriving as a family when your child isn’t what you were expecting?

 

1. Take care of yourself

You’ll know if you’ve been reading my blogs and following me on Facebook for a while that self-care is pretty high up on my list of priorities. By taking care of yourself you are in a much stronger position to be able to help your family. Suzi Lula is a spiritual coach, speaker, author and mentor who challenges us to think differently around self-care. I recently interviewed Suzi and she shared some of her tips for finding a self-care practice that works for you. As Suzi says in that interview, self-care is not only ok, it’s essential to take care of ourselves because by taking care of ourselves we have so much more to give to our children. And for parents with children with extra needs it’s even more important that we have a full, overflowing tank. You can watch my interview with Suzi here on my website or at www.heartcentredparenting.com/blog/2018/7/13/interview-with-suzi-lula

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It’s so important to take care of our own needs and recognise our emotions. When the kids were first diagnosed Rhys and I felt a huge sense of shame and guilt. We questioned whether we had done something to cause it. We felt terrible that we didn’t realise sooner. We wallowed in self-pity for a little bit. It’s important not to supress what you’re feeling – don’t hide from your emotions or numb them. Let them be felt. Yes, it hurts but it’s worth it to go through your emotions and feelings and come out the other side no longer blaming and shaming yourself for things you can’t change. There are a lot of great resources that can help you work through the shame mindset and reframe it in a different way. Two resources I found really useful are Gifts of Imperfection and Daring  Greatly by best-selling author and professor Brene Brown  I also really found peace through my mindfulness process. You can find out more about this process on my website at www.heartcentredparenting.com/meditation

I am forever thankful for my conscious parenting journey. Without it I think I’d be a shell of myself.

 

2. Dealing with the judgment

I know what it’s like to be judged because your child doesn’t conform to “the norm”.  It can often be the comments made by those closest to us, people who are privy to the inner workings of our family, that hurt the most. And to them, their comments may be harmless or intended to be helpful, but their words can cut deep.

After our son’s diagnosis, we had a lot of comments said to us or behind our backs. I had to learn ways to understand how others were seeing it, to learn how to not take it personally.  For example, one time was at a friend’s place for dinner with a group of mums. I shared a story about how our son had become quite violent against his sisters. One of the mums said, “you told him he can’t do that, right?” I felt really hurt.  she knew our family well, had spent a lot of time in our home and with us and knew the practices we had in place… It was the first time I realised she was actually judging me, that she didn’t understand what it meant to have a child like ours and was resisting learning more about it...things really shifted in our relationship after that. I did a lot of internal, painful work to get to the realisation that I no longer wanted to surround myself with people who didn’t support me, who didn’t help hold me up or lift me higher, it was the beginning of aligning myself with like-minded people who build others up and hold space for each other. It’s hard enough having a child with extra needs without having people in your world, who aren’t open-minded or compassionate towards you.

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Our parenting style was often called into question with some family members suggesting that the way we were raising our son was causing the issues. People often compared our son to our youngest, neuro-typical daughter. We regularly got comments like “she’s such a good girl, so sweet”, implying by omission that he wasn’t. When our son was diagnosed it took a few family members a long time to understand that it wasn’t something we were doing that was causing his behaviour but that we all needed to support him and put in place some structures to get by.  That instead of getting tougher with him, we need to offer him support in getting his needs met.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve had is that I’m not responsible for who my child will become. I am responsible for connection, for love and supporting their growth. That their success and perceived failures don’t define me.

 

3. Celebrate what your child has to offer

Your child is going to be who they’re going to be, no matter what you’re doing. Sure, you can support them and be alongside them for the journey but you can’t change the way they’re going to show up in the world. Let's look at the saying - “start looking at life as a glass half full”, I recently heard a Buddhist view on this saying… "the glass is neither half full or half empty, it is always full, ½ full of water and ½ full of air"… we need to continually adjust our mindset on things and find the lessons in the challenges. Yes, your child isn’t who you were expecting them to be, so rather than fighting it start looking for the benefits they bring, the unique way they look at the world, the ways they make a positive difference in your life. I guarantee you’ll soon realise that your child can teach you lessons that will make your relationship with them and others richer and deeper.

Try this exercise this week - in a journal write down each day, the things you appreciate and acknowledge as beautiful in your child(ren), write down what you’re grateful for, having them as your child… you will soon start to see the glorious ways they show up in the world…

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For example Our middle daughter is here to teach me to slow down and enjoy each moment. She is a procrastinator and I have learned to put less into our day, give more notice before things need to happen and to breath more.

Our son is here to show me that not everyone shows love and emotion in words, that not everyone understands emotions and some need support to see another person’s views on things. He has opened me up to view the world very differently to how I did before he graced the Earth. I have huge empathy for others now, for how they see things and have had to learn that my way is not necessarily the only way or the right way.

And our youngest daughter is here to remind me of the joy and beauty of the world, she shows me how each moment is a new one and how to see the wonder of what is around me.

One of the greatest gifts I can give my children is the right to be authentically themselves because I’m not trying to make them anything other than who they truly are.

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I’d love to help you start your journey to move past the place of guilt and shame that your child isn’t what you were expecting. You can find out more about how I can work with you on my website

www.heartcentredparenting.com/programmesoffered

Sending you love on your parenting journey,

Kylie

     Inside our family’s sibling relationships: Meeting all of our children’s needs

     Inside our family’s sibling relationships: Meeting all of our children’s needs

To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.
— Clara Ortega
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We are a family of five – My husband Rhys, myself, a son and two daughters. Our children were born exactly 20 months apart from their older siblings and most of the time we do life well together with lots of fun and laughter. But it’s not always easy. Sibling relationships can be complicated at the best of times, however two of our children are neurodiverse, ‘out of the box’ thinkers, which has presented some extra challenges for our children’s sibling relationships.

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It was our then 3-year-old son who first announced we were expecting the fifth member of our family. We had been sitting on the fence about having another baby and had even got a dog to see if that filled the gap in our family. Not long afterwards we were in the spa pool with the kids talking about who was in our family when our son pointed to my tummy and told us that there was a baby in there … and he was right (I did a pregnancy test the next day).

And it is our Our youngest daughter who is the most adaptable child you’ll ever meet,  because she’s had to be. From the minute she arrived she’s been taken here, there and everywhere; fitting her naps, feeds and playtime in around her two older siblings. As time went on and the older two children developed their “quirks” she had to adapt. She’s had to learn that sometimes we have to leave an event early, that there are places we can’t go, and that there are some things other families do that we just can’t.

 

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A couple of few years ago, all three kids were keen to do a family fun run our school was a part of. We signed the family up and rocked up on the day ready to take part. The event started off fine, but a few minutes into it our son flipped out and wanted to go home. We tried to negotiate that one of us would take him home and the other would stay with the girls so that they could finish the race but he wasn’t having a bar of it and wanted everyone to go. Understandably the girls were upset because they were so keen to do the fun run, we were stuck in the middle of wanting to meet the needs of all of our children but our son wasn’t initially prepared to negotiate or compromise. In the end we helped calm him down and he sat out with me while the girls were able to get to the finish line with Rhys.

 

While our youngest is pretty easy going it’s totally understandable for her to feel that there’s an imbalance in the amount of time, attention and consideration given to one or the other of her siblings over her own,  due to their neuro differences, I want to share with you some of the ways we have approached this and what we have found works for us.

 

1. Developing tolerance through understanding

We have been super honest with all of our children about each other’s neuro-differences. We started talking about Aspergers and Dyslexia using language they’d understand, read books about it together and talked about how it can be different for each child. Now we don’t label it we just say that he’s seeing a situation differently to how you are right now, let’s just hear him out and let him explain it to us. Or she’s trying to understand what we’re asking of her, let’s just slow down for a minute and let her get a better understanding. Talking about it openly and honestly has helped to create more tolerance towards each other and helps each person in our house see each other’s point of view. 

2. Seeing things from each other’s perspectives

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We have really spent a lot of time helping each of our children see things from every perspective. Our stating point has always been with their perspective, because if we don’t start there they’re not going to be prepared to look at things from another’s perspective. When they have a big emotion happening I sit with them silently, allowing them to experience it and work through it how they ned to. Being neutral and allowing them to express their feelings is hard and takes a lot of practice.  Once in a space of calm again, at an appropriate time, we talk about what lead up to that moment, what feelings and needs did we all miss and what could we all do next time to prevent it getting to that point.  We also talk about it from the other person’s perspective so they gain an understanding of empathy for others.

As with any siblings, they know each other’s “push points”, however they are getting more and more able to understand if they’re pushing the other too far and when to back off and leave each other alone. This comes one with age, and also with understanding each other.

3. A different way of doing things

It’s so important that we don’t let her feel that her needs are any less important than her siblings because that’s a sure-fire way to plant the seed of resentment.  Our family is a bit ‘out of the box’, so we have found different ways of doing things.

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  • Surround yourself with people who can help: Every so often one or both of the girls mention that they can’t go and do things they want because he doesn’t want to come. We make sure we have an awesome support network in place so that they can do the activities they love. Mcackenzie has got friends who whose families will take her with them when they go to places we can’t go, like the zoo or the Easter Show. My parents take her for the weekend every so often so she can do the things she likes to do without consideration of her siblings’ needs.  We are so grateful for our support network.

  • It’s ok to do things apart:  There are times when we do family adventures all together, but there are times that If we want to do a family adventure we’ve learnt to split up and take the kids to do slightly different things. For example, if we go to a theme park our older two like to do extreme things while our youngest isn’t so keen. We don’t do loads of things together as a family unit and that works for us. Another example is that we’ve learnt that our son can’t be at the girls’ birthday parties, it just doesn’t work - he can’t handle it when there are too many people around and when it’s not about him – we learnt that the hard way. So, he either goes to a friends’ house or one of us takes him to do something else.

  • One-on-one time: We have date days or weekends where one of us takes one of the children to do something special just with them. Rhys has taken them on overnight camping trips, or I might take one of the girls to get our nails done or any of them to the movies or an activity of their choice. We rotate whose turn it is and which parent does it.

  • Being clear and fair: Friday nights are movie nights in our house. We have set a schedule so that each child gets the opportunity to pick a movie and everyone has to watches  it.

 

The last thing I wanted to touch on was the guilt that many parents feel about the amount of time, effort and attention going towards one child. I have had ups and downs about feeling guilty about my eldest two children getting more of my time and attention. I’ve become really good at recognising each child’s specific needs and making sure that they get what they need in that moment. My guilt often relates to making sure I was getting enough one-on-one time with each of them so we make it a priority. We also make it a priority to ensure our youngest daughter gets to do “normal” childhood stuff that she’s so desperate for,  as often as possible.

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I became a parent coach to help support families, especially ones like ours who have “out-of-the-box” thinkers. I would love to help your family gain a deeper connection with each other and work through ways that you and your children can stop and actually hear what the other person is saying and see it from their point of view. If you would like to find out more about how to achieve family harmony check out my website www.heartcentredparenting.com and see how I can help your family.

Sending you love on your parenting journey,

Kylie

xx

Interview with Andrew Newman

Andrew Newman is the creator of The Conscious Bedtime Stories, check out his website here   We discuss the imporatnce of connection at bedtime and he reads us 'The Hug Factory', what a treat!

Interview with Suzi Lula

Suzi Lula is a transformational leader, spiritual coach, speaker, author, mentor - Check out Suzi's work here 

Being the calm in the storm: Learning to calm yourself when triggered

As parents we can often  tend to bear the brunt of our child’s emotional and behaviour storms. It can be really difficult to remain calm during these moments. As a conscious parenting coach one of the biggest messages I share with parents is how to listen and simply be there when our children get upset. To model a calm approach. None of us do it perfectly all of the time, like any other family we still have moments of madness where I feel triggered. Let me share an example with you and then we can look at ways I have learned to calm myself during those moments.

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The school holidays are a couple of days away. Admittedly it’s a short two-week break and it is the middle of winter, but I’m looking forward to it! I love school holidays. It’s fun having nowhere to be, no constraints and the chance to disconnect and have quality connection time as a family. Holidays work way better than normal days for our family – our son has Aspergers and Pathological Demand Avoidance and he likes the unstructured nature of holidays.  Also one of our daughters is dyslexic, with underlying sensory and auditory needs, she enjoys the amount of unstructured play she can do during holidays. Our youngest daughter is “neurotypical” and she is happy no matter what day it is.

Apart from our son, the rest of our family are really social people, we like to have people over which tends to happen more during the holidays. And that’s the rub. Because he’s not as tolerant with other people and it can be a juggling act to negotiate his needs around everyone else’s.

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The upcoming holidays remind me of an emotional storm we weathered towards the end of the six-week summer holidays earlier this year. I had a few days that pushed me to the edge with our son. One day after listening to a the meditation I lost all sense of consciousness and something unworldly took over me. I totally lost it at our son. I hadn’t spoken to him like that since before I began my journey towards consciousness over two years ago. It was like a volcano exploded out of my body and spilt all over him. It was a tirade, an onslaught of nastiness and I couldn’t “control” it. I tried so hard to breath, to walk away, but I kept coming back again and again. Once I finally calmed down and came back and sat beside him I still couldn’t completely stop. I went on to explain to him that I’ve changed my entire life to meet his needs these past two years, to find a better way to support him and then apologised for lashing out at him like that, that I was completely overwhelmed in that moment and I could have found a better way. I fell asleep that night with a heavy heart and lots of guilt. Then later in the night he crept into my bed and lay beside me, he asked me to hug him and he told me he loved me. He hadn’t done that in years! That moment where he showed me his loving emotions (something that he doesn’t do) touched me deeply.

 

I am a continual work in progress! The good news is that by having awareness and choosing to look for growth in those moments, we are choosing to become better versions of ourselves.

 

1. Learn to recognise it building

Have you ever stopped to acknowledge how your body reacts when you get triggered? For me I feel it in my stomach, I get a hot sensation and it tightens. And I clench my fists. When I sense both of those things happening I realise I’m triggered by what’s happening around me. To bring myself back to calm I focus on my breathing. I start to notice thoughts coming into my head. I get curious about what my thoughts are, are they real?  or do I need to come back to the truth and what is actually real? By doing this I’m starting to create some distance from the moment and gain perspective.

 

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Focusing on my breathing and thoughts (meditation) has really become a critical part of helping me remain calm and compassionate when I’m triggered. You don’t need to meditate in silence, you can do it anywhere, anytime and for however long you need. As you breathe, let go of everything that has happened and just be in the moment and focus on your breath. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them go.

 

You might like to watch my meditation video [link to: http://www.heartcentredparenting.com/meditation/ ] to learn how to calm yourself. Another resource you may find useful is my Mindfulness Booklet. You can request a copy here [link to: http://www.heartcentredparenting.com/request-mindfulness-booklet ]

 

2. Bring self-care back up to #1 position

The more I support parents on their conscious parenting journey the more I believe that self-care is so important. After the example I shared above, I really recognised that I hadn’t taken care of myself enough over the six-week holidays when all the children were at home. And as a result, I wasn’t able to meet my son’s needs as well as I could which resulted in the eruption at him. I had sacrificed myself on their behalf.

 

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Self-care is important but it’s also hard. Many of the families I work with say that they feel selfish putting themselves first. I know where they’re coming from, I was there too! I realised that for the first five years of each of my children’s lives I put them first because they “needed mummy”. Actually, what I’ve learnt and seen in practice is that by taking care of myself I am far better to be able to take care of my family and be a happier and calmer person to be around. And most importantly I can role model self-worth to my children.  

 

Self-care gives you a little bit of time and space with the intention to refuel you. Promise yourself one hour a day if possible. I’ve found that meditation, journaling, time in nature, body nourishment and yoga help me find what’s truly important to me, make space for and honour my feelings and treat myself with kindness.

 

Internal care and recognising what’s happening for you is really essential, but it’s also good to feel good about yourself. So, make time occasionally for a massage, eyelash tint or some of the essential self-care things that you may have let slide since becoming a parent. I went to the dentist the other day for the first time in 10 years!

 

I talk a lot about self-care during my parent coaching sessions. If you’d like to find out more about self-care watch my video blog [link to: https://www.facebook.com/Heartcentredparenting/videos/580144519035433/ ]

 

3. Find value in those “fall-off-the-wagon” moments

Ok, so you may feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon but moments like this are sometimes just what we need to break us open and awaken us even further, for the light and wisdom to shine through. I felt so awful about what had happened and frustrated that I’d allowed myself to be triggered. I shared my experience with some friends and their responses helped me realise that there was actually value in that moment.

 

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Focusing on the energy in the storm helped me find the lesson. Why did I feel like I was cracked open? What needed to come out that had been suppressedsupressed? What were my needs that weren’t getting addressed? In what ways was I putting myself last? What did I need?

 

They encouraged me to re-look at the situation and see that rather than break my connection with my son it actually allowed a deeper connection. My bare naked authentic frustrations and helplessness got through his shell and defences and he responded in a way he hadn’t for years. Sometimes when we crack open we trigger something in our kids as well. It can be so painful for us, but perhaps it’s what needed to occur in that moment.

 

4. Give Forgive yourself compassion

Be grateful that you recognised you were triggered and try to embrace and forgive yourself. Be loving and compassionate with yourself.


If you would like to find out more about how I can support you to remain the calm amongst your family’s storms I’d love to hear from you. You can book a complimentary discovery session [link to: http://www.heartcentredparenting.com/discovery-call-application ] or find out more about the programmes I offer [link to: https://www.heartcentredparenting.com/programmesoffered ] on my website https://www.heartcentredparenting.com

Sending you love on your parenting journey,

Kylie

P.E.A.C.E

The PEACE proces, is a fabulous tool to use when there is a moment of madness with your child.  We will talk through the p,e a, c and e of peace and what they relate to... 

P - Pay Attention

E - Everyone’s feelings and needs

A - Allowing yourself empathy

C - Caring with empathy

E - Exploring a solution
 

 

P -  Pay Attention

So when we do this we look at what the situation is, we Observe it without placing judgement or evaluation on i, we don’t project our thoughts or fears onto our child - soooo hard to do right?  

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Yeah...

We look at what may have happened in the moments leading up to now or what happened in the day for them leading up to this time?

For example, your child has just started school and finished their last day of school for the week, they suddenly have an epic meltdown because you’ve said they can’t play on the playground today, you need to get home.  

So lets pay attention to this:

he’s been at school all week,

  • So he’s tired,
  • he’s hungry, and
  • you’ve been chatting to the other school parents for the past few minutes not really paying attention to him, while he was asking to go on the playground... or on a work call or any number of things that take our attention away from the moment - we’ve all been there.

The best ones are at the supermarket with all three kids in toe…

So if we find ourselves in a storm with our child, we 1stly observe - what may have lead to this moment… we observe without judgement or evaluation, without projecting our own ‘stuff’ onto our child.

But how do we get to here?

 

E – Everyone's feelings and needs.  

 

There are 6 core needs we all have:

Attention - to be seen

Affection - to feel loved

Appreciation - feeling valued

Acceptance - I am ok as i am

Autonomy - ‘go away, i’ve got this’

Connection - the sense of belonging

As we become more attuned to these we can become more aware of what our child might be feeling and needing in every situation.  

You could crouch down so you are at eye level and ask “help me to understand what’s going on for you” - when we move into a place of wonder, of curiosity it takes the judgement out of it.  

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If they’re unable to express what it is, there are a few ways you can ask them what’s going on...


Let's take yesterday’s end of school example depending on what was going on you could say something like:
 

“I wonder if you’re feeling frustrated because I wasn’t listening to you when you asked if you could go onto the playground, is that right?”
Or  “I wonder if you are feeling mad because you want me to get off the phone so I can listen to you.  Is that right?”

“are you feeling frustrated because you’re hungry and I’m talking to cooper’s mum?”

Many examples here and you’ll intrinsically know the language that esonates with you and your child.

I ask if you’re willing for the rest of the week, to pause as often as you can for 5 seconds and sense what your feeling or needing, this will help you to understand your needs more.  So you are better able to meet those needs.

 

A allow yourself self-empathy.  

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Some supportive thoughts you can have when you are having your own big emotions are “Wow, this is really hard”  or “this situation really sucks” “it was my boss on the phone and I’m on deadline!”

Part of giving empathy to yourself is being very honest with yourself about your feelings in that moment.  As we talked about last week they are probably not going to be thoughts or feelings that you want to act on or share with your child like  “what were you thinking?”, or “this kid is driving me nuts and I just want to get out of here”.

Don’t edit your thoughts or feelings here.  All are welcome and it's really important to acknowledge your thoughts and feelings about the situation - no matter what the situation is.  

If you judge or try to suppress your thoughts and feelings, they will just emerge later on in really unhealthy ways – it could be yelling, slamming doors, over indulging in vino or chocolate cake  
 

You need to find your way to reset your limbic system in these moment.  Like pressing your palm to the third eye, fingers to your temples, clenching your fists… stepping away for a minute or two, focusing on your breath.   take a few moments to offer yourself empathy, then you’ll be able to care with empathy for your child.


C care with empathy

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Showing your child empathy and offering empathy to your child.  This is the core of the practice and can be introduced anywhere and everywhere throughout this PEACE tool.

Take a moment to imagine what life looks like from your child’s eyes.   Could you imagine being the age of your child and can you step back into the wonderment and newness of these moments that they are experiencing?

we’ve been here on earth longer than our child we can understand and guide them.  But they need to have their own experiences.


If we can understand where our child is really at - like what they are feeling and needing, if we can go underneath their behavior, become a bit of a detective and get curious on what it must be like for them in this very moment?

Then it will be much easier to Explore a solution together.


E Explore a solution together 

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These are the concrete actions you would like to be taken.  Invite your child to explore a solution together with you.

If you have an outcome in mind already, then offer your child at least 2 choices around how to arrive at that outcome- the idea here is that your child feels involved in the solution, empowered by making a choice towards the outcome.  

9 times out of 10, we don’t even need to get to this point because things have resolved themselves, by offering empathy.

Most parents want to jump to find a solution to ‘Fix this’ but the solution can be found with both parent and child being given a voice – parenting with our children!


Visit my website to learn more about the courses I offer 

Your coach on your parenting/teaching journey

Kylie

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Becoming S.W.E.E.T

Kia Ora, In this blog post I am reminding you ways to become 'S.W.E.E.T' in your week... I’ve come up with an acronym to help you journey towards a calmer way of being… to become less reactive and more responsive…

Whether you are a parent, caregiver or teacher, you’re going to want to tune it.

S - for stop or slow down. 

W - who is your child really?

E - Essential needs - are these really being met?

E - Each moment you can get of selfcare

T - Thoughts and feelings that come up…

 

S - S is to Stop and also to Slow Down within your day...

To take moments in our day where we physically stop and focus on our breath, and pausing to see what is coming on for us.  It is also for finding ways in which we can slow our day down.

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Firstly lets focus on the stopping, so this is where we stop & focus on our breathe, so we don’t need to necessarily physically stop, we are just trying to still our mind for those few moments, we could be walking to get the kids from school, driving to a meeting, we could be grocery shopping, no one will even know what we are doing, we simply notice whether our breath is high up in our chest and maybe a bit shallow or lower down in the diaphragm, and we do this whenever we remember to during the day, as many times as we can.  This helps us to attune to our body and to still a rushing mind.

Another great way to use this is before reacting to a situation, to come to realise whether the reaction is warranted… again no one will even know whats happening, so just holding the breath and counting to 4 before responding, this helps to reset your limbic system and can often shift how you truly feel about a situation, it helps you to become responsive rather than reactive.

And yeah it takes practise so give yourself grace as you go.

The 2nd part to S is to slow our day down get more tips to slow down here.

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So with this you are feeling into whether all you have planned for the day really has to be done… because we tend to fill our day up with things to ‘do’ thinking somehow being busy means that we are succeeding, but I know that on the days that i have taken a moment to pause and to really think about whether what i am filling the day with is bringing joy, on those days i have recognised that many of the things on my list, aren’t essential, and instead I could be breaking, my ‘list’ down and spreading it more across the week to made days more enjoyable and to be able to time spent, more focused, quality time with the kids.

 

We are human beings not human doings

W - Who, your child really is...

So we are trying to honour our children’s essence, one way to do this is - rather than a focus on their achievements, or what it is they ‘do’ we honour their commitment to the task, we support them in the things they love to do (even if we don’t enjoy them so much) and we honour the way they show up each and every day.

So say your child adores football and they have a game, instead of focusing solely on the outcome of winning or the devastation of losing… we focus on the process of how they show up before, during and after the game, the things like

  • Giving it their best go,
  • Engaging in the game,
  • Enjoying it,
  • Being supportive of their teammates and
  • Encouraging of the other team whether they win or lose.  

Sure maybe they feel disappointed if they don’t win, but not dwelling on that, learning to become resilient and being ok with both the knocks and the wins.


Another part W - Who your child really is, is honouring their time frames too, to avoid chaos... So If your child is in flow (meaning engaged in an activity), don’t just pull them out of it – give them time to move to the next thing.  

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We need to be paying attention ourselves to the time especially If there is another place to be, giving them enough notice to move out of what they have going on.  Sometimes we can get taken away with a task or mindlessly scrolling through facebook and before we know it, time has snuck up on us, so with time pressure, making sure it’s not sprung on them.  

It is important to remember that  as i mentioned on monday our children’s inherent temperament is unchangeable
So
- we can support them,
- we can show them respectful ways of being,
- we can be role modelling politeness, compassion etc,
- but we can’t change their essence

So the procrastinator needs support on ‘what needs doing by when’ but we can’t expect our procrastinator to be quick like their siblings, we need to give them more time, more ‘making them aware’ so to speak, and often a little more support in how to get things done.  

By holding space for them and helping them learn for themselves without pressure how to do these things, they gain a sense of pride.

Yes it’s tricky now especially when you are in a time pressured situation, however I’ve found if I give our procrastinator enough ‘warning time’ and guide her through the process, that extra 5 minutes saves a 40 minute melt down.

They crave Autonomy, so give them some say over what’s happening and agree on when to move onto the next thing.

Autonomy is also really important when doing things like teeth cleaning, so many of my clients struggle in this area, giving your child a choice as to when tooth cleaning takes place, options like

  • Cleaning them before or after pjs on,
  • In the shower/bath,
  • Playing in the mirror,
  • On the couch reading a book,
  • Them cleaning your teeth, you cleaning theirs…

As long as it's being done, there can be some flexibility around where/when.

 

This goes for many daily tasks, giving two options, both of which you are fine with and they feel like they win (and you do too).

E - Essentials – have the essential needs been met?...

Within a day, it’s hard to pay attention to everything that's happening with our children, sometimes though leading up to a meltdown there a small signs we may have missed.

Things like:

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  • Being thirsty?
  • Tired?
  • Hungry?
  • Overstimulated?
  • Bored?
  • We may have been distracted with a phone call and they had something they really wanted to tell us or share with us and they waited patiently for a while but then they need desperately need our attention.  
Our children need to have their voice heard too.

When we take a moment to become curious with them - to understand it from their perspective, we often have a new understanding of the situation, and it simmers down much quicker than expected… and ask them something like...  "help me understand", "What do you need right now?", they may not be old enough to know, or they may say something crazy like chocolate, but more often than not as this is practised they absolutely know what it is they need.

The other part of this is to Ask yourself... "Have I been present?” or “have i been a bit distracted and not paid enough attention to what lead up to this moment”.  It's easy enough to get busy doing, and miss the moments of connection. Focus on these moments of connection as much as you can today.

Another thing to ask yourself in these moments is "What have I not done for myself today?

 

E - Each moment of self care that you can catch throughout your day...

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The foundation for a relationship with our child is the relationship that we first have with ourselves - to be able to relate to ourselves, to understand ourselves and be aware of what is going on inside is.

This is not easy though - It’s a daily practice, it takes time and it takes patience - you’re going to have setbacks, many setbacks – because you’re human - plus there is no such thing as a ‘perfect parent’

Its important to remember that every moment is an opportunity for growth and for learning.  

These ‘lessons’ are sent to refocus us.  

So how do we increase our selfcare without adding more to our ‘to do’ lists – we offer up Self compassion - this is a tool for growth.

So for me, I have homeschooled our son for 2 years and in that time I have realised that on the days that I don’t take 5 minutes at a time throughout my day, (any chance i can), to reconnect with myself.  I’m not able to support my son as well as when i do take time to tune inward.

On the days I dedicate self care time, I am far better able to brave the storms, stay calm and then show him ways to respond rather than react.

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I like to spend the first space of time before the kids wake up each day and the last few minutes before I go to sleep, focused on self care, I spend 10-30 minutes meditating - 5 mins is plenty though if you’re short on time, a practice that I run through on my website.

And I do this morning and night, it’s a non-negotiable for me, the kids now know to leave mummy to do it.   

I also grab brief moments throughout the day, to check in with myself and see how I’m feeling.

I spend time at night before bed writing down the things I’m thankful/grateful for from the day.  And Some days I can only think ‘I’m alive’ if it was a particularly challenging day, but after I have slept I can always see the lesson in those challenging moments now – so this has taken a couple of years of practice, to get to so hold yourself in compassion, as you up your selfcare – that is the key to finding self love.  A great Journal to try is here

I also like to take any moment I can to reconnect with nature, be it a walk with our son if school has been challenging for him, we might go into the bush, the beach or even just down to our local park were I take my shoes of and walk through the grass, that basic moment or two of grounding myself really helps my system to reset.

And sure It’s lovely to get a massage, facial etc.   But what I’m talking about for self care is stilling your mind enough to hear your inner voice, not quieten that voice down, we tend to quieten that voice down, by drinking alcohol, eating unconsciously, mindlessly scrolling netflix or facebook etc, but to quieten down that voice squashes our authenticity…  let it speak up, and to do this you can try the simple meditation in the link below…

Meditation helps you to recognise the thoughts that are coming up.


T - The Thoughts that are coming to your mind -  

So in moments of chaos you will have some initial thoughts that pop up, these are often false thoughts and come from an egoic place, rather than a heart centred space…
 
They tend to be the kind of thoughts that if spoken out loud will fuel the fire thoughts like:
"how could you be so stupid", or
"what were thinking",
"look what you've done now"
These thoughts hook you in, our ego comes into play and the situation escalates.  
but how do you shift to a heart centred approach instead?

We need to take a step back sometimes so that these thoughts don’t just come flying out of our mouth,  i so get it because as parents (mums especially we get so preoccupied by ‘fixing’, so trying to fix a situation, even controlling or taking over so it’s done quick enough for us, or doing, what’s on our to do list, what’s next, what have I not done etc….

We don’t need to search for the solution (we can work together with them for a solution).  We talk about this in more detail in my full course.

 

But as Dr Shefali so beautifully says:
 

Love without consciousness is just need
— Dr Shefali tsabary

To be conscious is to detach to recognise the difference between caring and control.   We often impose our thoughts/worries/needs/fears on to them we lose sight of their wants and desires.

So turning inward more often to find out what might be going on for us, helps us to work through these thoughts/fears etc before we project them onto our children…

The best way i have found to do this is through a combination of meditation and journaling if you are looking for a beautiful journal to put your thoughts in click here..

Pop over to my website to see the full courses i offer.  

 

Sending love and walking right here beside you on your parenting/teaching journey,

Kylie


 

 

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