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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,