THE saying goes ‘being a parent is the hardest but most rewarding work of all’. After an eventful October half term break I can definitely vouch for that. Time off with your children is precious and can be filled with lots of happy experiences and great memories but it can also become quite stressful keeping them happy and entertained, especially when they are pushing your buttons! Every parent wants the golden key to raising children who are well-behaved, academically bright, successful, happy children. But this isn’t as easy as we think and the rising trend for parenting self-help books suggests that we are either finding modern day parenting much tougher and are looking for ways to cope, or that we are putting extra pressure on ourselves by trying too hard with our children. We may think we can shape our children’s futures by micromanaging their childhoods, but history and neuroscience now show that taking a loving step back can be more productive. Experts say we can do this through ‘conscious parenting’. Conscious Parenting is not a set of rules for parents to follow, but a set of beliefs about what children need to develop and thrive. Conscious parents engage and connect with their children by taking a step back, and observe how THEY are reacting to a child’s behaviour. By becoming more aware of our own thoughts and emotions amidst running battles with our children, such as disappointment, frustration, anger, or despair, (which can build up and cause us to react in a way that often makes the situation worse) we allow ourselves a bit of time and space to see these thoughts and emotions rise and pass before we react – this mindful shift gives us a slither of space to calm down, and be fully present with our kids, and then try to meet their needs instead of our own. This doesn’t mean you have to abandon all of your other parenting methods – we are simply trying to cultivate attitudes of acceptance, patience, and kindness during difficult times which can have both short and long term benefits on you AND your child. Dr Shefali Tsabary, a world renowned clinical psychologist, leading parenting expert and author of New York Times No 1 best seller Conscious Parenting suggests only by transforming ourselves, can we empower our children “while we think it’s our responsibility to mold and shape our children’s future, the essential premise of ‘conscious parenting’ is that our children are born to us to create deep internal transformation within us” Dr Shefali says “turn the spotlight within – that’s the entry point of raising happy, resilient children”. So basically working on ourselves to become calmer, and more patient and then applying this way of being in the heat of the moment to help diffuse any tension or arguments with our children. And even giving them the benefit of the doubt every now and again when their perspective is different from YOURS. Having practised this myself I’m not saying it’s easy! Being on the receiving end of tantrums or defiant behaviour, and especially in the heat of it, any sort of ‘conscious parenting’ can easily go out of the window and we resort to more habitual ways of parenting such as shouting, blaming or punishing and its normally the parent who ends up feeling worse afterwards! But what I can vouch for is that this more skilful conscious responding does become more natural with practice, and during the times when I am able to put it into practice it does seem to help to me feel calmer, more in control, and instead of feeling guilty afterwards I take a little bit of comfort knowing that I was able to meet my childs needs in a kinder, gentler way with their confidence and self-esteem still intact. It’s a work in progress but it’s well worth a try! A few tips for conscious parenting: Don’t * Ignore them * Have double standards * Be disconnected * Be judgemental * Be unkind * Make them feel small/stupid * Be controlling * Be hard on yourself Do * Drop your agenda * Listen to them * Make sure they feel seen and heard * Encourage mutual respect * Have clear boundaries * Increase your self-awareness * Be intuitive * Be curious * Be present * Be kind * Make time and space for them * Be a good role model * Be kind to yourself If you do only one thing, be kind THIS week I was speaking at an Institute of Directors (IoD) event at the Richmond Hotel about how Mindfulness reduces executive stress. I pulled up outside the hotel and realised that I didn’t have any change for the parking meter. Worried that I may miss my speaking slot I was pacing up and down Hatton Garden trying to pay by phone when a stranger passing by overheard me and stopped and gave me £4 to put in the meter! Two thoughts came to mind, £4 is a lot of money to give to a complete stranger and how would I pay him back, he told me not to worry about that and to just pass the kindness on to someone else! Even though I teach this stuff week in week out and actually wrote an article about Kindness and how to Pay It Forward in Issue 7 of GNL I was blown away to be on the receiving end of this lovely random act of kindness. So a big thank you to the kind stranger in Hatton Garden, and I did Pay It Forward buying the group I was working with that day lots of chocolate which went down very well! So if you were the stranger and you are reading this please get in touch! Have you been on the receiving end of Kindness recently? Please get in touch we’d love to hear your stories! From bad…too verse Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967. The Good News The good news they do not print. The good news we do print. We have a special edition every moment, and we need you to read it. The good news is that you are alive, that the linden tree is still there, standing firm in the harsh winter. The good news is that you have wonderful eyes to touch the blue sky. The good news is that your child is there before you, and your arms are available: hugging is possible. They only print what is wrong. Look at each of our special editions. We always offer the things that are not wrong. We want you to benefit from them and help protect them. The dandelion is there by the sidewalk, smiling its wondrous smile, singing the song of eternity. Listen. You have ears that can hear it. Bow your head. Listen to it. Leave behind the world of sorrow, of preoccupation, and get free. The latest good news is that you can do it.