There’s a reason life is always compared to a path or road. It’s always moving, and so are YOU!
I haven’t written in a while because well life is full…of all sorts of things! Part of it was maybe waiting for inspiration, and part of it was being content with doing and enjoying other life moments! But, I’m currently reading a book that has been inspiring on a whole, most especially as a parent. The book is The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself: Self Compassionby Kristin Neff, Ph.D. If you search her, she has also done some FANTASTIC TED Talks that are a quick and valuable listen, and available on YouTube.
One concept that has resonated with me through reading her research is that we as people exist as Verbs NOT Nouns. We have the ability to be ever changing. Physically, mentally, emotionally shifting and flowing. It’s the same for our children. It was this realization that has really helped me as I’m pregnant while also enjoying a very “verb” toddler. On Monday she woke up asking repeatedly to visit the farm, and I thought sure! I don’t have clients today and the weather is beautiful. We had a day! Lots of those moments where you think parenting is so much fun! Such a breeze! Watching them explore is so eye opening. Then…we had to leave, and I really got to implement my new practice of reminding myself WE ARE ALL VERBS.
There are constantly going to be changes be them small, big, annoying, embarrassing, exciting. I may as well embrace them and teach my daughter to do the same. Be present, be aware, and be flexible.
Human BEING: as in just BE. This is what I try to gently remind myself. It’s ok that we had an amazing time and now her little body and brain is tired (me too girl…me too) and she’s rolling around on the floor of our building outside the elevator. I’m here. I’m present, and I’m connected. That’s the best I can do.
This moment will have a beginning and an end. It doesn’t define me as a mother or her as a child. It’s a moment, A MOVEMENT in time. I can be uncomfortable, and so can she, and then as quickly as that uncomfortable came on I can accept it and let it go…let it BE. We will have perfect moments, and very much imperfect moments, and then those just grind it out moments and days. The beautiful thing is we are not NOUNS. We are not one thing, one person, one job, one mood. We are VERBS! Constantly growing (and sometimes shrinking), learning, living, and moving. Full of opportunities to constantly look at ourselves as human BEINGS.
Tips for teaching children as well as things that help me!
- Show your child play dough and a rock. Talk about how sometimes brains and moods are flexible and easy to change like play dough, and sometimes we get stuck on one thought or feeling that we have a hard time changing (like a rock!). Talk about things that may help us practice flexibility and BEING. (ex: expressing how you’re feeling, asking for help, playing, deep breaths, etc.)
- If you have a toddler (like me) “first, then” can be very helpful in talking them through a transition. It may take time and LOTS of repetition for them to understand or absorb, but it’s an amazing tool for teaching them that delayed gratification isn’t all bad AND that you will follow through on your word!
- Narrating your toddlers’ emotions in the moment, keeping language simple, and always offering a branch like “Show me what you need.” If they lack the language to do so.This can be helpful with practicing co-regulation as well as figuring out the function of their behavior.
- Connect and re-direct. This isn’t immediate, but bending down, getting on their level and modeling a coping strategy that’s appropriate for that situation consistently can help them seek that out in the future.
- Adjust expectations: I am not saying think of all the things that could go wrong…but I am saying think about things that might happen that may be triggers for you or your child and how YOU can react to keep both of you calm. Picture some strategies in your mind prior. This may help you remember to use them in the moment.
- Remember that being present and calm is the best thing you can model for your child. They look up to you already, no matter how perfect or imperfect moments get!
- Having a positive affirmation on hand! What your self-talk is saying is important! Take care of your inner voice!