Conscious parenting is about improving yourself for the benefit of your children. According to psychologist and author Dr. Shefali, to be a better parent, you need to go on a journey of self-discovery and self-development.
Conscious parenting is not about being a perfect parent. It’s about becoming aware of how your words and actions affect your children and doing your best not to transfer your pain, fears and expectations to your children. Here are a few tips on how to practice conscious parenting.
Heal the inner child
As we tread our individual pathways in life, we acquire emotional baggage. Some of it is easy to recognize, but some is baggage picked up when we were very young, often hidden deep within the subconscious. The inner child or child within can harbour decades of old hurt that can cause you to react to situations and people using childhood pain as a context. This means that sometimes your reactions have less to do with the problem at hand and more to do with things you experienced long ago but have not forgotten. The inner child is an essential piece of your emotional makeup. It can be playful, spontaneous, intuitive, and spiritual but can also be fearful, distrustful, and critical. Painful childhood experiences can negatively affect the adult experience. Healing the inner child addresses your child-self’s wounds and frees your adult-self to make decisions based on the present. Which will ultimately make you a better parent.
Speak to your children in a respectful way
Our kids are our equals, yes, we may be older than them, but they’re human. They deserve the same amount of respect that we demand from them. By respect, I don’t mean that kids should just do as they please, but treat them the way you want to be treated. How often are you yelling at your kids? Do you use a sarcastic tone? Talk to your children the way you would like people to talk to you.
Watch your language
The way we speak to our kids becomes their inner voice. In the middle of a stressful situation, it can be hard to find the words to express the kind of mindfulness and positive language we want to model.
When you treat your kids with love and respect, you’ll strengthen your bond. How we speak to our children influences the way they view the world and themselves. So we need to talk to them in a healthy manner to make them feel supported and loved.
No harsh punishment
There’s no doubt that discipline and parenting go hand in hand. It’s our role to teach our children the difference between right and wrong, which sometimes requires discipline.
So when it comes to discipline, think clearly about your intentions. Are you trying to teach, or are you trying to inflict pain? Although harsh punishment such as spanking may have instant results, the long-term consequences can be detrimental for your child and your relationship.
Manage your expectations
Conscious parenting is about not projecting our wants and needs onto our children. Your children are not always going to do what we want them to do. But when our children become an extension of ourselves and use them to rewrite our own lives, that can be problematic.
We need to let go of our need to mould our kids into what we want them to be. Our role is to help our kids to become their authentic selves and thrive!
Don’t take things personally
One of our significant triggers as moms is that we take things personally. We often feel personally offended by children’s misbehaviour or conduct. Children test boundaries, and most of the time, we have absolutely no control over that. However, we do have control over how we react.
It’s the small decisions that we make every day that determine whether we end up feeling stressed or burnt out. Schedule time in your day to do something that brings joy. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant — a short walk or a quick yoga session should do the trick. We give so much of ourselves — we must make time to fill up our tanks.
Children are different, and we need to customise parenting according to each child’s needs and temperament. Celebrate and encourage their differences. For example, if one child is gifted academically and the other in sport, it’s essential that when each child does well in their area of expertise, the whole family celebrates. That way, each child will get a chance to be celebrated.
We are constantly distracted, and remaining present has never been more challenging. Our children depend on us for everything, especially emotional support. They need to know they are loved and appreciated.
Being present is living in the moment and remaining connected to the people around you. Have you ever listened to your child tell you a story, but you cannot remember a word they said five minutes later?
Our kids love to talk and tell stories. Sometimes we rush them, and we don’t listen because we are busy with other things. Next time your child tries to tell you something, stop what you’re doing, look at them in the eye, and ask questions. Our kids need to know that we are interested in what they have to say. Consistent validation is critical.
We live in a society that worships and rewards busyness. Busyness is somehow associated with success. To be a conscious parent, you need to slow down. Stop rushing through your day and be patient with your children. Children are effortlessly mindful, they know how to live in the moment. So instead of trying to speed them up, please slow down and get on their level.
Slow living is a lifestyle approach that suggests slowing down everyday life for a longer and better quality of life. Intentionally slowing down doesn’t mean you’re lazy — it merely means carefully choosing to simplify your life.
Those are some of my conscious parenting tips. Try out a few of these and see if you notice a difference in your relationship with your children.