How can we help our children when they are angry, frustrated, disappointed, or sad?
The key is to start by staying calm. We don’t need to argue, defend, or join them in their emotional upheaval. Instead, it’s important we just breathe, relax, and stay grounded.
It’s not easy, I know.
Feeling frustrated or angry with our children is often the reaction we have when we’re on autopilot. Accessing our inner calm takes awareness and practice. We need to create the space to choose a more helpful response. How can we do this?
Call it whatever you want—meditation, quiet time, nothingness, breathing, relaxation, sitting in stillness. It isn’t the term that matters, but actually taking the time to practice what the term points to.
You don’t have to take a class or buy a bunch of books before you can practice becoming quiet. Not that I’m against either classes or books. It’s just that they aren’t essential. I’ve studied many different types of formal meditation, and I know many who swear by a certain teacher or practice. But for me, trying to follow specific guidelines turned out to be a distraction.
Now, I simply take some time in the mornings, anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, to sit, breathe, and relax. At one time this was a task on my to-do list, whereas over time it became something I enjoy and look forward to doing. I sit comfortably and surround myself with things I love, such as pictures, quotes, candles, gifts from my kids, rocks I picked up on the beach. Then I close my eyes and breathe.
Sometimes the day starts off crazy and I forget all about quiet time. But let me tell you, I can tell the difference. I’m more distracted throughout the day, more easily agitated, more readily offended, and more frequently annoyed by little things.
Accessing a calm state isn’t only valuable in terms of parenting skills. It’s beneficial for our overall health. It can improve sleep and heighten immunity. It increases our sense of wellbeing. And it helps us quiet our continuous thoughts. In fact, that’s really the best part of entering into quietness—it helps us distance ourselves from our incessant and often unhelpful thoughts, leaving us feeling more centered and clear.
It takes a little practice to get used to sitting with yourself, but you can start simply. Sitting in the car waiting for your children, close your eyes and deep breathe for a minute or two. Or before you start work at your computer, breathe deeply for a full minute. As you begin to notice the benefits, you can incorporate stillness into other parts of your day.
Practicing a few minutes or more a day will increase the likelihood you’ll stay calm in the most difficult moments. Not only will you feel better about the way you respond to challenges, but you’ll teach your children the importance of accessing their own inner stillness. They’ll learn from your example that calmness begins inside, regardless of what’s happening in their outside world.
Taken from Cathy Cassani Adams new book Living What You Want Your Kids To Learn.
In the comments below, tell us what you think. Do you tend to jump in and join your child when emotions are running high? How can you create the space to choose a more helpful response when your child is feeling emotional? Do you think practicing stillness and breathing would help you to stay more calm in challenging situations?