Top 5 things I hope every parent knows in 2021
Over December 2020 I took a much needed ‘social media break’ and it was really incredible to unplug and take time to recharge and spend quality time with my family.
But now it’s 2021 and I’m back and ready to start spreading awareness to keep the ripple effect growing as far and wide as possible! If more parents can parent more consciously, confidently and respectfully it will have a major effect on the future generations to come.
So it got me thinking – how can I start off 2021 with that in mind? And the answer is simple!
What do I wish every parent knew to make their year a good one? And here’s my list of top tips!
1. Your children are not “misbehaving” to get on your nerves. It’s not personal… ever.
For so long we, as humans, have been conditioned to think that children choose behaviour. “Stop being naughty!” “This child is driving me crazy!”
Sentences like these have been said, and continue to be said, over and over again. We start to think that children behave a certain way to get a reaction from us and our job is to change that behaviour, change the child or ignore them and hope they stop. Why do you think a child would choose one behaviour over another “more appropriate” behaviour? We often think it’s because they know better but want to mess with us… but I don’t believe this is and here’s my view about why!
I believe that children learn how to behave… by the responses and actions of the adults around them. If adults change their responses, children will change their behaviour. When a toddler draws on the walls we can scream and shout at them and say, “But I’ve told you a thousand times!!!” their toddler brain is in the moment and just sees… experience, fun, colours! Toddlers don’t choose to colour on things to annoy you (unless of course it has caused an amazing reaction for them in the past that they want to try and recreate!) In this case it’s much more beneficial to see it from their perspective and try and teach them what they CAN do. Where CAN they colour, how CAN they help you clean it up. Your response affects the child’s behaviour, reaction, and I’ll go so far as to say it affects their belief about themselves.
Behaviour that seems personal… doesn’t seem so personal when we take the time to understand why children do it in the first place.
2. Understanding the need behind the behaviour is your most powerful tool!
Children’s behaviour is always communication… and usually communicating a need. Those of you who know me will know that I say this over and over; there’s always a reason for the behaviour!
Often parents are quick to try to find ways to end behaviour because it’s undesirable or not fun for them. If they knew that their child’s behaviour was actually telling them something then they would be able to do something proactive about it.
Think of the last time your child behaved in a way that you didn’t like – how did you react? Did you know what your child’s need was? Here are a few examples:
- A child who is displaying attention seeking behaviour may be communicating a need of “See me!” “Value me!” “Connect with me!”
- When you have a power struggle and your child wants their own way they may be communicating, “I need to make choices in my life!” “I need you to try and see my perspective!”
- Children who retreat and don’t want to talk or say things like, “I just suck at everything!” may be communicating a need like, “I don’t feel good enough!” or “I need you to help me!”
- When children hurt you or others or say hurtful things, their need might be, “Validate my emotions!” “Show me how to express my emotions in a healthy way!”
By knowing the need behind the behaviour we become much better equipped to respond in a way that is helpful, respectful for you and your children and teaches long term lessons rather than quick fixes!
“At the heart of every conscious parenting approach is an understanding of the child.”
3. Rather than aiming to be a perfect parent… find conscious ways to show your children that it’s okay to make mistakes!
How often do you think to yourself, ‘I’m a horrible parent!’?
I think it at least once a week and I’m trying my best to see the bigger picture for myself. Parenting is essentially a relationship between you and another human being. Are your relationships with others perfect? With your parents, your friends, in-laws, work colleagues?
I’m going to take a guess that your answer is “no”. If not, great! Keep going!
But seeing as though most relationships are not perfect and require conscious effort, then why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect parents? I would hazard a guess that it’s because we’ve created this idea in our mind of what a perfect parent should be and we can’t live up to it, because no one can! And the reason we have this list is because we just love our kids so damn much and want to do our best for them! And how amazing is that in itself?
Here’s my reframe! Instead of trying to be perfect… show your children that it’s ok to not be perfect but learn ways to repair when you feel you’ve made a mistake. Apologies, talking about where you went wrong, showing what you wish you’d done instead, hugs, problem-solving about the challenge… are all amazing lessons to teach your child! Much more beneficial than trying to show your children that you’re perfect. I don’t want my children to live up to perfect… I want my children to learn that relationships are never perfect but rather that they give us opportunities to reflect on our own actions, discover effective and respectful conflict resolution, learn how to say “sorry” and mean it, learn how to be honest with themselves about their own weaknesses and challenges and aim to grow from it rather than pretending that everything is perfect, or beating themselves up when it’s not.
“The way we see ourselves around our children, is not the way our children see us.”
4. The way you communicate with your children every day… determines the way they think.
Wow, that a big one! No pressure!
So the reason I say this is because children literally do think about things a certain way because of how we communicate with them. If you say to a child, “Go and tidy up your room… now!” What do you think their reply will be? Probably ignore you, say something like, “No! I don’t want to!” They’ve produced a thought in their mind based on the way you communicate and that thought may be, I’m so sick of being shouted at. Why don’t you do it! I hate you!
What if you came into the room and said this, “I was thinking maybe we could come up with a plan to tidy the rooms today. How do you think we could do this?” Now the children will magically jump up and start tidying (ha ha ha I joke I joke) The way you communicate with your children won’t stop them from being children, they will still think that cleaning is the worst idea ever! But they may think differently in that moment. They may actually entertain the idea or at least have a conversation where they can explain to you that they don’t like cleaning up. This has created a situation where children can feel a part of the solution and not just the problem and their thinking has changed.
What did you used to think when your Mom, Dad or teacher communicated with you? Was it positive or was it negative? When you learn effective communication based on brain research, understanding your child, seeing their real need behind the behaviour – you literally change the way the child thinks about you, about challenges, about others… and how they think about themselves.
5. Before you can understand your children… you first need to understand yourself.
This has to be the most important one in my mind! I’ve seen over and over again that parents (me included) tend to fall back into patterns that are familiar. Reactions that we’ve had for years, or our whole lives; saying things our parents used to say; doing things our parents used to do; making decisions about children’s behaviour based on belief systems passed down from our parents and teachers.
Last week I completed my first book (coming out later this year), where the focus is how changing your beliefs about yourself and others, literally changes your life! If you don’t understand your emotions, why your parents made the decisions they made, why you react a certain way, why you have certain patterns in your life over and over, why you believe and think the way you do… how will you be able to understand the little person in front of you? I have found that breaking down my beliefs and trying to find more truth and understand myself from the core, has literally changed the way I interact with my children… and literally every person I come into contact with.
Your parenting can be so much more fulfilling when you understand yourself first!
So, those are 5 of my favourite tips for becoming a more conscious and understanding parent! My question to you today is… is this the year you empower yourself with more knowledge and tools about conscious parenting?
Are you going to wait until they’re older and miss out on the solid connection you could build now?
Your parenting relationship can change at any age… when you decide to make the changes! The power is in your hands <3
Clare Emms is a mom of two and a Parent Coach. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has a BEd (ECD and Foundation Phase Education) as well as an Honours degree (Psychoeducational Support). She is the founder of Ripple Effect Parenting, where her intention is to empower parents and teachers and allow them to spread positivity and growth to children and others and so create a ‘ripple effect’.
She facilitates Parenting Workshops, Teacher Workshops and Mindful Mom Retreats as well as her Reparenting course helping you to revisit beliefs and habits that may be holding you back. Her passions include Positive Discipline, Parent Coaching, Child Development, Teaching, Protective Behaviours, Mindfulness, Psychology, NLP as well as working with the Inner Child.
For more info on workshops and coaching visit the website or whatsapp Clare on +27832857697