Parenting is probably the most challenging role you will ever take on and the one ‘job’ that comes with zero training, no manual and just loads of confusing and conflicting ideas.
The only way you’ll know if you did a good job is when your child reaches the age of about 35 and you get to assess the extent of the damage – just kidding! But seriously, there are few indicators as to how well we are doing in this role other than how happy your child is.
Part of my mission is to empower parents and help you to become the best version of yourself that you can be. This is how you become able to perform as your highest self as a parent and invest your best in your child.
Using insights into how your child’s mind works, his development and seeing the world as he may see it, enables us to communicate more effectively with our children.
Likewise, knowing how your brain functions, why we behave the way we do, respond the way do in certain situations and learning how to manage our own performance is absolutely key to giving our children the best foundations.
We condition our children by demonstrating our own conditioning and this is why so many families see similar lives lived generation after generation.
For example, if you were brought up to finish all your food and be grateful for it as ‘there are people starving in Africa’ – You are likely to pass this conditioning on to your own children.
We are just a few steps on from a post-war generation of parents. World war, rations, trauma, fear all impact how life is lived. It conditions the way a person thinks, the priorities they set and the choices they make. A parent or a child of that generation would be likely to carry forward a mindset which is ‘survival’ focussed.
If we set out to survive and nothing more, that’s what we will achieve.
Today, more and more of us want to do better than just survive. We want to live and we want to thrive. What’s more, we want this for our children. Shedding our conditioning that is not serving us and getting rid of limiting beliefs is a great start.
So how does this come into parenting your own children?
- Recognise what unhelpful conditioning you need to lose. (Write them down).
- Identify where you might be passing this onto your children and choose a more suitable alternative for the message you want to teach them.
In my sleep coaching practice I see many examples of parents making their own fears or problems become problems for their children.
A parent who is scared of the dark might inflict this idea onto a child by leaving a light on for them when it wasn’t needed.
A parent who hated being left with babysitters as a child, may find it really hard to leave their own child but the child is actually quite secure and happy about it.
A parent who is deeply fearful about their child being distressed or scared may read any crying as a sign of this and respond by desperately trying to ‘fix’ the problem. Sometimes too much ‘fussing’ makes it worse and the crying was actually just the child saying, ‘I’m tired and don’t know how to get to sleep’.
When we respond to our children, perhaps it would help to ask ourselves a few questions…
- Is this response what my child needs from me or I what I need to do to make myself feel better?
- Am I behaving and responding to this in a way that I am happy with?
- What am I teaching my child in this moment?
Checking in with yourself regularly will help you to get into more positive habits and create a deeper connection with your child.
Remember, your thoughts, fear and concerns for your child are natural as a parent but they are not necessarily ‘true’. They’re not right, they’re not wrong, they’re just thoughts.
Thoughts create feelings and feelings create actions. It is the actions that we bring into our parenting that shape our children. If your thoughts are filled with your own ‘problems’ you will probably make these your child’s ‘problems’.
So to ensure these actions are positive, supportive and beneficial to your child, start by recognising that your thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more. Think about how you want to feel as a parent and how you want to behave as a parent. It takes practice but soon it will become habitual and you will begin to feel more connected and more pleasure on your parenting journey.
Visit our Empowered Parenting Club for more help and tools like this.