Google+ Authentic Parenting: Gently Disciplining Ourselves - Part III

Friday, December 3, 2010

Gently Disciplining Ourselves - Part III

This post is part of a series which focuses on setting up a toolbox to cope with our personal emotional overflows and parental short circuits. Read about the other tools to protect yourself from parental burnout.

There are several things that can help us as we strive to grow into the parents we desire to be. In fact, many of the same tools you use to gently guide your children into becoming the people they are meant to be work for you, as well.

Pray.  Meditate.  
Image: AlicePopcorn on Flickr
My greatest help in becoming the parent I want to be is drawn from my love for Jesus Christ.  Whatever your beliefs or non-beliefs, taking a moment to stop and breathe in love and peace can calm us down and inspire us to treat our children as we would want to be treated.  It is hard to give what is not inside us, and developing peace in our hearts is crucial to sharing it with our family.

It's all in your head.  
Your perception often is reality.  If you focus on the "shoulds"--my baby should be sleeping through the night, I should be getting more time by myself, etc., you can miss the gifts in the present.  If you start looking at night nursing or other things as a special time, you can often transform them and find that they no longer cause you as much stress.  I know, this only works up to a point, but it is astounding how much our attitude affects things.  Once I stopped looking at the clock in the middle of the night and calculating how much time I had left to sleep and instead focused on the scent of my baby's head, the soft sound of his breathing and the blissful stillness (probably the quietest time in that 24 hours) I felt so much more refreshed.

The hormones help.  Each time your baby suckles, oxytocin and other powerful hormones are released that help you to feel loving and peaceful.  

When I was preparing for the birth of our third child, I learned to recognize when I was tensing up and to deliberately relax.  Sure, it was helpful during birth, but I've found it even more useful a couple of years *after* the birth!  Become aware of your body and stress levels and teach yourself to let go of that tension.  

Follow a script.  
Create and memorize a short list of steps to handle your triggers that you can follow in the moment.  For me it goes like this: STOP.  DEEP BREATH.  Let go of any unhelpful thoughts. How can I help this situation *right now*? Later on, I can assess what I can do to prevent things in the future, but if I try to focus on what will make it better in this moment, it throws out punitive, angry responses and gets me thinking about positive strategies to solve the problem and maintain/restore connection.  Then practice, practice, practice!  It takes awhile for it to become automatic.  The results are worth it, though.

Find little ways every day to fill their love cups.  Shower them with love, especially on the days when you don't feel as if either of you deserve it.  Learn what makes your child feel loved--it might be different from you.  If you are upset, use that as a signal to pour out love on your child.  The Five Love Languages of Children has a lot of great ideas to help them feel cherished.

More about Dulce:
My name is Dulce (my parents were optimists ;)) and I've been nursing at least one child (currently three) for nearly seven years, hence Dulce de leche. I have been blessed with an amazing husband and four wonderful kidlets, ages 6, 4, 2 and 4 months.  We are gradually learning to unschool.  I also have taught Spanish for over a decade, love to travel and delight in chocolate and coffee.  Each day brings something new to learn and enjoy, and a fresh lesson in trusting my children, myself and the Love that surrounds and fills us.  Sometimes it feels like we're livin' a vida loca, but overall, life is incredibly sweet.  My blog addy is:



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