Friday, February 26, 2010

The Power Struggle

Here we go again! It's bedtime and my child is fussing about doing what we all know HAS to be done. Is putting on PJs and brushing your teeth without a long drawn out debate really too much to ask? Seriously, my tolerance for these pre-bedtime tantrums is near zero. I could just explode some nights. I feeling like I've tried everything... talking about it, making a reward chart, giving consequences, yelling, among many other things. Nothing makes a difference.

Clearly, this is not something I can change about my child so I guess my time and energy is better focused on what I DO have the power to change -that of course is myself and how I RESPOND when this power struggle comes up.

This is one of those moments where practicing mindful presence can help carry me through. So here goes:

1. Observe Myself . . .What is emotionally getting stirred in me right now?

Stop everything for just a second. I notice I am feeling extremely annoyed. I'm exhausted from my day at work. I feel unheard. I just want my child to listen and do what I am asking. I feel like I am completely ineffective as a parent right now. My frustration, tiredness, anger and helplessness is coming out all over the place.... these are in my voice and my body language. That nurturing part of me is no where to be seen right now.

2. Observe My Child...What is my child's experience of me right now?

I am sure I sound like a drill sergent who is trying to control him. His behavior shows me that he is feeling disconnected and upset with the situation. He won't look at me. He's crying. When he does say anything he yells it. Through his eyes, I am treating him like a very "mean" person would.

3. Focus on the Here & Now...Am I taking responsiblity for the thoughts and feelings and not putting them onto my kids?

Before I can expect him to listen I have to take responsiblity for my actions right now. Okay, this is MY impatience. My tiredness. My need to get everyone to bed quickly tonight so I can relax after a long day. I am pushing him. He will naturally resist because that is what most of us do when we are pushed or pressured. I am yelling. He is yelling back but I am taking the lead on the yelling. I am feeling helpless because I am attempting to change him instead of focusing on MY contribution to this power struggle.

4. Interact With A Purpose In Mind ... How can I respond to this situation in a way that is conscious and purposeful?

Starting right now, I will consciously stop fighting for power. I do not have to win and my child does not have to win. We just have to get through this moment without completely rupturing our relationship. I will be matter of fact about what we need to do as we get ready for bed. I will consciously not raise my voice and dictate in a way that sounds "mean." I will guide without letting my emotions and tiredness muddy the moment and ignite the power struggle even further. I will tell him that I can SEE that he doesn't want to do this without shaming him for being resistant. It might take a little longer than I'd like but it will be worth it to not send him to bed with a pit in his stomach because we were fighting.

I might try something playful but firm like,

"got PJs?....check! you may not like this next one, but here goes. got toothpaste? ...check! got books?...check! not sure how you are going to feel about this next one. got hugs?... check! lights out. see you in the morning buddy. thanks for going with the flow tonight."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Unexpected Surprises

It's a fall morning. Seemingly, today will be just like every other morning. The a.m. routine is always the same. Roll out of bed. Get the kids up. Fix a quick breakfast. Teeth brushed. Hair combed. Find clothes (that are clean and match, hopefully!). Get the dog fed and settled. Make sure lunches and homework are packed and ready to go. Jump in the car and head to the school "hug and drop" lane before 810 a.m.

It's morning just like any other with one exception. The girls catch a glimpse of something through the window as they come into the kitchen and the energy of the morning shifts instantly. "It's snowing!" They are shouting and bouncing around gleefully. The excitement wanes a little when they discover school is still ON but they are still thrilled at the idea of playing in the snow later.

The clock is still ticking as this is all unfolding. It's the first big snow of the winter. It's a beautiful white blanket of snow ...but the truth is, all I can see are the hurdles it creates for me... for us. Its hard enough to make it to school on time when the weather cooperates --how in the world am I going to pull this off?

Okay. We need hats! Gloves! Warm coats! And of course snow boots! Where did I put the kids' snow stuff last year? We are so unprepared for this. We need to leave at least 10 minutes early and the schedule is already tight. The kids are still more excited about the snow than they are about getting ready or eating breakfast. Both kids are moving in sloooow moooootion while I'm going 100 miles an hour to get done what needs to get done.

This is one of those parenting experiences when I mindfully take a moment to ...

1. Observe & Ask Myself ...What is stirring in me?

"I feel rushed. Shoulders are tense. Extrememly frustrated right now. Annoyed that the kids might be late to school. We work hard to keep the trady slips to a minimum. I know this negative energy is coming out and getting dumped on my kids. It's in my voice, my hurried movements and in the way I am rushing them to, "do this... then do that."

2. Focus on the Here & Now ... Am I taking responsibility for MY feelings right now, rather than putting them on my kids?

"Okay. Breath in. Breath out. This is MY frustration. This is ME rushing. This is MY reaction to the snow, not theirs. These are MY expectations about how the morning should go. It is not their fault that I feel frazzled."

3. Interact Consciously and Intentionally... How can I respond to this situations and to my kids in a way that is conscious and intentional?

"I am conscious not to raise my voice. When I slip up, I apologize. I acknowledge to the kids that I am hurrying them ... and will try not to while we are getting ready to go so that I can stay aware. I will not let MY feelings spill over into my kids' school day. I will not give them MY hurriedness to carry into their day. I will cope with this frustration and tension after I drop the kids off at school. We will get there ...when we get there. "

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Parenting a little more mindfully everyday

Welcome to The MindfulWay blog. This is space that was created for every parent out there ...

Regardless of the age of your child, The MindfulWay can guide you as you continue to grow as a parent. At the heart of the MindfulWay philosophy is the vision of helping parents continuously work on BEING WITH their child in a way that makes parenting more enjoyable and more rewarding for both the parent and the child. To learn more about The MindfulWay philosophy you can visit the website

The postings you find here are intentionally designed to help you cultivate positive changes in your self and in your everyday interactions with your child well as other children you have the opportunity to connect with. By offering a glimpse into some common, but cumbersome parenting struggles, you will find that you are not alone if you feel that parenting is some of the hardest work we do in life.

You will discover here that there are many, many ways to approach any given problem with your child. That's because parenting well is not about finding the "right" response, but finding the healthy response that fits and works for YOU and YOUR CHILD. As you integrate the practical, easy and effective practices of the Mindful Way, you will experience more congruent, authentic and mindful moments as a parent with your child. And I will be thrilled to hear when and how that to happens for you!

The challenges and concerns we encounter with our children often occur within the context of very busy, hurried, complicated lives. Moment-to-moment as we walk through our day, problems pop up when we least expect them. Unfortuneately, some of the biggest challenges arise when we have little or no time (and patience) to deal with them.

To make it a little easier to apply the MindfulWay practices to your everyday life you will see that every entry includes a story ....these are stories from real parents, with real struggles... all written in a way that helps you experience the interaction through the eyes of both the parent and the child.

If you find yourself interacting with your child even a little more mindfully every day after reading any of the entries here, then this blog has served its purpose. If at anytime you are open to sharing your own parenting experiences with me, I welcome them always.

As with everything that is worth doing, there is no better time than NOW to get started parentung the MindfulWay.

Happy parenting!


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