Before we become parents, many of us have a vision for how we’d like family life to look. As we all know, those visions and reality can often be two different things. Before we know it, we’ve reverted to shouting at our children, dishing out punishments or using rewards as bribery and everyone in the family is stressed out.
It is possible to become calmer parents and realign ourselves with that vision we had for family life before our children were born. We can treat our children with kindness and respect, get the same in return and have happy balanced families.
That might sound too good to be true, but if you’re willing to put the work in it absolutely can happen. We would all love for changes like this to happen in an instant but, as with anything worth doing, this approach will take some time and you’ll likely make a few mistakes along the way. That’s ok! Just focus on why being a calmer parent is important to you and how it will benefit your family. Even write down your vision for family life to look at and remind yourself.
Here are my tips for restoring peace and harmony in your family with calmer parenting:
Mindfulness Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you to take up yoga and meditation every day (unless you want to!). Mindfulness here is more about learning to identify your stress levels and staying in touch with your feelings. Sometimes just leaving the room for 5 minutes and going to make a drink can be enough when you catch your stress rising early. Other times, carve out a bit of extra time and read, go for a walk, listen to a podcast or even do some yoga – whatever helps you to relax and unwind. Make a note of something you can do for 5 minutes, 15 minutes and 30 minutes that will help to restore your calm and do those things when you need to.
Forgive Yourself We all have bad days. Days when we feel like we can’t shake off our stress or bad mood and we know we’re taking it out on those around us. Of course, our intention is to have fewer and fewer bad days, but when we do something that feels out of alignment, we need to forgive ourselves. Beating ourselves up over something we shouldn’t have said or done doesn’t help anyone. Just remind yourself why working on being a calmer parent matters to your family and that this process takes time.
Repair connection When there has been conflict with your child, say sorry. You are not teaching them that they are “in charge”, you’re modelling how to reconnect and apologise whilst showing them that you genuinely care about their feelings. This shows your child that their feelings matter and also that there is no shame in being wrong and apologising. Try saying something along the lines of “I shouted at you and that was not ok. I think I made you feel sad and scared and I’m sorry.”.
Strategies Immerse yourself in learning about Peaceful Parenting strategies so that you have a clear vision of what you want your response to be to various parenting situations. It’s good to think of this as a project and book out some time every week to watch videos, or articles or talk with a Peaceful Parenting Instructor such as myself. Doing this will help you to feel less powerless, less stressed and the calmer parent that you really want to be. The more you go over these strategies, the more likely that they will become second nature when you need them.
Victoria Maus is a Peaceful Parenting Instructor working with all kinds of families online. She is a former primary school teacher who home educates her two daughters, aged 9 and 7. You can connect with her on her website, or via Instagram and Facebook.