These segments are part of the Transforming Connection course that starts in February 2019.
A 16-week journey that will support you in connecting deeply with both yourself and your child.
“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.”
Brianna Wiest, author of ‘The Awakening Mind’.
Parenting is the real spiritual practice.
It is one thing to sit on your cushion and meditate peacefully at the top of a mountain for days on end, an honour I have experienced and perhaps you have too. However, to get up in the morning, day after day, year after year and practice empathy and compassion for yourself, as well as your children – that, to me, is the real spiritual practice!
I like to keep my teachings very real. In this segment, I will debunk the myth of self-care being yet another trendy parenting fad and look instead at what it actually takes to parent yourself. I will introduce how you can create sustainable practices that support you on all levels: physically, mentally and emotionally.
You have your own internal barometers for self-care: are you responding or reacting? Are you relying on caffeine? Are you using distractions like social media rather than facing your issues? How do you feel when you wake up?
Remember, also, that what you model, by default, you create in your child. If you are not deeply connected and present with yourself, how can you be deeply connected and present with your child? How can you promote self-worth in your child if you are not modelling your own self-worth? Seeing the beauty in yourself helps you see the beauty in your child, which supports them to
recognise their own beauty.
This segment also has an element of emotional intelligence for parents. During the emotional self-care segment, we look at the role of mindfulness and getting into our bodies, these practices support our ability to self-regulate when we are triggered or angry. We also look at ways to process challenges and understand how to find the source of our triggers. Parenting is an emotional journey – and we will look at where you can get regular emotional understanding and support
I’m bringing it back to basics:
NURTURE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY
NURTURE YOURSELF MENTALLY
NURTURE YOURSELF EMOTIONALLY
“Imagine a life with less, less hurrying, less toys, less stress, a life with fewer distractions. Now imagine a life with more, more time to play, more space, more connection with your children & more contentment.” Inspired by a quote from ‘Minimalism: A Documentary’, adapted by Karen.
The misconception about minimalism is that it is about de-cluttering, sacrificing so that you live more simply, with
less things. Yes, there is a deliberate intention for less, and yes there are undeniable sacrifices, but – and here is the key: you are creating space for what is deeply important to you.
During this segment, we will work through some crucial first steps to establish what is most important to you, compare this to your current status and look at what you can start to let go of.
We will also look at ways of creating space for what matters.
SPACE IN YOUR MIND
SPACE IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT
SPACE IN YOUR SCHEDULE
“Today’s busier, faster, supersized society is waging an undeclared war on childhood.” Kim John Payne, author of ‘Simplicity Parenting’.
With smartphones & social media grappling for your attention, you have to be a warrior to live life on your terms.
Take a moment to give yourself some time out so that you can become conscious of what you want to create for yourself and your family.
“They don’t object to their children’s displays of anger, sadness, or fear. Nor do they ignore them. Instead, they accept negative emotions as a fact of life and they use emotional moments as opportunities for teaching their kids important life lessons and building closer relationships with them.” John M Gottman,
author of ‘Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child’.
So how do you develop your child’s emotional intelligence?
Primarily, we will focus on developing your child’s emotional literacy, a vocabulary to name their emotions. This is the first step towards their self-regulation.
Secondly, you cannot raise an emotionally intelligent child and then berate them for expressing their emotions. Their emotions need to be heard and acknowledged. Expression of emotions may look like crying, whining, moaning, shouting or tantrums and we, as parents, have unconscious habitual responses that suppress these. By bringing awareness to these habits, we can transition to simply hearing and acknowledging. We can use a more reflective dialogue that supports our children to process and release their feelings. I will also share findings on the role that secure attachment and parenting responsiveness plays in emotional development.
We will look at the role of Mindfulness and how to best introduce this to our children.
Finally, we will touch on the development of social and emotional skills. This is a huge topic but we will start by clarifying your role in conflict resolution, from infant sharing issues to sibling battles so that you move away from being a referee to empowering them with the skills to resolve their own challenges. We will look at how to encourage cooperation and compromise, as well as other positive traits such as empathy and gratitude.
“We now know that the way to help a child develop optimally is to help create connections in her brain—her whole brain—that develop skills that lead to better relationships, better mental health, and more meaningful lives. You could call it brain sculpting, or brain nourishing, or brain building. Whatever phrase you prefer, the point is crucial and thrilling: as a result of the words we use and the actions we take, children’s brains will actually change, and be built, as they undergo new experiences.” Dr Dan J Seigel, author of ‘No-Drama Discipline’.
This segment works well alongside Radical Self-Care because the biggest influence we can have is to model self-regulation in how we respond to triggers, anger, stress and challenges. It also goes well with the Conscious Communication segment because our dialogue creates a script for our children to use. This means we are laying the foundations for their future communication – a powerful gift to give our children.
Are the challenging aspects of parenting crowding out the joy and the wonderment?
We are all connected to our children – but sometimes that connection gets a little lost, strained or challenged…
Maybe you have a new addition and your older child is having strong reactions, showing more challenging behaviour? Maybe it’s hard to find downtime with a difficult schedule of school runs and after school activities? Or maybe you are trying to parent positively but battling against the model you were raised with?
For me, when my child was two, I knew that some of the joy and magic had gone. In the financial challenges, the ongoing chores and the lack of sleep, I found myself feeling some distance from my child. It was only when I made Connection the priority that I could really SEE the magical, happy child in front of me, the one who makes my heart explode with love. It was only then that I could rediscover my enjoyment of parenting.
How do you transform “challenging and uncooperative” behaviour without bribes, threats or punishments?
BY CONNECTING. BECAUSE…..
CONNECTION IS THE KEY TO COOPERATION.
More importantly, cooperation from an intrinsic, self-motivated place in your child as a result of them feeling closer to you. NOT externally forced cooperation based on fear or rewards.
On this segment, you will learn simple, effective tools to help you re-connect with your child and shift difficult situations into a place of harmony. You will learn how and when to use each tool. You will also come away with the knowledge and confidence to begin transforming your parenting from a place of connection.
You may wonder: why do you need tools? To answer this, you need to understand how your child’s brain works. When your child feels disconnected, there is NO point in communicating with words. They literally cannot hear you because the pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain for reasoning, logic, and impulse control) is simply NOT engaged. For it to re-engage and for your child to be able to hear you, they need to feel safe and connected – and that’s where these tools come in. They forge a path to help you re-establish that connection.
“When we adults think of children there is a simple truth that we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life; childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live; a child is living. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation. How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize children as partners with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing them as apprentices. How much we could teach each other; we have the experience and they have the freshness. How full both our lives could be.” John A. Taylor, author of ‘Notes on an Unhurried Journey’.
In this workshop, we will review how infants are born self-motivated and capable of directing their own learning. This for me is key because once this belief is solidified, our role changes from a teacher to a facilitator and observer. When our objective is to preserve this love of learning and self-motivation, our approach to education becomes much clearer.
“Children come into the world exquisitely designed, and strongly motivated, to educate themselves. They don’t need to be forced to learn; in fact, coercion undermines their natural desire to learn.“ Peter Gray, author of ‘Free to Learn’.
We will look at the range of approaches and possibilities: From a structured Homeschooling approach to a spectrum of autonomous approaches such as Unschooling, Radical Unschooling and Worldschooling. I would also like to inspire you with some insight into the Reggio Emilia, child-led approach to learning.
Finally, we look at the basics of deregistering and review the legally defined role of your school and local authority and your rights as a parent. You will be provided with links to supportive and expert resources who have helplines and pre-formatted correspondence for this process. We will look at how to support your child through their transition from the education system, a process known as deschooling.
“Top of the list in the UNICEF summary, that children said they needed to be happy, was time. Time to think, time to play, time to daydream…” Jay Griffiths, author of ‘Kith’.
Deciding whether or not to home educate is a very personal and complex decision that will have a huge effect on you, your family and your lifestyle. As a home-schooling parent myself, I will support you with: some of the factors in weighing up your decision, the joys and the challenges and what it can look like on a daily basis. I will share how to build a community around you for mutual support and key socialisation. I will also have other home-schooling parents on the call to be involved in Q&A so you can benefit from a broader perspective.
What effect does your communication have on your end goals for your child?
Here are some of my goals:
GOOD SELF ESTEEM
What is your end goal for your child?
You cannot shame your child or negate their opinion, then expect good self-worth. You cannot direct or appraise your child’s learning as well as preserve their innate self-motivation. You cannot reprimand your child for expressing their emotions (through their whining, crying, tantrums etc), then expect emotional intelligence.
This segment will show you how to communicate with your end goals in mind.
You will learn the basics such as the importance of setting up expectations, being clear and bringing in Connection to resolve power struggles. I will introduce some new approaches so that you can empower your child to solve their own challenges. We will also look at how to respond to your child’s “No’s”.
As parents, we need to develop our communication skills to reflect your children’s language and brain development as they grow. My approach is inspired by NVC (Non-Violent Communication) which acknowledges needs and feelings and encourages mutual compromise and cooperation.
My approach is also grounded in science. In terms of neurology, a behavioural approach is based in the limbic system which stimulates either fear of punishment or feeds the pleasure reward circuits. This wires the brain to become emotionally reactive. In contrast, a relational approach develops your child’s intrinsic competencies in the pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with empathy, reasoning, logic and complex problem-solving.
A behavioural approach uses manipulations such as bribes, threats, punishments or repetition to control behaviour. Remember, threats can be as subtle as a strong tone of voice or a stern look. Yes, this produces short-term compliance, unfortunately, it also leads to mistrust and disconnection. Authentic & respectful communication focuses on relationship over behaviour. It builds trust and connection, leading in the long term to more self-motivated cooperation. A relational approach builds emotional intelligence for your child, giving them social and emotional skills for life.
Finally, in order to apply these new tools, you need to be aware of your own self-regulation. We will look at the source of triggers and how to relate to your anger. I will introduce the role of mindfulness in supporting your journey towards self-regulation. I will also share a checklist of how to assess dialogues or situations that have not gone well so you can gain insights from them.
The Transforming Connection course runs over 4 months and is much more than the sum of these segments. Practices and communication skills are introduced gradually, allowing time for them to be fully integrated before moving on. Places are limited to allow for a small, intimate group so there is more time to address your own unique challenges and support you to go deeply into your own transformation process. There are some special surprises too!