Inspiration from experts
As a parent navigating this world trying to give my children what I believe is the best for them, I am grateful to the numerous psychologists, authors, educators, and coaches, whose work has inspired me to become a better parent, and now, your parenting coach.
Being open to new parenting philosophies and able to recognize my co-creation in a lot of the issues I was having with my children has been life-altering. The growth is ongoing and never-ending, and I wanted to share with you a few quotes that I hope will spark a little something for you too.
“Kids do well if they can.”
- Dr Ross W. Greene,
The Explosive Child
This quote is so powerful that it's not just a quote, it's a chapter in the book! I find this to be a crucial reminder that no child wants to misbehave, throw a tantrum, be mean to a sibling, or rude to a parent. That does not mean that we sit idly by and let our kids break the house rules or hurt people, but it means that we need to look at them with empathy and the understanding that this behaviour is only a manifestation of an underlying need that we just can't see. You can be sure that if your child COULD consciously behave well at this point in time, they WOULD.
"Every behaviour has an underlying need."
- Dr Shefali Tsabary
This is the perfect compliment to the previous quote. So while our child is in crisis, in a moment that we often label as "bad behaviour," rather than getting stuck on fixing the behaviour, probably by using punishment and fear tactics, we should be more focused on finding ways to connect with our child to identify the real reason beneath the outburst.
“Adult feelings are too heavy for children to carry.”
- Dr Allison Mark
We have all done this, let our heavy thoughts and feelings seep out through our tone, our facial expressions, our movements, our words, our energy, and on the other side, absorbing them like the magical little sponges they are, are our beloved kids. Some children will express it verbally or behaviourally, others will not; but don't kid yourself into believing they are not picking up on the burden of your thoughts and emotions. This is why conscious parenting is so powerful as it allows you to observe moment by moment what you are experiencing, in the hope that this awareness will help alleviate the weight of what your kids will pick up on.
This can serve as an important reminder for parental self-care: as an adult navigating the normal daily stresses of life, you will need to take time to yourself, to reconnect with your core and disconnect from your worries, before you engage with your little ones.
"Anything that is 'wrong with you' began as a survival mechanism in childhood."
- Dr Gabor Maté
This one is tricky. I can feel the eyes rolling, and the parents getting defensive. However, the purpose of this quote is not to diminish the fantastic work that all parents are doing, nor to sheepishly point fingers at previous generations of parents to relieve ourselves of any adult responsibility. I love this quote because it's a reminder that we can always, always grow. That our personalities are shaped and reshaped from the day that we are born. And yes, we develop some insecurities, some negative blueprints, some triggers, early on in childhood but that is normal! And the truth is, we are doing the same thing, reproducing the same patterns with the next generation. That is why recognizing, accepting, and working with this idea can be such an enriching and healing experience for all of us.
"Your triggers are your responsibility, it isn't the world's obligation to tiptoe around you."
- Author unknown
I wish I knew where this quote came from but I can't find the author. It is just a very prominent and powerful quote that follows up on the previous one very nicely. To me, it's the reminder that I shouldn't expect anyone, including my children, husband, mother, friends and colleagues, to walk on eggshells around me regardless of what mood I am in or what thoughts are triggering me. Because yes, it is my thoughts and the stories behind them that are triggering me, not the people around me. This goes both ways, in that if I feel like someone's toxic energy is affecting me, I need to take a minute and remember that I do not have to change my attitude or my ways around them to avoid getting them upset. Your triggers? Your responsibility!
"When boundaries work, children don't need to test them as often. They trust their parents and caregivers; therefore, their world."
- Janet Lansbury
Yes, yes and yes! Janet Lansbury is such an inspiration for today's parents! A lot of people who remain very attached to a more traditional paradigm of parenting believe that when we don't use control methods, or severe punishments to fix unwanted behaviour it means we believe in a free-for-all approach to raising our kids. This couldn't be further from the truth. Our children need those boundaries and so do we. In fact, setting boundaries I believe is a life skill we all need to live our most authentic lives. They don't just apply to our parenting but to basically any relationship in our life. For our kids, however, we have to be very confident and convinced of our boundary. If the line isn't clear the children will try over and over..... and over! To trespass. And you know what? You should be proud and admire their resilience! Instead of focusing on why they are still "whining" and insisting, focus more on the part within you that hasn't made this boundary clear to your child. As an example, in our home, the boundaries around video games were very, and I mean VERY wishy washy over the entire COVID period. This led to many conflicts until I realized that since I wasn't willing to set solid black-on-white boundaries during this period, I would just wait for them to go back to school, where I know without a doubt that I can cut the screens out for 5 days and my kids know it too. So take the time to define your boundaries. Your kids' will thank you for it.
"We think that children act, whereas what they mostly do is react."
- Dr Gabor Maté
Dr Maté summarizes here a lot of what was said above. Our kids are so sensitive to our tone, our energy, our actions, our expectations, that the way they "act" is really more of a "reaction" to what we spread around them. I am not saying to let our kids react in whichever way they want and excuse rude, violent or disrespectful behaviour; I would never support such a view. What I am saying is, don't just look at your child's action, look further; actually, don't look that far, start by looking in the mirror, not with guilt and shame, but with understanding, curiosity and presence.
"Love felt by the parent does not automatically translate into love experience by the child."
- Dr Gabor Maté
This is a great quote but one that often makes me feel discouraged, because it's a reminder that loving our children is simply not enough. You can't yell uncontrollably at your children, slam doors, neglect your kids' feelings, dive for hours into the social media ocean, work 15-hour days for weeks on end and believe that because you love your children it's all ok and "they just know it". We have to make them feel how much we love them. It isn't a full-time job to do so, and it's actually not that hard, it just takes a conscious effort to really BE with them, when we are together. Play with them for 15 minutes, without any distractions, look deeply into their eyes when they talk to you, don't tell them how to play but rather take their lead and let them bring you into THEIR play. Watch the words you use when you are in an argument with them. Be wholeheartedly present when you read them a story without making them feel like you just want them to go to sleep (guilty as charged!). We all love our children unconditionally, but let's remember to show them through conscious presence and connection.
"Too often we forget that 'discipline' really means 'to teach'–not 'to punish'.
A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioural consequences."
- Drs Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, The Whole-Brain Child
Discipline has become such a confusing word. Traditionally, adults have "disciplined" children using shaming and controlling techniques, none of which actually taught the child anything. Of course, people will say "well the kids learned to listen and they behaved!". Sure they did, because they were scared, and being scared is very different from having learned anything. So the ongoing debate about "kids need discipline vs. discipline is bad!" really stems from a misunderstanding of which definition of the word is being used. You will find endless articles online about how "undisciplined children are unhappy." Well yes, if by "undisciplined" you mean no rules or boundaries, no set bedtimes, no discussion about behaviour because of a fear of conflicts with our kids, etc., then certainly these kids will be unhappy; children cannot function under such circumstances. But if by "undisciplined" we just mean "not raised through punishments and intimidation" then it's a different story. Kids can learn all about respect, hard work, empathy, compassion, resilience and much more, while being raised without fear tactics. So when you hear the word "discipline" in a conversation or read it in a blog or article, just double check which definition they are referring to.
“Once we have connected with our sovereign spirit, creating the space for our children to get in touch with their own spirit becomes the critical objective of parenthood.”
- Dr Shefali Tsabary
This quote is a reminder to shed the artificial layers that hold us back. Leave behind the expectations that are based on someone else's dreams or society's image of who we should be.
It just tells us to be ourselves, to know ourselves and to help our children achieve the same.
"The more we welcome our children's displeasure, the happier everyone in our household will be."
- Janet Lansbury
This one may seem like a contradiction but it emphasizes a concept that I wish, I so, so wish, I had considered earlier on in my parenting journey: validating feelings! Displeasure, anger, sadness, disappointment, all of those negative feelings that we tend to ignore or try to cover up with distractions need to be faced and felt. We do it to ourselves, and we do it to our children; when we feel bad we turn on the TV or change the topic, and when our child is suffering we offer them ice cream or show them a funny video. But validating their feelings, helping them feel them and learn to cope with them, is key to raising a resilient and empathic child.