Parenting and Being Gentle with Yourself

While we experience profound love and great joy when we become parents, parenting can also be shocking. We soon discover that we can’t control another person. We can’t make them poop on the potty, be nice to their sibling, care about homework, or joyfully unload the dishwasher.

If we invest our mental energy in constantly worrying about our kids and trying to get them to listen to us, we become depleted. When we try too hard, attempting to be their one-person entertainment centre and doing everything for them, we exhaust ourselves. When we hold the bar too high because we don’t understand the nature of childhood, we see their behaviour as deliberate, and we find ourselves over-reacting.

Tell yourself:

1. My child is just trying to cope right now.

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2. This is a stage that kids go through.

3. I can get through this, and I can cope.

4. I can see some humor in this situation and anger won’t make it better.

5. Children can’t help but be impulsive, it’s natural.

It’s a given that:

1. You will not always be patient and loving.

2. There will be many times when you don’t know what to do.

3. You will give in just to keep the peace.

4. You will wonder if your child is normal.

5. You will feel like you are failing as a parent.

Find your calm energy:

1. Observe the bigger picture of times that behaviour is challenging and what sets it off.

2. Learn about your own triggers and immature reactions.

3. Let go of unnecessary control over things that don’t really matter.

4. Build resources through relationships and education.

5. Think about your true values as a parent and put it in writing.

Develop a mantra that reflects your parenting values:

1. You matter.

2. I believe in you.

3. You are listened to.

4. We can handle this.

5. Mistakes are a part of life.

Think through repeated difficulties at a neutral time and come up with a plan of how you want to respond. Be predictable knowing that it might not change the immediate, challenging behaviour in front of you.

Sometimes effective parenting really is about what you don’t do. If you have made it through the day holding onto some of your values without losing the plot, can you let that sink in? Can you give yourself some genuine appreciation? Will you be gentle with yourself? Can you do that now?

Dr. Allison Rees
Dr. Allison Rees
Dr. Allison Rees is a parent educator, counsellor and coach at LIFE Seminars (Living in Families Effectively).