I am a fan of parents. That is the greatest (and hardest) job in the world- to raise another human being towards embodying all their wonderful gifts and brilliance. Children have this way of mirroring all that we adults have and haven’t addressed within ourselves. I’ve worked with numerous parents throughout my career and this list is hardly coming from a dogmatic point of view, consider it as an observation of the wonderful parents in my life as the caretakers of students had, as clients, and as friends.
1. Have Integrity
As I began my teaching career, one of my mentors said to me “You have to know your bottom line.” This was in reference to behavior I would allow and not allow within the class. I find that this applies beyond the classroom and parenthood into every area of life; knowing what will be tolerated and not, and how to set those boundaries. The key with integrity is holding the boundary. This is where the work begins- stating a boundary and maintaining it. This gives a sense of safety for children and assurance in you as an authority figure. How does it feel for you to set boundaries and stick to them? On the road towards integrity, be honest with yourself yet be compassionate.
2. Be Present
Children are innately excited to share their world with the grownups they love. Putting down the distractions and observing them not only helps the child to feel fulfilled, but the grownup as well. Taking a moment to truly see that child beyond the upsets or stereotypes is healing for us grownups. Gazing at a child in action can give an objective sense of their own development: physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s almost like meditating on the child, holding them in the heart as an individual instead of as an extension of. This requires full presence of ourselves and much can be gathered in a short amount of time, with practice.
3. Be Genuine
Something I have learned again and again in different realms: being genuine with children is not the same as peer parenting or peer relating. Hanging with our buds, and associated vernacular, is a mentality and vocabulary best saved for our peer group of parents and friends. I bring up being genuine here because children desire for truth, at certain ages, and as adults, we can speak to the emotions that may arise when we are around children. Being clear in our own emotional life is crucial here, for us to be able to facilitate a healthy emotional life in our children.
4. Be Kind to Others and Yourself
This seems so self-explanatory, but it is truly important. Look at yourself in the mirror each morning and smile at yourself and say kind words to yourself! Out loud! Filling your cup with self-love and kindness, first, will help you to overflow that love and kindness to the people in your life- especially the children.
Especially as grownups, valuing play is huge for our creativity, self-worth, and imagination. Being active participants in our lives, with our full body, mind, and heart- to create enjoyable adventures (even as small as house work done in a joyful way!) for ourselves and our children engages the relationship bonding centers of the brain. On a philosophical note- how do you want children to experience adulthood?
Imagine if you gave one of these areas a try for a day or a week… check in with where you feel joy, warmth, contentment, in your body as you experiment with different methods of showing you care. I would love to hear how your discoveries go in the realm of caring for yourself so much your children receive the overflow!
If you are interested in learning tools for embracing greater social/emotional wellness in your own life, and sharing them with your children, register for the Social/Emotional Wellness Training 101 coming to Hillsboro, NH.