Awareness: The first step to more conscious parenting

Dr. Shefali, author of The Conscious Parent and the Awakened Family has a 7day conscious Parenting Challenge. Below is my reflection on the first day of her challenge, which is Awareness.

As I pay attention to my own level of awareness, I can see how easy it is trail into a state of not being ‘unaware.’ I can also see that I am the only one who can control whether I am aware or not.

Conscious parenting is focused on changing what we can control – only ourselves. It’s easy to blame our children, our spouse, the person who cut us off while we are driving. But once we become more aware, we can see how we have control over letting outside things bother us. Awareness is the first step.

“It is only when we turn the spotlight on ourselves that we can shift and once WE shift – as opposed to making our children shift, we keep our hearts open to them and build the foundation of a deep and connected relationship to them.”

When I’m in a state of awareness, I’m in this moment. I’m not thinking about how the past event didn’t go as planned or creating expectations for a future event, I am here in now, I can really be with my children.

The tough thing as that we all do need to think ahead at times, especially as a parent.

It is possible to prepare for future by doing things we need to do in advance as long as we are in a state of awareness as we are doing these things focusing on one thing at a time. I try to block off my time so that when I’m preparing lunches of the diaper bag, I am doing just that. When I am doing the dishes, I am just doing that.

We can get interrupted by our children when we are doing what needs to be done and that makes it harder to focus on just one thing.

I have found when I have given my children some time when I’m in a state of total awareness and presence with them, then when I need to step away to accomplish other things, they are more likely to play on their own and do their own thing happily.

It’s when I given them none of my time, or I gave them time in a completely unengaged way, preoccupied in other thoughts, that it was as if I didn’t spend any time with them at all, and things get messy. They are craving my attention and start doing the things they know will get my attention—bothering their siblings, wining and hanging on me, doing destructive things.

Bringing awareness to each moment is definitely a challenge – but I can see how positive it is once I start practicing it. It’s easy to stray into thinking about how I want to change a past outcome or worrying about a future one. By practicing awareness, I can catch myself faster when I’m thinking this way and reset. Becoming aware and conscious means letting go of those thoughts that are out of our control so we can be in this moment.

When we are in this moment we can be who we need to be for our children. We can give them the engaged presence and love they need. We can be spontaneously laughing and enjoying and feeling grateful for our time with our children. We miss too much when we’re not aware.

“The key to this process is awareness of the present moment. This means that we train ourselves to engage with our children in the here-and-now, fully in the reality of the present, detached from the past and the future.” – Shefali Tsbury

How do I become more aware?

One way is to pay attention to how I am communicating – what words, energy, and tone am I using?

  1. Pay attention to my words – am I controlling them or connecting? The more I am empathizing with my children and helping them understand how they are feeling though my words, the more positive the outcome is. They shut down if I am just barking at them and being negative in a disconnecting way and its unproductive.
  2. Pay attention to my No’s and Yes’s. Its easier to react in a snap way and say no. Its harder to emphasize with our child and think how they are feeling and respond in kind way. Most of the time we can turn a no into a yes. For example: Can I watch another show? Yes we would love to watch more shows, we could sit and watch them all day, it’s better for our bodies and minds to have something else right now. Let’s do this puzzle instead.
  3. Be aware of Judgmental words. Comparing our children, pushing them to be someone they are not, describing them in a negative way. All of these words hurt them and we don’t ever intend to hurt our children but it happens and it hurts them. We may see them using similar words to another child or see how they turn inward and shut down a bit after hearing them. We have to be more aware so we pause before using words that can hurt and choose kind , productive words instead.

Finding a way to JOIN our children before saying no is also an important way to connect to them and create open communication.” – Shefali Tsbury

Conscious Parenting is a process. I am practicing and learning everyday. We keep falling and we just have to pick ourselves up and try again. Dr. Shefali’s books are so amazing if you are looking to learn more. Check out her website for more on the challenge and her life-changing work.

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