What to do when my kids are fighting?

Here’s 3 quick and effective strategies to use with sibling rivalry that I teach from Positive Discipline.

Fighting is an everyday occurrence in our house with 4 kids / teens! I’m amazed at how affected I am emotionally when my kids fight – it is often the time when I need to use all my mindfulness skills! And often when I am most stressed, tired or busy that it happens! (usually because my attention is elsewhere!).

These strategies have really helped me as a parent stay more mindful….and not get caught up in escalating the fight by coming in over the top of the kids! The strategies are not foolproof – but even if they only work 60% of the time they help to bring some more calm into our house which is great!

This video links in beautifully with my Dealing with BIG feelings video if you haven’t seen it yet? ….

 

The key thing I have learnt to do when my kids fight is to make sure everyone is safe and then negotiate with them what they will do to calm down (best agreed to before the fight happens!)….before we can even begin to talk about it!

What works at your house? What doesn’t work?

This is often a huge issue for the parents that come and see me for parent coaching or attend my workshops.

We discuss this issue a lot more in our online parenting class Resilient Families Thriving Kids – you can find out more and free trial some videos at www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/onlineclasses or email me, Sara Phillips, Mum and Parent Coach on sara@mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com

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What do you & your child need?

Certainty = SafetyUncertainty=Excitement (1)
Recently I did something out of the ordinary – I went for a walk, in the sun, in the middle of a weekday…just because…..and it felt like a HOLIDAY! It felt glorious! I felt so grateful! Even though it was a walk I do often – it was at a different time of day ….
And it got me thinking how strong it is within us humans to need a balance of certainty & uncertainty! That we crave rhythm & routine (sameness) to feel safe – yet we also crave adventure & excitement (difference) – to experience FUN & to feel alive!
And our kids are the same! Too much out of rhythm & routine can make life difficult and lead to meltdowns – yet kids, even babies, love something new, a change, something exciting….even just a change from indoors to outdoors or one room to the next can make a huge difference!
And as parents we can get locked into our daily routine…and forget that we too also need excitement and adventure – even if it is just going for a walk in the middle of the day!
It is easy to get locked into certainty with our loved ones – to take them for granted and not even really see them!  We can forget that they are amazing people growing and changing constantly…. A little uncertainty can be great for relationships….. For example doing something as a family that is a little challenging, that releases adrenaline, can give us some good bonding moments and help us to appreciate each other.
Novelty is such a great way to enhance our awareness of the present moment and be more mindful– and when we are parenting our routine can feel boring or all the same…sometimes just driving home a different way, going to a new shop, finding some interesting flowers in your street, looking at your loved ones a new way can help to bring back some novelty and be mindful of what we have right here!
Alternatively when I feel really frazzled and like my head is spinning or the kids feel the same I know I need more routine in my life…more calm…
For many of the parents who I see for 1:1 parent coaching, either finding more routine (certainty) or finding more novelty / stimulation (uncertainty) will feature in the strategies we brainstorm.  We cover this in our online classes and workshops for parents www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/onlineclasses 
So what are you going to do this week to find a little more certainty – if you need more routine…or to find a little more uncertainty if you need more adventure & FUN? 🙂 Sara

#mindfulparenting #parenting #parentingtips #parents #parenthood #kids #mindfulness

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How to find your inner calm & calm down your kids?

Being With Strong Emotion Pema Chodron's strategies

What do you do to stay calm or calm down?   I’d love to know what works for you…..

I had to use all the mindfulness skills available to me earlier this week to keep calm….and then when I erupted (oops!) – to recover quickly!  No-one can push our buttons like our kids can – and it is often when we are tired, stressed – or need to get to work on time….that we are pushed to our limits!   As Jane Nelson says in Positive Discipline we are aiming for a general direction NOT perfection…so no point beating ourselves up when we revert to old ways….and instead we need to keep practicing and keep noticing the times when we remember our new strategies…when we find a way to stay calm or calm down!

For me what worked this week was:

  • breathing,
  • focusing on my feet,
  • saying to myself this too will pass,
  • looking outside to the view…
  • then doing some LOUD breathing out…
  • then when I did erupt (unfortunately!) keeping it to ‘I’ statements –  limiting the  blame and shame….
  • and afterwards giving both kids huge hugs,
  • apologising for my reaction,
  • talking about what we can do the next morning to prevent the same scenario from happening again….
  • and for me to identify that I need more self-care / me-time so that I have more reserves for handling BIG issues as they come up!

I am passionate about the need for all parents to understand emotions – how they work? how our brains process them? how kids develop emotional intelligence? How we can use mindfulness to find our inner calm and to help our kids to calm down too?

Here is a video I made for our recent How To Talk So Kids Will Listen group on how to deal with Big Feelings.

I’m so excited to have a *NEW* short online course ‘Understanding Emotions’ – you can work through it at your own pace, when it is convenient for you – there are slides , videos & reflective questions to encourage deep learning!  I highly recommend it,  you can free trial some of the videos here  http://mindfulparentingmindfulcoachingonline.thinkific.com/courses/understandingemotions

I’d love your feedback!

Understanding emotions

 

Free Resource: If you would like FREE mindfulness prompts like the one above with strategies on how to deal with a STRONG feeling (yours or your kids) – please sign up at www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com or for recommended mindful parenting resources go to www.mindfulparentingmindfulcoaching.com/resources

 

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Brainstorming Solutions…thinking laterally & creatively to solve problems

Problem SOlving Positive Discipline Tool positive discipline a-z book

I felt like I was quite old (I was a new Mum and in a relationship with my partner) before I realised that if you can brainstorm solutions and think laterally there is always a win:win solution….there will always be a way through if you just look hard enough!

I was fascinated with the recent Life at 9 series on ABC IView when the narrator said:

“Navigating life depends on our ability to solve problems, a skill scientists understand as creativity” and  “Creativity is a greater predictor of success in life than IQ”.

David Cropley, a creativity expert on the show, then said :  “The basis of creativity is all about starting with divergent thinking and that means if we hope to get a good solution we first of all have to go through as many solutions as we can”

And this got me thinking of one of the best Positive Discipline Tools from www.positivediscipline.com which I use at home and teach other parents all the time….the idea that as parents, once we understand the child’s underlying feelings and needs behind a behaviour we can then brainstorm solutions and in the brainstorming phase we need to write down all possible solutions, there is no right or wrong!

It’s so true we often need to brainstorm left field ‘way out there’ solutions to be able to come up with solutions that will work!  Something  I especially love is the idea of involving our own kids from the age of 4 in brainstorming the solutions for particular issues / behaviours.   The kids always come up with the most crazy solutions but also the most simple and best solutions too!  (e.g. in resolving shared bedroom issues: first suggesting their brother could sleep with the chooks or in the hallway cupboard but eventually deciding duct tape down the middle of the bedroom will do!)

How great is it that we can involve our kids in helping to brainstorm solutions but also help boost their creativity skills at the same time!  It is certainly something we want for all our kids once they become adults isn’t it? To be creative problem solvers who are able to resolve conflicts by finding win:win solutions…mindfully…

(At www.positivediscipline.com there are podcasts on Focusing On Solutions and one of their books is called Positive Discipline A-Z, 1001 Solutions To Everyday Parenting Problems)

It really is my choice to enjoy life!

I’ve had a long break from writing this blog….but it hasn’t been far from my thoughts so here goes again….maybe this will help me to internalise some of my more mindful thoughts and learning!

I’ve just had a bit of a revelation, after moving house, moving states, busily unpacking, setting up house, applying for work etc and feeling REALLY stressed and overwrought… that I can choose to enjoy my life right now OR choose to be caught up in the obligations, expectations and pressure that  I place on myself (more than anyone else does)!  This revelation came after a friend in the desert texted ‘ you must be enjoying the beach!’ And I realised no….I wasn’t enjoying my new lush coastal surroundings…..instead my head was caught up in a whirl of jobs to be done, stresses to endure!  I started to question WHY wasn’t I enjoying this new life and it came to me ( so simple! but so hard to realise!) that I really CAN choose to take some time out each day to enjoy the beach….to clear my thoughts, to nurture myself, to find inner joy…..and most of the jobs still get done!!   Most of the stresses and pressures were self created – I don’t need to be a slave to my thoughts/unrealistic expectations…I can take a break from them….they’ll still be there when I want to face them!  It is as easy and as hard as that!   And as I began to open up more to allowing myself to take time out…..I realised that it had been a long time since I had cherished myself and that Buddhist saying ‘that to cherish others you must first cherish yourself’ rang true as I began to enjoy hanging out with the kids again.    It felt transforming to realise it was all a matter of choosing to change my thinking….yet all week I have still struggled to make that choice!   The guilt / worry / concern about what others will think and if I am being selfish or self indulgent means that it is very easy to put pressure on to DO more….rather than taking some time to BE!   I’ll keep you posted as to how that learning goes……how to cherish yourself in order to cherish others?

Mind Full Of Pain

I was in a lot of pain recently, waiting for the pain relief to kick in when I realised I was fighting it with my mind ( ‘oh no what if I can’t…..I don’t want to feel like this…..this is so unfair…..why me?…..will this make it go away? ‘ Etc).   Suddenly I remembered mindfulness so I allowed myself to label the pain ‘I am in pain’ and to sit with it, accept it and it was amazing to feel the shift, to really feel the space around the pain widen and expand, to feel that there was more to the situation than just the pain, to feel that it was impermanent and that it would be OK!   Of course I couldn’t be so zen about it all of the time….my mind would kick in and resist but just to have a few moments of peace, of going back into thinking ‘it is as it is’ made it more manageable!

 

I also remembered something a friend once told me re: childbirth which was the pain will always ebb and flow so that you can follow the peaks and troughs….manage the peak of pain and then allow yourself to relax in the trough….and keep this cycle of manage and relax!   This worked really well in my daughter’s birth but also this morning too….watching for the peak, relaxing when it ebbed even though the pain is continuous….

 

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long for the pain relief to work so my suffering was short….and I am not sure I could do any of this in severe pain…..but it was good to see some of those mindfulness strategies at work?   Are there other strategies that you have used?

More Mindful At Work

I’ve been very lucky to have supervision at work with Sue G. who also teaches / practices mindfulness.  Together we have come up with some great ideas on how to be a little more mindful at work:

  • Mindfulness Bell clock on the computer (download for free and create your own timing).  This is a great little reminder to breathe and scan your body for tension
  • Take your shoes off, feel the carpet with your feet, walk to printer feeling the floor beneath you
  • 10 minute meditation at lunchtime
  • Breathe in your tea / coffee and do a quick body scan

I’m amazed at how UNAWARE I can still be of my body / tension at work but at least these strategies are helping me tune in occasionally!!   I’d love to know some other strategies…

Mindful Monday Mornings

Phew….it’s tricky getting back into getting everyone (including me!) to work and school on time!  Something I have found so useful….especially when we are running late and I want to deliver that all-time lecture to the kids!….is to breathe out to the very last bit of air I have at least 3 times!  For a more effective calming (&funnier) effect I will even buzz like a bee for 3 full breaths out!  The effect of this is amazing….I feel calmer and the whole car atmosphere is alot calmer too (generally kids are laughing)!

These strategies come from an amazing parenting programme called Bringing Up Great Kids where they use the research from Dan Siegel that reflects that just 3 breaths can calm us down enough to begin to respond creatively and calmly to our kids rather than from our usual fight / flight / freeze highly charged response!

Google Flipping the Lid or Brain in the Hand for some great short video explanations of how our brains work and how we can calm them down!   It really works!  My aim this year is to teach my kids more about how their brain works so they too can learn how to calm them selves down!  I’ll keep you posted!

More Mindful Meltdowns

Have you noticed that mindfulness helps you deal with strong emotions?   Occasionally in the last couple of months I have been overwhelmed with a strong unpleasant emotion……and I have to say initially disappointed that mindfulness didn’t help me to AVOID feeling that bad!!!

So the strength of the emotion is still there…..but somehow all of that mindfulness practice helps me to observe it, to go with it, to express it ( privately), to let the tears out, to label it, to empathise with it, to reduce how much analysing and thoughts spin around in my head about it AND to do something with that emotional energy  (guided meditation, walk or ride).

And even though I am ALWAYS disappointed initially to have even felt that bad…..I feel cleaner / clearer afterwards….I have thought more constructively and said less so that the bad feeling seems over and done with alot quicker than the old days when I would hang on to it and fight it!

It’s a small step forward but a significant one…..with so much more growing ahead!

Not So Mindful Mayhem!

I wish I could say the reason why I haven’t written a blog for so long was because I was being so mindful!!  But instead is was because of a big trip to Western Australia, school holidays, returning to work and kids returning to school and lately because my partner has been away….sigh!

I found my meditation sessions turned into….’I’ll just lie down to meditate’ and then I would snooze!  Maybe the naps were much needed but I have missed the clarity and sense of being recharged when I meditate!  The other day returning to meditate was like returning home…..but I have still found it hard to get back into the rhythm of daily meditating!

Having said all that….daily mindfulness kept me calmer and saner I am sure!  Sometimes it would be noticing my surroundings, sometimes really mindfully absorbing my cup of tea…..sometimes a mindful hug, a yummy peach, an interesting bird, or mentally appreciating my children and how fast they are growing up!

Sometimes being mindful was easy….like snorkelling or body surfing or climbing to the top of a lighthouse or feeling the wind in your hair on a ferry!  Sometimes it was really difficult like when the kids are fighting or grumbling or when it’s too hot…..still it is an essential part of my life now and I am glad I had some of those strategies to get me through the last few weeks!