Two daily practices towards becoming a calm, happy parent.
"I wish I was a confident parent so I could have more fun with my children. How does she do it?"
Have you ever met someone or looked at someone on TV and thought you'd like to be like them? Maybe it's a parenting expert or mummy blogger that exudes confidence and strength.
I am going to share with you what it took me years to learn, that we have the power to be who we want to be. The best version of yourself is already in you. While it is important to remember no one is perfect and we all struggle from time to time with our negative thoughts, it is possible to shift your parenting through mastering your mindset.
Parenting is like everything else in life, an extension of your mindset. In this article we will be exploring the power of positive thinking and how to begin creating that person we want to be.
My first question to you is how would you describe the perfect version of yourself?
Master your mind through being intentional.
Have intention. What do you want to be able to do? Who do you want to be? Everything begins with a decision. Ironically, many people forgo the decision making process and later wonder why they're not reaching their goals of being a happy parent or having a fulfilling relationship with their children.
Take a moment and really consider how you would describe the ideal parent. Write it down because we will be coming back to this later.
Key to remember: Making healthy decisions begins by understanding automatic thoughts versus having intention. Leaving your mind on auto pilot will inevitably lead to negative thoughts, self doubt and lack of motivation. We will look closer into that in just a minute.
Make what you want important by practicing repetition rather than giving all our attention to negative thoughts. Seal positive thoughts in your brain through practice. Focus on positive outcomes. Take control of your attention.
What am I thinking?
Where are my thoughts?
Are they helpful?
Start paying attention. When you have a strong feeling and follow the emotion until you source the thought. Is it a helpful thought? Notice what you are thinking about, this way you are empowered to interrupt that thought and redirect it.
If it’s a negative thought, then it’s not helping you. Visualise a more positive outcome. What are the next steps I should take? Feel the positive outcome, emotionally. Allow it to effect you and follow the next step. Let your mind fill in the blank once you are in that positive outcome state.
Brains are drawn to easy which is usually negative because we have practiced focusing on negative thoughts for so long that it’s our mind’s fall-back. By paying attention to the positive alternative you will become empowered to change your life. Negative thoughts are natural when we give it time and energy. Positive, helpful thoughts become natural when we give them our time and energy.
We often focus more on negative thoughts. This is due to our biology. The brain’s main priority is survival. Once the brain experiences a stressor, or something that interrupts its expectations, it goes into red alert. The brain is now drawn to potential dangers. It seeks out the worst possible outcome as a safety mechanism to put distance between you and harm. But, here is the thing, if we are not aware of it, that process can create a habit of seeking out worst possible outcomes. This makes is very difficult to make decisions that are helpful because we are unable to see beyond our fear.
One simple way to achieve a healthier, positive mindset is writing down questions that evoke an emotion. In this case, a positive emotion. For example, “How can I compliment someone in my family right now?”, “How can I make someone feel good about themselves right now?”, “How can I have fun with someone I care about right now?” Write your own list and ask yourself these questions every day, throughout the day. Ask yourself in the morning, ask yourself at lunch and ask yourself in the evening. Make it a habit to ask yourself how you can experience a positive emotion.
Give this practice a few weeks and your mind will start to adjust to this new directed mindset that embodies positive outcomes and a meaningful life instead of an undirected mindset and reactive decisions you regret.
The next step is choosing three words that describe the best version of yourself. Write the three words that encompass your version of the ideal parent, partner and person. Some examples are Calm, Confident, Present, Capable, Responsible, Tender, Patient, etc. Once you have chosen ‘your’ words put them on your phone as an alarm. Set the alarm to go off every couple hours so that when you are feeling impatient or reactive, the alarm will sound and you’ll read your words and remember, “Oh ya, I’m a calm, confident person. I don’t need to be reactive anymore.” Visual reminders work! That's why I always recommend visual reminders for teaching new routines with your children. They are so effective.
You have the power to stop feeling frustrated with your mind. When you have the discipline to direct it and program it, you will no longer live with overwhelming regret.
While you are practicing positive thinking through these steps, take action. BE the words you chose to describe the ideal parent, partner and person. Practice putting those adjectives into action. Behaviour changes our minds. It doesn’t just go one way, we can focus on our thinking but we can also focus on our behaviour.
Begin taking bold steps toward creating the person you want to be. This may begin with reading books, talking to an expert and immersing yourself with like minded individuals. The more action you take the more your mind becomes conditioned and the thoughts will follow. Actions condition your mind just like thoughts condition your mind.
With consistency you will wake up one day feeling confident, calm and capable without even thinking about it. I get so excited talking about this stuff! Learn more about working with me and creating the calm, happy home you crave.
About the author Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour.
Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.
Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support.
Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker
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