Children live in a world where they follow our rules. Rules are there to keep them safe but following somebody else’s rules means that we’re not encouraging children to go within and work out what is best for them.
If your child is a strong- willed independent type: ‘NO Mummy let me do it!’ they will flourish being given the opportunity to self reflect and go within instead of feeling under instruction all the time. Critical thinking and introspection are an essential component of a child’s development. It enables them to make sense of the world around them and find their place in it.
‘Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.’ Margaret Mead
Besides, parents often tell me that their biggest trigger is that children do not listen.
You can’t give away what you don’t have
Correct! They don’t listen to everything you say, but they watch everything you do. This means unless you are the most evolved and enlightened Mama to ever walk the planet, there will be lots of things you can’t give or instil in your children.
Recently I ran a free parents training to help parents work out what they value and what is important to their family. In a busy world where life moves at a ridiculously fast pace, it’s impossible to keep up and imperative that you learn to prioritise. You don’t have to keep up by the way, you can just make your own path (permission granted!!).
Children learn best when they’re relaxed and happy
So when you’ve gotten to the point where you’re repeating yourself; irritated – lecturing, arguing or shouting at them, nothing gets in. NOTHING!
What can you do instead? Well I think there are lots of ways we can teach and guide without instructing or lecturing. Something simple like using age appropriate movies, news stories or song lyrics as talking points are brilliant for this.
Last April I started writing and recording a podcast for children. I have so much fun making it – check out what goes on behind the scenes. It’s called Truly Madly Smiley and it enabled me to take all the burning questions and struggles that frequently showed up in my coaching room and turn them into fun, engaging stories.
It’s important to feel seen and acknowledged
I write about struggles I had growing up: worries, friendship, school work and feelings. I try to be a friendly Aunt (Frant) who doesn’t have any other agenda except to hang out with them and check in with their world.
The most helpful way to connect with children is to validate, show an interest in them and help them feel understood. I could already see at my weekly online coaching club – The Energy Pod – when I name checked each child, parents feed back they are chuffed to bits.
The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship in your life
How frustrating is it that what you say doesn’t seem to make a difference? However when somebody else says it, they hear it.
‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.’ – Buddhist Proverb
You cannot be all things to your child – you can only be yourself! They are watching you. So if you go to work on your own personal development, what more could they possibly ask from you?
The biggest part of understanding myself and taking care of my mental health has to be to learn ninja brain management. What I mean by that is: understanding and becoming aware of my thoughts and the connection to my feelings and actions. My Smiley Thought Cards are brilliant for that and I weave this into my podcast stories and give other helpful tips and tricks so they can learn to self soothe.
I grew up using food, cigarettes and alcohol to self sooth. Nowadays, I guess it’s screens that help children (and adults) to check out when it gets too much.
Checking in with yourself and noticing how you think and feel is just as important as cleaning your teeth, eating your 8 a day and getting out in the fresh air to exercise. It’s taking care of your needs – albeit emotional ones but we are feeling beings and that is what will make us feel happy in the end.
Don’t just listen once – REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT!
Repetitive listening works and the effects are long lasting. Everything your child hears that resonates with them becomes their inner voice. So that nagging: unless it’s kind and compassionate, it won’t get through.
Find another way to reach your child and surround them with people and experiences which nourish their little souls.