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

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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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Mindful Memories

bonnie baby 2
We are often told that mindfulness is about not dwelling on or ruminating in the past and about being present. Yet at times it is healthy to remember the past or plan for the future – as my mindfulness teacher would say ‘just do it mindfully!’

Today is my daughter’s 14th birthday and it has just been fantastic to revisit photos and memories, it helps to bring an enormous attitude of gratitude. Mindfully revisiting memories can also be very healing and it can help to develop perspective.

If you have a relationship that you are finding difficult or awkward it can be good to go back to remembering when you first met or when the relationship was strong. So often we can get really caught up in where that person/relationship is at right now….forgetting that within the other person is a vulnerable self just like we have a vulnerable self too. Revisiting positive memories can help us to relate to that person from a positive, caring mindset rather than the tight, irritated or defensive mindset we can find ourselves in.

In MindUP, a program in US and UK that is introducing mindfulness to kids in schools, they teach optimism and how to actively cultivate wellbeing.  One way they do that is to create a ‘Happy’ wall – where photos, and pictures of happy memories are hung, so that whenever you are not feeling so good you can remember that there have been many great times in your past.

In Steve Biddulphs book on relationships he talks about each memory in your relationships being a souvenier…a building block on which it was built. How lovely to go back and revisit some of those souveniers mindfully – being very aware of the emotions they bring up and even the lessons and the new perspective with which we can view that person / relationship.

Often when we change our mindset towards a relationship – the relationship changes – have you ever noticed that? Just switching my anxious thoughts of someone and what they may or may not say, to sending them loving kindness can help to change the interaction…

A beautiful meditation to free up our judgement of another is from Tara Brach:

https://www.tarabrach.com/heart-meditation-letting-go-of-judgment/

I love how she talks about seeing that our defensiveness comes from our own vulnerability and by bringing kindness to the vulnerable parts of yourself you can then be open and give kindness to another….

Enjoy revisiting some happy memories mindfully 🙂 Sara

Mindful Listening

Mindful Listening Quote (2)
Take a minute to reflect on how it feels to be really listened to, and how it feels to be only partially or hardly listened to! Start noticing today when this happens….and then begin to notice when you really listen – and when you don’t… I thought I was a good listener until I did this exercise!
So how do we do Mindful Listening?…I believe we can use any strategy we have that can help us to come back into the present moment; I like to use these strategies from Russ Harris, ACT Mindfully (below).
 MINDFUL LISTENING instructions (2)
The trickiest bit with Mindful Listening though is to remember to gently come back to the present moment – how often do our minds stray to unrelated topics or planning or dreaming or if the discussion is emotional we can stray to forming our defence or analysing what is said instead of just listening… even with practice I can still go a whole day forgetting to mindfully listen!
I remember being shocked when I heard Billy Joel say in an interview that he might be playing to a crowd of 1000’s and they are singing along joyously and his mind will be thinking of the sandwich he’ll have off stage – so it’s normal for all of us for our brains to wander…it’s just that we know we get so much more out of life when we are back in the present moment…
So what will you use this week to help you to mindfully listen – at work, at home? Who do you find easy to listen to and why? Who do you find really hard to listen to and why? And when is the best time for you to listen and when is it hard?
Some strategies I have used is to massage my hands as I listen – it helps to keep part of my brain focussed in the present – perfect for work meetings or when feeling stressed or having an emotionally charged conversation!   Sometimes I need to let my kids / partner know ‘now isn’t a good time’ can I listen in 15 minutes, in 1 hour, tomorrow….
Ruby Max (Mindfulness for the Frazzled) focusses on an aspect of the person’s face very mindfully – I’m not sure if this could count as staring though?
In my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course my mindfulness teacher ran an exercise where we had to listen for 4 minutes without saying a word to someone. This seemed intimidating for both the speaker and listener but we all found that some issues were completely resolved in that 4 minutes with someone’s complete attention yet no interruption, no questions! I have used this in highly charged conflict situations to say – you have your 4 minutes uninterrupted and then I’ll have my four minutes – and when you do that you are forced to hear out the other person’s point of view and really hear what they are trying to say rather than reacting in anger to their first sentence!
So give it a go.    What you have noticed about yourself as a listener and what will you aim to do this week…