My Balanced Parent coaching couples who are working on improving their relationship love it when I have them play my "Random Acts of Connection" game. Random Acts of Connection is a game where the couple chooses little tasks to carry out between appointments aimed at nurturing friendship, love, and connection, and then come back and report how it went. It is an incredibly powerful intervention for a few reasons. Read on for more and to get your own copy of the game!
I am often asked by the parents I work with for quick, easy ways for them to learn more about my approach to parenting. These parents are often very busy and don't want to spend their precious free-time reading parenting books. They want to spend it playing with their kids, chatting with friends, doing yoga, or connecting with their partner. This is something I support whole-heartedly! Your time is valuable and you should spend it doing what you love! Let others (like me) do the reading and distill it for you!
This morning my two children insisted on eating their breakfast with their chairs snug next to mine. A mommy sandwich we call it! While my personal space was a bit crowded, I have to admit it was quite lovely. In the past, a situation like this might have devolved into a big meltdown from both girls as they each fought for the bigger piece of me. But I have discovered something that has brought more peace and ease to these moments for me and my kiddos, and I wanted to share it with you. I have been actively practicing letting go of a scarcity mindset. Let me explain.
Discovering the Heart of It All
Years ago, when I was freshly engaged and planning my wedding, I came across a poem that really spoke to me in a deep and lasting way. It posed questions that struck me to my core and helped me to re-examine what I wanted from marriage and my relationship. I had intended to use this poem as a sort of "touchstone", to help me be sure that I was living the life that was true to myself. But of course, life happens, and that poem slipped from my mind as I got married, finished grad school, became a parent twice over, and made some major career/lifestyle changes.
Then the other day, out of nowhere, a line of it drifted into my mind and it was like saying hello to an old friend.
As I mentioned in my recent live chat over on my Facebook feed (click here to watch!), many of the parents I work with and those in my free online community have experienced the almost overnight change in their child as the transition from two to three years old. It’s like a switch is flipped and our sweet, compliant little baby becomes a moody, defiant teenager-in-training.
And really, that isn’t far from the truth. Both periods of life are characterized by monumental growth and development and are accompanied by an innate drive for autonomy. The catch with “threenagers” is that they are still quite dependent on their caregivers in a way that true teenagers are not. They not only need us for physical nourishment and protection, they need us for emotional nourishment and protection as well (an argument can be made that the same is true for teenagers, but that’s a conversation for another time), and at the same time, they desperately want, and have an innate drive to seek, independence and autonomy. They are figuring out who they are, striving for independence and looking for ways to have control over their lives, while at the same time wanting desperately to know that they are loved, cared for, protected, and safe. And that inner war of dependence and autonomy-seeking is what makes this time so hard for everyone in the family.
So, how can we all come through this tricky time in one piece? Here are 6 tips that the parents I’ve worked with have found particularly useful.
This is a simple reminder to slow down, to not assume that your intervention is what is needed, to really look at what is happening, and to revel in what you're seeing. What I love so much about this saying is that it is applicable to almost any situation. When watching your children play this can help us remember not to interrupt them or direct them, and instead learn to see the value in what they are doing and approach their play with a sense of wonder and marvel. It is also helpful in harder moments when we so want to scoop our child up to give comfort, or physically remove them from a difficult situation. In these times this saying can help us pause so that we can really "see" the situation and wait a bit to see what is needed of us.