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Mindful : April 2014
40 mindful April 2014 family This simple approach of coming alongside an upset child can make a dramatic, even instantaneous, difference in how things unfold. Most children (and adults!) soften and become more receptive when they feel heard and understood. It could be that Gemma needs to have a cry about something unrelated to homework; after offloading pent-up feelings she has about something unrelated, she may find that the homework isn’t so hard after all. What I find so gratifying about this approach is that the positive changes it brings about in a child’s behavior quickly make it the default approach. It helps parents maintain their role as the calm and confident captain of the ship, and fosters deeper connections as the child discovers that the parent really is capable of hearing their truth, even when it’s about something unpleasa nt. This positions the parent as the child’s confidante, so that as they grow older they will have a loving and wise adult—rather than their peers—who can help them navigate the complexities of life. Mother Nature wisely created a n instinct in children to resist the influence of strangers, but be receptive to the guidance and support of those to whom they are securely attached. Fortifying at tachment with our children as they move through various stages of life is key. That fosters a genuine willing ness to take direction f rom us. It may seem obvious, but letting your kids know you like them is a powerful way to foster connection. Look for interests you have in com- mon, and engage in things you both like. Let your face light up when your child walks in the room. Be mindfully engaged with them as you talk, noticing the color of their eyes or the way their little hand feels in yours. By staying present with your kids, and conveying your genuine love a nd affection for them, you will help them perceive you as a loving ally rather tha n someone who’s just going to criticize them or make demands. It’s also helpful to be as present as possible with your own feelings. When you feel your frustration building, stay in your body rather tha n falling into an inner monologue about how your kids don’t respect or appreciate you. Notice where you feel the upset—Is it in your belly? The back of your neck? Let your kids know you like them. Look for interests you have in common. Engage in things you both like. They’ll start to see you as a loving ally rather than a demanding critic.