Parenting and worry often seem to go hand in hand. My mother has often said to me, “I’m a mom; it’s my job to worry!” As well-intentioned as this worry or concern may be, it often robs us of the very peace of mind that we are seeking. Think back on your own experience - have you ever made a really good decision from a place of fear and anxiety? It’s difficult to think clearly when our emotions are stirred up but often our fear seems to be urging us to do or say something right away.
Everywhere we look these days there’s some new threat or concern for parents to worry about. But fear and worry can emerge even in everyday circumstances. If your child refuses their vegetables, you may worry for their health. If they aren’t getting along with their friends, you may worry about their social skills and future happiness. If they aren’t showing interest in their school work, you may worry about their future success. Acting from this place of fear and worry we may resort to control and punishment, threats or reasoning to try and change a child’s behavior.
However, if we want to act or react different we first have to change our energy. When we worry we’re caught in problem-consciousness and the energy is contractive. Think of the posture of someone who is worrisome - face creased, head bowed, shoulders slumped, arms hugging inward as if to protect. The entire body reflects the energy of worry and fear with the energy stuck and contracted. We’re not able to see the big picture or to tune into possible solutions when our energy is sinking downward in this way. We can’t reason ourselves out of fear and worry any more than we can reason a toddler into eating broccoli. We must first find ways to release the contractive energy and help it to expand and move upward. Two great ways to do this, both for yourself or for your child, are through movement and breath.
When I feel agitated or anxious, I get up and go for a walk. I’ve found that much more than continuing to think about the problem at hand a bit of movement and breathing often allows me to let go of my anxiety and return to the issue with fresh perspective. People often talk about solutions coming to them in unexpected moments when their bodies and minds are otherwise engaged. If you’re feeling concerned or worried, make time for movement, to engage in a some positive flow of activity that will help the energy begin to flow in again. A few other ideas for how to work with parenting worries:
Seek support - Talk with a friend, a trusted mentor or schedule a coaching session to discuss your concerns and find ways to constructively work with whatever is worrying you.
Get perspective - Find out how other parents have dealt with these concerns. Come and connect with other parents in our monthly circle and remember you’re not alone!
Practice centering - Make time to consciously relax and release tension and cultivate states of peace and calmness. Try this month’s “Parenting Pause” with a visualization on letting go of fear and worry.