How can I be calmer as a parent? How can I help my child be calmer? Sometimes cultivating qualities like calmness can feel like a really big and complicated task. Where do we start? There's so many good things we know we "should" do to be calmer and happier. Even when we know how important our own ability to stay calm and centered is for the well-being of our children, it can seem like there are so many circumstances beyond our control, working against us. How do we cultivate calmness in a world that seems anything but?
As the new year is already off to an "interesting" start, it seems like a good time to keep it simple. Pause and take few deep breaths. Maybe drink a little water, do a simple neck stretch or step outside to notice the trees or the sky. Instead of putting more pressure on yourself to "stay calm," just do one good thing that contributes to calmness right now, today.
Over time those small "good things" add up and build a momentum and magnetism. It's like watering a seed, one day at a time. We must water it even when it's underground and invisible if we want it to sprout. We can do this for ourselves and for out children, meeting the needs of the moment, day by day.
We wouldn't expect that seed to produce apples in a week. We wouldn't expect a toddler to start studying algebra. Yet how often we hold unrealistic expectations of ourselves as parents and teachers, which inevitably trickles down to our children. The question to ask is, what is the next right step in this moment? For you? For your child?
You might like to check out the Calmness Inventory, a free download on our website, to explore some of the different areas that contribute to our overall calmness. Some of them might surprise you! In our classes and discussion groups we frequently use tools and activities like this for introspection and reflection to help parents get perspective on what's unfolding and redirect the focus on what they CAN do, even if it seems small at first. Taking that next right step from where you are will get you much further (and make you much happier!) than criticizing yourself for how far you still have to go.
So, what's your one good thing for today?