At the heart of conscious parenting and the Education for Life approach is not so much a set of particular techniques but a fundamental shift in our perception. It’s a shift in our consciousness that changes the way we see ourselves and our children.
In the first EFL class I took we were given the assignment to “look for the light,” - to go back to our classrooms and look for examples of students who were exhibiting light, expansive energy, and uplifting qualities. To my surprise, the student who had been bothering me the most with her twirling and dancing around during our preschool yoga class suddenly became the focus of my attention in a whole new way.
Rather than seeing misbehavior I now saw the playfulness and joy behind her behavior. I began to incorporate her ideas and movements into our sessions rather than seeing it as an interruption to my plan. My energy shifted and as a result the energy of the entire class shifted.
Sometimes we get so focused on what we don’t want to see that we miss what’s really there. We get caught on seeing the stubbornness or the messiness. Without realizing it we may be carrying around a little internal check list of qualities and behaviors that we want to make sure to cultivate or discourage in our children. Unfortunately even with the best of intentions these are still just expectations and as a friend pointed out to me recently, expectations are just another form of judgement.
Our expectations, even our positive ones, stand in the way of our ability to see our children for who they are right now. So what can we do? Practice looking for the light. Put yourself in the position of an observer. Take time to step back and notice your child’s behaviors from a fresh perspective.
One of the most powerful ways to help us shift our perspective is through gratitude. Gratitude changes everything. Whenever I ask parents to share what they appreciate about their children they light up. No matter how tired or frustrated or overwhelmed they’re feeling they never fail to find at least some small thing to be grateful for, to celebrate.
These small moments of gratitude lift our energy, change our thinking and most importantly reconnect us to our hearts. We let go of our expectations and remember what really matters. We allow ourselves to see and appreciate what’s right in front of us, just as it is. That’s the secret to bringing out the best in our children and in ourselves - seeing that it’s already there! Perhaps a bit hidden at times but when we take the time to really look we can see sparks of that light, that joy and goodness inherent in every soul.
As we enter this season of giving and gratefulness I invite you to take a moment to pause and practice appreciation - for your child but also for yourself. It takes great courage and determination to parent more consciously and your every effort contributes to creating a more conscious world. Appreciate yourself for the energy and intention you bring to your role as a parent and the effort you make every day, no matter how small.