There are times that parents can become dulled to the emotional expression of their children. Especially when it seems as if they never get a break, or there is no one to talk with about what it’s like for them as the parent.
I remember several years ago walking down a store aisle to stand in line at the pharmacy. I felt my ears prick when I heard a young child cry out loudly. I looked around, to see whether I could be of assistance, when I stepped into the center aisle I saw a little girl of about 2-3 years of age crying. A man, I imagine it was her father, took ahold of her arm, leaned over her small form, and demanded in a very firm voice, "Be quiet! Stop it right now!"
The little girl shrank back yet naturally continued to cry loudly as her mother turned away from her and began to push the grocery cart, which held an even younger girl, down the aisle. The father pulled on the child's arm, nearly jerking her off her feet, as he spanked her with his other hand,...
How do people change, and how does one move through the ripples that flow from change itself? Do you welcome change with curiosity and openness in your body, or is it something you'd prefer to avoid all together and your body contracts at the very thought of change? Stepping into new schedules can be quite an adjustment for most, and for many others it can require an enormous step of faith, courage, and inner growth.
When my son, Rylan, was going to begin Junior High he was going to be participating in classes that would open up new opportunities for him; expand his learning, develop inner confidence, and create new friendships in community.
The last month of summer we deliberately focused on preparing for these changes by gradually shifting our schedules, so that everyone experienced as much ease and flow as possible. One of the ways we prepared was by joining a gym, meeting with a personal trainer, (for Physical Ed) and then going to the gym.
Waking Rylan up in...
Do you plan outings with your kids, ones that you both put time and energy into choosing what you'll be doing together and really look forward to? Has anything unexpected ever happened in the midst of one of those special times? If so, how did you react in the moment? Were you able to stay flexible and adaptable or does unpredictability simply knock you way off balance?
I enjoyed planning outings with my son, Rylan, fairly regularly when he was younger, often folding them into our homeschooling program. I remember one Monday we planned to go shopping for his winter coat after going to the doctor. This day was particularly exciting because we planned to go to the Valley Mall to do our shopping! Let me share the story with you.
Rylan took my hand in his as we crossed the parking lot to enter the mall, and as we went through the big doors he gave me a big grin saying, "I love you, Mom."
I gave his hand a squeeze and affirmed, "I love you too, son."...
Have you ever stopped to consider what you really want for your children? What kind of qualities you would like to see them develop as they grow and mature? When we attune to our children, we promote a healthy secure attachment within them. When we model how to tune in to the self, we also promote a foundation for resilience and flexibility.
I remember looking at the clock when I was getting ready to leave with Rylan for his lab appointment. I felt some alarm begin to ring in my chest as it tightened. Mindfully I slowed down the moment, I noticed I was telling myself we were going to be late. Taking in a deeper breath and breathing it out slowly, I smiled as I recognized and named for myself how much I value making and keeping agreements with others.
Feeling a sense of inner restoration, I called out to Rylan, "It's time to be going, did you brush your teeth and wash your face?"
"I'm not going!" Rylan said with a determined look as he stood with his...
I like to keep a gratitude journal, and the other day I was looking back over one of my very first journals that I started right after I first started learning nonviolent communication. I decided to share it with you today. It’s called reflecting on times that felt tough.
What I used to do was use what is called OFNR, observation, feeling, need and request. I did my best to reflect on each one of those steps. I really wanted to have more ease, peace and harmony, especially in relationship with my youngest son. I find it fascinating to go back and see where I was all those years ago.
O - My observation was: I really wanted to go to church this morning with my family...I tried to help Rylan get ready for Sunday School and it went downhill fast. I get so tired of needing to wait. I'm confused how to help him move forward out of being stuck. He uses such a loud voice, calls names progressively more violent, then explodes. Out of frustration I mirror him which escalates the...
Do you take the time to reflect on your relationship with your loved ones? What influences our feelings, perceptions, and behaviors as evolving human beings? Are you consciously creating a nurturing environment where safety and trust influence the activation of genes and sculpt the structure of the brain?
The genes that children inherit influence their development and shape the inborn characteristics of their nervous systems. Their experiences also directly shape their development and influence which genes are activated. Relationships that provide contingency (responses to other's signals with a quality, intensity, and timing which clearly reflect the signals that were sent), especially when emotions are heightened, offer our loved ones repeated experiences where they feel connected, understood and protected.
I noticed when homeschooling my son, Rylan, that rather than sharing a mutual sense of interest and wonder as we focused on learning, Rylan would shut down...
I remember when Rylan told me about his fears in the night. He said, ”I just get so scared! If I wake up and you aren't there I think you are dead!"
"I'm hearing just how scared you feel when you wake up and think I'm dead because you can't see me," I reflected, "you really like it when you know I'm okay and you aren't alone?" I guessed.
"Yeah," Rylan's eyes widened as he continued, "but I get so scared my stomach hurts and it terrifies me! I want it to stop and I don't know what to do."
"So you feel so scared your stomach hurts and it's terrifying? You really want it to stop; yet don't know what to do? I'm guessing you might like some support and new tools maybe?" I reflected with an empathy guess.
Rylan nodded and leaned towards me slightly. Taking in his nonverbal cues, I drew in a deep breath to ground myself, then asked, "Do you remember the tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) we did together when you were six...
How do you foster relationship within yourself and with others? What is your first thought upon waking or before falling asleep at the end of the day? Do you greet yourself with kindness upon waking, taking the time to imagine your upcoming day with curiosity? At the end of the day, do you take time to reflect and celebrate the moments that went well and to mourn and repair those moments that were difficult? How do you greet your loved ones "Good morning" and say "Good night" before they go to bed?
I have been intentional to take time every morning and night to reflect and ponder these questions surrounding relationships and discovered with some delight and fascination how this practice unfolded in my relationship with my youngest son.
I remember waking up as a child hearing my Dad downstairs singing, "Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day..." and as I came down the stairs he would greet me with a cheerful smile, "Good morning,...
Stress is insidious. As aware as our culture may seem to be about stress interrupting our ability to enjoy life, I wonder how many people truly understand the importance of attuning to the emotional subtleties of stress in order for it to dissipate.
My husband and I noticed that when our son, Rylan, started kindergarten at age five, he would cling to me when separating. When I returned, he initially greeted me with desperate relief until we were on our way home. Then in the car he expressed loud, angry outbursts of energy, and I needed to pull over to the side of the road to gently hold and soothe him repeatedly. I remember feeling shock, shame, and confusion in my own body, mystified by the perplexing rages my son experienced when transitioning.
Over time I learned that when we perceive danger in our environment, the way a child does when separating from a parent, the lack of safety amps up a gradual stress response that affects the whole body....
Birthday celebrations. What images come to mind reading those words just now? Do you remember looking forward to celebrating your special day as a child, or are there clouded memories of disappointment? For years our son, Rylan, began anticipating his birthday celebration right after the Christmas holidays. Typically when that magical day arrived, his nervous system was wound so tight with expectations, the slightest disappointment would trigger the aroused sympathetic branch of his system into acute distress.
As distress levels build up in children, a hormonal chain reaction is set in motion and their bodies are primed for action. High levels of stress hormones wash over the brain and body, and there is a withdrawal of the chemicals that promote feelings of well-being, the pain circuits in the brain are activated, just as they would be if the child were hurt physically.
I remember previous years when upon hearing that his friend could not come to...