Have you ever had the experience, when you’re going through a tough time with one of your kids, of finding it hard to connect with a real sense of warmth for them?
Being in a loving state helps us to respond to our child with kindness, empathy and support, calming whatever chaos might be going on inside of them.
And when it is missing, it is easy to become stuck in a downward spiral of our child’s off track behaviour, and our own frustration, irritation and anger.
Here are some ideas that can help to get us back on track, reconnecting with the love we have for our child, no matter how off track he or she (or we!) might be!
TURNING TO OURSELVES
1. Give ourselves some heartfelt empathy and compassion for just how hard it is right now, and remind ourselves that we are doing the very best we can given the resources we have.
2. Take some time to connect with the love and appreciation we have for ourselves; for all that we are, and all that we are doing and trying to do in our life right now. (HINT: Feeling love for ourselves can help us to connect with the love we have for our child.)
3. Give some love to our “child self”, which our child might be reminding us of. Take ourselves back to a younger age (perhaps our child’s age right now) and tell ourselves lovingly what we were needing to hear back then.
4. Lighten our emotional load via a listening partnership, therapy session, or journalling, and return to our child with a greater sense of spaciousness to help carry the load of their heavy feelings.
5. Refuel ourselves by doing nourishing things that bring us a sense of peace, joy and satisfaction, and come back to our child with a renewed sense of energy and inspiration to connect with them.
TURNING TO OUR CHILD
6. Take the time to slow down and really notice everything about our child without judgement – their facial expression, tone of voice, posture and movement – as though we were getting to know them for the first time.
7. Reconnect with our tenderness for our child by observing them as they sleep and noticing the peaceful expression on their face. Or watch them as they’re doing something they really love, and notice their face lit up with joy.
8. Look back at old photos of “easier times” when our child was younger and smaller, and reconnect with the sweetness inside of them (HINT: It’s still in there somewhere!).
9. Remind ourselves of how few years we have left with them as a child. Or of how little time they will be wanting us to take them to the toy shop, read to them, or hold their hand as they fall asleep.
10. Shift into a position of acceptance of our child exactly as they are – all of their thoughts, feelings and urges, their entire experience (while still setting appropriate limits on their behaviour).
11. Hold an intention to connect with the vulnerable feelings underneath our child’s behaviour. Imagine reaching through our child’s “protective shield” of harshness or aggression, to offer them kindness and reassurance.
‼️ And by all means, if things have gotten really hard and none of these suggestions seems to help, please reach out for some professional support for yourself.