Seizing the Opportunity

Whether you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or a first or seventh time mom, we seem to always have the opportunity placed in front of us to either be calm, get angry, or freak out. As a mother I realize that one of the most important things that I can do to model consistently is my ability to take things in stride and to act instead of react. In other words, seizing the opportunity to be the calm that I want them/her to be.

Sounding a little too existential for a Monday morning blog post? Am I am the only mom consistently given the opportunity, sometimes on a minute by minute basis, by my child – toddler, and my expectant hubby when I was preggo, to confront challenges and an unemotional way? The times that I have successfully met these challenges with ease and grace has been few and sometimes unfortunately far between. As my daughter has aged, the wisdom I’m curating (thanks to amazing teacher’s and resources) all come down to the same thing: can we face any situation calmly?

  • a toddler refusing to eat

  • an infant unable to sleep

  • a young child boldly testing the limits that you have set

The ultimate parenting tool in all of those circumstances is to pause, take a breath, and calmly insist – gently meet the resistance, keep them close, over and over and over again.

With the newborn it’s easier to understand that they just need food, diaper changing, and sleep. Most of the tears are about those needs.  Of course our greatest challenge during that time is that we are sleep deprived and usually completely unprepared for the fall out from that.  Remember that when you are confronted with a crying and seemingly defiant toddler, who is tired, it’s way past their bedtime, and they’re completely unreasonable.   Actually we should be remembering that with our life partners as well, not getting enough sleep makes everybody crabby, cranky, and unreasonable.

It is during the toddler stage (the terrible twos and threes) where we start to see the emergence of will.  This is where everybody’s parenting skills and sympathy for the child starts to unwind.  Cooler heads need to prevail, we need to be able to take a breath, step, outside of the moment (at least in our mind), and remind ourselves that their brain capacity cannot conduct any type of abstract thinking.  Rather it is a test of our ability to stay calm and ride through the storm with them.

In early childhood the impact of school and schoolmates, social circles, and outside influences to the family cocoon become more important.  We start to realize that our time as the governing parent is actually quite short, and these little budding individuals have a mind of their own and will be using it for better or worse sooner than we think. How can we best prepare them, and not lose our minds in the process?

  • stay calm – seize the opportunity to do this always

  • ride thru the storms together

  • consistent, clear boundaries, gently but firmly enforced

  • remembering the good, the successes, and enjoying them together

  • family time in nature or vacations – family nurture time

Sound like yoga or mindfulness meditation?  Buddhism? A spirituality self help gimmick? Perhaps at first glance, but I believe these methods stand the test of time.

Some of my favorite resources:

  • RIE, caring and respecting for infants created by Magda Gerber

Stay strong, keep the faith, practice consistency, incorporate pause and reflection, act instead of react.

Alisa Donner, MSW, LCSW, Co-Founder of PAM, and mother to an amazing wonder

**PAM encourages you to take our perspectives and talk amongst yourselves.  Consult with professionals.  Find your own way. 


 

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