Global Day of Parents was established by the UN General Assembly in 2012 to honor parents around the world. Being a parent has been said to be one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs a person could endeavor into. However, raising a child with complex mental, emotional and behavioral health challenges, can be confusing, fatiguing and often times result in feelings of fear, helplessness and even hopelessness. Parenting a child with anxiety, depression, suicidality, mood dysregulation, autism spectrum disorder, ADD/ADHD, or executive functioning disorder, looks much different than a child rolling along experiencing the anticipated developmental bumps in life. In recognition of not just all parents, but parents raising troubled or difficult children, we encourage you to take a few moments today to focus on yourself and acknowledge your efforts. You are selfless and we see you.
Self-compassion is fundamental to one’s health, well-being and the ability to stay the course in providing the parent leadership your children so desperately need. On behalf of Global Parent Day, we’d like to share one of our Parent Leadership Principles and an exercise focused on self-compassion.
Parent Leadership Principle #12
SLOW DOWN. BREATH. COUNT. Harvard University has a renowned program that teaches people from all over the world negotiation skills. You might be surprised to learn that a main take away from this for all participants is having learned how to: 1) slow down, 2) breath in, 3) breath out, and 4) to count to 10 while doing so. Parenting requires the exact same skills. It is not necessary to always respond and engage our children, and by taking the necessary time to breath, you will give yourself time to think through what matters most in the interaction at hand, and how to best ‘help things go right’.
Know What You Are Not Going to Say. When needing to address some type of problem with our kids, we often devote time and energy preparing for what we want to say and how we want to say it. This is a useful strategy, however, consider the equally important strategy of preparing for what we are not going say. By following both these tips you’ll avoid the problematic error of saying something you wish you had not said and regretting it. Identify your goals, what are your trying to accomplish, and how you will maintain your own regulation through the conversation you will be entering.
Relaxation & Self Compassion Exercise
Daily, spend 5 minutes laying on the floor with your legs up the wall. Get comfortable. This could be the calmest and most relaxing time you have each day. Cherish it. While laying on your back, put one hand on your belly one hand on your chest. Start noticing your breath. Just notice the rise and fall of your belly and chest. Notice the natural rhythm of your breathing. If your mind wonders, label it: “I’m noticing my mind has wandered” and bring yourself back to the rise and fall of your chest and belly. Label what you notice about what you are feeling in the different parts of your body. Perhaps you notice you right calf or your left thigh or hip. You may notice you lower back or shoulders. In your head, label what you feel in each of those areas – tight, relaxed, hot warm, clammy, soft, etc….. keeping your hands on your belly and chest this entire time. You are focused on relaxing your body, noticing the natural rhythm of your breathing. Is it fast, slow, labored, inconsistent? Are you holding your breath? Be present with yourself and slowly regulate your breathing. This is the time you allow yourself to be open to yourself, non-judgmental and accepting.
When you are ready, slowly sit up getting into a relaxing position, pay attention to the rhythm of your breath, and focus on keeping the rhythm of what you have just accomplished.