If you’re seeing challenging behaviours or struggling to remain calm then there’s one step that’s more important than anything else: mastering your mind. Mastering your mind is your parenting superpower because it underpins everything else.
Here’s an example:
Watch the video or scroll down to read more…
A dad I worked with brought his 8-year-old son back from the park one Saturday morning. They sat down on the sofa and promptly had an argument about screen time.
The 8-year-old turned to his dad and said, “I hate you, Dad. You’re the worst dad in the world!” and he swore at him.
The first thought that Dad had was, “This isn’t the way to behave… It’s unacceptable… How dare you swear at me…” Understandable responses. And if you’ve had thoughts like that around your child’s behaviour, I totally get it. I mean, none of us wants to raise a brat.
But the cool thing is that this dad’s second thought, because we’d been working together on his parenting, was this:
“There’s always a reason for behaviour…”
And because of this thought, he didn’t lose his cool and the situation didn’t escalate.
What is meant by Mastering your Mind?
Mastering your mind is about choosing not to ‘react’, and instead pausing, and looking for a wiser, more emotionally intelligent way of understanding the current situation.
For example, I recommend the understanding that there’s always a reason for behaviour.
It reminds us that behaviour is never out of the blue – even if it often seems to be at first.
Next, you start working out what that reason is.
So, on the next call with this dad, we went ‘upstream’ to find out why his son had reacted so strongly. This is what transpired: When they’d been in the park the dad had met a friend whom he hadn’t seen for a long time – and naturally he’d wanted to chat.
Meanwhile his son had been trying to engage with him – wanting him to watch, wanting to talk to him, wanting to play with him. But this dad had sent him off, telling him to go and play with his friends, because he wanted to talk. On the one hand, this was the most natural thing in the world – and it was also the reason why his son was feeling grumpy when they got home.
Why is Mastering your Mind Important?
Well, the proof is in the pudding. This dad didn’t lose his cool. In the past, he would have shouted at his son and things would have escalated.
Instead, he kept his cool and he modelled remaining calm – and that’s what we want, isn’t it?
When you master your mind by having helpful thoughts around your child’s behaviour, you respond differently. You don’t go down the road of having knee-jerk responses, losing your temper or being sarcastic. You model a considered, mature response.
The beauty of this is that your child will imitate you, so you see rapid improvements in their behaviour.
Mastering your mind also makes parenting way more interesting because it becomes a path of self-development. You start to choose how you want to think and respond.
Ultimately, you choose the parent you want to be and the family that you want to have, in line with your personal values and who you truly are.
And that’s what makes it so exciting.
How can you learn it?
- Firstly, it’s really important to realise that mastering your mind requires a commitment. It won’t happen by itself or or by reading it once and thinking “that sounds like a good idea.”
- One way of doing this is to hang out with people who think in the way you want to learn to think. So, for example, on the Happy Family Programme – my group course for mums – mums are noticing that their thinking is changing: One mum had told her daughter to go to her room after her bath, but then noticed that she’d gone back downstairs. She would normally have got cross and told her daughter off saying: “Why are going downstairs? It’s late!” But, instead, she remembered that her daughter had experienced a slightly unhappy “good night” with her father. So she said to her, “Did you want to come down for another hug and to know that you are loved?” Her daughter burst into tears and ran across to her dad for a loving, healing hug. Mastering her mind enabled this mum to resolve this situation and support her daughter at a deep level.
- Another powerful way to master your mind and achieve shifts in your thinking is to get one-to-one support: When I’m working one-to-one with clients, it’s really cool because we work with those parts of us that can get stuck in negative thinking about your child or about yourself. There may be a part of you that’s worried that your child is selfish, for example. This worried part probably makes you lose your temper with your child much more than you’d like to. When you do a piece of work with this worried part, you get some distance from it. Because you’re no longer being informed by the worry, you feel better and you find it easier to guide your child with more kindness.
- And finally, if you’d like to put something of this into practice today in quite a practical way, I have a powerful audio, called Reset Your Relationship with your Child and it helps you think differently about your child and see them in a new, compassionate light.
N.B. If you’re reading this at the time of publishing, on June 30th 2021, I’ll be running my free online class – Three Radically Loving Steps to Connect with Your Child and Create Calm at Home. I’ll be walking you through this new and helpful way of thinking and how that translates into action that you can take at home to create more calm. If you sign up to received emails from me, I’ll let you know when registration is open – do join me if you can.
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