Hello, dear conscious parent
As I learn more about Internal Family System, a humanistic method in psychotherapy created by Dr. Richard Schwartz, I will “borrow” the 4C’s of the Self as described by Dr. Schwartz and apply them to conscious parenting, so you can have a new perspective on what it means to be a conscious parent. As such, Conscious Parenting is:
Connection is everything in parenting. Also, connection is not possible in the absence of safety. Safety creates connection, and the parent is 100% responsible for creating the emotional environment in the home – regardless of how difficult the child’s behaviors are. This is HARD work for any parent- be gentle when you judge yourself, but do take action to change things around. I teach tools for connection in my program; I also wrote many articles on this topic here.
Curiosity is such a gift! It means that we become genuinely curious about what’s happening beneath the behavior. We don’t rush to label or punish the behavior; we listen, listen, listen! For curiosity to become a default reaction, a parent must be willing to learn about brain development; how emotions work in a child; what emotions communicate; what trauma is; effects of mom & dad dynamics on the child; etc.
Your child needs you when he or she is at their worst. Typically, that’s when parents “lose it”. As a result, the relationship becomes very conditional and superficial. Very disconnected. The child feels unseen, unsafe and unheard. Compassion for someone means: “I see your pain and I want to help you. I see you for who you are despite this ugly behavior. How can I help you? What do you need right now?”
With young children, this language is not required; our loving and containing presence is sufficient. Again, this is hard work for a parent who doesn’t have self-compassion or lacks self-awareness.
Being able to stay calm and grounded in the middle of an emotional storm goes hand in hand with being compassionate towards your child. We lose our temper, or feel stressed when we feel helpless. We don’t know what (else) to do and become reactive. Young children can’t self-regulate, hence time-outs don’t work! They need a loving and calm adult who can co-regulate their emotions together. Only then, the nervous system of the child can go back into feeling safe again. We can’t help a child from a place of agitation, powerlessness or reactivity.