Pure Present Parenting Knocks out Misbehavior

Monday, April 20, 2015

Did you ever notice a difference in how you and your child behave when you are present versus distracted? Think about your own ability to be present and focus on the job when your facilitator or boss is present versus not present.

Much of our misbehavior stems from our reluctance to be exactly in the moment, accountable for exactly what is in front of us.  When we manage our children while preoccupied, we are less inclined to make decisions that are sensible. We are more inclined to do what I call “knee jerk” or “mood based” parenting. That is, we will shoot from the hip, speak without thinking and often undermine our confidence.  And, children can sense this keenly. Knowing the person in charge is not all present and easy to react,  fosters insecurity. The probability that we, as parents, will act out our frustrations and so will our kids is greatly increased when we are not purely present.

How do we manage to be purely present when we manage our children?  First off, step back and take the time to assess all systems. By systems, I mean the routines for getting ready in the morning, after school and ready for bed. We know from studying behavioral compliance that the regularity of routines makes it easier to comply.  We are hard-wired in a fashion whereby we crave routines because with routine, the brain can manage behavioral circuits with minimal thinking.  Think about driving somewhere and taking the same route every time; you do not have to think and there is little stress.  When we are inconsistent, our children have to adjust and adapt rather than knowing what to expect. For the highly sensitive child, changes in routine are especially stressful.

Putting thought into our systems comes first and how we set up our morning or bedtime routine is based on a values assessment, so parenting requires contemplation first. For example, you may want to ask your kids to put all screens and cell phones in an outlet station by 10:00p.m., based on your knowing the downside of technological temptations late at night.  You may determine to make oatmeal in the crockpot prior to retiring because otherwise no one will bother to eat in the morning. And, so forth.  It is entirely beneficial to reevaluate your system in order to make it the most effective, and it is fine to tweak it to suit each child’s temperament and developmental capacity.  Just avoid changing too often and be sure to calmly prepare and announce the changes beforehand.  Note: you do not need to defend your decisions with long explanations and opening of negotiation!

In addition to being proactive in your thinking through the kind of routine that is optimal for your family, there is another key component to being purely present to knock out misbehavior. You have a job to do whenever you need to guide and manage your children. Think of it as being on a work shift, and by all means trade off shifts with your parenting partner or with a child care provider, to maximize your better parenting presence.

Prior to walking out of your bedroom door to start your morning or as you are driving home from work to start your shift on your second job as parent, upon arrival, “put on your zoot suit.” By this I mean, take an internal inventory in order to clear out your head and put various agenda “on a shelf” so you can attend to the parenting task at hand.  Being purely present reduces frustration and increases calm presence. It means you accept that you can be nowhere else, mentally or physically. By doing this, you will find that your children are better able to respond to directives.

Being purely present is not about hovering or being enmeshed to the point you are doing homework with your children or reading five bedtime stories rather than the allotted two stories. In fact, being present means you are clear, calm and confident and thereby better able to stick with the limits and boundaries that match your routine. You will also be more able to use natural incentives without reactivity that involves screaming and threatening.  You can be that matter-of-fact mom or dad that simply states the neutral expectation, without personalizing “two more bites and you are free to go,” “when you finish washing up, you will get jammies on and have time for stories.”  Be careful to state directives objectively, avoiding emotionality and making it about what you might take away.

Parenting is about practicing patience and presence with a calm confident demeanor. When a household has a habit of drama and reactivity, it will take some time to transform to a greater sense of calm confidence. In practicing this kind of powerful parenting, children feel greater security, in knowing that their parents are in charge and holding them in a manner that empowers compliance.  When we accept our job without underlying desires to escape, we can be purely present and knock out much of the misbehavior.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015 at 9:29 am and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Comment