By Jo Zammit
Conscious Parenting is not a set of rules for parents to follow or obtaining perfection rather it is about parents being mindful of their behaviours who encourages their child’s individuality so they can be who they choose to be and thrive. A parent-centric parenting philosophy. Based on the idea that the problem isn’t the kids, but our own “unconsciousness” as parents. The focus is always on the parents, rather than the child’s behaviour. In order to “fix” our children, we should first fix ourselves.
Conscious parenting isn’t about being wrong, right, or better, it is finding what feels good for you, your child, and learning together along the way. When I was pregnant with my eldest child, my mother unexpectedly passed away. As I was navigating a very special time in my life, I was in deep grief. Among other things, I desperately wanted to ask my Mother so many questions about motherhood. Like you, you might want the ‘parenting manual’ but you know deep down there actually isn’t one. But you want this like I wanted my Mum’s advice because we just want to do what is right for our children, so they can thrive, be happy and grow up to be well-rounded adults. We want to do our role right but often get overwhelmed with all the different parenting advice.
Conscious parenting is about being mindful of your behaviors and triggers rather than trying to control or get your children to be a certain way. Before continuing I want you to know that all the answers already inside of you, and how you do things are a gift to the world and your children so please find comfort in this.
Wasn’t something I learned, it was something I naturally discovered and became. And it definitely didn’t start out this way. I often got overwhelmed and when we were out, I would get embarrassed if the children weren’t behaving. Moreover, I found it really difficult to be present as I was always so busy. I then started to feel guilty because I prayed for these children and yet I wasn’t even finding the joy.
My beautiful and very humble husband said to me when my Mum passed away, your Mum now plays a different role for us now, whilst she won’t be able to babysit on the weekends like other grandparents she will guide us with the big choices and decisions we need to make. It gave me a sense of calm to know that not only would I have this beautiful support whenever I needed it, so would our children. This was the first time I realized that I didn’t need to know all the answers to motherhood but to follow my intuition and to rely on support that was bigger than me and outside of me. I didn’t need to do it all myself and neither did you.
What I didn’t realize at the time….
My Mother’s passing was an integral part of my path to enlightenment, and during these years of grief, I was slowly returning to me. I was becoming conscious. I was using motherhood and my situations, relationships, and setbacks as a mirror to discover what needed healing inside of me, so I could return to my authentic self and through this journey became a conscious parent. If you are interested in learning about how I used grief and how I started to become more aware you can read more here.
What is consciousness?
Deepak Chopra explains consciousness as awareness. Being aware is also being mindful. Consciousness refers to your individual awareness of your unique thoughts, memories, feelings, sensations, and environments. 10% of your mind represents your conscious mind. That is where you reason, make decisions, where your willpower is stored. 90% represents your subconscious mind.
If we don’t become aware of our thoughts, habits, actions, reactions, the same stories and situations will continually appear in our life. Dr. Michael Beckwith describes the 4 stages of consciousness which you can read more about in my blog here.
How is our subconscious formed?
Our subconscious is developed from 0-7 and it is during this time children believe everything as fact. It isn’t until 8 years old that a child’s analytical mind is formed. So during these early stages of childhood, the child develops a library of identifications and associations which becomes the script of their life, both positive and negative. The identifications lead to associations that lead to emotion. For example, a child had a scary experience with a dog. The identification is the dog, the experience is frightening, and the emotion is fear. Therefore the script reads identification of a dog leads to the association of danger that leads to the emotion of fear. So whatever you are telling your child during these formative years is what they believe true about themselves.
Children are very receptive…
Between these ages when their right brains are active and their left brains – which includes critical thinking – are not yet fully functional. It is during those formative years that subconscious mind programming naturally occurs. It is how people take on limiting beliefs that sabotage their success, including the hurtful words of a tired parent or those of an educator who lost their patience.
How can I be more conscious?
We are in the theta brain waves naturally throughout the day. When we are doing habitual practices like driving the car or brushing our teeth. In order to change our life, we need to access our subconscious mind and consciously change it. Otherwise, it will just continue to play the same stories and situations in our life. We can access the theta brain waves (subconscious mind) in deep meditation self-hypnosis and visioning. You can read a bit more about this practice here.
If you think of the analogy that you are the vehicle. Your subconscious is the GPS. If you want to not go to the default setting in your GPS which gives you the same experiences, challenges, and relationships that you are currently experiencing then you need to put in new directions into your GPS which is your intention. Your heart is your engine. This is a great analogy for when you want to refocus your attention back on you and not your kid’s behavior. Here are my 5 A’s and how to do the work for you first. This is conscious parenting.
Understanding that this is a process….
And ongoing learning and habit will allow you to release the idea of perfection. Like exercising to maintain a healthy body or eating healthy foods is a habit, becoming conscious aka requires patience, discipline, and commitment. It isn’t about achieving or arriving, it is about finding the joy now in the present moment on your journey home. Deepak Chopra says spend a few minutes every day sitting quietly and just reflecting on who you are, what you want from your life, what is meaning for you. Focus on what you’re grateful for. Sit quietly, either observing your breath, or feeling your body, or if you have a mantra practice, use it.
What is conscious parenting?
Clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali, author of The Conscious Parent reveals how discipline is a major cause of generations of dysfunction. Most traditional forms of parenting (and teaching) see the child as the problem that needs fixing. If we continue down this road, our children then develop this ‘truth’ that they are the problem and they need fixing if they are constantly being told they are wrong.
According to Dr. Shefali, the true source of frustration and uncertainty faced by most parents comes from one fundamental misunderstanding that has been perpetuated for generations, which is this:
The child you’ve been blessed with isn’t actually the most important one for you to focus on.
But rather, it’s the one inside you.
Because until you heal your inner child’s wounds and return to a space of deep love and self-awareness – then you won’t be able to show up as the parent your actual child needs.
In fact, that’s precisely how you end up tattooing all of your own shortcomings and self-destructive patterns onto your child.
And so instead of worrying over discipline, parenting tactics, or which school or class to send your child to…
The absolute best thing you can do for your child is first to nurture your own inner child.
This doesn’t mean that tantrums stop. Or your children sit quietly or they never make a mess. Even this doesn’t mean they will always make the right choice. But what it does is, firstly if you are triggered by this (frustration, annoyance, anger, short-tempered, sadness) then this is an opportunity for you to work on this message. Your soul is showing you where you need to do further healing. What a gift! But if you can find the calm in the chaos, the empathy that like you, your child is still learning, experimenting, and evolving you will find so much more peace and flow in your days.
Conscious parenting is seeing our children as our mirror. That includes the good too. So when you notice a beautiful quality in your child, this is something you deeply acknowledge about yourself too.
Benefits of conscious parenting:
Conscious parenting deepens your child’s trust in the world and secures your influence as something to be regarded as safe and reliable. This cultivates the environment your child needs to develop and thrive – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
This approach personally has allowed for so much less stress. It has allowed me to enjoy the process of motherhood rather than being overwhelmed. We had more flow and slowness to our days and we all are a lot happier. It doesn’t mean we don’t have tantrums or we always do the right thing, but we are more flexible and it takes so much pressure off me as a mother to 3 little children. You read more about my journey with conscious parenting here.
I just want to pause for a moment as you are reading through this. Take what resonates and leave what doesn’t. An invitation to be mindful of what triggers you and possibly asking yourself why? Use this as a catalyst to look at a differing perspective – why it works for you and to really acknowledge if it is in fact serving you. There is no right or wrong, just what is right for you. If conscious parenting resonates with you I invite you on the journey of constant learning, growing, evolving, being present, and finding joy. If you would like to discover more about what your beliefs and values are (and if your actions are representing this) you can in my instant download – The Mama and Mini Kit.
Conscious Parenting Unlearning: I need to have it all worked out
Remembering: Learn with me and alongside me.
In the past, many generations have been taught that parents have all the answers. But no one has all the answers. But the learning is in the being and becoming. If we teach our children that we are all-knowing and have all the answers then this provides them with the modeled behavior that they have to be the same. This is a very high standard and expectation and feeds perfectionism. So rather than knowing it all, be ok with that and if you aren’t use this as an opportunity to do self-healing and ask yourself why? Tell your child you don’t have the answer right now, but you will learn and come back to them. Or better yet, learn together and come to the conclusion together.
How to put into action:
Your child is having a tantrum and you are getting overwhelmed, you can feel your temperature rising and you can feel you are about to head into old habits of screaming or losing your temper. Firstly, well done, you have become aware. Secondly, say to your child, I just need a moment, I am not sure how to deal with this right now, I am going to do some deep breathing. It is ok to not know what to do. You can repeat this prayer.
“Universe/Angels/God please support me right now, and show me the next steps that are the most loving for me and my child, thank you”.
If you can change the environment and go outside, lay on the Earth and let Mother nature support you. Show with your actions to your child that you will ask for help and are open to receiving it.
Conscious Parent Unlearning: I need to be positive all the time
Remembering: When I express and feel my emotions I am paying attention to what my inner child needs. I notice my triggers
Generations have taught us that if you show emotion it is weak (particularly with men) but look where that has got us. Almost two-thirds of worldwide suicides are by men. Also, the common misunderstanding is that if you let your child see you upset they will be negatively impacted. No one on Earth will ever not experience negative emotion. Our world is made up of both polarities (negative and positive energy). But if your child never sees it, how will they ever know how to deal with it when it comes up with them?
So let your children see you working through your emotions which will teach them how to work through theirs. Be honest. Because when you are honest you are showing your child how to be truthful with themselves. By demonstrating to them that you have bad days and you have times where you are frustrated. And this is all okay. It shows that you are learning along with them. Furthermore, it shows them that you want to be out of this vibration and you want to find happiness.
When you as the Universe for a better situation, you are asking for expansion. You are creating a new world for everyone else too.
Therefore, tell your children that you are learning as well and show them the processes that you do to raise your vibration or to get back to happiness or balanced energy. You can read more about how to raise your vibration here. When you suppress your emotions you are not only reinforcing to yourself and your child that there are bad emotions. And you aren’t accepting all of you. If you want to read more about this you can here.
Be mindful not to place blame on other people or situations (this includes gossiping) for the way you are feeling. Own your reactions and use this as an opportunity to grow. Your children will learn this too.
How to put into action:
You have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, running late, you will be stuck in traffic and are repeating your low vibe stories. Your child drops their milk all over their school uniform as you leave for the house. Rather than blaming your child for dropping their milk and making you later, be honest and tell them how you are having a hard morning. How you are feeling frustrated and angry. Start this conversation with your child, you might be surprised they might even be able to give you some strategies to work through the emotions. Like you, your children, are powerful creators. Explain to your child some strategies you are going to do now, it doesn’t matter if we take another 5 minutes, this is important to pay attention to how I am feeling.
Do some deep breathing, meditate, place your bare feet on the Earth or put a high vibe song on. Take note of what may have triggered these feelings in the first place so you can later work on this during your own self-healing time. Check out this blog on journal to help you through your triggers.
Conscious Parenting Unlearning: My child is a reflection of me and if they don’t succeed or aren’t happy it is all my fault
Remembering: Free your children from the need for your approval and others
“Children don’t need us to lead them to an awakened state because they are already awake,” Tsabary writes. “As parents, it’s vital for us to understand that as long as our children are in touch with their deepest self, with its boundless resources, they will motivate themselves beyond anything we could ever imagine.”
How to put it into action:
Besides believing that your child needs to do certain things like acting a certain way (especially out in public – tantrum in a restaurant has nothing to do with you, your reaction does). Or meeting eating, sleeping, high grades that society and good-willed parents put onto them. **Please note: if you do believe it – why? Use this as a mirror to deeply understand what you believe and why. And if you don’t actually believe, you can change it. You can regularly let them know how accepted and appreciated they are simply for being themselves. Fill up their cup all day. But start with filling up yours.
When your cup is overflowing, you can give to others freely and without feeling exhausted. When you are exhausted your body is communicating to you. Listen. Be mindful of what you say to yourself and your children. Is it loving, is it kind, is it helpful?
In fact, Tsabary says the most important objective of being a parent is creating space for our children to be in touch with their own spirit. If you want them to eat veggies, you eat them first. Or grow them together in your garden and then let your child decide if they want to have them. Your job is to offer the rainbow, it is their choice to choose it. This is less stressful for you and them and allows for healthy life-long choices to be made.
Think back to when you were forced to do something as a child, do you still do it now as an adult? Maybe you do it to your child or maybe you simply don’t do it at all? Let them see you be calm because you meditate so they can choose to do this for themselves rather than you tell them they must do it. If you want more examples on how to do this you can check out my book – My Happy Book.
Conscious Parenting Unlearning: I need to protect my child from everything including pain so I must discipline
Remembering: My child is a powerful creator and healthy boundaries are important for us.
Remember your child is a soul, having a human experience, just like you. Here to learn, grow and evolve. Maybe even a more advanced (not better) soul than you? Your child is here to help you evolve like you are for them. Think about the equality you wish to see in the world, start now with you and your child. Start to listen to your inner guidance system (intuition) and if you don’t maybe use this as an opportunity to reflect on why you don’t think you have all the answers and use it as an invitation to heal this.
When you stop seeking direction from outside of you or always asking others for their advice (which puts their opinion higher than uses) and start to use your intuition, your child will continue to do this for themselves. Remembering that your child is whole and has innate gifts. I bet your child is pretty good at knowing what feels right for them. This doesn’t mean they get to watch their iPad all night or run across the road or ride their bike without a helmet but loosen the reins a bit. This is where you can model and discuss healthy boundaries.
When you always are telling them what to do, think, act or how to behave (without explanation or purpose ie. ‘this is how we do things’) you are subconsciously teaching them not to trust themselves or use their inner guidance system. Involve them in the discussion even if they are babies and show them the boundaries you create for yourself. The conscious parenting approach to boundaries focuses on the three C’s: creating clear, consistent, and compassionate boundaries so discipline is unnecessary. You can learn more about how to create healthy boundaries with your child in My Happy Book.
How to put into action:
Your child has a fight with their friend at school and comes home in tears. Rather than trying to call the other parent and say how wrong their child was or tell your child that the other child is jealous of them. Instead, focus on the solutions to further protect your child. Sit with them, cry and feel the emotion alongside them, this is holding space for them. Once they are calm (this doesn’t need to be the same day, give this time where you truly hold them and acknowledge their pain). Discuss different ways you can have those ‘hard conversations with friends. Finally, what a trusting relationship looks like. Moreover, use this time to visualize together.
If the trigger for you is your child won’t clean their room rather than telling them they will ‘lose’ something if they don’t do what you say, visualize your child’s greatest and helpful behavior. Discuss their strengths with them when you are calm and ask them what is something they would like to do around the house or point out how they clean the playroom so well. Fill up their cup. Fill up yours and celebrate all the work you do for the household too. To learn alongside your child and have practical examples of how to do this with your child and so much more check out My Happy Book.
A final loving note…
Accepting that you can learn with your child will change everything. You’ll trust that it’s ok that you don’t need to know all the answers, and the learning is in the doing, in the becoming. As you allow yourself to surrender you will find your child will too which will bring more flow, joy and will bring you closer together. The conscious parent is finding their own way back to their soul’s essence, their parenting ego has crumbled and they now support and journey alongside the powerful creator that their child is.
If you would like mindfulness activities and practices to do with your child as you continue on your path of reparenting yourself and learn alongside your child, please check out My Happy Book. For further information on The Conscious Parent check out Dr. Shefali’s book.