Parenting: How to Practice What We Teach by Desirae Ofori
“Do as I say, not as I do!” We don’t literally say that but, many times (if we’re honest) it’s what we imply when we tell our kids to do things, we struggle to practice ourselves.
After re-listening to Podcast Episode 9 – A New Way of Parenting: Mindful Conscious Parenting, this is one of the many things Tyeisha Duhart said that stood out to me:
“Protect the core of the littles”.
Of course, that’s what I want to do! I’ll do anything possible to protect my kids.
Yet, it also made me think – who’s protecting my core? And am I practicing what I’m working so hard to teach my children? Once we become adults it’s our responsibility to explore new ways to improve ourselves as human beings. In reality, we take over as the parent and continue raising ourselves.
Tyeisha further spoke about the top phrases she says to her children. I tried to think of what my top phrases were then wondered, am I repeating these phrases to myself?
Honestly, I still have some work to do with what and how I say things out of frustration. However, I do believe more positive comes out than negative. Remember, I want to protect the core of my littles. And now, I too want to protect my core and be more mindful of the phrases I speak to myself. Consequently, practicing what I teach.
Below are four of my most used phrases to my littles, with examples and how you can also use them to practice what you teach.
1. Take Your Time – Pace Yourself
For the Kids – When Samson (my 3.5-year-old) is frustrated with trying to complete a new task, I’ll usually jump in and say, “Samson, take your time”. I know that if he takes his time and works slower at say, untangling a shoelace, then he will be able to better examine what the obstacle is and discover a more effective way to get it done – minus the tears and meltdown.
For You – Often we fill our “plates” with eyes that are bigger than said plate has the room for. Although “finishing my plate”, is not impossible, I’ve been learning that I can be more effective and efficient if I “take my time” and pace myself. By doing this I can avoid setting off a bunch of triggers that could easily send me into a downward spiral of anxiety and regret. Taking the time to pace myself, does not mean that I’m procrastinating or that things will never get done. I’m just putting in place realistic steps and SMART goals to help get the job(s) done. Again, rushing often leads to making mindless mistakes which turn into double the work. Work smarter not harder, take your time and pace yourself.
2. Use Your Words – Take a Deep Breath
For the Kids – I don’t know what it is about crying and whining that just gets under my skin (who’s with me). Especially if your child is able to talk. So when Samson starts up whining or is getting upset – we quickly say, “Use your words”. His teacher does the same thing, which is so helpful! We tell him, we can’t help if we don’t know what is wrong. “Take a deep breath” is another phrase that I toss in with “use your words”.
If your child can’t form a full sentence, encourage them to speak a couple of words or to point. As he gets older using his words, forces him to pause, think, and put words to his emotions – and get better at communicating what he’s feeling. This is also building his conflict resolution skills.
For You – Speak up! Instead of retreating to isolation, using violence, or being passive aggressive, speak up to how you feel. People are not mind-readers, and even if the emotion you are presenting should be “obvious” or “self-explanatory”, no one can truly know what is going on in your mind or how something affects you if you don’t verbally communicate. Even if you aren’t able to fully get your thoughts together at the moment, express that you need some time – “I need a moment”, “I’ll get back to you”, etc. But whatever you do, don’t let it linger. Space and time can make an issue swell bigger than it initially was, like a sponge being dripped on by a leaky faucet.
3. You Can Do It – Be Brave
For the Kids – Lead with positivity as often as possible and affirm them to the positive characteristic you want them to believe and display. We often expect our kids to “act their age”, and usually, we’ll say things like you’re a big boy or big girl you can do this! But honestly, what does big boy or big girl really mean? Also, it’s easier and natural for kids (or anyone) to do the action they hear instead of the opposite. Example: Don’t run – walk slowly. Stop yelling – talk softly. Don’t be scared – be brave.
One day it clicked. I realized instead of telling Samson that he’s a big boy and can go without me to his class – that I should ask him if he could be brave and go without me. It clicked for him too, and he lit up like a light bulb! So, for the past month, he’s been “Mr. Brave” (coined by the Receptionist) and goes to class without me, and with no reluctance or tears. I’m so proud of him!
For You – Instead of beating yourself up for what you think you should have accomplished by whatever age you are, affirm yourself to what you’d like to see. Also, remind yourself of what you can do, that is right in front of you. Ex: I can’t afford that – I am saving up for that. I hate my job – I’m gaining skills and tools for my own business (or a better job). I don’t like how I look in this – I love how I feel in that. I wish I was married/in a relationship – I’m learning how to have a healthy and strong relationship and improving myself. And remember this:
Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. And milestones aren’t set in stone.
4. I Love You – I Just Want to Love You
For the Kids – I never want “I love you” to be a watered down token phrase in our home. I want my kids to know down to their core that they are loved – not just because I am their mom, but because I really truly care for them. I enjoy “surprising” them with I love you when they least expect it. Sometimes randomly I’ll suddenly stop Samson – ” Oh my gosh Samson, guess what!?” And he’ll look surprised like yeah??? Then I’d say with a ton of excitement or softly, “I Love You” And that just makes him smile and usually, he’ll mimic me and say it back or do his own version. Plus if we’re having a hard time and need some physical touch (another love language), we’ll reach out and say “I just want to love you”. Or I’ll ask, “do you need some loving?”
For You – When is the last time you told yourself that you loved you and embraced yourself. In an era of social media highlight reels where we can easily fall into the trap of comparison, identity struggles, and positive self-worth it’s easy to go days on end without affirming and loving ourselves. We are valuable, we have worth, we are important, and we have a purpose that adds to the world around us.
If we don’t fill our own love tank, then how can we purely give or even receive from others? So make it a point to literally tell yourself, “hey you, I love you.” And if you don’t believe it, keep saying it every day until the truth of it manifests in your mind, your soul and radiates throughout your world with everything you do. Plus don’t be afraid to reach out to let those who are closest to you know that you’re in need of some loving – especially if you’re going through a hard time. A shoulder to cry on, some girl time and dessert, or even just a hearty hug.
What about you?
Are there any phrases that you use with your children that you could start using on yourself? Please share them with me in the comments.
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Feature photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash