Conscious Parenting 101
Thanks to Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth, including it's message of the idea of conscious parenting is getting widespread media coverage. Whether or not you agree with all of Tolle's ideas, his advice on parenting is sound. According to Tolle, conscious parenting consists largely of simply being with your child. This article explores that idea, as well as some other aspects of this new movement in parenting.
What is Conscious Parenting?
Before you dismiss these ideas as too new-agey and fluffy for you, consider the meaning of the word conscious according to Websters:
1. perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation
2. sharing another's knowledge or awareness of an inward state or outward fact
3. personally felt
4. capable of or marked by thought, will, design, or perception
6. having mental faculties undulled by sleep, faintness, or stupor : awake
7. done or acting with critical awareness
8. likely to notice, consider, or appraise
9. being concerned or interested
10. marked by strong feelings or notions
Synonyms: Aware, Awake
Doesn't seem so woo-woo now does it? Let's all be more conscious in our parenting, more aware of how we're perceiving and appraising our children, as well as noticing our behavior and what's behind it.
Proponents of conscious parenting believe we are at a crucial point in the history of our planet. Basically, the future of the human race depends on our children's ability to be peace-makers. Whether you believe this is nothing new, simply the human condition, or you believe major destruction is imminent if we don't take major action now - you'll have to agree that raising peaceful little people is not a bad thing. Maybe conscious parenting is the philosophy that speaks to you and helps you be the best parent you can be. In other words, can't hurt, might help.
Mama Comes First
Conscious parenting calls for parents to pay attention to their children and, more importantly to their own thoughts and behaviors. It's important to understand out own needs and personal hurts in order to avoid repeating painful patterns from our past. The idea is to limit the damage we pass on to our children so that they grow into healthy and balanced people.
Especially when frustration levels are high, we tend to fall into old, familiar patterns of behavior. Conscious parenting is all about being awake and aware to what's going on with your child now and deal with that situation or feeling.
Give Children What They Need
According to Michael Grayson Conner, child psychologist, parents need to pay particular attention to the words we use, as well as our expectations when dealing with our children. According to Conner, here is what children need:
- Children need examples and simple instructions. They need you to show them what you want and how to do it.
- Children need to practice. It is best to have simple goals with only a few steps. Tasks that are complex should be broken down into smaller takes. As a general rule, complex activities need to be practiced about 60 times before it becomes natural.
- Children need supervision and guidance when they are learning new tasks. The idea is to keep students on task, correct mistakes, help when they are stuck, allow them to struggle, and to avoid discouraging failures.
- Children need lots of encouragement and praise for their initiative, creativity and effort. They need to learn that persistence in the face of failure and discouragement can lead to success.
- Children need opportunities to do things on their own while someone periodically monitors their behavior.
We practice conscious parenting when we are actively engaged in meeting these needs. When we are paying attention to what the child needs right now. Conner provides a great example of an interaction between a child who's been asked to clean her room and a parent who just wants it done.
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