Kids. Love 'em to pieces, but then there's some days when they just...well.. test your wills as a human. Maybe they're just not listening. Maybe they are being outright defiant. And, wait, did they just break that after you told them not to touch it for the 1,475th time??
Breathe. Yes, breathe. Breathe again.
We know yoga has amazing benefits on our own bodies, helping us to feel more calm and centered. But in those moments of parental angst, when you just want to scream you way into getting your kids to comply, how do you redirect those overwhelming feelings of frustration into more productive communication? Tune into your yoga practice.
Here are some ways you can use yoga to gently parent your children:
Breathe. Before you react, breathe. The breath is the most funadamental aspect of yoga as it is the channel that moves energy from within, detoxifies our bodies, resets our nervous system and helps us release tension and negative feelings. Use that powerful breath to help you pause, gather up your feelings of frustration and negativity, and release them before you react to your child.
Tap into Mindfulness: Breathing helps you pause before you react. In that pause, check into your body and tune into feelings. Maybe you're frustrated because your kids won't get dressed for school on time. Mad that Sally won't put her socks on before breakfast? Take a breath and pause. Why are you mad? What is the worst that will happen if she doesn't put on her socks? Can you help her and still make it to school on time? Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and actions. By practicing mindfulness, you can develop a greater sense of calmness, patience, and empathy. And it works for kids, too-- teach your children to take a few deep breaths when they are upset or stressed.
Practice together: When you kid is yanking on your arm to play or go outside, why not suggest practicing yoga together? Start with simple poses that are easy for children to do, such as downward dog, child’s pose, or tree pose, or walk them through some easy breath work, like box breathing or lion's breath. Practicing together will not only help your children develop their physical strength and flexibility but also foster a deeper connection between you and your child.
Encourage self-expression: Yoga can help children develop their creativity and self-expression, be it by moving their bodies into their version of poses or postures, or drawing objects like mandalas or words of affirmations. Encourage your children to express themselves through movement, drawing, or writing. Or incorporate creativity into daily chores or activities, where your kids find fun ways to role play, tell stories, dance or sing while they work.
Practice gratitude: It might be frustrating to see your kids throwing you shade, but you can change the mood by throwing back some gratitude. Gratitude can help diffuse a heated situation and help you tune into the best parts of your children, even if they're giving you the not so great part at the moment. Think in the moment of how lucky you are that you have children, a home together and the freedom to express yourselves without fear or worry will help you diffuse a frustrating situation. You can also practice gratitude as a family by sharing what you are all grateful for, either in the moment or as a daily practice at the end of each day.
By using these elements of yoga, you can develop a deeper connection with your children and foster a sense of calmness, patience, and empathy. Remember that parenting is a journey, and it’s essential to be gentle and kind to yourself and your children along the way.