Conscious Connection

Jun 10, 2022

 

Hey beautiful friends, welcome back! I want to give you three powerful tips to help you consciously connect with your children. These tips have made an immense difference in our connection with our children and our family dynamic as a whole. 

First, create a safe space for authentic expression. 

I find that this is most effectively done when we’re consciously increasing our emotional intelligence.

A facet of increased emotional intelligence is becoming aware of our emotional range and our threshold for other people’s emotional range. 

I define one’s emotional range as a range in which there are various emotions that we feel comfortable displaying. A person going beyond their range could feel deeply uncomfortable, even unsafe. 

We all have our own emotional ranges that we feel comfortable displaying, whether it’s by ourselves or in front of others, and we also have an emotional threshold for other people’s emotional ranges. 

Other people may display emotions that trigger us deeply, so by becoming aware of our emotional range and understanding which emotions feel safe for us and which cause anxiety, fear, etc, we can work to consciously expand our emotional range and threshold. 

This creates an abundance of opportunities for that conscious connection with our children. This concept alone has had a remarkable impact on my connection and bond with my children. 

Second, become an active listener. 

Take it from an undergrad communication major, you’re gonna want to master this skill. I’m sure many of you have heard of this skill, but you probably aren’t sure what it is and how to employ it in your day to day life. 

There is a difference between listening and active listening. When we’re listening, a lot of times we’re in our head formulating a response and we’re not actually listening. Active listening helps to keep you from doing that. 

So, when your kid is driving you nuts, and you already have your rebuttal lined up about why they can’t wear the princess dress and rain boots to school, again, or why they can’t go to a friends house, or why there’s no iPad for a week, you’re not actually listening to your child present their case. 

Even if you disagree, active listening is a practice of listening to what the other person is saying and then repeating back what you’ve heard so that they can either confirm or correct what it is that you actually interpreted from their communication.

So, for example, your child’s really upset because they’re hungry and they are not allowed to eat the popsicle that they truly desire and they’re mad about it. So your kid says, “Mom, this sucks, I’m hungry and I want that popsicle but you won’t let me have it.”. As difficult as it might be to keep your cool in the moment and not just tear their argument apart, what you’d say instead is, “So what I’m hearing is that you’re upset because I’ve said that you can’t have the popsicle but you really want it and you’re really hungry right now.”. 

Your child then has the opportunity to agree or disagree on that interpretation and you can try again if you got it wrong. This process keeps us out of the loop of responding before we’ve heard our children out. 

Every human wants to feel heard. There’s something very validating about someone taking the time to listen to us and having the care to try and understand how we’re feeling. 

This is what we’re giving our children, the opportunity to communicate authentically and for us to mirror back what we’re hearing. We’re doing it from a place of understanding where we can say to them, “I understand how you’re feeling and this is what we need to do.” or, “I can understand why you’d feel this way. Here are our options.”. This is a great starting point for connection versus the old, “you can’t have it because I said so, and if you don’t like that, tough.” style of parenting that none of us enjoyed. 

That style of parenting invalidates. It cuts off authentic communication. It cuts us off from our willingness to open up and be vulnerable. Active listening cultivates the opportunity to co-create solutions, whether it be with your children, your spouse, your co-worker, friends, family, you name it. When we actively listen, we help people feel safe to be vulnerable, be authentic in their expressions, and feel connected to us.

Third, learn to trust. 

Trust is greater than control. When we trust that they’re going to learn from their mistakes and we don’t have to control every little thing, this cultivates so many opportunities for conscious connection with our children. It’s difficult for us sometimes to let go. 

Many of us have been conditioned to believe that a major function of parenting is controlling, whether it is us controlling what our children eat, what they wear, or what they say and how they do things. I’d like to replace the word control with support and guidance with the understanding that our children are here to make mistakes. They’re here to make independent decisions. They’re here to ruffle our feathers. At times, they’re even here to disagree with us. They’re here to learn and the more room we can give them, the more we can trust that they have the skills, guidance, and support from us to cultivate even greater skills and become independent, beautiful functioning, heart-centered human beings. 

We have to let go of control and start to integrate and embody more trust within our day-to-day interactions within the decisions and limits we set with our children.  

For many of us, this all will require some work. As always with parenting, it starts within. Those old models that some of our parents followed left no room for us to be independent human beings with feelings, thoughts, and ideas that didn’t always mirror their own. Often, when you look back at the generations before them, things were much the same. Our parents were often doing the best they could with the training they received. We, today, have the opportunity to change that narrative for the next generations and give our children so much more. Follow these steps, and they will go on to do great things. They’ve got this, and so do you