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Portrait of a happy woman piggybacking her cheerful son at the b

My neighbour said to me last week, I can’t imagine you to be anything other than calm, when I shared with her I was a shouter. I would shout so much to get the kids to do things, to try to get mine and the family needs met. When things didn’t get done, the shouting would get progressively louder. Back then I didn’t know what I know now.I shared a post on our Facebook page the other day  – to be a calm parent “Create a space between you and your child ‘s reaction”Then I had a client yesterday, she said Dina, I have read so many self help books, read so many mantras, followed so many philosophies of people that I admire and I still do not have the ability to create this space between myself and a reaction – I’m better, but I still haven’t nailed it! By the end of the session, she understood WHY this was the case.

Creating space to respond is a life skill that enables you to thrive…

This is not the first time I have had clients come to me and say that they have been to meditation, alternative therapies, parenting courses and they still haven’t mastered creating the space where you stop before you respond so the whole situation doesn’t blow up in your face and spiral out of control.

What I understand now, what the client understood by the end of yesterday’s session and what all my clients now know, is that it is how you filter an event in your mind will determine how you experience that event. And the only way you can understand how you process an event is by becoming aware of your filters – these are your beliefs, your past memories, your emotions and your dominant thinking styles (e.g. black and white thinker).

So of course whatever you do, whatever course you go on, whatever philosopher you listen to – if you are utilising the same filters to process the information coming at you, then you are likely to come back to a similar experience. So, if you can relate to going along to a course, feeling elated and determined to make changes and then finding you are slipping back into the same patterns of behaviour – this is because your mind filtering system hasn’t changed.

So what can you do about this and what has this got to do with being calmer with the kids?

Well this answer to both of these questions is A LOT!

  1. Become aware of your filters:  Journaling your thoughts then reflecting on your journal or see a professional coach who can feed your filters back to you. Once you are aware of your filters you get to choose – do you want to keep the filters, tweak them or change them, to get you the results you want?  A good coach will know how to help you do this.
  2. Manage your filters– now you know your filters, learn techniques to manage them yourself, practice these techniques and eventually you will habituate them over time. When you are managing your filters yourself, now you are in the drivers seat in creating any experience you want. Now you can create this space.

Applying this to the practicalities of parenting.. 

Yesterday my five year old was very upset when I was late picking him up from school. I had made arrangements with another mum who was staying with them until I arrived. He was very upset to the point where he ran off across the playground. Each time I tried to move closer he would run further away. I could feel myself feeling guilty for being late and was trying to approach him to sort it out – he was actually feeding off my guilty reaction and running further. I used the techniques I have learnt to calm myself down quickly to enable me to create the space to respond. This transformed the situation. My mind was clear, I no longer felt the guilt and I smiled at him before holding out my hand – he came to me immediately. This all happened in the space of a few seconds.

Would you like to learn how to do this?

If I said it was simple to do this, I’d be lying – there are a number of components that allow you to create the space to respond. And it is entirely possible for you to learn each component, practice it and for it to become your habituated response.