Self-awareness is key to successful parenting. Being aware of your own thoughts and emotions, and realizing how it is affecting your relationship with your child nurtures her/him positively. If you are unable to handle your emotions and thoughts, you may miss out on forging a meaningful connection with your child. The more self-aware we are as parents, the better interactions we will have with our kids, who are not treated as adults or equals but as individuals.
The kids seek nurturing, caring, and guidance from their parents. We are present and cognizant of their littlest needs when they are babies, but as they grow older and start showing their emotional side, which can be tantrums, arguments, disagreements, etc., we as parents start blaming the generational difference. It is not a generation gap that we need to worry about, it is more about being out of touch with our own emotional turmoil as a child which reflects in our relationship with our kids now.
The trust that is developed between a parent and a child can last a lifetime, and so can the seeds of non-trust and clashes. As your kids grow older and enter the turbulent teenage years, it is better to step back and acknowledge your own weaknesses as a parent to create a healthy relationship based on mutual trust. But we can get better, and more self-aware even with the emotional baggage we carry.
5 Ways to Develop Self-Awareness As a Parent
1. Don’t React. Identify.
The first step is to identify your triggers if you are a parent who often loses her/his cool. Figure out what upsets you the most, and why. Is it your kid throwing a tantrum or because you are unable to think straight at that moment? Is it anger or frustration? Whatever the case may be, your relationship is bound to get affected if your response to each tantrum is shouting. If your child is seeking to connect, identify and respond accordingly. This can happen only if you identify and acknowledge your feelings before reacting.
2. Journal and Meditate
Do you also make a grocery list so that you do not skip on an essential item the next time you go shopping? Wonder why? Writing down helps us remember and ‘see’ more clearly. Sometimes, writing down helps us more than just thinking and figuring out. Write down your thoughts when you are not busy so that you can reflect on them better. Meditate to just notice your thoughts and emotions, and master just ‘observing’ and not reacting. It will help you notice your obvious triggers and patterns. This will enable you to not give into hot-headed arguments with your kids. You will be able to acknowledge their emotions and needs from a better perspective.
3. Rest well
A tired mind and body often result in uncalled-for responses to our child/children. Rest well, and hydrate well so that you are able to cope with your parental demands as and when required. Pay attention to signs like muscle cramps and frequent headaches. The unmet needs of our body often result in deepening strains in your relationships – whether it be between you and your children or your friends.
4. Be Self-Aware of Your Weakness
A person has various strengths and weaknesses – assess them as a parent, and work on the weaknesses that you think are not acting as enablers in your relationship with your child. It can be not wanting to listen to someone younger than you, or not wanting to be proven wrong – work on these to see the relationship blossom differently. Apologize when you think your child is right, or take time to think through before you snap back. Your child depends on you to show them the way, do not shun her/him when they challenge you.
5. Take help
All said and done, parenting in this day and age is a difficult journey. There are so many external and new influences that affect your relationship with your child. When under stress, do not shy away from seeking professional help or asking for advice from your trusted person. Don’t they say, it takes a village to raise a child? A different view on your parenting can also help you assess where you are going wrong or where you can/cannot correct yourself.
Your kids eventually learn their coping mechanisms from you. When you acknowledge this, you tend to get better at dealing with them in various situations. You, as a parent, cannot control the situation, but you can definitely control your reaction to it. Here’s to a more self-aware parent!
About the author:
Ananya is a WFH mother based in Delhi.