From Inner Critic to Inner Mentor

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innermentor

How many modern parents identify their own inner critics as the main cause of overwhelm, stress, guilt and worry? I can't tell you the number of parents I talk with who tell me that the biggest obstacle to their having a life filled with joy and fun is their own inner critic constantly riding them about what they should be doing, how they aren't quite hitting the highest standards, telling them to work harder and harder to keep up with perfection, achievement and success, externally-defined, in order to "make it" and to be sure their children will succeed as well. What if I told you there is a way to decrease the volume on this inner critic voice? What would it feel like instead to hear, identify, understand and transform the inner voice of criticism, perfectionism, worry and fear to a more empowered, centered, grounded voice of wisdom, guidance, inspiration and hope? One area of work I do with parents as a life and leadership coach is to support them in transforming their inner critic into their inner mentor, whose purpose is not to protect using fear and shame, but to guide and inspire with visions of their own true life calling and purpose.

I coach clients with visualizations, meditations and journaling exercises which lead to a stronger, more grounded relationship to their inner mentor. This inner mentor is us in the future, reaching back, helping us understand and live up to our true visions of the life we most want to lead.

When we can mentor ourselves to live the life we know we are meant to live, rather than beat ourselves up with the ways we are not measuring up to an external standard, we show up for our kids as mentors rather than as critics. This work on ourselves completes the parenting circle, beautifully.

Click here to schedule your free From Inner Critic to Inner Mentor Strategy Session today!

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6 Tips For No Drama Discipline

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Any parent can tell you that disciplining their child is not easy and no parent does it perfectly.  In my Connected Parenting classes and with my own children, we spend a lot of time understanding and addressing our own triggers that get flared from our kids' behaviors.  As parents, we have a lot of unresolved feelings and issues from our own childhoods that get kicked up every time our kids misbehave.  If we could develop the self-awareness to notice when we're triggered and deal with our own feelings first, we wouldn't react so much to our children, yelling when the tips listed below would work much more effectively. Dr. Daniel Siegel is a neuroscientist from UCLA who has written several books about parenting with the neuroscientific needs of our kids (and ourselves) in mind.  In his newest book No Drama Discipline, he and Tina Bryson, Ph.D. remind parents that discipline is about teaching, not punishment, and give several beautiful illustrations of the most effective ways that parents can address our children's behaviors and emotional needs.  Here are 6 important tips from their book:

1. BE CALM

When a parent is wound up, stressed, with unresolved prior emotions already under the surface, kids and their typical horse play can trigger loud and scary yelling and reactions which get parents and their kids NOWHERE.  Most parents have had incidents where their kids are doing something they're not supposed to do like jumping on the bed and we don't say anything, we don't say anything, it goes on, until something breaks or gets knocked over and we SCREAM at our kids about how wild and irresponsible they are.  The truth is we need to set limits calmly before the behavior gets out of hand and understand that yelling and screaming at our kids is REALLY scary and unsettling for them.  It really breaks trust for them.  Parents need to take some deep breaths and remain calm.  Respond immediately by setting a calm limit when kids start doing something they know breaks the rules.  Don't give in to avoid a confrontation/tantrum and don't wait for the broken lamp and screaming.  State the limit, hold it calmly, and handle it proactively so that kids understand WHY you have a limit (to prevent things from getting broken, including the bed).  Reacting in anger, with yelling and screaming is not discipline, it's simply unresolved rage being projected onto your innocent child and it DOESN'T WORK anyway.

2. WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO LEARN?

Thinking about the ultimate lesson you want your kid(s) to learn can help guide your interactions with them.  You most likely want them to learn that they can't have everything they want all the time, bigger ethical qualities like care, responsibility.  Framing those lessons in your mind prior to disciplining (remember it means teaching) them can help guide your words, your tone of voice and help you to remain calm.

3. CONNECT EMOTIONALLY

Because of the limbic functioning of the brain, when kids are acting out, they are actually looking for a connection to be re-established.  If parents understand this, they can respond to off track behaviors by connecting first to help the child regulate his or her emotions.  A parent can get down and get low, put their arm around their child, look them in the eye, speak in a calm and nurturing tone, and prioritize establishing that warm connection.  Once that connection has been made or re-established, a child can calmly function and listen.

4. DO NOT ISOLATE IN ORDER TO PUNISH

The way our brains function is to need connection for self regulation and in order to think well.  When children go off track in their behaviors, isolation actually is the polar opposite response to what the brain is actually needing to function optimally.  It does not teach the lessons intended.  When we connect with our children in difficult moments, we teach them to work with us and trust us as they work through their own lessons to be learned.  We anchor them and provide support rather than isolate them to use shame as a weapon.

5. TEACH EMPATHY

Rather than forcing a child to apologize in a half hearted way that obviously lacks true desire or feeling, parents can ask their children how their actions made another person feel by asking them how they would feel if someone did that to them.  Then we are creating internal understanding and motivation on the part of the child to improve his or her behavior rather than forcing external compliance.

6. BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE... THEN LET THEM BE

If you want to see your most valued qualities in your child, like discipline, kindness, creativity, compassion, etc., be those qualities in your interactions and every day living.  This is how your children will learn them best.  Once you are using these tips to connect, teach, draw on their empathy, create compassion, and demonstrate excellence through your own living example, it's time to let your children be who THEY are.  Let go, allow space for them to be their unique selves.  They are not mirror images or "mini me's" of you.  They are individuals wanting their own unique expression in this world.

Reach for the Sun

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“It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”         ― Joyce Maynard

While modern parents take the time to read every parenting book published, discuss behavioral, policy and schooling solutions with friends, educators, family members, colleagues and co-parents at every opportunity, deep down each of us understands the simple truth of this quote:  if we want our children to be their best selves, to grow into happy, well adjusted, life-loving, confident, capable, successful individuals personally and professionally, the power we have to influence that outcome is to do and be the exact same thing ourselves; to treasure our own lives by making them what we know they can be.

When I became a parent, I put my own life on hold for some time so that I could be available and present to the needs of each of my kids. I slowly took on building a new business serving parents, completed certifications, learned the tricks of my trade, but mostly, have spent the last 5+ years savoring the preciousness of these early years of life with my children.

At times, I have felt lost in my career. I gave up a certain career track that was headed in a workaholic direction that I didn't feel I could sustain while being the Mom I wanted to be nor modeling the life I most wanted to live to my precious new children.

I took my own path, and I am so glad. However, it has not been easy. There have been many days when I've worried about the future of my children, mostly from a place of projecting my own unfinished dreams and business.

It is on the days when I am attending to my own dreams and needs as a learner and doer and contributing member of society and feeling fulfilled in my life's purpose and mission that I parent at my best.  On these days, I attend to my self care by eating healthy foods, meditating and exercising.  I think, write and create and enjoy my time.  I serve others by giving talks and coaching.  I volunteer at our school.  I see friends and family and feel that I am living a rich, meaningful, FUN life!

This vision for what reaching for the sun means, looks and feels like is unique to every individual!  There is no cookie-cutter definition for what "success," "dreams," "reaching for the sun" looks like.  That is the beauty of this life - becoming centered and grounded in ourselves, our values, our skills, abilities and passions and then offering those to the world in the unique way that only we as an individual can.

I invite those reading this post to stop what you are doing and thinking for a few moments and get honest with yourself. How are you reaching for the sun in your life today, this week, this month, this year? Have you been allowing yourself to have enough time and space to experience and create in your life what really matters most to you?  What has been getting in your way?  How can you handle those obstacles this coming year in a way that gets you on track to your dreams?

I will help you to gain clarity, focus, motivation and action steps towards living the life you most want to live, so you can inspire your children to do the same in their one wild and precious life.

Click here to schedule today!

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time

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In her best-selling book, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, Brigid Schulte offers an illuminating analysis of the trends, myths, policies and historical circumstances that have resulted in overwhelmed modern mothers while providing a hopeful vignette-based prescription for what they can do to enjoy life and motherhood again. Schulte is also an overwhelmed mother who, as a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist raising two children, marvels that she has survived the years of running on empty in a blur of “time confetti”, from meeting to errand to games, escaping accident and injury at moments when she multitasked haphazardly, unable to respect her own physical and emotional limits.

WORK

Schulte does American workers a huge favor by naming what she calls The Ideal Worker norm that has set up all of us, especially working mothers, for failure in the effort to live balanced lives. When workplaces define a successful worker by this Ideal Worker norm, they expect an employee to work as many hours, filling as many roles as possible, without regard to flexibility or life balance. Increasing productivity is expected, even when it threatens a worker’s emotional and physical health. This is the current myth that dominates work culture in the United States, and that creates a culture in which working parents must miss a meeting to attend a child’s performance or stay home with a sick child to the detriment of their potential for success on the job.

As an alternative to the Ideal Worker culture, many new companies are embracing flexible workplaces and cultures. Schulte showcases several workplaces in which parents can bring kids to work, schedule time to go to the doctor or take some personal time. These workplaces trust workers to concentrate and produce in roughly 90-minute blocks of time, and to take breaks to attend to themselves, their lives and their children as needed. Neuroscience research has proven this method to foster creativity and efficiency; it draws on a sense of worker satisfaction rather than depletion so that workers get more, not less, done and have the energy to vision longer-term projects after completing their regular job tasks.

LOVE

Another societal myth that Schulte introduces in this section is the Ideal Mother myth, the myth that the “ideal mother” does everything for her kids, her household and as a wife perfectly—she cleans, folds laundry, cooks with a smile on her face while seamlessly tending to all household- and child-related tasks. This ideal was exhibited during the ’50s and has led to what UC Berkeley professor Arlie Hochschild termed “The Second Shift.” Schulte points out that many stay-at-home mothers internally judge themselves against this ideal and have a tough time enjoying their kids or staying home, becoming just as overwhelmed as their working-mother counterparts.

Schulte urges that when parents welcome their first baby, critical patterns are set for the family’s life. Mothers and fathers must view themselves as equals in the parenting and domestic spheres at this pivotal time. Mothers must not automatically succumb to the pressure of the Ideal Mother myth in the beginning, or they will spend years trying to undo these patterns. This is when each parent must split household duties, when Dad must experience just as many sleepless nights as Mom does, when friends, family and neighbors are recruited to lend a helping hand and share the work of raising a family in a community. Kids need to be raised to do their fair share of the work as well.

If parents don’t create more equality in their homes, mothers will continue to feel overwhelmed—if they can free up more time to be present, kids can enjoy more unstructured time to just be and learn to become relaxed instead of stressed.

PLAY

Schulte spent an afternoon with a New York–based group for moms called Mice at Play—she   went with them to the trapezium and experienced the terrifying and dazzling sensations of flying through the air from a two-story platform as well as being caught mid-flight. She believes all women, and especially all mothers, need to have more of these kinds of experiences. Life is not supposed to be a fuzzy confetti of housework, childrearing, work and responsibilities. The good life is also about play!

In Denmark, when women become mothers, many will take classes in the evening in any hobby or passion that interests them while the father or family watch the baby. Most workers are home by 5:00 p.m., and many people know that Danish parents have long parental leaves from work. These are parents who are not trained to feel guilty about enjoying life and its many experiences. We all could stand to learn a lesson from this.

Schulte recommends that mothers start a gratitude practice and let go of the tyranny of their To-Do lists. What if we lived our daily lives as if we didn’t have that much time left? How would that change choices we make? Would we spend so much time worrying about being perfect? Try it and see! And read this book if you are feeling overwhelmed being a mother. It is well researched, creatively presented and full of inspiring ideas and practices to improve your everyday life, communications and priorities.

You Can Be the Parent You Want to Be

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Parents today struggle to be present with ourselves and our kids as our 24-hour connectedness to technology and work often pull our attention away from the present moment. Our children feel this distractedness and act in ways to pull our attention back to the present moment, to them, to meet their developmental needs. Our children's cries, tantrums, yelling to get our attention back to the present moment and to them can feel grating on our nerves. We have been taught to interpret these signals for our presence and attention as something to get rid of, to shut down, to punish. Add to that the intense pace of life which leaves little room to be aware of the present moment and before you know it, parents are yelling, dismissing, disengaging from the opportunity that these behaviors are actually giving us to re-connect with our children in a patient, present and positive way.

Children haven't changed much over the ages: their brains, bodies and hearts still need what they have always needed. What has changed is the way we live, what society expects of parents, and the pacing of life, all of which conspire to make parents overwhelmed, stressed and reactive.

What if there were another way to do this parenting thing? What if we could liberate ourselves from this reactive way of life and choose to parent from a place of patience, presence and positivity? Imagine a time when you child's behavior grated on you and you reacted. Now imagine instead of that response, you had learned the skills to respond with patience, presence and positivity. Stop and imagine what that would feel like. In your body, what would the sensations be with this new way of being? How would your facial expression change? What words would you speak? How would you feel differently about your child and his/her needs?

When I discovered the connected parenting and mindfulness tools that I teach, I viscerally felt lighter and I started to live and parent from a more authentic place that felt right to me. These tools and practices empowered me to let go of the messages swirling around me from the outside to move faster, expect more, schedule more and more, to curate this ideal, "perfect" child in response to some pervasive modern parenting fears.

What I embraced instead what the actual child standing in front of me, her strengths, her personality, her wants and desires. And in embracing her, I embraced myself. I started to really celebrate myself for who I am, shedding layers and layers of who I thought I was supposed to be. Talk about freeing! Ultimately, the invitation our young beings offer us, their parents, from the moment they are born is that by unconditionally loving them, they teach us to unconditionally love ourselves and all other beings. Thank you, dear child, for this gift :-).

I work with parents who are in all kinds of situations: parents who are overwhelmed by their to do lists and are not enjoying life or parenting much at all, parents who are so connected to their work they find it hard to find the time to connect to parenting, parents who have changed careers and are still defining their post-child identities, parents who are finding it tough to communicate with loved ones without yelling, parents who are feeling isolated and lonely and want to find that village that will raise their child they always hear people talking about, parents who are confused about what good parenting looks like because they weren't parented that way, parents who want to add a few more tools to their tool kits to be the best parents they can be, and parents who are looking to join with other likeminded parents to have more fun, create more community and redefine the current parenting paradigm on their own, more freeing terms.

Please call me today at (650) 308-9425 or email me at kiran@theconnectedfamily.net so we can talk about your authentic vision of parenting and together, create a plan of action for you to realize it. You can be the parent you want to be and I will be the biggest supporter on your journey.

What's Your Type? The Enneagram for Parents

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The Enneagram is a robust system of personality, self-awareness and personal growth. As parents, we are challenged daily to grow ourselves into our best selves so as to meet the developing needs of our children in a peaceful and loving manner. The Enneagram can offer a path out of ineffective parenting patterns such as reacting to children with shortness, yelling and using punishments.  Once you identify your core personality type, it can be studied, practiced and incorporated into one’s behaviors to show up for our children and the rest of our lives with more grace and effectiveness. The Enneagram is different from more commonly known personality typing tools, like the Meyer’s Briggs, because it provides more than a static snapshot or box that people fit into in terms of their tendencies and behaviors.

The Enneagram is an ancient personality system which aims to capture the 9 personality types present in the human family. The types include The Reformer (1), The Giver (2), The Achiever (3), The Individualist (4), The Investigator (5), The Loyalist (6), The Enthusiast (7), The Challenger (8) and The Peacemaker (9). The names of the personality types come from the ways in which each type attempts to make its mark on the world, and respond to its need for love and recognition. Each type behaves in specific ways to gain approval and earn the love that we all seek as human beings, starting from a young age.

In addition to providing a current view of how a person is behaving, the Enneagram system is built upon the idea that personalities, and people, evolve over time. The more a person knows about him/herself and his/her behaviors, takes conscious action to untangle misconceived ideas about love and belonging, and becomes fully self-accepting, self-realized and effective in the world, the more each type evolves to become their highest self.

I came across the Enneagram many years ago when I was having challenges in a relationship and at work, with people who often seemed to speak a different language than I did in their behaviors and assumptions.

At that time, my father had just passed away and I had just begun the arduous journey of becoming an inner city public high school teacher. I was under stress and was typed as an Enneagram 8 — the Challenger. I was focused on being in charge of projects, often with strong, dominating energy to get the job done.  This was how I needed to be to be a successful teacher, so I thought, and it "worked" in terms of helping me to feel confident and effective at that point of my life.

I came to realize when I began my coaching program two years ago, that I had been mis-typed. Each Enneagram personality not only has a type that we evolve to, but also a type that we go to under stress. I am actually an Enneagram Type 2, the Giver. The Giver is most concerned with, well, giving to others.  There is a genuine desire to be helpful.  There has also been a learned habit to tend to the needs of others in order to feel loved.  The work of the 2 is to decipher between this pattern of giving in order to feel worthy and lovable versus taking the time to love oneself, to make time for one self, to fill one's own cup through appropriate self love, and then to support and help others from this abundant place.  It is freeing for a 2 to have permission to take time for oneself, to put one's self first and to arrest the pattern of putting everyone else's needs ahead of one's own in order to feel loved.  Most 2's eventually reach burn out from this pattern.  Starting with the self, really taking the time and space to attend to one's self first is like learning a new language for a 2.  Over time, it becomes second nature and a 2 learns that he/she was lovable all along, just for being, not because he or she became indispensable through strings-attached giving.  Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, free at last...!

All personality types have wonderful qualities, but they also have patterns which can create problems, especially around self-criticism and perfectionism.

It is my self-development work to evolve to a Type 4, The Individualist, to overcome my patterns and assumptions about people and how to go about gaining love. In fact, when one evolves to their highest self/type using the Enneagram system as a tool, life no longer is about approval and seeking love from the outside, but rather about being true to oneself, living from a place of deep authenticity, integration, peace and flow.

It can also be enlightening to understand the Enneagram types of your spouse and your kids as well as people you interact and collaborate with on a regular basis at work, in the community, etc.  Once you know what another person's type is, typical communication patterns and styles of work can be better understood and people can tailor their interactions to be most effective.

Call me today for a free 30 minute You Can Be the Parent You Want to Be Breakthrough Session!  We'll discuss your ideal vision for parenting and personal growth and I can provide you with a free Enneagram assessment to get started uncovering old patterns and developing yourself into the best you can be, today.