Parental Self Awareness

B eyes closed cropParental self awareness is the ability to look at one’s self from moment to moment during parent/child interaction and ask one’s self, “How am I feeling?". If you can do this as needed, you can make it through anything. Miss this step and you might miss that window of self-regulation and head down the road to reactivity.

This level of awareness brings you into the moment, the present, and this is where love lies. When you can meet your child in the present without all of the worries of the future and efforts to correct the past, then you will be parenting from a place of love, parenting in the now. You may also use this toward yourself, spouse, family etc. Keep in mind that this is the journey, and you cannot get there from "there". You can only get there from "here"

Calm the Stress, Diminish the Behavior: for Parent AND Child

The parent can foster the environment necessary to calm, or regulate, the bodymind state of stress through understanding, being mindful of, and encouraging the expression of fear or the feelings stemming from it. This is the key to diminishing undesirable behavior. All behavior arises from stress. To eliminate negative behavior you must strive to trigger the oxytocin response in your child. It is the experience of the love hormone which helps the body ultimately to calm stress thereby decreasing or eliminating negative behavior.

B_eyes_closed_cropLike any habit, the more you integrate the practice of mindfulness into your day, the stronger it becomes in your short term memory, and the more likely it is to be retrieved in difficult moments. Like love, mindfulness doesn’t change your child’s behaviors, it changes the way you experience everything. This present moment experience offers your child the opportunity to be truly accepted and loved – unconditionally – non-judgmentally for who they are. A glorious place for a child to be. With fear, threats and survival out of the way, their behaviors in turn can come from a regulated frame of mind. Calm the stress, diminish the behavior. But first of all you the parent must come from this place – and visit it often.

Choose love.

– B
(Read more articles by Bryan Post)

Teen Agers Still Spitting?

Someone asked about teens spitting, and I thought it would be good to share this when viewing all behaviors - Why do teens spit? Because they are no different in that moment than a two or three year old who has learned to spit as a defensive measure. If you've noticed the time they are most likely to spit is during times of peaked stress and dysregulation. No different in this manner than many animals in the animal kingdom that spit to ward off a threat.

The teen years don't have to be that tough and certainly not anything you need to fear. But because of the way we were raised we will be challenged to do something different. It all comes back to understanding, for action without understanding will only lead us back to confusion.

When I was a teen, I needed someone, anybody to pay attention to me emotionally, to be present and engaging. I needed my dad to tell me that he was proud of me. That he was impressed by my independent work ethic and drive. And that he looked forward to seeing me successful. I needed my mother to be affectionate, supportive, and nurturing and I also needed her to hug me and tell me how proud she was of me; to ask about what I was thinking, focusing on and where I was headed. Not in a judgmental way but in love and curiosity. It is all about the relationship and not about judgement.

Good at School/Bad at Home? Bad at Home/Good at School?

Behavior Chameleons

Q.

My 16 year old adopted a daughter has been diagnosed with Attachment Disorder while incarcerated in a juvenile jail. This led me to read two of your books which I found very helpful and insightful. My wife does not believe she has such an disorder because she behaved very well during incarceration. She believes the bad behaviors we experience are choices. Can a child with such disorders behave while incarcerated and exhibit behaviors associated with such a disorder as soon as she returned home? God bless you & yours.

A.

This is similar to children who behave wonderfully at home or school, and do the opposite in the other. The issue is, where does a child/person/adult feel most threatened or stressed.  I have an adopted son who is now in jail and he is very comfortable there because he doesn't have to do anything other than what he is told.  It is a "safe" place for him where the world at large is not "safe".  Identifying the threat though is not always obvious. For example, the home may be thought to be a "safe" place but if the relationships/attachment could be threatened due to behaviors, then the home may be perceived as 'not safe' for the child and be a trigger for behaviors. Start with, if the behaviors are negative, there is stress/threat. Then, figure it out from there to reduce the threat or stress. One can view behaviors as 'choices' but not really at a 'conscious' level. The choices, if there are such, are based on 'what can I do to survive?'. These however are reactions rather than responses and, as such are not really choices.

Unconditonal Love: What is it and how do we get there from here?

We have talked about unconditional love many times.  but for most of us, it is just an intellectual pursuit. We really have no idea, no concept, no real experience of unconditional love. I often wonder how we can teach this to parents who have no model other than their own very limited "conditional" parenting imprints passed down from generation to generation. So we try this and that, diagrams and descriptions. Unconditional love - that which there is nothing a child can do to earn, and nothing a child can do to loose. We don't even treat ourselves with such love and respect, let alone our spouses, family and friends. Michael Brown, in his book The Presence Process, presents to us all a way into this state of love that is one of the finest ways to open our hearts and minds that I have seen. He eloquently summarizes this journey in this quote below. His book is a 10 Week Process for helping us to get comfortable with our discomforts and begins to move us into an appreciation, application and an experience of love and freedom like no other. This is not an intellectual read. It is a week by week series of exercises designed to free us from the past and the future allowing an ever expanding experience of the present. This is not a religious approach. You don't need to believe anything. It is strictly based on a psychological paradigm that is easily understood and digested if you take the time. His words are simple, powerful and profound. You will not be the same person after enjoying this book. Pretty much guaranteed.

Our journey into uncovering the nature of this great mystery called love starts with being unconditional towards ourselves by feeling what we are authentically feeling without judging the experience in a any way, and without trying to fix, change, understand, heal, or transform it. Being willing to integrate our own discomfort - to perceive it as valid and hence required, and behaving toward it accordingly - is the root of experiencing forgiveness and realizing peace." Presence Process book

You can buy it here on Amazon if you like. Let me know how it works for you. Choose Love. -- B

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired?

The fact that our children's behaviors affects parents so personally and deeply is a critical issue. It is heart wrenching, heart breaking and depressing at times to have to "put up" with our children's behaviors - especially when it affects us so directly (hitting, spitting, hurtful words etc). It takes a lot of personal work on the part of parents to be able to "just be" with our children in a way that does not add fuel to their fire, and "allows" for the parent to accept the child "as they are in that moment". We cannot change the present, but we can influence the future as we all know. The place to do this however is not in our minds... in our understanding but at a "feeling-felt-perception" place. This allowing our own personal discomfort to be experienced to the fullest - not as in "enjoy the pain" but merely to allow it to unfold and move on with the insights presented in those "gifts" to be used as "fuel" for greater compassion and love for ourselves, our children and for all others as well. The way out is through and does not require fixing, sedating,or other techniques to "make it go away". Or, we can always choose to re-act over and over and over and … until we are sick and tired of being sick and tired enough to finally say “enough”. And yes, easier to say than to do, but what else do we have on our agenda as children of God but to learn to love?

The End. Not.

Bryan often talks about process versus outcome. Outcome is the end. Process is ongoing. It never ends. This process is observable, knowable, and predictable. The more you observe, the more you know and the more you can predict. The more you can predict, the more you can be proactive in your parenting approach. I know many of us feel that our children are unpredictable. But really… once the David Journalbehaviors, the meltdowns, the disruptions are over, do they not leave a trail of logical steps that having known all this, we could have easily done much to prevent many of these occurrences?

The process with our special children may never end. But that is not a life sentence for them or us. It is merely an observable fact and the more you observe the more you know and hence the more you can predict and prevent. Many parents like us fear that our children will never grow up, never leave the house, or in some way shape or form always be our responsibility. This is a real fear. This does not mean that it is a real fact. But again it is a real fear.

Our children truly are gifts. The trick comes in appreciating and being open to what they have to offer us. There are many of us that just cannot stand anymore, cannot take it anymore, are done with it, through with it and over it. This is not our children’s fault. To blame them for our reactions is to take on the victim role, and the only way to win is to become a victor. In order for us to be a victor there must be a victim or a loser. This is not the role we want for our children. The gift that they offer is the opportunity to be free. Free from our self imposed reactionary life and a life of being "free to choose" who and what we want to be. And that dear parent is the pearl of great price!

Reactive behavior is based on a belief that the world is happening to us, and it is therefore our duty either to defend ourselves or to impose our will on what’s happening. This appears real because our attention is almost exclusively focused on a reflected past and projected future. Love based parenting teaches that “stress causes us to react from the past to project the future that may not be in our best interest”. And in most cases is not in our best interest. Nor is it in our children’s best interest. As long as our “buttons are being pushed”, our “triggers are being activated” and we are getting upset–we as parents are not learning our lessons.

We have two lessons to learn:
#1 is to remember who we really are.
#2 is to choose who we want to be.
The answers to these two questions will determine the path of our parenting approach.

In every moment we have an opportunity to choose. Bryan says, “choose love”. I add to this, choose who you want to be. Not who or what you are currently experiencing with the behaviors you display in any moment, but in fact who you want to be–then just do it. Some say, “that is just who I am”. This response is limiting and is a "life sentence" so long as you believe it.

This process of choosing and doing is a gift that can have eternal consequences for us. The change from reactive to responsive behavior is the single most important adjustment to our perception of the world, and therefore our interaction with, that will benefit our entire experience in life.

For those who seek outcomes, results and only behaviors that are acceptable to them, they will never see “The End”. And it is likely that they will be frustrated time and time again in their parenting efforts. For those who see the process, progress, and are able to observe, learn and predict more accurately, they will be better prepared to accept and love their children for who they are not just for who they want them to be.

David Durovy is the president and the janitor of The Post Institute. He tries very hard every day to bring Bryan's message of Love Based Family-Centered Parenting to the world. He and his wife Susan have fostered around 27 children and adopted four children at 6, 16, 17, and 21 years of age from the Virginia Foster Care program.

Integrating or Healing?

You might try thinking of your child as "integrating" rather than healing. These two words have very different intent. Healing makes an assumption that something is wrong and in need of fixing. Healing often attempts to get rid of whatever it attempts to heal. Healing is often more of a "reaction" to what is. There are scores of people who have integrateTemple Grandind their injuries, disabilities and conditions with no thought of ever healing them or making them go away. Think of painters with no arms who paint using only their mouth to hold a brush. Or world-class athletes with limbs missing. Or, more closely to our children, consider Dr. Temple Grandin, who although will be Autistic all her life, has learned to integrate her specific condition to propel her to Time Magazine's List of 100 most influential people in 2010. And with her condition has come some very unique talents and abilities that have added to her success. Let us help our children integrate rather than heal or fix the unique conditions and experiences along with the many talents and abilities they may possess. Think on this.

Baby, You Are a Parenting Superstar (Pt. 2)

(...click here if you missed Part 1)
How many life lessons must you learn? When will this school of life hold a graduation ceremony? When will you be able to sleep a full night, stress and worry free? When will you go through a day with ease and grace, loved completely by your family with no tears, no anger, no fear? The answers to these questions you may never know but each moment, each hour, each day, you continue, and still find time for a laugh, for a breath, for a moment to be gracious. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

Love becomes fear. Hope becomes despair. Joy becomes sadness. You cry. You stress. You worry. You toss and you turn. The school calls again. Another curse word, another broken possession, another disrupted family dinner. You wail inside and sometimes openly, "Oh Lord why has thou forsaken me to the desert barren of hope and peace? What have I done to be stricken by the one thousand locusts all wrapped into one ungrateful, defiant child? Where is my blessing?" And with each rising sun you get up and do it again. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

For you see, fear is the common way. It is, in fact, the broad and wide. Many will travel this path. Love is the straight and narrow. There are few that will follow this path. Even fewer will lead their families down it. And there are many more that will judge you for traveling it. It is also a fact that this judgment will make your task even more difficult and this is as it shall be. Without the pressure, without the conflict, without the heat of the fire, the diamond could not emerge from the coal. Fear not your journey, your path, or for that of your child. Walk the path of love, the straight and narrow, and continue to get up after you have stumbled, as you surely will. You will see. You will see. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

Choose Love,
B

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Baby, You Are a Parenting Super Star (Pt. 1)

Go in the bathroom and stand in the mirror, I have something to tell you. Ready?

You are a magnificent parent. You are a wonderful human being. You are bold, brave, courageous, passionate and most of all full of love. You have taken all that life has handed you and still yet, you stand. You have been unwavering in your commitment to create a better life for your child, for your family. True, you have stumbled, felt frustrated, not wanted to get back up. You have felt resentment, isolation, loneliness, and sometimes even hatred more times than you might wish to admit it, but you are still here. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

You didn't expect to encounter so many challenges on your parenting path. You thought that you had gone through the roughest patches in your life, and could look forward to some fun and loving times ahead. Yet, even when the sun went away and the clouds set in, you did not give up. You did not turn away. When the beach you laid out on became an unbearable mountain to climb, you've not packed up and gone home. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star! (Read more here...)

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GBB Audio sIf you want in-depth understanding with challenging behaviors, start here...The Great Behavior Breakdown book began here - The Great Behavior Breakdown 13 CD Audio Program contains valuable and fascinating information about the roots and remedies of challenging behaviors. Covers specific tools and techniques for helping parents overcome some of the most problematic behaviors demonstrated by their children. To read more about this 13 hour CD program , just click here. (The Great Behavior Breakdown is also available as a paperback, Kindle  and PDF e-book - Click Here)
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