How do you help your children when they are angry, frustrated, disappointed or sad? You don't need to argue, defend or join them in their emotional upheaval. Instead, just breathe, relax and stay grounded.
I know, it's not easy.
Like anything else, accessing your inner calm takes preparation and practice. Feeling frustrated or angry often is our autopilot response and we need to create space and awareness to choose something that will actually help.
So how can we do this? Call it what you want-meditation, quiet time, breathing, relaxation, sitting-it's not the word that matters, it's taking the time to practice the word.
You don't have to take a class or buy books. I have studied many different types of meditation, and I know many who swear by a certain teacher or practice, but for me, trying to follow a specific guideline became too distracting.
So now I just take some time in the morning, from five to 15 minutes, and sit, breathe and relax. This was once a task on my to-do list, but it became something I look forward to. I sit comfortably, surround myself with things I love-pictures, candles, gifts from my kids-close my eyes and breathe.
Sometimes the day just starts off too crazy and I forget all about quiet time. Then I'm more distracted and more easily agitated; I am more easily offended or annoyed by small things.
Finding calm is not just for your parenting skills, it's for your overall health. It can improve sleep and immunity, it increases your sense of well being, and it helps you quiet your constantly processing mind.
That's really the best part of finding quiet-it helps you distance yourself from your incessant and often unhelpful thoughts, and leaves you feeling more centered and clear.
It takes practice to get used to sitting with yourself, but start simply. While sitting in the car waiting for your kids, just close your eyes and breathe for a minute or two. Once you notice the benefits, you can incorporate stillness into other parts of your day.
Practicing a few minutes (or more) a day will increase the likelihood of being calm in difficult moments. Not only will you feel better about the way you respond to challenges, but you also demonstrate to your children that calm begins inside, regardless of what is happening in their outside world.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.