Calm creates calm

My husband is traveling, it’s 7:00 p.m. and I’m tired. My girls want to go back to the park; they are full of energy and questions. Did I mention I’m tired?

I take responsibility and share how I feel. Girls, I am tired, and I don’t have the energy to go to the park. Instead, we are going to have quiet time at home while I clean the kitchen. Disagreement all around, comments about how it’s summer, it’s beautiful outside, and how they want to catch fireflies….

I take a deep breath and slow down even more. Slowly and softly I explain that tonight we are staying inside. I allow them to share their frustration; I don’t talk, I just listen intently and nod. I slow down even more, keep breathing, keep it together…..

Time passes and I realize I haven’t talked in awhile. I look around the room and the girls are all doing different things – one is cutting paper, one is looking at a book, one is using watercolors. I don’t know when they dispersed and got busy doing their own thing, but I do know it feels calm in here, it’s quiet, it’s relaxed.

I think about Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who shares his message of peace around the world. I have heard that when he walks on stage to present, his peaceful energy brings a sense of calm to the entire room; everyone quiets down and “feels” his presence.

I don’t claim to have the power of a Buddhist monk, but I do believe my girls respond to the energy I carry. Anxiety is contagious (if you have been with someone who is anxious, you know what I mean) and calm can be contagious, too.

So instead of telling my girls to calm down, I can calm down first. Instead of using words, I can use breathing.

Maybe to teach the behavior I need to role model the behavior.

Will this work everytime? I don’t know.

But it worked today.

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