Conscious Parenting vs. Mainstream Parenting
An interview with Dr. Shefali Tsabary, clinical psychologist, New York Times Bestselling author of the book, The Conscious Parent, and others including The Awakened Family and Out of Control.
But what IS Conscious Parenting?
Let’s start at the beginning. As you know (hopefully!) I am a mindful parenting coach who advocates peaceful parenting approaches. And you may already know what peaceful parenting is, or at least, are able deduce the meaning: parenting without punishment. And while that definition conjures up mild panic in most parents (along with images of relinquished control to ill-mannered children), peaceful parenting goes beyond simply “no punishments.”
Peaceful Parenting Focuses on
|Controlling the Environment||(Locking the pantry door rather than punishing a child who sneaks treats)|
|Emotional Regulation of the Parent||(Deep breaths. A calm voice)|
|Connection with the Child||(Because the greatest influence on behavior is emotional connection)|
So how is Conscious Parenting different?
Well, it’s the same. Only maybe best thought of as one level up. Think of it as when Mario eats that mushroom and grows up a little bit (into SUPER MARIO). 🍄
That’s Conscious Parenting. SUPER Parenting.
It has all the components of peaceful parenting, but with a much larger focus on the parent. It’s not about raising the child, but about raising the parent.
The best way to explain this paradigm shift is through an example: your two year old refuses to put on her shoes.
When usual persuasion methods prove unsuccessful, you grow frustrated. You threaten punishment (an attempt to control the child and situation). It doesn’t work. You become angry. You yell. You threaten bigger punishments (No iPad in the car for you!).
Let’s run through the Peaceful Parenting points above (with another fun table!).
|Controlling the Environment||(You place the shoes out, along with socks, so the child doesn’t get lost and frustrated with the task of finding matching pairs.)|
|Emotional Regulation of the Parent||(Calming your internal mood. Deep breathing. Not raising your voice.)|
|Connection with the Child||(You get down on her eye level, seek to understand the need underneath the refusal or tantrum. Is she tired? Is she worried about going to school? Help her express her worries.)|
But here is where we get bonus points for conscious parenting: We use a deep level of introspection and self-awareness to see that we are triggered (a fancy word meaning overly angry), and then we ask ourselves WHY. And that’s the secret sauce. The WHY.
Are you triggered because you have FEAR of running late (and that dreadful things will happen)?
Conscious Parenting is about bringing your awareness to that hidden fear or those subconscious thoughts running in the background, and you metaphorically hit CTR+ALT+DELETE. You stop those fears.
But we’ll hit traffic and be an hour late if we don’t leave right now! (Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But you don’t let that thought run the show).
And you realize that yelling is caused by that fear hidden in the background…. NOT because your child refuses to put on her shoes.
Let me take this Windows PC metaphor WAY too far here: When you are angry, yelling, or punishing…that’s a pop-up window. Open your task manager and end that thought, fear, or anger running in the background, or at least, reduce its control. (Simply acknowledging the thoughts are there is the best way to reduce their control on your behavior.)
Conscious Parenting is the recognition that parenting is all about YOU. And your internal world.
Need more tables? Check out the one below to compare the two styles: Mainstream and Conscious Parenting. And watch the video above to be memorized by Dr. Shefali’s beautifully-articulate and introspective discussion on conscious parenting.
|Main Focus||The child||The internal world of the parent|
|Main tool||Discipline , punishments||Connection with the child|
|Uses high level of||Control||Introspection and self-awareness.|
|Sees the child as||An object||A teacher|
|Results||Power struggles. Ruptured connection. Rebellion. Dependence on consequences.||Deeper connection. Greater influence. Elevated role as teacher to the child. More self-control of triggers and emotions.|
|Inspired and influenced by||Habits, outdated beliefs, childhood experiences.||Science and Research.|