Have you ever seen a frustrated parent at the store with their children? Children look so tired and stressed, just like Mom or Dad. What makes some parents suffer from the “terrible twos” while others enjoy the “incredible twos”? These three simple strategies may be the key you are looking for in turning your child from terrible to terrible.
Key No. # 1: savor every moment
We adults are always busy. Running away to conquer the next task, thinking about tomorrow’s meetings and deadlines, emphasizing how much we have to do and how little time is left. Most parents are elsewhere, most of the time, rather than here and now. Children don’t do this. They live in the “now” and savor and delight in whatever the moment throws at them.
When you watch a child play, you are completely absorbed in the activity at hand. It is as if they were the activity. They are in harmony with your process, the flow. They are in BEING and in mindfulness. Full focus and attention is given to whatever they are doing at the time. They focus on what is happening right now, in this moment.
Key No. # 2: align with your child’s sense of rhythm
Children live in a world of rhythm, what we adults can call “flow.” Flow is basically getting lost in whatever you are doing right now. In children, I call at this rate. Inhale and exhale the moment. They forget about the outside world and are completely absorbed in doing what they are doing, be it playing, washing, jumping, drawing, coloring, etc.
Adults recognize that this is a wonderfully productive area to be in. In the workplace, much more is accomplished and we feel more satisfied and happy at the same time. So try to connect with the rhythm of your child’s activity. If you move from one activity to another, don’t emphasize that Activity A was not completed, just allow yourself to move on to Activity B and enjoy the process.
Key # 3 – Practice gratitude
When you are with your child, mentally write down at least five things that you are grateful for right now. Are they happy while doing what they do? Are you grateful to have a child? Thankful for having time to dedicate to this activity? Remember for a brief moment the news you may have heard (the tsunami in Japan comes to mind right now) and give thanks for the blessings in your life that you have been given. Your child is a unique extension of you.
As you develop this practice, look at the areas you have labeled “problems” in your child and turn the problem into a strength. An example of this would be “my child has tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.” Turning that around would be: “I am grateful that we have options and my child is aware of the abundance of options. I am grateful that my child is independent enough to know what he wants. I am grateful to be in a place where these options can be presented. “
When we live in the present moment, we allow ourselves to flow with the rhythms of being a child and we are grateful, then almost magically – the being that we may have perceived as a child of “terrible twos” suddenly becomes quite “terrible.”