Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

As Simple As Breathing

"Make a habit of bringing your awareness to your breathing frequently throughout your day. Our breath connects us to feelings of peace and contentment. Take a minute to deepen your breath from shallow, tense chest breathing to relaxed, deep belly breathing. When you feel totally overwhelmed, stop whatever you're doing, close your eyes if possible, take three deep breaths, and let your body and mind relax." -- Jan Marie Dore

We all know that it's those times when we're stressed that we're more likely to snap at our child. It's impossible to be emotionally generous when we're tense.  That's because we're already half-way to fight, flight or freeze, so any childish behavior pushes us over the edge. But life with children will always include childish behavior, and life in the modern age is full of triggers that make us stressed.

Of course, those triggers, be they tantrums or traffic jams, don't actually make us tense. We make ourselves tense in response to them. It's a choice. It may be hard to believe, but it's entirely possible to breathe deeply and feel at peace during a traffic jam -- or even a tantrum.

The easiest way to remind yourself to let go of tension is to breathe. Just breathe. Noticing our breathing brings us back into our body, back into the present moment, back into balance. Wise teachers through the ages have observed that the moment between perception and action is where we have the choice not to get hijacked by our automatic emotional response. That pause to breathe gives us a choice about how we respond.

In fact, if you want to change your relationship with your child, this is one of the most powerful levers you can pull. When you start to lash out, for any reason, just Stop. Drop your agenda (just for the moment.) Breathe. If you can calm yourself down before you respond to your child, you'll find that the entire interaction is different. Soon, you'll find that your relationship with your child has been completely transformed.

Today, I encourage you to stop and breathe throughout your day. Every time you're upset. When you find yourself in traffic. When anyone in your house begins a meltdown. (Especially you.)

Sometimes when we bring more mindfulness to our bodies, we begin to release stored-up tears. If this happens for you, welcome those tears. You’re bringing more spaciousness to your life by healing those old hurt places.

Breathing seems so simple that you may find it hard to believe its power.  But as Sam I Am said about Green Eggs and Ham, "Try it, try it, and you may!"


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This is post #5 in our series on self care: The Secret of the Full Cup

#1 - The Secret of the Full Cup: Self Care

# 2- 10 Stress Busting Strategies for Parents

#3 - Let's Get Physical: 20 Exercise Ideas for Parents and Kids

#4 - 5 Ways To Nurture Yourself while Nurturing Your Child



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