Last week I did a talk on anxiety in children, and how we can show up to support them as parents.  It ended up being a wonderful (almost) two hours of vulnerable conversations with some incredible parents at Hanya House in White River.

I took along a stack of books that I absolutely love, and thought would be relevant for parents looking for more information on a range of topics relating to anxiety. While going through them, one of the parents expressed their discomfort with reading parenting books, because it highlights all of the things they may have “got wrong”.

This sparked a conversation on parental guilt, the times we fail to show up the way we want to, and how we can show ourselves more compassion.

I can guarantee that every single one of us will “harm” our child in some way. There is no such thing as perfect parenting, or a perfect dynamic between us and any other person – let alone our children. So how do we remain realistic while also doing our best to cause as little harm as possible?

Here are some things I (try to) do:

  1. Acknowledge when you have said or done something that does not align with the way you want to parent your child(ren). Acknowledge it to yourself, and acknowledge it with your child.
  2. Repair (and this is probably the most important)! There is nothing more empowering than being on the receiving end of an apology. It validates our child’s experience, and reduces the risk of unnecessary shame. It also demonstrates how to apologiseOur children can only truly learn this sort of empathy by experiencing it themselves.
  3. Reflect on what happened. What led to your reacting or behaving in a way that you didn’t like? Was it a bad day? Was it triggered by certain behaviours in your child? Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you feeling supported enough as a person?
  4. If you find yourself getting triggered by certain behaviours, and your reactions seem disproportionate, extreme, out of control, or confusing, ask yourself how you would have been treated by your caregiver if you behaved that way as a child. Our children hold up a mirror to our unresolved hurts (and we all have them, no matter how loved we are or were), and unpacking and processing this is one of the most powerful ways you can show up for your child.
  5. If you’re finding it difficult to find your centre, or you notice you are regularly reacting in ways you wouldn’t usually – reach out for support. This may be a trusted friend, family member, or a mental health professional.

I specifically did my life coaching course to provide this deeper level of support for overwhelmed parents, and if you’d like to you can always reach out for a session: Click here to email me.