HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night.

At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep because he was fearful of having bad dreams. But then I realised he meant he was having scary thoughts just before going to sleep.

It fascinated me because I saw that he was also telling me that he partly knew the thoughts weren’t real. And that even though he kind of knew they weren’t real, he still felt like they were and he didn’t like them and they scared him and he wanted them to go away.

Which is in fact exactly what we adult humans innocently do all the time with our own thoughts. Something occurs to us, we mentally grab it and assume it means something and that it’s telling us something true about what’s happening in the world. We analyse it, dwell on it, take it as our own and add more thoughts on top. We inadvertently create a huge thought storm that we come to believe is a real story about us – and then invest heaps of energy in trying to ‘cope’ or suppress or get these thoughts to go away.

But back to my son, the more he thought about the monsters, the more scared he felt, and the more he wanted to do something to get them to go away. And given that he doesn’t yet fully understand the nature of thought – that it’s just energy passing through us and not telling us anything about reality – this makes perfect sense. Because we are always living in the feeling of our thinking in each moment, the ‘monsters’ understandably felt incredibly real and scary to him.

So I could see that things like looking under his bed to help him check for monsters, telling him that monsters don’t live in houses (and implying they still exist somewhere!), telling him to describe it and tell me more about his ‘dream’, wouldn’t be helpful. All this would only serve to add fuel to his scary thinking, make him think about it more and give it disproportionate significance.

Instead I simply asked him,

“Are the monsters in your head real or are they just pretend?”

Pretend.

“Do you remember what I told you about ‘dreams’ that come into our head?”

I don’t know.

“If we decide that they are real, they stay a while. But if we decide that they’re just pretend and just wave at them…after not too long they just float on by and away out of your head.”

This is really just a simplified way of saying that thoughts only stick around if you keep giving them more energy and attention. Thought is transient and impersonal, and if we leave it alone it naturally passes on through leaving space for fresh new thinking to come in.

That particular night, my little one really seemed to hear this and he was soon asleep. I’m not by any means saying that I’ve cured him of ever being scared by his thoughts or dreams; it’s guaranteed that there will be countless more conversations like this.

But it’s an example of the kind of situation where deeply understanding the nature of the mind and thought is very empowering and frees us up to handle the situation with the absolute clarity, certainty and okay-ness our kids need to feel from us.

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

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HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.

 

ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND OKAY

 

And regularly having and expressing this whole range of feelings, many times a day (and even an hour!) is totally normal and okay too.

 

Knowing this means that just as we respond to our kids smiles and excitement with acceptance and love, so we can respond to their tears and grumps and frustration with the same acceptance and love.  In fact, this is the very definition of unconditional love.

 

Even when there’s a total s**t show going on around you, that’s okay.  It doesn’t mean anything bad.  Perhaps your child’s in a low mood. Maybe all your kids are in a low mood. Maybe there’s an obvious cause, maybe there isn’t. But that’s okay, it’s all okay…it will pass. Knowing that all of it is totally okay and normal is your biggest weapon. Most of the time we don’t have to attribute meaning to it, assume something is ‘wrong’, analyse it, bitch about it, take it personally.  It is what it is.  And the less we react, attempt to fix and soothe and distract and ‘sort out’, the quicker it will pass by.

 

We don’t worry about the dark clouds in the sky, right?  We know they’ll pass eventually and the sun will come out?

Same thing.

Left alone, kids (and all of us) naturally self-correct back to our innately calm and centered selves.  That’s the beauty in the design of humans, it’s just how it works.

Coming soon: Why we have feelings and what they tell us

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides.

And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and roses 24/7…I wish 😉.

I think it’s because I gradually realised that there’s much less to ‘know’ or ‘get’ than I ever imagined.

I was finding that intellectualising on all that theory and information and opinion was adding to my mental load and a constant distraction from listening to my own parenting instincts and innate clarity and wisdom.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge advocate of peaceful, respectful and gentle parenting approaches; they intuitively still feel spot on.  But by focusing mainly on what we need to do to learn to parent peacefully I realise I was innocently missing a deeper, very vital point.

Which is that WE ARE THAT PARENT ALREADY.  There is nothing we need to do to get there.  At our core, beyond our thoughts, behaviour and experience, we are innately whole, well, wise, peaceful and joyful.  It’s our birthright, and it’s always been there and always will be whether we can see it or not.  It’s just that the way nearly all of us have been innocently conditioned is to forget this.  Forget it so deeply that we almost no longer believe it.

But it is this part of us, the part that has remained constant from babyhood to now, this is who we really are.   And this core part of us is unchangeable, unbreakable; it never goes away.  We all have this, we are all the same.  And more to the point here, so are our children.

And once we see this, know this, much of traditional parenting makes less and less sense:

 

We don’t need to ‘train’ our kids or ‘manage’ their behaviour; they are born cooperative and ‘good’.

We don’t need to engage in power struggles or ‘get’ them to respect us; consistently and genuinely demonstrating our respect for them is enough for that to evolve naturally.

We don’t need to ‘learn’ how to parent, how to cope, how to stay calm, how to love; this is all within us already for the taking.

We don’t need to buy into the hype that parenting is inevitably hard work and a struggle. Of course, the practical elements can be exhausting (I’m definitely not denying that), but the heart of the parent-child relationship itself is naturally about joyful connection, about our light meeting with their light.

 

Our kids have had less time on this strange planet than us, so there are obviously practical and safety elements where they can benefit from our experience and need a compassionate guide.  And I’m not suggesting there are never situations where we need to intervene or advocate for them.

But what if the rest of it we’ve over-complicated and mainly made up?  And our attempts to fix, manage, teach, discipline actually get in the way and create problems that were never there to start with.

It looks to me that when we pay too much attention to advice from our family, friends, other parents, ‘experts’ (so sorry if that’s been me ☹), our heads get filled with a confusion of ‘shoulds’ and shouldn’ts’ that makes no sense in our hearts.  We forget that we can trust ourselves, that when our head is clear we can hear the moment-to-moment wisdom that’s always there guiding us.  That same wisdom that successfully guided our ancestors for so many moons, long, long before we came to rely on google and facebook to find our answers.

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?

 

What if we didn’t see them as inferior, but equal?

 

What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?

 

What if we saw them as already whole and perfect?

 

What if we truly believed that they were innately good and cooperative?

 

What if we knew that their well-being and wisdom was unbreakable, unchangeable?

 

What if we saw them as gifts, not burdens?

 

What if we saw the invitation to play, not just the hard work?

 

What if we addressed their needs and not their behaviours?

 

What if they knew they were deeply loved even when they were feeling grumpy or angry or sad?

 

What if they knew they were deeply liked, that we took pleasure just being in their company?

 

What if we understood that it isn’t our job to make them good, obedient, successful, hardworking?

 

What if we didn’t hold onto fears about their future; that they’ll end up on the street, on drugs, as drop-outs?

 

What if we didn’t fear the judgements and criticisms of others about how we are raising them?

 

What if we knew that exactly how we see them is exactly how they will be?

 

What if we knew that how we see them comes from inside of us and not from them?

 

What if we knew we are always connected, that we are all connected, that we are all part of the same miraculous, mind-boggling universal energy?

 

What if we could deeply lean into these knowings, even when things get tough, blood is boiling, emotions are high?

 

 

Here’s what I think…

 

I think we’d have children who know who they are.   Who know who we all are.  Children with a rock- solid sense of worth, presence and belonging.

We’d have children who know how to access and rely on their own inner guidance and wisdom.  Who can love and give freely and openly. Who can get on with enjoying a fulfilling and purposeful life rather than living a half-life.

We’d have children whose energy is not consumed in survival mode and defences, who are freed up to bring good to the world.  Who can use this mental clarity to find and action loving, peaceful solutions.

This is where it’s at.  Our children. They’re the foundation for the future. And we have the power in our hands to give them and the planet this gift.

 

This is my vision. Will you join me?

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 2

Seeing feelings as guides and exploring why this is helpful

IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS WAY

Because actually, we don’t need to be scared of any of our feelings or struggle against the flow of them…

HELPING KIDS WITH SCARY THOUGHTS

I was very struck by my 5-year old’s use of the word ‘dreams’ to describe the scary thoughts he was having about monsters before he went to sleep the other night. At first, when he said he was “scared of his dreams” I thought he meant he was scared to go to sleep...

UNDERSTANDING FEELINGS: PART 1

Here’s one of the most basic but USEFUL things to know about our kids (and ourselves) and to pass onto our kids.  But also one of the hardest to get and accept because of the way most of us have (innocently) been conditioned.   ALL FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS ARE NORMAL AND...

ALLOWING PARENTING TO BE SIMPLER

I knew something had shifted when I stopped reading books about parenting approaches, strategies and techniques and stopped feeling the urge to write ‘how-to’ posts or step-by-step guides. And it wasn’t because I suddenly knew it all and everything was sunshine and...

PERFECT PARENTING 101

What if we treated our children like we do any other close, sacred relationship?   What if we didn't see them as inferior, but equal?   What if we trusted they have everything they need already, even before they arrive in this world?   What if we saw them as already...

CREATING PEACEFUL FAMILY EATING HABITS

A doctorate in child development and years of working with children and families did not prepare me for the sheer frustration and stress of feeding my own family. Three different children with three different preferences and three different eating patterns and bodily...

HOW I STOPPED BEING AN ANGRY PARENT (most of the time…)

I never assumed parenting was going to be a walk in the park. But one thing in particular that I was not at all prepared for was quite how angry I would find myself becoming at times. And the very worst of those times were apparently all because of a two-year-old?? Yep, who knew that a…

DO PEACEFUL PARENTS LET THEIR KIDS DO AS THEY PLEASE?

I have found that as soon as you acknowledge the way you parent in terms such as ‘peaceful’, ‘positive’, ‘freedom’ or ‘respectful’, you are opening a rather large can of worms for a rather large number of misconceptions. And one of the biggest tends to be that...

HOW TO SET LIMITS THE KIND WAY

Choosing a gentle approach to parenting that doesn’t rely on coercion and punishment is very often the easy bit.  The tricky bit begins as your innocent baby turns into a curious toddler.  All of a sudden, you realise you need to find peaceful ways to keep them safe...

IS YOUR PARENTING UP-TO-DATE? (WITH THE LATEST BRAIN SCIENCE)

It is probably true to say that most of us were brought up by parents who expected and enforced a pretty high degree of obedience and conformity to rules, and they did so by liberal use or threat of punishments and/or consequences. There is no judgement or blame…

HOW TO PREVENT TOYS FROM TAKING OVER YOUR HOUSE…AND YOUR SANITY

Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the number of toys in your house? Do you struggle to find places to put them and to get your kids to help keep them tidy? Someone asked me the other day what my thoughts were on managing and tidying toys…

HOW NOT TO POTTY TRAIN

I suspect that one of the problems for the old woman who lived in a shoe (and perhaps one of many reasons why her children were so unhappy and unruly), was that once she’d found a couple of approaches that worked with the first few of her children, she assumed it...

ARE YOU A CURIOUS PARENT? How To Ask Questions To Deepen Connection With Your Child

The other day my 7-year-old was engrossed in ‘den’ making and called for me to come and help tie a rope. I was mid making pancakes and knew that’d I’d be liable to char the lot if I allowed myself to be distracted. So I said, “Yes I will, in a minute, I’ve nearly finished”. He puffed in exasperation…

EMERGENCY PARENTING: The One Word That Can Save The Day

Sibling world war 23756 breaks out just as I’m trying to get tea. I’m tired and frazzled from a long day and too many thoughts going on in my head and too long a gap since I last stopped to clear them. The cries and screams get louder and l can feel my heart rate increase and little bubbles of irritation start to expand in…