Let’s just all admit it. Parenting well can be really hard. We rise to the occasion one minute and give up completely in the next. Looking back, we wonder, “Why did I say those things?” Or, “Why did I get so angry over that?” Controlling our own emotional reactions seems hard, if not impossible, when our kids, tweens, teens, etc., consistently take us to task.
As parents, it is our role to model the emotional granularity our children need in order to mature. Yet, kids fail to learn emotional identification and regulation because we, their parents, lack the same fundamental skills.
Awareness is key. Being aware of our own challenges in parenting is one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences that we can have as human beings. We all want the best for our children, but sometimes it can be difficult to know how to navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of raising a child. Clinical psychologist Daniel Siegel talks about the concept of parenting from the inside out, a concept he developed over the years that emphasizes the importance of understanding our own inner experience in order to be the best parents we can be.
At its core, parenting from the inside out is about recognizing the profound impact our own internal state – our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors – has on our children. When we are able to cultivate a greater awareness of our own internal experience, we are better equipped to respond to our children in a way that is grounded in empathy, understanding, and connection.
So how can we cultivate this awareness? The first step is to simply notice what is happening inside of us. This may involve taking some time each day to sit quietly and observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment. It may also involve seeking out support from a parenting coach, therapist or other professional who can help us explore our inner experiences in more depth.
Once we have a greater awareness of our own internal states, we can begin to apply this understanding to our interactions with our children. For example, if we notice that we are feeling anxious or stressed, we can take steps to regulate our own emotions before responding to our children. This might involve taking a few deep breaths, going for a walk, or engaging in another activity that helps us feel calmer and more centered.
Another important aspect of parenting from the inside out is developing a strong sense of empathy for our children. This means being willing to put ourselves in their shoes and see the world from their perspective. When we are able to do this, we are better able to respond to their needs in a way that is sensitive and attuned to their unique experience.
Finally, parenting from the inside out involves recognizing that our own behavior and emotions are contagious. When we are able to model healthy emotional regulation and positive coping skills, our children are more likely to develop these same skills themselves.
I highly recommend reading Siegel’s seminal work on this. Years ago, it totally changed the landscape of my own parenting, as well as my clients. “Parenting From The Inside Out” is a powerful approach to raising healthy, happy, and resilient children. By cultivating a greater awareness of our own internal experience, developing empathy for our children, and modeling healthy emotional regulation, we can create a nurturing and supportive environment that allows our children to thrive, and learn the social and emotional skills they need to survive in modern world.
If you’d like to know more about this idea and others in the pursuit of becoming the best version of yourself for your family, reach out for a free 1-hour coaching experience with me. There is never an obligation!