Robert Coles, the famed child psychiatrist, author, and Harvard Professor once said, “We live out what we presumably want taught to our children. And our children are taking constant notice… measuring us not by what we say, but by what we do.”
It’s true. Studies show parenting is less about what preach to our kids, and more about how we show up. Children are incredibly intuitive: they know the difference between our saying something and our living it. They also know the difference between us putting on the facade of perfection and being who we are.
For this reason, I believe that engaging some form of authentic personal transformation is one of most powerful parenting “strategies” out there. Instead of constantly nagging our kids to be on top of things, we show them what it looks like to be a proactive person. Instead of explaining self-esteem, we can spend the time and effort to make sure that we have it. We model the process of consciously becoming the best version of ourselves.
Since I am also a firm believer in the power of action–here is a practical exercise that yields great results. When I am caught up in forcing my kids to be or do something, it redirects my focus to where it can be effective.
Step 1. Make a list of the top three things you would like to change in your children (especially those that gnaw at you every day).
Step 2. Make a list of three things that you would like to change in YOU, as a parent.
Step 3. Commit to working on those things you have marked out for yourself (I mean it…a conscious commitment!)
Step 4: Three weeks from now, go back to the list you made about your children and see if anything has changed. (Hint: the results may be surprising).
Intention followed by dedicated effort is genuinely inspiring. That’s why people get such incredible outcomes from this simple exercise. If you’ve ever been around a person in the midst of authentically committing and changing their life, you can probably agree. Positive momentum is contagious. Because our kids are the people most sensitive to us, they will feel our good vibes right away and set out to create it for themselves.
When we shift our consciousness from “I want to you change this” to “I am becoming a better person,” we also free up a lot of our attention. We quit trying to control the uncontrollable. This leaves us more open and available to love in the present moment, which is transformative in itself.