My husband is traveling, it's 7:00 p.m. and I'm tired. My girls want to go back to the park; they are full of energy and questions. Did I mention I'm tired?
I take responsibility and share how I feel. Girls, I am tired, and I don't have the energy to go to the park. Instead, we are going to have quiet time at home while I clean the kitchen. Disagreement all around, comments about how it's summer, it's beautiful outside, and how they want to catch fireflies….
I take a deep breath and slow down even more. Slowly and softly I explain that tonight we are staying inside. I allow them to share their frustration; I don't talk, I just listen intently and nod. I slow down even more, keep breathing, keep it together…..
Time passes and I realize I haven't talked in awhile. I look around the room and the girls are all doing different things - one is cutting paper, one is looking at a book, one is using watercolors. I don't know when they dispersed and got busy doing their own thing, but I do know it feels calm in here, it's quiet, it's relaxed.
I think about Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk who shares his message of peace around the world. I have heard that when he walks on stage to present, his peaceful energy brings a sense of calm to the entire room; everyone quiets down and "feels" his presence.
I don't claim to have the power of a Buddhist monk, but I do believe my girls respond to the energy I carry. Anxiety is contagious (if you have been with someone who is anxious, you know what I mean) and calm can be contagious, too.
So instead of telling my girls to calm down, I can calm down first. Instead of using words, I can use breathing.
Maybe to teach the behavior I need to role model the behavior.
Will this work everytime? I don't know.
But it worked today.
Cathy Adams is a certified parenting coach, yoga instructor and mother to three girls.
See more of Cathy's stories here.