Articles about finding peace

Screens are addictive and my children will get lost in them – is that true?

“Screens are addictive and my children will get lost in them.” Have you ever had that this thought come into your head? I certainly did, many years ago, and I know a LOT of other parents that have experienced this.

As I sit here and write this article, I’m basking in gratitude and love for all of us who have believed that screens are addictive and all of us who have been willing to investigate and question this belief. I’ve just had the honour of talking with someone who was open and willing to be guided through a process of self-inquiry to investigate and unpack what was really going on in her head around the belief that screens are addictive. I used the questions of “The Work” by Byron Katie, a form of self-inquiry that I have been using for over ten years and taught to many other parents.

Wow! I’m in awe of what my client discovered.

I asked my client to consider her belief that screens were addictive and that she would lose her children in them, and to answer a simple question from the deepest place within herself:

Can you absolutely know that’s true?

She closed her eyes and searched within herself. Her answer was No. She couldn’t absolutely know that screens were addictive and that she would lose her children in them.

We paused for a moment just to take that in. It’s so interesting to discover that what seemed certain a moment ago, now doesn’t seem to be true any more.

Then I asked her:

How do you react when you believe the thought “Screens are addictive and my children will be lost in it”?

She noticed that she got lost in rage, frustration, anxiety and attempts to control her children’s use of screens. She threatened them with turning off all the internet. And when she carried out her threat and turned off the internet – against the protests of her children- she felt guilt and shame. She experienced painful self-judgements about the conflict she had caused as well as thoughts about not being a “good parent”.

Then I asked her another question. I asked her to recall a time when she was in the room with one of her children while they were playing on their laptop. Then I asked her:

How would you be in that situation, with your child, if you did NOT believe the thought “Screens are addictive and my children will get lost in them”?

Her answer was clear and AMAZING. She said that if she wasn’t believing that thought she would feel relaxed and calm. – What a difference!

I invited her to pause and really sink into the experience of feeling that calm, relaxed Presence. She did – and she said it felt wonderful.

This experience of calm isn’t unique to this person. Or to me. This is something everyone can experience – or at least get a glimpse of. This is who you are when you are not believing the story in your head. You are calm, relaxed and present, no matter what your child is doing.

It’s such a delight to share this moment with someone; when they come back to this calm, peaceful Presence and can rest there for bit. This is GOLD. This remembering is beautiful and precious. Words cannot express how much love I feel in these shared moments.

We investigated a bit deeper into her memory of being in a room with her child and a laptop. It became clear that the reality she saw was a child that was happy and engaged in something they enjoyed. This was not a child that was trying to escape from painful feelings. This was not a child that was suffering with an addiction. This was a child that was having fun and was quite willing to chat and share that with their mother.

Without the belief “Screens are addictive and my child will get lost in them” my client was not lost in her own painful feelings or her attempts to control her child. She could see her child through the lens of Presence and connect with what her child was doing and how she was feeling.

For the final part of the inquiry I asked my client to think of a statement that would be the OPPOSITE of the one she started with. This is what she came up with:

Screens are not addictive and my children are not lost in them.

I asked her to see if she could find some evidence, in her own experience with her children, that this statement was at least as true as the one she started with.

My client shared with me how much she enjoyed playing online games with her children at times and how willing her children were to engage with her in other activities if she invited them rather than lectured and threatened them. They were also willing to turn off their screens at night when asked. She told me how happy her children were and how well they handled their schooling and homework. She shared how much she enjoyed the connection she had with her children when she was not lost in her stressful thoughts.

Through this process of self-inquiry the old patterns of thinking and reacting can start to unravel. There is the possibility here of unlearning a belief; of realising that it isn’t true for you any more. Not because you “should” or because it’s “wrong” or because of something you read or were told.

This doesn’t mean that it’s not possible to find screens addictive. It doesn’t mean that a child has never struggled in their relationship with their emotions and with technology use. I delve deeper into the psychology of addiction, screens and gaming in another article here. I share more about how I handled my own sons passion for gaming here.

The process of self-inquiry doesn’t magically get your children to put down their devices and spend more time outdoors. It’s not about fixing a perceived problem. It’s more about investigating if there is really a problem to begin with. This is simply a process that brings the workings of the mind and emotions into greater awareness and invites you to remember your own truth. It’s my great joy and passion to share this. I’m giggling here as I write this because I can find words that don’t sound corny and over used. So I’ll leave it at that and sit with my cup of tea and my silly grin – in front of a screen that I love to watch every day.

How do I teach my child to respect me?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times and it’s one that I spent years trying to figure out for myself.

It’s a question that was in my head most days while my youngest son was going through his swearing phase.

His swearing phase lasted many years and gradually became more dramatic as he explored the full scope of swearing and learned new words. His swearing was almost always directed at me and was literally in my face. How do you react when your 14 year old child calls you a “f**king bitch?

Some would regard this as a sign of my “failure” as a parent.
Many would see it as cause for immediate punishment of the child.
But I’ve always chosen peaceful and conscious parenting, so I didn’t go down the punishment path. There were no  “consequences” imposed on him and I didn’t shame or shun him. I didn’t even lecture him.

Instead of punishment I applied the Golden Rule: “treat others as you would like them to treat you.”  I gave to my son what I wanted to receive: respect.

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7 reasons not to set limits with your child.

How many times have you heard someone say that you should be setting clear limits for your child, as if this was the solution to most of the difficult problems that parents face? Many parents believe that if they aren’t setting limits, or they aren’t working effectively, that they are somehow failing.

There are at least 7 reasons why setting limits may not be ideal for your family.

  1. You may have a spirited or determined child who reacts strongly to having limits imposed on them. Some children are strong-willed by nature. They resist their parent’s attempts to control or limit them. This can lead to a great deal of yelling and fighting between parent and child and lingering bad feeling and resentment. No-one knows your child as well as you do. You will intuitively know if a top-down, parent-in-authority approach is not working well in your family.
  2. You may not enjoy the role of rule-maker or authority. Even though many of us were brought up to think that this was an essential part of being a parent, you may have other goals. You may want to be a parent who doesn’t try and control children with limits, consequences and boundaries. You may want to focus on respect and co-operation and finding solutions in partnership with your children.
  3. You may want your children to learn effective problem solving skills. If parents step in and set limits and rules there are missed opportunities for involving children in a problem solving process. When children are introduced to problem solving early in life they gain skills that they can apply throughout their lives. To show your children that there is always a way to find a win-win solution in any conflict is a very precious gift to give them.
  4. Some children appear to comply with limits but then act out in other ways. They may take their frustration out on a sibling or friend, or even start to harm themselves. There are many ways that children react to having power exercised over them and some of these can take years to surface. The fact is that most children hate to be restricted and controlled by their parents. There is a high probability that they will respond by lying, hoarding, sneaking or “acting out” at some stage.
  5. You may think that you love and accept your child while you set limits, but does your child see it this way? Whether a child feels unaccepted or unloved will be a determined by their personality, sensitivity and how many of their behaviours are deemed unacceptable by their parents. Do you want to take the risk that your child ends up feeling unloved when there are other, more peaceful ways of dealing with the issue?
  6. You may question the way that you were brought up and the values behind mainstream parenting. You may even be questioning your own ideas about how children “should behave” and traditional ideas about what behaviour is “right” and “wrong”. You may want to have a more heart-centred and intuitive relationship with your children that allows space for your child to explore, make mistakes and learn from them in a safe and supportive environment.
  7. Perhaps you simply don’t know what else to do. You may have resorted to setting limits because of your own frustration, resentment and overwhelm. Maybe you were feeling controlled by your child and that your own needs were not being met. You may have fallen into the trap of accepting behaviour that you really couldn’t handle. The good news is, it isn’t true that you have to opt for either setting limits or being overly permissive. There is another way.

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What to do about strong fears and persistent worries

There are times when my fears and worries about my children have overwhelmed and overtaken me. It has helped my a great deal to identify and name my fears. I have feared failure as a parent: that my children will not be happy and healthy and that I will be judged by others. I have feared that my children will get hurt, physically or emotionally. These fears and others like them underpin many of the problems I have experienced with my children. My fear can drive a need for my child to learn certain skills or to behave in a certain way. It can drive me to control, manipulate and pressure my children. It has really helped to examine these fears closely and to question my belief in them.

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Understanding our reactions to teasing

There is no doubt about it. Seeing our children be teased or criticised by others can be tricky. I so clearly remember my own reactions to my child being teased; the rush of pain and defence when I heard the comment made. The desperate wanting to protect my child from the pain I felt sure they must be experiencing. Feeling my own anger rising as my mind reached out to attack the person who did this. It is all so familiar and so unpleasant. And my reactions always led to more conflict and unpleasant feelings, not less.

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How I discovered the joys of less doing and more Being

Do you ever feel exhausted, overwhelmed or resentful as a result of what you do as a parent? Do you find that there are times when it all gets too much and you start loosing your temper and yelling at your children? I used to experience this often. I understand, now, that these were symptoms of over-doing. I was pushing myself to do way too much and believing that I had no choice. It seemed as if parenting was such a bottomless pit of work that feeling overwhelmed was inevitable. Fortunately, I have discovered that over-doing is not inevitable or incurable. The solution is less doing and more Being.

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Food, glorious food: our journey from nightmare to nourishment

I love food and I love caring for my body with the best food that I can provide. Until I had children, I thought that I had no real issues around food. It wasn’t a big deal for me. Having children changed all that. Not straight away, of course, but over a couple of years I gradually felt myself descending into a nightmare of anxiety and conflict that I had never experienced before.

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