Articles about Presence

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.

Do you feel your child is more than you can handle?

Do you have a child that seems more sensitive, strong-willed or anxious that you thought a child could be?

Or perhaps you think they’re more demanding, spirited or express more intense emotions than other people’s children?

Maybe all of the above? 💥💥💥

I know from experience that this can mean more feelings of overwhelm, more exhaustion and a lot more tears of frustration.

It’s easy to get lost in the helplessness of believing that you can’t cope or to drown in self-pity and a story of:

“Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”

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HOW TO STAY CALM WHEN YOUR CHILD HAS AN ANGRY MELTDOWN.

There are few things more challenging than angry meltdowns.

I’m talking about an explosion of intense emotion that may include hitting, swearing and screaming. If your child has angry meltdowns, you may find yourself reacting and becoming very angry yourself.

I know what its like. I’ve been there. I have two sons and they both went through periods when they experienced explosive anger.

From the start, I was clear that I didn’t want to punish them. I didn’t want to inflict emotional pain to try and “teach them a lesson.”

I also didn’t want to shame them or tell them that they were bad or wrong for getting angry. I knew that would make them feel even worse and it wouldn’t help them become calm.

So what was left to try? I wanted a new, peaceful approach to dealing with angry meltdowns.

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The most effective form of self-care for parents.

I used to believe that the best self-care was to have time away from my children. I was desperate for a break from their demands for attention and I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

Getting away from my children, even if only for an hour or two was something I craved. I wanted walks in nature, relaxing baths, personal shopping, chats with friends and time with my husband. These were precious pleasures and I still very much enjoy them today.

As important as it was, this “me time” was not enough to sustain me in the long term, especially once I made the choice to home educate my two sons. We were going to be spending a LOT of time together and it was going to be a long haul. I knew that I wanted more than just coping strategies. I wanted my parenting years to be joyful. So I set my sights on discovering a life free from constant stress and emotional turmoil. I wanted inner peace – not just while I was in the bath or out of the house, but while I was with my kids in the thick of our messy family life.

These are my top 3 suggestions for self-care.

If you want self-care that’s going to bring long term transformation and joy into your life, here’s what I suggest:

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How to help your angry child

This article is for parents that have a child that gets very angry.

Maybe your child also hits, or swears, or blames you when they are upset. Maybe they have wild, screaming meltdowns.

This article is for you if want to support your child to get past their angry outburst without it becoming a battle between you.

You know your child is suffering and you want to help them rather than just make them feel worse about themselves.

Warning: This article isn’t going to provide a quick fix. But it might change your life in unexpected ways.

You’ve probably tried everything you can think of, but it just keeps happening

I know. I’ve been there.

I have two sons and they both feel things deeply. They have both been through periods of their lives where they experienced explosive anger.

This has sometimes been abrupt outbursts of rage. There was intense screaming and crying. Often there was physical lashing out, hitting and blaming their upset on someone close; usually me.

These outbursts were triggered by something, but it was not always possible to work out what that was. Even if the trigger seemed clear, there may not have been a way to avoid it.

From the start, I was clear about what I didn’t want to do.

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What dolphins taught me about harmonious family life.

Swimming with Spinner dolphins

I recently had the privilege of swimming with wild dolphins off the Kona coast of the Big Island, Hawaii with dolphin researcher and advocate Roberta Goodman. It taught me a lot about family harmony and living in flow.

I’m not very familiar with dolphins. I’ve seen Bottlenose dolphins playing in the surf in Australia but I’ve never seen a captive dolphin show or been up close in the water. Hawaiian spinner dolphins are much smaller than Bottlenose dolphins and travel in larger pods. They hunt at night in the deep waters off the Kona coast and they come into shallow water during the day to play, sleep and socialize. This brings them into close contact with humans who use these crystal clear waters to fish, surf, dive, sail and swim. These wild dolphins don’t avoid human contact. Long stretches of coastal water are empty of people and yet dolphins linger in the area where boats are gathered and snorkelers are in the water eager to see them. Barbara has been swimming with these dolphins for 20 years and she confirmed that these dolphins seek out and seem to enjoy their interactions with the people who come to meet them.

My son and I were lucky enough to have beautiful calm weather for our morning of dolphin watching. We were with a small group of two guides and 5 visitors. The captain of the boat kept watch for dolphins and dropped us in the water just ahead of where they would swim past. The first few times we were in the water the dolphin pod swam past at their “travelling” speed. We had a short and delightful view as we swam hard to keep pace but we soon dropped behind them. There were a few other boats in the area and other snorkelers in the water waiting for a chance to see the dolphins swim past as they cruised up and down the coast. The dolphins obliged by slowing down and cruising around the gathered observers allowing us to swim alongside them for longer. They started playing with us, swimming up behind us and then zipping past very close. A few times we saw individuals leave the pod and leap up out of the water in a magnificent spin and then slip back into the flow of the dolphin group.

Dolphin consciousness

I lost all sense of time as I watched these delightful creatures. There was so much to take in!  The flow of the pod as they moved through the water was effortless and graceful. They truly moved as one, like a school of fish or a flock of wild birds. And yet, there were also bursts of individual expression as one or more dolphins swerved out of the group to do their own thing. It was clear to me after even this small time observing them that these dolphins experience both a collective consciousness as well as an individual consciousness. Continue Reading →

A natural flow of desire and challenge

I have these moments when inspiration comes to me. So often it is when I go walking on the mountain near my home. I park the car part way up and then walk the last kilometre up the road to the top. The road climbs up through a tall forest of turpentine and eucalypts. The trees arch over the road creating a leafy vaulted ceiling. When I walk early in the morning the bush is gently peaceful with the choir of birds providing a background chorus. And the smell! The smell! I think that’s what brings me home most quickly. I take deep draughts of the forest smell and I feel instantly calmer and more centered. I come home to presence. I breathe in the aliveness and timeless peace of the forest and I know that I AM.

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I have learned so much about myself from my children

I love to bask in the vitality and joy that my children beam out every day. I love to see how much they are enjoying life, learning and achieving their own goals. But it has not always been so rosy.

What I have seen in my children has also been confronting. There were things about them that I simply didn’t like. There were behaviours that I struggled with and dearly wished to see gone. What I have come to see clearly is that these aspects of my children that I disliked were things that I had not been able to accept in myself.

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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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How can I help with my child’s problems?

“Exude the state of being that you want your child to end up with and they will find their way to that.” Bentinho Massaro.

Being genuinely helpful to my children when they have problems is something that brings joy into my life. I want to give help that is calm, supportive and that increases my child’s confidence in their own ability to help themselves. This did not come naturally for me, at least not to the extent that I would have liked. It was a skill that required a lot of practice as well as a lot of unlearning of old, unhelpful habits. For example, I often fell into the trap of trying to fix a problem when my help was not requested. My child would react to my intrusion and I would become part of the problem.

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