“Calm down, sweetie!” I clearly remember saying those words to my daughter as she was learning to ride her bike. “Don’t stress yourself out!” I would say as I was feeling myself getting frustrated with her frustration. As if telling someone to calm down has actually helped them to calm down, right?
I watched her go from annoyed to upset, and eventually angry as she was getting more annoyed with her progress on those two wheels. I felt helpless as I told her to take a few breaths, and told her we could try again tomorrow. “I don’t want to try again tomorrow! I want to ride my bike now!” she shouted with serious scorn. I could tell she was tired of my passive assistance and wanted me to shut up and get out of the way. However, as she continued stomping the pedals, weaving with her handlebars and telling me to let go of her bike, I could see how her anger was getting the best of her.
“Let’s take a break and have some water” I suggested as she finally slid off her bicycle seat and conceded to my idea for a breather. I gently told her I thought she was doing a great job, and how proud I was of her progress, but she didn’t delight in my niceties at all. She was hot, tired and angry. She didn’t want to try again later, she wanted immediate satisfaction no matter how many cuts, bruises or scrapes she got.
Though I admire her determination, I kept telling her that it was just a bike ride. I assured her it was just one day and we needed a break, and that she can’t take it so seriously. I could feel myself getting annoyed and it upset me that one bike ride was gaining so much power over the both of us. I wanted to throw the bike over the fence and get back to playing tag at the park!
Riding a bike is a big deal. There were other kids around her that day at the park and it added to her distress. She started running all the possible negative scenarios in her head she told me, and that’s why today she had fallen back in her progress.
She was worried she might run into someone, or they would run into her, she was worried she would fall and everyone would laugh, she was concerned that if she rode into someones way they would be mad at her, and that other people had more right to the park than her. “Boy, that is mouthful” , I thought to myself. Again I insisted that she just focus on the bike, relax, take a breath and calm down. I wondered what prompted her to become such a worrier about these trivial issues today at the park and how I could help.
Immediately I thought that after we left the park, she and I could talk about meditation. I thought if she could just focus her thoughts, and find a happy place in her mind to help her relax, she could ignore these silly worries all together. The problem with this is that I wasn’t really addressing the problem as much I was trying to address the symptoms of something greater going on. I got home and started a little research and what I read hit me in the face like a ton of bricks.
“This is all my fault”, I thought after reading through a few articles on the subject. Without giving it much thought, I had unknowingly contributed to this attitude of worry. Some days it is all sunshine and rainbows, but other days instead of looking at the positives, I am just as guilty in my everyday life of relishing in the idea of absolute disaster.
What my limited knowledge of yogic philosophy has taught me, is that the “vibes” or energy you put out into you environment is easily absorbed by your child and everyone else around you. Almost too easily. Worry is a evil thing, the way it works its way into your mind and makes you believe absolutely irrational outcomes. A child of the age of seven doesn’t need formal training regarding meditation. They already have what’s known as the “childs mind.” At this age, instead of me trying to teach her ways to relax and how to ignore irrational fears, it is more important for me to lead by example and carry these principles with me always and immerse my home in them.
It is important that my daughter be able to see my self-development, my personal progress and help her to become healthier, more relaxed and happier in the given environment I provide her. In this case, spending some time on myself is just as much about my personal wellbeing as it is hers.
Instead of trying to micro-manage her feelings, I should integrate more awareness and relaxation techniques into my own life so I can increase my attention and availability to my child and her emotional needs.
So I decided to start right away. Why not? I have started larger projects and succeeded in change over night many times before. I have dabbled with yoga, meditation and theories regarding a positive mental attitude, but have I ever really committed to it, making it an integral part of my life? What is another thing to add to the list when my child is involved? I don’t like seeing her frustration, and though frustration can be a great catalyst for change and improvement, irrational fears are not. I am guilty of them, my wife is guilty of them, and now my daughter is dabbling in the world of fear, doubt and anger.
I need for my child to know that I am interested in her, concerned for her, caring for her and emotionally “there for her” no matter when, where or why. At the same time, I need to take a step back and allow her to be herself and work through her own problems. I need to continue to support her for all that makes her special and unique and support her by nurturing her own desires, skills and abilities. It’s a delicate balance that I must find out how to navigate.
I’ve touched on this a little before with Guided Meditation for Bedtime, but by using calm and peaceful worlds and meditative practices, you can apply them to any situation where tension and frustration is getting the upper hand.
When you watch your children, you are watching little pieces of yourself, and it’s extremely important to be able to evaluate yourself and consider what practices you are teaching, especailly when you see your child mimic them. When you give your child verbal instructions, you are aware of what you are saying, doing, and guiding them towards, but what about when you think they aren’t looking and listening? Are you teaching them to worry, to have self doubt and to be pessimistic in their own daily lives? The fact of the matter is, especially when we think our children aren’t looking, they are paying close attention to our every move. We are the best example they will ever have, the closest example, and it’s important we are aware enough to acknowledge when we are making mistakes, when we are teaching negative habits and how we can help to change them. Many times the change starts in ourselves, and our children will follow the example.
Since that day, I have been taking a little time daily to meditate, to be grateful and express that gratitude and to continue to develop my passion for yoga. As a result, I am calmer, more present and emotionally available to everyone. Change starts in your mind, and with commitment to it, it floods your body, your heart and to those around you.
Good Luck and let love be your guide!