Who knew parenting would be more about you then them?
I certainly didn't.
When I became a parent, I was floored by the stress I felt over my son's sleeping. I was overwhelmed by the tantrums that seemed to come out of nowhere. And I was full of shame that I would get angry and either yell, threaten to take something away, or walk away out of sheer frustration.
Having a degree in child development and learning, and having worked with hundreds of children by that point, I had so much "head knowledge" about how I should respond to my children when they were upset and what their behaviors might mean.
But I had zero understanding of how much my own experiences as a child were playing into my parenting. I had no idea that my child's nervous system - and mine - were so super important to all the experiences we were having. And I definitely didn't know that there were intentional, conscious, ways to be both kind and firm. So that my children felt seen and safe in their most challenging moments and also sure of the boundaries that were in place to help them grow.
After yet another night feeling guilty about the ways I'd reacted I knew I had to change something.
And I was met with a choice.
Try to get my kids into the behavior strategy box I was trying to fit them into...or trust my intuition that there was a reason those tools, methods, and approaches weren't working.
And it wasn't just my own kids...it was the children I saw and worked with in school too.
They all deserved better. But I just needed to figure out what that was.
Beginning to see deeper...
At home and at school I was surrounded by children who were trying to communicate their needs.
But the behaviors were speaking "too loudly." And all of my training left me without the tools needed to hear what was underneath. But I knew there was a message there.
This was the clearest in my own home. I tried all the behavior "tricks" I was taught like using stickers and "3-2-1" countdowns and ignoring until I saw the behavior I wanted. When those didn't work, I became reactive and yelled or judged. And none of that felt right. I felt so disconnected from my kids. And I saw their uncertainty whenever my tone of voice changed.
I knew there had to be a different way.
I dove deep into intentional, peaceful, conscious parenting and pursued a Parent Coach Certification through the Jai Institute for Parenting and bumped smack into the reality of what I was missing.
The skills to be compassionate with myself. To understand and know how to respond to my own triggers. To see behaviors in an entirely new light. To trust that children can rise to the occasion if I connect first, share my calm, and intentionally teach them new skills.
Once I saw how impactful this was in my own family, and with some of the children I worked with one-to-one with at school, I knew I couldn't hold on to this information for myself. I had to share it. With everyone.
Growing Up Families was born out of my deepest desire to help children grow to be emotionally safe and healthy while still building skills and thriving.
And the more I learned, and worked with children, the more I realied...this will not happen without supporting their most important people. Their parents, caregivers, and teachers...YOU!
I'm right there with you...
Everyday I'm helping my two boys learn what it takes to be kind, self-aware, responsible, empathetic, self-reflective, resilient, and honest. And this is hard work because...some days...I'm still learning how to do most of those myself.
Parenting with intention...being conscious about my triggers...learning how to hold space for all of our emotions...and finding the balance between kind and firm as I teach and guide my children into learning new skills.
But each day, it all becomes easier and easier because I'm driven by the deep roots of connection I'm sowing with my children and the realization that they don't need me to the complete opposite of my own parents. They don't need me to be perfect.
They need me to be the best I can be that day - with our relationship and both of our emotional well-being and their growing minds - as my focus. The rest? It works itself out.
Bridging a child's two worlds...
My professional work and my personal experiences have given me the following...
A unique insight into the - very real ways - that the relationships children form with their parents, and caregivers, impacts how they interact and learn at school.
With their teachers and peers. Their next closest relationships. And definitely the other place they spend most of their time.
I have spent years (and years) partnering with parents and teachers, as well as school administrators and therapeutic staff, and listening to and working directly with children of all abilities.
And I now have the ability to build a bridge between a child's home and school to help everyone understand that children need empathetic, regulated, adults who see them for who they are and understand that their behavior is a message. Who have the skills to look deeper, with curiosity, and with compassion to help a child re-regulate. And who know how to guide, teach, and model the skills they want children to learn - without using blame, fear, bribes, or disconnection.