Category Archives for "New Blogs"

What is conscious parenting and how do you become one?

In recent years the term ‘Conscious Parent’ has started to gather momentum, but what does it actually mean?

In simple terms, it’s about being aware of how you parent. Being conscious means to be aware.

But it’s not enough to be aware. I mean, what are you being aware of?

Okay, so with awareness I just noticed that I yelled at my child, that I’m frustrated as all hell because no one is listening to me and I’m aware that I don’t know how else to deal with it, that I’m seeing my child out of control and can’t do squat about it.

I’m aware that I feel like a crap parent because of how my child is behaving and that when I react to it I am aware that I feel so guilty because I reacted and because I also don’t know how to react different.

Does that make me a conscious parent?

Surely not, you conclude.

So, what is conscious parenting?

It’s about USING the conscious part of your brain to not only be aware of what’s going on in the present moment but using the conscious part of the brain to EFFECT CHANGE!
Conscious parenting is about AWARENESS AND ADJUSTMENT!

Let me explain why this is important.

Your brain is essentially divided into the subconscious and the conscious parts of the brain.

The subconscious is made up of your habits of thinking. From the age of zero to seven, your mind had no analytical abilities, no conscious abilities. Everything that was going on in your environment was being downloaded into the subconscious.

You observed your parent’s behaviour and reactions to life, their words, their sounds, their beliefs etc. Basically, everything they did, you perceived with your subconscious mind. With repetition of seeing these behaviours and responses to life, your subconscious mind started to develop those very same programs, and you began to create your personality.

Now this explains a lot why you’re suddenly finding yourself parenting way too much like your parents for your liking. The programming on how to be a parent has been sitting in your subconscious for all of these years, waiting for the conditions of your environment (ie becoming a parent) to trigger these learnt responses, beliefs and reactions!

You may have already been playing out some of these habitual personality traits in other areas of your life for years too.

Your conscious mind on the other hand, is where you are aware. It’s where creativity lives. It’s where logic and reasoning occur. It’s where the analytical mind becomes the doorway between the conscious and the subconscious. You can deliberately (ie consciously) direct the mind in any way you desire, but you have to be aware to do it.

You can choose to be happy for example, if you are consciously directing your mind to look for happiness and think thoughts that trigger the chemicals (emotions) that make you feel happy.

So why aren’t you doing that already?

Why are you ‘choosing’ to stay angry and reactive and give into your subconscious mind.

Because the subconscious mind is made up of 95% of how much you think!

The conscious mind is only made up of 5%.

I use the analogy of a steering wheel of the car being the conscious part of the mind (the 5%) and the sat nav / autopilot of a motor vehicle being the subconscious.
When you are consciously steering your mind in the direction you want to go (ie you’re using logic, reasoning, will, desire – all parts of the conscious mind – to direct your life), you will lead in that direction.

However, if you take your hands off the steering wheel, the sat nav / autopilot will kick in and take you in the direction you’ve been programmed to go.

In other words, the subconscious takes over and you start acting in those pre-programmed, well-practiced (sometimes for years) ways of thinking, feeling and behaving.

This is why you find yourself parenting from a reactive state and in the complete opposite to the parent you want to become.

It’s because you’re not parenting Consciously.

Now back to my original definition of Conscious Parenting.

Conscious parenting is about AWARENESS & ADJUSTMENT.

It’s not enough to become aware of the programs you’re running that are triggering your behaviours and emotions. Sometimes being aware can weaken the habitual connection, but when you’re breaking a habit, you have to replace it with another.

This is where ADJUSTMENT comes in.

You have retrain your mind to change.

There are two ways you do this
a) Repetition
b) Hypnosis

When you’re in hypnosis, your mind is put to sleep (no different than you going to sleep at night time) and you are downloading the information you want your subconscious to be programmed to think habitually.

If you do that with repetition you can retrain your subconscious mind to change.

But you don’t even need to see a hypnotist to do that. You can do it while you sleep!

There are lots of downloads you can purchase that will help you to train your brain while you sleep by putting some headphones in your ears and listening to the hypnosis.
I love using as they have thousands of cheap downloads that will help you to do exactly this.

However, hypnosis is not the only thing you can do and in fact I believe you need to do more than just that if you wish to accelerate the rate of change in your thoughts, feelings and actions.

You see, you can go into hypnosis at night time, and start programming your mind, and that will work over time, but if you wake up and start to play out the same mental thoughts, feelings, behaviours etc, you’re going to be strengthening your current programs, and the new program has to keep competing with this well-practiced old programming, so it elongates the time it takes to change.

But what if you could use your conscious mind to accelerate the process? Now this is where we come in. We teach parents how to use their conscious mind to train their subconscious to be calm, connected and happier parents.

This is where REPETITION kicks in to help you with the ingredients of AWARENESS AND ADJUSTMENT that make up change.

What if you were able to become aware of the pattern of your thoughts that keep coming up in your day to day interactions with your kids, and adjust that thinking over and over again, thereby training your subconscious to a new mind?

This is exactly what we do at the PSC.

We teach you the science behind neuro-plasticity (changing your brain) and teach you how to take a complex task like breaking the habits of thinking negatively and getting stuck in painful emotions, and simplify it, so you have the knowledge, the skills and the support (from us) to EFFECT CHANGE.

Most people think that their external environment (like their children misbehaving) needs to change so that they can change their internal environment.

A lot of parents think that if they can just control their child’s behaviour, they will feel better, calmer and more composed. We hear this all the time – “Maybe if my child would just do as they are told, I wouldn’t have to lose my s**t”.

But it’s actually the other way around!

When you change your internal environment, you will watch your external environment start to change and we hear THAT all the time too – “I can’t believe how different my child is behaving just by me changing my reactions.”

For some parents, none of this is new. We’ve all seen the influence our good moods have on our child’s behaviour (and our bad ones).

But for others, they can be so entrenched in their own subconscious negative thinking/feeling/behaviour loops that they been practicing for years, it feels almost impossible to EFFECT CHANGE.

But this is where we make it simple for you and help you to do this through our programs.

Now one more thing I want to mention.

The reason why you’re not being an effective parent when you’re stuck in those stressful emotions that are triggering your reactive behaviour, is not because you’re a stupid, hopeless parent who doesn’t know how to parent.

It’s because when your body goes into stress, it’s like being chased by a lion. Your body goes into fight or flight mode. It starts to make physical changes to your body so that certain areas of your mind and body are shut down so that you can conserve energy ready for the fight or flight.

One of those areas is the creative centre of the brain – the conscious mind. If you’re being chased by a lion is it time to create something new (like new thoughts or behaviours)? Is it time to use your logic and reasoning abilities?

No! It’s time to RUN or HIDE! It’s time to protect yourself. The area of your brain that gets activated is your hind brain that’s going to protect you. This is why you’re getting reactive.

You’re not activating the centre of your brain that helps you to change. In fact, the learning part of your brain has shut down altogether!! (FYI, this also happens to your kids when they are experiencing hormones of stress).

So, it’s not that you can’t be a calm parent who knows how to help your child with their behaviour.

It’s more just that because the stress hormones are being activated in your body, due to those habitual negative thoughts and feelings, the part of your brain you need to be activated to be more rational (rationale is another part of the conscious brain) has shut down and no new behaviours can be exhibited.

So, can you see how trapped we can be in our subconscious thinking/feeling/behaviour loops that keep reinforcing the same thinking/feeling/behaviour loops?
Can you see why, to date, you have not changed even though you wanted too?

I want to help you to turn all this around.

You don’t have to stay stuck.

But what it’s going to take to change, is you guessed it, AWARENESS & ADJUSTMENT with REPETITION.

We will give you the tools to do this.

We will help you to become so aware that no subconscious thoughts slip past your awareness with you identifying it and then teach you how to ADJUST those thoughts and with repetition, effectively help you to retrain your subconscious mind how to think/feel and react.

AND we teach you to do all of these in the context of being a parent, something a lot of traditional self-help information are not doing.

Our programs teach you how to become aware of the thinking that’s triggering your stress and teaching you how to adjust your mindset when faced with those common challenges of parenting.

And then we teach you how to apply that information to child behaviour, loss of identity, anger management, relationships, time management and more.

So, if you’re ready to break the habit of parenting like your parents did, or to break your personal habits that are triggering you to become stuck in emotions of stress as a parent.

And if you’re ready to reactivate the logical, rationale and creative centres of your brain that will enable you to become the parent that you want to be, then we are ready to show you how.

"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

10 Ways Your Thoughts Trigger Parental Anger

"It is never the events that cause stress, it's how we perceive those events and what we perceive them to mean about ourselves."

​Jackie Hall - Qualified Counsellor & Founder of The Parental Stress Centre

Often we blame the things going on around us for feeling stressed or angry - it's the child's behaviour, it's my partner, it's lack of sleep, it's having no money. The list can be endless.

However, does everyone have the same reaction when facing these events?
Do you even have the same reactions EVERY SINGLE TIME you are faced with an event?

The answer is no. This is because your 'story' about the event changes when you are perceiving it in that moment, depending on what else is happening, or has been happening around you.

Mindset when it comes to anything, is hugely powerful and to be that calm parent you're wanting to be, you often have to learn how to master your mindset so you can get out of the story that's causing you to feel stressed.

Here are 10 ways your thinking can cause you Parental Anger:

#1 - You are focussed on the picture of how thing are ‘supposed to be' rather than how they are

This is number one because it's the most common. The brain thinks in pictures. We created a picture of how something would pan out, and what's happening is very different to your expectations, however you are still focussed on the old picture. You need to upgrade your picture with what is ACTUALLY happening so you can free your attention particles up to do something about it.

#2 - You have attached your self-worth to getting parenting ‘right’

With the picture of the 'right' way things were supposed to go, is also often a 'right' way that brain has determined that YOU need to be in order to feel loved, valued, respected, to belong and to feel good, or good enough. When life is going to plan, you feel good about yourself, but when it's not, you feel worth.....less (how worth-less will depend on the how strongly you've attached your self-worth to outcome).

The belief is that if "I can't be [insert perfectionist/achiever/responsible one/people pleaser/peace maker] then I'm not good enough." This causes anger because of the hidden hurt. Anger is a way of trying to control events so you can achieve your goal or because you feel out of control because you haven't achieved your goal.

#3 - You’re catastrophizing by talking in absolutes using words like NEVER, ALWAYS, NOTHING

"I have NOTHING to wear!"
"You kids are ALWAYS behaving this way. You NEVER listen to me."
"You NEVER help me around the house. You're ALWAYS making other things a priority" (Might be something you say to your partner).

Catastrophising or speaking in absolutes sends the brain on an evidence finding mission and will draw up all of the times you have no clothes, not been listened to, when the kids have been playing up, how your partner never helps you. It narrows its focus ONLY to those reference points in your brain and won't ever look for the time when you have had new clothes, you have been listened to, the kids did behave, or when your partner did help.

This narrow view seemingly justifies your anger because you think you are right. Based on the evidence you are drawing upon, you might be. But this isn't ALL that's going on. Plus if you only focus on what you don't want, how do you focus on what you do want and start moving in that direction?

#4 – You’re focused on the past

As you'll see, a lot of these points all start to blend in together. Your brain is constantly bringing information from your reference points to the conscious mind so you can assess how to respond to current events.

If you have trained yourself to look for what goes wrong, how much you're missing out, how behaviour has occurred in the past or how people have acted, you don't give change a chance. You are living in the past, not in the present.

With this focus, you can become angry at life before anything has even happened! You already expect that it's going to go the way it did in the past and you have your reaction all ready to go.

#5 – You’re worried about a potential future

This is a biggie with anger. You are using the information from the past to predict a future outcome and you worry about how it will all play out. You're not living in the now, you're living partway in the past and into a potential future.

You'll say things like, 'What if...." and "I just know 'x' will happen'". "I don't know how I'm going to handle it when 'x' happens" and you tie up your attention, focussing on something that hasn't even happened.

#6 – You’re personalising your child’s behaviour

Guess what? Your child's behaviour is not about you! It's about where they are at in their brain development and how they are perceiving life in that moment, just like where your actions and emotions come from.

But as parents, we get fixated on outcome and think we are responsible for every little decision and action our child does and think that it is due to our failings when they respond a certain way. We think we've failed, we're hopeless, everyone else is doing it better. We feel unloved, like no one respects us or that there is something wrong with us because our child is acting this way.

But your child's reaction comes from their mindset! They need help with their thinking, just like you do. Sure they may have learnt some mindset strategies from you that may need to change, but that doesn't mean you have failed. How great that you've become aware of it. Now you can do something about it!

When you can jump out of the world of you and into the world of them and how you can help them to learn, grow and navigate their way in the world, then you free your attention particles up to be solution focussed about how you can teach them, rather than rolling around in a crappy story about how you have failed, which doesn't help anyone (and it reinforces the very beliefs you want to change in yourself and your child).

#7 – Your expectations are unrealistic

Clean house, perfect children, excellent finances, do things for others, do things for me, have it balanced at ALL times. There's no room for flexibility here! Life doesn't always go to plan. But your mind thinks it should and you get all caught up in stress when life doesn't go the way you want it to.

The belief here is "I think I 'should' be able to do more, be more, have more, learn more, apply more and then I'll get life right!"

It's okay to have goals, but you have to be flexible because life doesn't always go to plan and life isn't always balanced. Sometimes you have to find a different way to get to your goals, learn some new ways on how to get to your goal and revise your plans.

#8 – You’re in conflict with reality

This is one of my own personal catchphrases when I'm rolling around in my 'pit of shit', thinking things should be different to how they are.
Stress is caused because your thinking is in conflict with the reality of what is.

It can be in conflict with the reality of the situation (Reality is your child is having a tantrum right now).
It can be in conflict with the reality of parenting (Reality is children of 4 and under don't have logic and reasoning skills so their behaviour will often NOT be rational).
It can be in conflict with the reality of life. (Reality is life doesn't always go to plan. It's full of ups and downs.)
It can be in conflict with the reality of self-worth (Reality is that worth is not defined by outcome, or we'd all be worth-less because life doesn't always go to plan.)

#9 – You’re still making decisions and acting through your child self

Because the brain thinks from the references of the past, and your brain was largely set up between the ages of 0 to 7, often you are still making decisions based on experiences that occurred in your childhood.

For example:
"In order to get love, I need to do everything for everyone."
"You can't ask for help or you're lazy."
"I have to achieve to avoid getting in trouble" or the flipside, "I have to achieve to get love."
"In order to feel good enough, I need people to like me" so I fear judgement.

There are so many examples of how our decisions from childhood are still motivating our actions today and causing us stress as logically we know, we cannot possibly live up to these expectations, and we don't want to either. But unconsciously, the brain still thinks it needs to protect you from pain or pursue pleasure by living these same habits.

#10 – You’re stuck in blame mode – they should have behaved differently!!

We have an expectation that other people's priorities should be the same as yours. But are your priorities always the same as other people's? Is it okay for others to make different choices?

When you get stuck in blame mode, again your focus is on the past - the picture you had of the way things were 'supposed to go'. You're not looking for ways to negotiate with the other person, align with them, create ways of co-operating with each other, or finding their entry point at which those negotiations can be made.

Instead, you're stuck in a story that's in conflict with reality. Reality is, they did what they did, so where to from here? How can you either help your children with their mindset so that they change their priorities, teach them some consequences about life because they made that decision or work with them on a solution. How can you communicate, negotiate and compromise now that the behaviour did occur? This can also apply to your relationships too.

You see, your mind is key to changing how you feel about your life. You can set about changing the circumstances of your life, yelling at the kids to obey and comply, get annoyed to justify your position and stay in your own 'pit of shit', or you can work on your mindset so you can free it up to become solution focussed about your present reality.

So how many of these have you found applies to you, that you need to work on?

Need help to CHANGE these thoughts and tame your temper?
Click below to learn more about our 28 Day Tame Your Temper Challenge..

Child behaviour solutions don’t work, so I get angry

Why is it that you try so hard to find solutions to your child’s behaviour so that you can be calm, only to find that the solutions don’t work, and you end up being angry again?

Here’s my answer:

Most of the time, the problem isn’t the solutions causing you the anger, but the self-worth attachment you have to NEEDING the solutions to work.

We live in an instant gratification world where everything is at our fingertips and so often I see parents get attached to the outcome of implementing solutions – expecting immediate results. There’s no flexibility in between the now and the outcome.

When you decide on what solution to try, you get attached to the result you want. You NEED it to reach that outcome for some reason and you make it mean something about you when you can’t.

For example: When we get upset over child behaviour, it’s always because we have personalised it somehow. When you implement a strategy and it doesn’t work, what is the conversation you’re having with yourself?

I’m a shit mother/father? Why can’t I control my child? Everybody is looking at me thinking I’ve got no idea what I’m doing? They don’t love me, respect me, or appreciate me?

In the above, we’ve made their behaviour all about ourselves. That’s what causes the upset.

But when you jump out of the world of you and into the world of your child, here’s what you most likely find:

a) They are still at a developmental stage where logic and reasoning are not active parts of the brain (children under 4); they are learning how to communicate their wants and needs and starting to play around with ways of doing this, including copying other behaviours they see – yours, friends, relatives, siblings etc (school age children); their brain is doing a major rewire where they are not using logic and reasoning a lot of the time to make decisions and there is a lot of hormonal confusion going on, plus they are trying to gain independence and control over their lives in preparation for adulthood (teenagers).

b) Their behaviour is coming from their own interpretations of their life; how they fit in, whether they feel loved, whether they feel accepted, approved of, or over controlled etc.

c) Because they get something out of the behaviour. It either helps them to defend themselves or it gets them what they want.

In all three cases above, the reason behind your child’s behaviour wasn’t even about you. It was about them and how they were perceiving life.

Before you even look at their behaviour, you have to first understand why it’s there in the first place, by understanding where they are at in their brain development, how they’re perceiving the family dynamics (and social dynamics with older children) and what their payoff is. Everyone makes decisions to move towards a better feeling place (pursue pleasure and avoid pain).

So when you look to solutions for an immediate fix before you can get to your better feeling place, it’s bound to cause upset. You’re in conflict with the reality of learning and development of children (and humans for that matter).

It took some time to set up the behaviour, so it can take some time to deconstruct that behaviour and build new habits, and rules of engagement, or it can take time simply for an entirely new phase in development to take effect.

The reality is that some solutions aren’t an immediate fix, especially when it involves the behaviour of someone else and family dynamics.

If you personalise the solutions you are trying out on your kids it suggests to me that you likely hold the belief that you ‘should’ know how to fix/stop/improve behaviour or perhaps you believe you are the one responsible for the outcome of your child’s behaviour (which you can’t be. You can be responsible for what you teach your children about life and a standard you will/won’t accept for their behaviour, but you can’t ever be responsible for another person’s behaviour and choices. That’s their choice based on the circumstances, their brain development and priorities they hold in that moment).

The reality to adopt in your mindset is one of flexibility in some instances. Recognise that repetition and consistency is what helps to shape our children’s beliefs and priorities. You will need flexibility in time frame you place on when you will reach those preferred child behaviours.

You will also need flexibility in expecting a certain outcome from yourself. Sometimes the solutions you try to implement won’t work, and you’ll have to try another one. That’s okay. That’s normal. They reckon that Thomas Edison tried 1000 different times to invent the light bulb before he was successful. Michael Jordon lost 300 games, missed 9000 shots and 26 times he was given the ball to take the winning shot and missed!

Everything in life comes with hit and miss, and way too often we let outcomes define our worth as a parent, instead of just accepting the reality that parenting is not about perfection, but about awareness and adjustment where persistence, learning, tweaking and sticking to our goal, or knowing when to just let it go and pursue another goal, is in order.

Keep your self-worth out of it and keep focusing on where you are right now, where your child is at, what you want for you and your child, and how you can bridge that gap.

"It takes a village to raise a child"

The PSC's 'Bring My Family Calm' Membership invites you to that village

Never feel alone or stressed in your parenting again

How to commit to Anger Management in parenting

“I try so hard to change, but every time I vow never to get angry again, I just end up giving up, falling back into the same habits, and then I give up, feeling like a complete failure”

This is such a common sentiment of frustrated parents.

We get angry. We feel guilty. We apologise. We hate ourselves or beat ourselves up. We vow to be calm next time. We don’t. Repeat.

But it’s not like you haven’t tried, right? You really have. You have probably researched anger management suggestions – take a deep breath, walk away when angry, take more time out.

You’ve researched child behaviour strategies in an attempt to change your child’s behaviour so you don’t need to get so angry

But the cycle still repeats itself or you change for a little while, but it all comes creeping back in.

How can you stay committed to being calm?

Has there ever been a time where you repeatedly made a mistake, over and over again?  Every time you do it, you say to yourself, ‘why do I keeping doing that? I really should stop that.’  But one day, you do it again, only this time it caused you so much pain, it was imperative that you never made that mistake again. Your commitment to change became a MUST, instead of just a ‘should’.

This happened to a client of mine.  Here is her story.

“It was a typical morning where my 12yo was too slow getting ready for school. As usual, I nagged, she ignored, I got angry, she got defiant and disrespectful, I yelled some more and she got upset.  But I had had enough. I ranted all the way to school.

‘You’re always running late. You make me so late for work. I’m so tired of everything having to be YOUR way. You think the whole world revolves around you.  But it doesn’t. You know while you were at camp last week, I didn’t have one problem getting your siblings ready for school, but you return and here we go, back to being late again.  I’ve had enough of your behaviour. Stop being so selfish!’

It wasn’t one of my finest moments.

I dropped her off at school, and left, trying desperately to get to work on time. However on my way to work, I received a call. My daughter was a mess. She was inconsolably crying and wouldn’t let anyone talk to her and wouldn’t go to class. I had to turn around.

I got to the school and sat down with her. Now I was a mess. We both cried and talked it out. As we discussed what had happened, my daughter revealed to me that she had perceived my rantings to mean that the family was better off without her and that she was not wanted in the family. I was gutted.  I couldn’t believe I’d made her feel this way.

It was at that point I realised, something HAD to change. I had tried to change in the past, but now I realised the pain I was causing my children by my outbursts. I HAD TO find another way.’

This mum, was motivated by pain, which is often what shifts us from a ‘should’ to an unequivocal ‘must’.

You see, time and life can really get the better of us and parenting can be ridiculously challenging, but what I have seen with the thousands of clients that I work with every year, that programs like our 28 Day Tame your Temper Parenting Challenge or other programs that initiate changes, become a huge priority when you are at the point where change is an absolute MUST.  

ALL decisions and actions we take, come from our priorities. Our priorities come from our ‘stories’ (our perceptions) on life. We are always motivated by the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. This is always our agenda behind anything.

Think about this scenario:  You have a whole list of things you need to get done for the day – cooking, cleaning, lunches, washing, etc., however your best friend calls you in tears and tells you that she’s really struggling in life and about to do the unthinkable.

What do you do?

You drop your list of to-dos, you get the kids sorted and you get over there A.S.A.P! Naturally you made it a huge priority.

Why did you do this? 

Because the pain you felt when hearing her tears and you contemplating life without her, and the pleasure (if you could call it that) you sought from being able to help her to stay in this world, HUGELY overrode your ‘pleasure story’ about your to-do list that was initially your priority before the call.

Consider another scenario:  You know you ‘should’ do your to-do list, but you’ve had a big day, you’re tired and the kids have been challenging. There’s a moment when they’ve all gone to bed and your favourite TV show is on.  You decide to watch TV and ‘stuff the housework’.  Why did you do that?

Because in that moment, you felt the pain of the day, mixed it with the pain of the chores (effort, boredom, whatever) and you moved towards the more pleasurable option.

However, throw in an impending visit from a highly anal, house cleaning freak of a mother or mother in law, and all of a sudden, despite the pain of your day, there’s even more pain attached to having the house a mess for your visitor, so you force yourself to get up and clean up.

3 ways to make anger management your top priority

In regards to your anger, to find the motivation to learn how to be calm and really commit to the effort it takes to break the habit to yell, then I suggest you do the following to give yourself the ‘ammo’ needed to change the ‘should’ to a ‘MUST’!

  1. Talk to your kids about how they feel about your anger.  If they aren’t old enough to talk, that’s okay. You can just observe their responses to your yelling.   
    What effect are you having on them? Hear it from their mouths.
    Not so you can feel guilty about it. Don’t go down that road as that’s just a cop out saying, “I SHOULD do this, but I didn’t so I’ll just beat myself up instead’.  
    You’re doing this exercise to give yourself a wake-up call that promotes a MUST –  To FEEL the pain of your angry reactions.   Hear what they are saying/feeling about it.  Ask them how they feel about themselves or how they interpret things when you get angry. Understand the impact your anger is having on them so you start to associate immense pain to getting angry.  This is really important. You want to feel that anger is causing you pain.

  2.  Write an EXHAUSTIVE list of the cost this anger is having on yourself personally, and the quality of your relationships.  Take into consideration what this anger has already cost you in your life, look at how much it will cost you if you continue for the next year, the next 5 years, the next 10 years, the next 20 years, when you’re an old lady/man, what will life be like if you continue with anger being your default?

  3. And finally, it’s REALLY important that you go the other way too (otherwise you’ll just be only focussing on the awful.  There is another side to all this).  What will life be like when you change, when you’re calmer?  What will it FEEL like to be calm? How will that benefit your life? In what ways?  What will life be like in a year from now, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, when you’re an old lady/man looking back on your life?  How will things be different? What is life already like when you are calm, cool and connected with your kids? What do those times feel like?

You see, when you attach enough pain to your current behaviour, to the point where you cannot possibly live with this behaviour any longer, and equally, attach immense pleasure to the goal of changing, you will find your motivation and you will make change a priority.

Until then, you will find excuses and you will place it by the wayside in lieu of other things you are making a priority (because they are more pleasurable or because you are avoiding more intense pain through your reactions).  Your brain will keep finding evidence of how you ‘don’t have time’ or ‘something else is more important’.

Even now, as you read this article, there will be many of you saying, “But I can’t. I’ve tried all that. ‘This’ situation stops me. My depression stops me. It’s hereditary. I don’t know any other way.”

This may be confronting, but listen to those stories you tell yourself about why you can’t change and don’t allow them to stop you.  There are millions of people in the world who have overcome the most unbelievable challenges because they decided that they WILL NOT give up. There was no other option but to completely immerse themselves in learning, growing, practicing and committing to getting to their goal. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot do the same with your anger.

I, too, have had to walk this road from anger to calm. I still have to commit to everything I teach in the 28 Day Tame your Temper Parenting Challenge in my own life.  But I remember that day when I screamed at my kids and saw the look of fear on their faces and had my meltdown. I’ve had to walk this very talk that I’m now teaching you.

You might have to work for it. You may have to do some digging. You may have to resolve some issues. But the outcome will be so worth it.

You have it in you. You just need to decide whether change is going to remain a ‘should’ or a MUST.

Is the ‘no smacking’ rule really making our kids into monsters?

Message from a parent to the PSC…

As I reflect on my childhood and growing up I wonder if we are creating parents who are too soft?

What I mean by this is when I was younger and I did something wrong I would get a whack across the bottom with a wooden spoon – granted, this was a last resort and there were warnings before this, however I know that I learnt my lesson and wouldn’t be repeating that behaviour anytime soon.

My parents were not violent in any way – yes they raised their voice when needed etc, but I was disciplined and I learnt respect for my parents – they were the boss, not me.

When I fast forward 25 years and I look at all the rules there are around how we discipline our children today and the generation of youth coming through – are we being too soft?

I say this because it seems we have a generation that has little respect for authority (be it teachers, parents, police etc) and I often wonder is this because there are so many rules that stop us from disciplining our children a bit more firmly?

Please don’t take this the wrong way as I certainly don’t want to hurt my child and be a parent that resorts to this as I understand children repeat our behaviour etc – but it never did me any harm when I needed to be brought into line.

I’m hoping you can give me your thoughts on this as it’s something I do think about often when I watch the news and see these teenagers (who seem to be getting younger and younger) that are committing terrible offences and I ask myself where are their parents and why are they getting away with this?

Jackie Hall’s response:

It’s a question that many parents ask (although are often afraid to voice it out loud. However, I’m so glad that one participant did. This was my response….

The first thing that I want to say, is that there is value that comes from everything. Whenever we experience something painful, we learn. Whenever we experience something enjoyable, we learn. Highs and lows are a part of life, and they always lead to other highs and lows.

With every approach we take with parenting, it will always lead to another consequence and another experience that will be learnt from and lead to more learnings.

My stand point on physical discipline is, yes it can manage behaviour, but there are other ways to go about it that are much more empowering to a child if handled correctly.

When, as children we did the ‘wrong thing’ in the past and got a whack for it, we did learn not to do that again, but what else did we learn in the process. After working with thousands of clients over the years, I see over and over again that at the core of parental/adult stress is childhood beliefs that came from how their parents administered discipline and how they treated their children. Of course this is not exclusively the cause, but very often it is very much the cause.

I see that parents who were physically disciplined grew up adopting a perception of self, such as…

  • I’m not good enough. I didn’t try hard enough, wanting to please others, needing to please others to feel good enough
  • The pressure to get life right or do more, be more, have more, achieve more to get life right in order to feel any sort of self-approval (the belief, only when others approve of me can I feel I can approve of myself)
  • Wanting to be the peacekeeper because they hate the conflict that comes with challenges that stemmed from childhood conflict.
  • Acting in the same angry ways because that’s what you do when you don’t get your own way. That’s what was modelled.

And this is not even an exhaustive list of beliefs that can be adopted from physical punishment as a child.

Now if you had a family environment as a child, where there was plenty of light and shade in the relationship – for example, your parents were open to communication, played with you, loved you, gave you loads of affection, flexibility, you had a say, etc, then the repercussions of getting smacked most likely paled in comparison to the reference points of love that you received from your parents, so you may not have gained beliefs from the smacking that still impact you today.

However, rarely was physical punishment delivered in this way, especially not at the time of administering it. Smacking is almost always chosen because of anger and issues of control from the parent. It’s more than likely not coming from a place of teaching you a lesson, but more to punish you for what you did wrong or trying to control you into submission.

Discipline, does not even mean punishment though. It actually comes from the latin word disciplinaire, which means – to teach.

There are other ways to teach children to WANT TO co-operate. There are other ways to teach children respect. There are other ways to teach children consequences for their actions that still teach them the error of their ways, but also teach them how to correct their own behaviour, but the issue is, these ways take time, repetition, consistency and patience.

If we fast forward to today’s society, from the time of physical punishment to now, the effects of smacking have been widely documented so we’ve been given a very strong message that smacking is a taboo approach to use, but the problem is,  up  until recently, there was no replacement offered for it either. This gap is what organisations like

The Parental Stress Centre of Australia and PPP and similar organisations are trying to teach parents now – to help them know what to do instead of smacking.

The reason why we are seeing kids so unruly these days, is a complex one, and it’s not necessarily about the elimination of smacking but a combination of the fast paced nature of modern society, a pressure filled get-your-life-right-now society, the effects of an adult’s childhood self-worth issues and how they deal with their world and thus, their children, and the lack of information on how else we can teach our kids if we aren’t administering physical discipline.

On top of that we are seeing more strong willed children coming into the world with a confidence that won’t accept being bossed around and who, even if you resorted to smacking, are likely to buck the system anyway and move you even further from the relationship you want (unless of course you have loads of ‘light’ – fun, love, affection, joy, respect, communication, letting them have a say etc., to offset the very few times you use it when you’re not getting angry….again, a rarity).

So what you get is a generation of people trying to control children (parental, societal, educational), unable to do it and feeling at a loss as to what to do, leaving kids also confused, unloved, misguided and angry as hell because they aren’t getting what they want either.

It’s very common to see in human nature, that if there is no easy answer and things get too hard, it’s easier to stick our head in the sand. The problem escalates and we keep going round and round in circles. Hence why it appears that physical discipline was an answer that worked.

As part of evolution, we have learnt a lot about the long lasting emotional effects of physical discipline and so many parents aspired to eradicate it and do something different. But with all change, there must be period of transition, and that’s where I believe we are today.

People like myself, and those who are ready to take those steps towards change, join programs, like ours, because you’re looking for those alternative solutions, and that’s a great thing.

At the PSC, we are seeing kids become beautiful, co-operative, happy, confident kids because their parents are learning how to separate their own stuff, from their child’s behaviour – ie stop personalising it, resolve their own past hurts, and then approach their child’s behaviour from a place of teaching and modelling.

Parents are learning to accept the reality of where their kids are in their physical and emotional development and are approaching their behaviour in the spirit of co-operation, communication, kindness, connection, loving consequences and showing kids what respect, love and kindness is. Kids mirror this, because that’s how the brain learns, and so the cycles are slowly breaking.

But in this transition period, these ways are just starting to be learnt, adopted and mastered.

What is required is an educational approach, not a corporal punishment one. Isn’t that what we’re trying to stop in the world when we’re trying to create peace and stop war?

Our kids are just like us. They want the same thing as us – love, connection, approval, appreciation, to feel good enough. When we treat them that way, we show them how to be that way.

When we teach them the realities of life through our consequences, teach them how to get what they want amicably, teach them to negotiate, and the benefits of showing others love and respect, they start to feel the discord of their own actions when they don’t behave this way. It won’t resonate with them. It won’t feel right. They won’t need you to teach it. They will FEEL it.

We don’t need to smack our kids to learn respect. We just need to show them what respect looks like. Let them FEEL the discord of their actions by asking them questions like:

Does that [behaviour] actually make you feel better?

Is there another way we can help you feel better that will actually get you what you want [because what you are doing isn’t actually going to lead you to what you want – ie tantrum, backchat etc]?

When you act this way, it makes you feel ‘x’, but if you do ‘y’ you will probably feel much better.

Or, how can you move towards a better feeling place and get more of what you want? Does this behaviour move you closer to what you want, or further away?

These sorts of questions help a child learn to be their own internal guidance system. It teaches them to make their own decisions. You still work with them on the rules, rewards and consequences (notice I said work WITH them) and they still experience the results of their decisions, but they start to learn they have choices and what feels good and what doesn’t.

As humans, kindness is innately born within us. We come from pure sensory energy where we know no labels or judgements. We are born with very few neural connections in the brain – enough to eat, sleep, heart rate and very basic human functions. The rest is learnt through environment.

If we show our kids how to feel the discord of our actions, show them how to be kind, respectful, remorseful, honest with ourselves, etc. If we teach them how to handle life’s ups and downs and see the value in our mistakes and challenges, and we teach them to feel good about themselves, then all this dysfunction we are seeing in our young kids will stop.

But we have to BE the change we wish to see in our kids and as a society we have a long way to go in letting go of our own stressful thinking lessons to find the ultimate balance in how to teach our children to feel good too.

It’s a big question and a big answer too, thus there are no simple solutions.  However modelling how you want your child to behave and treating your home as though it’s a training ground for life by showing them cause and effects of their choices and decisions (ie natural consequences), are two of the most powerful tools you can use instead of using smacking for discipline.

Other relevant articles:

Why Children of divorced parents can still live a happy life

There’s a lot of attention on how to eradicate the stigma that is attached to depression and mental health, but what about the stigma that is often attached to the idea of single parents, blended families or children of divorced parents?

There seems to be this underlying message that kids can’t thrive or are somewhat damaged if their parents can’t stay together, however this is often further from the truth.

The reality of raising children is that the messages they receive about life are what are important, not whether it matches some indoctrinated perception of a ‘right path’ life is supposed to follow, judged by society.

When we look at how life unfolds for everyone, we see that every single person on this planet experiences events that don’t go to plan and don’t reach the ideal of how we would have liked it.

If you stay in a relationship this results in a child learning certain things that lead them to experience ups and downs in their life.

Leaving a relationship will result in the child learning certain things that lead them to experience ups and downs in life, because the reality is, we ALL experience ups and downs, regardless of the direction life takes.

We want parents to see that circumstances don’t make a person happy, it’s their mindset that does.

Rather than continually focussing on kids having a pre-conceived ‘right life’ to aspire to, we need to educate our kids on how to handle any event in life.

In life, circumstances can change at the drop of a hat. Ways of living that we adapted to and have become our norm can be taken away from us at any time. A boss can sack you. A friend can decide that they don’t want to be friends or may do the wrong thing by you. In this case a parent can decide for whatever reason, that the current relationship they are having no longer works.

We need to teach our children:

  • How to become resilient about life’s changes
  • How to disassociate their self-worth from events that don’t meet their ideal or when life changes
  • How to see the hidden good in the bad – the value that we received from the new experiences we encounter
  • How to learn new skills or abilities from changes that occur in life
  • How to keep in touch with the other parent and continue to have a relationship with that other parent (or to understand that if the other parent doesn’t want to see them, then that’s not about them)

For parents, we need to develop the skills to:

  • Give our children specific strategies to practice that teach them to think differently about life’s unwanted events
  • Help our kids to feel they can speak to us honestly about how they are feeling about the change of events they are experiencing
  • Help them to focus on new goals now that life has changed and help them to work out ways to move forward from here
  • And above all, parents need to try their hardest to work through their own thoughts and feelings about the change in life’s circumstances, so they can hep their child to naviate through these changes too.

While there is a lot of work that may need to go into how these lessons get learnt and taught when a family separates, if you are to look at the basics of what I’m suggesting, you will see that all of these lessons and skills kids and parents need, are actually no different to what a married couple with kids need to learn too.

That’s because after a relationship breakdown between parents, life has changed, it isn’t damaged. Life is going in a different direction, not a wrong one.

This is going to happen in life and if we can equip our children with the skills to deal with those times in life, then the actual event of parents separating, can actually be an important lesson for a child to receive on many levels.

What’s needed for our children is an ability to handle life, whatever the event. Because life doesn’t go wrong, it just presents us with experiences from which to grow and learn.

Live, learn, share, grow, evolve. This is the purpose of life. We just need to show our children how to do this without stress, regardless of what the circumstances are, and then we will see children with a happy life, not just if mum and dad are together or not.

What I’d want to say to this mother

Most parents can relate to feeling the way this mother feels, at some stage of their parenting life. 

Sometimes it's right at the beginning when you're tired, hormonal, really not sure what you're doing and just want your baby to sleep, or eat, or just stop crying for longer than 5 minute!!

Or it can happen when our children are toddlers and pushing the boundaries, or during the teenage years. 

The point is, we all have moments when parenting becomes all too much, and it's important that we keep our emotions in perspective. 

So here's what I would want to say to a mother who is feeling like the lady in this photo...

Firstly I’d want to ask whether she was okay - the traditional approach to seeing someone in distress like this.

After giving her a big fat hug, I would want to tell her that she was doing a great job and that this parenting gig is hard, despite any pre-conceived ideas that it wasn’t going to be.

I’d want to show her the many different parents I come across on a daily basis who feel exactly like her, so she could see that she wasn’t alone and her emotional struggles are NOT a reflection of her being a bad parent.

I’d want to help her to see how this is only small part of her experience as a mother, not the totality of it because I know personally and professionally that we can get consumed by these moments and see them as the only thing going on in your life.

 I would want to teach this mother how to shift her mindset when she gets bogged down and help her to adopt three fundamental ways of pulling herself out of those emotional dark places when life doesn't go to plan.

I would teach her to entrench these messages into her habitual thoughts to take with her during the baby years, toddlers and beyond, so she doesn't get bogged down by the inevitable challenges of being a parent. 

Here are the three mindset shifts I would teach her...

  1.  To change her 'picture' on how parenting was ‘supposed to be’.
  2. To remember that these difficulties are only part of the experience.
  3.  That challenges with your child do NOT reflect your worth as a parent.

Here’s why these three mind shifts are really important when you have a baby in the house (whether you are a first time parent, or adding another child to your family).

1. Changing the picture on how parenting was 'supposed to be'.

What causes us the most stress in life, as well as parenting, is when we have attached ourselves to an idea, a picture of how we thought something was going to go.

Throughout the course of our lives we adopt all these ideas of what we anticipate will occur in our parenting experience.

We adopt this expectation at a time when we knew absolutely nothing about parenting at all.

Often we’ve gathered this primitive understanding from the way we were raised (“I’m so going to be like my parents!” Or “I’m going to be NOTHING like my parents”).

We observe other parents, we see cute kids on their best behaviour, we hold other babies, we see Huggies commercials and baby formulas where kids are at their best.

But nothing can prepare you for the reality of what parenting is actually like, because your picture came from misinformation – you weren’t looking at the whole picture.

The reality of parenting, especially a newborn and young child who's still learning about the ways of the world, is that there are going to be highs and lows. It won’t be all warm and fuzzy snuggles on the couch with your baby.

There’s going to be sore nipples, lack of sleep, messy house, whining or screaming, children throwing tantrums, complete overwhelm, and times where you don’t have a damn clue what you’re doing.

Which brings me to my next point.

2. The difficulties of parenting are only part of the experience.

When we start to realise the reality of being a parent to a baby/young child, we can very quickly get consumed by the difficulties to such a degree that we forget to enjoy the good times, and there are good times.

Our brains are geared to find evidence of what we have our attention on, so if you are only looking at the hard stuff, you won’t be seeing the easy, enjoyable stuff.

What about those times where you do get to snuggle that sleeping baby?

What about the times where you do look into your baby’s eyes and feel overwhelmed with love and are mesmerised by this little being that you created?

What about those times where the baby is sleeping and you did get the house clean or felt productive?

What about the times when your child said something or did something super cute?

Once you start to put your attention on all the highs, you start to realise that the difficulties do not define your parenting experience.

3. Challenges with your baby do NOT reflect your worth as a parent.

And the most important point to keep in mind for you ENTIRE parenting experience is DO NOT PERSONALISE YOUR CHILD'S BEHAVIOUR.

I fell into this trap myself and caused myself so much anguish and upset by believing that the challenges I had - breastfeeding and getting my baby to sleep - suddenly meant I was a bad parent.

Just like you sometimes tend to only see the bad in the parenting experience, sometimes we can get into a bad spiral of only seeing the bad in ourselves.

We inaccurately compare all our ‘failures’ to everyone else’s successes, when you have no idea what is going on for them in their lives.

Even if they aren’t going through difficulties with their children, that still doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. It just means that’s not their area of life they find difficult right now. 

It is inevitable that we all have challenges in life. That never reflects self-worth. It just reflects life lessons and learning how to do certain things as a new skill.

Perhaps your strategy isn’t working with your child.

Perhaps there is another approach that might work better for your child.

But none of this means anything about your worth as a parent.

All it means is that the current strategy isn’t working and you need to find an alternative solution. 

When parenting a child, especially a young one, we have to be really careful about the mindset you are approaching the highs and lows with, because it’s too easy to train the brain to only see the bad stuff and see it as a reflection of your self-worth or the quality of life.

And going down that hill repetitively, leads us to intense stress, emotion and even depression and anxiety.

Just like we spend time working out how to help bubs settle and feed in a healthy way, we may also need to spend some time learning how to settle our own emotions by working on our mindset and the way we see those challenges.

This too can not only effect how you feel about parenting, but also can ripple out to affect how settled your baby is.

As they say, happy mum = happy bub.

Having a baby is a massive transition, even if it isn’t your first. Be aware of how you are thinking and feeling about it and whether those thoughts/feelings are escalating to the point of effecting your experience with your child and reach out for help.

It’s okay to get assistance of those who have been there before.

And that’s exactly what the mum in the opening picture needs to know.

1 2 3 7