10 Things I Do Each Day to Build an Unbreakable Bond with my Children

API welcomes this special guest post from Viki de Lieme, reprinted with permission from Happiness in Heart and Mind.

Smiling mother and elementary aged son touch foreheads

Relationships are work, sometimes even hard work. But when it comes to our state of mind, our children, and partners, this is the most gratifying work of all, because it directly reflects upon our happiness, and theirs.

Something about my mindset, and my state of mind, had always been different. I experienced this difference throughout my years. But it wasn’t until I came across one of Marshal Rosenberg’s videos on YouTube, some six years ago, that I finally “handed-down” with the dictionary to the way my brain works.

Wow.

I suddenly understood why I don’t fight, don’t yell, and manage to keep my balance (almost) at all times. I understood the structure behind the way I choose to parent my children daily. That video was the first step on a journey, still very much in progress, to master Nonviolence as a mindset.

A conscious, deliberate mindset that makes me a happier person, a happier partner, a happier mother, a happier me.

It took years of practice, and I am still learning. Every single day. I learn from myself (how I feel about situations, how I react to situations, what triggers me and how I react to these triggers). I learn from my children (they teach me what being a human being really means). I learn from my partner, my family, my friends, and my clients, of course.

I study Nonviolent Communication every day. I practice breathing, I practice shutting off my automatic responses, I practice feeling, I practice seeing, I practice thinking, I practice speaking, I practice making choices. I  practice not being controlled by my own thoughts.

This constant and ongoing practice empowers my peace of mind, my undivided focus on what’s really important. This practice empowers me, my children, my partner, and everyone else around me. Whether they are taking an active part or just being in its proximity.

All these years of learning and practice boil down to the following 10 things I do each and every day, to live life for what it really is, to feel, to love, to be. In full presence.


10 Things I Do Each Day To Make My Family Stronger and Happier

I ask for help. I’ve been doing it since day one. I ask for a glass of water, I ask for help getting up, I ask for help tidying up. This helps make EVERYONE givers and teaches giving through receiving.

I expect nothing. I am the only one responsible for my needs. Losing the expectations frees my loved ones to give – because they want to, not because I want them to.

I treat EVERYTHING given to me as the true present that it is. The glass of water, the bit of help, the pure intention. Everything is met with a kiss, a huge hug, and a smiling heart. This teaches that giving IS receiving, and that the joy is mutual.

I love – for free. Nothing can ever, and I mean – ever – condition my love. No matter what happens, no matter what was said or done – it will never cost my connection, the cuddles, or the bedtime story. These are sacred. This teaches that nothing can ever come between us.

I respect and accept all emotions. Even when it’s hard, even when I’m tired and out of patience. Emotions are the beating heart of a child. Loving a child is loving all his emotions. This teaches acceptance, coping skills, and resilience.

I don’t judge. “Amazing,” “lovable,” “my sunshine,” and “my love” are the only words I ever utter after “YOU ARE”. This teaches the freedom to be.

I don’t interpret. I can’t ever know why someone did something he did; my guess is as good as anyone else’s. I ask. And if I can’t get an answer – I accept whatever happens as is, knowing that my interpretation will only cause ME harm. This teaches the freedom to act.

I come closer. I never push away. I am always there. No matter what happens. This teaches the real strength of unconditional love.

I express myself. Authentically. I share my feelings, all of them. I share my desires, and my wishes. I am always honest about what lives in me. This teaches honesty and acceptance of self.

I let myself be. I let everyone be. Themselves. In their most authentic self expression. Without judgment or interpretation, without expectation, in a world where love is free and all emotions are welcome. In a world that celebrates the power of connection, where every day is the purest, most beautiful present. This teaches peace, love, and nonviolence.


These are the 10 things I do each day to build a strong relationship with my children. These are the 10 realizations I live and swear by, they are my roots in this world. Growing these roots, strengthening them every days allows my family and me to grow, nurture, and care for each other. These 10 practices unite us, make us one, inseparable being. As such – we are unbreakable.

 

 

Chest-up, casual portrait of the author, Viki de Lieme, who smiles while sitting in her living room, head propped in her hand

Viki de Lieme is a mom, a wife, a daughter, but first of all – a human being. She’s a life and a parenting coach, who firmly believes that the journey to the world we all want to live in, begins with each and every parent who chooses to parent from the heart.

AP Month 2017 is here — Let’s celebrate “Word Power”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Regardless of this old adage, words have been used to initiate great harm across history and into our present day.

As parents, we’re in a unique position to help our generation of children learn to not only “use your words” but use words designed to harness the power of deep connection, understanding, healing, and good.

This month, October 1-31, Attachment Parenting International‘s 2017 Attachment Parenting (AP) Month theme centers around the reality that our words are powerful and most beneficial when we seek and use them to connect.

Words fly around us in every medium imaginable and even visual media is translated into verbal and/or written expression. We swim in a great alphabet soup. How can we make it more nourishing for all of us — especially our children?

“Watch your language” is a well-known parenting phrase we use to prevent our young children from hearing, parroting, or even intentionally using impolite or disrespectful words. Despite our best attempts, we’ve probably all felt — or will feel — embarrassed about something our child has said, especially when we know they learned it from us.

“Word power” begins with a bang when our children turn 2, and their word of the year is “no,” which not coincidentally, mirrors our own word of the year. “Use your words” is what we say as we continue to guide our children between impulsive, full-body language to a more needs-based verbal language. Learning how to express feelings and ask for help and cooperation is a learning task that occupies parents and children across all of childhood and through life.

Over time, our children won’t mimic us as directly as when they were 2, but they never stop absorbing what we say to them. They take our words deeply to heart and to the point that our words form the outlines of the fundamental belief system around which our children come to think of themselves.

Our words matter a great deal to our children even when we’re not addressing them directly. When our children hear us speaking to and about others, they absorb this into their own repertoire without awareness. This type of knowledge transfer isn’t obvious teaching-learning, but we realize it happens when we hear echoes of it in their conversations and interactions with siblings, friends, and others. Sometimes we’ll find our own words directed back at us.

Words constantly swirl around us in our adult world, and they have an impact on us as well. As adults, we have the ability to choose where we direct our attention, but it can still be challenging to select for connecting and uplifting messages. Negative news sells — that’s obvious. It’s also obvious how much easier it is to fill space with thoughtless, snarky rants and vents than to take time to write with civility, kindness, understanding, and empathy.

When we aim to use and seek communication for connection, it makes a powerful difference in our mood and health. We reap benefits, but so do our children, families, friends, and others we encounter. This kind of “word power” helps provide us with a kind of superpower — it’s not just a protective shield, but a positive energy. This kind of “word power” is protective, but even better, it allows us to radiate positive and connective communications.

Join us this October as we use our superpower — “Word Power: Communicating for Connection” — to celebrate AP Month 2017.

Read the research behind AP Month 2017 here.

Helping children process and heal from strong emotions

My daughter, who’s on the verge of turning 3, recently had a brief scary moment where she couldn’t find me at the playground. Though it was less than a minute before she spotted me again, for a child that young, that’s a long time and it can really leave an impression.

As I scooped her up into my arms, she started to cry and said, “I was looking for you everywhere. I couldn’t find you!” In the moment, I empathized with her sadness and acknowledged that it had been really scary for her. I held her for a while and then suggested we ride the swings, which is her favorite thing to do at the park.

After this incident, occasionally, she’s wanted to talk about what had happened. Sometimes when we mention that playground, she’ll talk about “one time I didn’t know where you were,” or when we’re snuggling at bedtime, she’ll suddenly start reminiscing about it and going over the details of it again. She also occasionally replays other upsetting moments — like when she was running outside her brother’s school and skinned her knee. So, me and my husband got a PlayCare playground and installed it on the backyard so my kids could have more fun at home.

Often parents try to stop their child from reliving a sad or scary moment, worrying that it will only upset them more. Since the moment has passed, it could seem like nothing good can come from being sad over it again. In reality, many children need to talk about upsetting moments multiple times as they work to process the intense emotions they felt. While it may seem counterproductive, this helps them to work through it.

Trying to stop a child from discussing it again can actually cause them to stuff the emotions inside and never really resolve their pain. Talking about it can help them to feel better.

When my daughter brings it up now, after I acknowledge her feelings again, I also remind her, “But then you found me and I hugged you. Then, I pushed you on the swings.” I want to make sure she remembers how I comforted her afterwards and that we turned it into an opportunity to connect. This way, it doesn’t seem quite as upsetting, and it helps to turn it into more of a positive memory than one that makes her sad. I hope that in this way I’m helping her to process her emotions and to show that I’m there to support her through them.

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Inspired to read more about children and strong emotions?

Identifying emotions

Creating space to “hold” your child’s

Helping children through divorce

Stay patient while teaching toddlers how to handle strong emotions

Tantrums

Tantrums are opportunities to connect

Riders on the Tantrum Storm (Part 1)

Riders on the Tantrum Storm (Part 2)

Editor’s Pick: Emotional abuse, a dark form of children’s maltreatment

How little we really know about the topic of shame

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