As 2016 drew to a close, I heard people all around me saying the same thing: “I am ready for this year to be over.” My friends and family, people out in the community, and even strangers in the grocery store remarked to me that 2016 had been a tough year. The election took a toll on all of us no matter our political views, there has been so much loss, and the world seems overwhelmed by tragedy in every corner of the globe. It had been an awful lot to take in. I did not blame anyone’s desire to just move on. I shared in that sentiment.
With a new year comes a fresh start and a chance to begin anew. As New Year’s Eve approached, we began to consider our resolutions, and often hear variations of the usual: “I am going to start going to the gym and lose weight” or “I will quit smoking/drinking.” But when was the last time you heard a friend or family member say that their new year’s resolution is to improve their relationship with their child or focus more on their family?
I have one resolution for 2017 and it is this: Connect more. Like many around me, it is easy for me to get caught up in the busyness of life. I love to learn and read so I want to take every parenting course I find and read all the parenting books on the shelf. I want to work with each family who contacts me and I want to teach a workshop every weekend so I can continue to help parents in San Diego become more peaceful. But to do all of this, I must continue to take a step back and repeat one of my favorite mantras: Stop, drop your agenda, and breathe.
What kind of Peaceful Parenting Coach would I be if I did not walk the walk? So here is what I will do: I will remember that life is long and that all the books I want to read can wait. I will remember that the most important part of parenting is connection. I will do less and connect more. Connection is essential to all relationships and something we need to work on daily. If we are not present and available for our children because we are caught up in the day’s chaos, it is impossible to stay connected.
In my workshop, Peaceful Parenting 101, I encourage parents to have daily special time with their children – 15 minutes of uninterrupted one-on-one time with each child, without distractions, and doing exactly what that child wants to do (except for screens or books). What would your child choose? And what if it is something you cannot stand to play? Well, that is when you fake it until you make it. Practice those acting skills; you can do anything for 15 minutes. Special time is a magical tool for building connection. What if making time for it was your resolution?
In my workshop, Becoming Playful: Rough and Tumble Play, I invite parents to bring their children along to practice roughhousing games. Roughhousing is one of the very best ways to connect with your children. It is also supported by science as a way to increase emotional intelligence, develop social and problem-solving skills, and increase joy. In the workshop, I teach 12 roughhousing games that have a beginning, middle, and end to give roughhousing structure and boundaries that help parents and children feel secure. What if your resolution was to roughhouse with your children?
What if you went into 2017 with the resolution to improve your connection with your children? How would that change your family’s lives? Would you feel happier, more joyful, and less stressed? I suspect so. Would your children be grateful and feel more loved than before? Almost certainly. I can give you one guarantee: connection creates cooperation – and I have yet to meet a parent who does not want more cooperation from their child.