As the saying goes: “Happy wife, happy life”. But could “happy parents make happy families” be true too? Sure, it doesn’t rhyme, but the emotion remains the same.
Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of Happiness, warns that while happiness is a great thing to strive for as a parent, it shouldn’t be the end of everything. How to Help Your Kids Clear Up Their Mental Messcognitive neuroscientist, mental health specialist, and mother of four.
“It’s unrealistic to expect to be happy all the time, and making that a goal can damage our confidence, motivation, outlook on life, and even our identity, because if we’re not happy, we might think there’s something wrong with us as parents.” “I’ve always been happy,” she said. “Happiness should not be the goal, but part of the goal of raising children to the best of our abilities.”
Instead of always aiming for happiness, Leaf recommends practicing calm acceptance, acknowledging that parenting is tough and understanding that much can go wrong with the experience. Allowing yourself to feel all the feelings, including disappointment, frustration, and fear, is better than chasing “happiness or bankruptcy.”
“It’s important to remember that happiness is a feeling, and it can change rapidly based on circumstances,” explains Liv. “If our goals are based on a change in perception, we will end up disappointed.”
happiness is not the goal
Instead of making happiness a goal, she encourages parents to embrace the highs and lows of parenting. One such method is the five-step method she created 38 years ago as the premise of her mind-management app, Neurocycle.
“Imagine you’re picking up your child from daycare and your child is throwing a tantrum. It’s hard to focus and it’s easy to lose your cool,” says Leaf. “By clearing your mind and completing mindfulness exercises, such as meditation or breathing techniques, you will be able to calm down.”
In such cases, she advises parents to pay attention to their own mental and physical feelings before responding to their children, and to continue to follow the five-step method when possible.
- First, Leaf guides parents to become more aware of their own emotions. If you have trouble identifying your feelings, try using the “Feeling Wheel,” a diagram made up of the six core emotions at the center of the wheel (happiness, sadness, disgust, anger, fear, bad, and surprise) and the branches of those emotions in the circle’s in the outer ring. If you don’t have time to mention the wheel itself, you can try saying, “I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m overwhelmed” out loud.
- Next, Leaf invites parents to reflect on how they feel. Could it be that you’re running late for a meeting and you’re in a rush to get picked up on time? Or, maybe your partner forgot to turn off the laundry… again leaving you without a clean shirt to wear. Whatever the cause, it’s important to understand the source of your depression.
- If possible, Leaf recommends writing down your thoughts to help organize your thoughts, but she understands that may not always be possible.
- After evaluating your feelings, take some time to think about what your emotions are trying to tell you. “What does this say about how you see your current situation? What is your ‘antidote’—how will you overcome what is affecting you?” Leaf asked. “Look for clues in your writing, then start to reframe/reconceptualize the way you think about what happened and how you can improve the situation.”
- Once you’ve had a chance to think, Leaf recommends “active engagement.” “This is the thought or action you need to practice on a daily basis to help you reconceptualize what you thought in the previous step—that is, what you are going to do each day in order to give yourself enough time and mental space to process what is going on Things. Bothering you,” she explained.
This “positive influence” could be completing a daily ritual of gratitude, allowing yourself to enjoy simple moments with loved ones without focusing on mistakes, or creating a designated “thought management zone” at home for you and your child Use while at home requires a mental pause. Regardless, Leaf encourages parents to think of parenting, like love, as a verb, not a noun.
“Raising children is a constant process of growing and learning. It’s impossible to know what to do all the time,” she says. “You don’t have to know everything; you have to grow into it. It’s not about being perfect or always knowing what to do and when. Understanding this will give you satisfaction and help you deal with the inevitable challenges of parenting .”