HELLO AND GOOD MORNING TO ALL OF US OUT HERE PARENTING OUR INNER CHILDREN.
If I’ve learned anything about parenting it’s that parents need help!
When my firstborn kiddo became a toddler, I was overwhelmed by the role of toddler-parent and I was underwhelmed by my skillset for the job of toddler-parent. So, I started speed-reading as many parenting books and panic-listening to as many parenting podcasts as I could get my hands/eyes/ears on.
Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of what I learned:
Validate the feeling + create boundaries with the behavior.
Your kiddo is at a playdate and another kid grabs the block out of her hand. She gets upset and tries to hit the kid who took her block, so you:
(1) validate the feeling (“You’re upset he took your block”) and
(2) boundary the behavior (“I won’t let you hit,” while gently stopping her arm).
Now, there’s a lot more to toddler parenting than this of course but for today’s email this is the gem…
This framework that so many parenting experts encourage us to use with toddlers?
We can ALL use this framework with our inner toddlers: Validate the feeling + boundary the behavior.
Your feelings are valid, so validate them! Feelings are like waves. They come, they go. Some are big, wild, huge while others are gentle and rolling. Give yourself permission to feel them without judgment. Work on developing the skills to feel and process them in healthy ways.
Rather than acting in reaction to your feelings, learn how to create boundaries with your behavior so that you can act aligned with your values, instead. This shift from reactivity to intentional responsiveness is life-changing.
Here’s an example:
You wake up one morning and you feel off in your body. Every outfit you try on? It’s not right. Things feel tighter than you remembered, you don’t like the way things are laying on your body, and you look in the mirror and all you can think is “UGH/ICK/BLAH.”
Validate how you’re feeling + give yourself permission to feel it
How are you feeling? Name it (i.e., “I feel uncomfortable. I feel anxious. I feel down.”). How are you experiencing the feeling in your body? (i.e., “I’m experiencing a skin crawling sensation and a tightness in my chest.”).
Bonus tool here: Self-compassion is a beautiful practice in moments like this. In fact, I love to think about my voice of self-compassion as my inner mother. More on self-compassion and this practice in Episode 3 of the UnMeasured Podcast here.
Create a loving boundary around the behavior
Let your inner parent guide the way according to your values. Maybe you hold the belief that all bodies are deserving of care + respect. This is one of your values!
So, rather than acting in reaction to how you felt in your body by skipping breakfast and punishing your body with exercise, you let your inner parent swoop in and boundary the behavior.
“You’re feeling uncomfortable and that’s hard! I won’t let you punish yourself. We are still going to eat a nourishing breakfast today.”
This simple yet effective framework will have our inner toddlers getting the love and support they need.
If you give it a try, I’d love to hear how it serves you!