The power of the pause has so many potential benefits in our lives for us as parents, when we are with our children but also across our life in general. It can be so powerful in helping us to stop and think, and really changing the responses we have to people, the view we have of situations, and changing the direction that situations and conversations go.
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“The last eighteen months, while we’ve been in the pandemic, have given many of us the opportunity to stop and pause, but they’ve also been an incredibly busy and stressful time for many people as well.”
Things may have felt calmer in terms of less to do, less socializing, but it’s created other stresses in different ways such as home educating, working from home, not being able to go out and do those things that help us to regulate, not allowing our children to go out and socialise and children spending much more time on tech.
People have experienced it in different ways, but this week in particular, I’ve been thinking about the benefits of pausing – not just in terms of my connection with my son and his development, but also for my own mental health and my connection with other people such as family, friends and colleagues.
I think that we live in a world that is incredibly fast paced – a world that is always on the go. Trying to keep on top of paperwork, running a house, keeping the children organized, the extra paperwork you do around your child… It can feel never ending and like you never have any breathing space.
One of the things that I’ve been very clear on as we came out of the pandemic was that life was going to change.
Like many, I was incredibly busy working and home educating. There were some things that left our lives during the pandemic that I realised I didn’t miss.
That opportunity to realise I didn’t miss them is now helping me to really create and live the life that I want for my son and I, but also, it’s given me more breathing space to stop and pause.
When we stop and pause, as a parent, that changes the connection we have with our child.
When our child is struggling, if we stop and pause, we are able to focus on connection and come from a place of connection – it gives us that second to ask ourselves “what is it my child needs right now”? The chances are, they don’t need us shouting back at them. They need us to see and understand how their feeling and support them with those feelings.
When we respond with a knee-jerk reaction, we respond from a different place that isn’t necessarily about connection or a calm place. We may respond from a place of stress.
When we stop and pause and ask ourselves “what do they need right now”, we respond to them differently and it can be a phenomenal way of de-escalating a situation when we stop, pause and think about our tone of voice before we speak. It really is raising our presence with them and strengthening that connection, because we are showing them that we can see they are finding something hard.
I know as a parent, when I am calm and I am able to stop that knee-jerk reaction, the direction of our conversation, and the situation, can be changed. I can definitely help and guide my son. I’ve been known to escalate the situation by responding with a knee-jerk reaction or from a place of stress.
Of course, we can’t always stop ourselves from those knee-jerk reactions.
Sometimes I’m tired, stressed, hormonal – there isn’t a hope in me managing to pause before I react.
But the more we can practice that and the more we can create space in our lives – even just for a minute a day – to think and pause and reflect, the more we’re able to pause when we need to in those moments. And the more we do that, the more we’re helping our children.
For some children, they may have processing issues or naturally need longer to think about the situation – so actually, when you ask a question or to do something, they NEED longer to respond. Sometimes, we don’t always give them time to respond to that question or instruction.
If we can create that pause for them and allow them the extra time they need to communicate or take action back to us, we’re showing them it’s ok to pause and think about what they want to say as well before they respond.
By giving them time to pause, we’re not making them feel bad that they’re not processing things quickly enough for them to respond instantly, and I think that is hugely beneficial for their development, self belief and their confidence. If they feel like they can’t answer or taking action quickly enough, it can really knock their confidence even more.
As a parent, I have to practice that and demonstrate that pause first to show that A) silence is ok, and B) pausing to think about your response is often a good thing.
Think of it as that email you receive that makes you really cross. You pause before you send a response so that you reply in an appropriate way – it’s absolutely fine to show that you are frustrated or in disagreement, but pausing until you can respond in an appropriate manner will more often than not get you a much better response to your reply.
When we do that with our children we are showing that having those emotions is absolutely fine, but when we pause, we think about how we feel before we reply, and so often, that gets us a much better response.
If you’re like me – a little bit fast paced and hot headed, this may not come very easily. I understand.
I know that I have to work really hard to give my son the space he needs to reply. But through time and practice, it does become easier. The benefits that stopping and pausing before you respond absolutely will help create a better connection with your child – and I for one know that is what I work hard for with my beautiful son.
The power of the pause is hugely beneficial in a world that feels like it’s spinning very, very fast.
If you are a parent or carer and would like more support on this from people who “get it”, you can come and join us over in The Connective Parenting hub, where I do weekly Ask Me Anything sessions to help you with exactly this and I have dozens of training videos and guest expert sessions waiting for you to get stuck in to!
If you’re a professional who works with children and families, click here for more helpful resources and support.