For many years now, I have noticed how parents have terrific ideas about their little ones but fail to act on the idea because they think they do not know enough to have the right approach, solution, or experience regarding parenting. Most parents know far more about their children than they may consciously realize. This idea holds true for even the newest parent. No one spends more time with their child than a parent does. Taking advantage of that deep knowledge allows a parent to help their child in the way that often works best for their little one. Instinctive Parenting is a term I have recently coined in response to a skill I observe with the parents I work with.
Not all parents act on this skill, but all parents have the skill. It is a skill that identifies a feeling or sense a parent has about how to help their child. In Instinctive Parenting, the parent then acts on that instinct by taking the action needed to make the desired changes. The combination of allowing the instinct to guide and then taking action is what makes Instinctive Parenting an effective parenting tool. The great part of Instinctive Parenting is that it not only helps the little one but also helps the parent.
Instinctive Parenting comes down to trusting your instincts. This isn’t magic. It is about trusting yourself and what your brain is telling you.
If you feel as though you really cannot trust your instincts, it may be helpful to choose one person to ask for advice and to bounce your ideas off. Typically, it is best to choose a person who has parenting skills you admire and whose children seem healthy, happy, and well-attached (more about attachment in a future post). However, it might be fun, as well as productive, to stop and think for a bit before asking someone else for advice. Take a few days to mull over whatever idea came to you regarding a parenting challenge you may be facing. A parenting challenge is not always a big one. It might be something simple, such as how to get your little one to cooperate more or eat more.
Acting fast does not mean you must take in the Instinctive Parenting message and act on it immediately. Once you get the idea, you can stop and think about it. Acting fast simply means you accept the message you receive quickly. You don’t let it slip past you. They often fly in and just as quickly fly out of our conscious awareness. Don’t miss the message!
The trick with Instinctive Parenting is not only to allow the feeling or solution that comes to you to have a voice, but also to grab them quickly. Oftentimes a person tries to poo-poo the message as not important because it shows up so quickly. It might show up quickly, but that doesn’t mean it is not of value. Take the Instinctive Parenting gift you are given and use it. You may have to think it through, but do not let your instinct pass you by.
Choose a Trusted Parenting Ally
The advice of an admired and trusted person is so much better than the advice of many people. If you bounce your ideas off more than one person, you will get more than one answer and then end up not trusting your instinct at all. That process will not be helpful in your quest to become an Instinctive Parenting pro. Plus, you’ll be super confused and perhaps end up feeling stuck or frozen regarding what you “should” do.
Instead, keep things simple by first listening to your instincts, and then, if feeling as though you need to massage the details a little bit, ask your trusted ally. It is important to let your trusted ally know that you are asking for their advice, or bouncing an idea off of them because you want to find the solution that works best for you and your little one.
Be sure to let your trusted ally know that you will incorporate their advice into your final decision/action, but may not use it exactly as they have given the advice. This shows your ally that you respect and appreciate their input. It shows respect.
If you do not have a trusted parenting ally that you admire for their parenting skills and insights, pay a professional parenting coach, or educator, to help you grow and hone your parenting skills. Be sure the person you engage with has experience in helping parents successfully solve parenting challenges. If the advice they give fails to align with your parenting style, consider two things before dismissing their advice.
- Is their advice so useless that you need to dismiss it or is there perhaps a little bit within the advice you can use?
- Does their advice override your Instinctive Parenting messages?
If it overrides your Instinctive Parenting message, consider sharing this knowledge with the professional and talking through an alternative to what they originally advised.
Part of the work I do with parents is helping them listen to their Instinctive Parenting voices and to act on them. Certainly, there are times when the ideas may not be as perfectly suited to a situation as is warranted, but usually, there is a very good idea available to work with.
Often I find that when I ask the parent about the very first idea they had for the challenge they are working on, we can identify a terrific solution to the challenge they are working on. The challenge may not be a big one. It may not even be a real challenge. It might only be a little change they want to make in behavior they observe within their child, or it may even be a change they want to make within their parenting style. The key to Instinctive Parenting is to remember that it is that very first idea that comes to a parent that is often the best.
Discover Instinctive Parenting Skills
What if you feel as though you have no skills for Instinctive Parenting? I am here to tell you that you have the ability needed for Instinctive Parenting. However, you may be ignoring your initial messages about how to make needed changes. Start by taking one small step into the world of Instinctive Parenting. A beginning path might be to listen to your instincts regarding what (or how, for the nursing or bottling, parent) to feed your little one at mealtime to get them to eat more. If that goes well, try the same again the next day and then the next.
Once you have success with that path, start to listen to your instincts in another area. Then follow those new instincts for a little bit. Add the next area to explore in Instinctive Parenting. Challenge yourself a little bit more each time you take on a new arena of parenting. Doing this will build your confidence. Also, once you allow yourself to be an Instinctive Parent, you are going to naturally grow your confidence. This will allow your instinctive voice to speak up more often. The key is to start small, find success, and then add to your successes.
What if your exploration into Instinctive Parenting doesn’t seem to be going well? First and foremost, stop and take an accurate assessment of how things are going. You might find it helpful to ask yourself if you see any positive shifts. If yes, then you have headed in the right direction.
Relax and continue on the Instinctive Parenting path. It is likely you only need more time using the Instinctive Parenting skills you are building. If you tell yourself that you don’t see any improvement, not even a sliver of change, then assess yourself.
Are you being truthful with yourself? Are you viewing the glass as half full or as half empty? If, after you make that additional assessment, you honestly think there is no progress, then consider a change of direction about where to start. Find an easier first step and start there.
If you cannot think of a place to start, chat with your trusted ally. Ask them to help you choose the best first step and to help you produce an assessment tool to help you determine your progress. Essentially brainstorm with them. As you do your brainstorming, be sure to pay attention to feelings or ideas that quickly pass through your thinking. You might be getting the Instinctive Parenting message you need.
Acknowledge Your Gains
You will gain a great deal by delving into the world of instinctive parenting. You will gain confidence in your ability to parent! Additionally, you will gain time. By trusting your Instinctive Parenting skills you will not need to seek others’ advice. There will be no pile of parenting books to read, and no requests for help texts, emails, or phone calls to others cross off of your to-do list. These are wonderful gains in and of themselves, but two other gains are even bigger and better than gaining time and space on the ever-present to-do list.
Big gain number 1: by practicing instinctive parenting you will also gain peace. Peace of mind that you know what you are doing. Peace of mind that you have things under control, and despite some bumps here and there, that you are doing a good job with your little one.
Big gain number 2: by practicing Instinctive Parenting, you show your little one that you have confidence in your abilities as a parent. Showing confidence is a crucial teaching tool for a parent to use. Your confidence imparts confidence building in a little one. By seeing their parent feel confident, they can relax knowing the parent is in charge and they can also learn to model that confidence.
The only thing better than a parent knowing they can succeed in parenting and growing their confidence as a parent is knowing that they are also helping their little one grow and develop yet another positive skill. A skill that will help them throughout their lives. That is all part of Instinctive Parenting and parenting success.
I hope you enjoy the blog post. As always, I am here to help. Fill out the contact form to help find your Instinctive Parenting skills.