One of the things that I have noticed over the past few years is that quite often, reflecting on things that take place in our lives rarely happens. Sure, life can be busy and it can feel like taking time out for reflection is not that important, however, it really is!
When I think about reflection, it is simply taking a few moments to think about how something went with the intention of learning more about myself and my child so we can improve our relationship. This could be for a specific event or it could be for a longer period of time and to keep things easy and consistent, I always use those three questions I’ve shared before…
What didn’t work?
What could I/we do differently the next time to better the experience or situation?
Spending a little bit of time doing this allows you to recognize that even in a crappy situation, there were probably some things that did work. Too often, we don’t give those things any attention which means that we start from scratch the next time which takes energy that we might not have. Creating awareness around what does work for you and your child/family is like gold and we don’t want to just discard something that is valuable information to have to support you all.
Reflecting on what didn’t work, with the intention of learning and not shaming or beating yourself up, is also wonderful information to have so that you can try something different the next time. The intention part of this reflection process is important because we can be quite skilled at placing our energy and attention on what didn’t work and get caught up in what I call the “muck of suck.” This is when something doesn’t go well and we sit in shame and blame while feeling very much at the mercy of whatever happens. This doesn’t have to be the case! Something might have sucked and you may need to have a good cry but it is my intention to let you know that there are things we can do to have more positive experiences.
Thinking about what could be done differently the next time allows you to pull together what you know that works for you and your child/family, consciously doing what you can to not repeat what doesn’t work and be curious about any different approaches or strategies that could be played with to see if they create a more positive experience.
Without spending time reflecting on these things, we can quickly get sucked into the next situation which might lead to using the same approaches or strategies that didn’t work the last time. That results in frustration and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A few minutes spent in reflection can create a snowball of change that feels hopeful and empowering.
My son used to love filming every drive we would take with his phone AND he struggles with deleting things from his phone so storage is always an issue. For a long time, I didn’t take time to reflect on what we could do to better this and instead it led to a lot of frustration for us both in the form of him running out of room, wanting the drive to start all over again so it was one video and me being annoyed that he hadn’t made space and not wanting to do the drive all over again. This repeated many times before I finally realized I needed to take a little time to think through this using those three questions.
What worked? Things went smoother when he knew we were going somewhere and was reminded to make sure he had room on his phone. It worked for him to look at the amount of storage he had available and we knew how much videos typically took. It worked for him to upload his videos to an external hard drive or the cloud so he could watch them later but not have them take up precious space on his phone.
What didn’t work? When we didn’t do the above! I say “we” because he has executive functioning challenges and so me expecting him to just remember to do this on his own was not realistic. “We” needed to do this as a team which meant reminding him to upload, delete and check storage space.
What could we do differently the next time? Using what I know that works for him which is providing time, reminders and also telling him how grateful I am when he does upload, delete and make space. Pointing out how nice it was for both of us to not arrive somewhere frustrated and annoyed.
I encourage you to play with reflecting on things big and small so that you too can use more of what works for you and your child/family, drop what doesn’t and get curious about anything different you can do to have more positive experiences in your life.