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Upstream Parenting: What is it? How do I help my child F.L.O.W?

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As parents, we all want our kids to succeed. In Upstream Parenting, success is not defined by the material, but rather internal balance. Having a healthy state of mind can definitely contribute to success in life goals as well. But in Upstream Parenting, the overall goal is to help your child F.L.O.W. upstream on the inside.

There are four steps to help your child achieve this success with each obstacle that comes up. In Upstream Parenting, the parent is simply there as someone who helps guide kids to make sure they go on their own self journey. The child is the one who takes actions, based on self discoveries.

Focus -- The very first step in overcoming an obstacle is to focus on it. If your child is old enough, ask them these questions. If not, ask yourself and present your findings in a way the child will understand you, be it vocally or through play. What is the obstacle? Why is it there? How can your child make it go away (your child needs to do this, not you)? Why was any prior action wrong or right? Does that need to change and if so, how or why? Ask your child these questions and encourage them to ask them of themselves. Meditation can help some children find their inner focus.

Love -- Once a child has focused and discovered some answers, love is the next step. This means self love (such as a child indulging in a favorite activity or focusing on good qualities about herself), as well as love from family and friends. Sometimes when people get upset at others for what they perceive as wrongdoings, the initial response is to push that person away. But oftentimes, that is exactly the opposite of what's needed. I'm not saying that you should reward your child when they are out of line. But understand that sometimes it can be a cry for much needed attention. Because you are giving the love and attention after the child has focused on the issue, you are not reacting to any behaviors or obstacles, but simply giving your child love.

Open Up -- Offer kids the chance to tell their side of the story in both "negative" and "positive" circumstances. This is not the same as focus. Instead, during this time, kids should freely express what has been going on and then do what it takes to let it go. Be sure that your child is the one setting the problems free. It does no good if they cannot do so themselves. Refrain from disciplinary action, especially during these times. Disciplinary punishments only lead to instilling fear and covering up the real issue in that moment only. Problems can come back or worsen when kids are made to feel ashamed or repressed, due to discipline. They will internalize the pain instead of opening up and being able to release their issues.

Work -- Don't be afraid of this word. I am not talking about putting your kids to work in a sweat shop. In fact, I am more relaxed than some about how much work kids should be doing vs play. However, in order to learn how to balance and succeed in life, kids need to know how to work for what they want and need. In Upstream Parenting, work may refer to any actions that the child must take to solve a problem. In order to get things done, there must be some type of action toward that ultimate goal. Your child -- not you -- must do the work it takes to get there.

Practicing F.L.O.W. in all parenting situations can help pave the way to successful Upstream Parenting.

*I originally published this on my Upstream Parenting blog: www.lifesuccessfully.com/26/post/2013/05/upstream-parenting-what-is-it-how-do-i-help-my-child-flow.html

For questions or future topic ideas, please contact me via the email form at Ask Lyn.

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