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I feel the tension rise as my morning moves through turbulent waters. Most of the time, the serene stream carries us, but right now there is a storm circling overhead, the eye appears to be stalling over the family room where my young children are arguing.

Gratefully, more often than not, they are the best of friends, kind, considerate and creative. As to be expected of imperfect beings, they disagree at times. I know this is beneficial in developing the skills to cooperate and compromise, but it is not fun as the mediator, especially one that is sensitive to all things chaos.

As a person who thrives in quiet, commotion can be nerving. For many people who are sensitive, silence is reviving. Yet, along the beautiful journey of parenting, there are limited moments of stillness. Quiet time may have to be consciously created.

In a personal quest to understand myself better and parent in my most peaceful way, I have researched personality theories, read about empaths, attended workshops about highly sensitive people, conversed with other parents, and have spent countless sunrises sitting in stillness uncovering understanding.

Through this pursuit, I have allowed myself a mark of a sensitive person with the intention to serve myself in the ways I need. Guiding children as a person who is sensitive can be a challenge, especially when it comes to discipline.


1. Teach

Adopt the belief that discipline is to teach, not punish. Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil—one who has been taught or influenced. Teaching is much gentler than punishing, for both the educator and the learner. Children have an abundance to give and infinite space to receive so itis fundamental that we teach our children how to treat others with kindness through the way we treat them. They will learn what they live.

We can choose to discover the cause of behavior as an explanation, not an excuse. When we understand that many influences collide to create an action, we can see our child as wonderfully imperfect, and offer a little grace and a lot of guidance.

2. Pause

Choose to pause and relax then respond without reaction. Take a deep breath or safely step away for a moment. We need to be calm in order to create calm. A deep breath has the capacity to relax the body, calm the mind, and allow access to our most peaceful way of being. This is where our greatest guidance originates.

3. Feel instead of fix

Most parents want to protect children from anything unpleasant but at times it is beneficial to allow discomfort in hope to equip children with the tools needed to move through inevitable unease. Allow space for struggle with the intention to strengthen your relationship. If all we do is give, all children will learn is to take. Empowerment transpires when a child feels support with expanse to explore.

4. Express emotions

Offer yourself permission and your child validation to feel. When we allow emotions to be expressed, we show our children that it is okay to feel mad and sad and that we have the power within us to feel and find calm. "I see that you are frustrated, I feel that, too," is a powerful phrase that creates connection. With acknowledgment and allowance, we can move through an experience with presence towards peace.

5. Make it matter

A child can't process big emotions independently and sitting them alone expecting them to "get over it" while you cringe waiting for a timer to go off is most likely not serving anyone. Sit together, calm your child and then correct the behavior through gentle guidance. Your attention is not a reward, it is essential.

6. Encourage connection

Hug it out (you need it as much as they do). Children will cooperate as much as they feel connected so be engaged. An authentic apology admits mistake with aspiration, while forgiveness is the release of that.

7. Prioritize self-care

Know that self-care begins as a mindset of believing that you can only offer your best when you give yourself rest. If we desire for our children to live their greatest lives, it is important that we show them, through our choices, how to balance. There is a time for service and a time for stillness. Both are essential in being our best self.

And lastly, believe that we, all of us, are doing the best we can. You've got this.

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When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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My husband and I always talked about starting a family a few years after we were married so we could truly enjoy the “newlywed” phase. But that was over before it started. I was pregnant on our wedding day. Surprise!

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