I stumbled onto a new parenting approach recently, the Peaceful Parenting and I thought to do some study on it. I shared what I learned in this post. This parenting approach has been of interest to me considering how hard, overwhelming and sometimes confusing parenting can be, especially when we keep getting conflicting ideas on the right parenting approach.
Well, I’ve been trying to adopt the peaceful parenting approach in my home and truly, it hasn’t been easy. I still yelled, on one occasion I was forced to use the cane, after a long time. However, a lot has changed. I’m now more mindful of my responses as a parent; I catch myself asking, “What am I doing wrong?” “How can I respond better?” Unfortunately, we don’t get time off to learn a new parenting approach, try it out on some ‘dummy children’ and then implement. Parenting is like learning on the job!
Transitioning to a new parenting approach is a choice, a daily choice. Every day offers us the opportunity to make the commitment to stay calm, to listen actively and to choose love. This I think is very empowering. We don’t only become better mums, we become better persons. Now when I deal with issues, I don’t focus only on what the child did wrong, I appreciate or encourage one little thing he did right – “…it was thoughtful of you to have picked up the broken glass on the floor.”
Shifting our parenting approach is like making a journey. I have experienced some bumps along the way and it felt better to stop and just make a U-turn. But according to experts, setbacks don’t mean we’re doing anything wrong, what’s happening is that we’re healing old hurt feelings so they stop driving new bad behavior.
Here’s how to make the transition to peaceful parenting easier in 8 steps
Begin with You. The “peace” in peaceful parenting comes from you. Make a commitment to regulate your own emotions. That means that when you feel upset, you stop and just breathe. This helps restrain you from acting on that urgent “fight or flight” feeling that makes your child look like the enemy. Delay taking action until you feel calmer. This will require some getting used to.
Ditch the guilt and the need to be ‘right’. Take it one step at a time. You’re paying the price, after all, and making amends now, by helping your child through all those old hurt feelings. Besides, feeling bad doesn’t help you act “good,” any more than it helps your child.
Make connections. You need to make strong bonds before you can change anything with your child. How about spending 15 minutes connecting one-on-one with each child daily, just following his lead and pouring your love into him. You’ll be amazed how differently he will respond to you.
Give support and offer win-win solutions. “I know your little sister gets on your nerves sometimes, and she always wants to play with your things. That’s really annoying to you. You want to be able to keep your things safe. But it isn’t okay to yell at your sister or hit her. Why don’t we work together to find a safe place for your things where your sister can’t get at them?
Set limits that work. When you set limits from your child’s point of view more often, you will become more flexible. The key is to set the limit while you still have a sense of humor and can empathize with their perspective. Acknowledging their perspective helps children cooperate with us.
Expect some emotions. When a child “acts out” she is acting out feelings that she can’t express in words. Emotions are never the problem; humans will always have big emotions. And, of course, that doesn’t make it right to hurt anyone else. When your child shows you she’s upset, stay calm. Don’t take it personally. The more you stay compassionate and accepting you can help your child work through the hurts and fears that are driving her anger, so they no longer drive her behavior.
Teach reparations. If you’ve been using punishment as a corrective measure, when your child does something wrong and don’t punish him you’ll feel unfinished. Resist the urge to punish or force an apology because it leads to resentment. Train yourself to think in terms of repair, instead. So after everyone has calmed down and is feeling reconnected, have a private discussion with the child about what happened. Listen to his perspective and empathize. Ask if there is anything he can do to repair the damage. And if you model apology yourself, your child will learn to follow your example.
Expect setbacks. We’re only human, so we have to accept that we aren’t perfect. The secret of making this transition is having compassion for ourselves, just as we do for our children. Expect to fail or make mistakes sometimes (maybe most times). Expect some days (not every day) to be a big struggle. Parenting is hard, it gets even harder when we’re starting something new. But it will get easier with time. Remember you’re on a path that leads to a happier, more rewarding and more peaceful parenting. All the best!
Image courtesy: carpediem.cd