Monday, March 19, 2012

How remembering your youth can make you a more compassionate parent

Your children give you opportunities to remember your young self.

Can you remember when you were a child and one of your parents was upset with you? Can you remember what you wanted your parents to do? Can you hear and see from your child's point of view?

When you are speaking with children, whether they are yours or not, can remind you of yourself as a child. Remembering the silly mistakes you made, or the word fumbles, or even the blatant disregard for rules.

Kids may not always actually understand rules. If instituting rules just to create conformity is your goal, then instill fear. But if you want the children around you to grow mature, knowledgeable, and compassionate, then you have to be ready to explain.

Explanations – Why they’re good

By explaining that something is about to change, you give the child the chance to ask questions. You also inform them before they are reprimanded, and give them an opportunity to test limits and learn.

Let’s say you are trying to instill a solid bedtime in a child who would just go to bed whenever they were tired. Chances are, if you hadn’t already set up a solid bedtime, that you are doing so because they will be starting school or daycare.

Beginning a new routine is hard enough for a child so make it easier on him or her and explain. Give them advance notice that they will be changing their routine, and start making little changes at least a month ahead of time.

If it’s a regular bedtime due to school, explain to them that they will be going to school. Let them know what school is, and help them get excited about it. Start by waking them up earlier each day, but don’t just throw an alarm clock in and yell at them to wake up. Would you want to be woken up like that? Consider the child as a smaller version of you, how would you like to be awakened?

Then, once they are being woken up earlier, closer to the time they will be getting up for the new routine, start pushing back the bedtime. Create a positive atmosphere that is conducive to sleep, be it listening to soothing music, reading a book, or discussing the day. Make it something that you can share with your child that they will begin to associate with bedtime.

Parenting means someone else
is following your footsteps
 Remember how you felt as a child

How did you feel as a child when your parents just thrust a new routine or expectation on your with no explanation or forewarning? I bet you were probably pretty upset, angry, let-down, helpless, confused, and maybe even disappointed.

Do you think that your child will feel any different from you if you do the same thing to him/her? I would be inclined to doubt it.

Emotions experienced by people of all ages are not things that change. Children and adults alike can feel sadness, disappointment, and even rage. Remembering how things affected you as a child will make it easier to understand that a child is just a small adult who hasn’t learned all the rules yet. The emotions they experience are still the same, though the child may not have words for them, and they can be just as devastating when disregarded.

Before getting upset with a child for acting against your wishes, remember that they have wishes too. Ask yourself if you took the time to explain the situation to them properly, and that you ensured they actually understood. Many children will just say ‘yes I understand’ to make you get off their backs, but they won’t have a real clue.

Take the time to give your children the things and words that you would have liked to have been given. They may not be innocent, but they are not evil. I would put them at neutral, but as they grow they learn to say and do the things that are emulated by those closest to them. Are you projecting the image of how you want your child to grow up?

Remember being a kid and how it felt, then treat others the way you would expect to be treated. Make the first step, and bask in the results of carrying on.

Peace and happiness.
(This post was reposted from my other blog which is being phased out. Thanks for reading)

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