It is every parent’s goal to be the emotionally generous caregiver that their child needs. The concept of peaceful parenting teaches parents how to react when your child displays negative behavior. There are basically two options. One, become hijacked by your emotions and lash out in anger. Or two, allow yourself to recognize the emotion, feel it, and let it pass before taking action.
“Mindfulness: Allowing an emotion to take hold and pass without acting on it.” -Benedict Carey
Option two is a mindful approach that leads to a life of peaceful parenting. Research on brain development and clinical experience with parents and children show that when parents constantly yell at their children a few things are sure to result:
- Your child’s brain learns to fight or flight anytime contention arises between you two
- Shouting words will never be credible to your child
- Your child may begin to fear grown-ups in general
- Yelling will also be learned
Remember, no parent is perfect nor will any ever be. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you come from a long line of “yellers” or have a short temper here and there. Just start where you are and move forward. Here are some tips to transition to peaceful parenting.
Understand where the bad behavior stems from
Whining, aggressiveness, or hyperactive behaviors happen when a child’s needs are not being met. Feelings of disconnection or overwhelm might spark a child to act out. Identify the underlying needs driving their behavior by giving them permission to freely feel and express what they are feeling. Ask questions and genuinely listen to their answers. This simple step and action will quickly help them return to a settled and calm child ready to behave as expected.
Keep your own love tank full
In order to give love, compassion, patience, and understanding to your child you must have a full reservoir to pour into them when they need it. Any parent going on 3 hours of sleep will snap at their kid at any given moment. Develop impulse control over time by learning to recognize and regulate your emotions. Take the steps and the time to take care of yourself mentally, physically and emotionally so you can show up and be your best self for your child day in and day out.
Teach simply by modeling expected behavior
The best way for your child to learn is to watch your behavior. Practice reflecting on the situation before reacting. This might even require you to take a timeout for yourself but the key is to never punish or react while in the moment of frustration, anger or disappointment. Once you’ve recognized the emotion, let yourself feel it. Notice how it affects your body physically and let it pass. Rather than trying to control the entire situation or behavior of your child with punishments or rewards turn inward and ask yourself:
- How have I contributed to this challenge?
- Have I instigated the situation?
- How am I bringing this behavior to the surface?
- What can I do about it now?
“One generation full of deeply loving parents would change the brain of the next generation, and with that, the world.” -Charles Raison
Peaceful parenting is hard because it is unnatural. Our brains naturally want to feel power and control over our children. The peaceful parenting approach forces us as adults and parents to control our own self rather than manipulating our children into doing what we want. When you are able to mindfully raise yourself to this next level of intention you will nurture relationships of respect and healthy communication rather than control, bribery, threats, and punishment.