I read a book by Dr. Laura Markham called Peaceful Parents Happy Siblings. Really awesome! She explains not only what to do but HOW to do it. The book was filled with scripts and how to handle situations where they don’t cooperate with your parenting strategy. I think it really puts the responsibility on the parent to lead rather than solely on the child to behave. A little scary but empowering!
The peaceful parenting idea starts with taking care of ourselves. We commit to controlling our emotions because we can’t expect our children to do what we can’t do. Just as our children make mistakes, so will we. But at least, we are striving for a higher standard.
The book presents the idea that punishments lead to selfishness rather than empathy. It is a foreign concept because we feel no one will learn to do what is right without consequences. I wondered why I do the right things and the first thing that popped in my head was that I couldn’t get away with it which totally aligns with my place as the older child. It is sobering to think that I operate more out of self-preservation than concern for my fellow man.
The book talks of connecting with your child first and foremost so that his desire to protect the relationship overrides the potential to act out. Communication about limits and expectations are important. Acknowledging their feelings and coaching them through how to deal with their emotions in a positive way. Allowing them to be angry or sad instead of expecting them to just get over it. Preventing them from hurting others and showing we are there to help until they learn self control.
She suggest daily roughhousing and laughter to help release tensions. John Micah was poking at me so I gasped and jumped like he got me. He laughed and laughed! He repeated it probably 20 times. My oldest even got tickled and joined in. David said, “You’re funny, Mom!” I realized that I don’t let myself be silly near enough.
I’ve begun communicating more instead of intervening. “Katie Rose, do you hear Joseph? He sounds like you are squeezing him too tight.” “But he’s cute.” ” Yes, but what can we do so he isn’t uncomfortable.” And there are dozens of these conversations daily. Recognizing tensions before they become a fight has been helpful.
Using humor to get through tense situations has been really cool. Katie Rose was upset and not wanting to take her vitamins. I asked her to hold out her hand. She was refusing so I said, “You know, it’s the thing with fingers. Don’t you remember?” She giggled and took her vitamins.
Sometimes it takes a couple tries. One night, John Micah refused to go to bed. I resolved that I wouldn’t yell or threaten to spank. I took his blanket to his bed and spread it out. He stood in the corner of the dining room and still refused. I let him stand there a couple of minutes and defuse a bit. He came back to the living room and repeated his defiance with a hearty No! I asked if he wanted to take his bear to bed. NO!
I found two bears and said, “They are tired and need some rest. I’ll put them in bed since you won’t be using it.” That tickled him. He just about beat me to the bedroom. He was all smiles and tucked into bed. This small battle took 5 minutes to resolve. If I had yelled, there would be 15-20 minutes of tears(from both of us). Instead, we all went to bed happy.
I have been looking through articles on her website. I am very intrigued with this idea of emotion-coaching and preparing them for many future interactions and relationships. It is lined up with the character building tenets of taekwondo and Leader in Me. With 7 of us, we have many opportunities for frustrations to arise. Mindful parenting provides skills to help them through the rest of their lives. It isn’t easy and for an introvert, slightly exhausting. It’s so rewarding and we’ll all be better for it.
Proverbs 27:17 Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another