How to Raise Compassionate Kids?
What a brilliant question! And certainly one I have been asking myself since becoming a parent.
When my son was a toddler his blatant lack of compassion for his friends astounded me at times. Now that he’s 4-years-old, I notice moments of tender, sweet, kind compassion interspersed with moments of pig-headed selfishness.
Right now he’s playing with a friend and they are both being amazing to each other, speaking kindly, sharing nicely, offering, reasoning, congratulating each other for a job well done… yet I know this can change in an instant to outright WAR. And woe betide if one or both them are tired or hungry.
That’s why I adore this guest post by Ariel Harris, the third post in Ariel’s series on Conscious Living. Previously posted:
How to Raise Compassionate Kids – Be Conscious Parents
Oh, don’t we all know this gem of a scenario? We are in the grocery store, turning a corner with our kids in tow, we bump smack into a little one racing away from his parent. Ahhh, did we hurt the child? Is the child okay? And where is the child’s parent?
All the while simultaneously scanning our kids to make sure no one has made a quick escape.
Ahh, yes, the joys of grocery shopping with our little bundles of joy.
But back to the runner, where is that parent? And what is our responsibility at this moment? What is it that we want to model to our kids?
And here we are. Even in a quick trip to the grocery store, we are still in that never-ending space of choices we make as conscious parents.
So what does that look like for you?
In choosing conscious parenthood we are taking on the crown of knowing each moment is an opportunity for each of us to thrive and transform both as parents and children.
In this space, we are giving true and learning opportunities for our beloved tykes to experience the range of what it means to live in full compassion.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHEN WE ARE CHOOSING COMPASSION?
At each moment in our day of interactions, we have the option to see where love and compassion truly lives.
To me, that is the epitome of conscious parenting. It is a step that offers all family members the option to learn empathy and compassion.
So, back to the grocery store situation. One of our kids is excited by the incident. And decides that she too can just take off and make a run for it. Oh yes, another gray hair, just popped out.
We have options here, folks. What are we going to do? First off it’s a safety concern. So running after our adorable tyke is just going to have to happen.
Let’s hope we do it with grace, not looking like the harried parent. Try to find the humor here even if we have to dig deep.
(Did I tell you the story of my child taking off in the middle of a huge super duper grocery store, and as I began to run, I accidentally got my foot caught in my hippie skirt and it feel off in the middle of the store?? Yup, never went back to that shop!)
But here we go, back to the grocery store and the unfolding fun.
So we have now got our tyke in tow. And what are the first words that come out of our mouth? Watch it, it’s an opportunity here. If you can, take a breath.
Then hugging your child, ask why that might not have been the best action to take. And say, I am grateful you are here now.
Was that really what we wanted to do? Perhaps, not. At first. But as conscious parenting starts to find its way into our understanding, we see each opportunity as the possibility to use choice and transformation. Not fear or confrontation.
I think this is also a good place to drop in the thought about nonviolent communication. There has been lots of discussion on the use of nonviolent language. It is something really close to my heart. It is the conscious decision to view how we use our language and what words we choose.
If we could begin using nonviolent communication as children are learning to speak, their tone of empathy and compassion will be what shapes our future generations.
So what choices are we stepping into?
WHAT CHOICES ARE WE MAKING IN OUR DAILY MOMENTS?
The best part of parenting is that we are having this experience 24/7. (Or not, she says under her breath).
That means there is always an opportunity for choice. Do we take a moment to assess and breath?
The question is what our choice is, and are we willing to exercise it, no matter what the circumstance?
- Are we noticing how we are using our tone of voice and our language?
- Are we noticing if we are acting in ways that are compassionate or knee jerk reactions?
- Are we noticing that we are setting an example of calm and peaceful?
- Are we being supportive of our child’s state of mind?
- Are we teaching or being punitive?
- Are we ready to use hugs instead of anger?
- Are we validating our child?
I think these questions help us to determine our choices. Does that make sense to you? What are your strategies?
CREATING A SPACE THAT IS TRANSFORMATIVE FOR EACH OF US
I was watching my grandson as he started to escalate his anger. He is four-and-a-half. I watched as his face turned red, his fists clenched and he just started to scream.
And my daughter in her brilliance and love, just calmly said, “I understand you are angry right now. What do you need?”. She sat down at his eye level and listened to him really intently. Then mirrored back his needs. He seemed so reassured that she heard him.
I just loved watching this. I was watching compassion in live action. I could see and bear witness, that by simply remaining in this calm space and allowing him the ability to examine his needs, it did two things.
First, it diffused the ability for more drama, and then it allowed my precious grandson to figure out how he could handle his own anger, through simply understanding what he might need at that moment.
And what a way to learn how to access maturity and capability of handling our own feelings? Isn’t this an amazing life skill?
But the most awe inspiring realization was that not just my grandson was being in a state of transformation. So was I and so was his mother. Three generations just observed living transformation! I was truly in a state of gratitude and awe.
For my daughter had also given the most valuable of gifts. She had shown her son that he mattered. That he was heard. That he was seen. What more do any of us ever want?
I so appreciated that he was given the space to fully acknowledge his needs and anger. How many of us ever truly learned how to do this? How many of us, just stifle our anger, or let it come out in ways of passive aggressive resentment?
Not that we would ever act that way, grin.
I remember as a child if I ever ‘acted out’, it was always treated punitively. It taught me not to deal with anger. Do you recall being treated that way also?
Can we see how much healthier this approach is?
[ Wow… I just got goosebumps! Yes, yes, I see it. ]
I think the concept that we as parents can give this gift to our children is the most priceless acts of compassion and transformation. How do you see it?
In living Conscious Parenting, we are giving our children the ability to be a compassionate person not only to themselves, which is so vital, but also with any interaction they have.
We are giving them permission to deal with the whole spectrum of emotions without punity or lessening their self esteem.
Can you imagine if the entire world was loved, heard and validated, this way?
It could eradicate domestic violence, rage, violence against each other. And formulate a world where peace was the acceptable norm.
Wow, now that is a place I want to live. Join me?
What are you experiencing as you deal with conscious parenting? What are the hard parts, and the easy parts? What are your success stories? We really want to hear them here at inspiringmompreneurs.com.
In peace and gratitude,
Ariel Harris, Founder, Success-full-living.com living in heart-centric moments
Hello, I am Ariel. After a long illness, I taught myself how to walk again. So here I am jumping into vibrancy. I am an artist, writer and believer in the positive, and a grandmother. My belief in the Yes We Can mindset, has opened the gates to living in possibility.
I live my life co-creating with the universe, rich in love, compassion, grace and consciousness. Knowing, that we are all connected and willing to be of service, is a source of great peace and joy.
Follow Ariel on:
THANK YOU Ariel! Yes, I definitely want to live in a world where we are loved, heard and validated in this way.
Hard parts, keeping my cool when I’m busy with something else and not able to focus all my attention on my kids. Or when both want to do different things and I can’t work out how to keep them both happy. Or when any of us are hungry or tired. If basic needs aren’t met, things can go awry really quickly.
Easy parts, when we are all one hundred percent present as a family, away from all technology, calm, relaxed, knowing that our only job is to have fun together. Going for walks or going to the Beach are firm favourites. If it’s not outdoor weather we are also happy playing lego or doing puzzles or arts and crafts. I find when I allocate time for my children, allowing them to lead the play, we have the BEST time ever.
Moms, would love to hear your comments below.