April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, which always gets parents thinking about how to keep their children safe. All parents face the same concerns when it comes to the safety of their children: who to trust and who not to trust, what they can do to ensure their children’s safety when they are not present, what to teach their children about safety, and how to teach it.
Many parents feel powerless when it comes to their kids because they cannot get their kids to listen and do the things they want. What they do not realize is that there is so much unspoken power that they hold that they are forgetting to access. It is the power of nurturing a human being, and the kind of relationship we have with them, that will help define who they are and what they do for a lifetime.
In our changing world, teaching children civility is more important than ever. Civility goes beyond being polite and courteous; it involves listening to others with an open mind, disagreeing respectfully, and seeking common ground to start a conversation about differences. By teaching skills like empathy, problem-solving, and perspective taking, we can help nurture civility in our children.
Most parents don’t think of bedtime as an opportunity to connect with their child. Typically, we as parents associate bedtime with a frenzied battle zone in which we are trying to get our child to cooperate and complete tasks such as taking a bath, brushing their teeth, or putting on jammies. In order to make the most of this window of time, I suggest two things:
“Empathy is the ability to feel and understand what another person may be feeling but ultimately … it means connection … and feeling understood.”
What you’ll hear in this episode:
· Learning to use empathy as a first response and a parenting tool
· Empathy as reflecting your child’s feeling back to them versus owning their feelings or relating our own personal experiences
· How using personal experiences in place of empathy can escalate conflict
· How to use empathy to help your child build emotional resilience
· Using empathy effectively to help your child feel heard
· Empathy as a practice and a gradual learning process
· Childhood developmental milestones in empathy
· How to model empathy for your kids
· Using the “Fake It Til You Become It” approach to empathy in your parenting
· Being mindful of your physical self in how you demonstrate and model empathy
· Parenting from the couch as a barrier to empathy
· Echoing, mirroring and repetition as empathy
· The power of validation in feeling heard – when looking on the bright side gets in the way
· Empathy as a transferrable skill.
There are just too many myths about parenting that need to be dispelled. They are not helpful and only deplete parents’ confidence in how they raise their child. Once they get called out and we address them you will feel so much more confident and lighter. So let me share with you some truths to help relieve some of your potential angst.