Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Harmony and Kids

     Do you remember being a fourteen or sixteen-year-old, with hormones and emotions running high, and with little if any developed restraint on impulses that seemed to seize you out of the blue? Welcome to my world: teaching sophomores and juniors in high school.

     The early years of my career as an English teacher in high school were marked by many ups and downs due to getting emotionally caught up in whatever it was the kids were bringing into the classroom. It is quite a challenge to stay calm and centered when confronted with an emotional outburst. Still, looking back on my growth as a teacher I can say that the happy, harmonious moments I shared with the groups entrusted to my care now stand out. And these days my hours at school in the company of up to 32 teenagers at a time are marked by respect and harmony.

     It is here that I would like to link to the previous two articles in this blog: Little Boys, Big Emotions by Amy Webb and Compliance in Your Children by Michael R. Whitehead, both excellent articles. Amy focuses on the importance of acknowledging the emotions in little boys (and in all kids, I might add) and modeling how to cope with emtions, while Michael explains how to effectively communicate instructions to your kids. Both these items were crucial to me when it comes to creating a harmonious and loving environment.

Modeling coping strategies

How does one model how to cope with difficult emotions? Obviously: by coping with our own emotions effectively and then guiding your kids through theirs. Setting a quality such as Peace as your own inner compass will go a long way in riding emotional waves, both your kids' and your own. If you would like to learn more about the positive effects of setting the ideal of Peace for your family's relationships, read an earlier post on this blog: Finding Peace in Hectic Daily Life with Kids. 

The Power of Focused Silence

In the article about effective instruction mentioned above, author Michael R. Whitehead explains the positive effects of fewer instructions and inserting a pause of ten to fifteen seconds after issuing an instruction. In other words: putting the power of silence to use. And not just any silence. This silence needs to be imbued with your presence by keeping your calm, loving focus on both the child and the instruction. Silence, used this way, can be your most powerful ally when it comes to communicating the boundaries of behavior to kids.

     Next time a boundary of behavior is being challenged by one of the kids in your care, try and see if a ten-second pause - a period of silence infused with your loving presence - will turn the tables in favor of a harmonious outcome. Good luck!

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