Guiding children as a person who is sensitive can be a challenge, especially when it comes to discipline.
I feel the tension rise as my morning moves through turbulent waters. Most of the time, the serene stream carries us, but right now there is a storm circling overhead, the eye appears to be stalling over the family room where my young children are arguing.
Gratefully, more often than not, they are the best of friends, kind, considerate and creative. As to be expected of imperfect beings, they disagree at times. I know this is beneficial in developing the skills to cooperate and compromise, but it is not fun as the mediator, especially one that is sensitive to all things chaos.
As a person who thrives in quiet, commotion can be nerving. For many people who are sensitive, silence is reviving. Yet, along the beautiful journey of parenting, there are limited moments of stillness. Quiet time may have to be consciously created.
In a personal quest to understand myself better and parent in my most peaceful way, I have researched personality theories, read about empaths, attended workshops about highly sensitive people, conversed with other parents, and have spent countless sunrises sitting in stillness uncovering understanding.
Through this pursuit, I have allowed myself a mark of a sensitive person with the intention to serve myself in the ways I need. Guiding children as a person who is sensitive can be a challenge, especially when it comes to discipline.
Adopt the belief that discipline is to teach, not punish. Discipline comes from discipulus, the Latin word for pupil—one who has been taught or influenced. Teaching is much gentler than punishing, for both the educator and the learner. Children have an abundance to give and infinite space to receive so itis fundamental that we teach our children how to treat others with kindness through the way we treat them. They will learn what they live.
We can choose to discover the cause of behavior as an explanation, not an excuse. When we understand that many influences collide to create an action, we can see our child as wonderfully imperfect, and offer a little grace and a lot of guidance.
Choose to pause and relax then respond without reaction. Take a deep breath or safely step away for a moment. We need to be calm in order to create calm. A deep breath has the capacity to relax the body, calm the mind, and allow access to our most peaceful way of being. This is where our greatest guidance originates.
3. Feel instead of fix
Most parents want to protect children from anything unpleasant but at times it is beneficial to allow discomfort in hope to equip children with the tools needed to move through inevitable unease. Allow space for struggle with the intention to strengthen your relationship. If all we do is give, all children will learn is to take. Empowerment transpires when a child feels support with expanse to explore.
4. Express emotions
Offer yourself permission and your child validation to feel. When we allow emotions to be expressed, we show our children that it is okay to feel mad and sad and that we have the power within us to feel and find calm. "I see that you are frustrated, I feel that, too," is a powerful phrase that creates connection. With acknowledgment and allowance, we can move through an experience with presence towards peace.
5. Make it matter
A child can't process big emotions independently and sitting them alone expecting them to "get over it" while you cringe waiting for a timer to go off is most likely not serving anyone. Sit together, calm your child and then correct the behavior through gentle guidance. Your attention is not a reward, it is essential.
6. Encourage connection
Hug it out (you need it as much as they do). Children will cooperate as much as they feel connected so be engaged. An authentic apology admits mistake with aspiration, while forgiveness is the release of that.
7. Prioritize self-care
Know that self-care begins as a mindset of believing that you can only offer your best when you give yourself rest. If we desire for our children to live their greatest lives, it is important that we show them, through our choices, how to balance. There is a time for service and a time for stillness. Both are essential in being our best self.
And lastly, believe that we, all of us, are doing the best we can. You've got this.
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