Stop Yelling, Start Connecting Series: Patience & Empathy
I teach classes to expecting parents. We talk about diapering, bathing, how to take a temperature...the logistics. What we don't talk about is the emotional stuff. How, when you are massively sleep deprived, you are absolutely going to lash out when you normally wouldn't. How, when you are being pulled in five hundred different directions, you may react more harshly than you would have before children. So I'd like to correct that mistake...the not talking about these things...here are the two most important emotional tools in my parenting tool kit: patience and empathy.
This is the Japanese symbol for patience. Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. When you are tired and overstimulated, finding acceptance for anything is difficult. This is where the patience comes in...when you have children EVERYTHING TAKES LONGER.
When you are a new parent, you need to be patient with yourself. You are learning. You are figuring things out. You move more slowly through your day...and many times this is in complete contrast to your previous existence. As your babies start growing, patience when interacting with them is crucial. Yes, it would be FIVE HUNDRED TIMES FASTER to just throw your toddler's shoes on for them...but remember, just as you did when you first became a parent...they are learning. They will be slow. Honor their time to figure things out. Be present with them as they do so, so that they know it is ok and they will learn patience for themselves. When you feel like your patience is wearing thin...with every reaction you have in your day...stop yourself from reacting for just a second...take a breath...then see where you're at. I bet you will surprise yourself!
This is the Japanese symbol for empathy. Empathy is the second tool in my emotional tool kit...yet it is the one that has made the biggest change in how I parent. We have very few tantrums in our house...more on that in a different post. One of the reasons for this is because I parent every second of every day with empathy. Let me give you an example. When my daughter started to use a real cup (not a sippy cup) she got a pink one with a
unicorn on it. She used it every day for breakfast and I was very careful to make sure it was clean for her morning meal. This one morning, the cup was missing. Enter the meltdown. My daughter was full on melting down and I am thinking in my head..."It's a beeping cup...I am going to lose my mind if the day continues like this." Then, I remember to practice empathy. I think of my own morning routine. Every morning I make a cup of tea in my favorite "Think Happy, Be Happy" mug. Now I think, on the rare days that I am not able to have that morning cup of tea, what emotions am I fighting back? Frustration, disappointment, maybe a little anger (depending on how I slept the night before). I can rationalize these emotions away and move on with my morning...my (at the time) three year old is still learning about emotions and how to handle them...so she is not throwing a tantrum, she is emoting her frustration and disappointment. So now, I validate..."I know you always have breakfast with your unicorn cup and today you can't. I am sure you are feeling frustrated and disappointed. Those are completely appropriate feelings and I would be feeling the same way. Let's go to the drawer and pick out a special cup for you to use just for today and we will look for your unicorn cup after breakfast." And...meltdown resolved.
I hope as you are going through your parenting day, you take a moment to breath before you react (gaining a little extra patience) and empathize with what your child might be feeling or going through...I GUARANTEE the dynamics of your day will change dramatically.
In Gratitude & With Love,
In Gratitude & With Love,