Zen Parenting

I know what you’re thinking…living zen with children? Impossible. Children are excitable, loud, and react to things with impossible intensity. A call for the front seat, or to be the first to hit the elevator button can cause a major incident.

Spring and summer are times when we crave calmness. We all want to
slow down, enjoy the warm beautiful days, and spend time together as a
family. Tantrums, whining, and bickering can seriously disrupt that
vision of family fun in the backyard.

There is a way to create calmness and zen. It takes some practice,
but it is well worth the effort and gets us much closer to our  vision .

As a family therapist I help parents to connect with their children,
with playfulness, compassion, and acceptance, using many of the skills
therapists use in their work with clients.  I will teach parents how to
use the very specialized skill of mirroring in balance with limit
setting as a highly effective and calming way to parent children.

Connected Parenting sounds deceivingly simple, but taking the time
to empathize and connect with our children before we correct or
reprimand, results in children feeling more attached, more loved, and
more eager to please.

When your children are upset, take a moment to connect. Make eye
contact, listen and paraphrase to your child with a few mirroring
statements before correcting their behavior.

Imagine your children are in the pool and your daughter begins
sobbing because her brother has the yellow noodle and she’s stuck with
purple one. A typical parent response might be, “Janie, use the purple
one. There’s no difference. Why does everything have to be such an
issue?” To which Janie might reply, “No fair! Matt gets everything!”
and so on. The conflict will escalate until you threaten that if they
don’t stop fighting, they’ll have to get out of the pool or some such
threat you really don’t want to follow through on.

Using connecting or mirroring, the same scenario would play out much
differently. This time, when Janie wails about her brother’s noodle
superiority, you would say, “I see why you love that yellow noodle.
It’s so bright and beautiful. And you’ve always loved yellow.” Janie
may look surprised at first, then she will most likely say, “Yeah” with
a teary nod. Then you follow up with, “It is so hard when you have your
heart set on something and can’t have it.” To which she will again nod,
no doubt surprised by your empathy, but inwardly delighted to be so
clearly understood.

Now you can sneak in your agenda with ease. “Why don’t we find
something else for you to play with, and in a few minutes you can have
the yellow noodle…” reassuring her that she will be fine. With
surprising consistency, your child will comply and move on without
further issue, leaving you to sip your lemonade and enjoy the rest of
the afternoon–until someone takes the Spongebob towel.

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Disclaimer

Please remember that the advice given on this blog is not meant to replace medical advice or the direct advice of a mental health care professional.
"Connected Parenting advises us not just how to parent, but—far more important—who to be as parents. The therapeutic methods suggested by Jennifer Kolari are based not on simple-minded behavioural solutions, but on building warm, nurturing relationships with our children, with insight and compassion not only for their little flaws, but also for our own larger ones."
—Gabor Maté, M.D.

"A must read for parents, educators, and any other adults who want to connect in a deeply caring and positive way with the children in their lives."
—Barbara Coloroso