In general, being compassionate helps us to be happier individuals. Parenting is no different. Showing compassion promotes better relationships with our children, as we enjoy them and steer them in the right direction and of course – learn from them! There are many specific benefits in the form of cultivating cooperative children, building their self-esteem and confidence, while lowering their tendency towards negative behavior.
Best of all, children with compassionate parents grow up to be emotionally strong and happy. Now if that is not a great outcome, I don’t know what is.
Compassion is not about allowing children to do whatever they want. It is not about letting them get away with anything they do. What it does mean is getting deeper into the child’s behavior to understand what prompted a certain behavior. If the child is throwing a tantrum, it is about finding out why and enabling her to get a grip on her behavior so that she can control her impulses.
Naturally, one might argue that this is not the most perfect way to parent – but then, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Perfection is highly subjective. I certainly make mistakes in the things I say or do when it comes to my son – and of course, the 20/20 hindsight happens much later. Happily, children are quite immune to the mistakes we make, because they love their parents unconditionally.
What I have discovered by practicing compassion
I have learned that anything that is said in a positive way brings on the desired outcome. That does not mean it is wrong to get angry, irritated, annoyed or mad. After all, even parents are human!
The important thing is the way we express ourselves. In our house, we do not shout. It is a conscious decision we remind ourselves of, whenever we feel like raising our voices. Oh yes, we feel like shouting, but we don’t. We calm down, control ourselves and practice being calm. Over time, this has become a habit – and the excellent side-benefit is less stress. The best part is, on the rare occasions we have to pull up our son (boys will be boys), he takes it in a positive spirit. On the other hand, if we are nasty or say things in a negative way, there is resistance. And we’re careful not to do that since we do not want him to learn that might is right.
Some tips to practice compassion
Listening – we all know how vital this is. It is all part of constant communication with our children to know them, bond with them, and cherish them.
Encouraging – whenever my son comes with a problem, we talk it through, exploring possibilities and invariably, he also comes up with a solution. Just expressing himself lightens the load quite a bit, allowing him to see it from the outside. I try my best to ask questions that will enable him reach an acceptable way to resolve the situation. Also, by the time we’ve finished, he has also found ways to tackle it better next time.
Educating – oh, sending them to school is a given. When he was young, we tried to buy toys that help learn something or develop a skill. One of his most favorite pastimes was jigsaw puzzles, besides music, sketching and general knowledge books. We stay in tune with his interests. In the last three years, he has been leaning more and more towards science and math, while taking out the time to enjoy his other hobbies.
Being responsive – we make it a point to spend half an hour on the terrace every evening or during our evening walk to share our day – both good and bad. It sets a positive tone for the rest of the evening and ensures going to bed peacefully.
Being affectionate – I am blessed with a tactile and affectionate child and I am very grateful for the wonderful relationship we share. Happy children are usually affectionate. Happiness stems from being loved. Compassion facilitates this process.
Being a loving parent is not difficult. I like to compare it to smiling. When we smile, people involuntarily smile back. Well, most people do. When we’re kind and loving, our children find us easier to approach.
Vidya Sury is a happy work-at-home Mom who relishes the joy of parenting and growing up with her son. She is a freelance writer, business blogger and social media enthusiast and loves DIY, Coffee, Music, Photography, Family, Friends and Life. She believes that Happiness is a DIY Project. She blogs at www.vidyasury.com and tweets as @vidyasury.