I often get complimented for my calm way of talking and working with my daughter. It’s something I work on on a daily basis. It can take a lot to remain calm and patient but it’s worth it to me and its the kind of parent I want to be. I never wanted to be a screamer or for my kids to feel fearful to approach me. I am really happy with the parent I am today and have worked hard to become. I always questioned whether or not I was a good mom. It’s something that means so much to me, that’s who I want to be in life. I can clearly see now that I am a great mom. I can see it in the way my daughter talks to me and others so kindly. I can see it in what a sweetheart she has turned out to be. So I wanted to take the time today to share with you all my tips for calm and gentle parenting.
Crying babies and toddler tantrums are some of the most challenging things to deal with. I believe that’s because the way we go about it will have a lasting affect on our kids, either for the good or the bad. So we have to be very careful with the things we say to our children and the way we treat them. I will never expose people personally but I have dealt with that in my childhood. I have had people talk down to me for years and years as a child. The result? I deal with deep feelings of worthlessness and feeling that I only cause problems. That has been deeply engrained in me as a child so it takes work everyday for me to uproot those feelings and convince myself that I am not all those negative things that I had been told. All this is to say, the way we talk to our children WILL have a lasting effect even into adulthood. Children will believe what you tell them. I know some people don’t like to hear that, probably because it would exempt them of any responsibility if it wasn’t true. But these are the facts. You can ask any psychologist. We can cause our children to have long lasting attachment issues that will effect them even into their own marriages. So that is the first rule, think before you speak to your kids. Think of what the lasting consequences will be.
There will be moments when you feel so frustrated with your children that you just want to say whatever it is that comes to your mind. Don’t. When I’m feeling at my wits end and like I can’t speak calmly to my daughter in the moment, I will get my space. Either by having her go to her room and play with her toys for a little quiet time or I will go to a separate room and take a breather for a while. I have found it so beneficial to make sure that I get my quiet/alone time just about everyday. I can either do it during my daughters screen time during the day or when my husband comes home from work. Something as simple as doing my nighttime routine by myself or getting in my workout alone does me so much good. It allows me to reset, calm down and feel recharged for another day with my sweet girl. I used to feel guilty for taking this alone time but I now realize that it’s a necessity for me so that I’m not snappy or irritable with my family. So be sure to get time to yourself. When I do, it makes me happy and excited for the next day to play with my daughter and spend time with her. I feel like a whole new woman. I feel that this is especially needed when you’re a stay at home mom since we are home with our kids 24/7 with no time apart. (My daughter comes in our bed every night so it’s literally 24/7 with us.)
Going back to the way we talk with our children, please be sure not to use definitive negative statements with your kids. For example: “You are so lazy! You just love misbehaving. You never listen to me. You’re always acting up.” Like I mentioned earlier, children will believe what it is we tell them. They’re trying to make sense of the world and understand things. When we tell them something is bad, like a swear word, they believe it to be true and will avoid saying it. When we tell them saying thank you is a nice thing to do, they’ll believe it. So too, if you tell your kids that they are just so bad, a problem child, or always making a mess of things, they will believe it. They will believe that that is who they are and will act accordingly. Like I said, it’s taken me years to fix that negative view of myself that I was taught. I was taught that I am inherently a bad person. Even when negative life events had nothing to do with me, I would feel that I was somehow the cause of it and that I was to blame. So I can speak from experience. I can’t even tell you how deeply this has impacted me, how depressed I’ve felt because of it. I have to work everyday to get myself out of that dark way of viewing myself. We need to be our children’s #1 supporters and cheerleaders. Because if we don’t believe in them, why would they think anyone else would? Parents are the ones that need to tell their kids, “you can do it! I believe in you.” But if in fact we tell our kids the exact opposite, making them believe that they can’t do anything great, then that too is what they’ll believe and it’ll be a whole lot harder for them to think otherwise. They would have to fight to think that they actually could achieve something.
Next, we want to try and reason with our kids. Don’t just take things away, send them to their room, spank them, or yell at them. That honestly won’t do any good. It won’t teach them that what they did was wrong. A majority of them time when you do those things and don’t even talk to your kids, they will have no clue as to why they are being punished. They wont learn from their mistakes and most likely will just do it again since they were never told what they did wrong. During those times, I like to hold my daughter until she calms down. I wait till she’s done crying and in the mean time I like to sway her back and forth to comfort her and bring her cortisol levels down. Once she can catch her breath and talk again, I like to get down to her level. Either I will have her on my lap or I will kneel on the floor so I can be her height. That way your child doesn’t feel intimidated but they can feel more comfortable talking with you. I then ask her things like, “what’s wrong? why are you crying?”, even if I already know why. I like to have her express herself. Maybe sometimes there’s more to her being upset than I know. Once she explains herself I may say something like, “do you know why mama said no or why we cant do that thing?” I’ll let her answer and if she doesn’t know, Ill add to it and explain to her my reasoning. I’ll explain to her too that I love her very much and only say no if its going to hurt her. I’ll tell her things like ‘I want you to have fun but doing that thing is too dangerous, you could get hurt”. When I reason with her like that, it helps her to understand and to not be so upset. It makes sense to her and she can then think of those things in future situations.
We have to remember that children are still people, just miniature. So we have to take into consideration how we would feel in their shoes. I would hate for someone to dictate my every move, turn off my show whenever they felt like it, and say no for every little thing. I believe in respecting my daughter and children in general. I treat her as I would any adult. When we’re about to leave somewhere, I tell her about it and give her a 10 minute warning before we go. I always tell her the day’s schedule because just like we like to stay in the loop of things, so do our children. Even when it comes to her body, if she doesn’t want me to tickle her, than I stop. She started telling me lately that she only wants to be kissed on the top of her head, so that’s what I do. I want her to have certain boundaries with her body and to know that they will be respected. We also used to have a bunch of cutesy nicknames for her but she recently told us that she doesn’t like them; she only wants to be called by her first name. So that is what I do. Kids are worthy of respect, they deserve it. Of course there are times as parents where we have to do something they don’t like, like taking them to the dentist because even though in the moment they don’t like it, its for their own good. But when it’s less serious things, I like to give my daughter the freedom to choose and make her own decisions.
We also want to be conscience of our tone of voice with our child and our pitch. Children will respond to our mood and our way of talking. If we are loud or brash, yelling for every little thing, our kids will act the same, the tension in the house will be high. Whereas if you talk soft and calm, our children will pick up on that and it will help them to calm down too. Even if your current voice isn’t a soothing one, we can train our voices to be smoother and lower. It’s something I had to work on too but overtime it becomes second nature and it will actually become your normal default voice. Our attitude and demeanor will set the mood for our children. If they see that we are stressed and high strung, they will feel it and will begin to act accordingly. But if you are calm and patient, your child will see that there is no need to be anxious and your calming ways will rub off on them.
My last but arguably my most important tip is to pray to God for patience. We all have those days where we feel like we cant do it on our own, we need extra help and support to remain calm. That is what our amazing God and Father is for. It matters to Him how we treat our children since they are in fact a gift from him. He wants us to be gentle and loving with them so he most definitely will be there to help us if we call on him. Patience is a virtue and a quality that God wants us to display. So if we pray to him for some extra holy spirit to help us be good parents with our children, he will supply.
Those are my main tips when it comes to gentle, calm parenting. We want to be careful what we say to our children and think of the lasting harm it could potentially have. We want to show our kids respect, reason with them instead of yelling, and we want to try and talk in a soft soothing voice. And most important, we want to pray for patience. (It is in fact one of the fruitages of the spirit). I hope you guys enjoyed this article and that it helps you in becoming the kind of parent you want to be. Are there any tips you found especially helpful? Let me know in the comments below so we can keep the discussion going.
Till next time