In all the classes that I teach, I emphasize the importance of using empathy in all of our relationships. If we are empathetic we possess one of the most fundamental people skills. Empathy is also a powerful and essential parenting tool. Empathy helps us reduce conflict with our kids and aids us in building meaningful relationships. When we are empathetic with our children we model for them how to treat people respectfully, how to truly listen and how to sincerely show others care.
When our children are misbehaving we have a hard time being empathetic. We as parents often forget how tough it is to be a kid. For us parents to be truly empathetic we need to get into our children’s heads. One helpful way to do that when we are managing misbehavior is to look at what is really bothering our child and making them act in a negative way. Looking at the situation from the child’s perspective will give us new insights on how to discipline effectively.
I once watched a T.V. show where the producer taped a video camera to the top of a crawling baby’s head. Viewers were able to see a home through a baby’s eyes. The tables and chairs in the kitchen looked giant-like and the living room look like an army obstacle course. It was overwhelming and scary looking. The purpose of the program was to show parents how to baby proof their house. I understood the lesson a little bit differently. I took it to heart. I thought of how to apply this to what I know about being empathetic and how important it is to see the world from a child’s point of view.
I was able to apply this principle right away. When I took my son to his first swimming lesson it made sense to me why he didn’t get into the pool. He was not misbehaving when he became uncooperative. The pool looked like an ocean to him. I expected him to jump right in. Once I was able to understand what my son was feeling, I could empathize and say, “This pool looks like a huge bathtub, and you have only used our small bathtub at home. I can see why you would feel uncomfortable getting in. You might want to just watch the other children swimming until you get used to seeing so much water in one place. When you get comfortable you might feel ready to put your toe in.”
For more information on empathy, visit us at http://www.parentingsimply.com. We help you connect the pieces for a happy and healthy home.