By Chantal Harrison
Empathy is a parenting cornerstone and provides the foundation for emotional development in children.
Empathy is when a person accurately communicates that they see another’s intentions and emotional state. It means watching our child’s frustration and focusing on how life feels in that little child’s body, while putting our own anger and agenda into the background.
Some days it can be REALLY hard. So here are a few simple ideas that will assist you to become a more empathic parent.
- Start journaling your parenting experience
Writing things down can help you on several different levels, one of which is diffusing the situation and often putting your thoughts into words helps you find clarity. It’s also quite cathartic!
- Come up with some mantras
In the heat of the moment one of the best things we can do is take a pause. A physical action like jumping or shaking can help and repeating a mantra such as “My child is not a problem; my child is having a problem.” Or “This is not an emergency…” (as our limbic system thinks that it is)!
- Get Listening Time
There has been nothing as transformative in my life as becoming an active listener.
You and another adult exchange Listening Time for each other with the non-speaker listening with advice, judgment and remembering that you are wise, you are good and you can solve your own problems and then taking their turn whilst you do the same.
This time can be used to muse, vent, cry, tantrum, rage or role play (with Listener as a sympathetic ear, your child, your parent, your in-law). Just like children’s big emotions, it’s better out than in and you will feel lighter and more capable with some regular Listening Time!