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Six secrets of peaceful parenting

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Toss out your old parenting style and make your home an oasis of calm; offering them respect and control can make all the difference, says Anjali Kalani

Do you ever feel like your children don’t listen to you in spite of your going on and on like a broken record? Do you find yourself frequently embroiled in energy-draining power struggles and arguments? Then, it’s time to get into the spirit of the new year and toss out your old parenting style. Your home can be an oasis of calm (most of the time, anyway) by following a few basic tenets of peaceful parenting.

Peaceful parents treat their children with respect and dignity by modelling good manners. They avoid embarrassing their children in public and honour their wishes.  My son, for instance, insists on being addressed only by his name. I had to abstain from using all the loving little nick-names he had acquired over the years because it was important to him.

Balancing empathy with consequences
Parents who want to raise responsible children dole out consequences while the price tag of the misbehaviour is relatively low. If your son loses his eyeglasses, instead of getting aggravated, calmly request him to look for them. If he can’t locate them, insist he helps to pay for the new pair by doing extra chores around the house. But don’t forget to show empathy while he complains about the extra work. Will your son be careless with his eyeglasses again? Probably, not. Would it be hard for you do mete out consequences? Absolutely, but you would have just taught your child a valuable lesson in being responsible, which will hold him in good stead when he is older.

Sharing control
The issue of who wields power is normally a contentious one. Peaceful parents follow a democratic approach to parenting by sharing control with their children. Allow your children the freedom to choose from two options that work for you. “Would you like to brush your teeth before you take a shower or after you shower?” Note that lack of dental hygiene isn’t an alternative. If the concept of making decisions is new to your children, be prepared to choose for them until they get used to the idea.

Refuse to argue
Foster Cline and Jim Fay, authors of Parenting with Love and Logic, caution parents against trying to rationalise with children when they are experiencing a surge of emotions, including whining and arguing. Instead they recommend going “brain dead”. The authors advise parents to appear unruffled by lowering their voices and using phrases like “I love you too much to argue”, or simply stretch out the words “I know” in a soothing tone. It works like magic in my house and the whining stops almost immediately.

Take care of yourself
Peaceful parents realise the importance of self-care. They go on dates with their spouse, follow their passions and do things that bring them joy rather than focusing solely on their children. When parents value themselves, they are happier, and they show their children how to live as fulfilled adults.

Give children quality time
Peaceful families make spending time together a priority. This might mean forgoing cooking labour-intensive meals or giving up the desire to have a spotless home at all times. Children who feel connected to their parents are more likely to be helpful and cooperative than those who feel disconnected from their moms and dads.

Although we love our children dearly, sometimes, we tend to get caught up in our quest for perfection, and life at home can become stressful.  By employing the tenets of peaceful parents, you can transform your home into a calm sanctuary. The touchstones of peaceful parenting include being respectful, balancing empathy with consequences, sharing control, refusing to argue, practising self-care and spending time with children.

Anjali Kalani is a mother of two independent, precocious children and an AMS and AMI certified Montessori guide who teaches children aged three to six in Houston, Texas.

short takes

  •    Peaceful parents treat their children with respect and dignity by modelling good manners, and avoiding embarrassing them in public.
  •     They also follow a democratic approach by sharing control with their children and allowing them to choose from options that work for you.
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