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Raising Peaceful Warriors

 

Nichole Hanna PhotographyPhoto: Nichole Hanna Photography

 

It was getting late at night. I was driving on an unfamiliar road with two of my children in the back seat. We were expected at a Bed and Breakfast before the owner goes to bed. Unbeknown to us, the exit we needed was new and not yet marked. I lost the way and soon we were on a winding mountain highway, trapped between a river and tall cliffs with no sign of an exit to turn back.

As I continued getting away from our destination I noticed my anxiety building up; I was telling myself how disturbing it is going to be when we would have to wake the host up and how she is waiting and wondering if we are flaking out on her...; then I reminded myself to trust and choose what is. After all, it is only the conversation in my head that manufactures anxiety. Here I am riding on a beautiful night on a gorgeous road with two awesome human beings, and my stress isn’t helping the owner of the B&B anyway. Still, the clock was ticking and my mind kept taking away my calm despite my theoretical wisdom. Going further and further away from our destination I appeared to my children calm while my stress was growing.

It was my youngest, Oliver, who finally plucked me out of my misery: “This is so much fun Mom...” he said giggling happily. Both children were fully engaged and beaming with delight. Their reality was one of adventure and awe. As they were talking with excitement I was swept in their spirit and started laughing. I was literally bathing in their story and my anxiety promptly dissolved. Yet, my lesson wasn’t over.

Although we finally turned around and were driving in the right direction now, I got lost again and, in a short while, my mind got back in action and hijacked me away from my children’s inspiration. The back seat was silent, so I (wrongly) assumed the children were finally worried too. I thought I was calming them down when I said, “Just stay happy; say yes to whatever occurs.” “Who said I wasn’t?” responded a cheerful Lennon. Again, it was only me suffering. They were quietly absorbed in the unfolding and exciting “movie”.

Over the years our children experienced broken bananas, falling towers, cancelled events and other “calamities.”

They mostly encountered our benign attitude in these instances. For example, if a child told me that his friend won’t play with him, I didn’t try to fix the situation. Instead I would say, “I see, you wanted to play with Mike, but he doesn’t want to. What would you like to do then? I could read to you, or you can play with your new ball...” When we are peaceful about what happens, children learn to face life with curiosity and look forward to what is possible next.

Wanting the child to be happy

Our goal is to raise children who can be happy in the face of the unexpected and see “wrong” turns as wonderments and opportunities.

The parent’s panic to keep a child happy and get him whatever he wants is the cause of children’s emotional neediness and tantrums. Obviously you wish to be kind and generous and not thwart your child’s direction. Yet, rounding life’s inevitable sharp corners does not empower the child in the face of adversity or disappointment. In other words, by trying so hard to fix everything, you teach the child to fight for his way instead of embracing life’s way.

If you have already taught your child to be dependent on things always going her way, there is no need to feel guilt or remorse. We are all learning along the way.  A child who screams when life doesn’t obey her command will easily shift to flowing with what is, as soon as you do. It is the adult who often has the hardest time staying content when the child is disappointed or hurt.

Emotional resilience

To build emotional strength, allow your child to experience emotions. If your child screams and demands what is not going to happen, respond to her need to unleash emotions.

It is actually kinder to meet the need for emotional expression than it is to stop it.

Even though we are not aware of it, we soothe or compensate the upset child for our own comfort. What is best for the child is that we listen, hold (when wanted), validate, and stay peaceful. A child will then see herself as able to go through intense feelings and come out whole. Over time, she won’t get into panic when life goes its way, because she will know that she can handle emotions and she doesn’t need life to always go her way.

Obviously we don’t want to restrict the child unnecessarily and cause undue frustration. We do our best to make life flow so that the child is not in a constant state of yearning and disappointment. But when things stray from the plan or a child yearns for the impossible or harmful, she doesn’t need parents who fall apart with her and fight reality. Instead, she needs to see us staying peaceful so she can tap into her own emotional resilience and even joy and humor. Many mishaps are more funny than tragic, if we stay open and notice.

In addition we can reduce the amount of seduction towards wanting things. Life is magical without things and events. The more we offer things and activities to want, the less the child sees her existence itself as magical enough.

Another example of a child’s peace with reality is when my then eight-year-old son, Oliver, returned from his first cello competition. On our way back from the event he told me that the judges didn’t let him play all his three pieces of music but only part of one. He was saving his best piece for last and ended up not playing it at all. I raved and ranted about how they should have given him a chance to perform more of his music. After a couple of minutes of my “lament” Oliver interrupted me and with his calm and happy voice said, “Mom, why are you doing this to yourself? The competition is over.” (He did win it but that’s beside the point.)

Becoming the rock your child can fall apart on

To get to the root of your panic to please your child, notice what your mind is saying and write down the thoughts that produce your anxiety:

Some typical thoughts you may discover are:

  • My child should always be happy
  • She shouldn’t experience sadness or disappointment
  • If she cries she is being harmed
  • If she is upset it means I am a bad mother/father

When you believe these and other stressful thoughts you respond to your child with your anxiety. Believing that your child should be happy when he is not, you are upset for not getting what you want–a happy child. The child is simply cooperating with your direction; he learned that not being happy is intolerable, setting him up to be emotionally weak. In inquiring into such thoughts with parents, in private sessions and in workshops, I have seen complete and permanent turnaround of children’s behavior and emotional resilience.

Just because thoughts show up, does not mean that they are true or worth following. In fact, such thoughts blind us from seeing the child and being present.

Raising peaceful warriors starts with being a parent who can stay in her own power and inner peace when the child falls apart.

With time the child learns that he can feel deeply and fearlessly, as he too can stay unharmed while emotions pass through.

kindred photographerPhoto: Kindred Photographer

 

 

 

About the Author
Naomi Aldort
Author: Naomi AldortWebsite: http://www.authenticparent.com
Naomi Aldort is the author of, Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves (available on Amazon). Parents from around the globe seek Aldort's advice by phone, Skype, in person and by listening to her CDs and attending her workshops and webinars. Her advice columns and articles appear in parenting magazines around the world. Naomi Aldort is married and a mother of three flourishing young adults. For information on phone/Skype sessions, Recordings, Videos, Events and Free Newslette

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