I could sense something was off but couldn’t quite put words to it yet. Day after day, positive reports about her school day, yet something was simmering. When it would erupt, it predictably was directed toward me or her sibling. A week later, the pot was boiling over – full tilt emotional jags lasting an hour or more.
I hadn’t read Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting since she was a...
My tone wasn't mean. It was fairly matter of fact.
Maybe it seemed like no big deal at the time or no big deal reading this now.
Except for two things:
I know my daughter.
And I knew in that moment just as I know right now that my intention, seeping through the subtle edges my tone, was to shame her. To make her feel badly for forgetting.
I knew when I said it it was hurtful.
Practicing a gratitude ritual at the end of the day helps rewire the brain to seek evidence all day long to find things to be grateful for.
This put you at a glass half full advantage.
In my experience, over time, seeking out gratitude starts to happen in real time, instead of only at the end of the day.
The practice is, when faced with a challenging interaction, to always guess the thing you hope for or want it to be first.
This is the heart of generosity:
Giving someone I love space and open-hearted curiosity.
Leading the interaction with kindness and generosity assures my child that I'm on her side and I want to understand.
This understanding opens the door to discussing other strategies.
This article about how to raise generous kids was so touching to me, particularly because I have been thinking a lot lately about unmerited gifts (grace) and how much of my work focuses on connection and creating conditions for giving from the heart.
As Ron Lieber states, one of the best reasons to be generous is to "honor your own family's history of having been helped."
When I believe my child is vindictive, I act in vindictive ways.
I become tense, angry, prone to punishment, blame and aggression.
I see how my reactivity (and my own vindictive behavior) decreases compassion and trust and peace in my relationship.
What I want to foster is understanding, forgiveness, calm listening and the ability to be angry without hurting another.
The first rule of improv is "Yes, and."
"Yes, and" represents accepting (considering, hearing, not necessarily agreeing with) what your child has offered, and adding to it Yes, I hear you... AND...
Adding to the scene is so important because it invites mutual respect. I want to see the situation from your perspective (that's the YES), and I want you to see this situation from my perspective...
The first rule of improvisation is "YES, AND." Saying yes is accepting another’s offer. When you are invited to participate in a dialogue and you say yes, collaboration begins. This requires a willingness to be open-minded and to respect what your partner is offering.
How can I soothe and support another person - be it my child or anyone I’m in relationship with - without assuring them (or insisting) that they’re ok, when they are expressing that they’re not? It's this simple...
My search continued to narrow into more and more gentle approaches. I relied more on the feeling that I had in my body to tell me if what I was reading was right for us.
My litmus test became “Does this create more trust, or less?”
It helped to clarify whether the appeal for me was my own convenience or in deepening the connection between me and my child.