Have you ever seriously asked yourself how exactly do you communicate with your kids? Are you worrier and therefore a “helicopter” parent? Are you authoritative? Are you aggressive? Are you empathic?
What kind of parent you are directly impacts the character of your child; it defines his personality for life. We all want to be good parents, but often we get lost in our daily routines and underestimate certain aspects of parenting.
Lately the number of studies are emphasizing the positive effects empathic parenting has on children. There are articles, books, websites all advising how to apply the methods of empathic parenting. However, knowing what to do is not exactly the same as actually doing it. It is so easy to get caught in your own emotions and instead of being reasonable to raise your voice, threaten, punish. Phrases like “Stop this right now or I won't buy you anything” or “Do you want to get punished?” are not unfamiliar to most of us.
To be empathic parent is a bit challenging, but not that difficult, if you put your mind to it. Simply don't be an aggressive parent. Maybe you don't see yourself as an aggressive person, so therefore you are not aggressive when you communicate with others, including your children. Well, think twice! You may be quite wrong, because aggression has many faces. If we use language which is judgmental, offending threatening, mocking, sarcastic or demanding you make people, and especially kids who are more vulnerable, feel scared, guilty, helpless, depressed . This is aggressive, violent communication. If, on the other hand, you put emotions first – understand and acknowledge the emotions and feelings of others, you will easily create a solid, trustful bond, which is most important in parenting. Your kids will feel understood, needed, respected, and they will respond in the same way. In empathic communication it is also very important to learn how to recognize someone's emotions and feelings without judging, to learn to accept No as an answer.
Parenting is life-long hard work and empathic parenting certainly presents a number of challenges and hardships, some lying with us. But if you want to be better parent and to raise happy children it's absolutely worth trying.
- Try to understand the emotions and feelings behind your kids' actions.
- Show them that you are working as hard as they are to find the best solution to a difficult situation; work at it as a team.
- Share you own emotions and feelings – if you are scared or confused don't be scared to admit it. We are all humans and no one is perfect. Your kids won't think less of you if you show them the real you. You may even get a valuable piece of advice.
- Learn as you go - learn with your kids, for your kids, because of your kids.
Eventually your kids will start using the same empathic language as you do. Empathic communication may be harder, but is certainly the better choice and more rewarding in the long term for both parents and children.