I recently posted (and got lots of response) about kids and their emotions – particularly anger; as well as my own response to it. So, as part of my approach trying to figure out/deal with my own triggers, and help my children with their own, I ordered three parenting/discipline books:
Screamfree Parenting, 1-2-3 Magic, and Playful Parenting. I started reading the first book, Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool by Hal Edward Runkel, a few days ago. As of today, I’m a little more than 100 pages in, and nodding my head to nearly every word of it.
This book, so far, is inspiring, freeing, and not full of just theory (which I’ve found so many parenting books to be), but actual ideas and examples as well. The main idea I’ve gleaned so far: the realization and understanding that the only person (and thus the only person’s behavior) you can control is you (and your own behavior). In other words: you cannot control your children (nor would you want to), but you can control your reactions to your children. So instead of trying to always control their behaviors and actions, start focusing on controlling yourself and your emotional response to things, and your children will follow your lead (and become what we really want from our kids: individual, self-directed beings.... who also happen to know how to calmly work through life's difficulties = WIN!).
The author uses lots of quotes – both his own and others’ to help drive his point home. This one I really appreciated: “Your emotional response is always up to you. You always have a choice.” So often I’ve found myself feeling at MY wits end – simply because my kids have reached their end. And its there, at that end that I’ve felt, I just have no choice: what else can I do but react with craziness to craziness (once all my attempts at reasoning, redirection, and “discipline” have been expended)? Yet, reading this book gives me a different perspective. My children’s emotions and actions are separate from my own. My children are responsible for their own emotions, just as I am responsible for mine. When I don't have to feel responsible for taking on the way they are feeling or acting, it really relieves so much pressure. I don't need to respond in kind to my 3 yo tantruming. Instead, I can be more zen & go with the flow, so to speak. To bend with their storm, but not break.
Following that thought of going with the flow… Instead of always resisting our children’s emotions (boredom, anger, saying no), the book delves into how to acknowledge what they are feeling, to empathize, and then give them the responsibility of owning their own emotions and solving their own problems (certainly with help as is age-appropriate). The author gives a real-life example in the book (to which I absolutely related), of how to respond in a go-with-the-flow way to a child who complains, “I’m bored!”:
“Wow, you’re bored? That stinks. I hate it when I’m bored. What are you going to do about it?” No resistance, just go with the momentum and actually join right alongside your child as she faces her own dilemma. (from pg. 100)
Talk about awesome! That way of parenting just feels so empowering – both for parent and child! I don’t have to feel defeated by my children’s emotions, and they don’t need to feel required to have someone else always tackling the way they feel. It’s okay to just let them just be, and just let them feel, without judgment. To do so lets them know they are okay; that you know and trust they’ll make it through; that you love them, regardless of how they feel or act. And lets me take a much needed breather.
I still have hundred or so pages to go… but I’ve already recommended to Adam that he read it when I’m finished. Here's hoping the second half lives up to the first half!
So, have you read Screamfree Parenting? Thoughts? Any other peaceful parenting book recommendations?