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Have you noticed that parenting is taking a turn toward compassion vs. "discipline" lately? Everywhere we look, we see experts extolling us to understand our children's motivation, developmental stages, inner needs, and special circumstances (trauma, ADHD, autism, sensory sensitivities, grief, loss, etc.)
What ever happened to "Letting them know who's boss," and "They can't get away with that disrespect!"
Are we about to raise kids who want to "be understood" in every environment. How's that gonna work? It's a tough world out there. Not everyone will understand them and they could get trampled.
The answer lies in "resilience." If children grow up feeling seen and heard by loving adults, they're better able to take on the "tough" world in ways that don't create more conflict and chaos. We know that authoritarian parenting (my way or the highway) results in rebellion, not compliance, so the tough world just gets tougher when consequences are employed. And then it gets tougher yet, as the cycle of rule-breaking, excuse making, defiance and failed relationships continues.
Here are the resilience factors published by the same people who created the 10-question Adverse Childhood Experiences survey. They realized that a high ACEs score doesn't have to predict a failed adulthood IF some resilience factors were in place.
Definitely true Probably true Not sure Probably Not True Definitely Not True
1. I believe that my mother loved me when I was little.
2. I believe that my father loved me when I was little.
3. When I was little, other people helped my mother and father take care of me and they seemed to love me.
4. I’ve heard that when I was an infant someone in my family enjoyed playing with me, and I enjoyed it, too.
5. When I was a child, there were relatives in my family who made me feel better if I was sad or worried.
6. When I was a child, neighbors or my friends’ parents seemed to like me.
7. When I was a child, teachers, coaches, youth leaders or ministers were there to help me.
8. Someone in my family cared about how I was doing in school.
9. My family, neighbors and friends talked often about making our lives better.
10. We had rules in our house and were expected to keep them.
11. When I felt really bad, I could almost always find someone I trusted to talk to.
12. As a youth, people noticed that I was capable and could get things done.
13. I was independent and a go-getter.
14. I believed that life is what you make it.
How many of these 14 protective factors did I have as a child and youth? (How many of the 14 were circled “Definitely True” or “Probably True”?) _______
Of these circled, how many are still true for me? _______
What can we learn from this survey? That compassion builds strong people, that resilience comes from compassion, and that compassion works better than "being the boss."
In my world, that's a relief, because parents with whom I work really want to love their kids. Compassion frees us to be our best selves as adults.
For help with building compassion through parent coaching, click here.
For information on helping parents build compassion by becoming a parent coach, click here.
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In July, 2009, Kristin Benning was at the end of her rope. Since 18 months of age, her very intelligent 5-year-old son Julian had been aggressively hitting and kicking people, and throwing things during frequent explosive tantrums.
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Sure, she looks all sweet in the photo, but just tell her she can’t have her way, and watch the smile turn into something you just don’t want to witness. Sound familiar?