I’ll start with a disclaimer and say I’m not perfect. But I will say that peaceful parenting is something I am committed to. I wanted to share a few essential points on what I feel is important to nurture a child as they grow into little people. As my girl is now a toddler, I am faced with a new set of lessons that we all seem to be learning. But core to this is, how does one remain peaceful, respectful and raise children to be the same?
Firstly, I don’t believe in hitting, or yelling, or simply dominating a child. There are too many other ways to guide children, that it would never make sense to me to hurt a child or be aggressive in any way shape or form. There are many reasons not to hit, but I wanted to touch on a few other things that I also feel are important. Toddlers hitting other toddlers is something I feel needs a close eye! Firstly, I do agree that most often, any aggression is a sign that a child could be hungry or tired. But if all needs are met, and aggression still takes place, I feel not only is prevention and protection essential, but correction!
No…I do not mean discipline or meeting a child’s aggression with aggression. I mean…meeting it with guidance, not distraction, not shame, but a learning opportunity, just as you would study your surroundings to teach a toddler. I feel that to observe the impact of a toddler’s actions on others, when hurting and hitting are involved, is key to instilling or encouraging empathy and compassion, by simply leading the way. What i mean by leading the way is: being an example. Saying sorry to the hurt child. No: I don’t mean force the child to say sorry. I mean…say sorry as the parent. Not because it’s your “fault”, but because you sincerely are sorry that it has happened. Not to shame…but to acknowledge the hurt.
I feel this has the potential to go a long way in teaching and modelling humane behaviour. I think there is a line between peaceful and permissive. I think allowing a child to be hurt without offering an apology, while only offering an excuse as to why the child may have acted in that way, only perpetuates such behaviour, by normalising it. At the very least, I feel you can remain a peaceful parent, even if not wanting to apologise for any hitting or threatening behaviour, by asking is the hurt child ok…and demonstrating compassion, rather than distracting the children.
I feel distracting children from such incidents, is a lost opportunity for a lesson in how we can impact the way others feel. I know we are ultimately only responsible for the way we feel, however, relationships are vital in life, and if we can offer guidance to young children about how our actions can impact another, then we are giving them solid foundations. As a peaceful parent, I feel that we can still show where we draw the line, in a loving and respectful way. I don’t feel distraction is respectful to the child that is doing the hitting, or the child that has been hurt.
If a child wants space, and hits because of that, I don’t feel that stating the reason why the child has hit, does any service. I feel this is somewhat permissive, and demonstrates to the child that it is ok and understandable that they acted in a harmful way towards another. If the focus is on the hurt child, to ensure they are ok and demonstrate care, I feel there is no shame. I don’t feel this is anything other than peaceful. This is where opportunities to learn compassion and empathy, vital to human relationships are. These are the foundations for awareness. Children are often far to underestimated for their capacity to feel and sense other’s feelings.
I don’t agree for a moment that talking gently with a child about how someone can be hurt or feel when being hit or pushed as “intellectualising” behaviour or beyond a toddlers comprehension. There are ways to communicate at a young child’s level. I think it’s worth a shot!