Empathy can be tricky.
Do you ever feel like you try to show empathy, but it only makes your child more angry or insistent on having their own way?
One of the first tasks I guide my clients through is developing a deeper understanding of how to use empathy.
I know you want to set firm limits without feeling like you've been railroaded by your kids. Resistance from our children, when we are trying to stay calm and supportive, can feel like a slap in the face.
Sometimes, it is our rush to confront conflict and seek immediate change that causes our children to shut down and resist our attempts to empathize.
If you need to set a limit, be honest about it. Don't legitimize, rationalize or wait for acceptance. Take steps to be the physical boundary for your child when you need to.
But, when you're meaning to empathize... be prepared to listen, wait, and be silent.
Don't offer advice or question your child's motivations. Simply listen and wait for the spark of connection to lead you to the next step.
Here are 3 ways you can enhance your ability to empathize starting today:
- Release the past. If they are to learn to regulate their own emotions, children need adults who are free from unconscious automatic reactions.
- Play. Play helps children freely explore their inner world and experience their emotions being validated without fear, shame or judgment.
- Touch. Consistent, loving touch is essential to establishing a secure attachment. Daily hugs and warmth through physical affection grow the brain.
We are all born with the potential for an emotionally stable and fulfilling existence, but many of us were denied the interactions necessary to lay that foundation.
Luckily, it's never too late to change the brain.
You can raise your emotional intelligence - your ability to recognize, understand, manage and use your emotions to make healthy decisions in life. Don't waste another moment on futile discipline tricks.
Do you have trouble staying compassionate without being confrontational or rushing to resolve challenges? What is most difficult for you and which of the three tips could you see yourself implementing first?
Share your thoughts in the comments below and join the conversation.