Seeing things through their eyes: we usually forget that children are children, not adults under construction. This means that they don’t see life as we see it and they don’t think the same way we do. They are not mean and don’t see very far, they don’t look at the situation from all angles and don’t do things behind our backs.
Children think like children, they see an opportunity for play in every situation, they enjoy every moment of free time, without obligations and without norms; they play and enjoy every day. This is why it is important that, in a situation of conflict with the child, before acting and shouting, we take the time to put ourselves in the child’s shoes, to consider his point of view and to see things through his eyes.
It is important that we understand that what for us, as parents, is a serious dilemma was for them only a personal decision made without any malice. For example, if an eight-year-old child brings back a note from the teacher in his notebook because he hasn’t done his homework, it is advisable to read it, take a deep breath and think, “Well, he’s a child, he’s probably tired of the amount of homework he has to do, or he can’t do it well, unless it seems so boring that he has decided not to do it. This allows us to continue to solve the problem by avoiding our first impulse: shouting angrily or with a lot of emphasis.
Reflect: once this first step has been taken, we need to reflect on each situation. This means taking a deep breath and asking ourselves if what the child has done is as serious and as important as we think it is. If not, it is probably possible to let it go: what the child has done seems important to us as an adult, whereas for him, it is simply a way of doing things.
We have to ask ourselves: is it so serious? If the parents think it is, the best thing to do is to take a deep breath to let go of the frustration and prepare to solve the problem. With empathy and reflection, we can prevent and avoid a lot of conflict, because anger will diminish and we will be able to see things differently. This is the way to solve problems and not in a violent and anxious way.
Listen carefully: often when there is conflict in the home, parents do not listen to the children’s version of the situation and do not even give them the opportunity to explain their reasons for acting. Children always have a good reason for doing what they are doing, and it often has nothing to do with the adult-centred motive that parents can imagine. They need to be given the opportunity to express themselves, to explain what happened. Let’s continue with the previous example. The first two steps have already been taken: show empathy and understand that it is only a child, reflect and thus reduce the level of frustration and anger. Now we have to listen.
Then you have to ask, “Honey, why didn’t you do your math homework? And that’s when parents will be surprised to hear “But because I already know how to do it and I liked to play with my Legos better and, on top of that, I studied my multiplication tables while playing with them! In this way, the parents will have listened attentively, showing interest, and will have verified that what the child said is true, that his intentions were not bad and that he really did his homework in a more creative and imaginative way, without any intention of disturbing.
Dialogue: Dialogue is one of the most important tools in the education of children. It is necessary to explain, to detail the different reasons and to say clearly what we expect, with all serenity and understanding of the world.
It is strongly advised to dialogue quietly, in an equal tone of voice, looking into his eyes and putting oneself at his level. It is necessary to explain to him why it is better for him to do his homework, explaining the different reasons and making sure that he understands. For example, if you say, “Otherwise, later you’ll be nobody,” you are not offering him an understanding dialogue, because the only thing you will manage to do by doing so is to threaten and intimidate him. You have to give him explanations that he is able to understand, in an equal tone of voice, without frightening him or making him anxious.
Spending quality time together: it is important and essential to spend time with your children. It is quite difficult in today’s society, but it must be one of our main goals. And it must be quality time. What does this mean? Quality time is time to listen and be listened to, to play as a family, to tell stories, to do crafts, to relax together on the couch, to see a movie he likes, to go for a ride on a bike or a cake, etc., etc., but leaving aside the cell phone and video games. This bond will strengthen the relationship, take away the urge to yell and establish positive communication.
Work on oneself: Often parents are aware that they do not want to educate their children this way. But they feel that they don’t have enough time, cohesion, tools… That’s why it’s very important to be determined to do it and to be sure that it’s what’s best for our children. Once this is decided, we have to prepare ourselves. Read a lot, learn, dialogue and agree with your spouse to follow the same line of education. And, if necessary, play sports to calm the adult frustration that sometimes remains trapped inside us.
Asking for forgiveness: Many parents demand that their children ask for forgiveness from their children or from their brothers, friends, etc. and force them to do so as soon as they consider that they have done something wrong. Once again, they forget that the best thing we can offer our children is an example. If we want them to integrate forgiveness as a relational tool, we too must ask them for forgiveness when we consider that we have crossed the line of respect.
If, because of their state of mind and stress, parents have skipped all this advice and end up screaming and losing it… the best thing is for them to ask for forgiveness once they have calmed down and follow one by one all the steps they have skipped, to try to make amends for their mistakes. Children will be grateful and feel better if they see that their parents recognize their mistakes and want to improve. They will be happy to be given the opportunity, which everyone deserves, to be listened to and understood. In addition, they will integrate forgiveness as something that concerns them and as a real relational tool.
Tania Garcia recognizes that each family is unique and therefore has particular standards of living. “But we must always try to ensure that these norms are flexible and adaptable to the needs of the children. They are very clear: play, respect, freedom and love. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, we all lose patience at some point.
She explains that if they start to think about how they are educating, parents may feel a little guilty. “That’s normal. But we shouldn’t leave it at that, because guilt only serves to torment us,” she explains, “When we regret, we actually think about it. We have to be strong to decide firmly that we want to educate our children in values of respect for all members of the household and not to shout,” she concludes.