CALM Parenting is characterized by compassion, acceptance, love, and mindfulness.
A parent who actively listens to their child shows him compassion by hearing what he is feeling. In this way, he feels that you care about him rather than the situation that he has found himself in. For example, if Johnny comes home from school with a D- on his math test and his mother yells at him, he may feel shame, anger, or guilt. Instead, if his mother says to him, “Aw buddy, I’m sorry, I know you studied hard for that test, you must be so disappointed", she opens up an opportunity for Johnny to tell her how he feels about the D-. Once the door is open, empowering your child to come up with his own solutions to problems rather than advising them to do this or that may lead to a different outcome next time.
A parent who accepts her child wants to understand her. He encourages her to use her imagination and is interested in knowing how she thinks and feels. He uses this information to understand how his child responds to the world. Parental acceptance has a huge impact on child development and on how she will interact with the world as an adult.
A parents shows love to their child by learning what love means to them. Like adults, each child may experience love differently and so no two children, even from the same family, will need the same things from you. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages of Children, he suggests that all children need varying amounts of physical touch (hugs, kisses, playful wrestling, cuddling, etc.), words of affirmation (“great job on that math test, buddy”, “you really took your time coloring that picture”, “I really like spending time with you”), quality time (reading a story before bed, a special trip to the park where mom or dad pushes Johnny on the swing, building a snowman together), gifts (a special toy they have been asking for all year, a treat on the way to school), and acts of service (fixing his bicycle or brushing out her dolls tangled hair). It’s learning about how your child interprets love and then doing more of it.
A parent who is mindful takes time to just be with their children, without judging the experience in any way. Mindful parents are able to deal with stress appropriately and show their children how to do the same. They have learned to be a good enough parent and are no longer worried about whether they are doing it right or wrong. A parent who embodies mindfulness embraces compassion, acceptance, and love in all areas of her life and learns as much from her children as they do from her.
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