Parent with Compassion
Compassion Expedites Change
People perform better when they are treated with compassion. A recent study at Case Western Reserve confirms it. When we focus on negatives, failures, shortcomings and the like, people tend to shut down and swing into defensive mode. Not exactly the way to support change, if that is what we are aiming for.
Whatever You Pay Attention To...
Like the old adage says, "Whatever we pay attention to, we get more of!" If that is truly the case...and it appears as though science continues to support that, would you really want to encourage more negativity, failures and shortcomings in others? What about in your kids? How does this relate to parenting?
Knowledge is a good thing. Putting that knowledge to use is quite another. Following is an example of how compassion can be used to motivate change in a child who just brought home a less than satisfactory grade.
The Ole' Switcheroo
In order to be more compassionate and thereby motivate your kids (or anyone else for change), one needs simply to change out a few key words. In so doing, we help people think more about what is working and what they need to change to make life better for themselves.
Let's pretend Johnny brings a "D" home on a report card. Here are two possible responses:
Parent: Johnny, this is just not acceptable. You know we don't allow grades to fall below a "C" in this house. You are going to have to stop all computer games and TV shows until that grade is back up. I won't stand for this.
Parent: Johnny, I see you got a "D".
Johnny: Yeah, I know.
Parent: Tell me more about that.
Johnny: Well, that class was hard. And the teacher was just no good.
Parent: You struggled a lot.
Parent: The work is getting more difficult as you get older.
Parent: What do you think about the "D"?
Johnny: I don't like it. I wish I did better.
Parent: I wish you did, too. What do you think it would take to do better this quarter?
Johnny: Well, I'm thinking that cutting back on computer and TV time until I get all of my work done will help.
Parent: That sounds like a good plan. Anything else?
Johnny: Well...I could ask for extra help from the teacher. He comes early on Wednesday and stays late on Thursday to help kids who need it.
Parent: That sounds like a good plan. How can I help you?
Johnny: You can remind me about the computer and TV...and I'll ask you for help at home on things I don't understand.
Parent: I can do that. I'm curious to see how things improve with your new approach.
Always Worth It
One of the above interactions takes much more effort on the parent's part (as well as the child's). But it just might result in the child having to think more, take more responsibility and identify new ways to problem-solve. What do you think? Might this work in your house? Are you putting these principles to work already? It isn't always easy, but it's always worth it.