A Peaceful Parenting Approach To Playing With Your Child
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Guest Post By Author Kiva Schuler
Parenting is the path to personal growth and transformation. Our children are our growth partners. When we become better people, they become better people.
We are going to make mistakes. And so are they. But when the foundation of mutual trust and respect is maintained and established, there’s nothing we can’t handle together.
Fulfillment is the destination of Peaceful Parenting. We fulfill our promise to give our children the guidance they need to become responsible adults. You’ll catch glimpses of nirvana as a peaceful parent. Perhaps you’ll see your children enraptured in conversation with each other or witness them simply being themselves as they play in the yard. You’ll admire their choices. Sometimes. But when you disagree with them, you know you’ll work it out, the relationship fully intact.
Grace is the path of Peaceful Parenting. It is the gift you can give yourself and your children.
Fun is vital. So let’s play. Whether our children are two or twenty-two, there is always fun to be had.
Play is, quite literally, a child’s sacred work. It is their contribution to life, their developing sense of self, their language, their lens, and their lifeblood. But more importantly, play creates fertile soil for connection, shared positive experiences, family lore, and joyous rituals. Play is as important for parents as children.
Psychiatrist Stuart Brown, the author of Play, says: “Play is something done for its own sake,” and “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
Benefits Of Play
- Physical: Active play helps children with coordination, balance, gross and fine motor skills, and cultivating a healthy relationship with their environment. Cross-lateral movement in play (crawling, climbing, reaching across the body to retrieve objects) stimulates a healthy connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
- Emotional: While playing and activating the social engagement system, children can experience strong emotions like anger, fear, shame, and sorrow, in a way that is digestible for them. Acting out these emotions and role-playing through them supports children to diffuse any pent-up painful memories of these emotions and create a secure attachment to them. This develops emotional regulation as they age. It’s never too late to begin this practice.
- Social: Play helps children develop an awareness of social cues, empathy, collaboration, and negotiation.
- Cognitive: Play is every child’s learning language. It ignites their social engagement system, which puts their brain at ease. When the brain is flooded with stress and pressure to learn, the brain is flooded with fear and will not retain what it’s learning.
- Alternatively, it can begin to associate learning with stress and limiting beliefs like “I’m stupid” or “I’m not capable.” The more joy and less pressure our children experience in their learning process, the better their brains develop. Play can also improve executive functioning skills like following directions, making a plan, remembering what the parent said to the child, and executing tasks with follow-through
- Creative: Imagination without any direction or interruption brings children to a place where “anything is possible.” This nourishes their prefrontal cortex, the space in their brain where genius occurs. Imagination IS the pathway to genius, innovation, and infinite possibilities.
- Communication: Play allows children to practice communication in a low stakes arena.
- They act out and practice the nonviolent communication you are modeling, and they diffuse any words of violence or other stress they have heard throughout their life.
Discovering Your Play Language
Each of us has a natural play language. To be playful is not just to be silly and active.
It’s about being connected to our natural expression of joyfulness. For some parents, playfulness means going rock climbing. For others, their idea of play is cuddling on the couch and reading books with their child. You get to be yourself in your play, and your children can be themselves!
We learn to embrace our natural language of play, filling ourselves with clarity, confidence, and security. This way, we can more easily enter our child’s play language The resentment won’t be as strong, or won’t exist, because you are grounded in what brings you joy and consciously choose to enter your child’s expression of joy. The closer you are to your joy, the more willing and calm you will be in boundary-setting with your child around playtime. You will have more energy, enthusiasm, and more SP A C E to practice and be joyful.
Permission to Thrive
So many people seem to want to connect in suffering. Complaining about kids, spouses, and neighbors becomes a social currency. You don’t need to participate.
The culture of complaint keeps us stuck focusing on what isn’t going well in our relationships. Sure, our brains will release the feel-good chemical dopamine when we engage in gossip or negative talk (we are wired to perceive this as connection), but the temporary high isn’t worth the act’s consequences.
You get to thrive as a parent. You get to LOVE parenting. You get to admire and adore your children. You get to enjoy family dinners and long car rides. Don’t believe the ideas about how parenting is supposed to look. Decide for yourself what parenting will look like on your terms.
One humble, vulnerable and authentic step at a time. The connection between parent and child is formative for both parent and child. As we realize that we are growing ourselves up as we grow them up, we can be gentler and kinder along the way.
Choose your parenting moments, meaning the times when a more assertive, firm approach is necessary. When your kids are annoying, perhaps you can simply remove yourself from the room or put on some earbuds. When they are being unsafe, you can lean in.
The kids are going to be alright.
Let them be. I don’t mean leave them alone. I mean BE. They have far more ability wisdom, creativity, and intelligence than we give them credit for. The more they have the opportunity to allow their natural gifts to shine, the more confident they will be in their natural gifts. Let. Them. Be.
So, dear parent, here’s a dose of inspiration for you. There is no better way to change the world than to change how you parent your child. Yes, they are the key to a better future for us all. But their ability to step into their destiny is wholly dependent on… YOU.
And so, truly, you hold the power to change the world. One peaceful moment at a time.
About The Author
Kiva Schuler is the Founder & CEO of The Jai Institute for Parenting, and author of her debut book, The Peaceful Parenting (R)evolution.
Kiva’s post [above] is such a great reminder that play establishes a connection between parent and child. Too often today, parents spend a great amount of time on their phones, or are buried in work, and we need to remind ourselves that children thrive emotionally and cognitively when we are present and share the joy of play.
This is just one of the many great tips that are taught in Kiva’s book “The Peaceful Parenting Revolution”. After having read this book, I have reset my mindset to be more present in play with my own child—to show that they are loved. And if you yourself are interested in learning more about peaceful parenting, an excerpt from Kiva’s book and link can be found below):
“Joy is happiness that persists regardless of external circumstances.”
I was sitting at my dining room table, having just finished eating the positively delicious breakfast my teenage son had made me for Mother’s Day.
My son stood up, picked up my plate, and said to my daughter, “Let’s do the dishes and clean up the kitchen. I’ll wash, and you dry and put away.” We chatted as they took care of me. I loved them with all of my heart. And I have made so many mistakes. And fought with them. And cried. And lost my mind. And wanted to run away. And then loved them as much as is humanly possible.
It was a peaceful, beautiful moment of caring and cooperation.
When they were finished, my son hugged me goodbye. And then he hugged his sister–his autistic sister who for so many years had made him so angry and resentful that he refused to touch her at all-and he said, “I love you SO MUCH, Maddie.”
And I realized that despite my many mistakes, I had taught my kids how to love. And be loved.
The newfound peace in my house was now met with newfound peace inside myself. Peace in knowing I had done enough–and BEEN enough–for my kids. ~Chris Irvine
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