When we are harsh with our children, we stir up anger in their hearts. On the other hand, the power of a gentle answer can actually diffuse their anger. So if we take the gentle route (this doesn’t mean to be wimpy, it just means to take a calm approach), we not only model for them the best way to communicate their own feelings to others, we also take the first step in How to Teach Gentleness to Your Kids.
1. Show gentleness to others. If you huff and puff your way through your day, your kids will too. If you’re brusque and rough in your dealings with others, your children will pick up on that. When you feel like you’re going to explode, think gentle. Take a deep breath and respond gently.
2. Show gentleness to your children. Some moms have no problem being gentle to those outside of their family, but when it comes to their husband and children, they’re anything but gentle. So the next time your child upsets you, don’t respond with anger or sarcasm; again, think gentle. Answer gently. Respond gently. You can still make a firm point, but do it with gentleness.
You can practice gentleness on school mornings. Instead of barking, yelling, and rushing, be gentle. You can convey a sense of urgency, but you can be gentle while you do it.
3. Look for gentleness training opportunities. If you have a pet, encourage your children to handle it gently. When they do, praise them. Same goes for how your kids treat babies and younger children – show them how to be gentle.
4. The anger / gentleness connection. Even young children can learn how to respond to anger gently. The next time you hear your children arguing, step in and do a little role playing. It would sound something like this:
Mom: Okay, guys, come over here. Let’s try that one more time, this time trying to be gentle. Ethan, ask your sister, nicely, for your truck.
Ethan: Isabella, give me my truck please.
Mom: That was great, Ethan. Now, if Isabella answers you in a mean way, what should you say back? Well, instead of getting angry back, treat her gently. Try it, and, Isabella, you pretend that you are angry and don’t want to give Ethan his truck back.
Isabella: No! I don’t want to give your truck back! Leave me alone!
Ethan: I really would like my truck back. How about playing with it for a couple more minutes and then giving it back?
Mom: Ethan, that was great. Did you see how being gentle with Isabella stopped the anger between you two?
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