While swimming with my family one day the calmness of our pool experience was interrupted by one very loud, very stressed mother. If only this mother was able to see the hearts of her children and everyone else in the pool area. If she could have taken a moment to do just one simple skill she, and everyone else in the pool, would have had an entirely different swimming experience.
These were some of the yells this mother made to the children swimming around her within a three minute period. “Get over here now! Don’t touch that! You’re gonna get it! Get away from there! Stop it! Get your hands off me! Leave your sister alone! Hey brat! Stop whining! Get out of the pool! Sit there and rot if you are going to play like that.”
No one knew what this mother might have been going through inside. I felt bad for her. She could have had some serious stresses. Since it is impossible to fully know if she was struggling personally through something or if she simply lacked the understanding of how to touch and change hearts I am going to assume the later. She wasn’t all alone at the pool. She had her children and her husband and even her parents and friends, so it seems she thought communicating in this fashion was the correct thing for parents to do.
When children are small and active, like this mother’s children were, life can get overwhelming and calmness can fade away. Calmness is more than having a quiet voice. It is confidence and assurance inside that a situation can be changed and that a heart can be touched. This assurance comes by having the spirit of love present and by knowing the skills necessary to handle difficult problems.
One Thing Parents Can Do To Touch The Hearts Of Their Children
When a heart is lovingly touched it will inspire good behavior in the child.
It is common for parenting philosophies to be far too concerned with behaviors and not concerned enough about the condition of the child’s heart. The bully, authoritarian type parents try to micromanage every action by emotionally erupting at every behavior. The modern, permissive type of parent focuses on not correcting behaviors. They want the child to have the freedom to experiment and behave freely without any micromanaging. Most parents flip flop back and forth between these two parenting styles depending on the day, their stress level, and how well the child seems to be behaving generally. Both philosophies are centered on the behaviors of the person, and they leave the heart untouched.
Learning how to touch and influence the heart of another person takes practice. It also requires possessing calmness ourselves. So what can a parent do to get calm when they aren’t and correct their child all at the same time? What can the mother in this story do to change her next pool experience?
The first and most powerful thing a person can do to calm themselves and the child is to look into the child’s eyes. When a parent looks into their child’s eyes and sees into their heart the teaching will be softer and more meaningful and the connection will also keep the parent’s heart focused on the goodness of the child. The child will feel the love of the parent and truth of the connection which will inspire the child to follow the instruction or accept the no answer.
In the story above the mother seems to see her children as little villains. She doesn’t see their good behaviors or their good efforts. In fact, even though they are swimming all around her, it seems she can’t really see them, meaning the insides of them. In that moment the children seem to be nothing more than behaviors to her.
As a young mother I taught my children to look into my eyes when I was speaking to them. This meant I had to think about looking into their eyes every time I was talking to them too. I never knew how this one conscious act would change my parenting and change all of our hearts.
Even if I was calling to a child on a different level of the house I would first say, “Paije, come to the bottom of the stairs please.” After she came I would praise her for coming and then say, “Paije, look in my eyes. I need you to empty all the house garbages. Okay?”
She would look at me and say “okay.”
For that brief moment we saw into each other’s hearts. We connected with each other and understood each other. When I felt the deep connections from my children during the most common and often brief instructions, no answers, and appropriate disagreements I realized the greatest power I had to touch the hearts of my children was my heart touching theirs through the lens of their eyes.
If this mother had called her children to her or just turned to see their eyes while swimming with them in the pool before she decided to speak to them, then the moment would have been powerful for all the people in the pool. The truth contained in heart to heart eye contact communicates love to mother, child, and everyone else around. The connection facilitates understanding and a feeling of gratitude for one another as well.
By looking into the eyes of a child, the child sees life through the lens of their parent’s heart.
Learn more about teaching your children self-government at TeachingSelfGovernment.com.
By Nicholeen Peck
Nicholeen Peck is the mother of four and previous foster parent of many difficult and troubled teens. The Peck family's success with these difficult children was based upon calmness, the principles of self- government, and good communication. She has been teaching people around the world the principles of Self-Government since 1999. She has spoken on radio stations and TV in England and China as well as to parent groups all over the world to discuss effective parenting. In 2014 Nicholeen has been invited to speak by two family organizations at the UN for the “Year of the Family.” She has also recently been nominated for “Young Mother of the Year” for Utah. In 2009, Nicholeen and her family were featured in a one hour BBC documentary about parenting called "The World's Strictest Parents." She is a popular speaker, author of the international book, Parenting a House United, and the books Londyn LaRae Says Okay, Porter Earns A Quarter, Big Win For Quin, Popular Parenting Methods, many magazine articles, and a blog called http://TeachingSelfGovernment.com .