It’s Christmas again. We’re still struggling with Covid, and this year, also with RSV and the flu. But one thing still remains true: Simple is best!
As I opened a Christmas card with a picture of a 1-year-old infant exploring a Christmas box, it hit me how infants and young children really understand the true meaning of Christmas. Not just spiritually but physically. Because they haven’t yet been conditioned to expect the gift inside the shiny, crinkly paper, they will actually get more joy from just ripping the paper. They will examine every bit of the material.
We’re all excited for them to see what is in the package. Sadly, we rush them to get to the actual toy, but they are satisfied with the paper and the box.
So let them take their time with opening the box and exploring it and the paper. They are hearing all the different sounds of the paper and box. They are smelling all the different scents of the packaging. They are feeling the texture of the packaging. They are seeing the colors of the packaging—and even tasting them.
We’d be wise to observe this process and incorporate it into our own lives. Take time to truly explore and appreciate the small things. Love without conditions. Look out for each other.
Christmas is about love. We definitely need a whole lot more love in our world!
I rarely do guest posts but this one by Anya Willis from https://fitkids.info is important as the world situation is continuing to be so stressful. Children must have self-care coping skills. Enjoy this new blog post!
Self-care is an important part of your overall well-being. Learning to prioritize your mental health can start at an early age. Consider these six ways you can teach your children to practice self-care.
1. Give Them a Peaceful Space at Home
A stress-free home environment helps children feel safe and comfortable. You can create peace in the home in multiple ways. For example, disciplining with a gentle approach allows your children to learn respect without fear. How you plan your home aesthetic can also affect stress levels. For example, decluttering and having plenty of natural light help relieve anxiety. Bring in houseplants to purify the air and use oil diffusers to create a relaxing aroma. A zen home helps kids focus and relax.
2. Prioritize Quality Time
Prioritizing quality time lets your kids know how important they are to you. That translates into feeling important themselves. Quality time doesn’t have to include an elaborate plan. It can be as simple as making a nighttime routine or letting them help you with the chores around the house. Having a normal routine quality time takes the pressure off you to overcompensate. Research shows that kids who spend quality time with their parents have fewer behavioral issues and better mental and physical health overall.
3. Keep an Open Dialogue About Mental Health
Make discussing mental health a priority in your household. If you notice your kids feeling stressed or anxious, talk to them about getting help. You can access therapy virtually to provide a secure, private experience for your children, and it requires less commitment than going in person. Also, you have more professionals to choose from online, and it’s often more affordable. You can typically even schedule a free consultation with multiple therapists to ensure you are a good fit with the one you choose.
4. Teach Them To Enjoy Alone Time
Learning to spend time alone is an important part of building confidence. Allow your children some privacy in the home. Knock on their bedroom door before you come in and respect their response. If they feel in control of their alone time, they’ll learn to enjoy it more.
5. Nurture Their Interests
When your child expresses a new interest, encourage them to explore it further. For example, if they love painting or drawing, take them shopping for supplies and display their artwork around the house. Hobbies are a great way to practice self-care, and it’s a very personal experience. You may not always love the things they do. For example, collecting bugs may give you the creeps, but if your child loves it, let them know you’re happy for them.
6. Remind Them To Be Grateful
Show your kids how to be grateful by example. If you practice thankfulness in your daily life, your children will pick up on that as well. The best time to be grateful is when things don’t go to plan. It’s easy to shift to the negative when things don’t go your way, but if you show your children a positive attitude, you can affect how they approach life.
When you keep the lines of communication open with your children, you give them a way to express themselves and talk about how they feel. When you validate their feelings, they learn confidence at an early age. The more confidence they have, the more likely they are to prioritize self-care.
With the current laws being enacted in Florida and Texas as well as other conservative states to stop the LBGTQ+ community from being able to live their lives, it got me thinking about how I used to believe some of the same things until I started really listening to these people. I have many friends in this community now and I am heartbroken over how they are treated.
Many LBGTQ+ children are kicked out of the house when they come out to their parents. Some are subjected to horrible “conversion therapy” to try to “convince” them that they are not gay or transgender. These children are very likely to be abused and murdered by their family or people in the community who don’t want to understand that they are people too.
“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care.”
In Texas, a law was recently passed making it “child abuse” for parents to give their transgendered children care that would allow them to have the body that their brain is telling them they are. As of now, a judge has partially blocked the law. I believe that the exact opposite is true. It is abusive NOT to allow these children to have the gender affirming medical care they require. They are at a high risk of suicide for not being allowed to have transitional gender affirming medical care and psychotherapy.
People like to shrug off the suicide issue of transgender children, but according to Forbes from 2021, “52% of all transgender and nonbinary young people in the U.S. seriously contemplated killing themselves in 2020. More than half thought it would be better to be dead, rather than trying to live with rejection, isolation, loneliness, bullying and being targeted by politicians and activists pushing anti-trans legislation.”
These children have to deal with so much discrimination from conservative policymakers. They are banned from using the correct bathrooms with which they identify. What do we think happens when a trans girl is forced to use the boys’ bathroom and vice versa? They look like the gender with which they identify.
And banning them from playing on the team of the gender with which they identify because people think they have an advantage over the other team is wrong. We might as well ban anyone “different” from playing sports because I can guarantee that transgender children don’t have any advantage over their peers. Everyone is talented in different ways!
Finally, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law in Florida enacted by Governor DeSantis is horrible! As an early childhood professional, sex and gender identity isn’t a main topic in the curriculum unless we have a child with gay parents or a child who is struggling with this issue. These children deserve support and compassion. Teachers need to teach children to accept these differences. The LBGTQ+ community is in no way trying to get children to be something that they’re not. They are just trying to get acceptance and support to stop the horrible discrimination they face daily. I believe in having developmentally appropriate discussions and books that include the LBGTQ+ community in the classroom.
I am so grateful that President Biden is taking action to try to help protect everyone in the LBGTQ+ community by taking executive action to stop the use of conversion therapy and help keep the rights and lives of this group as safe as possible. The amount of bigotry from the religious, right wing is absolutely disgusting! And it’s only getting worse!
There’s another group of children and adults who live with a higher than average risk of being abused: The disabled.
“Child abuse and neglect is reported in 3% to 10% of the population with disabilities. The rate of child abuse and neglect is at least 3 times higher in children with disabilities than in the typically developing population.”
Children with disabilities have higher needs and require more care. They often have unique behavioral issues that typical children don’t. For some children with disabilities, these behaviors may last well into adulthood because their brains aren’t able to mature like typical people. They are so reliant on others for care and help that they are prime candidates for all types of abuse.
As someone with a severe disability, I can attest to the abuse. I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused by my dad because I couldn’t control my muscles. I was emotionally and verbally abused by other family members and people at school. Just because life with a child who is disabled can be very stressful and frustrating at times doesn’t excuse abuse.
Like LBGTQ+ children, there’s a stigma that comes along with being disabled. We live in an ableist world. For a long time, people with disabilities, starting in young childhood, were locked up in institutions and forgotten. These institutions were absolutely horrible and many children died from abuse and inadequate care. There even used to be laws that prohibited people with disabilities from being in society. Similarly with the LBGTQ+ community, the disabled have a higher risk of being murdered.
As the article above points out, many religious groups believe that disabilities are due to “sin,” thus, causing people to treat them badly and abuse them. Let me be clear: No disability is due to sin!
Another thing that the article on ableism points out is that the medical community often treats the disability as a “problem.” But people with disabilities have absolutely nothing “wrong” with them. They are just different and deserve quality medical care, and yet, they often don’t receive it. The cost of medical care is even higher than that of typical people and people with disabilities also usually require adaptive equipment and therapy to be able to live the best life they can!
Unfortunately the Americans with Disabilities Act hasn’t helped all that much because most public places only do the minimum requirements. Many employers don’t want to have the responsibility of helping people with disabilities work in their work places. And people with disabilities don’t get “free money.” If they are on SSI, they can only have $2,000 if they are single and $3,000 if married. We’re trying to get this changed.
Being told by parents, teachers, employers, and society in general that “You’re worthless, a burden, a problem, a liability, and your life doesn’t matter” leads to isolation, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Covid has really bought out just how ableist the world is, especially the United States. Many people feel that their lives are more important than others who are still vulnerable to serious consequences of getting Covid. It’s all-too-often just laughed at while believing that it is perfectly fine for people who are high risk to remain locked up for the rest of their lives. This is going back to the days when children and adults were forced to remain locked up and out of society. This is abuse!
There is no excuse for abuse of any child or adult, especially if they are different. We are all equal and worthy no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and/or disability. We need to stop going backwards and start moving forward to become a kinder, more accepting world. No child should be hurt. It is also abuse and ableist to expect any child to be someone that he/she isn’t or to expect children to be able to do things that they are not yet able to do!
Twenty years ago I was about to turn 20-years-old and a college student. I was newly engaged and my now husband was my personal aide in school. The 9/11 attacks happened while we were on the way to school that morning. We had no idea what happened until we walked into the office where I was allowed to get extra time to get my homework done due to my severe cerebral palsy. Everyone was quiet and in shock. My tutor asked if we had heard what happened and we said no. She told us and led us to the television. We watched in shock as the towers were on fire and eventually fell. It felt like I was watching a movie. I didn’t know how to process it and trying to get my work done was stressful.
As time went on and I watched it all unfold, I got emotional. And my birthday 48 hours later was somber despite my turning twenty. Everything was somber for a while and the skies were so quiet from the airplanes being grounded. We didn’t know what was going to happen next. It was a very hard and scary time. My husband’s friend from grade school was one of the casualties of that day.
But what I remember most, except for a few conspiracy theorists who were ignorant, and still are, about the attacks, the country actually came together. People were kinder. Drivers had more empathy for each other. Definitely a total contrast from today’s current reaction to the pandemic.
Children got comforted and observed the adults coming together to help each other deal with the trauma. Oh how I long for that type of empathy and compassion again. Social media is probably going to be the destroyer of the world since it allows people to become even more ingrained in their beliefs and argue with everyone. It is now spilling over into the real world.
Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving and while my husband and I are used to celebrating on our own, I know many of you are doing the right, selfless thing by staying home to celebrate with immediate family only. Some of you are facing a first Thanksgiving without loved ones due to COVID-19. Please know that we’re thinking and praying for you.
This has been a year of constant anxiety, trauma, uncertainty, and unrest. Therefore, as we, hopefully, stay home and gather with immediate family, may we try to find things we’re grateful for even if it is small. May we think or look at the children in our lives and consider the type of world we want for them. One full of divisions and hate and bad church doctrine. Or one full of unity, love, kindness and compassion.
As we continue to deal with this COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of empathy is so apparent in this country. People not wanting to do the simplest things to protect others from the virus. Anti-maskers are shouting about their rights and, ironically, they are using the pro-choice slogan, “My body, my right.” This totally disregards the lives of others. If one is truly pro-life, one cares about the life way after birth! Otherwise, it’s just pro-birth!
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to understand as much as possible in order to try to understand what the other person is feeling or going through. One can feel the same feelings as the other person or at least get an idea of what the other person is going through.
Empathy is a learned behavior. While some children are born with more empathy than others, infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are naturally egocentric due to their developmental stage. This is a survival mechanism and not a “bad thing.” Adults can help the development of empathy by modeling it to their children and pointing out feelings of others—whether positive or negative.
I talked a bit about helping children understand about COVID-19 in my previous post, but here’s a great book written by a teacher that helps further explain this highly contagious, dangerous, damaging, and deadly virus in a developmentally appropriate way. If you are one who is not taking this seriously, please read this story!
While places are now opened and the topic of going back to school rages on, and schools are opening only to have cases of COVID-19 the first week of school, the numbers of positive cases continues to rise. I am truly saddened by the fact that this health crisis has become political and empathy for people who are high risk, children, teachers, healthcare workers seems to be going by the wayside. Except for the rare medical appointment and the fact that my chosen family owns a private tattoo shop and keeps people out while I am there, my quarantine hasn’t ended. I try to wear a mask but it falls down because of spasms due to my severe cerebral palsy. Anti-maskers laugh that I am not able to be in public because too many people are worried about their own comfort and rights to have empathy for those who can’t wear a mask and/or are high risk. What a horrible example they are setting for our children.
As an early childhood professional,I don’t recommend children going back to school until this virus is under control.I know it’s hard for poor families and I worry about social-emotional development of the children, but we have to realize that even if children are less likely to get seriously ill,some are going to get seriously ill or get the inflammatory disease that kills them.Not to mention bringing it home to the family and then we don’t know who will get mild symptoms and who will be hospitalized and on a ventilator.
I am so grateful for everyone who is wearing masks and protecting people like me who can’t wear masks easily and then the health care workers busting their butts to fight this pandemic.
Children who are old enough to wear a mask in public should! While some children will have an easier time adjusting to wearing a mask, it is possible to help them with it.
Here are some things that we can do to help children adjust to wearing a mask:
Always wear a mask yourself when out in public. Actions speak louder than words!
Educate them about how masks help protect others and them. If they like superheroes, compare them to being a superhero for wearing masks because superheroes always protect others from dangerous situations. There are some wonderful children’s books to read to them to further encourage them to wear a mask in public. I recommend this book.
Start with short periods of time wearing a mask and do a fun activity to help distract them from the mask.
Let the child pick out a few masks and/or let him/her decorate one so he/she wants to wear it.
Try different masks for the most comfortable one for the child.
Validate feelings about wearing a mask and tell the child that it is uncomfortable sometimes but it is the only way to go anywhere.
Keep little hands busy so they don’t constantly touch the mask.
Always have extra masks on hand or in the children’s backpacks because they are going to drop, throw, spill, forget masks so they need extras on them whenever they are in public. Also, keep hand sanitizer with you and/or them for washing their hands.
Make up a silly song to sing such as, “This is the way we wear our masks” to the tune of Farmer Brown.
Turn mask wearing into a game to see who can keep theirs on the longest.
Use mirrors in the car to have everyone put them on at the same time.
If for any reason the child has a meltdown and refuses to wear the mask when you get to have a destination and you have to go in, take some deep breaths, make sure that the child doesn’t have an unmet need, the mask isn’t pinching or hurting him/her, and carry the child in if it isn’t possible to have someone bring stuff out to you.
Never make wearing a mask into a power struggle. This will make the child want to wear it even less. If the child is showing you that he/she is not ready for a mask, make sure that he/she knows that going out is not an option without a mask.
This is a very uncertain time for everyone. We are all extremely stressed and anxious and children are no exception. Regression during times of extreme upheaval and stress is normal for children, so try to hold space for it and your own feelings.
The only way we will get through this pandemic is to have empathy for each other and do what we need to do to stop the spread of the virus. We can do this TOGETHER!!!!
The past few months have been really difficult for me with the Covid-19 pandemic and being super high risk. It has made me struggle with dealing with my own trauma, trying to do what is right and safe regarding the trauma of having a mother who can’t give me what I need, but still wanting her and my other biological family to remain safe. I have felt isolated and anxious and depressed. Being so high risk due to my asthma and severe Cerebral Palsy (CP) has made me angry when I finally realized how serious this virus is for many and seeing how people just don’t want to do what we need to do to be safe!
Life with CP is limiting and even though we find a way to do stuff that I want to do, it’s not easy like typical people who are able to just jump in the car and go. My state is in Phase 3 of reopening and I got my first non-essential, non-medical outing this week to my tattoo artists and chosen family to finish my Samoset kitty tattoo that was started before the outbreak and lockdown started. I was only able to do it because they locked the door and my husband and I were the only ones in there besides the artists. Masks were worn and sanitizer was used even more.
Samoset tattoo by Todd Bass at Triphammer Carbondale.
Throughout this pandemic, I have been aware of all the different aspects of it. My mental health as well as others have suffered due to isolation, people are losing everything, suicide is up. There’s so much to this pandemic and it is so sad that some elected officials are not doing everything they can to prevent this from being so out of control.
I know children and parents are struggling. I think the best thing to do for children is to create routines that are flexible and, if they are old enough, allow them to have a say in the routines. And as I’m sure you have already heard, answer questions honestly but briefly depending on their age and development.
This is scary for the children too. They have lost a lot and they may not be able to understand why. So I have heard a lot of regression in children’s behaviors have been happening from parents. This is so hard because I know parents are stressed out too. I recommend reassuring the children and finding an activity such as meditation or reading or yoga to help calm stress and fear. This is not an easy time for anyone.
Now we have a horrible murder of a black man, George Floyd, that has set off protests and riots in the midst of a pandemic. It is so scary and sad. Racism has got to stop!
I used to say “all lives matter” and even wrote a blog post in which I used “All Lives Matter” for the title of the post that covered every race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and, of course, children mattering.
Having a severe physical disability made me question, “what about other minorities?” I was a Republican slowly making my way towards Libertarianism at the time. I am now a Libertarian and while I still love Jesus, I’m no longer into mainstream Christianity anymore due to the legalism, bad church doctrine, and abuse, and hate.
I now understand the Black Lives Matter movement and right now this group of people desperately need our support, validation, and LOVE! Saying “all lives matter” doesn’t do this for black people who are hurting badly. Jesus immediately went to the people in desperate need no matter who they are. Jews didn’t hang around Samaritan people but Jesus did.
I know many Christians and conservatives won’t hear me because I was the same way about this topic and I had to figure it out for myself. But I am embarrassed by my ignorance even though I was trying to be fair and supportive and was trying to validate everyone but I was wrong. I support Black Lives Matter and peaceful protests except for the Coronavirus concern. I hope my story helps someone moving away from ignorance to validation and love over being “right.”
Our children are watching everything and need to be taught kindness and acceptance for all. There has also got to be a major change because most black families experience so much pain and violence in their lifetimes and parents of black children are even more likely to spank/hit and harshly punished because they fear that if they don’t teach strict obedience to authority that it could be their child that is murdered by a bad cop. But this spanking and hardship make the children more likely to act out and get into crime.
And while police lives also matter, it’s important to keep in mind that there are many good cops of all races and they don’t deserve to suffer. On the other hand, white cops need to remember that at the end of the shift, they are like everyone else. But black people still have to deal with the racism and can’t hide from it.
Please be safe and get tested for Covid-19 if you participate in the peaceful protests and quarantine yourself because we can’t make change can’t happen if we’re sick and in the hospital or dead.
May we strive for kindness and love and create this in our children. May peace, love, and light reign in our world!
Another post from Ashley Taylor about gentle parenting with a disability.
Being a parent is never easy, but when you have a disability, several aspects of the job can become a whole lot more complicated. For the approximately 4.1 million parents with disabilities throughout the country, the usual questions of parenting are compounded by worries about how they will keep up with their child, keep them safe, and educate them. Whatever your disability, the following tips can help you deal with these questions as they arise.
Focus on Home Safety
As a parent, one of your most important jobs is keeping your child safe and healthy within your home. Parents with disabilities have to be particularly careful, as they are not usually able to keep up with a small child’s energy or react quickly enough if something dangerous is about to happen. Therefore, the key to parenting is prevention.
There are a few key safety modifications that can make the everyday tasks of parenting easier and safer. These can include adaptable products such as chairlifts, modified sinks, and adjustable furniture such as changing tables and toilets. When you have a small child, a child safety gate can be invaluable, as it keeps them out of dangerous areas and can help you keep track of exactly where they are at any given time.
Learn to DIY
Any piece of furniture or kit you can think of for raising a child has a wheelchair or disability-friendly version out there. However, these can often be very expensive. For example, cribs for disabled parents that open from the front can cost about $2,000, but if you can DIY (or know someone who can), you can easily make one yourself.
Another area where DIY helps is food. Opening baby food jars can be difficult for people with cerebral palsy, arthritis, or similar disabilities. Making your own can be both healthier and easier as long as you have a good food processor. These recipes can give you some inspiration.
Teach Them Compassion
Your children will experience a rare benefit from growing up with a disabled parent: They will automatically develop empathy and compassion for those who are differently abled. However, you should still actively teach them about these matters as well.
This article by Parent Map outlines the ways in which parents can speak to non-disabled children about disability. While it is written from the perspective of a non-disabled parent, much of the advice still applies, such as being open to answering questions and teaching them that not all disabilities will look exactly like yours.
Also, you can use your disability to teach them about compassion in other areas of life. Growing up with someone who is considered “different” will help them see the many ways in which “difference” is used to mock, bully, and demean people. You can use this to start a conversation about bullying and how they can prevent it, both in themselves and the people around them.
Know Your Rights
Parents with disabilities will sometimes run into problems with social services or the law because people wrongly believe that they are unable to take care of their children. This isn’t necessarily likely to happen, but it is still a good idea for you to be informed of your rights as a disabled parent. This toolkit by the National Council on Disability is an invaluable tool for this.
Parenting with a disability doesn’t necessarily mean everything is suddenly harder, but it does mean you have to think about certain matters more carefully than other parents. You will have to plan your everyday life in more detail and remain aware of how your experience is shaping your child’s world view. However, a disability will never stop you from having a beautiful, supportive, and loving relationship with your child — if anything, it can sometimes bring you closer.
This is a short post but I had to write it. Overall, my emotional health has really improved since we adopted our new kitten, Samoset. He doesn’t replace YP, but he is sure helping us on a number of levels.
However, this has been a rough week for me due to the 8th being the third anniversary of my mother-in-law going Home and the 9th being the 15th anniversary of my abusive dad going Home and some really don’t like me talking about the abuse.
This post, which was written a couple of years ago, describes how it feels to go from honoring someone who never intentionally hurt me to acknowledging my dad’s going Home anniversary. I will write about the idea of labeling in a later post.
I always seem to make myself vulnerable to people as I am a very emotional person. Today’s meditation session on the Calm app was about being vulnerable with others and how it is a good thing. I really needed to hear that and it made me cry since I have been feeling vulnerable all week.
I will be honest, while I totally agree with this meme from the meditation session, it can be very easy to just shut down so people who prey on the vulnerable can’t hurt us. From conception to death, power hungry people love to prey on the vulnerable. Children especially. This fact makes me angry.
Except these power hungry people were usually hurt as children themselves which is why they behave the way they do. This is yet another reason why I advocate for the respectful treatment of children. Respected children usually grow up to be empathetic, loving, joyful, vulnerable, and resilient adults. They don’t need to have power over weaker beings or feel the need to act like they know everything.
I’m grateful that in spite of my pain and dealing with people who just don’t understand, I am able to stay vulnerable, empathetic, and loving. I’m far from perfect but I do my best to advocate in a respectful manner. I am learning how to become less reactive to people and respond. And I am also learning to love unconditionally from a distance to rid myself of the toxic relationships in my life.
I believe vulnerability is a gift from God. It also allows us to be humble and rest in the peace and joy of God. May we treat our most vulnerable with respect, empathy, and compassion.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NASB).
As an early childhood professional and a parent coach, one of the main issues I help parents with is young children being aggressive. Young children have zero impulse control and often express themselves through aggressive acts until they finally have enough practice and skills taught to them by us to use their words and be gentle.
Yes, aggression is a form of communication in young children and if parented gently and respectfully, these children learn that aggression NEVER works. It only HURTS!
But what happens if children are never taught gentleness and kindness? What happens if they are spanked/hit, harshly spoken to/yelled at, and/or otherwise punished and disrespected?
Just turn on the TV, get on Facebook and other social media, or dare to walk outside and you’ll see the effects of harshly treated children crying out for whatever social justice is the current “hot topic.” You’ll see people actually being shot and killed. You’ll see people rioting. You’ll see people verbally assault anyone who dares to offer a different perspective.
Unfortunately, many pro-spankers believe that this is due to not spanking/hitting children enough, but the majority of children are still spanked. The Bible says that we reap what we sow. If violence is “lovingly” sown into children’s hearts to get people to do what they want, then it will be easier for them to use aggression and violence to try to force people to listen to them.
I struggle with this at times too. It’s hard to keep responding respectfully when you’re angry and/or passionate about something. I have made my fair share of mistakes and constantly strive to be a more empathetic, compassionate, gentle person as that was not how I was raised. But the fact that I was raised with harshness and was often disrespected and still get dismissed at times due to my disability is no excuse for my mistakes!
Sadly, some people truly believe that violence and aggression–both physical and verbal– is the only way to be heard and enact change. When people come at me aggressively, I get defensive and shut down. It hurts, so it makes me not want to listen to the person. When I hear about violent actions in the name of some cause, it makes me want to run in the other direction! I feel bad for the victims who are usually innocent bystanders that had the misfortune of being in the crossfire of the angry people.
We claim to want peace but end up trying to get it through violence and aggression. We want equality for all but end up putting certain groups down to get that equality. We believe in love but end up using hate to try to force love. We strive for tolerance but end up being intolerant to groups of people who don’t have our same agenda.
We are all guilty of this! It’s just that certain people fail to recognize this in themselves and think that they are truly making a difference when all they are doing is making everything worse and turning people off. They are even inciting people like them that are on the opposite side to start behaving aggressively. They fail to realize that aggression never works. It only hurts!
I love the Nonviolent Communication approach that Marshall B. Rosenberg writes about, and with which he trains people, because it teaches us that everyone is capable of being compassionate. I’m trying to work on using this approach more with people. Here’s a quote from the website.
“Through the practice of NVC, we can learn to clarify what we are observing, what emotions we are feeling, what values we want to live by, and what we want to ask of ourselves and others. We will no longer need to use the language of blame, judgment or domination. We can experience the deep pleasure of contributing to each others’ well being.
NVC creates a path for healing and reconciliation in its many applications, ranging from intimate relationships, work settings, health care, social services, police, prison staff and inmates, to governments, schools and social change organizations.”
We want our children to be gentle and kind. They are always watching us and imitating us. Therefore, we need to teach them how to be kind and compassionate to others by being kind and compassionate with everyone. Love is the only way to enact change, not violence and aggression. A toddler that throws a cup doesn’t get a drink, but instead, is taught better ways of communicating his/her needs. The same applies to adults. Throwing stuff might feel good but won’t get the change we want to occur. Love always wins in the end!