Even if you did not post your list of irritations and wishes for your children this last week, I will share with you how Steps I and II from last week’s post can create your parenting map. Eventually you will want to do Steps I and II for yourself so you can have your family’s unique map.

So let’s say you’ve done Steps I and II. Now lay out those two lists next to each other. And here comes the good news/bad news bit. All those behaviors on the list in Step I are your opportunities for teaching the qualities you’ve listed in Step II. While human beings are born with the capacity for developing all of those qualities, we need to learn how to manifest and express them. We are also born with muscles and brains and quite a few other capacities and many of them require stimulation and activation in order to fully develop. So it is with human qualities and characteristics. So the good news is that every behavior which you find difficult is providing a teaching moment as it were.

I’ll give you some examples:

When your little one grabs something from another child at the playground, you have an opportunity to teach respect, consideration, negotiation, generosity, kindness and on and on.

If your 4-year-old hits another child in school, you (or the teacher) have an opportunity to teach reflection, ways of expressing anger or frustration which harm no one, respect and much more.

When your 11-year-old writes a mean text which ends up setting off a war in the 5th grade, you have the opportunity to teach her about compassion, understanding, empathy, how to make things better for the individuals who were hurt by her actions. You can also support her to learn how to think beyond her quick reaction. The list is long.

You may notice here that PeaceWorks Parenting does not teach how to come up with consequences “that hurt” but rather promotes teaching children other means of dealing with their difficult emotions. Just like most lessons, these too will need to be repeated countless times, but no worries, your children will provide you with innumerable teaching moments.

For many of our course participants, this understanding of challenging behavior is a real Aha!! It can feel less defeating when we understand that our children are simply exhibiting a need and perhaps even desire to learn and develop the qualities you wish for them. Most humans also wish to be and experience what you have listed in Step II.

I’d love to see what parenting maps you’ve come up with. The maps are generally joyful, inspiring, and eye-opening.

Adapted from Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen