8 Things to help restore peace in your parenting and at home

Parenting is hard. Do you long to restore peace at home? Do you find yourself yearning for the sound of silence? The soothing balm of quiet solitude? An inner calm?

Family life is so often a cacophony of sounds, activity and busy-ness. It can flood and overload the senses of each family member. Parents giving commands, children resisting, incessant background noise of television or music, computer games, vacuum cleaners, washing machines.

There is constant bombardment, hurry and anxiety.

There is no reprieve away from the house either. You’ve probably found yourself overwhelmed by banked up traffic or in shopping centres where music drowns the aisles.

Sometimes the things that attempt to connect people seems to do nothing more than alienate and distance.

As parents, we push on. Stretching, straining, accommodating. Nervous systems pulled taut, trying to control children, surrounds and ourselves. Your very being could become disconnected from an unfamiliar calm. It’s your new normal.

Benefits of change

What is society teaching children when a frenzied life is normalised? When children experience sensory overload and are hurried from activity to activity, their intuition, creativity, mindfulness and empathy are muted.

Importantly, when a frenzied life changes to one of calm and peace, psychologically children have the chance to flourish. There are resultant physiological benefits of increased energy for both parent and child.

Open your senses and your child’s to a new world. Allow yourselves to appreciate stillness, observation and quiet. A new mindfulness that releases insight.

Connect with nature

Nature is a panacea for the busy lives of working parents and children who spend most of their time indoors. The effort to go outdoors is worth it.

Take time to commune with nature to expand your senses and feel at peace. Lie down in the grass; look up at the clouds and watch change or imagine shapes; watch the rain come; notice the spider and its web; smell the fragrant flowers; listen to the wind rustle the leaves; sit and watch the trail of ants; watch and listen to the waves form and crash to the shore; smell the rain, the ocean, the forest; feel the different textures of bark.

Increase outdoor activities

Go to a park or a beach, wherever there is a wide, open space. Children naturally and explosively want to move. They run with the wind, release pent-up emotions and feel free. The confines of a room, a home, the minutiae of family life dissolve.

If you have the space set up a sandpit in your backyard or on your deck. Have you noticed your children become absorbed when playing with sand, water, dirt and nature? Sit back and watch.

Parents do not need to direct this play. Children need the opportunity to play freely within a safe environment. Encourage the use of nature to create and play – water, a few twigs, seed pods, shells etc. Buy some clay and let children create what they imagine with no judgement or direction.

Breathe

When tensions run high encourage deep breathing and finding a place to cool down. Before going to sleep talk to your child about this relaxation tool to calm the body and mind. Practise deep breathing and relaxing muscles together.

Discipline for peace

Don’t you sometimes want to yell “Quiet!”? Are you sick of the commands, the repetitive nagging, the breaking up of fights? Learning how to communicate effectively with your children and teaching them to communicate effectively inevitably leads to a more peaceful and harmonious family.

Children are always behaving to get their needs met. Often this behaviour is unacceptable to you and you immediately feel the tensions of deciding what to do about your child. Unfortunately parents are peppered with ‘disciplinary techniques’ that do not lead to peace and harmony.

When discipline is equated with punishment as a tool to get children to change, the very opposite of peace creation occurs. Have you ever threatened and carried out ‘time-out’, forcing your sobbing or rebelling child to their room and telling them to think about what they have done? It’s likely your relationship only with your child feels more distant in the aftermath.

If society wants to eradicate bullying in schools then every adult needs to demonstrate peaceful assertive alternatives, especially in the home.

Effective parenting for peace

Change your thoughts about discipline and the way you relate to children. Be a loving and respectful guide to your ‘disciples’, your children. Check what you need to change by asking yourself if your children look up to you with mutual love and respect or are they frightened or dismissive of you.

There are effective parenting skills that can be learnt that are neither permissive nor autocratic. They are non-violent, assertive and help children and parents get their needs met and convey values, through actively listening, confronting assertively and problem solving. Mutual respect is the key within these families. Award-winning psychologist and three times Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr Thomas Gordon created such a course for parents of all ages of children — the internationally renowned Parent Effectiveness Training.

It offers effective communication skills that benefit parent–child relationships, but also adult relationships both at home and the workplace. The long-term benefits of children raised this way have been documented more than 50 years as have the long-term damaging effects of punitive methods. It increases children’s emotional intelligence (EQ) and social and moral development.

Teach about the brain

The new frontier is learning what goes on within us. When parents and children learn about how the brain works they begin to move from reactivity to responsiveness and self-regulation of emotions and actions. Dr Daniel Siegel in his book The Whole Brain Child shows parents how to do this while explaining the neuroscience behind it.

An awesome program for schools and families is MindUP. The MindUP curriculum is “a universal program that teaches social and emotional learning skills drawing on cognitive neuroscience, positive psychology and mindful awareness training”. Comprising 15 lessons, students from Preschool to Year 8 learn to self-regulate their behaviour and mindfully engage in focused concentration required for academic success.

InnSæi, a 2016 documentary, impressively reports on the results of MindUP in a United Kingdom school recording the remarkable changes of insight for eight-year-old children. Renowned thinkers and spiritualists also discuss the Icelandic concept of innsæi, which enables humans to connect through empathy and intuition.

A revolution for peace

Create a revolution for peace in your family. Work on yourself first then involve your children in problem solving ideas for more peace, calm and joy in your family life. The responses might surprise you.

This article was written by Kathryn Tonges from The Parent Within. Kathryn is a parenting and personal development instructor and coach. She is a National Trainer for Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia Ltd and has conducted parenting courses for more than 30 years.