Helping our young children learn kindness and compassion for others may be the most important work we do as parents. But in their early years, it's natural for children to live right smack at the center of their brand new universe -- and to be far more attentive to what THEY want, & when THEY want it (how 'bout NOW!), than to how their behavior and expression affects others!
So how do we begin to teach young children the ways of kindness and compassion for others?
Here's an article that contains some worthwhile suggestions for parents looking for ideas:
Watching the great reach of the ocean out my home office window, the words that come up for me today are: Vast. Mystery. Motion. Possibility. Humility.
As a part of therapeutic work, we greet clients with compassion and humility, and a hopeful possibility about moving together through life's mysteries and challenges, into territories of growth and change.
The ocean lets us feel the power of earth's ever-changing forces and diversity, and also gives us a metaphor for the rhythms of human life: Our relationships and emotions may feel SO turbulent at times, much like the surface of the ocean during a huge storm. But go beneath the ocean's tumultuous surface, into its less visible depths, and there is a wild stillness that defies shifting weather and seasonal vicissitudes.
Here's the good news: In therapy, we can learn ways to steer through life's "rough waters" into what I think of as the sometimes-'wild stillness' of our preferred lives.
Imagine, for example, that human storms show up for us as trauma, troubled relationships, anger, depression, anxiety -- or difficulty with a major (or minor) life transition. In therapy, clients can discover, beneath the surfaces of serious problems, new ways to revisit and challenge them. Therapy is about un-covering or re-covering the unique skills of living that can take clients closer to their own hopes and dreams. In therapy, we can help clients find ways of reclaiming possibility and purpose, in the face of sometimes serious challenges, in ways that can bring a renewed sense of balance and well-being.
For some it might feel like learning to swim with the tide, instead of fighting and feeling carried under by it. Life's tides are bound to ebb and flow, and I believe it's how we learn to swim with them, and around the corners of problems, that makes all the difference in the quality of our lives.
In closing, I offer these questions:
How do you imagine stillness, or wildness, or both, in your own life?
Would you call this "beneath-the-stormy-waters" feeling something else?
Where might it reside in your heart, mind, or body?
When have you felt it before -- and what does that tell you about what matters?