Empathy: a Not-So-Secret Parenting Weapon

Parenting may be rewarding, but you certainly have to work very hard for that reward! Kids can be tough to handle, and although you love them, sometimes you may be at a loss for what to do when they’re being particularly challenging. This article is all about a super-effective weapon that you can use to change your children’s behavior: empathy!

What Ineffective Parents Do

There are two ways that parents typically respond to their children’s actions. The first is the Helicopter parent. They’re the pushover; the ones that you see at the store who give in to every one of their children’s increasingly frenetic demands. The other is the Drill Sergeant, and they’re the type of parent you’ll see yelling at their kids at the slightest indiscretion. Neither of these parenting strategies is particularly effective, and it’s safe to say that the parent who’s using these strategies isn’t actively thinking about why they do it. However, there’s another more effective tool a parent can use, and that’s empathy.

Empathy Shifts the Blame

When you use empathy to administer a consequence for your child’s action, it does something remarkable: it shifts the role of “bad guy” from you to the consequence. Here’s an example: when your child is going crazy in the supermarket, try saying “Oh No! This is awful. You’re not going to be able to get a treat now!” The key is to be absolutely sincere, and help the child understand that it’s the consequence they should fear, not you.

Avoid The Opposite of Empathy: Sarcasm

You have to be very careful that you’re not falling into the realm of sarcasm when using empathetic parenting (I know it can be hard not to sometimes.) The reason is very simple: kids can easily pick up on sarcasm and know immediately that you’re not being sincere. This is just as ineffective as yelling at them, because nobody likes it when someone is sarcastic towards them, no matter what age they are.

My name is Jessica Cox, and I would be lost if it wasn’t for the brilliant and effective parents that shaped me into a determined and responsible person. If you’re interested in allowing me to help the attendees at your convention, meeting, or faith-based gathering live the best possible life that they can, please call me at 520-505-1359 or contact me on my website.