Updated: Apr 1, 2021
What does compassionate parenting look like? Remember what compassion means? To put yourself in another’s shoes, feel what he feels, and have the motivation to want to alleviate his suffering. Employ this definition with your child. If he is upset or angry, put yourself in his shoes. What is the reason behind the meltdown?
Often when our children have meltdowns and the reason why seems trivial, there is a deeper meaning behind it. So it may not be that his meltdown is over the the item he wanted but rather that his expectations were for a different one and suddenly his environment changed on him. And as parents of neurodiverse children, we know that our beloved kiddos don’t always handle changes very well!
Looking at it from your child’s viewpoint you may be able to see that his environment feels comfortable to him when he has routines in place and certain expectations for things to stay the same and comfortable. But if something is suddenly different, the environment is not a “safe” place anymore—if this item is gone, what will change the next time? The uncertainty can be crippling, especially when you’re already overwhelmed. Can you see his point of view and feel his pain? For our beloved neurodiverse children, the environment is a confusing place filled with overwhelming stimuli. Even a small change can cause an overload.
Compassionate parenting allows you to view your child’s overwhelming world as your own. Only then can you begin to understand and respect what he is going through and dealing with on a daily basis. Many studies have shown that a lot of neurodiverse challenges, such as ADHD and anxiety, result in your brain being constantly in the “fight” mode (of the flight, fight, or freeze response to dangerous situations). Think of how exhausting that must be! And consider how you may add to the overwhelm if you react instead of respond when a a stressful situation arises. Instead, try the practices we’ve talked about; take a 3 second breathing space, a positive pause, or a “mommy (or daddy) timeout,” before you respond. Then, in that more relaxed/less stressed frame of mind, your response will be tempered with compassion.
Remember, to also be kind to yourself. Parenting is difficult. Parenting a neurodiverse child is even more so. There are so many challenges we face that parents of neurotypical children don’t. Practice self-compassion, as much as you can. January’s theme will be on self-compassion so I hope you tune in to check out ways to practice self-care while you're parenting.
Look for a special blog on "2021 Intentions" on January 1st! Meanwhile, if you are interested in learning some quick techniques for mindful parenting, remember to sign up for my short weekly email (click on the banner below) and you’ll get this FREE guide: “Finding Calmness in Chaos: 5 Quick Techniques for Mindful Parenting of Neurodiverse Children." Also, you are very welcome to join our private Facebook group: Mindfulness for Neurodiverse Families by clicking on the button at the bottom of the Home page. Wishing you a beautiful New Year's full of hope, love, and joy. ✨❤️