PARENTING

QUESTION:

We really need extra help concerning parenting. It seems that we misbehaved ourselves in upbringing our 6-year old son.  For him it is difficult to hear what others say. He also is distracted in classes. Here are two examples from today:

In the morning he was playing for some time, and not wanting to go for a wash. I offered my help and said, that if he did not go now, later I won’t help. He didn’t.

Today we came home and he wanted to stay in the yard. I told him that he could, but right now he should put on warm pants, because it is minus 15 outside. Once again he did not listen and overstayed in the yard. He came inside after about 20 minutes to put on pants. I did not allow him to go and said that he should warm up first. He said that he must learn to skate, dressed himself and went outside… Before he went I said, that if the skates hinder him to listen, then they won’t remain. He said that he could not control his mind and left…Maybe we are too strict and too unsteady at the same time? When I try to look from my son’s point of view, I see a lot of “can not”. At the same time, it seems to me, that we spoiled him. I am really confused. I try to be conscious in parenting as I can. But very often I can not control the anger and shout at him.

ANSWER:

In Bhakti yoga, all actions are being performed under the supervision of God. Keep this in mind all the time, thinking, “I’m doing this for the pleasure of God.” Try to think, “I’m doing this for God and I’m the person appointed by God to look after my son.” Whatever happens to you, you see that as the grace of God. This feeling has to come from inside you. It’s a matter of awareness. You can view it as, “God is teaching me something … What is He trying to teach me? What does He want me to learn? How can I see my anger and loss of control as a window of opportunity to learn something more about the nature of my mind?” Take all of life as a play, because you know that God is invisibly doing things. He is teaching you lessons and taking care of you all the time. As Krishna explains to Arjuna in Bhagavad Gita, “Perform all of your actions as your duty and in an unattached way.” Do not become disturbed by the outcome. Remain balanced in your emotions, no matter how your son reacts. It is important to also understand that when you shout at your son, you are creating samskaras in his vulnerable mind that can create difficulties for him later in life, such as feeling angry, fearful and having trouble respecting authority.

With that said, you might be thinking that you know some of these concepts very well. However, applying them practically is a whole different story, as you have been experiencing. Spirituality should be experienced, otherwise it is not spirituality. Take this opportunity for self-study, and to understand the theory and to practice it properly.

 

PRACTICAL EXERCISE:

Here is one way to practically work with your mind, and also with your son.

  1. Select a picture of your son that you find to be particularly sweet, in that when you look at it, it melts your heart. Sit in front of the picture and light a candle, gazing at the picture for 5 minutes. Let your heart feel the love and tenderness for your son. See him as a gift from God for you to cherish and care for at all times.
  2. After 5 minutes are finished, write down how precious your son is to you. What qualities about him do you cherish?
  3. Notice how your mind is feeling in this open, expanded state of love. Write down from this place of love, a commitment that you will not let your anger get the best of you and you will not shout at your son, no matter his behavior. Discuss with your son how precious he is to you, and apologize for yelling at him. Share with him that you will not shout at him any more, and that you are going to use a better way to communicate with him when you are upset. Ask your son and husband to also sign the commitment. Post your written commitment in a visible place for all the family to see, and as a daily reminder for you to remain balanced and manage your emotions.
  4. Given that your son gets easily distracted, and does not do as told, he seems to have some symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Parents of ADHD kids often are frustrated and lose their temper because of the chronic problem of the child not paying attention or doing as told. To work effectively with children who are easily distracted and are not following directions (whether they have ADHD or not), it is important to only give them one short direction at a time. And, it is also important to come close to them and kneel down to their eye level and put your hands on their shoulder or hold their hand to get their attention and keep it.  Tell your son your feeling and what you want them to do and then help them to do it, or they will forget it right away. For example, if your son is outside, then go outside and tell him that you want to tell him something. Go right up to him and kneel down and hold his hands and look into his eyes. Tell him, “My Dear, I am worried because it is cold outside and you do not have warm pants on. Can you please come inside with me now and we will get your warm pants on, and then you can run right outside and play again?” You can even ask him if he wants to race you to the door to see who can reach it the fastest.  Make it fun for your precious boy.
  5. If he still does not agree, then you can tell him that he can choose to come with you now, or in 2 minutes. Kids often like to feel they have choices. If he says he will come in 2 minutes, then stay outside but let him play and then after 2 minutes tell him the time is up. Kneel down, hold his hands, and do the routine listed in point 4.
  6. Once he goes inside with you, tell him how happy he is making you feel because he is following directions. Often times parents focus on scolding their kids for what they are doing wrong. If you can try to focus on what he is doing right by, “Catching him doing something good,” that will go a long way in shaping his behavior in the positive direction you desire. You can tell him how proud you are of him that he is following directions and also tell your husband in front of your son how proud you are of him for following directions. Once he sees how much praise he gets for following directions, he will want to do it more and more.
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