There’s nothing like a mindful parenting quote in the right place and at the right time to shed light on something we’ve been longing to see.
I told my own story and how I came to NVC over at my about page, but I don’t think I ever mentioned that it all started from a quote. When I first heard Rosenberg saying that every person is the only one responsible and accountable for his needs, it hit me like a tidal wave. I suddenly understood what was different in my life, and why I was able to live in happiness. The reason was my attentiveness to my needs, and my ability to get my needs met.
Marshall Rosenberg, the mastermind behind Nonviolent Communication, wasn’t only a brilliant psychologist, but also an enlightened writer and speaker, making his quotes into all readers’ sheer pleasure.
While there are thousands of his quotes circling the world wide web, I’ve chosen the ones that most affected my life, and contributed most to my parenting (and life) style. The below parenting quotes are carefully chosen and represent, from A to Z, everything I teach, and the way that I live my peaceful and positive life.
#1: Always Hear the Yes in the No
Children say a lot of “no”, we know it. When they say “no”, we take it personally and get upset. Our reaction will always be a reflection of their “no”, but what they are really saying – is a silent yes, that we are not yet trained to hear. If we hear that silent yes, we will reduce at least 80% of our fights and power struggles, tantrums and tears.
#2: Never Do Anything That Isn’t Play
While the “never” part makes it sound a bit radical, this is probably one of the more actionable tips to productive and cooperative parenting. The need for play is an existential human need, in adults too, but so much more present with children. Making everything you can into a game will make everything 90% easier to cooperate with, follow, and listen to. Because – which kid doesn’t like to play?
#3: Use Anger as a Wake-UP Call for Unmet Needs
Anger is a secondary feeling. Underneath it there is always a feeling of frustration over an unmet need. If we learn to stop, breathe, and understand which needs of ours are not being met, we can communicate these needs instead of the guilt, and the blame we usually communicate (yes, that same manner of communication that pushes our children further away from us).
#4: Every Time I Mess Up is a Chance to Practice
This is as important in relation to us, parents, as much as it is important in relation to our children. People mess up, it’s something that we all do. No matter how old we are. We can either have these incidents lead to to fear, guilt, and shame, or we can take it to a brand new place, where a mistake is something that you do, not something that you are. And as such – responsibility and accountability, without the regular grain of guilt and shame, help us turn mistakes into opportunities to empower.
And is there anything more optimistic than these few words?
#5: Depression is the Reward We Get for Being Good
This is something we, adults, can relate to, and hopefully, relating to it from our place in adulthood will prevent us from making our children do “good” just because they are told to “be good”. Our world is full of individuals who are neglecting their own wants and needs to make other people happy. Our world is full with individuals who are sparing the ones close to them from their true selves because they don’t want to hurt their feelings. Many of us are depressed because we are suppressing ourselves. If we want to see a world of happiness, we must start being honest.
#6: Learning is Too Precious to be Motivated by Coercive Tactics
There’s something about learning many of us are not aware of – each time we learn something, we learn it with and through our entire life experience. We learn with our bodies, knowledge is in our cells, in our chemistry and in our physics. When fear, guilt, and shame are added into our learning processes – fear, guilt, and shame become the process that we learn.
#7: At the Root of Every Tantrum and Power Struggle Are Unmet Needs
Addressing the behavior without addressing the underlying need is futile and will forever prevent us from building the bond we long for with our children. Addressing the behavior without addressing the need will forever leave our children feeling unseen, unheard, and far – far away from us.
#8: Empathizing with Someone’s ‘No’ Protects Us from Taking it Personally
Taking things personally is one of the habits most parents have that make parenting so much harder. Someone once said that in order for us to be able to walk into someone else’s shoes, we must take off our own shoes first. Not taking things personally, understanding that whatever we hear only has to do with the pain of the other, will allow us to open our hearts and really see their pain. Maybe for the very first time.
#9: Every Message, Regardless of Form or Content, is an Expression of a Need
Whether these be words, tears, smiles, screams, or even fists – there’s a need behind them. The need for autonomy, connection, understanding, seeing and been seen, hearing and being heard; there’s always something there, behind what we see. The beating heart of a human being.
#10: The Cause of Anger Lies in Our Thinking – In Thoughts of Blame and Judgment
On Easter day I’ve shared this story on my Facebook page. Ilay (my 3YO) came home after a busy morning, he had too much sugar and was very, very tired. He asked to play with a huge box of matches (probably like a 1000 matches) I once allowed him to play with, but since that time it was no longer allowed.
What started off as just another emotional outburst ended in a full, massive, 20 minute explosion. He was screaming and hyperventilating and nothing we did made him give that idea up and relax. We were handling it well, until Jonathan started saying “this is not okay, it’s not normal”. “The fact that none of us can make him feel better is not ok”. “I’m not trying to make him feel better” I said, “well you should” he replied, “he’s suffering”. Which was true. But now Jon was suffering, too, and the parental peace was somewhat disrupted.
I’m sharing this with you because I know you’ve been there, trying to calm an exploding child. The thing is though, that the only way to really remain calm in this situation is REMAINING in the CURRENT SITUATION. As soon as we let thoughts like “this isn’t okay, this isn’t normal, he isn’t okay, we’re not okay” we’re no longer in the situation, we’re in our interpretation of the situation that includes judgments and self judgments, guilt, and shame that do nothing but add fuel to the fire, because WE ARE SUFFERING.
No one can make anyone feel better, we can be there, offer our help, empathize and show all the compassion in the world, but in the end of the day – this emotional rocket will only land when the pilot will internalize his journey with this is over. It’s up to him, not us. The only thing we can do is be there.
As soon as Ilay was “done”, he laid his head on me, pointed towards the stingrays in the documentary that was playing, asked me to rub his back, and fell asleep.
We’re okay, he’s okay, I’m okay. And none of this can ever have any implication on our relationship.
This is my mantra. And I take it very seriously 🙂
#11: We Can Never Make Anyone Do Anything Against Their Will Without Enormous Consequences
And these consequences are always on our connection. No one is ever happy about, or with, a person who coerces him. There’s always a better way. And sometimes this would mean that we need to rethink our requests, and you know what? Our connections are worth it.
#12: As Long as I Think I ‘Should’ Do It, I’ll Resist It, Even If I Want to Do it Very Much
This is the nature of the human kind. We are programmed to resist control, and this is probably the most ignored of all aspect to the human nature when it comes to bringing children up and the biggest mistake most parents do: when we will say “you need to”, a child will ALWAYS say “no”. If we want to reduce the number of power struggles and fights we must start addressing children like wholehearted human beings. And while at it, let’s start treating ourselves as such, too 🙂 Modeling is the best way to educate, isn’t it?
#13: The First Step in Healing Is To Put the Focus on What’s Alive Now, Not What Happened in The Past
All too often we view a happening through the lens of past. We remember what had already happened, how we felt about it and what we had thought about it, and we reproduce the same for the present moment. Because of the way that we learn, remember? When we do that, the present escapes us as we’re not giving ourselves the opportunity to feel anew. Elaborating on this quote I always add that the future be better removed from our re-actions as well. Our fears and worries of what might be, often take control over our state of mind and prevent us from the present moment.
#14: When People Hear Needs, It Provokes Compassion. When People Hear Diagnoses, It Provokes Defensiveness and Attack
This is true for people of all ages, you, me, and our children. When we seek a positive way of communication, starting with what “I need” will always lead to better results than opening with “you are so…”.
#15: When It Comes To Giving Advice, Never Do So Unless You’ve First Received a Request in Writing, Signed by a Lawyer
If you’re asking yourself how does this one relate to parenting, I’ll tell you. Any advice I can give will come from me, from my experience, my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my joys, and my pains. These have absolutely nothing to do with the adult or child in front of me. My words might distract him from his dreams, or joys. That’s not what the person in front of us needs, he needs us to help him achieve his dreams, to follow his desires.
#16: We Want to Take Action Out of the Desire To Contribute To Life Rather Than Out Of Fear, Guilt, Shame, Or Obligation
Think about why we do things, and how we feel when we do things. When we engage in activities we’ve chosen, wholeheartedly, we are fulfilled, happy, and positive. When we engage in activities that were forced upon us, we’re resentful, angry, frustrated. And we act accordingly.
#17: How I Choose To Look At Any Situation Will Greatly Affect Whether I Have The Power To Change It Or Make Matters Worse
This is probably one of the most important lessons – the responsibility for everything that happens – is ours. Our reactions, as parents, are 95% of every happening. I know it’s hard to take.
#18: Regardless Of Our many Differences, We All Have The Same Needs. What Differs Is The Strategy For Fulfilling These Needs
Each time I’m angry, frustrated, and annoyed at someone (children or adults), I know it’s because I’ve surrendered to my thoughts. All these negative feelings arise from me believing that something isn’t right, someone isn’t right, and that it is up to me to change HIM. But when I’m stronger, I’m able to see that everything done is a strategy to get a need met. I ask myself what that need is, and I meet it in a positive strategy that’s accepted by everyone.
These mindful parenting quotes are core to Nonviolent Communication, to peace of mind, to cooperation achieved through compassion and motivated by love. This is the world I want to live in, this is the world I create, every day for my family and for the parents who work with me. How would you like to change your life? Or you can join my parenting support group on Facebook, either way I would love to meet you 🙂