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  • Writer's pictureMarie

Battle-Free Parenting

As a parent, I have received more advice than I know what to do with. I bet you have too. All of it I'm sure, came from a well-meaning place. For me, all of it was heard, some of it was gratefully taken on board and implemented and a little of it was politely accepted and then discreetly discarded of. And as my child grows up and I too grow and learn as a mama, I'm even beginning to question some of the more 'sound' counsel that I've been offered.

Like 'pick your battles'.

I'm sorry, do what now?

Of course, I do understand the sentiment. Turning a blind eye to particular behaviours, actions or comments has long been an effective strategy for encouraging politeness, compliance and generally socially acceptable behaviour. And I've seen it used, and indeed made good use of it myself, not only as a parent but also as a teacher.

But why?

Why are we pretending that someone's feelings and reactions aren't happening when they are?

Why are we choosing to perceive a child's behaviour as anything other than an attempt to communicate what's going on for them?

And why on earth are we talking like we are preparing to enter into a conflict with our own babies, as if they are our enemy?

What if, instead of picking our battles, we sat with our child through their frustrations, held them close through their sadness and walked by their side towards growth? Well, then parent and child are allies and maybe, just maybe, there will be no battles.

Child therapists are increasingly adopting tools such as role-play as an effective and powerful means to support children in working through big feelings and difficult situations. Not only do children have fun assuming the role of someone or something other than themselves, but this opportunity to consider life's challenges in a gentle, creative and imaginative way helps them to develop strong problem-solving skills for dealing with these challenges, without the need for conflict or confrontation.

Role-playing allows children to interact as a character, not themselves, meaning they can put themselves in the shoes of many different people and from this practice, they can better relate to their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. That is to say, that they learn to empathise. Not to mention the fact that it relieves stress and can make a difficult circumstance easier to cope with.

As parents, we can engage our children in role play at home. Not only can we help them to develop the skills mentioned above but we might also gain some valuable insight into what struggles they may be facing. So get those finger puppets and dress up costumes at the ready; you and your child will enjoy some quality play time together and they'll have no idea that they're learning. Result!

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