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Peaceful Parenting 101: Raising Your Kids

peaceful parent

Do you ever wonder if you could be a full-time peaceful parent? You know, where you don’t yell, scream, say the word “no” and feel mommy guilt like nobody’s business. I’ve read quite a few parenting books and have a lot of parenting tools up my sleeve, but when no one is looking, rage and impatience get the best of me.

I have a blog crush on ZenHabits. There are very few blogs I let enter my email inbox and this one gets special entry because the posts are so helpful and inspirational. Leo Babauta talks a lot about minimalism and simplifying your life. He also throws in some good parenting advice too. I always feel a sense of calm and find myself saying out loud, “Yeah, I knew that but thanks for the reminder.” As a parent you already know what your children need, you just need a gentle reminder with a good parenting 101 on raising your kids.


“… and she loved a boy very, very much– even more than she loved herself.” — Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree

peaceful parent

The Way of the Peaceful Parent

Post written by Leo Babauta.

There is no such thing as stress-free parenting.

A reader requested that I share my thoughts on stress-free parenting, as the father of six kids. And while I have learned a lot about being a dad, and finding joy in parenthood, I also know that stress-free parenting is a myth.

Parents will always have stress: we not only have to deal with tantrums and scraped knees and refusing to eat anything you cook, but we worry about potential accidents, whether we are ruining our kids, whether our children will find happiness as adults and be able to provide for themselves and find love.

That said, I’ve learned that we can find peace.

Peace isn’t a place with no stress, but a place where you take the stress as it comes, in stride, and don’t let it rule you. You let it flow through you, and then smile, and breathe, and give your child a hug.

There is a Way of the Peaceful Parent, but it isn’t one that I’ve learned completely. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, with the caveat that I don’t always follow the Way, that I still make mistakes daily, that I still have a lot to learn, that I don’t claim to have all the answers as a parent.

The Way: Raising Your Kids as a Peaceful Parent

The Way is only learned by walking it. Here are the steps I recommend:

  • Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.
  • Teach your child to make her own breakfast. This starts for most children at around the age of 3 or 4. Teach them progressively to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, clean up their rooms, put away clothes, wash their dishes, make lunch, wash their own clothes, sweep and clean, etc.
  • Teaching these skills takes patience. Kids suck at them at first, so you have to show them about a hundred times, but let them try it, correct them, and let them make mistakes. They will gradually learn independence as you will gradually have less work to do caring for them.
  • Older children can help younger children — it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the younger children learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.
  • Read to them often. It’s a wonderful way to bond, to educate, to explore imaginary worlds.
  • Build forts with them. Play hide and seek. Shoot each other with Nerf dart guns. Have tea together. Squeeze lemons and make lemonade. Play, often, as play is the essence of childhood. Don’t try to force them to stop playing.
  • When your child asks for your attention, grant it.
  • Parents need alone time, though. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have mommy and daddy time in the evening, when your child can do things on her own.
  • When your child is upset, put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just judge the behavior (yes, crying and screaming isn’t ideal), but the needs behind the behavior. Does he need a hug, or attention, or maybe he’s just tired?
  • Model the behavior you want your child to learn. Don’t yell at the child because he was screaming. Don’t get angry at a child for losing his temper. Don’t get mad at a kid who wants to play video games all the time if you’re always on your laptop. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.
  • When a stressful time arises (and it will), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh … you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you can smile.
  • Remember that your child is a gift. She won’t be a child for long, and so your time with her is fleeting. Every moment you can spend with her is a miracle, and you should savor it. Enjoy it to the fullest, and be grateful for that moment.
  • Let your child share your interests. Bake cookies together. Sew together. Exercise together. Read together. Work on a website together. Write a blog together.
  • Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologize. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn whenever he screws up.
  • Patiently teach your child the boundaries of behavior. There should be boundaries — what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s not OK to do things that might harm yourself or others. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. Those aren’t things the child learns immediately, so have patience, but set the boundaries. Within those boundaries, allow lots of freedom.
  • Give your child some space. Parents too often overschedule their child’s life, with classes and sports and play dates and music and clubs and the like, but it’s a constant source of stress for both child and parent to keep this schedule going. Let the child go outside and play. Free time is necessary. You don’t always have to be by her side either — she needs alone time just as much as you do.
  • Exercise to cope with stress. A run in solitude is a lovely thing. Get a massage now and then.
  • It helps tremendously to be a parenting team — one parent can take over when the other gets stressed. When one parent starts to lose his temper, the other should be a calming force.
  • Mom and dad need a date night every week or so. Get a babysitter, or better yet, teach the older kids to babysit.
  • Sing and dance together.
  • Take every opportunity to teach kindness and love. It’s the best lesson.
  • Kiss your child goodnight. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.

‘You know the only people who are always sure about the proper way to raise children? Those who’ve never had any.’ ~Bill Cosby


Speak your mind

Do you have any parenting tips that have worked for you in those stressful moments? Or any approaches that paid off in the long run because you stayed consistence and took the time to teach your little one some responsibility when their favorite phrase was, “Let me do it myself?” Share it in the comments below.

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12 Responses to Peaceful Parenting 101: Raising Your Kids

  1. xiomara March 26, 2012 at 6:54 am #

    For me, running is a great way to cope with everyday stress of being a working mom. Whenever I do have time to run in the morning while everyone else is still sleeping, our mornings are so much more fun. I have more energy after a run to get everyone ready and still make it to work on time. I just wish I could do it more often!

    • Jadah March 26, 2012 at 9:33 am #

      Thank you for sharing Xiomara! What time do run? How often do you get to run? Was there ever a time you didn’t enjoy running? I am still trying to get to the place of looking at exercise as something fun. It still feels like a chore or something that takes up a lot of time. My husband has recently started running and see such a difference in his energy and positivity.

  2. Popo Joy March 26, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    Off this morning for my own peaceful parenting experience, hiking with 8 & 9 year old boys. Since school’s out today, for a Hawaii State holiday. Learn more about this holiday here, http://www.joybeyondfifty.com/2012/03/26/prince-jonah-kuhio-kalanianaole-day/

    Keeping boys active in nature, is a peaceful form of parenting. It helps their little energizer bunnies to get spent and is a relaxing workout for me too:)

    • familysponge March 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

      Yes, walks in nature are calming for both kids and parents. I’d love to see pictures of your hiking adventure. Sounds fun!

  3. Jasmine Carr-Edmond March 27, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    This is an amazing article! Thanks for posting 🙂 Some of these things I already do but I’m excited to incorporate the others.

  4. Marieke March 28, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Jadah, thank you SO MUCH for posting this. I really needed this and after yesterday (it was one of “those” days), this is an awesome reminder.

    Perfect article to be reading in the morning with my breakfast.

  5. Malia {Playdough to Plato} May 7, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    This is a wonderful reminder that the small things (a smile, a hug) make a big difference. It’s sometimes hard for me to keep that in perspective. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Jen Fischer June 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm #

    I love this. It resonates so much with what we’re trying to do as parents. All tips that need to be shared, and ones that it is good to remind ourselves of often.

  7. Griselda January 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Oh my, my friend just told me about the calming jars and I’m all for peaceful parenting since I’m a new mom of two babies, the oldest being two and a half…its hard to calm my very energetic child! I will try these jars for sure!

    • Isabelle October 1, 2016 at 3:14 pm #

      Infirmatoon is power and now I’m a !@#$ing dictator.

  8. Pam Singelyn April 23, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    My children are both teenagers now. I still wake them every morning, I have a different ritual for each one and it includes the words Handsome for my son and Beautiful for my daughter. And even though they are teenagers, they still ask to be tucked in at night. No matter how “AWFUL” our day has been – THAT is our special time to reconnect and quietly discuss the events of the day. The very last words I say to each one is “I Love You!!”. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

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