One of my goals as a homeschool mom was to raise adults who were not narcissists. I wanted my children to see life from another person’s perspective, to be able to walk a mile in another’s shoes. That’s a big reason why we loved reading with Sonlight. Reading fiction helps people develop both empathy and emotional intelligence. I imagine you are pretty good at both those skills.
So here’s an idea of how to use your empathy and emotional intelligence to bless your family and create a gentler homeschool with fewer frustrations. It’s a simple exercise that can help you gain perspective when you feel your blood pressure rising at home or when you’re baffled by a child’s behavior.
Here it is in a nutshell: When frustrations arise, take a minute or two to think through your child’s experience from their perspective.
See the World Through Your Children's Eyes
Imagine what it feels like to your child to hear what you just said to them. It might have been exactly what you should have said, but it may still be quite disappointing for them to hear.
Or imagine what it feels like for your child to wake up where they do, come into the family space as they do, eat breakfast, interact, get dressed, and so on. Walk through the events of their day from their point of view, and see what you notice.
You might realize something obvious you had overlooked.
- “Oh no, I bet she’s really hungry!”
- “I’ve asked him to sit still for the entire day so far!”
Or maybe you’ll notice something more subtle. Perhaps one of your children is getting too much stimulation and needs permission to retreat to a quiet space during the day when they need it. Maybe your daughter is feeling an extra need for affection after her sister has been mean to her.
Check Your Tone Through Your Children's Ears
And sometimes you might realize that your own attitude toward your children is not helping anything. I’ve had to realize this about myself before, and I know it can be hard but necessary. How does your child feel when you’re stressed and you’re talking in that certain tone? Sometimes I’d realize a child was melting down in part because of the atmosphere I helped create by rushing around and being preoccupied. That’s difficult to admit, but it can help you see how to move forward.
Now of course, you are not responsible for keeping your children happy at all times. As they grow, they gain more and more responsibility for their own actions and attitudes.
But thinking through the day from their perspective can help you grow in compassion and respect for your children. Yes, you still must set boundaries for them. But perhaps this quick exercise can give you a jolt of compassion as you enforce a boundary. Perhaps you can deliver the same discipline with a genuine hug and a kiss instead of an exasperated tone.
As you consider life from their perspective, pay special attention to your children:
- what fills your children with joy
- what makes them tense up
- what brings out the best or worst in them
Then once you notice these things, let them inform how you guide your child.
We don’t have to remove all barriers and hardships for our children. Instead, we should support them as they learn to deal with barriers and hardships. We can be open to their experience and help them process their feelings.
So when you need an extra dose of perspective and compassion for your out-of-control children, take a deep breath and consider things from their point of view. It’s just another tool in your tool belt as you raise and educate your precious and unique children. I pray for God’s wisdom and strength for you in this awesome journey.