In Praise of SOFT & SLOW

A gentler parenting approach to smoothing all things out.
Photo Credits: Goop At FAO Schwartz Ny
August 1, 2023
As children, we lived in a society far slower, softer, and simpler than that which we and our children live today. As of late, our social conditions, moral values, and everyday lifestyles are morphing at a dramatic speed, and it is easy to feel harried and torn.

We all feel so caught in the net of confusion, the distractions and hurriedness around us. We all try so desperately to catch up with the rest of the world and yet may lose it altogether when things don’t run smoothly. Worry not, I’ve got just the answer. The key to dealing is ALL in the timing and the general tone.

What is happening in our homes is the same conflict that is happening in the world, between nations, races, genders, generations, and labor force hierarchies. We all claim to be democratic. And we all want to be diplomatic. But we are so far from social harmony and respect that, we must admit, it’s a bit of a mockery.

If everyone could apply the tenets of SOFT & SLOW, the harmony we all dream of could be real.

It all begins at home.

If my 3 year old daughter, Sofia, throws a massive tantrum, the most counterproductive strategy to deal with it is to yell, reprimand and punish in domination. If Sofia defies me and refuses to surrender to my plea, the very last thing I should do is coerce. We forget that these tiny beings demand equality too! They have their voice just as much as we do. No one is above anyone else. It’s easy as parents to confuse freedom with anarchy and self-expression with authorization. And so we revert to authority, severity, and force. But these methods not only don’t work, but exacerbate the situation.

TRY THESE METHODS INSTEAD…

Shh shh shh shh shh shh shh
Trust me, it really works. When your baby, toddler, or perhaps even you in your chaotic head are wailing and squealing, this sound gives the message that there is peace. No words can do it better. We were all tonal beings before evolving into verbal creatures of reason. Just the soft murmurs of shhh, shhh, shhh, and whatever the matter might have been suddenly flits away. Promise.

Leave the room, and not a single word
Try it, when your toddler, teenager or spouse is misbehaving… When tantrums and chaos abound, LEAVE. The message is stronger than any words can register. This message implies how unacceptable the behavior is and how you are an example of the contrary. And this way, you don’t allow any of your words to be used as logs to fuel the fuego more.

Sign off from your Phone How important is checking messages, scrolling through Instagram, and deleting the 50 new spams in your inbox, AGAIN? Is it not more fulfilling to fully experience your own moment (for just one moment) than to squander it watching others live theirs through TikTok or Instagram? (Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate and use these platforms, but the question is when to say when!) It’s knowing how to distinguish which “missing out” is more important, with those around you or those in the ether. If your phone is your office, it can be tricky to define clear work hours. Making an intentional effort to carve out quality family time will not cause you to get behind. Putting your phone away (and coming back to the real world) is a gift not only to your toddler, teenager, spouse and pet, but to you. Give everyone, including yourself, the gift of you and your full presence. [Full disclosure, I BREACH WHAT I PREACH MORE THAN I PRACTICE IT]

STOP and go quiet, to hear your own thinking
Inner calm is the intercom to wisdom. When you quiet down for a moment, your higher guidance has the freedom to tell you things. If you are not sure how to manage a situation with your child, the best thing to do is stop and breathe, The origin of the word “inspire” is “inspirare” meaning to breathe or blow into. When you quiet down, you allow the Universe to blow into you, and only then can you be influenced, moved, or guided to do the right thing.

Get down on their level and let them know you’re with, not above, them.
Every time you get into a power struggle with your child, most likely you will lose. Children only back down after they exhaust themselves from resistance. The strategy is to find out what’s driving their behavior. Children don’t behave erratically. They only behave from their own reality, which is valid to them. We can be tender without surrender, as we can be persuasive without being abrasive. Soften up, get down and be down with your kiddo.

When we slow things down and soften up, we are not losing time or power. We are managing them. Easing up, or pausing, can allow us greater momentum when we need it. Being gentler, or softer, doesn’t make us weaker but gives us greater strength under control.

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