Monday, April 30, 2007

Schnarch's Impact on My Kids

The book Passionate Marriage spends a lot of time on the topic of self soothing. When you can modulate anxiety on your own, you're capable of a higher level of functioning.

This is an important lesson not only for the good of one's relationship with a spouse but also for the benefit of raising one's children. Both in the main text and in the end notes, Schnarch talks about how you can help encourage that skill in your kids, based on how you interact with them.

I've tried to put that lesson into practice. My older daughter, just shy of four years old, can sometimes spiral into a horrible temper tantrum. Rather than going stern and trying to scold her into submission, I encourage her to "make herself quiet inside". Sometimes it works better than others.

This morning, I had a moment that helped me realize that she's grasping the idea. I caught her younger sister, who is two years old, with something she wasn't supposed to have. I confiscated the item, and she threw a big fit.

While I was putting the item away, the older daughter came to her younger sister and held her in a hug. I asked her what she was doing, and she responded, "I'm trying to show her how to calm down." She was applying a small child's version of hugging till relaxed. It was a beautiful moment.
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