In all our interactions with our child a compassionate connection comes first. This connection is at the core of Buddha Heart Parenting and creates a mutually respectful, enriching dynamic that is filled with clear compassionate communication from one heart to another.
Compassionate communication is used to meet our child’s needs of recognition, inclusion, contribution, acceptance, consideration, and support. It is at the heart of problem solving and relationship building.
How we communicate is an important part of our Buddhist practice. Buddhism has precepts that provide a condensed form of Buddhist ethical practice, and communication features as the fourth of these precepts:
Aware of suffering caused by the inability to listen to others and unmindful speech, I vow to cultivate deep listening and loving speech in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or bring suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy and hope.
Compassionate communication helps us to see our child’s behaviour in a different light. Once we do that it is much easier to act with compassion and wisdom rather than reacting to their behaviour. Behaviour comes from feelings, and emotions come from needs – either met or unmet – and if we can understand our own or our child’s needs, we will understand the emotion and see their behaviour differently. The skills of compassionate communication guide us through this process of understanding and allow us to compassionately meet our child’s needs, which will mean the emotion will disappear and the inappropriate behaviour will cease.
When we engage in compassionate communication our children, whatever their age, will feel loved and valued. When they feel loved and valued they are:
- Able to think for themselves
- Able to make decisions
- More optimistic
- More confident to try new things
- More responsible
- Compassionate – care about and help others
- Able to understand the Dharma.
So what are the specific skills of compassionate communication and how can we develop these skills? To answer the second question first, we can develop these skills through understanding and practice. The skills of compassionate communication fall into three categories: those that focus on our child, skills that focus on ourselves, and skills that combine both.
Skills that focus on the child are feedback (developing the skill of self-encouragement); empathic listening, and problem solving (when the child has the problem). Skills that focus on us are slef-expression, and solution finding (when we have a problem). Skills that incorporate both are participatory decision-making, family meetings and joint solution finding.
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. Buddha