Wikipedia says “an explosive material is a reactive substance that contains a great amount of potential energy that can produce an explosion if released suddenly, usually accompanied by the production of light, heat, sound, and pressure.”
Is this ringing anyone else’s bells? A great amount of energy… reactive… sudden explosion… pressure? It describes my five-year-old at around dinner time. And also myself, on the bad days.
I don’t want to be a volatile substance. I tend to keep dangerous stuff away from my kids. I keep the bleach high the cupboard and the AK47s in a locked drawer (just kidding! I live in New Zealand, not America!)
I don’t want to expose my kids to stuff that would harm them, be it physically or psychologically. So over the last couple of years I have called on my own personal SWAT team to help me move from explosive parenting to empathetic parenting. This team involves supportive friends, a bunch of parenting authors, and a couple of online forums that inspire me to be the creative and respectful parent I want to be.
Empathy is the single most important trait for kids to develop. It’s the trait that will enable them to be kind teens and adults, the thing that can potentially change our world from the unjust and violent one we have to a fair and peaceful one.
When we can dig deep and treat our children with empathy it directly grows their empathy cells. (It sounds a bit like science fiction, but it is Actual Science!) There is only one thing that creates mean kids and adults and that is treating them unkindly – the empathy center in their brain literally, physically, fails to grow.