6 Tools of Dharma Parenting
Dharma Parenting gives you 6 Parenting Tools for children of all ages. They’re easy to remember using the word “dharma” as an acronym: D-H-A-R-M-A
The First Tool is D: Discover Your Child’s, and Your Own, Brain/Body Type
Your brain/body type includes (1) your inherited tendencies and preferences that have been hardwired from birth, also known as our “body type,” (2) the state of balance or imbalance of your body type, and (3) your changing brain connections, which are constantly being shaped by ongoing experiences as well the stage of your brain development.
One brain/body type responds with impatience and anger. Another might respond with nervousness and fear. A third type might not respond at all. The combination of inherent tendencies and personal brain development determine how everyone responds.
The Second Tool is H: Heal Yourself
We understand that you’re a parent 24-7, and with all the demands of raising kids, there may not seem to be any time for healing yourself. But you’ve got to remain aware of your own needs—for your children’s sake as well as your own. Even on commercial airplanes, we’re advised to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others.
The Third Tool is A: Attention and Appreciation
Childhood is a roller-coaster ride of growth and development, propelled by massive transformations in the child’s brain connections. Parental attention during these years is critical for your child to learn how to work in groups and develop self-esteem, social skills, a sense of right and wrong, respect for others, and even critical and creative thinking.
Your attention is immensely important. Children are not static objects they are constantly growing in response to each new experience. By appreciating each new accomplishment, you are supporting their developing sense of self and ability to interact with the world.
The Fourth Tool is R: Routines to Improve Family Dynamics
Established routines—bedtime routines, dining-room routines, or shopping routines—give children a sense of security. They know what is expected of them in each situation. Routines break up a long day into meaningful chunks and give your child a feeling of being in control.
Another valuable routine is family meetings—a designated time to talk about issues in a calm and supportive setting.
The Fifth Tool is M: Manage Meltdowns and Cultivate Better Behavior
This tool consists of six recommendations, all starting with the letter C.
1. Check in with yourself and with your child
2. Comfort your child
3. Change brain states
The Sixth Tool is A: Anticipate and Adapt
Whether you’re focused on nurturing your child’s talents or ensuring that family life moves smoothly through the day, part of your dharma as a parent is to anticipate your family’s needs. Once you are familiar with the first five Dharma Parenting tools, you will naturally find yourself looking ahead to see how you can use those tools to avoid crises. Even so, despite your best efforts unexpected situations will come up. You will need to adapt to the situation, using your best judgment.