Crianza en el amor para una nueva era

smiling girl holding gray rabbit

Además de la familia, la escuela es por supuesto uno de los sitios cruciales donde diversos factores sociales influyen sobre la maduración emocional del niño. Es también decisiva en el desarrollo de procesos cognitivos (atención, memoria, percepción y observación). Pero el impacto sobre el desarrollo emocional y social del niño es decisivo, tiene más peso en el futuro del niño, e incluso del planeta, que el aprendizaje de las matemáticas o la biología. Por eso considero esencial que las escuelas puedan crear entornos libres de ansiedad mientras también contribuyen a nutrir y satisfacer las necesidades emocionales del niño, fomentando su curiosidad, permitiendo la exploración del mundo y estimulando el dominio de sus habilidades y talentos.

El líder espiritual Osho dijo que las escuelas deberían enfocarse en enseñar el arte de vivir, el arte de morir y la meditación (además de algo de inglés, ciencias y matemáticas). También dijo:

“Una verdadera educación no te enseñará cómo competir. Te enseñará a cooperar. No te enseñará a luchar y llegar primero. Te enseñará a ser creativo, a amar, a ser feliz, sin comparar al niño con los otros. No te enseñará que puedes ser feliz solo cuando eres el primero”.

¿Estimulan las escuelas la empatía o enseñan a los niños a amar a los demás y a respetar el planeta? ¿A ser compasivo?

Los beneficios de aprender a amar se extienden más allá de uno mismo, y comienzan con el autoconocimiento y la autocompasión.

En el Arte de amar, el psicoanalista Erik Fromm habla sobre cómo, en el proceso de aprender a amar, como con cualquier otro arte, existen ciertos requisitos (disciplina, concentración, paciencia y dedicación) sin los cuales no se puede dominar el arte. ¿Qué entornos facilitan esa práctica?

¿Podríamos proporcionar a los niños un espacio seguro en la escuela donde ellos puedan examinar sus problemas relacionales y aprender a expresar sus sentimientos abiertamente? “Espacio seguro” es un término terapéutico que se refiere a un lugar y un momento en el que una persona puede sentirse cómoda y a salvo. Donde una persona puede expresarse libremente sin temor a ser juzgada, y obtener información, con la certeza de saberse escuchada y aceptada. Además, donde lo que se dice es confidencial.

Una vez creado un espacio seguro, es más fácil expresar y regular emociones. En sesiones de grupo, los estudiantes pueden poner sobre la mesa sus quejas o discutir los conflictos que existen entre ellos o entre ellos y sus maestros, y un buen facilitador les mostrará formas no confrontaciones de resolver conflictos.

La compasión se puede enseñar, y el amor se puede aprender. Y podemos ofrecer modelos de relaciones solidarias y enseñar principios de cooperación.

Es natural que los niños respondan con amor

Es importante invitar a los niños a observar las diferentes maneras en que otros experimentan el mundo para que su pensamiento deje de ser binario y sea más holístico. Ayudándoles a reflexionar sobre el impacto que sus acciones tienen en los demás, en el planeta y en sus cuerpos, les ayudamos a desarrollar consciencia de si mismos y de su conexión con el entorno.

Cuando un niño está pasando por un tiempo de confusión emocional, una de las reacciones más comunes de sus compañeros es alejarse (huir) porque no saben cómo manejar el estrés que provoca la situación. Estimular la empatía en los niños es uno de los objetivos clave de la disciplina inductiva (también llamada disciplina positiva). En este tipo de disciplina, las transgresiones sociales no son abordadas con castigo. Se le deja al niño experimentar las consecuencias naturales.

La mayoría de los educadores modernos son conscientes de que cuando se aplica un sistema de castigo y recompensa, si acaso se logra inhibir un comportamiento por medio del miedo pero cuando se castigan  las transgresiones sociales, se generan reacciones que van desde el resentimiento a el  aumento de comportamientos desafiantes.

En cambio, se puede inducir a un niño a sentir pena por la incomodidad que pudo haber causado en otro y ayudarlo a reflexionar sobre el efecto de sus acciones. Luego se puede sugerir una acción reparadora (abrazar, pedir perdón, invitar al otro a jugar) para que la vergüenza y la culpa se atenúen. El niño recordará estos comportamientos que eventualmente contribuirían a reforzar los circuitos neuronales en el cerebro que, la neurobiología nos cuenta, están alambrados para la empatía. La empatía contribuirá sin duda entonces a limitar la agresión y estimulará el comportamiento prosocial.

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Parenting for a new era

smiling girl holding gray rabbit
Photo by Anastasiya Gepp on Pexels.com

Besides the family, the school is one of the most crucial social factors influencing the emotional maturation of the child; therefore, it’s also decisive in the development of cognitive processes (attention, memory, perception, and observation). But schools can also have a significant impact on the emotional and social development of the child. Therefore, they must aim at creating anxiety-free environments while contributing to nurturing and gratifying the emotional needs of the child, promoting curiosity, allowing exploration, and stimulating mastery of certain skills and talents.

The spiritual leader Osho said that schools should focus on teaching the art of living, the art of dying, and meditation (in addition to some English, science, and mathematics). He also said:

“A real education will not teach you how to compete; it will teach you to cooperate. It       will not teach you to fight and come first. It will teach you to be creative, to be loving, to be blissful, without any comparison with the other. It will not teach you that you can be happy only when you are the first.”

Do schools stimulate empathy or  teach children how to love others and respect the planet? To be self-compassionate?

The benefits of learning to love extend beyond oneself, and they begin with self-knowledge, and self-compassion.

In the Art of Loving, Fromm speaks about how, in the process of learning love, as with of any other art, certain requirements exist—discipline, concentration, patience, and dedication—without which the art can’t be mastered.

Could we provide children with a safe space where to examine their relational issues and learn to express their feelings openly? “Safe space” is a therapeutic term referring to a place and moment in which a person could feel comfortable and safe. Where they could express themselves freely and gain insight, knowing that they will be listened to and accepted, and that what is said is confidential.

Once a safe space is created, it becomes easier to express and regulate emotions. In group sessions the students can to put on the table grievances or conflicts existing between them or between them and their teachers, and this gives them the opportunity to learn mature ways of solving conflict.

Compassion can be taught, and love can be learned. And we can offer models of solidary relationships and teach principles of cooperation.

It is natural for children to respond lovingly. However, it’s important to invite them to look at the different ways in which others experience the world, helping them to reflect on the impact their actions have on others, on the planet, and on their bodies.

When a child is going through some emotional turmoil, one of the most common reactions from peers is to turn away (flee) because they don’t know how to handle the stress the situation elicits. Stimulating empathy in children is one of the key objectives of inductive discipline. In this type of discipline, social transgressions are not approached with punishment. Most modern educators are aware that punishment for social transgressions engenders reactions ranging from resentment to defiant behaviors. Instead, a child could be induced to feel sorry for the discomfort he might have caused and helped to reflect on the effect his actions had on another. Then a reparative action can be suggested—hugging, asking for forgiveness, inviting the other to play—so that shame and guilt are attenuated. These behaviors would be remembered and would eventually contribute to a reinforcement of the neural circuits for empathy. The newfound empathy will then contribute to the limiting of aggression and an increase in prosocial behavior.

Mindfulness to relieve stress

When clients ask about the best ways to achieve relaxation and counteract stress, I have different suggestions to make: for example, they can listen to relaxation CDs. But mindfulness should be the goal.

Meditation of receiving Reiki sessions on a regular basis are of course in the menu of choices I’d offer clients and I may also teach them how to use “progressive relaxation” techniques where they progressively bring the body to a state of generalized muscle tightness to then let go.

photo of woman looking upwards
Photo by Jonathan Andrew on Pexels.com

In the haste of these days even the best of intentions are in the way of introducing changes in our lives, and we often aim at a quick fix.

Then, the only mantra you’d get to recite is “I have no time,” since you jump from deadline to deadline and between setting new applications on your smart phone, answering voice messages and emails, checking your social media, or downloading movies on the computer… not much time left for self.

I understand it’s unrealistic to ask busy people to take even ten minutes to practice mindfulness, add meditation or progressive relaxation practices, adding to an already crowded agenda. It will only sum up to the overwhelming pile of to-do things.

But… don’t add it, just incorporate it

A rather easy way to manage stress is the way of the observer. The main ingredient in the recipe is awareness: living fully in the present; becoming conscious of our body, our thoughts and our emotions in every minute of our lives. It requires practice to get out of the “automatic pilot” kind of mode, but once you get it, it becomes as easy as turning on a light switch.

Give it a try right now, start with this: instead of moving your eyes toward the end of this page, trying to guess what comes next, read word by word, appreciating the p a u s e s  b e t w e e n   l e t t e r s, the         p a u s e s                between             words, the commas and the colons and the periods. Look at the form of the letters, the ink color and the background in which these words are printed. Now, become aware of your body, relax your shoulders, observe your breathing (don’t change it). No need to change anything, just witness the inflow and the outflow of the air you’re breathing. Monitor your doing. Be conscious of the surroundings: how loud is your environment; how does the temperature of the air feel on your skin; how comfortable is your body in the position you’re sitting now. Move a little, shift posture; make sure that you’re really comfy.

Now change your standpoint a bit and carefully observe your surroundings. You may immediately notice a shift, your thoughts slowing down… This new perspective would give full body to your experience.

Repeat this exercise every time that you feel engaged in a frantic, anxious pace, or for no reason other than to enjoy relaxation. Maybe set your alarm to remind you to take three minutes every hour for this mindfulness exercise. You’ll notice changes in the quality of your health. You’ll experience a relief in levels of anxiety.

Physiological advantage

You’ll notice that as you pace down your heartbeat and your blood pressure may decrease. The best part of this practice is that on the long run you’ll save time, because awareness lessens the number of mistakes you make and improves your creativity.

When mindfulness helps you slow down, brainwaves change frequency. There are four categories of brainwaves, ranging from the most activity to the least activity. When the brain is aroused, it generates beta waves (low amplitude, fast waves, ranging from 15 to 40 cycles per second).

Then, there are alpha brainwaves (slower, and higher in amplitude ranging from 9 to 14 cycles per second) typical of a person taking a break during intense activity.

Ideas flow easily in a theta brainwave state (greater amplitude and slower frequency, normally between 5 and 8 cycles a second) typical of a person who’s daydreaming or in a state of mental relaxation. And finally, there are the delta brainwaves (of the greatest amplitude and slowest frequency, between 1.5 and 4 cycles per second). These are the predominant brainwaves found in deep meditation and dreamless sleep.

To put it in another way, when you become mindful, your right side of the brain is allowed an opportunity to play its part. Left brain is intellectual, logic, impatient, fast (predominantly beta waves). Right brain is intuitive, symbolic, and creative. Using both hemispheres grants you balance and using your full potential. Working with both hemispheres is like having two instead of one employees working fulltime and on total accord for you.