A friend asked the question about resources for raising powerful and gentle girls and it got me thinking, because I couldn’t find any resources, about whether we can raise powerful and gentle children. I do believe we can.
When hearing about powerful children it seems that many people are slightly fearful. For some reason “powerful” is viewed as a synonym for “strong willed” and both of those apparently are negative terms. I’ve even seen “powerful” children being described as master manipulators, loud and temperamental. I don’t agree. I did a vlog on the strong willed child and how we can view that as a positive, rather viewing these children as passionate and spirited and allowing their distinctive personality traits to be a strength, not a liability.
Sure, when you are raising a passionate, spirited, stubborn child, it can be difficult at times, but it doesn’t have to be all encompassing and overwhelming. Raising spirited children is a challenge but it is not something to shy away from. The work is worth the gold that shines through.
As for powerful children being master manipulators, loud and temperamental? Why does the term powerful have to be synonymous with that? To be honest, it frustrates me to no end. I view powerful as something beautiful and something that our children need to be told that they are daily. This is regardless of whether your child is strong willed, passionate, or a peaceful child.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
We have words of affirmations and encouragement that we speak daily over our girls. We call them declarations. These are attributes we want the girls to know – things we believe about them. It is their gold and what we want to see shine. They start off with the simple statement of “YOU ARE BRAVE AND YOU ARE POWERFUL.”
We have been speaking these over our girls since they were almost 2 years old and they can recite all of our declarations and speak them over themselves. We have seen the proof in the pudding in how they have used these declarations over themselves, and others. I have seen Soraya speak over herself “I am brave and I am powerful” when in a situation where she was a little afraid because it was an unknown. I have had Kira say it to me when I was sad about something and was struggling. They are aware of the power of words. They are becoming aware of their own power.
Now that they are almost 7, I asked them “What does being powerful mean to you?” These were their responses…
Soraya: Being powerful is being brave and strong. Strong over my own mind. I can make good choices. I can be powerful and stop the turds coming and being angry and losing control and I can tell fear to go away.
Kira: Being powerful means I can do anything. It means I am not afraid. Or I can tell the scares to go away. I can be me. I can love everyone. Powerful is good and helpful and kind.
It is always interesting to see what a child’s take-home is from what you have been speaking to them over the years.
I guess the best way for me to look at “Powerful” is to look at willpower. The definition of willpower is the ability to control one’s own actions, emotions, or urges. For me, this is what I am telling my girls. You are powerful. Yes, you have the ability to control your actions, your emotions and your urges. You CAN calm yourself down. You CAN stop the anger. Yes, you CAN stop yourself from saying something mean (when all you really wanted to do was say a bad word).
I love some of the synonyms for willpower: grit, self-control, self-restraint, strength, force, resolution. When you apply these to powerful, well, you have powerful children who know control, restraint, their strength and are resolved. All. Good. Things.
BUT CAN YOUR CHILD BE POWERFUL AND GENTLE?
Oh, I most certainly think that your child can be both powerful and gentle. When we take back the negative connotations of “powerful” and see the positive and good in it, then we know that our children can be both powerful AND gentle. It is NOT either or. It is BOTH AND.
Why can’t your child be in control of their actions, emotions and urges AND also be kind and tenderhearted? Why can’t your child know their own mind and communicate it and also be loving and a good friend? Teach them both, and in conjunction I do believe that you will have a force to be reckoned with – a good force. A VERY good force.
WHAT IS GENTLENESS?
Gentleness actually makes a big difference in our lives. Gentleness is not just “being nice”. It is certainly not weak. It is a way to maintain peaceful, loving relationships. Kindness is literally a part of gentleness. You really can’t have one without the other.
Gentleness produces peace, calm, and consistency of character. Being around gentle people is wonderful. There is something so calming about their presence. They carry peace and bring it into the room. Words are spoken with care.
“Be healing with your words, be tender with your words, be gentle with your words and watch your words bring gentle, tender healing in the hearts of others.”Heather Wolf, Kipnuk Visits Sea Isle
Gentle people aren’t generally reactionary. They don’t respond immediately and usually will decide what they are going to do about it when something happens to them, after they have assessed that moment. They choose IF and HOW they want to react. That is true power right there. The choice as to whether to react or not, and how that reaction will be. Most likely it will be a reaction of peace, rather than an aggressiveness to show strength.
Think about water. Water in itself is soft and malleable. But don’t let that make you think it is anything but powerful. Rivers can change course. Single drops of water can cause a rock to finally break. Minerals can be dissolved in it. We need it to survive.
This is the power of gentle people. Soft and sweet, we need them to break down walls, and we need their peace to survive harmoniously. It is our gentle people that can break down walls in people, and be great friends when encouragement and/or accountability is needed. There is nothing weak about them.
“Be like water; soft as it is, it breaks through rocks and impenetrable surfaces.”
HOW TO RAISE POWERFUL AND GENTLE CHILDREN
Because I truly feel that we can raise powerful AND gentle children, there is where we need to be mindful parents and teach it, allowing opportunities to practice it. It is not going to happen overnight, but starting young, by speaking the truth over them, and by allowing failure, you are going to see your powerful and gentle children. And please note that I am not limiting it to girls, as I believe that boys can also be gentle and to deny them that is to deny part of their identity. “Boy” does not have to equal loud and boisterous, destroyers of everything, aggressive and constantly active.
- Teach your children what powerful is
- It is having control of your feelings, emotions and reactions
- It is about making good choices
- An inner and outer strength
- It is willpower, grit, self-restraint
- Teach your child what powerful is not
- It is not aggression
- Not being a bully
- It is not being manipulative
3. Teach them HOW to be powerful
- Allow them to make mistakes
- Help them to consistently make good choices by providing choices and explaining the consequences of each
- Teach feelings and emotions and what we can do about it (see blog/vlog on teaching feelings)
4. Teach them what gentleness is
- It is being peaceful
- Being kind
- It is being consistent in your character
5. Teach them what gentleness is not
- It is not being weak
- Not allowing yourself to be controlled by someone else
- It is not being passive aggressive
6. Show them that you can be powerful AND gentle
- They have control over their emotions and how they react: is it going to be an aggressive or peaceful reaction?
- How they channel their emotions is key. It is totally ok to feel things in big and real ways. How we show all of it is how others can perceive us.
Remember that gentleness is strength under control. Being powerful is having control over your emotions, reactions, and urges. So, therefore you CAN raise powerful and gentle children. Don’t discount strong-willed or passionate/spirited children from also being gentle.