Are you worn down and defeated from having negative and impulsive reactions with your children? Craving interactions that do not require threats, bribery, and punishment? Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, author Naomi Aldort’s thought provoking and nontraditional approach examines the relationship that many parents have with their children today, and how they reflect the ways in which we were raised. Aldort’s S.A.L.V.E formula forces parents to examine their response to their child’s behavior. Her philosophy calls for a change and awareness in how we examine ourselves and how we raise our children.
The S.A.L.V.E formula that Aldort focuses on provides steps to be conscious of when interacting and connecting with our children.
S - Separate yourself from your child’s behavior and emotion. Silent Self talk (aka, the ridiculous movie that you play in your head). Please make it stop. Play the movie in your mind of what your immediate reaction is when you find wads of gum and paint worked into the carpet. Stop yourself and take a moment to silently investigate the situation. Difficult. Just try.
A - Attention. Pay attention to your child and the situation.
L - Listen. Listen to your child’s words. If your child is nonverbal, listen to her actions. Take it all in.
V - Validate your child. Do this without adding additional drama or emotion into the situation. You acknowledge how your child is feeling with no criticism.
E - Empower your child. Get out of the way. Let your child work through their emotions. Guide them without using your emotions, and let them work it out. Trust that they will figure it out. If they need to, they will ask for help.
This approach may not be for everyone. But to allow some of these principles into your daily interactions with your children are very good things. Some may argue that this approach is unrealistic and too child centered. Although it would be impossible to envision every scenario using a formula, adopting some of these principles can allow our children to better understand their emotions and develop into more mindful individuals. Aldort believes that children equally deserve the same dignity and respect that we practice with other adults. This is not a farfetched concept. Most parents ultimately strive to have that type of relationship in their families.
Unconditional love is stressed throughout the book. To better hone in to our child’s primary needs we need this unconditional love, one that allows us to envelope our children with love and without any expectations. The book highlights and dissects five primary needs for your child to thrive -- love, self-expression, emotional safety, self-confidence, and power and autonomy. Parents can read examples of sibling rivalry, hate toward a parent, separation anxiety, and wealth of examples ranging from the everyday to the more troubling. Through these scenarios and applications of the S.A.L.V.E formula, Aldort, paints a new paradigm in the relationships where we are asked to control our emotions and release the control of our children.
Endless lists can be drafted for parents that want to reflect on ways that they may have handled a situation or impulsive reactions that would like to be rewound. Throughout the book we are challenged to be thoughtful, let go of negative past experiences that may be embedded in our parenting ways, cease the negating of what our children are telling us, and make a shift to understanding ourselves and our children better. Through this continuing process, we can learn to allow our children and ourselves to be authentic at our best.