Loving and Effective Communication During Conflict: A New Perspective

Written by Lauren Williams, Early Literacy Librarian at Arapahoe Libraries

The Child and Family Library Services department welcomed Suzanne Vitullo, a previous educator of eighteen years of elementary and five years of adult education, a certified Mindful Schools Instructor, Mindful Parenting Coach, yoga teacher, and is the creator of Breathe Parenting, which teaches parents tools and practices to find calm amid the busyness of daily life. Suzanne led a Parenting Strategies program for Arapahoe Libraries called Loving and Effective Communication During Conflict in December of 2023.

As a parent, the title of the mindful parenting strategies program, Loving and Effective Communication During Conflict, caught my eye. As an early literacy librarian, previous early childhood educator and mother of six-year-old twin boys, I knew this topic would be one that would resonate with many families. I have been interested in this topic before and have seen various videos online, scrolling through during a moment of calm during a busy day. I’m not sure if this resonates with anyone else, but I definitely wanted tools and practices to find calm in the midst of the chaos of family life, which is the wonderful quote found on the Breathe Parenting, opens a new window website. 

Suzanne started the program with 10 deep breaths, and I’ll admit, I wanted to squirm and move in my seat. My brain thought, Yes, ok, I know how to breathe, let’s get to the tools! I need help! But as I settled and took the breaths deeply, I could feel my body start to relax. My heartbeat slowed, and I automatically felt calmness. In a room with other adults filled with questions and their own stories about family life, there was quiet and room for stillness. In the first few minutes, I felt like I understood exactly what Suzanne was presenting for the rest of the program – that parenting (and life!) is hard, has its ups and downs, and it’s how you react that really matters when speaking with and interacting with your children. Having those deep breaths helped prepare me to engage with my children in a different mindset. I no longer felt the rush of anxiety or made quick, snippy reactions because I felt overwhelmed.  

I do want to recognize that this takes practice, and I am going to make mistakes. I think when we are transparent in that moment with our children, as well, that they can recognize we are trying. One of the caregivers in the room echoed this sentiment, and Suzanne recognized that valid feeling and attempt.  

If I take a breath and am still overwhelmed and say, “Right now, mommy needs to step away because I am frustrated and I’ll be back when I’m more calm,” that is a much better outcome than being reactive in an angry/frustrated tone. 

One big takeaway for me was a reminder that children do not think like adults, and most of the time will not react rationally, so when times are particularly tough and tantrums are happening, it’s important to sometimes just be quiet and be with them, use a soft voice, get on their level and if appropriate, provide physical touch. Naming their emotions is another tip I find useful, because when children are in an upset mood, they don’t always have the words they need to express themselves.  

This was a wonderful program that supported families of all kinds. Suzanne offered information about coaching, courses, blogs and podcasts on her website, www.breatheparenting.com, opens a new window. 

 Continue exploring with the following booklists:

Mindfulness for Families 

New Parenting Additions in our Library Collection 

New Baby in the Family 

For more parenting resources, request free Ask-a-Librarian service today!