BELIEVING THAT CHILDREN WANT TO DO THE RIGHT THING
In The Continuum Concept, we’ve read and I’m assuming resonated with the idea that our children are innately social, that they want to do the right thing relative to others, and that in fact human kind would not have survived otherwise. Yet how do we translate this into our little family, in our Western culture?
(If you haven't read The Continuum Concept, click here for a description of one of the two books which changed my life.)
First of all, I want to admit that IT’S HARD!
As non-Yequana parents, we’ve bathed from birth in the beliefs and been surrounded by behaviors that implicitly or explicitly state that our impulses are not good and that we need to be manipulated in doing the right thing. This belief unfortunately informs the majority of our reactions and interactions, even though we may intellectually believe what Jean stated in the book.
But even if we act ‘the appropriate way’ with our children, our underlying belief is still felt. Think back to a time when you were feeling resentful toward your spouse or your friend, but were trying to be nice and loving anyway. Can you feel how much that resentment was still subtly but very clearly present in the interaction? Can you see how your deeply ingrained belief that children don’t want to do what you want them to might still imbue every interaction that you have with them, even if you try to bypass it?
Until our belief in our children’s social nature is restored to what’s true, we don’t have access to interactions with them that tap into their beautiful innate nature, and lead to the ease and harmony in our families which we long for. And which Jean has promised us is possible. That erroneous belief NEEDS to be undone in order for us to be able to parent in alignment with our children’s natural social nature!
Once you truly know that your child’s nature is good, it will be obvious that any misbehavior comes from a place of something being ‘off.’
It could be because:
You are being too child-centered
You are not grounded in yourself, not clear and not being the parent in charge.
Both of those cause a SHAKINESS in children which will cause them to ‘misbehave’ because something feels ‘off’ in their world. Aligning yourself in this area will give them the security they need to be able to relax and be free of that discomfort. Both of these concepts are deserving of their own discussions. I’ll address them in a future post.
Some of their physical needs are not met in the moment, such as they are tired or hungry.
In that case what needs to be addressed is their NEED, not their behavior. You can say something like “Wow, for you to be acting like this, something’s going on. I bet it’s because you’re hungry (or tired.) Let’s go get you some food (or a nap.)” You don’t want to condone the behavior, so may need to address that what was done wasn’t appropriate. But your MAIN focus is on the ROOT CAUSE of their behavior and TAKING ACTION to meet that need.
By doing this, you not only restore harmony in your family but
… you are showing them the link between their need not being met and their behavior, which increases their self-awareness.
… you are teaching them to take care of themselves as a way to prevent acting in non-harmonious ways.
They are acting out an emotional issue
In the case of the new friend I mentioned earlier, I believe the cause of her son wanting to hurt his younger brother is that he has UNRESOLVED FEELINGS around the birth and/or invasion of his space by his brother.
If you are clear that you child is innately good and social, your approach to him pushing his brother would
… not be to ask “WHY did you DO this???”, with an upset and judgmental tone of voice
… but instead to ask “Why did you do this?” from a loving, concerned and genuinely curious place. What he would hear, that would be unsaid but clearly conveyed in your question is ‘I love you, I know that you are kind and caring and that this isn’t a normal behavior, I care about you and want to make sure that your needs are met, I’m here for you.’
It’s of crucial importance for your children to be able to express what they are experiencing, without EVER feeling that something’s wrong with them or their feelings.
So if what is indeed motivating my friend’s son’s behavior is distress over his brother coming into his life, my approach would be to encourage him to express all of his feelings about it. To voice them and cry if that’s what’s coming up, until he’s COMPLETELY done expressing it all. My only job as a loving parent would be to reflect to him what he’d say to me, or take guesses at what he might be feeling based on my knowledge of him.
I wouldn’t say ANYTHING other than reflecting and asking him questions about what he’s feeling. No EXPLANATION, no RATIONALIZING, no DENYING of what he’s saying based on another contradictory thing he’s said before, no JUSTIFICATION of why you had another child or why that child is doing what he is, no POINTING OUT the benefits to him of having a sibling and his prior RELENTLESS REQUESTS for him to have one before he was born. I think you may be getting my point…?
The absolute BEST THING that we can do as parents (and indeed as friends, partners, etc) is to hold the space for our children to express and feel all that’s present in them, to encourage them to keep feeling it all, and to generally SHUT UP.
Humans are intrinsically good and whenever we act out it comes from a place of hurt. I’m very clear that the meanest people in the world are also the most wounded ones. Healing those emotional wounds is a lot simpler than what most of us think, thought it does HAVE to be done for our behaviors to arise again from our naturally loving nature. What’s needed is for the unresolved emotion to be accessed and experienced fully. It’s then released so that we again have access to living in harmony with our true nature. This is of course true for ourselves as well as for our children.
In the case of my friend’s son, it’s very possible that once he’s guided to and allowed to fully express his emotions around the birth of his brother, that his behavior toward him would INSTANTANEOUSLY change. I'd be really curious to hear of her experience if she puts this into practice...
P.S.: Click here for a post which includes a video of Clair Huxtable (from The Cosby Show) embodying what's described here.
Does my perspective speak to you? Check out my Parenting For Wholeness CLEAN PARENTING program, designed to get you to a place of ease and harmony with your children in just a few weeks, while fully honoring their spirits. Click here for information and testimonials.
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