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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SUGGESTIONS: If you liked this article, you may also enjoy:
And for Continuum Concept support, click here for lots of resources.
11/20/2013 06:40:58 am
Thank you Eliane for your insights and wise words. You have given us a lot to think about and also provided some really useful tools for the future! I'd be interested to hear more from you particularly on those issues of being too child centered and not grounded enough, and what we can practically do to alleviate this.
11/20/2013 10:36:15 am
Thank you for your kind words and inspiration, M. I plan on writing on not being child centered and the importance of being grounded soon.
11/20/2013 12:51:03 pm
Your words are like a compass that helps us find our way to our true nature so that we can experience our children as the amazing gifts they are. Beautifully written. Thanks for sharing :)
11/20/2013 10:54:04 pm
Thank you Dawn, what a sweet comment! Lots of love to you. <3
11/20/2013 11:32:54 pm
This makes total sense, I'm just wondering how I could apply this to an almost 3 year old who hits his little sister on a regular basis. It totally sounds the same as your story, he is suffering since her birth. I try to ask him questions, but I don't know if he understands enough, as he just nods and smiles when I try to find out why. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
11/21/2013 01:06:14 am
Tash, based on what you know from TCC (I assume you're familiar with it?) and what you know about your son, what NEED of his is not being met? What is he feeling that he's acting out?
11/26/2013 12:57:59 pm
Sorry for the late reply. I am guessing that he wants more one on one attention (although that's not very tcc from what I can tell) and also in general, he needs more sleep and also to get over his birth which was pretty awful for both of us. Finally I can guess he needs more limits, but he so far hasn't been responding well to "I will not let you hit" etc.
11/26/2013 11:42:03 pm
Tash, there's quite a bit I could say about a few items here, and most likely will be writing about soon. :-)
11/28/2013 12:08:48 am
Alright, one more thought to add to what I said yesterday. How about asking me questions that might express his experience? Such as...
11/30/2013 12:03:46 am
I wish I knew what need he has. I think he doesn't feel safe and secure but could be wrong. He's very much a lot of everything, very happy, very sad, very angry. Very rarely calm and he thinks he's very funny :) I don't know if he'd be able to answer those questions yet to be honest although I can try. He's slowly getting there but not yet as verbal as his monolingual friends.
11/21/2013 04:02:18 am
I just love this and love how I never feel like your preaching to us. I've been marinating in your words for a few days now and I can at least tell you I've been a more compassionate parent since. I've kept your question in the back of my mind while I'm intervening with my children on a daily basis.
11/24/2013 12:02:57 am
Wow, thank you for your sweet comments and encouragement Tanya!
11/25/2013 09:16:30 am
Hello Eliane, thanks for posting this on the cc forum and for sharing your knowledge. DD 26 months has just recently started a phase of pushing other children in the face when they touch her toys or toys she is playing with. Up to now she had been the one to be hit by other older children. I fid it hard to accept she is now acting the same way! I am 35 weeks pregnant so perhaps she is feeling the new arrival and knows she will have to share her mama but at the same I am trying to understand why is she so angry and has to act this way. I can't seem to find a reason, like you wrote to Tash, I cannot think of what need is not being met. I feel asking her why is not much use since she wouldn't know at her age. Thanks again
11/26/2013 12:06:02 pm
Thanks for writing Christina!
11/30/2013 12:58:14 am
Thanks for your answer Eliane!
11/28/2013 07:21:06 am
11/30/2013 02:08:17 am
12/16/2013 08:04:00 am
Thank you for your suggestions Eliane and sorry I have taken so long to answer!
12/18/2013 06:16:21 am
You may or may not say something, I would just feel into what feels right to you in that situation. If you do say something, just say something brief and descriptive, such as 'the couch can get torn if you hit it with a sharp object' or 'Leslie doesn't like it when you pull her hair.' But in a completely neutral and non-judgmental tone.
11/30/2013 02:19:37 am
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