Parenting, I currently live with a ferocious five-year-old, the minute he’s conscious, my world is blown to the four corners.
Modern parenting is very much stuck in the mind. Let’s face it, it’s a mind-field and we feel that what you say or do can have explosive consequences to their future development, eggshell alert!
We want our kids to grow up to be responsible adults, we also want them to become fierce leaders, rule breakers, change makers, to have a voice in the world, to be a lover not a hater. Yet, we teach our children to be obedient, cooperative, to sit still and be quiet. We want them to comply and conform and to learn exactly what we teach them; may the Gods be in their favour.
As adults – especially in these challenging and brutal times – sometimes situations call for us to be bad, to be disobedient, courageous, to be a rule-breaking non-conformer, isn’t this how revolutions happen? Evolution? Change? Sometimes we need a little bad.
So, what do we do to teach our kids to be kick-arse peacemakers within safe and freeing boundaries?
Seriously though, say a kid, no names mentioned…whips it out and takes a whiz on the sofa, or something equally feral? We as a culture do a few things:
We shout and scream. I’m ashamed to say this has been a default setting for me, I didn’t know I could reach such decibels, a banshee would be proud of me. Kids push our buttons, they are great teachers, showing us the darkest parts of ourselves we’ve yet to deal with, if there’s a hidden rage button, they will power-punch it many times. Shouting is a form of violence, we become like big, scary toddlers when we scream at them. We are essentially teaching them that shouting and screaming gets you what you want in life; and having worked in a call centre before, I can assure you that it does not.
We shut down, we give them the silent treatment. What they learn is that, “When I’m bad, people will leave me.” It creates a fear of loneliness. Someone once told me that they shut down and avoided their child when things were bad, their child told them once, “When you go quiet on me like that, it feels like you are dead,” for someone who is notorious for shutting down, this made me feel so sad. Be open, be present.
Something I’ve done a lot recently is to remove something they find valuable from them, “When I am bad, I will lose something valuable to me.” how many times has that one stopped you from asking for a pay rise?
The other side of this is rewarding for not being bad. We have a small box we put stars in when he’s done something good, at the end of the week when its full if stars, he gets a reward, it works, if you are on top of it. It stops working when you say, (and I’ve heard this one) “Give me my keys back and I’ll give you a sweetie!” So, they can basically get away with being an monster and get rewarded for it, manipulation will be strong in this one.
The Naughty/Thinking Chair. Time out is good, being mindful, time to think things through is so important, but isolation is a form of torture, so be mindful of this one. Being sent to your room, maybe with the door locked or even being locked outside are painful memories I have had to deal-with with clients. We are teaching them that their feelings don’t matter, that having a voice or opinion means you will be lonely, isolated, with no one to talk too, you remain Stuck on that chair forever.
One thing that does happen is physical violence. Smacking, hitting, shaking or even aggressively moving a child is a warning sign, it means you have lost control, not of the situation or the child, but of yourself. Physical violence towards a child causes post-traumatic-stress syndrome, mental health issues, shame, not good enough, rage and anger. The child’s compassion and empathy gets numbed and the story of violence continues. This type of punishment has been repeated generation after generation until it became perfectly acceptable, when did this happen? Maybe it was when we started to believe the lie that says, “I was hit as a child, it didn’t do me any harm.” Fear, shame, disrespect, powerlessness, sound familiar?
These little humans respond differently to situations the same way we do. Some kids are cerebral, logical, linear, they may need boundaries and support, resources and external stimuli. Some kids are more kinaesthetic, wild-hearted and creative, they may be better suited with more freedom, open spaces and opportunities for self-expression and movement.
So, what do we do when our little beasties start power-punching our buttons?
Breathe, you need wriggle room to be able think logically and to connect to your heart.
Remain calm, again breathe. It’s so important for self-care to be able to get to this step, if you’re not caring for yourself, then you will always struggle. Remove yourself, nourish yourself, move, be mindful, whatever you need to do to get back to you.
Ask yourself, “Is this something I can let go of?” If it’s not really that important, let it go.
Kids feel frustrated the majority of the time, communication is key. Listen, really consciously listen, they want to be heard. Get down to their level, lovingly make physically contact and make eye-contact. Find out what is really going on in their beautiful little minds.
Explain your expectations, calmly assert your boundaries. Explain simply what you expect from them. Be real, be authentic, there is no point manipulating the situation, they can smell a lie from a mile away.
Give them another chance, trust them to make the right decision, even when you know they won’t.
Bring to their consciousness their own feelings, give them space to be with that. Allow them to make their own mind up on what is the right decision, rather than society or yourself.
Importantly, check yourself, their behaviour is learnt, from you. Are you bashing about in the kitchen, shouting and moaning, saying NO all the time, chances are your kids are bashing about, shouting at you, moaning and saying NO to you?
Sometimes, I have to remind myself how precious my son is, I look at old baby photos and it shifts my mood instantly.
Be softer, be kinder, be present and above all else, love those little Beasties.
Shamanism has been a passion and an inspiration for me for many years now.