We all want freedom, and children do need rules (some more than others). When applied well, they act as guidelines that help them develop in healthy ways… lest they recreate a Lord Of The Flies reality that you have to parent to. They have a place, yet eventually some of these rules you impose will add great stress to the relationship – so learning how to be wise with rules is critical and essential to maintain the health of your relationship.
Kids break rules for many reasons. Think of your own when you were their age: You didn’t agree with the rule, you felt is was unfair, what you wanted was worth the consequence of breaking the rule, you wanted to piss your parents off as revenge for feeling hurt, or maybe you simply forgot about the rule – and the list can go on. Ultimately, however, breaking rules is most often a symptom of the broken health of a relationship. There is a either a lack of deep understanding of each other, there is a lack of connection between you, or there is a personal lack of connection within yourselves. Tracing the reason for why rules are broken almost always leads directly some deep need or feeling that is lurking around alone and unmet. It leads to sacred places where true understanding, compassion and connection are born from. Breaking a rule opens up an opportunity to explore what is really going on within you as a parent, with your relationship with your child, or what is going on inside the heart and mind of your child.
Ultimately, we all want to be safe and loved. And we want it so deeply, so essentially, that our subconscious mind is actually constantly scanning and assessing if we are in a safe and loving situation, or if we are not.
When the waters of our heart and mind are calm, we tend, of course, to relate to life from a more present, joyful and peaceful place, with an expanded ability to recover from undesirable events that may arise. And so do children. But what happens to your child’s nervous system when your waters are choppy or wavy – how much are they really impacted by that? And what happens when you drop (or perhaps throw) a stone of your own unresolved tensions into their fragile and tiny pool of self-regulation?
Most of us were raised with at least a bit of the mentality that we need to look like we have it all together - that somehow that will make us seem more worthy or lovable. In doing so, we have become more disconnected from those we love in that we don’t connect deeply with them in our struggles, longing and needs (as well as our successes) – even if we have similar challenges. We get isolated from each other while dealing with many of the same issues as each other.
Can you recall a time when you were talking on and on a bit mindlessly, or acting withdrawn, or maybe acting a bit controlling? What was going on for you internally that made that happen? In those moments, what needs or feelings of yours were you not present to? Where, if not from a grounded and centered place, were you operating from?
What happened to so many of us that we seem, at least to some degree, to feel scared, ashamed or hard on ourselves when we make mistakes (or even at the thought of admitting we made a mistake)?
Even though making mistakes is perhaps the most natural part of the learning process, and even though all of us adults will have made thousands of them in the course of our lives, we’ve created an issue out of making mistakes. This is actually something we can shift. We can give ourselves and our children a better way of dealing with this inevitability. Let’s learn how to support children in embracing mistakes as a way to not only learn from life more directly, but also as a way to see themselves more fully.
There will be times when a child needs more nurturing and more space to express themselves; there will be times when a child needs more structure, accountability, and direct guidance; and there will be times when a child needs a strong balance of both. As a parent you may not always meet these needs in the most effective or timely of ways. This week is a look into how you might connect to these needs from a more balanced place within yourself.
Both men and women, all dads and moms, have both feminine and masculine energies. This, as many of you know, is what the Chinese refer to as Yin and Yang energies. They are intrinsically interrelated, and ideally we work to live and raise children with these energies in balance with each other, rather than being either excessive or deficient in either.
Very simply put, here are how this qualities can be commonly expressed in parenting:
When we talk to children (or anybody, for that matter) there are so many of our own personal issues that can get in the way, namely: perceptions, attachments, assumptions, beliefs, and old feelings. These can and often do sneak in the way of creating deeper connection and an honoring of them – for who they are and where they are at. And, very importantly, it’s often these personal issues that are behind the forces of disconnection between us and them.
My eight year old son is a highly sensitive kid. The professional term for this is sensory processing disorder (SPD) and it is said that about 10% of all children/students fall into this category. His nervous system is attuned to his environment in ways that can make many parents (including myself) very frustrated. Sometimes the simple acts of brushing his teeth, dressing in the morning, getting ready for school, or taking a shower and getting ready for bed can be an hour or more long process.
When it’s hard to find empathy for your child it almost always means that you are needing empathy too.
When we feel hurt, stressed out, exhausted, scared or frustrated, we tend to automatically activate a self-protection mode that gives us a short fuse - it creates a strong need for some immediate resolution or change. While it’s natural and understandable, this tends to drive us away from understanding and compassion for other’s personal edges and struggles, and towards our own actions and reactions that tend to create disconnection rather than connection. In other words, we tend to make matters worse.
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