The most important thing to remember is that your child is NEVER doing anything to you. Their behaviour is communication that “something” isn’t working for them (or is if they are happy).
The problem comes when we take things personally and/or make those moments about us
It’s appreciating that our child NEEDS us to be their leader, though benevolence is essential.
Firm and fair, understanding they will be limited in their ability to comply with instruction (that don’t align with their wants and needs) until they have either the software to understand or the parent creates an environment that enables success.
At this stage, my recommendation for starting the Positive Parenting journey is Calm (Peaceful) Parents Happy Kids by Dr Laura Markham. It’s all things positive parenting for new parents. There is a website ahaparenting.com and there is a parenting course with intakes several times a year.
Parenting as Leadership.
The environment that creates success is lead by an adult who treats their child with compassion and respect. Not making the child lesser or greater.
It’s appreciating that developmentally a human is designed to be narcissistic (ie self-absorbed) in the beginning as their mission is survival. So when you think your baby or toddler or young child is being selfish, it’s good to appreciate that this is a normal behaviour and not anything you are failing at teaching them.
Human parents are given the desire to care for their infants and children, and therefore a child does not need that caring capability in the beginning so that is software that is left off the base model.
To understand neurological and emotional development of a human, The Whole Brain Child covers the first ten years of life, which is the period over which the capabilities are added, as they are needed physiologically, ie as they become big enough to need that ability.
The reason human babies have less software in the beginning is so that a human mother can deliver them. I appreciate TMI, If they had all the software of the adult model when they arrived they would need an adult sized head. (makes my eyes water thinking about).
Most of us parents were not taught this mostly because our parents didn’t know, because the information didn’t exist. It’s information that has only been known since the 1990s and like many things takes a while for new ideas to catch on.
The knowledge about human development that underpins Positive Parenting comes from Daniel Siegel, paediatric neuro psychiatrist. Author of books such as The Whole Brain Child, No Drama Discipline, Parenting from the Inside Out.
It’s really not that long ago, like the 1950s when science and medicine even began to appreciate that children have different emotional needs to adults. Until then, it was assumed that all we needed to do was control children and make them compliant. And until the late 20th century, that tended to be quite satisfactory from a societal perspective, because they were the expectations of the industrial world of work.
It can be tough when we are from a model of parenting that is fear based. Not that our parents were terrible people, they just didn’t know anything different.
They may have started having intentions of doing better than their parents and still not understanding the bigger picture.
The trap for us is when raised in old world we can then get caught by what we are familiar with. What I mean by that is, nature will always take the path of least resistance. So under stress we go to what we learned until we update our own software and the meanings we created.
It’s all learnable.
Self-care and self-compassion is important. It’s is not the moments that the relationship is defined. It’s what happens consistently.
There will be days where no matter what you do your child will not be capable of meeting expectations. There will be occasions where you react, because you are still human.
It’s the reconnect and repair after the moments of less than desirable humanness that count.
As mentioned earlier, humans are born self-obessed and appear narcissistic. Meaning that for the first four years they don’t even have the software to care about what others might want.
Child learn to be loving by being loved. They will respect by being respected. They will trust through being guided with consistency and patience.
The more you are centred and grounded in yourself. The more confident and trusting your child can be. They care for you just as you are.
The only person grading your performance is you. Others might have opinions, the only feedback that counts is you and your child.
Healthy boundaries are an essential pathway to self-trust, are not all one way.
Though appreciate, in the beginning they are you knowing your boundaries and that you role is not just being bigger and stronger, but wiser and kinder as well (Raising a Secure Child by Hoffman, Cooper and Powell).
Being wiser is appreciating that there will be times that your child will WANT something that is not good for them. (and I don’t mean just things). Your job is to validate their feelings even if you can’t or don’t want to meet their request.
Another great book for skills and language is How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen by Janet Faber and Julie King. Not always exactly aligned to Positive Parenting, only because the foundation of this book is from the 1980s and is one of the bridges that has been developing. This is the updated version and published in the early 2000s so incorporates some of the more recent knowledge.
Separate the Deed and the Doer.
Validation is for them, so that they know you care for them, even when you don’t like or approve of their words or behaviour.
You are not expected to be an expert. You might be an adult, but parenting is entirely new. And can be a whole new experience with every child because humans are individual.
You have started down the path, it’s a journey for sure and it’s totally worth it.
It takes conscious effort and intentional action, be gentle with yourself and your child. And even your parents may need to be accepted for where they are and the choices they made because it was based on the best they knew how and were capable in that moment.
The Environment of Success
You are creating an environment for you and your family members to know they are enough just as you all are. That you are all doing the best you know how AND are capable of in any given minute.
The mission is progress, not perfection.
Be curious not furious (cr Lisa Smith)
If you are finding yourself overwhelmed or inconsistent in the ability to understand and meet your child’s needs, remember, you were not raised to be an expert parent.
Chances are your model of parenting was good enough at best.
If you are not meeting your expectations, step back, reflect,
Are your expectations reasonable for your level of development and experience,
if so, go you for keeping things in perspective.
If not, what are you going to do about it?
Author – Leanne G Wakeling – Relationship and Communication Coach, Parenting Mentor,
Behaviour and Thinking Styles Profiler.
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