Most people think that children can be made to listen because we want them to listen.
We get focused on our own needs for them to follow instructions.
The key is children, like all humans, listen when they feel there’s something in it for them, in it for them to feel safe, to have their needs met.
Feeling safe comes from seen, heard and understood.
Imagine a world where instead of being focused automatically on having our needs met, that we raised children by deeply trying to understand them.
It’s not good or bad to want to have our needs met. In fact, it’s our survival aka core programming.
The problem with survival programming is, it’s automatic. It’s our set point from our primitive creation. It’s one reason why children are completely self-absorbed. They arrive with the limit of survival programming. (there’s a whole backstory on that with a little TMI for some).
The challenge for us as parents
The challenge for us as parents or intending to be parents is to appreciate that in those early years we don’t have to worry about survival skills, they’re all built in. Our job is to listen and learn with and from them.
The more we learn to understand them (their personality, their temperament, how they think as their brain develops and evolves) and not try and make them conform/mould to us and what we believe is important, the easier our journey together becomes.
I recall this was what made my journey with young children so much easier. I was totally present to them, curious about what was happening for them, detached from my own needs.
My husband found it so fascinating how mellow I was in those early years with the kids. Let’s say quite different to what he expected seeing as I was somewhat of a minefield (sudden explosions) when stepping in the wrong spot, triggering my “shark music” or survival system.
Focus v Purpose
This is not to say that I made our children the entire focus of my life. That’s not our purpose either, as parents.
To grow healthy adults, parents must appreciate that it’s a constant and never-ending evolution in how our relationship works.
The less we hold tight to what we think we’re supposed to do, and relax into letting our child guide us on what they need from us, the more connected and attuned we become.
This can be super challenging if your parents didn’t take this approach with you. It’s the connection to why we experience “shark music”. Why we get triggered. It’s because we are entering unfamiliar ground if we are working to parent differently to what our experience was with our own parents.
If you feel you haven’t attuned to your children yet, that’s ok, it’s not too late, no matter what their age.
Improving Communication and Connection.
If you want to improve that communication and connection, you might need to accept that things must change.
The great thing about coming to that realisation, that is “things must change”, is that change is entirely in your control.
It does take effort and intention. It means letting go of the need to know right now.
Growing healthy, functional and resourceful relationships is reliant on our ability to deal with uncertainty. Uncertainty about whether things will work out. Uncertainty about the “what if’s”.
We humans are all quite different. Even when I see comments about “mini me”. We are still different. We might be quite similar, or not. Their experience is still different to ours.
How well do you understand your child/ren?
Where is your greatest trip hazard? (their behaviour, your response, their response or something else?)
We can take small steps every day to grow a more connected relationship.