My dad taught me to separate the deed from the doer.
This is an important differentiation for us, the adult, to make because our child can’t yet.
Until the prefrontal cortex arrives around ages 8-10 humans don’t have the intrinsic ability to separate doing a bad thing from being a bad person. For them it’s just a feeling in their body that drives the way they respond.
This is especially relevant in the under sixes because it’s often why our little ones react really poorly when we get mad at them or want them to do differently. They feel the fear of judgement, with no ability to think critically through their experience.
In the early years, feelings are reality, their reality. What we intended by what we said is irrelevant because they cannot yet process for intention.
It’s why it’s important to us to not just be bigger and stronger. Ie, looking after and out for them. We must also be wiser and kinder, meaning appreciating that their ability to comprehend what we mean is still developing.
The big challenge for those of us with our own emotional management issues is to be aware of what could be prompting our actions. To set a personal intention to use different language.
When angry, instead of saying you are a bad(naughty etc) girl/boy, is to be choosing to say “that was the wrong/a bad thing to do” or problem focused language. In the beginning you might find this really awkward, and it’s all about practice to make progress.
Focusing on the problem you want solved, not attacking the person of the child.
Being conscious of the language we use.
This is a starting point.
The GOLD standard is to be gentle, patient and present with our child. This is where the Validate, Empathise and Curiosity process fits. And for some of us, that’s a journey to be taken.
For many of us it’s easy for to get caught in blaming our child for their poor behaviour.
Chances are, it’s what happened to us as kids, so it’s a behaviour we are modelling as adults.
AND this is where the problems begin.
because our child, in the beginning, doesn’t know how to stop their behaviour and they are responding and creating meanings based on our actions.
If we want our children to act differently, it is us who must change the way we respond to their behaviour.
This is the core of being a Conscious Parent, (from the work of Dr Shefali Tsabary).
Also a common thread amongst research informed evidenced based content including the work of Daniel Siegel (The Whole Brain Child) world leading child psychiatrist and researcher of paediatric and adolescent brain development. Dr Ross Greene (The Explosive Child and Raising Human Beings). The work on The Circle of Security by Hoffman, Cooper and Powell (authors of Raising a Secure Child).
You are enough, they are worthy and we all belong.
If you are in the trenches of the early parenting years, the struggle is real. We are all on the learning journey to becoming different kinds of parents to the way our parents raised us.
It’s not about blaming our parents. It’s that society is changing. Cultural expectations are changing, and smart people know that we are either green and growing or ripe and rotting.
As we navigate through this huge change in parenting,
don’t go it alone.
Join with other parents learning
how to be a different kind of parent