Relieving Anxiety and Calming the Classroom
Reading an internet blog today gave me inspiration to write this piece; it's for all of us - those who were parented (through every good intention) to give away our power, and those of us raising kids who struggle NOT to make the same mistakes.
Specifically, when we intrude on a child's ability to say 'No' to either their perceptions, opinions or ability to refuse touch affection by ignoring them, not taking them seriously, or riding roughshod over their protests, we are saying several things:
1) I don't hear you,
2) It doesn't matter what you want, I will take what I want/do what I want to you,
3) I win: bigger/taller/stronger/older people get to decide what they will or won't do to you.
Something to think about the next time we're 'just playing around' and a child's peals of laughter turn to squeals of discomfort. (Remember when your cousin used to keep chasing or tickling you long after you'd begged them to quit?) Whether we're the ones delivering the behavior or merely watching it unfold, consider a radical thought: what if we actually took honored a child's 'no' or 'stop!', talked about it with them, and made them feel it was important to both have and say out loud their comfort boundaries?
Secondly, how many of you recognize the embarrassed parenting moments, wherein our child pipes up about your relative with something like, "Aunt Brenda scares me, Mom!" and we hastily patch it over with "Oh don't be silly, say you're sorry!" I'm a big fan of manners, and was raised by, um, even bigger fans, but isn't the result that we disempower our kids this way?
Afterall, we're saying to the child,
1) You don't know what you're talking about,
2) You actually don't feel what you feel,
3) You are somehow mistaken and/or not to be taken seriously, and
4) You cannot be trusted to make accurate observations.
Interesting how we hate being contradicted ourselves, but do it all the time to our kids. The next time I observe myself contradicting a child's opinions, what if I used it as an opportunity to teach them about tact and other people's feelings, without shaming or shutting them down? What if I explained to the possibly-offended adult that we'd been working on navigating the slippery slope of social honesty, with predictable results? : )
Another point the author brought up was coercing our kids to render physical affection. Whether it's Great Aunt Hattie or your best friend's dog, it seems a shame that we continue to direct our kids to give touch affection, on demand. Thinking that a child's reluctance to plant one on stinky Great Aunt Hattie somehow reflects badly on us is our problem, not the child's. Maybe a better idea than what we were taught is to start a conversation with your child about affection and family and how we choose to use our bodies to show that...or not. And it's a good opening door to discuss age-appropriate empathy and compassion, too, isn't it?
The last piece has to do with respect. If you were raised to think disrespect of elders was a cardinal sin, as I was, then it's going to be natural for you to instill the same in your child. An over-interpretation of respect implies that Bigger/Older rules, wins, and holds all the power, no matter what. Surely we can more consciously teach how to be respectful and still maintain a healthy sense of self and boundaries. When we confuse respect with a free-pass to do whatever they want, at least in a child's eyes, it's easy to see how bullies are created -- whether they are older classmates, teachers, principals, co-workers and bosses or just cranky Uncle Joe.
And that's as good as reason as we need to start communicating to our children the lessons of power, boundaries and respect, derived from our own inner wisdom and that of our conscious caregivers and teachers. Respect, after all, is earned, and today might be a good day to start communicating that, yes?
Examining and mitigating any negative effects of our own upbringing on our children is a process and a journey, as we learn alongside them what works better.
This is Jondi, co-Founder of TappingStar, wishing you an easier, healthier and more resourceful experience of the the crucial job of educating and raising the children of our world.
Jondi Whitis is an EFT Practitioner and Master Trainer of Trainers, based in NYC. A former teaching artist in schools, it's her pleasure and privilege to talk to groups large and small on how to integrate wisdom and energy wellness into anyone's toolbox.
If you enjoyed these rules, please share it with another. They are derived from the video work of Paige Lucus-Stannard, of Gentle Parenting. She has a FaceBook page, https://www.facebook.com/paigestannard, featured recently in UpWorthy.com