After working with children for a few years, I wanted to become a school teacher. During that study I worked one day a week as a school teacher’s assistant. I loved working with the children, but over time I developed the feeling that something was wrong. It was a feeling that started after reading lots of child psychology. This was so fascinating to me as it explained my entire childhood experience of being at school. It became clear to me that the subject of child psychology was completely ignored at schools. There was simply no time for it, there were so many targets that the children needed to reach and the schools were down on staff due to burnouts. Instead of getting the normal flu, teachers were somehow prone to burnouts. Because of all of this, I could not continue my effort in becoming a teacher and I am glad I stopped.
This is not a blog to give you lots of practical advice in parenting, but rather a blog to completely shift your perception about children and their needs. Lots of tiny tips and tricks can help you temporarily, but for a big shift we need something more.
The basic needs of a child
Children have according to professor Luc Stevens a few basic needs:
- Safety (this is the basis)
- Autonomy (making their own decisions and being independent)
- Equal relationships (be a part of a community and seen as equal
- Competence (the feeling of being good at something and being challenged)
This means that most things we do in our society for our children, are either not necessary or even bad for a child.
At school children experience things like competition, bullying, unequal relationships, being rated, judged and numbing a child’s free will. This will become destructive over time. Being wired this way, will make us treat ourselves the way we have been programmed eventually. We will treat ourselves the same way as others who do not respect our boundaries. People will repeat the negative patterns they have learned from their parents and society. These are often the personality types I talk about in the 5th and 6th module.
A child wants to be safe and to explore the world bit by bit. Safety means clear boundaries, emotional co-regulation and a nonviolent place to live. It wants stability over excitement. When parents feel guilty, they tend to organise amazing trips to theme parks, movie theatres, etc. Children will be happy to join ofcourse, but after such an event, it will leave the child sad. Sad that it is gone. When you organise such an event out of the emotion of guilt, you will push your boundaries and commit to an event in the future. This is the opposite of flow. Follow your impulses breath by breath and don’t commit. If fear and guilt are involved, then where is it in your body? Acting against fear and anger is a coping mechanism and is draining.
Competence and autonomy
The child wants to slowly develop some skills and an interest in doing something the child is naturally drawn to. The child wants to decide what to do via flow and not be forced to do things. This doesn’t mean that children are not meant to help the parents, as they will naturally want to join the others and help. You can give them small tasks and praise them for their work.
After a phase of pressure, humans tend to want to be lazy. This laziness is not something bad. We might judge our own laziness, but that is usually the inner-adult speaking. A psychological aspect that has become destructive over time. What we label as negative is probably not even laziness, but a coping mechanism of passiveness with distraction (mobile phone, videogames, etc). If the child needs these coping addictions, you can do the inner work with them. There is nothing more bonding between a parent and a child. You will understand them better and they open up and need less coping.
Children need equal relationships, nobody is worth more than the other and everyone is honest to each other. As a parent you can talk about your feelings and emotions. You can tell what is on your mind and what you are trying to learn and how you are doing this. Becareful, in broken families the child tends to want to create harmony in order to develop a safe place. It might do this as a coping mechanism and forget about its own needs. This is of course not desired and the child should never be pushed into such a role.
Clear communication is vital. Plus we also have to see that there is a part in us that wouldn’t mind the child playing this role. This is a result of our own conditioning. There are of course things that your child doesn’t need to know or can’t even understand, but know that your child will pick up on dishonesty. It can feel your emotions better than you can yourself. Dishonesty makes a child feel unworthy and confused.
Remember that the child just wants to be part of a tribe and find a safe place, without violence and judgement, while he or she is exploring itself and the world.
Our own inner child
Unfortunately most people in the western world did not grow up this way. This is maybe partially a cause for developing a chronic disease in the first place. Up to 80% of all adults in the western world have a chronic disease. The number is beyond worrying.
In the end you don’t need someone to break your free will anymore, you will do it yourself. You don’t need to be told to be incompetent, you will tell it yourself. And you will be unable to experience healthy relationships. You won’t feel safe, no matter how hard you try.
And now, you will repeat what you have learned at school and in society: Coping. Trying to not feel by either overcompensating, denying or surrendering.
Parenting and projecting the need of coping mechanisms
As parents, you might see that a lot of the things we want for our children are not at all part of their needs. Some things are part of our projected coping mechanisms. A child doesn’t need any of it. I won’t get into detail with this. But we must conclude that most of the socially accepted norms are not needed at all. Instead your child wants safety, competence, autonomy and relationships. Fortunately this is all that you can give, now that you no longer can keep up with society.
It requires honesty that you might sometimes seek something from the child as a coping mechanism. You want to feel loved by them. You don’t want to be incompetent in parenting. You need soothing for your own inner child. Maybe you have romanticized a family and are forcing things to be in a certain way. We all do this. It’s not bad.
Becoming aware of it can help us turn inwards and resolve the root within. This new inner harmony will have an effect on your family. Because what you really see in your children is a mirror. They mirror you and sometimes we humans are unable to see our own dark spots. Your child is just there to show it to you. A signal that something internal needs your attention. Once you resolve it, change will appear fast.
A new way of parenting
You can involve your child in your healing. Talk with them about your symptoms, triggers and hidden emotions. Co-regulate their emotions. Have some clear boundaries and rules. Apologize for emotional outbursts and other negative pressures your child might have experienced. Accept their need for competence and autonomy. Trust life for doing all the rest. Once we humans step out of the way, life will rebalance itself. You will notice that it goes more automatically without effort. Maybe your child has to heal emotionally as well, you can practise together. This way you will form a great relationship.
Whatever you think you need from your child, can you give this to yourself first. If it is love, please start loving all your aspects and emotions.
When your child is emotional, take some time to sit with them and allow them to feel their feelings. You can ask questions and hold space for them like you learned to do for yourself with The Alignment recovery program. This will change everything, your child is less likely to develop destructive behavior and probably won’t get a chronic disease like you have. Maybe this is even the best thing a parent can do for their children in their childhood.
School and pressure
I don’t recommend going to normal schools anymore, but if your child is forced to go to one. I would recommend not to take everything so seriously anymore.
Many parents ask their children questions after school like:
- Did you get good notes
- Have you finished your homework?
Try to ask different questions to make your relationship stronger:
- What was the funniest thing you experienced today?
- What was the worst thing that happened today?
- What do you wish to be different at school?
- Is there something else you are having an interest in?
I think that having a condition like ME/CFS can be a great thing when it comes to parenting. It all depends on where you are in your healing journey of course. When you are stuck and feeling all the pressures will make it a parenting nightmare. But when you start doing the work and give the basic needs to your children and your own inner child, things will shift. Suddenly you will see that so many of the pressures we put on ourselves are not necessary. You will see that your condition can help you make the switch to conscious parenting. You will actively interrupt your generational trauma and heal together with your children.
Life becomes a self-regulating movement. We can step into the flow and let life guide us. From struggle to flow.