During the Project World School Family Summit that took place in Puerto Morelos, Mexico earlier this year, we were inspired by an incredible group of speakers who shared their thoughts on education, family, travel and parenting. This is the second in the recorded series:
Advices towards Authentic Parent-Child Relationships
From Coralie’s talk handout:
- Hunger strike, was a child not easy to control! Already liked to do the things on my way
- As I got pregnant, I felt transformed by maternity, I wanted the baby to be himself and to decide when he wanted to leave his first home
- At the end I gave birth at home,
- I discovered thanks to my sage femme many theories like Pickler, living the child free to learn how to move, etc
- Was Almost afraid to say NO
- Then I discovered Naomi Aldort, it helped me to see how to give freedom and at the same time be a leader
- Naomi’s book: It is not a method to obtain something from the child, manipulating him gently, it is just discovering the authentic child and authentic self, having authentic relationships
Parents don’t take power over the children
Having empathy with our children: listening to their primary needs
Love: unconditional, expressed (can be to listen to their passions of the moment)
Self-Expression (flowing with his choices of expression, own preferences and feelings)
Emotional safety (loved and accepted even with negative feelings like hate)
Autonomy and Power
(they make their own choice, they estimate their risks)
(not praising, not correcting if they don’t ask “this is not a crocodile it’s a frog”)
Each one has freedom over his own body
With Baby language already express their needs
If they want to be kissed by grandma, then what they want to learn, which game to play, what to wear…
Guidance from parents: frame of security
especially in the early years of the child create a safe environment freedom and autonomy
Example: healthy food,
each family transmits values, makes choices. More principles than rules, explained as they grow up
Buying toys, better not go go to supermarket with them if we don’t want… Buy anything if we can? Explain plastic etc? I discovered the joy of buying silly small toys for him, he just wants one…
Using real shampoo on dolls, it is a pretend game, why real shampoo?
Playing with water: not so easy to know when to say no, see what WE can do ourselves, our example
anything we want to say no to (danger, things like the wind we can’t change): Be clear from the first time they try, with real leadership without violence or force (sometimes need to repeat more with babies…)
being conscious/ not asking too much : prevent hard situations for them, knowing them (needs, age…) ex: run outside then restaurant
Environment where the child can experiment autonomy, without needing our intervention, in socialization: age difference, small groups.
As they grow this frame of security becomes their authentic preferences and values
There is trust, connection, the child knows it feels right, always for their own good. They can then include their parents in their investigations (video games many hours).
“A thriving child is too busy and happy to bother with negative strategies”.
try forbidden things, playing with electricity, alcohol… Not soo easy sometimes maybe? Do they want to try things out of curiosity? Remember obedience is not a good quality.
Child is not taking power over others
A burden too big for them
Other people’s body, or family. Ex: Breastfeeding, undressing me, pointing in the street the directions.
We take into account his needs and preferences, he doesn’t take the final decision
He doesn’t separate his parents,
decide when they will have another child,
Each situation is different: for example they want to decide when their parent talks : this can be that they need some help, or power game, or taking too much power over the group… no easy answer.
They can just need a power game: accept the offer, to play
In some safe context, at home, they may just need a good power game (throwing things, saying bathroom words,…) time of great connection and laugher!
Or therapeutic game: showing with dolls what he wants to do to his brother
Be a leader is being a model, a loving and generous ally. With time they will learn to treat others on the same respectful way.
gentle communication that doesn’t take power over others: eager to help them as soon as possible
no need to cry or hit to call for attention (sometimes be very present is necessary, difficult… context)
A little boy, 5 year old, having brother 3 year old, shouting “put my shoes on now!” what to do? Yes I will kiss those little feet… !! I love to take car of you. Not thinking he should do it by himself… mirror: the mother is being taking power over him by refusing her help.
So I respond to his demands, not to his undressing me, with or without please, with all tones of voice, and it seems he prefers to ask as we use to do it most of the time, nicely
They are our mirror! Not taking power over the child as they’ll do it too
– resisting for no good reason, punishing “I told you, you see! Here is your lesson!” instead of validating. Saying “it’s mine, don’t touch it” and then obliging him to share with others…
– shouting at him (ex of the river, parent was afraid, then apologized), is like punishment for them
– Indirectly insulting him, bêtises: saying “that is bad” or “don’t do stupid things”: refers more to the adult (temptations that they can’t resist, primary needs not met, not enough humor to play power game…)
Ex breaking the plate we offered to my brother
Angry and making him feel bad about our feelings? he will know, next time he is upset or if he wants to punish us as he has felt punished by us, that doing the same kind of “bad thing” will drive us crazy. He will have this power over us.
Not teaching them that their emotions have power over us, that the No has no value, because he can transform it into a yes if insists enough. If we say no, then tantrum doesn’t work to obtain it or something else. (prevent the “Victim psicology”)
Ex my dad suffering to see a child unhappy, often is saying no and then yes if insisting
ex in event, our child tired, wanted the bicycle. It doesn’t last if we focus on feeling, not reality.
Respect them as other individuals, with their dignity, treat them as you like to treat you invited friends (as much as possible… we are leader too, there can be emergencies)
(preparing them in advance, explaining them, not interrupting them)
We are models in our relationship with others, we don’t fight reality, less to defend our child’s imaginary rights over others.
Ex: in the park, I felt angry as the girl was “violent” with my 10 months old and the mother didn’t say anything. Be conscious of my thoughts “should not”…
Transition: This leads us to how to be present to the child when he faces difficulties, when he would like to change reality.
Helping the child to have power: over his own feelings
The relationship is authentic also because emotions are expressed and validated, not seen as negative and undesired noise.
Many times we don’t feel comfortable listening to their cry, sadness, anger, etc, (we want them to be always happy, it disturbs us, or may disturb other people…) we are afraid the child cannot handle it, or we are in a hurry, feel ashamed not to be a good parent, etc. It is more for ourselves that we distract them.
We know them better and can prevent better, we can ask why, they can feel understood, not alone. We get connected deeply with the child
They can cry for all the previous reasons they wanted to cry and didn’t, releasing old blocked tensions
So that it doesn’t go out in disease or other feelings… ex p121 blinking eyes, unleashing sadness and accumulation of anxiety. To let it go out makes us freer than to bury it. so they don’t convert into a person that doesn’t express her feelings, aggressive or submissive, or with sleep disorder or other unhealthy symptoms to express it
So that we don’t give more importance to feelings than the one they have, so we can pass through it more easily
They feel lost if they see their emotional expression can scare their parents. Careful not to put responsibility for our feelings on them (mirror). We can express our fears and vulnerability (if doesn’t concern him) and say we take care of it.
So they are stronger emotionally: they learn to manage it, not that they are too weak to feel distress.
child and adult we can learn not to escape our feelings, to know which thoughts lead to them. We know ourselves better
How to validate?
Not to do: Denial, distraction, avoidance
Phrases like: Do not (don’t be ashamed), but (but if you love to play with it), future (you will be cold if you take it off) or about someone else (you are tired, You are ok), or about the past (you already had time for it). Negate their feelings and decisions (“yes try it, it is very good”)
We can distract but not in the moment when the child is expressing feelings, it would only postpone or make it worse.
Yesterday Victor crying very tired, hard for a parent to hear our toddler cry especially when you feel guilt (forgot his shoes, in the patio it was hurting his feet, stayed late for him in restaurant…) but at that moment accepting it was necessary and healing for him to let out his cries for 1 minute. the most difficult is the beginning, then he feels accompanied, then could play happily inside the restaurant with a friend
Easier when just as wanted to open window but had to close it in the car in Brittany, just cried 2 seconds
Even when you say no to the action, you can validate the feeling, yes to the intent “Yes you really want to run after this ball, yes this girl has such a beautiful hair you would like to take it…”
Provide the complete necessary information
Heal a physical or psychological wound letting him cry
Listen without dramatizing
Validate his emotions with a warm tone of voice
“are you frustrated/disappointed because you wanted XY?” “I will stay with you so you can cry as much as you need” “I am here” “I understand” “I hear you”… or silence (but not indifference)
Example fear: with victor it helped him when he could name “fear”, he named it a lot, each time he was experiencing it, it was one of his first words.
Example ballet: Just make her express her thoughts, acknowledge it, then she is free to take her own decision without feeling pressure from her parents. Listened to her when she said she hates it.
Dissociate the feelings from the cause, to give them power on their own feelings. Most of the time being listened to is enough. (ex: I want the whole cake for me)
Anger: focus on thoughts leading to emotions, not blame (monopoly, he didn’t want to lose!)
Power games: validating anger, need to take power…
We don’t make fun of them or underestimate their feelings (they may look funny, as we do when we are making a tantrum, can videotape us)
Letting her resolve by her own the situation by transmitting our confidence/trust, by not rushing to find solutions for her, to fix everything.
Free of parental expectations or emotions
They regain freedom once their feelings are expressed, then either they let go or they come up with a solution, or request.
Not causing tears and frustration, preventing it, only situations that cannot be avoided, then be clear and empower
Like a toddler falling down, I try not to prevent him to realize what happened and to learn how to get back on his feet by himself, with dignity. Hand on his back saying are you ok?
Parents raising ourselves: taking control over ourselves
Not wanting to change reality for the child, neither reality in general…
Anger: to pretend to themselves that it is useful to change reality. Makes us feel bad… “Every time we want to be angry is a time for laugher”. (the glass broke up in many pieces and water is all over me…) Stay our true self
It is in our head: tiredness, boredom, anger…
learn to feel satisfaction by experiencing the power of choosing things as they are
ex: grandmother forcing to kiss: focusing on the child, validating his feelings and empowering him. “we are not punishing the wind and having conversations with the wind” (changing the grandmother)
“The child is right”, yes he should do it. There is a reason; the important is to look for it
Ex of the plate: why, we were asking him too much
When primary needs haven’t been met?
When did I teach him that behaving like this would be useful to get something?
Am I a good model? Or also prisoner of my thoughts? Are we careful with objects and people?
Trust and wait the moment when the child wants to do the things by his own interest and will (from fear to love and joy)
They are ready when they do it
Flowing with life
They know themselves and express their need better (when to eat, drink, wear, what to learn…)
Sometimes the context is more complicated:
What I hear: he will never be able to be without you, you have to prepare him with bottles, you have to he doesn’t know what frustration is, at his age he should be able to sleep without asking for his parents, if you keep breastfeeding him he will reject you, he is a dictator, be careful he will get used to being in your arms, and if you die? It would be so hard for him, you have the responsibility to prepare him! he is really the little boy of his mother… Is it such a big deal if he is crying alone in his room calling you and you stay here? And if he was sick and more attached to me, experiencing a regression, all of a sudden all the fears and criticism were generalized.
Child is good by nature, wants to help and be loved
Ex of the plate:
How will he learn to be careful? Not hurting others’ feelings? He will be already feeling bad to see the other cry, or to see the broken object, there is no point to add more aggressiveness and guilt to it. Children naturally feel empathy; want to hug a baby who is crying, etc.
Plus there is the model that we give, we show we are careful not breaking things, we show we don’t want to hurt people, they see our respect for others… We can explain without guilt (careful in our voice and face).
by nature he will want to have autonomy and independence when he is ready
teaching in a gentle way?, (my experience) being honest, try if he is ready if we need
ex: – lying without being breastfed, with kisses
– Teaching polite sentences without manipulating him
– Proposing him to go to the toilet or asking to help, letting him free to choose if yes or no
What to do in practice
The emergency oxygen mask
Putting the mask to myself first. Not in reaction.
Ex of the plate: automatic response… Why when it is our child that breaks something : can accuse him to make other people sad, shout at him, punish him with our anger and aggressiveness and make him feel guilty? or kind and respectful as if it was an invited friend? (two sides of the same coin)
Mirror: We are caught in our thoughts as he is by his distress
The SALVE formula – first Separate ourself from the child in silent talk
S – Separate your self in a silent self talk
Check validity, observe what you would do when you believe it, ask myself who I am without the thought: the unconditionally loving self emerges. Check the mirror : true about myself what I say to the kid? Let your light shine and see the child through it, with love…
A – shift attention to the child
L- Listen, make eye contact, ask questions, let him know that understand if doesn’t speak
V- Validate feelings and needs without dramatizing and without adding your own perception: you are in your child’s little world, feel connected, and authentic
E – Empower the child, show confidence in his resourcefulness by not letting your own emotion invade him and not rushing to fix it.
as you show trust in a child who wants to get up by himself after falling down, you don’t rush to take him up without making him find his own way of doing it, you are just present with a hand on his back for example.
Ex: monopoly or girl wanting the gift
Greatest gift: learn to be authentic and in the present, to distinguish what depends on us and what doesn’t, reality and feelings. Be a Buddhist!
Easier for the children, they do the work quickly and naturally
It is good for us… and for them. To be better parents! Not only for us.
What is the Project World School Family Summit?
A conference style gathering for worldschooling, homeschooling, unschooling families (and those just curious) in the magical Merida, located in Yucatan. Experience the culture, flavors, and rhythms of Mexico’s cultural hub. Gather with other families and celebrate learning from the world with new friends and old. Participate in sessions exploring issues surrounding education, travel and family. Share your experiences, connect and learn.
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