Children Learn what they live with!
I am sitting at the Immigrations Office, it’s 8.30am, and I have just been told I still have to wait 30minutes to pick up my daughter’s passport. Somewhat impatient, I sat down and my eyes caught a glimpse of my 23months old baby’s picture on the screen of my smart phone. In this picture she is calmly asleep, beautiful and so precious to behold, and my feelings suddenly turn to pleasure as I could not help but wonder what a privilege it was for me to be blessed with such a precious soul.
My pleasure was quickly interrupted with these words; how is this young life learning to handle and cope with difficult or challenging situations of being here in this human body? What am I or we within her current environment collectively modelling and teaching her about life, living, thriving instead of surviving?
I painfully recalled going off the handle with her older sister, who is 5years old, this morning as I really wanted to be out at 7am, I needed to get her ready to be out early as well and she was whining for what “I felt was nothing to fuss about” ( apparently it was important to her). Our morning battle woke her sleeping sister who started her day with a cry. Agrrrrrrrrh! Honestly, I felt upset. Not this morning, I thought.
Now, it has come to my awareness that you can’t choose what is important or not important to another human, even a child; at least not when it affects their emotions and within safe boundaries.
As I think of my own response to my feeling of upset like she was upset, I realise I didn’t do any better at handling mine. While she was whining and crying, I was ranting, lecturing and was very far from listening to exactly what her inner frustrations were, yet I am aware that a “misbehaviour is an expression of an unmet need”.
Ok. Maybe I’m being rather hard on myself. I reckon that sometimes, I am in control of my responses, (when I recall, I am a student learning a new behaviour at emotional literacy and intelligence). However, at other times, I lose it when I focus on the temporary goal ( the immediate goal; whether rushing off for a meeting or enforcing bed time) and not the holistic goal; a mix of today’s goal, family goals and the goal of raising authentic, whole, happy, responsible, resilient and confident children. It makes me wonder at what my little ones are picking up from me, and about how to live and deal with the energy I’m creating and encouraging in my home and the future consequence of it all.
I know sometimes I lose it when things are not going like I expect they should. Agrrrrrrh! I berate myself when I do this.
Now, I’m compassionately dealing with myself to learn and ground my skill at self-control, regulation and management as I would with my children( I can’t treat them with empathy when I haven’t empathised with myself).
Indeed, “Sometimes a behaviour or attitude we find disagreeable in our children may suggest a behaviour or attitude or approach we need to change in ourselves or in our approach. We must become the change we seek!”
Do you find, your child, yelling at others? Check yourself, maybe you yell a lot.
Do you find your child, out of control when upset or unable to manage an emotion? How conscious are you of your own behaviours and responses at different situations. Do you fly off the handle?
Many times, I wonder what our children would be like if we as adults constantly live in a state of peace, practise love at its core, empathy, calmness, cooperation in problem solving, kindness in speech and in deed, as well as faith in God and in life.
Yes, being very firm even without a raised voice or becoming a nagging or perpetually angry mum. This could even be Dad. This can be tough, I know, but possible.
This thought is beyond anger or raised voices, it is everything, how we relate with one another within our homes, schools, and neighbourhood is picked up by them as the normal way to deal and solve relationships and life problems. How we handle disappointments teaches them how they should too. How we handle mistakes teaches them to either use error as a springboard to bounce back again or to shrink from trying, seeking perfection or to dare and know that to run, falling is unavoidable.
Unknowingly, we daily dictate the beliefs and attitudes our children pick up and carry on for life.
What are we teaching them to believe about life? Are we focused on the positive possibilities life holds or the pains and perils of life. I invite you to question every line of these thoughts. Do you find any conscious or unconscious creation of a future that will serve or will not serve you or your child well?
“Children Learn What They Live with.
If a child lives with criticism he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with praise he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with fairness he learns justice.
If a child lives with security he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship he learns to find love in the world
-Dorothy Law Nolte
If a child lives with honour and respect, he learns to respect and honour himself and others.
If a child lives with a model of selflessness, he learns to care for others, not just himself.
If a child lives with a healthy tolerance of error, he learn to dare, unafraid to err.
If a child lives with fidelity he learns integrity
What are we unconsciously or consciously permitting our children to live with knowing that every day, with every experience, we are handing down lessons(more unspoken) to our children?
I am learning that one effective way to influence a child is by becoming the authentic version of what we intend to pass on. When life’s pressure deals a hard blow on us, we should even through groping find our way back to who we are and live from our identity.
Without words, they pick up wisdom for living if we but live in truth, love, tolerance, discipline, cooperation, compassion, patience and self-control.
With a few words then, they have a good example to follow.
Remember Children Learn what they live with. What are in the environment you live in? What is your child living with?
Love and Light