There are thousands upon thousands of parenting books out there all giving a different perspective on the ‘right’ way to parent. Some work for certain children, others – well, not so much. Parenting is a tricky subject as every child is different and advice is not custom to each individual child, but rather to certain behaviors. One parenting approach, that is perhaps less often tried, is that of seeing yourself in the child.
Most parenting approaches deal with examination of the behavior of the child and figuring ways to induce more cooperation and reduce disobedience. How many books ask the parent to look at themselves instead of pointing fingers at the child? How many parents raise the question as to whether the child’s behavior is reflecting their own inner turmoil and how shifting themselves might affect the child?
I am sure most parents have become aware, at one time or another, how their own stress, anxiety and unresolved issues was affecting their little one and how,upon resolution, the child instantly responded favorably. I know I have noticed this. One example was during the initial split up of my child’s father and myself.
My boy was only two years old, but was apparently very aware of what was going on. Though he could not talk, his increased fits and noncooperation was speaking volumes to how he was feeling. Though he was not privy to the conversations between my X and myself, as he sat inside the closed car or behind closed bedroom doors, as soon as a peaceful resolution was reached between the two of us, he immediately shifted his behavior to match.
Much like our animals, though to a greater extent, our children reflect us. What we put out, we get back and so often this is difficult for us to grapple with and even accept with our own offspring. We see them ‘acting out’ and being defiant and rarely do we stop to ask what part of our behavior, what part of our own projected psyche (which they are so sensitive to) is being picked up on?
If we as parents can take a conscious breath during moments of frustration with our children, and really ask ourselves – ‘what is this child trying to say with their behavior about me?’ – more often than not we will start to see how they are in essence, reflecting our unresolved issues and beliefs in that moment. Often a disobedient child is asking for attention they are not receiving. In most cases it is a matter of attention it seems. Disrespect is often a sign that the child feels unheard and feels, themselves, disrespected in some way.
If parents want to improve parenting skills, just like anything else, the first step is to look within and work to become that which is desired to be seen. Parenting can transform miraculously into an experience of self-improvement and great fulfillment for all when you can start to see yourself through your child. Children innocently absorb and reflect that which they hear and see – so be the best you can be, and try not to get frustrated by your child’s insolent behavior. Instead, take it as feedback from life as to what you could do to re-calibrate and be a better you.
Written by: Stasia Bliss