As a parent, are your expectations of your child’s behaviour realistic?
Finding out that you are going to have a baby is one the most profound things that will happen to you. Whether you are the mother or the father, there are so many emotions involved, so many dreams, fears and decisions. You get advice, wanted and unwanted. Your life changes forever.
As the big day get closer, we wonder what it will be like to be a parent. We dream, we build scenarios, we normally have a very specific idea of the type of parent we will and won’t be. We read, we talk, we get so knowledgeable.
The actual birth is normally nothing like we thought it would be, and from then on, nothing is what we thought it would be. We become responsible for this very tiny person who is completely dependent on us, and they don’t come with an instruction manual. Most of the knowledge we have accumulated means nothing and our wonderful preconceived ideas of parenting fly out of the window.
Our first indication that we ended up with a human, is that when baby is born they have no logic, reason or inhibitory processes. They make their needs known by using primitive mechanisms. They sleep when they want to and not when you want them to.
As they grow older, they begin to show even more human characteristics.
They get grumpy, have bad days, adopt a disrespectful tone, or bad attitude.
We adults have them all the time, but we are adults after all. None of us are perfect, but we hold our children to a higher standard of perfection. We often expect much better behaviour and more self-control from our children than what we, as grown-ups, are able to demonstrate.
Here’s an exercise. Listen to yourself and the other adults in the home or at the office today and take note of whether anything you say or do would land you in trouble if you were the child.
- Did you ignore your colleague, partner, child while he was talking to you?
- Did you respond immediately to a request to do something or did you first want to finish what you were busy doing?
- Did someone ask you to do something but you thought your priorities were more important than theirs?
- Did you yell at someone?
- Have you spoken with a tone of disrespect to anybody, even your children?
- Did you slam a door, roll your eyes, or huff at another request?
- Used bad language?
- Was your reason for your actions “because”?
There are reasons for our actions.
We’re stressed, did not get enough sleep, we’re worried, or sick. We tend to look at the reasons behind our own behaviour and give ourselves a little grace for making mistakes. But when our kids do it, we don’t always investigate the reasons. We are the adults, and they are the “beautiful children”. It is OK to be human, but we expect better from our children.
From ages 0 to 8, the child develops a library of identifications and associations. They learn that some of these are good (positive) and some are bad (negative). These positive and negative associations become the life script of the child. It is formed from what they know, but the child does not yet know right from wrong. The identifications lead to associations which lead to emotion.
Children are very receptive between these ages. It’s during this time that their right brains are active and their left brains – which includes critical thinking – are not yet fully functional. It is during the formative years that the subconscious mind programming naturally occurs. It is how people take on limiting beliefs that sabotage their success, including the hurtful words of a tired parent or those of an educator who has lost their patience.
A child’s critical mind only starts to develop from around the age of eight, therefore whatever they hear, see, feel goes directly into the subconscious mind without analysis, and is accepted as fact. As the subconscious mind never sleeps, the amount of data that goes directly into their subconscious mind is phenomenal. In the eyes of your child, you are literally everything, and in the programmable Theta state (4-8 Hz.) whatever you tell them, their brain will record as true. So, until the age of eight, the brain is only downloading data. Your child is ‘programmed’ for his adult years during this phase of development. It is this subconscious ‘programming’ that will run 95% of their adult life.
We expect these little children with their underdeveloped brains and limited life experiences to behave better than grown men and women. And if you don’t believe me, listen to the next presidential debate or spend some time scrolling through social media news feeds.
When you get angry, don’t just and throw out statements, don’t use humour and sarcasm that their minds take on as fact. Accept their feelings, don’t tell them what to feel. Have you ever heard yourself saying “You are just saying that because…” or “That probably happened because you…” or “You cannot be…cannot feel…” or “There is no reason to be upset”? If somebody did that to you as an adult you might feel hurt or angry, but you wouldn’t expect that response from your children.
Tune in to what your child is experiencing; they are a separate person, they are human, capable of having a different set of feelings. Neither is right or wrong.