Kids Show You!
Every week I get calls from parents who are concerned about their sons or daughters, whose ages range anywhere from 5 to 35 years of age. On each call I can hear the sincerity, the underlying concern and the frustration in their voices. The message is as clear as day: “I want to help my kids!”. On each conversation, my thoughts are always the same – take a good look at yourself first before you start helping others. But how does one convey that simple message without misunderstanding? It may be that the parent just needed someone to hear them out on their worries and parenting experiences, to which I’ll gladly lend my ears and listen. But if they are waiting for a response, then the answer is the same each time without fail. It is an answer I offer myself every single day!
This might surprise, confuse or even shock some of you, but hear me out first. Our children are a by-product of our environment and our belief system. Their values, behaviour and personality are taught to them either consciously or subconsciously. Who else would they pick up their mindset from? That’s right- it’s us, the parents. So, when we, parents lament and wail about the shortcomings and the attitudes of our child, it reflects on us. When faced with this accusation, we may even say they got that behaviour from the other co-parent and pass on the blame.
Now I for one have spent much time trying to discern where one of my son’s negative attitude was coming from. Each self-defeating thought or behaviour has
something to do with me, either directly or indirectly. You might think of this as a weight, but it is exactly what NLP’s Perception Projection and the wonderful world of Neuroscience say- “You are not able to see what you do not own”. Or in other words, if you spot it, then you got it! The truth is, such a mindset empowers you!
For each time my son exaggerates too much and think every little negative thing is like the end of the world, I stop and think. Maybe it has something to do with how I sometimes explain things to him with excessively colourful words and with great passion and let us not forget the times of anger and yelling for sometimes trivial things, especially in the eyes of a child. My daughter can sometimes choose to be a little too quiet and not share her inner emotions. Could it be because sometimes I keep part of my life inside, not knowing how to communicate it with others around me on an emotional level. You bet!
With this approach, I get more empowered to take responsibility. Then my kid’s untoward behaviour dissipates, or changes for the better. Here’s the whole point of it all:
Our children are a mirror reflection of ourselves. They have an uncanny, supernatural ability to sense each breath we take, every emotion we show (and do not show), and every movement of our muscles. Since they have an incapacity to do any critical thinking, they copy their role models and make it their own. The key here is to be prepared and understand what is happening when issues arise. In fact, we should be expecting that our kid will HONOR all your aspects- the good, the bad and the ugly. We can be proactive about it. When a time comes where you are faced with a challenge, think about how you were once like that and ask yourself- “How did I behave? How did I get through this untoward behaviour?”. We cannot escape because this is part of our children’s progress. They are a part of all the things in life we need to pay attention to.
It’s not enough to tell our kids to be happy. To be effective, your children needs to HEAR, SEE AND FEEL HAPPINESS. They will need to experience the truest sense of happiness coming from their parents. When the parents are happy, the kids are happy. Our kids are our compass and thermostat, showing us exactly how congruent WE, the parents are inside us.
Thinking of getting professional help to correct a wayward problem is not going to be effective long-term if the environment the children live in does not also want to work on change and progress. Much like our health, we can treat the symptoms and improve superficially. But if we want to be free of the disease, then you need to solve the cause.
Focus in on all the time you spent learning about effective communication skills, reading people, emotion management, approach to parenting and in getting your point across. All of these can help correct our children’s negative behaviour in a simple and far more ecological manner. This can be solved once they FOLLOW.
Please take note that this may not apply to cases where severe neurological disorders or life-threatening cases of addiction are involved. These are not the kinds of calls I normally receive as an NLP trainer and coach. But even in these cases, it is of the utmost importance that the parents do not just separate themselves from the issue, but rather continue to work closely with their children and the doctors and psychologists and parallelly create a supportive and nurturing environment as they arrive at answers and positive connections.
Another question raised is: ‘What about giving them advice and supporting them then?’ Of course, it goes without saying, as long as our focus is also advising and supporting ourselves, be aware of our self-talk. The children are more keen to take our advice on board when they feel we are equally busy working on ourselves! Now, imagine the effect of such an approach in the society, in the world and the generations to come!