Maxine Smith - Body Awareness Therapies
As a parent, we blame ourselves and apologise when our children behave badly; when they get into trouble at school, are disrespectful to another adult or hurt another child. We feel guilty, berate and blame ourselves for the hurt and distress our children cause.
Therefore, would it be safe to assume that when our children behave in an unacceptable way, they are not behaving in the way we believe we taught them? Or are they?
I ask that question because children are more likely to learn from what they see rather than what we tell them.
Therefore, is it possible that we have, unconsciously, taught our children, an attitude, a behaviour, or a way of viewing the world that they are now acting out with their friends, teachers or the person on the street?
It is possible that they heard something we said, witnessed our behaviour, observed our habits? Actions they are now displaying in their own behaviour. We may well have told them off for exactly the same things, not realising we are teaching and reinforcing, certain types of behaviour on a daily basis.
Therefore, the question to ask is
Are we to blame or are we responsible?
Blame implies that we are, indeed, bad parents who can’t teach our children right from wrong, parents who are incapable to keeping our children on the right path. On the other hand, we may decide, actually, our children are the ones who behaved badly, I am not to blame, they are. If any of the above is the case, we become powerless, as though there is nothing we can do to change or alter their behaviour.
Responsibility on the other hand puts us in a powerful position. When we take responsibility, we have an opportunity
We can help them to understand
More importantly, it is an opportunity to address our own behaviour. To look in the mirror that our children are holding up for us to see, and make a change in our behaviour. If we can be honest with ourselves, we can be honest with our children. And, Yes, that is painful and maybe we will lose face, for all of 2mins.
Your child could begin to see you, for the humans you are. They will respect you for recognizing your mistakes, your honesty, and your willingness to shift in your behaviour.
As a result, you are more likely to be mindful of how you behave to reduce the risk of reinforcing their unacceptable behaviour through your own.
For many parents, this may well be the first opportunity to have an open, honest and frank discussion with their young person that could make all the difference now, and in, years to come.
The trick is to be self-aware and identify where your own behaviour falls short of the standards you set yourself and teach your child to live by.
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