I was just watching a TED talk by Katie Hood about healthy and unhealthy love. In it, she recalls an event where she lost her temper with her children. We all do it! Whether we work in the field of therapy or not. We might know how we should be acting towards out kids, but maintaining our cool and caring perspective in the heat of the moment doesn’t always happen…In Katie Hood’s case, one of her children called her out on her behaviour. What she recognised as important here was that her son could recognise her behaviour as inappropriate, was confident enough to pull her up for it, and had the emotional language to do so. We’re never going to get it right as parents all the time – especially when we’re dealing with trying to her our kids out of the house in the morning and other such stressful times – but we can ensure that our kids have the strength and resilience and language to stand up to us if and when we don’t act in the best of ways.
I had a similar situation recently. I was tired and stressed and, when I went to pack my younger son’s packed lunch for school the following day, I was greeted by a rotting banana dumped straight into the bag. Which basically meant I had to wash the bag out, leave it to dry and pack his lunch later than I’d planned. In the heat of the moment (given that I’d repeatedly told him not to leave rotting food in his bag!), I lost my temper. A while later, he came to me and said, ‘That was a bit of an overreaction. You don’t usually get that mad’. I agreed that I had overreacted, but that I was tired and would appreciate it if he could just deal with his rubbish at school. I put myself in his shoes as a child – I would never have dared to criticise my mother’s actions in this way. I wouldn’t even have known that pulling an adult up for their behaviour was a thing! And if I had tried, I would probably have just sobbed because I wouldn’t have had the language available to express myself calmly.
Denying children a voice is damaging to their self esteem and raises adults who do not know how to state their case, to stand up to injustice and to ask for what the need and want. It raises adults who turn to drink and drugs because they need to find alternative ways of dealing with anger and resentment because they don’t have the skills to speak up for themselves.
Hypnotherapy can help children find their voice. Working with a child in a state of hypnosis, it is possible to help them access their own sense of what is right for them. It is possible, using hypnotherapy, to allow kids to play out certain scenarios in a very realistic way so that when they do find themselves in certain difficult situations they can deal with their emotions in a calmer, more controlled way. Hypnosis can help children who are frustrated and who express themselves through self-destructive behaviour and anger.
As a parent, you can also help your child. Allow them to express how they feel. You might not always like what they have to say, but you’re the adult here. It’s up to you to see the bigger picture and validate their feelings. Like my incident with my son, our calm discussion about how he felt I had overreacted led to a greater appreciation from him that, by leaving old food in his bag, it upset me when I was tired and had a lot to do. Encouraging a child to express his or her emotions fosters an environment of self-belief and high self-esteem which will go with him or her into adulthood.