I meet so many parents who are afraid of their children’s future, especially in relation to social media. I am not saying that it doesn’t cross my mind, but it’s important to remember how our brain is wired. Our brain is wired to detect threat; it’s the only way it has of working out situations and keeping us ‘safe’. We really do have tricky brains. This threat place is like looking at children’s lives with tinted glasses and focuses vision on the harmful, negative and frightening parts of life. Because of this, it’s important we learn to talk with that part of our brain that is trying to tell us all is doomed, learn to quieten it and not act because of feeling so threatened.
The anti-dote to this is enhancing skills for relating to children when they are young. Listening to them in the here and now and helping them meet their needs. Building a relationship where children can talk with their parents and not be judged. Using skills like validation, empathy, creating solid and safe boundaries, helping children the grey areas of life, letting children take risks, make decisions and helping children feel safe when experiencing difficult emotions. Children will tell their parents things adults think are nuts and don’t understand. But this is your child’s world, so make the effort to understand rather than undermine their experience of growing older.
So rather than worry if you’re child is lost in a world of social media, create a relationship where they can explore it with you, tell you their experiences and you won’t be afraid or punish them.
Underpinning all of this is parental self-care – parents supporting themselves so they can support others. For a parent to be at their most helpful to their child means them firstly helping themselves. This means parents taking time to work out what do they struggle with, what do they need help with; how can you be calmer and more gentle with yourself? And by default this means calmer and more gentle with their children. This place allows a parent to relate with their children, respond and not react and guide children through life without letting fear run the show. Parent’s spend a lot of time focussing on their children; if parent’s focussed on themselves perhaps the realisation would come that actually their children will be ok. Is it parent worry that is the driving force rather than actual difficulties in a children’s life? There is a great twitter #31daysofparentalselfcare where parents are openly naming their parenting struggles and resolving them. Inspiring stuff..
I meet loads of really super young adults who really are very together. Dare I say way more together than I was at their age! Their parents suggest they come to counselling to meet a therapist so if they do ever need to talk they have met someone they would like to talk with. What wonderful, compassionate and kind parenting. A million miles away from fear based actions.
If you would to enhance your relationships with your children, the next Understanding Children Course begins 6th March, contact Bethan for more information, 0833130446.