A child can't soar with­out con­tain­ment

An ex­cerpt from: She­fali Ts­abary PhD. “The Con­scious Par­ent”

Healthy Mama - - Lifestyle -

Stephanie and her hus­band Phillip have three young boys who are out of con­trol. Be­cause the three are al­ways fight­ing with each other, play dates are a night­mare and meal­times a disas­ter. There’s no or­der in the house, the chil­dren rule the roost, and chaos reigns. It’s a house­hold that’s com­pletely lack­ing in re­spect, ei­ther on the part of the chil­dren or their par­ents.

Over­whelmed, Stephanie is in tears on a daily ba­sis. Hav­ing grown up with a con­trol­ling, dom­i­neer­ing mother, she has lit­tle sense of em­pow­er­ment and feels eas­ily vic­tim­ized. Since con­flict fright­ens her, she does her best to avoid it. Sim­i­larly, Philip grew up in a home where emo­tions were rarely ex­pressed, which means he’s un­com­fort­able when­ever he has to ar­tic­u­late his own. Be­cause both Stephanie and Phillip lead emo­tion­ally con­stricted lives, they are afraid to find their au­then­tic voice with their chil­dren. Of course, this cou­ple’s chil­dren, be­ing the spir­i­tual gu­rus that chil­dren are, act in the way they do pre­cisely to chal­lenge their par­ents to ad­dress “their emo­tional bag­gage. When I ob­served th­ese par­ents with their chil­dren, it was im­me­di­ately clear there was no sys­tem to the par­ents’ dis­ci­pline. The chil­dren had no clue how they were sup­posed to be­have. For in­stance, the three boys were play­ing in the fam­ily room when, be­fore long, they be­gan throw­ing their toys all over the room and climb­ing on the fur­ni­ture. When Ja­cob, the old­est and leader of the three, be­gan to shake the lamps, Stephanie en­tered the room, say­ing, “Please don’t do that Ja­cob.” Ja­cob paid no at­ten­tion. Again Stephanie spoke up: “I said, ‘Please.’ Please stop this be­hav­ior or you will get a time­out.”

None of the boys paid any at­ten­tion. In a plead­ing voice, Stephanie re­peated, “I said, ‘Please.’” When this had no ef­fect, Stephanie turned to me, help­less, her eyes beg­ging me to un­der­stand, as she ex­plained, “I’m try­ing to dis­ci­pline them, but no one is lis­ten­ing to me. Do you see how hard this is?” A mo­ment later, the lamp fell on the floor and Ja­cob hurt his foot. Now Stephanie ran to him to take care of him. Ja­cob ex­pe­ri­enced no con­se­quences, only hugs and kisses.

Af­ter a short while, Ja­cob re­turned to his play, en­gag­ing in the same be­hav­ior. Within min­utes, there was an­other mishap, this time as a re­sult of a fight be­tween the three boys. Again Stephanie ap­peared at the door and said, “Boys, please don’t hurt each other.” The boys con­tin­ued fight­ing. Still stand­ing a dis­tance away from them, their mother again pleaded, “Please don’t hurt your­selves.” No one lis­tened.

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