I read a blog post on the No Spank Challenge that broke my heart.
It was written by Dare Ellis called, And We Try a Little Harder. She has a compelling writing style. Not only does she write from the heart with humility and candour, but paints a vivid picture.
What broke my heart was not the description of her upbringing, both in her natural home and her first foster home, although it certainly was enough to do that.
What I was most moved by was this passage:
I was not raised in a gentle household, and so the example I had growing up was to meet force with force. The reactions built and trained into me are not gentle ones. I must overcome the urge to yell and slap every day. Every. Day. And sometimes I fail and yell at him. And sometimes I find myself trying to manipulate my son the way my father manipulated me. I blur the line of teaching him empathy with trying to make him feel guilty for things. And I hate the ‘me’ inside more every time.
This broke my heart because it doesn’t have to be this way. Dare and countless other parents who also “must overcome the urge to yell and slap every day” don’t have to keep doing the things that cause them to hate themselves.
Like I did.
I was that mother too. And sadly my girls grew up before I discovered what I know now.
My mission is to help those parents who are living this nightmare before it’s too late for their children.
So, what’s the answer?
It’s All Energy
Let’s back up a little. Let’s go back to that little girl or boy we used to be. I’m sure you know the science – the studies that tell us that yelling and spanking cause emotional damage to the child.
Well, we were that child, weren’t we? We got scared when we were yelled at, hit and otherwise abused physically and emotionally. These traumas (both big and tiny) got lodged within our energy system.
You’ve heard that we’re all made up of energy, haven’t you? In fact, nothing in this universe is solid. It’s all made of tiny molecules that vibrate at different frequencies. When something appears to be solid (like a rock), it’s just vibrating at a slower rate than something that appears less substantial (like air).
Just as our bodies have pathways for our blood to travel to different parts of our bodies, we also have energy pathways that are highways for electrical impulses to travel throughout our body too. Have you heard of the phantom limb syndrome of amputees? They often feel pain in the vicinity of where their leg used to be. That’s because the amputation didn’t chop off the energy pathway to the end of the limb.
Anyway, any emotional trauma we sustain creates a blockage in our energy channels. The more traumas we sustain, the more blocked we become. Unless we do something to unblock these pathways, our traumas (both big and tiny), will stay within our energy system.
So using willpower won’t eliminate our anger outbursts. The trauma that caused the anger needs to be released for us to release the anger once and for all.
Sadly, good intentions and willpower will not make us gentle parents. But what I’m about to show you will.
We cannot change our childhood, but we can change the emotional upset that we still hold within us.
I’ve changed how I interact with people (including myself) by using EFT (emotional freedom techniques). I’m much calmer and kinder to myself and other people.
It’s commonly called ‘Tapping’ because it works by tapping on certain spots on the face, torso and hands. These spots tap into the energy pathways that I mentioned before.
It’s important also to get in touch with the emotion (like anger) that you want to release. Getting in touch is best done by remembering a particular event in our past.
There are some words you can use while tapping but many people, including me, just tap and cry, or tap and rant about the event I’m remembering. I get best results when I sit and look at myself in the mirror while I ‘talk’ to the person I’m most upset with (usually my mother).
It’s amazing that after a short while of tapping and feeling the emotion, it will dissipate and be difficult to get back. I then move to the next memory and emotion that pops up.
It’s not magic (it’s science), but it sure feels like magic.
If you want to find out how to do this tapping thing you can learn about it here.
*This was first published by me on the blog EmpoweringChildhood.co.uk. It had over 6,000 views so when we quit that website I thought it was worth republishing here. The following is a useful question and answer comment that I thought was worth republishing also.
What is a parent supposed to do when approaching their child in a calm way does not achieve the desired result? For instance, asking your child calmly to get in their car seat and the child calmly says no and continues playing/running around the car, or in many cases screams no and flails and kicks? I understand, appreciate, and try these calming techniques, but I feel very flustered and helpless when my child does not cooperate. April
That’s a very good question April, I’m glad you asked.
Maybe some readers will be able to add more strategies but here is one answer.
I know getting in the car can be a frustrating business for us adults who have a different agenda to our children. We have things to do and places to go and a schedule to keep.
A child’s main priorities are to have fun and to learn. So if we work with these we’ll obtain their cooperation.
I’m assuming (from experience) that your reference to “in many cases screams no and flails and kicks” is as you’re picking him up and physically putting him in his seat without his cooperation? Or because he’s had experience of you doing this in the past.
That, of course is to be expected. Wouldn’t we do the same if someone did that to us? I know I would. This is what I did with my own children before it occurred to me there was any other way.
But working with the child’s agenda is the easiest and most respectful thing for us to do.
We can try waiting until the child is ready of her own free will to get into the car but that can take a long time. And we may not have that available. We may be in a place that’s unsafe for her to run around the car. I’ve sometimes given a choice of either getting in the car on her own or me helping her.
We could sometimes compromise and insist she get in the car but wait for her to be ready to sit in a buckle her car seat.
However here’s an idea that I cannot claim as my own but sadly I can’t remember who to credit. It’s a strategy that succeeds each time by working with the children’s agenda of having fun.
Why not turn this activity into a game? Use whatever he’s interested in. You could pretend the car is a spaceship, or a digger or a fairy palace, or whatever the child is into at the time. You could take on the persona of a character, talking in a voice that fits that character either suggesting or even giving orders (as appropriate) to enter the imagined place (the car seat) so they can begin the adventure. You can then let the child take it from there and go along with them on their imagined journey.
This works for getting into the car but if we think in terms of what would work with the child’s agenda, then we can come up with other strategies in other situations.
I hope this helps to get your creative juices flowing and more fun into your life.