The energy we emit and direct at children (or any vulnerable soul) will be absorbed, internalized, and reflected back out. This process is dynamic, instant, and implicit especially when you consider the following:
- The quality of attachment between the primary caregiver and the child during the critical and sensitive period of a baby’s development becomes the blueprint for all future relationships. (Attachment Theory by John Bowlby
- Much of early human development and learning is done through implicit learning, that is learning from experience without intention or awareness
- Children (under age 6) are process most information using delta and theta brain waves which allow input from all senses to enter the brain unconsciously like in a hypnotic trance (see http://www.renewal.ca/nlp55.html)
We are all born full of goodness and inherently want to be helpful yet don’t have all the skills to do so. All negativity (i.e. acting out behavior or conflict) comes from a state of stress and/or unmet needs. More times than not, kids are feeling overwhelmed by big and conflicting emotions that they don’t know how to identify or handle. They might be tired, scared, hungry, or confused… If we think children have negative intentions, then we tend to react from a negative frame and end up adding more stress to an already stressed out soul who has fewer skills and resources to handle appropriately. However, when we perceive a child as having good intentions and can see how something valid is affecting their ability, then we can better meet their needs and help them connect to the skills they do have and learn more.
To build a secure attachment, four specific needs children have are to be Seen, Safe, Soothed, and Secure (see “Four S’s of Parenting” by Dr. Dan Siegel). Focusing on their positive intentions eases stress as well as allows for greater opportunity and integration of positive beliefs, feelings, traits, and actions to manifest. What we focus on is what we will get more of. Repeatedly hearing you are naughty or lazy will take its toll.
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” ~Peggy O’Mara
I adapted a list like this which I got over a decade ago from a Dare To Be You. This list is meant to be a guide, not an absolute. It is a work in progress and an example of how we can learn to see “negative” behaviors in children more positively by viewing the quality of their behaviors from a different perspective and/or context such as being assertive, expressive of one’s needs, and protective are actually healthy, responsible and honorable traits.
Notice when you are reacting and thinking the worst of your child. Take a few deep breaths and time to gather more information and understanding. Get down on their level and try to see the positive side of the negative behavior…Believe good intentions…Avoid criticism and blame…and Appreciate something, anything…I have found that shining a light on others’ strengths and positive intentions cultivates more love, trust, positivity, and deeper connections for all. Having this positive reframe on children’s behaviors has inspired me greatly. I am better able to be present and supportive of children and connect at a level they respond well at. I have seen over again how positively motivated they become because when they feel good, they will do better.
“Thinking of your child as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment. Thinking of them as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help them through their distress.”
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Positive Reframe shares resources with the intent of the positive progression of informed decision making related to issues associated with emotional, relational, physical and spiritual wellness. While I share personal and professional perspectives, my writings reflect my personal opinion and not intended to substitute professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. The online medium does not lend itself to the level of detail and rapport building required for thorough assessment and therapeutic intervention thus the content shared on this page is for informational purposes only. To make well-informed decisions that best meet your family’s unique needs, I highly recommend exploring and researching available options, consulting primary health care providers, engaging in respectful dialogue with friends and family as well as seek referrals from a trusted source for professional counseling. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy in the state of Illinois, USA