Here’s the deal. Your child does not exist in a vacuum. In fact, if your child is under the age of six, they are living in a what is basically a hypnotized state of mind, and are downloading everything from “authorities” in their life without question. In other words, the way you interact with your child deeply affects the way they act. The more emotional the interaction, the more impactful the experience.
As a matter of fact, the way you interact with them creates their template for life and for their beliefs about themself. They will form beliefs about who they are, and what they can accomplish; and they will establish a level of self confidence directly based on the interactions they have with the people they are closest to emotionally. Generally, that’s you, and anyone else who takes care of your child on a regular basis.
The brain science is in. Your child’s brain is built in relationship to you. It is a well researched fact, one becoming more and more well known, that self understanding on parents’ parts is THE best indicator of resilience and health in children.
Do you want a child who not only survives, but who thrives? Then it’s time to take a look at yourself and the messages you may have been sending to your child unconsciously. Your child does not develop social and emotional difficulties “out of the blue.” They develop them IN RELATIONSHIP.
There is something out there called “attachment” or “attachment based” therapy. This therapy proceeds from the premise that children develop “problems” based on the way they are “attached” to their parents. The way a child is “attached” to their parents is based on the way parents respond to and meet their child’s needs for feeling safe, seen, soothed and secure.
Admittedly, some children may be difficult to “match,” meaning that their needs for safety, attunement [being seen], soothing and security are difficult to provide. They can be confusing little bundles who do not send clear signals, for sure. But, fortunately, [or unfortunately, depending on how you see it], you get the chance to discover how to meet those needs in a way that creates equilibrium for them. They cannot do it themselves until you have done it for them – repeatedly – and with kindness. This is why YOU need child therapy, not them.
I do not mean that children cannot benefit from learning techniques for self-regulation from a therapist. They can, and the skills they learn will be useful for them. However, the real work of child therapy is done between parent and child, in the home, with the parent leading the way. When your child is “not acting right,” or seems to “have problems,” your job is to figure out what messages you might be sending them that are limiting their ability to manage their relationship with you or other aspects of their life with ease.
Successful, happy children have parents who know themselves. If your child has some difficulty, know that 9.5 times out of 10, you are going to need to do some digging into your own psyche to figure out what your child is responding to, in you, that is causing them their trouble. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but it’s the truth of the brain science. Let it guide your decision, for the sake of your child.