Children pick up on our feelings and intentions

I came across this little quote right at the end of an article by Laura Markham and it immediately jumped out at me.


It is so succinctly put, and it reminded me that sometimes we can get so caught up in techniques, in “What should I say or do in this situation?”, that we forget that children are so sensitive, they pick up on our spirit, our feelings, our intentions. We can be so focused on the doing, that we forget about how we are being, and that is perhaps the more powerful thing.

So even if we are saying or doing the “right” thing, if our energy is tight, heavy or rigid, then it probably won’t “work”. The tension will come through in our voice and our body language, and our children will sense that. For example, I had (and sometimes still have!) uncomfortable feelings around my son’s screen usage. And when it comes time that I need him to finish on the screen, sometimes my “loving limits” can be less than loving! I can be saying empathic things like, “I know it’s hard to finish, I understand you want to keep playing, I can see that you’re really enjoying that game”, but my irritation and exasperation come through, and it usually doesn’t end well!

Alternatively, if we are connecting with our love for our child, our intentions to connect and support, then it doesn’t matter quite so much the exact words we say, our child is likely to respond in a way that matches us. An example here is when my child is acting aggressively, I can remind myself that there are more vulnerable feelings underneath his harshness, and I can hold an intention to connect with those feelings, almost trying to reach through my son’s protective shield of anger, to offer him love, reassurance and acceptance. And when I’m in that state, the loving words and actions flow easily and effectively, and he responds accordingly, often dissolving into beautiful releasing tears.

Note: If there is a particular situation that is quite charged for you, like I describe above in relation to my son’s screen usage, you might like to read my other post about how charge makes change challenging! The example I give is in relation to my husband, but the same approach can be used to reduce charge in any situation with any other person, including our children.

Image courtesy of FreeImages/Vinícius Sgarbe.

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