Are you teaching your child to lose touch with who they are and how they feel? Is this you:
For most parents, they actually don’t have to change what they’re doing – they’re doing a perfect job at teaching their children who they are and how they feel and I include myself in this grouping! Sometimes I might sound as if I’m on a high horse preaching…but what’s important to realize is that everything I write about is personal…in other words, I’ve been teaching my child to lose touch with who she is and how she feels!
Listen out for how parents respond to their children
Just go to a busy super market and listen to the way we respond to our children. You’ll hear a parent say:
- You can’t be hungry, you just ate
- Stop crying – that didn’t hurt you
- Stop whining – you’re fine
- Hurry up – you don’t want to be late
- It’s okay / you’re okay /it’s fine / you’re fine
- You don’t want that
- You’re just overtired
Every time we tell a child how they feel, we’re potentially invalidating how they really feel. This in turn teaches them not to trust their own feelings – it’s inadvertently demonstrating that they must be wrong.
If every time a child falls over (whether they hurt themselves or not) and the parent says, ‘You’re okay,’ that message essentially says to the child, ‘don’t pay attention to how you feel. Ignore it.’ When I first became a mother, I would go over to my daughter, pick her up, pat her on the back and say, ‘you’re okay, you’re okay…’ and every time I did it I felt uneasy. I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me until I realized that in actuality, she wasn’t okay…and it’s okay that she wasn’t okay!
How about ‘There, there…let it out’ instead?
I decided to try a new technique. The next time she fell over or hurt herself, I picked her up, and said ‘there, there…let it out.’ I refrained from telling her how she should feel. After my daughter settled, I’d explain that it’s normal to fall over – we all fall over. I’d ask her if anything hurt, give it a kiss and then get her to focus on a new activity. Changing from ‘you’re okay’ to ‘there, there…let it out,’ felt so much better. And surprisingly, my daughter seemed to get over her ‘pain’ quicker.
I’m okay….oh, no you’re not!
It might seem like a very small thing, but from a small age we’re taught that ‘we’re okay,’ but we’re not! We’re not okay when we hurt. We need to feel the hurt, let it pass and then move on rather than feel the hurt, get told that we’re really okay when we’re not and then move on without having our feelings validated.
This small lesson teaches us how to deal with life’s hurts. As we get older, things happen to us and as soon as the hurt starts to appear, we internally say, ‘it’s okay. I’m fine,’ and then divert our attention to something else. We don’t allow ourselves to feel!
Are you up for some self analysis?
1. What do you do when something ‘bad’ happens? Does your self-talk, say, ‘it’s okay’? See if you can catch yourself saying, ‘it’s fine…I’ll be okay,’ or something similar this week.
2. If you have a child, notice how you’re responding to them. Are you telling them that they’re not hungry, not tired, too tired…Are you telling them how they feel? Are you telling them that ‘they’re okay?’
Kim – how’s this connected to ‘How Life Really Works’?
Well, if you believe your feelings are invalid and that ‘you’re okay,’ how will you be able to understand how you really feel? You’re beliefs create your reality so if you were taught to deal with life’s upsets by saying ‘I’m okay’ rather than feeling and dealing with the hurt, you’re probably filled up to the brim with loads of emotional baggage.
Don’t feel bad if you are. I surely was (and still am!). As soon as I felt the slightest bit of hurt, I’d shut it off and distract myself with work, wine, food or TV. I think most of us were taught to do this. The key thing to understand is that it’s okay to hurt…in fact, it’s normal to hurt. If you’re not okay, you’re not okay…don’t lie to yourself about. Cry – let it out because once it’s out it’s gone.
If you don’t process your hurt it seems to get buried inside your body waiting for it to eventually be validated. This is not a nice way to live…
Kim Brown helps people to find their life’s purpose and exponentially increase their fulfillment. To get started read Kim’s book, ‘How Life Really Works: The Answer to Finding your Purpose & Personal Fulfillment’