There is a survival mechanism in humans that helps each new generation to learn the current world and be able to advance with new life skills. A child learns how to behave from their primary caregivers. Your child downloads directly into their subconscious mind, all your thinking patterns and actions. This enables them learn to live in the world that you live in without you having to specifically teach them how to behave. Unfortunately, there’s a flaw in this process when it comes to the perception of children which may be causing a increase in childhood anxiety and straining parent-child relationships.
A theory of behaviour, originally developed for business leaders, can help you understand if you are falling into some of the parenting traps that may contribute to stress in and with your children. Behavioural Intelligence is a model designed to focus on positive behaviours that can be used to build value in a business. They level out the playing field between employees who have had healthy and resourceful upbringings and those who used manipulative techniques. The applied model eliminates politics from businesses by replacing negative behaviour with equivalent positive ones.
Your child is born without the ability to rationalise. They start to develop this slowly over time and it isn’t until the age of seven that their conscious mind has fully developed. These ages are vital for any parent to remember. Despite popular belief young children don’t know how to be naughty and manipulative. These thought patterns require a conscious mind for a start.
From birth your child mimics and role plays the adults around them. Both positive and negative, without their conscious mind they cannot differentiate, however they are programmed to survive in your world so the imitation continues. To your child, all behaviour is acceptable. When you raise your voice to your partner and your child is watching, they will learn that is okay to raise their voice, too. When you try to use any form of aggression to intimidate them into do what you want, then they will use the behaviour at a different time.
Instilling positive behaviours in your child requires a huge amount of self-awareness and self-discipline. Your child is a mirror to your behaviour, before you accuse them of bad behaviour or being naughty, first take a look at your own.
One of the most underused tools in parenting, especially for young children, is asking questions to get an accurate read of their intentions. From the moment they can communicate, your child can tell you what they want. The answers will surprise you. It will always be more innocent, simple and positive compared to what’s going on in your mind when you imagine them scheming up something naughty.
Children have a wonderful sense of curiosity. Curiosity enables then to learn and apply their learning which develops their conscious mind and ability to discover and problem-solve. When you assume your child can have your adult thought patterns and negative intentions, you stop them from practicing curiosity. You tell them that what they are learning and experimenting with is negative and possibly even act more negatively with admonishment and punishment.
Your negative assumptions and projections create reactive behaviours in your child which cause stress, anxiety, fear and guilt. These then become triggers and survival patterns later in life, causing hurdles for their success and also drive things like office politics and social challenges. Of course, you learned these from your parents, however, now in this emotionally intelligent world, it’s time to become accountable and take on the responsibility towards more informed and positive actions. There is no greater motivation that the love for your child.
Asking your child questions means taking your emotions out of the immediate situation. For the first few times stop everything, whether you are running late or enjoying a conversation. Pausing what you want means you can listen to what they are trying to do without being reactive. This takes practice but what you hear will surprise you. You can then make informed decisions on teaching them how to achieve what they want, how they interrupt you in future and how to prepare them for the next time they are curious about a certain situation.
Over time you will begin to know your child’s positive thought patterns in ways that you never expected. You will encourage them to express themselves and their feelings, develop trust in you and share their thoughts and challenges.
The future of business is demanding that new generations have these skills to succeed. Not all schools understand this yet. By recognising and developing non-judgement and curiosity in yourself and bringing them into your parenting, not only will you improve the quality of your relationship with your child but also their future happiness and success.