Part One of a Four Part Series
Rooted in nature, expression and care, and upheld by human relationships, this is the missing piece in navigating child raising amidst the mighty challenges facing our children and young people today.
Online realms are eclipsing human interaction, the very soil for the fruits of child development. Intrinsic capacities are buried beneath rewards and incentives, punishments and threats. The village of community no longer collectively raise our children, escalating the pressure on parenting. More sensitives are being born, not supported by former models.
And we are treating epidemic levels of mental health and other troubles among children and young people - anxiety, addiction, self harm, shut down, aggression, attention issues to name but a few. We separate the syndrome from the forces of the societal system and it feels like we expect these diagnoses as a rite of passage.
Yet let us remember that healthy maturation need not present such chronic cases, and indeed occurs spontaneously for children, given conducive conditions.
What does healthy development look like?
Here are the three features we yearn to see in children.
Healthy maturation looks like emergence; enthusiasm, curiosity, creativity, vitality, ideas, initiative - a lovely venturing forth emergent energy.
We also see adaptation; the resilience to adapt to those things outside of control, to accept limits, to shift state from mad to sad.
We celebrate seeing the fruits of integration; the ability to feel two conflicting things at once. For example, feeling annoyed at a sibling and caring for them simultaneously results in the self control against lashing out. This milestone of mixed feelings is the precursor to tempered, cooperative and considerate people. More on this to follow.
Historic, current and future success of humanity rely upon these features to unfold in children. However, notice the collective absence of these features among homes and classrooms, and across adults too.
We need to name, identify and honour the three features in order to uphold them through our interactions.
The precursors to growth
Returning to nature here and remembering that we are evolved mammals. Essentially, the conditions that enable healthy maturation are in fact feelings. The feeling of emotions are a key driver in growing us up.
The feeling of attachment a child has towards their primary caregivers is foundational. The research agrees - closeness and connection are a preeminent need.
When a child feels attached and in connection and relationship with their adult, they can rest, play, learn and grow.
Connection is a very nuanced dynamic and unfortunately there are many impediments and threats to attachment, both visible and invisible.
A child may feel a lack of proximity physically through bed time, day care and school, birth of a sibling, discipline, removal of the things they care about, isolation, trauma and more, and also via more hidden sources of separation such as not feeling chosen, invited to exist in our presence, feeling different, not mattering and many more.
Such separations can cause defences to erect. Defences against feeling anything vulnerable, numbing and guarding children from moving towards feeling connected to us.
And so we see anxiety, aggression, shut down and a host of other behaviours masking the inherent goodness of young people. We also might notice the absence of emergence, adaptation and integration.
By looking through a developmental lens, we see what’s underneath the behavioural displays. We also know how children pick up on the energies around ourselves, others and situations. The full constellation supports our larger understanding and shifting of what is going on for a child. By addressing alarm or frustration for example, at a root level, we can resume development.
Three areas are now key to speak to:
Making sense of the primal emotions in children Part Two
Making it easy for children to feel connected to us Part Three
Play, expression and eating Part Four
Thank you very much for your interest and I would be delighted to further support you and your child or children. I am trained in Developmental Attachment Psychology from the Neufeld Institute, Coaching, Natural Food and Life Counselling and more and founder of Wholefood Harmony.
I work with parents and educators in a gentle, personalised way, to enable you to connect with the essence of your situation and move towards possibilities and potential. I also offer guidance around applying the child raising compass to you and your family or community. Please get in touch to arrange a free first conversation or read more about my Parent Coaching here.