This article is contributed by Priyanka Bakhru Talwar for Kidsstoppress.com. Priyanka Bakhru Talwar spent 11 years in the corporate world after her MBA, and in her last profile, she headed marketing for Vogue and Conde Nast Traveler. Around 5 years back, she became interested in metaphysics and psychology, and the adventure that followed has resulted in her new and permanent avatar as a counselor and clinical hypnotherapist. She specialises in relationship and inner child therapies, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Psychology. She dabbles in photography, all ancient and alternative healing arts and cooking; and is passionate about travel and new experiences.
Did you know that all of your belief systems and life views were fully formed by the time you were seven? And that those beliefs form the lens through which you then continue to perceive the world and yourself?
As a therapist and mommy to a 2 year old, Iâ€™ve been feeling increasingly passionately about mindful parenting, and sharing some pivotal tools to help our little ones soar. All of us want our kids to be the best they can be, and be the kind of parents that enable and nourish their optimal growth. We are so much more informed and aware than our mothers were, but most of that awareness is still channeled towards their physical, mental and opportunities growth.
Of all the counseling and guidance therapies I have conducted, the root cause of all issues and blocksÂ that adults face, invariably goes back to the critical early years. And itâ€™s very rarely about trauma orÂ patterns connected to school, friends or extended family. It is always, always about the parents. InÂ the words of Peggy O Mara, how you speak to your children becomes their inner voice.
Letâ€™s map which life beliefs and personality traits develop during the first few years, and how we canÂ behave to enable a positive, healthy self-belief:
Trust:Â Isnâ€™t it mind boggling to learn that a healthy sense of trust in people, life and the future forms in theÂ first 2 years? When I was first trying to grasp this concept, it was a bit hard for me to wrap my headÂ around how an infantâ€™s formative phase could form trust or mistrust forever. I mean, babies areÂ usually taken good care of right? But the thing is, a baby is completely helpless and dependent, andÂ itâ€™s their first introduction to the world. Your responses and reactions, absence or presence is whatÂ first shapes their perception of the world.
So if youâ€™re the kind of parent who tends to yell loudly to warn your child if he is about to stumble, or snatches anything breakable away instantly, then please STOP! Because these little things (for you) are shaping how she will relate to her life and loved ones.
Make your mantra â€˜Calm Joyâ€™ or be like the beach on a sunny day. For everything as much as possible.Â If your little one stumbles a bit, and sees you shout out and lunge, he is definitely going to getÂ scared…because his mommy seems to think itâ€™s a huge deal. Not because he felt any hurt or fear onÂ his own. Over time, the belief that forms is that falling or getting hurt is a really big problem, andÂ forms a cautious adult unwilling to take risks. Versus a hug and a kiss and â€˜itâ€™s ok baby, when we playÂ and have fun, sometimes weâ€™ll fallâ€™ which forms the belief that itâ€™s a part of life but someone willÂ always be there to comfort me. And this forms an adult who knows he is loved and can fly. SameÂ goes for snatching things away…try to exchange and coax as much as possible. Or youâ€™re probablyÂ cuing possessiveness and hiding. And itâ€™s not that hard to do once you grasp the concept thatÂ forming a trusting, confident adult is a tad bit more important than that one tumble or that one TVÂ remote getting thrown. Big Picture. Mindfulness. Calm Joy
Self Esteem and self image:
Would you have ever thought that your insecurities about yourself, and your image of yourÂ capabilities was pretty much formed by the time you hit four? That inner voice that says you needÂ to be right, or look great in front of others or put up a brave face even when lifeâ€™s hit the pile ofÂ cow poop? That voice was your parents innocently and regularly telling you what they knew best, butÂ may have been too focused on society and too less on freedom!
From 2 through to 4, the babies have more or less mastered most basic skills like walking, talking etc. Most also enter some form of play school etc. and learn a certain amount of independence. Their minds are opening up to more complex identity concerns, and again, every element of how they define themselves forever is coming from you.
The golden rule here is to remember always that kidsÂ are only about the emotion of love. Whatever makes them feel loved will become personality.
To all you moms out there (including me) who are compulsive pleasers, you were probablyÂ consistently praised for doing things well, and chastised strongly at being â€˜naughtyâ€™ or â€˜badâ€™.Â This creates a self-image of only being loved when you â€˜DOâ€™ things for others, even at the cost ofÂ self-neglect. And it starts really small, like â€˜Good girl, you know so many rhymesâ€™ or â€˜bad girl, forÂ breaking that glassâ€™.
Children are really smart, and they figure out very soon that displeasing theÂ parent means punishment or at the very least, withdrawal of love.
Yes, it is tough to manage unrulyÂ toddlers, but if you ladder this pattern into adulthood, youâ€™ll realize that you are helping to createÂ a people pleaser, or someone who does the right thing even if it goes against their heart. Kids areÂ meant to explore, to experiment with rules, to play, play, play. If we want children who are creativeÂ and innovative, kind and loving, confident with a healthy self image, then those are the aspects weÂ need to encourage.
Two guidance points here â€“ try using â€˜Iâ€™ far more than â€˜Youâ€™; and try to see who your kid really isÂ separate from a reflection of who you are. So if your little one is doing something to irritate you, ratherÂ than say â€˜bad boyâ€™ or â€˜donâ€™t do thatâ€™, try saying â€˜I donâ€™t like this right nowâ€™ or â€˜I am feeling irritatedâ€™.
This is more honest and equally effective with one huge difference. It becomes about your moodÂ and quirks, rather than becoming a label that your child thinks is the truth. It doesnâ€™t hit his selfÂ confidence, but creates empathy in his momâ€™s human-ness.
Same goes for positive spins…â€™I love that drawing, I really like it when you speak so wellâ€™ etc. asÂ opposed to â€˜You are doing such a good jobâ€™. Donâ€™t be the voice of God. Be a person. And if you areÂ very well groomed and a fashionista, donâ€™t necessarily deck your little girl out if she isnâ€™t in the moodÂ or is rebelling, just because she reflects on you. Or if he is colouring the sky green and the applesÂ purple, praise the creativity and donâ€™t sweat the correctness.
Almost every therapy I have conducted comes down to self-imposed restrictions created by our selfÂ image. I have to stay financially independent. I have to be the perfect wife, mother, career woman.Â I have to look amazing all the time. I have to. I need to. But behind every compulsion is a belief fromÂ our childhood formed by our parentsâ€™ consistent feedback, and their own attitudes. So be aware ofÂ that. Be a mindful parent. Be the sunny calm beach for your kids to run free in.
Get in touch with Priyanka on firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook/healwithseven or email@example.com