Child and Family – The Importance of Our Early Life Experiences

Child and Family - The Importance of Our Early Life Experiences

When psychological needs are met healthily we develop the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that enable us to feel CONNECTED, that we belong and have a bond with others. When we are born we have this need in order to survive, later this need connects us to our family and wider society giving us a sense of how we fit in and of our self-worth.

We need to feel CAPABLE, that we are competent. It is an important part of parenting to help a child feel they can do something, to build on their confidence, enabling the child to take responsibility for both their achievements and failings. We need also to feel that we COUNT, that we have value and that we can and do make a difference, we are significant!

Finally, perhaps the most important psychological need is our ability to develop COURAGE. When people encourage us we learn to be hopeful, resilient and willing to try and yet have the “courage to be imperfect”* when things are difficult and don’t go right for us. With the right encouragement we can build the ability to handle difficult situations and overcome our fears.

Dr Betty Lou Bettner and Amy Lew (1990), simplified the basics of Alfred Adler’s Individual Psychology into these CRUCIAL C’s that I have just described.

They sound so simple, and yet as parents we struggle sometimes to impart these gifts of living on to our children. We may not have received them all ourselves or we are desperately trying to survive in our adult lives that we miss our own children’s needs. No one expects parents to be encouraging and imparting these things all the time, indeed, children need to know that their parents are not perfect. As children and young adults we develop our own ways of behaving in our efforts to find a role and feel secure within our group or any that we join. We strive to feel that we belong and in this sense of belonging we can develop a good, healthy sense of self and can co- operate and contribute in a positive way to the good of others also.

So you see, when a child perceives their world where one or more of the “crucial c’s” are lacking, it can affect their long-term view of themselves, others and the world around them. This naturally affects a child’s behaviour. Lew and Bettner spoke about the

Lew and Bettner spoke about the goals of misbehaviour or patterns of behaviour likely to be displayed when the Crucial C’s are unmet or even when they are felt to be unmet. When we feel we cannot connect, we are likely to engage in attention seeking; when we don’t feel capable, we are likely to seek power; when we do not feel that we count, we may seek revenge and hurt others in the ways we’ve been hurt; when we feel discouraged, we assume disability and seek to avoid life’s demands.

Misbehaviour is a child’s solution to their feelings of inadequacy and insignificance. They come from the disparity between the striving to belong and early life experiences. It is never too late to encourage a child or adult. In later life we can still develop our feelings of self-worth and belonging through the genuine friends and people we engage with who encourage us to be ourselves.


About the Author: Isobel Harries (BSc(Hons) Psych(Open))

 

Isobel is a qualified and experienced psychotherapeutic counsellor. Her work with clients mental health problems spans many therapeutic areas. She works in a holistic way, looking at clients physical symptoms alongside facilitating exploration of their early life experiences that have gone to form the ‘blue print’ of the beliefs they hold about themselves, others and the world.

Given the difficulties people have accessing counselling in her rural area, Isobel decided to address this issue and created her on-line counselling service ‘Mind Wellbeing

She divides her time between administering her on-line service, fund-raising for The Mind Wellbeing Charitable Trust and caring for her family in rural Wales in the UK. She also loves hill walking with her dog Diesel, the sea, reading, gardening, cooking and meeting new people.

Find out more about Isobel on her website www.mindwellbeing.co.uk or on  Facebook.

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All kids need the 'the right things' to thrive. The right people, the right motivation, the right encouragement. Out in the world, at school, or wherever they find themselves, kids and teens with anxiety don't need any extra support - they just need their share, but in a way that works for them. 

In a world that tends to turn towards the noise, it can be easy for the ones that tend to stand back and observe and think and take it all in, to feel as though they need to be different - but they don't. Kids and teens who are vulnerable to anxiety tend to have a different and wonderful way of looking at the world. They're compassionate, empathic, open-hearted, brave and intelligent. They're exactly the people the world needs. The last thing we want is for them to think they need to be anyone different to who they are.

#parenting #anxietysupport #childanxietyawareness #mindfulparenting #parent #heywarrior #heysigmund
Sometimes silence means 'I don't have anything to say.' Sometimes it means, 'I have plenty to say but I don't want to share it right here and right now.'

We all need certain things to feel safe enough to put ourselves into the world. Kids with anxiety are thoughtful, observant and insightful, and their wisdom will always have the potential to add something important to the world for all of us. Until they have a felt sense of safety though, we won’t see it.

This safety will only happen through relationship. This isn’t a child thing, or an anxiety thing. It’s a human thing. We’re all wired to feel safest when we’re connected to the people around us. For children it starts with the adult in the room.

We can pour all the resources we want into learning support, or behaviour management, but until children have a felt sense of safety and connection with the adult in the room, the ‘thinking brain’ won’t be available. This is the frontal cortex, and it’s the part of the brain needed for learning, deliberate decisions, thinking through consequences, rational thinking. During anxiety, it’s sent offline.

Anxiety is not about what is actually safe, but about what the brain perceives. A child can have the safest, most loving, brilliant teacher, but until there is a felt sense of connection with that teacher (or another adult in the room), anxiety will interrupt learning, behaviour, and their capacity to show the very best of what they can do. And what they can do will often be surprising - insightful, important, beautiful things.

But relationships take time. Safety and trust take time. The teachers who take this time are the ones who will make the world feel safer for these children - all children, and change their world in important, enduring ways. This is when learning will happen. It’s when we’ll stop losing children who fly under the radar, or whose big behaviour takes them out of the classroom, or shifts the focus to the wrong things (behaviour, learning, avoidance, over relationships).

The antidote to anxiety is trust, and the greatest way to support learning and behaviour is with safe, warm, loving relationships. It’s just how it is, and there are no shortcuts.
In uncertain times, one thing that is certain is the profound power of you to help their world feel safe enough. You are everything to them and however scary the world feels, the safety of you will always feel bigger. 

When the world feels fragile, they will look to us for strength. When it feels unpredictable, they will look to us for calm. When they feel small, we can be their big. 

Our children are wired to feel safe when they are connected and close to us. That closeness doesn’t always have to mean physical proximity, but of course that will be their favourite. Our words can build their safe base, “I know this feels scary love, and I know we will be okay.” And our words can become their wings, “I can hear how worried you are, and I know you are brave enough. You were built for this my love. What can you do that would be brave right now?”

We might look for the right things to do or the right things to say to make things better for them, but the truth of it all is the answer has always been you. Your warmth, your validation, your presence, your calm, your courage. You have the greatest power to help them feel big enough. You don’t have to look for it or reach for it - it’s there, in you. Everything you need to help them feel safe enough and brave enough is in you. 

This doesn’t mean never feeling scared ourselves. It’s absolutely okay to feel whatever we feel. What it means is allowing it to be, and adding in what we can. Not getting over it, but adding into it - adding strength, calm, courage. So we feel both - anxious and strong, uncertain and determined, scared and safe ‘enough’. 

When our children see us move through our own anxiety, restlessness, or uncertainty with courage, it opens the way for them to do the same. When our hearts are brave enough and calm enough, our children will catch this, and when they do, their world will feel safe enough and they will feel big enough.
The temptation to lift our kiddos out of the way of anxiety can be spectacular. Here's the rub though - avoidance has a powerful way of teaching them that the only way to feel safe is to avoid. This makes sense, but it can shrink their world. 

We also don't want to go the other way, and meet their anxiety by telling them there's nothing to worry about. They won't believe it anyway. The option is to ride the wave with them. Breathe, be still, and stay in the moment so they can find their way there too. 

This is hard - an anxious brain will haul them into the future and try to buddy them up with plenty of 'what-ifs' - the raging fuel for anxiety. Let them know you get it, that you see them, and that you know they can do this. They won't buy it straight away, and that's okay. The brain learns from experience, so the more they are brave, the more they are brave - and we know they are brave.

 #parenting #positiveparenting #parenthood #parentingtips #childdevelopment #anxietyinchildren #neuronurtured #childanxiety #parentingadvice #heywarrior #anxietysupport #anxietyawareness #mindfulparenting #positiveparentingtips #parentingtip #neurodevelopment
To do this, we will often need to ‘go first’ with calm and courage. This will mean calming our own anxiety enough, so we can lead them towards things that are good for them, rather than supporting their avoidance of things that feel too big, but which are important or meaningful. 

The very thing that makes you a wonderful parent, can also get in the way of moving them through anxiety. As their parent, you were built to feel distress at their distress. This distress works to mobilise you to keep them safe. This is how it’s meant to work. The problem is that sometimes, anxiety can show up in our children when it there is no danger, and no need to protect. 

Of course sometimes there is a very real need to keep our children safe, and to support them in the retreat from danger. Sometimes though, the greatest things we can do for them is support their move towards the things that are important a or meaningful, but which feel too big in the moment. One of the things that makes anxiety so tough to deal with is that it can look the same whether it is in response to a threat, or in response to things that will flourish them. 

When anxiety happens in the absence of threat, it can move us to (over)protect them from the things that will be good for them (but which register as threat). I’ve done it so many times myself. We’re human, and the pull to move our children out of the way of the things that are causing their distress will be seismic. The key is knowing when the anxiety is in response to a real threat (and to hold them back from danger) and when it is in response to something important and meaningful (and to gently support them forward). The good news is that you were built to move towards through both - courage and safety. The key to strengthening them is knowing which one when - and we don’t have to get it right every time.♥️

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