Guest Blog from Catherine McMullen

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Catherin hales from Davison, Michigan. She’s worked in early childhood education for 16 years; the last 9 at  Head Start agency. She worked her way up from a Lead Teacher to a Home Visitor and now an Education Coordinator. She enjoys reading and writing in her spare time. She has a three -year-old Boston Terrier named Jagger. She is also an avid runner! She’s included some helpful parenting links for you at the end of her blog. Please welcome Catherine McMullen!

Blessings, Rebecca

catherine

Parent/Child insight-Catherine McMullen

First I think it is important to note that parental insight differs, sometimes greatly from child insight. Naturally parents see or internalize situations from a different perspective than children. So, that makes it easy to understand why these two parties are usually at opposite ends. However, closing this gap as much as we can will strengthen the parent-child relationship, further supporting a positive bond between the two.

This subject was a topic of conversation for me this past weekend. Over a lunch with a good friend of mine who also works in the field of education with me. We discussed a recent child’s birthday party that I attended.

I recalled how much fun it was. I mean the parent’s had it on a sunny and hot Saturday in July. It was perfect! It was so beautiful outside. They had the pool open and clean, filled with toys and kids! We grilled out with yummy food. Everybody seemed happy visiting and socializing. I remember thinking, Wow this mom and dad really put a lot of thought, energy, and work into making this a great day.  This is an act of love for sure. The birthday boy was turning nine He had a blast playing with his friends in his pool! He seemed to be having a great day, a spectacular birthday party filled with love and excitement.

Keep this in mind: when I first arrived a young boy who was already in the pool sprayed unsuspecting victims with a squirt gun. This is unsurprising child play, right?!! Yes, but to those who did not want to get wet, it was not seen as fun nor welcoming.

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So back to the party. It was now toward the end of my venture at this wild and crazy party. I was standing outside of the pool area preparing to say, “Goodbye” When out of the pool came that little trigger happy boy. He was tattling on the birthday boy. It seemed has if he was having a change of heart about that fun pool play. Now, I am not exact on what he tattled or what the birthday boy may or may not have done. It doesn’t matter.

This is where parental insight needs to try all it’s might and match the child’s insight.

The mom, like many, walked over to the pool. I’m sure had a discussion with him about the accusations, and met with opposition. Not surprising! He’s a 9 year-old boy, who was surrounded by friends and fun.

I am not sure how he displayed his opposition. That doesn’t matter either.

What does matter is to know and keep in the forefront of our minds that parental reaction or “insight” into a situation, is so much more advanced. We, as adults, have the luxury of being able to use our developed brain and think through problems and situations before we respond.

This doesn’t happen enough.

Instead of taking the time to fully and appropriately understand the birthday boy’s perspective on the situation, his mom engaged in the infamous power struggle. She pulled him out of the water, forcefully pushed him to sit in an outlying lawn chair, and continued to yell her frustrations at him.

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This is a classic example of how the gap between parent and child insight can directly lead to the malfuncion and deterioration of discipline and other strategies are used. This is what my point was while discussing this over lunch. The differing of insights on this particular situation allowed for an ineffective discipline method.

The child’s brain is not as mature as adult’s. They are emotional creatures meaning, and tend to be run by their feelings. They cannot easily detach as we can from an emotional situation and gain logical perspective. We, as adults, are more able to know if we are heading into a power struggle we can make choices to step away from the situation to gain some distance to allow our rational thinking to kick in.

In my line of work I see many parents unable to do this or simply not taking the time to process situations this way to gain the proper insight. Which leads to ineffective strategies and frustrations on all parenting fronts.

So, she saw this as removing him from a situation where he was misbehaving (or was he defending himself?) by taking him to a secluded place to get her point across.

However, a further differing insight of this situation was, she pulled him out of the pool in front of all his friends, grabbed his arm pushing him across the yard further humiliating him for everybody to see, and then continued to disrespect him by yelling her words at him.

I’m sure in the heat of the moment, she didn’t see it at all this way. In her mind, she’s solving a problem. But,in the birthday boy’s mind, further problems were being made.

These different perspectives are not conducive for parent-child relationships. Children do not learn anything from this situation, because they stay in the emotional part of their brain, which does not allow for proper and successful processing to further allow meaningful learning from the situation.

This shows us how important it is for us as adults to detach from emotional power struggles with children, in order to close the gap between the two insights to progress in positive and meaningful relationships.

http://consciousdiscipline.com/about/conscious-discipline-for-parents.asp

http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/family/docs/parent-child-relationships.pdf

http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-development/erickson/

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