THE BOY I COULDN’T FIGURE OUT
I distinctly remember the moment when I used my intuition intentionally for the first time with a child. I was a primary school teacher and I had a boy in my class – we’ll call him Ryan – who was a complex child. He was exceptionally bright, very friendly and had a good sense of humour yet every day he poked, niggled at and generally annoyed his classmates. It was virtually impossible to get a straight answer out of him about why he was treating his classmates this way. Whenever I asked him about what was going on, his clever mind would try to formulate the responses to my questions that would land him in the least amount of trouble. I just couldn’t figure him out.
One morning, Ryan had just upset another classmate and we were going round in circles (again), trying to determine what had happened when I felt my mind almost stop. Normally when I was teaching, my mind was in 28 places, trying to keep an eye on what each student was upto. But, in this moment, the other children in the room faded away and my attention zoomed in on Ryan. It became peaceful inside me and I let my resistance to his behaviour go. I asked myself, “What does he need in this moment to be able to tell me why he’s upsetting the other children?” And it came to me in an instant – give him the start of a sentence to finish. Suddenly I understood that he had so much happening in his mind that he needed help to zero in on the information I was asking him about. If I started a sentence for him, it would take his thoughts to the place where the answer was and all he had to do was finish the sentence. To give an example, a sentence starter might be something like I poked Ben because… or I wanted Ben to… Each time, I could adjust the sentence I gave him to the situation.
Somehow, finishing the sentence was easier for Ryan than answering a question. It didn’t allow him to go off on tangents or hide what was really going on with words. From then on, if I couldn’t get a straight answer from him, I carefully spoke or wrote the start of a sentence or two for him and he finished them off. Being able to get the information I needed about his behaviour helped me to understand where he was coming from and how I could help him. The rest of the school year was a lot easier. That one moment of asking my intuition for what I needed transformed the dynamic between Ryan, me and the rest of our class.
I now use getting present and inviting my intuition in (like I learned to do in my classroom that day) in my parenting. It especially helps me to respond appropriately to difficult situations with my boys. Although I sometimes share with you strategies for approaching specific situations in a respectful way (eg. to discipline or to respond to an angry child), I prefer to use my intuition than to lean on a process or strategy by default. Over the years, my best responses to situations have come to me in the moment when I’ve had no plan for how to approach them but my heart and mind have been open to really seeing what’s going on. The trick is to ask ourselves the right questions.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
The questions we ask ourselves have a lot of power, they reflect our intentions. Imagine, for instance, you have asked your child to help with the housework and they are flat-out refusing – rather loudly and aggressively. If we ask ourselves “how can I get them to do what I want them to?” (just quieten down and pick up the vacuum cleaner, for goodness’ sake!) we are not approaching things with a spirit of respect and co-operation so we’re probably not going to hear much from our intuition. It doesn’t want to be complicit in controlling our children.
As I’ve used my intuition more and more, I’ve found that there are 3 questions I tend to ask most when in a difficult situation with one of my boys. These questions help me to understand what’s really happening and what is needed from me in the moment –
“What is my child needing right now?”
Our intuition is likely to reply to this question with something like – acknowledgement of their point of view; help to manage a big emotion; to learn where a boundary is; to tune into their values… In the case of the child refusing to vacuum, they may need acknowledgement that they don’t like vacuuming and help to manage their anger about having to do it, for example. When I ask this question, I can see that that the child is not being naughty but has developmentally appropriate needs.
“What can I do to meet that need?”
Our intuition is super-creative, shiny with brilliance we probably wouldn’t tap into using our rational minds on their own. It’s able to synthesise the various aspects of a situation to offer simple and effective solutions – like giving Ryan a sentence to finish. It wants to help us empower our children.
“What belief about myself, my child or the situation has triggered me so much?”
Yes, we have to turn the questions on ourselves too, especially if we notice that we’re having a strong internal response to the situation at hand. Infact, this question should probably be asked first as a way of clearing the air before responding to our child. It might be that we believe children should always do as they’re asked and should never speak back – because that’s exactly what our parents used to say to us. If we have that belief, we’re not able to see our child’s need, only our own sense of being disrespected or out of control. But, once we are aware of our trigger, it no longer has control over us because we can choose not to let that limiting belief parent the child but our Love to parent them instead.
See how differently we respond to our children when we get present and ask our intuition the real questions, rather than simply trying to figure out how to get our child to do what we want them to? Suddenly the situation is transformed from one of confrontation and competition, our child and ourselves each trying to get our own way, to one of compassion, co-operation and truth. In this way, we can recruit both our brains and our souls for our higher purpose as parents – to love our children as they are and to lift them up.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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