Many parents, I work with, are confused by the term love-based parenting. They look at me and say, “I love my child, that is not in question.” “I just want to know how to get them to behave.” This is a perfect place to begin, for we must begin to look deep inside ourselves to see how we get ourselves to behave appropriately. I know for myself, and most of the people I work with, fear is what keeps my behavior in line. My own fear of getting in trouble, with an outside force, is often a motivator, more than a deep connection with what truly feels good to me. When I do make a choice, from a place of joy, and it triggers someone else, my fear of being in trouble will often shut me down and place a dark blanket over my expressions of joy in the world. Over time, if this blanket of fear is used to control our children’s behavior, so we don’t feel our own discomfort, they will begin to hide their expressions and can exhibit signs of malaise and depression. For there is nothing worse than to express your joy and have it misinterpreted by a parent as manipulation, disrespect or defiance.
Example: When a child is young and finds the water hose for the first time they are thrilled with the delight of the dancing water. Imagine them in the backyard playing and shooting the water everywhere. They can play for hours, filled with joy and delight.
Also imagine, you as the parent, looking out and seeing the water going everywhere, all over your new deck, flooding your perfect lawn, hitting the house.If you are concerned about water usage you get triggered by the flagrant waste of a resource. As you look out, instead of identifying with the pure joy your child is experiencing, you are ready to explode because of your triggers. You open the door and scream at your child to turn that water off right now. You can see your child freeze and because they are afraid of your reaction they STOP. In this moment, your fear has just attached to their joy! In their small mind, they make an assumption, in that moment, that they did something wrong and the last thing a child wants to do is be in trouble. In your mind, all you see is that they stopped so you get the reinforcement for using fear to control a behavior that caused you distress. This continues to work, while they are young, but turns when they start to feel their own power and then they will use fear to control you.
Love-based example tomorrow