Conscious Parenting Q&As January 2020

? When is it okay to allow your children to completely pick their own style?
? My desire to help my children is overwhelming to them. How do I let that go?
? Is it normal for a 4 year olds energy to shift overnight to hyperactive overdrive? 
? I’m looking for tips on how to integrate basic households duties into our lives. I find that it was easy before my child turned 13.

When is it okay to allow your children to completely pick their own style, even if you don’t think it’s “appropriate”. My 5 1/2 year old is getting his haircut tomorrow, and he picked hairstyles I don’t particularly like (for someone his age), which is basically a mowhawk. My problem with this is: am I restricting his personality and style? Am I asking him to suppress his personality? Or is it okay that I make boundaries around age “appropriate” styles?

Stephannie: Personally I’m of the opinion that the only time in a person’s life when they aren’t really beholden to societal pressure to be professional and normal is when they are very young and very old.
My child has her whole adult life to be told to dress properly, wear professional looking makeup, have appropriate hairstyles, etc.
I feel it’s my explicit duty to encourage her self exploration and support her individuality while she is a child and has the ability to do so without fear of losing income/housing/relationships.
Once again, just my stance on it and not judging you at all. ?

Annette: It’s only hair. It’ll grow back. I say go for it! Throw off your shackles of conforming to what may or may not be appropriate. It might be quite liberating!

Joanne: Thanks for sharing; this is a great topic. Last year my 7-year-old was obsessed with wanting one side of her head shaved. I was ok with it. Where we live lots of kids have it done, it was her dad who said no she was too young. I was secretly relieved. I got an inkling and so I questioned her on it: turns out she wanted to impress an older girl she admired with the same haircut and it wasn’t coming from her set of innate values but rather from a need to belong. I’ve decided to wait until she brings it up again and we’ll go for it.. that was a year ago and she hasn’t mentioned it.

Angela: I allow my 7 year old to dress himself and pick his hairstyle. I put down boundaries for things like brushing his teeth and taking baths but other than that if he goes to school with mismatched clothes which he does often I’m fine with that. I also don’t care what people think because I just want him to feel comfortable while he’s learning all day.

Shannon: Its the reflection on you that your worried about, I have the same battles in my head, but am starting to let go, it feels liberating and my children are so much happier for it. Its actually so much more interesting when you let their own personality break away from your own, its new and you never know what is going to happen!

Vanessa: I am all for letting him pick out a style but they are still such a little people and I really do believe and sheltering them a bit from other people‘s judgments (I know it’s awful). I once had a precious boy in my class and his parents styled him in a one and a half inch mohawk spiked every day – as I was walking by a six grade teacher she looked at him and looked at me and said “I bet he’s a handful” 
I could not believe it! I know it’s easy to say screw them but you know your child. Maybe a bit more “style” this time and let that gauge the next haircut ♥️

My desire to help my children is overwhelming to them. They are no longer at the age they need me to do everything for them and I am trying to find a balance with this letting them come to me for help. Any resources on parents letting go of responsibilities (the kids can age appropriately handle), allowing children to experience failures (to promote their own growth), and teaching children autonomy-please share. 

Margaret: Over-focus on helping your child may look on the surface like you don’t believe in your child’s own capabilities. But when you look closely you’ll notice that you might actually be projecting your own sense of powerlessness and being out of control. 

By projecting outwards we’re trying to avoid our own pain. Projection is getting rid of something we don’t want or don’t know how to handle. We all do that. But each attempt to escape pain creates more pain. To heal the pain one must face it. 

The common ways to bypass the pain:
?Projecting own issues at the child
?Manipulating the child to change their behavior so it feels more comfortable to us
?Distractions and addictions (anything that gets you disconnected from self)

So, how might one approach this conundrum?
?Firstly, you may want to unburden yourself from assessing your child’s performance, meaning cease seeing their actions as right or wrong. This is not about them.
?Secondly, catch and observe your urge to put restriction on them or modify their behaviour – that’s how your pain reveals itself to you.
?Thirdly, stay with your own discomfort. If you allow for a little bit of space to accompany the discomfort it will begin to change. It may reveal itself as something completely different. In time, the discomfort will begin to subside. That’s how it gets processed.

There is really no other way out other than facing our own emotional material. Anything else would be bypassing. Your children’s behaviour might change as a reaction to your shift or it will remain the same, but you will have a new perspective on it.

Is it normal for a 4 year old boy’s energy to shift overnight to hyperactive overdrive? 

Is it normal for a 4 year olds energy to seemingly shift overnight to hyperactive overdrive at the turn of his 4th birthday? It’s like his energy level kicked up 4 notches and I’m not sure what to think.

Margaret: Yes, they can change very rapidly like that. I’ve noticed my kids changing quite a bit around growth spurts, because they’re not only shifting physically, but also emotionally. Maybe the birthday-mark coincided with a growth spurt and/or any changes in his environment. Kids can pick up on subtle energy shifts in their family unit as well. In any case, I always tend to my emotional reaction first.

Leets Bee: Testosterone surge around 4 for sure! As a mum of all boys, sometimes the surges never seem to stop. Check out this article:  5 tricky times in boyhood that every parent needs to understand.

Maggie: I couldn’t agree more! I always get compliments on how sweet my son is from friends, family and teachers. The moment he hits a growth spurt he changes so drastically that his teachers usually reach out regarding concerns for diabetes, autism, adhd etc. A month or few passes and he returns to his normal just as quick as he changed to the hyper/emotionally unstable fella we didn’t recognize. We have learned to not concern ourselves or him with seeing doctors. When he is at this energy we just throw him all the love and compassion we can. Days he won’t even want to accept that and it can be tough but we hold strong sending nothing but loving energy to him during his tough growth spurts.

I’m looking for tips on how to integrate basic households duties into our lives. I find that it was easy before my child turned 13 and the teen hormones hit. Now, she can’t even remember to not just drop her backpack and shoes at the door. If she does, she doesn’t even realize it. I don’t want to be the mom who is constantly asking for stuff to be picked up and put away. Definitely not how I want to use my own energy or teach them.

Margaret: Sometimes what we want to teach and what we’re actually teaching are 2 different things. The authoritarian approach is usually triggered by a perception of a threat. When we’re caught up in a painful reaction, the instinct is to seek more control. However, with teens, the more restrictive you are, the more they pull away. 

With your daughter, she is currently not adhering to your image of how she should be and this is causing some friction. Your response is to want to make her adhere to that image, for which you will probably get nodding and sympathy from other parents. But there is something way more important that is happening here: an opportunity to resolve the trigger, to dig into the fear and clear that up.

When we’re triggered we want the outside world to change, so we can stop feeling the discomfort. But the trigger is just a situation that opens up a little space in the psyche where we keep our unresolved emotional material. As parents we have tons of tools to make the external issue (the trigger) go away, as the child depends on us in all aspects of her existence. However, as long as we’re focused on changing the child’s behaviour, the trigger will not be resolved and there is a 100% chance the issue will resurface in one form or another. 

Would you like to try to give a shot and take a look at the trigger and what is the emotional material it’s dragging to the surface? Once you do so, your decision in regards to your daughter might be the same, but you will not be acting on an unconscious impulse. 

It is quite common that once we resolve a trigger, our viewpoint on the situation shifts. Also, not uncommon is a change in our children’s behaviour once our energy shifts.