If humanity is on an awakening path - path towards healing itself and the planet it lives on - it is essential that it gives great attention to the way it raises children. We need to become aware of - and in tune with - children's feelings and perspectives of the world. We need to be responsive to their needs, most importantly their need to beloved and recognised. Last but not least, we need to overcome the "my child" mentality in which we are deluded that we have some kind of ownership of the children.
The Evolving Child page is dedicated to acknowledging the importance of the natural birth and non-violent upbringing of children. With time, it will come to provide abundant material and a whole range of links to scientific research and world-wide efforts to promote and to spread knowledge about the nurturing that allows for child's healthy emotional and spiritual development.
Whenever a trauma occurs, the body sets in motion an automatic system designed for healing from that trauma. On a physical level, for example, the different cells of our organism rush to close the wound when we cut ourselves. Similarly automatic are reactions on psychological and emotional levels. The most natural reaction the body will produce includes crying, loud sounds, shaking, tantrums and the like.
This is often upsetting for adults to witness. Especially in a social setting, they often try to make the child as still and as quiet as possible. Frequently the parents’ intention is not to make the child feel better, but rather simply to get over their own feelings of shame, fear or anger about their child’s behaviour. Even more unfortunate is the fact that they often use any means at their disposal to achieve this end.
It is in a situation like this that one needs to remember that such behaviour is not the child’s misbehaviour, it is not his or her whim. It is the child’s need, and a natural process for dealing with the emotional overload. It is a discharge necessary to heal from a trauma, shock, discontent, discomfort or any other painful feeling.
Ideally, there will be a presence of a caring and understanding parent who will neither punish the child, nor neglect the event. Instead, the parent will provide safe space for the release to occur without hurting anyone around. This means letting the child know that it is all right to do whatever her or his body needs to, and that they (parents) are there should the child need them.
“What if the child cries for no reason?”, I was recently asked. I believe very simply that there is no such thing. Whenever a child cries, whines, or screams, there is an underlying reason. To us it may seem ridiculous that not getting an attractive toy for instance, could provoke so much frustration, but at that moment, inside the child, particular feelings have been triggered, and they need to come out. I do not suggest that children should get everything they ask for, but rather that they should be able to express their discontent. Through free expression, they may also be healing from some other, older shocks and traumas - that had occurred during birth or infancy perhaps - and not even be aware of it.
If, on the other hand, an adult teaches the child to “behave him/herself”, and prevents the release by hushing, hitting, ridiculing, threatening or even purposefully distracting the child, the trauma will stay in the child’s system, harming the organism at present as well as in future. The parent will experience a relief - once the child has become quiet - but the hidden effect will be highly damaging for the child’s healthy development. This kind of parenting is focused on the needs of the parent, not the child’s needs!
The body is, by configuration, limited. It can stand keeping the feelings inside only to a limited extent. Not uncommonly, the accumulated, unreleased feelings, that cause much inner frustration, after a while turn into the most deadly disease of our times - stress.
The stored pain from the repressed feelings therefore, in the end, will come out. It is the form in which it will do so that is scary: either-self-damaging or violent towards others, but most commonly both. In schools we can often observe the children’s “inexplicable” violent behaviour. Violent children are doing nothing else but trying to cope with their own, unreleased pain, by projecting it onto others.
I think that it is useful for us to explore why the child’s expression bothers us. Examining ourselves by detecting our feeling and thinking patterns, can lead us to important revelations. One such revelation may be that the origin of our feeling of unease while witnessing expression lies in the fact that we ourselves were prevented from it as children. Becoming aware of the effects of our own past is often painful. And when it is, it is good to remember that the tears are the most powerful natural human healer. The more we express our pain in a natural, safe way, the more we improve our own health, and the less we degrade the health of the next generations.
We must be the change that we wish to see in the world
-- Mahatma Gandhi --