- A baby would die without physical touch
- A child needs a blankie or a teddy to comfort them when you are not there
- A child who is bullied or excluded feels the pain of not belonging
- Old people can die of loneliness or a broken heart
Well it’s love really isn’t it?! Love is a doing word. Love is easy to say but how do you show your child that you love them?
Loneliness and lack of social interaction are a risk factor to an early death and are harmful to our health. That said, being alone is not always lonely. I really enjoy my own company and I can be in a room full of people or in the wrong relationship and feel lonely.
Why are children lacking emotional connection?
So if humans are hard wired to connect, why am I coaching so many children who find it hard to reach out? It’s hard for them to be true to themselves, to be honest about their feelings and feel vulnerable enough to let them show. I believe a lot of the children I see are angry. Underneath their anger lies softer feelings. Feelings which they do not feel safe enough to express or share.
Last week at The Energy Pod, parents and children also identified that they felt shame around their anger too – as if it was bad. You can get a replay of this class here. All feelings are of course perfectly normal (unless you are a robot or the tinman) and when our connection is not strong enough with others and we keep our feelings locked up inside, this is painful and can eventually lead to long-term health issues. We need to know all our feelings will be accepted and heard by somebody we love and trust. Without judgement, blame, punishment or feeling wrong for being human.
I wonder if social media has played a part in that? Children are growing up with their lives being filmed and photographed for all to see. They feel judged. They feel like they have to be a certain way to be acceptable and yet to be human is to be imperfect. Growing up without being able to be human – be angry, be wrong, be sad, be afraid or worried. Be pretty much anything you are because what is wrong with that?
I wonder if we overcompensate for the lack of time we have in our busy schedules by giving our child treats or more toys?
I wonder if the pressure we feel as parents means that whilst being all things to all people, we are not prioritising connection. Saying it is not the same as meaning it. You have to show it. I think out of all the to dos on your parenting list, this one is the most important. When I was growing up, I felt like a misfit, a loner. I felt that at times, I didn’t even belong in my own family. Like to be different was somehow wrong. This is such a lonely place because without having that connection with people who understand you or see you for who you are is crushing. Everybody deserves that kind of love.
Do you realise how powerful your connection is with your child?
It is more powerful than anything else in your parenting armoury. When you have connection with your child, they are more co-operative, more open to listening and learning. A child who doesn’t feel connected to you will be disrespectful, defiant, attention seeking and it doesn’t matter if that attention is negative or positive. A child who feels controlled or unheard by you will be angry.
Connection is the invisible glue which brings two people together. It looks different for different people. Look at Ant and Dec! Aaah they are my favs. Why do people love them so much? What is it that intrigues people about them? It’s their friendship. They have a connection which enables them to be in sync with their body language, their words and they share a great sense of humour.
Connection is also known as attachment and according to Dr Laura Markham you raise a securely attached child by allowing all emotions. You soothe when they’re upset. You make sure they feel safe. You see and accept who they are. Carl Rogers calls this unconditional positive regard. Dan Siegel calls it the 4 S’s: Safe, Secure, Seen and Soothed. She also goes on to say …
“Is “Attachment Parenting” a science? Yes. Decades of research, including longitudinal studies, shows that as securely attached babies get older, they form better relationships with others, have higher self esteem, are more flexible and resilient under stress, and perform better in every aspect of life, from schoolwork to peer interactions. But what is a Securely Attached baby? A baby who trusts that his parent will respond to his needs in a nurturing manner.”
You can’t heal what you don’t feel!
If you want to improve your connection with your child, you can start off by downloading my free ebook ‘What every child wants every parent to know’ and if you’ve already done that and you want to take that further, I’ve got something else for you. I’ve created a quick, easy, practical 30 day step by step process called ‘How to Rediscover the Magic of Parenting in a Busy World’ to help you create new habits around emotionally connecting with your child on a level that ensures they are seen and heard for whom they are (and not who you need them to be in the moment).
Your child is more likely to be securely attached if you’ve looked at your stuff because history often repeats itself. It’s unconscious and unless you address it, it will stay that way. Nobody had a perfect childhood and it’s not about blame. It’s more about understanding where you came from, what happened to you and your attachment with your primary caregiver. With some exploration, understanding and sometimes a trained professional, you can bring up your hurty bits to be healed. Imagine being able to leave a different legacy for your child? Of course, I know you want to.
Making it safe for children to talk and share
This is why The Energy Pod is a powerful place to hang out …
- Parents are healing through their children – they are bringing those unconscious hurty bits into awareness
- Parents are having a greater understanding of their child’s needs (seeing them and hearing them as they are)
- Parents and children are strengthening that all important connection. I saw a Mum recognise in her child recently her own shame which she had unconsciously passed over. It was incredible. It’s tough sometimes, but those feelings have to come out and parents are telling me that they feel more confident and equipped to handle it when they are in The Energy Pod. How lovely.
- Children and parents are learning coping strategies to be with and soothe their uncomfortable feelings (when you learn together it doesn’t feel like it’s one person’s problem)
- Children openly share with me their feelings. I can just sense there is steam coming off their keyboards when the chatroll goes crazy or a flurry of emojis come flying across the screen
- Our collective energy as a group is powerful and it’s contagious. When one of us shifts our energy, we all do. When one child speaks up, they all do. When one parent opens up, the rest follow. It’s pretty loving and caring as a community.
- You get my full support. I’m involved a lot more than I should be. I read everybody’s comments during and after class. I respond to them. I follow up with an email after class and welcome discussions and questions which I answer. If I feel the kids or the parents need a little something extra, I will then share follow up articles or sign post them to other useful resources after class.
Let’s put connection first!
So many things in everyday life break connection – screens, busy schedules, work, anger, punishment…..and coming to The Energy Pod every week will help you create a habit that means you are making that a priority. You will be checking in on an emotional level and your child is safe, secure, seen and soothed. Call it preventative maintenance. It’s not just about attacking the problem when it is there or letting it escalate to boiling point;besides that’s messy. It takes longer to unravel, costs money and is pretty pointless, when it’s avoidable.
Yesterday, I proudly launched the first episode of my new Podcast, ‘Truly Madly Smiley’. I’ve been feeling for some time now that I need to have a direct way for children to connect with me because as we know, knowing that somebody else feels the same way as we do (empathy), we don’t feel so alone with our struggle. You can listen to the first episode here. I hope you like it. If you do please spread the word with your friends and family. You could be helping one Mum, one child or one friend feel as if somebody understands and is there for them. Nobody has to be alone anymore. Times have changed but we have to make it safe for children to reach out and know that we hear them.