Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 37: The Best way to Keep you Child Happy

distract child tantrum trick While Cesar had regular episodes of silent reflux, I did some research into the conventional medication that gets prescribed as treatment for the reflux. The more and more I read, it became clear to me that these treatments would often reduce the discomfort of the reflux but cause other problems down the line. As I was reading around, I found an article of a pediatrician who had written an article directed towards parents who decided not to give their babies conventional medicine to treat their reflux.

This pediatrician was trying to show how ‘wrong’ these parents are, by referring to Human Rights, where each one has got ‘the right to Happiness’, and that this includes children as well.

Declining allopathic treatment of acid reflux to relieve the child of the pain that is coupled to it, was in her eyes immoral and abusive. By denying your child this medicine, you are robbing them from their happiness, which you have no right to do. For her, no crying meant a happy baby, and this was something the medicine could do. What the medicine does however, is only alleviate the symptoms of an underlying issue, where once the symptoms are ‘resolved’ – the problem has apparently been ‘cured’. All that’s being done however is the body’s signals being suppressed so that on the outside ‘all seems fine’ while on the inside, the body is still strained and struggling.

By equating ‘no crying’ with ‘happiness’ and ‘happy baby’, one is only dealing with a superficial definition of happiness and well-being. Just because everything seems fine on the outside (at that point in time) does not mean actual well-being for the child or baby. Many of these medicines for reflux are known to cause digestive problems down the line, so even though you have a ‘happy baby’ which is not crying, you are creating consequences down the line and compromising the body to maintain one’s idea of happiness.

This ‘no crying = happy’ approach seems to stick its head up outside of the medical field and into the general parenting field as well. When the child is in pain, uncomfortable, impatient, throwing a tantrum, … -- many parents will do whatever comes up in the moment that they think will ‘distract’ the child from what is going on, and try to engineer a smile on their little ones as soon as possible. Yes, the child is now happy and not crying, whining or throwing its tantrum anymore – it does look like the issue is resolved!

When this response-pattern occurs over and over, you condition and compromise the child’s response-ability. Whenever there is an internal disturbance, the child will reach for something in the external environment/world to curb the disturbance and replace it with a positive experience. Within this approach, the cause of the actual inner disturbance is not addressed, but suppressed so that from the outside = everything looks fine again. It is quite a tempting tactic, as you have a quick-fix in place. But again, just like the medicine merely suppressing the symptoms and causing long-term consequences, this parenting approach also has long-term effects. The child becomes more and more resilient to whatever the parent comes up with to paint a smile, and will have to go to greater and greater lengths to keep the child happy. The longer this pattern plays out, the more disconnected the child becomes from his or her own inner reality and the more the child will focus on the external reality to manage its experiences. Even though you have found yourself a ‘quick-fix’, the problem is that you have to keep ‘fixing it’ – it’s not a permanent solution.

By always providing external stimulation to distract a child from inner rifts, the child does not get the space and time to see how this rift was coming from within self and thus was created by self. By always providing external stimulation, the child learns that they key to happiness lies around him or her, and he/she must just find the right point of stimulation to alter how they experience themselves. The child then in essence becomes unable to ‘regulate its own happiness’ and becomes a slave to external stimuli that define how he or she experiences him/herself.

Instead, if we teach our children to reflect for a moment on what is going on, and show the child that it is able to direct its own self-experience – we open a door to self-intimacy, self-response-ability, and self-empowerment. Instead of having to distract the child each and every time there’s the slightest discomfort, the child learns how the direct him/herself and which in the end makes the parent’s job easier as well, as the child learns to direct him/herself and in time won’t need the parent’s guidance/direction. This doesn’t mean that the parents will never intervene, but that there are points/steps to take into consideration before you for instance pick up your child to comfort him/her.

A shift of starting points takes place, where currently a lot of parents intervene and pick up/comfort/soothe/distract their child so that they will stop crying/whining/throwing tantrum – the focus being on the ‘stopping’ of the “negative expression” – the focus now changes to ‘how can I best assist and support my child in learning how to direct her/his inner world’. You might not immediately get a ‘happy child’ and they might go into great resistance and great patience will be required of the parent, because as we know from ourselves, self-change does not come easy. And since we as parents stand as examples to our children, whether we like it or not, it’s in our best interest to get a grip on our own inner reality and become effective at directing ourselves when we are faced with feeling/emotion turmoil so that we can live and teach by example. If you teach your child this way, you will actually have a ‘happy’ child, as you are showing them what actual well-being means and how they are able to harmonize themselves rather than chasing the next best distraction that will generate a positive experience inside themselves (which is how we create good consumers!).

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