Did you know that underneath most aggressive type behaviours are almost always painful unreleased feelings?
So, the more we can recognise aggressive behaviours as ‘signals’ and encourage our children to release their feelings in our loving, connected presence (through tears, talking, laughter etc) the less anger and aggression we’ll see.
Let’s dig a bit deeper to gain a better understanding, shift our perspective and get some practical steps to help with this.
I’m so grateful to both Marion Rose (Psychospiritual Parenting) and Aletha Solter (Aware Parenting) for their ways of thinking about children and feelings and the work they’ve both shared with the world that has had such a profound impact of my life, my family, and my clients!
Children experience a range of feelings everyday, right from birth. Things like powerlessness, overwhelm, fear, frustration, disappointment, sadness… just like us.
No matter how consciously we parent, we can’t possibly prevent our children from experiencing these feelings. And in fact, it’s through having the opportunity to experience these feelings and bounce back that they develop emotional resilience.
My approach to parenting is underpinned by the idea that feelings are fluid like water. If we allow ourselves to feel them, they flow through the body to be released.
The trouble is, *most* of us have been taught or shown that it’s not safe to express with others or even feel ourselves our painful or uncomfortable feelings from a very young age. We’ve learnt to numb, avoid and push them down instead.
And when we don’t allow ourselves or our children to really feel our feelings… they build up under the surface, causing tension and stress in the body until we erupt in anger and aggression.
A normally gentle child might start snatching, hitting, biting etc…
A normally kind and loving mother might start shouting, using physical force or threats.
These things act as “signals” that feelings are building up in the body and looking for a release valve.
I wonder if you can think of a time when you were really stressed or worried about something?
Perhaps at that time you had less patience, were more easily frustrated, shouted, used physical force, threats or punishment?
Can you see that it’s simply a different version of this same thing that happens for our children when they’re displaying aggressive behaviours?
Of course it can be really frustrating when our children are behaving aggressively.
And things can quickly escalate into a power struggle.
When we ask our children to stop fighting with their sibling or stop throwing their toys for the tenth time and they don’t listen, it can give us a sense of powerlessness.
We get transported back to our feelings of powerlessness from our own childhoods. And then we react from those old hurt feelings.
In an effort to regain our sense of power in this situation we often resort to using our greater size through threats, physical force, punishment, shouting etc.
You might find your old feelings of powerlessness clouding your connection to what I call your Soul Self.
Your Soul Self is your true divine, loving nature, connected to all that is, where you operate from your heart rather than your ego.
When you feel disconnected from your Soul Self, you might not really feel like “yourself”.
You might notice an out of body sensation.
You might feel disconnected from your self.
Disconnected from your children.
And disconnected from the present moment.
You might do and say things that are out of alignment with your real values. You might regret these things afterwards and judge/ shame/ guilt yourself.
Many of us have these power triggers because we were raised in a society where it was believed adults (teachers, parents etc) should have power over children.
But when we stop our childrens aggressive behaviour by using our power over them, we are not actually solving the underlying problem which is the built up feelings. In fact, we are contributing more painful feelings of powerlessness, which will result in more aggressive behaviours at a later time.
So, how can we stop our children’s aggressive behaviours?
“Pain travels through families until someone is ready to feel it.” – Stephi Wagner
Rather than continuing to pass this power/ powerlessness pattern on to our children, we can choose to change it.
When your child is behaving aggressively and you find yourself feeling disconnected… try for more connection
1. Wriggle your toes or feel your feet on the earth to feel your way back down into your body
2. Get down to your child’s level
3. Look into their eyes
4. Make contact (put an arm around them etc)
5. Get curious about their underlying feelings
These things help you to reconnect with your child and when you feel connected to them you will be far less likely to resort to using power over them.
We can help our children to work through their feelings as they come up. And this is where my work can really come in to support you!
I share practical ways to start listening and being present with yours and your children’s feelings so that they won’t erupt in aggression
1) Recognising aggressive behaviours as signs of built up feelings
2) Recognising the way our children push down or repress their feelings
3) Creating emotional safety and filling their connection cups!
4) Compassionate listening and holding space for all feelings
5) Setting limits with warmth and love
6) Using play to navigate challenging behaviours
You can start learning about my approach for free on my Facebook page where I welcome any questions you might have or for more in depth support you might like to join my online Mothers Circle: you can join from anywhere in the world and be deeply immersed in personalised, practical and compassionate support.
B.Ed (Early childhood)
Certified Lightworker Practitioner