When we think of childhood trauma we often think of the big things. And for sure the big things leave a lasting impression. But sometimes it’s the more ‘everyday’ situations that can shape our children the most.
Yesterday as I was sitting in a cafe by the beach, relaxing and enjoying the sea when a couple walked past with their little boy. They were the perfect example of a happy family enjoying some family time. The couple were chatting and the little body was running around and playing with stones.
A few moments later, the parents decided it was time to leave to head back home. The little boy was having so much fun. He wasn’t ready to go home yet so he refused to go with them.
We’ve all seen those situations when a child stands their ground and refuses to comply with what the parents have asked them to do. The child is determined to stay where they are and as the parents are equally determined, it can become a battle of wills very quickly.
That’s what happened in this situation.
There was no way this little boy was going to leave the beach and the fun he was having right at that moment. And the more he stood his ground, the more frustrated the parents became to the point where they started shouting at him and trying to pull him in the direction they wanted to go.
He simply refused to move. Clearly the shouting and pulling wasn’t working so the parents decided to simply walk away. They started heading toward their car leaving the little boy on the beach behind them.
By this point the boy was screaming, crying, shouting - completely overcome with emotion.
If you’re a parent, then you know how difficult it can be to manage a situation like this one. But when we look at it from the child’s point of view, things look very different.
I could hear and feel the little’s boys complete panic at his parents leaving. With his child’s mind he couldn’t see the situation in the same way his parents did. He didn’t know they wouldn’t leave without him. He just saw his parents leaving him alone. He was completely terrified.
What did he learn from this situation? What thought patterns or expectations may have been created in his mind from this traumatic experience?
Nobody respects what’s important to me
What I want doesn’t matter
I’m not supported
I’m not loved
I hate my Mum
I hate my Dad
I hate women
I hate men
From a seemingly unimportant (in his parent's mind) event, a range of understandings about his place in the world could be formed. The level of emotion he was feeling potentially burned the emotions from this experience into his brain forming expectations for the future. Those expectations can impact his self-esteem, his confidence, his relationships and his life choices long after the experience is forgotten.
As frustrating as parenting can be at times, it’s important that we find more constructive ways of managing situations that are difficult. It doesn’t matter how pressing another appointment might be or how much you want to move on, the most important thing is the child and the relationship you have with them. They are their own person. By showing them respect, acceptance and support you’re not only building their confidence and self-worth today but you’re showing them the appropriate way to treat others in the future.
The parents’ in this story could have chosen a different approach. They could have taken a bit more time to let the little boy know he was important. They could have created an environment that let him know that he was seen, heard and appreciated. At some point of course, they would have needed to leave the beach but by handling the situation differently, they could have maintained the happiness of the moment they were all enjoying together.
Instead of feeling abandoned and alone the little boy would have felt included, respected and loved. Instead of this situation becoming a traumatic memory it would have become a loving happy one. What a wonderful foundation for his future!
Taking responsibility for our responses to our children is a huge part of our job as a parent. We’re teaching our children in every moment so we need to be careful what we teach them. They may not remember the event but the lesson will stay with them forever.
Martina Waidhas is an alternative health practitioner, medical intuitive, healer and communicator who works with both humans and animals to facilitate healing in body, mind and soul. She has studied a wide range of healing practices including epigenetics, quantum healing, energy psychology, spinal column and joint therapy and has achieved a master level in both Reiki and the NIS (neurological integration system) therapy. As a former chef, Martina is passionate about the link between food and illness and brings a holistic approach to her work that is second to none. Her unique combination of skills gives her an insight and range of healing practices that allow her to tailor her treatments to suit each individual client.