The book ‘The Four Needs of the Heart’ aims to prepare a child for the arrival of a sibling, while at the same time is a beautifully illustrated reminder of the four key elements that unlock the positive potential in every child and are what is at the foundation of healthy human relationships. Over the next little while, each need will be discussed in an aim to further expand understanding. This week I’m unpacking Acceptance:
This is often the hardest need of the heart to be consistent with. Kids can, do and will press our buttons and we are not perfect and there will be times when we will react. The challenge for us parents is not to ‘react’, but to respond. We know we are reacting when we feel really triggered by our children’s behaviour. This might take the form of loosing our cool, flipping our lid, being too harsh with our words and actions – or sulking and withdrawing. Our triggers come from our own personal story and can, when calm again, be viewed as an opportunity to notice where we have our own healing work to do.
This need then is really about being in the moment with your child and accepting exactly what is going on for them so you can ‘respond’ appropriately in the given situation. It doesn’t mean accepting rude, disrespectful or destructive behaviour – it’s accepting that this is what you are dealing with in this moment – and it’s realising that in these moments – your child is feeling difficult emotions and needs help with managing this. How you ‘manage’ will depend on the age and stage of the child, so some understanding of child development is helpful. Your first priority may be to help them calm down. They may need strategies to help them regulate their emotions. Once they are calm it may include listening, empathising, giving them a cuddle, or helping them label and articulate what’s going on and if necessary problem solving together and if they are really little – depending on the situation, you may be best to distract them.
It also includes accepting your child for who they are – embracing their differences and nurturing their unique and individual interests and ways of expressing themselves. In a moment of acceptance there is an opportunity for you to learn more about your child – the way they think and feel. It provides an opportunity for you to connect through curiosity and empathy.
For children, this need is more about helping them learn to be tolerant of others differences – on all levels. Learning to accept that others are different from them – physically, intellectually and emotionally. There will be stages of their development where this is a really important thing to exercise – especially around puberty, when they and their peers are going through so much change.
You can purchase a copy of the book ‘The Four Needs of the Heart’ via the shop on The Art of Transition’s website. This would make a wonderful gift for any family, especially those that are growing!
Creating a better planet through emotionally healthy people.