Imagine a baby who cries, who is trying to tell you that he/she is stressed and is in need of comfort and nurturing. Imagine that his/her needs are met by a loving parent who has all the time to help give him/her the ability to understand why they may be feeling this way. As a parent we are then able to help the child regulate their stresses and their fears, allowing them to feel regulated again, and so back into a sense of calm and regulation. This allows the child to see the world as a safe place and to play and explore freely, knowing there will be a parent available at all times to assist them in their stress, to be able to understand their anger, pain, sadness, and joy and to be able to translate and reflect this back to your child.
This allows your child to trust and see the world as positive, and to have a good sense that someone will be able to help them, and to ask for help. A child who, has looked into his mothers eyes and seen love, warmth and kindness, will learn to love himself, and fill himself with warmth and kindness. A child who looks into his mothers eyes and sees pain or hate or anger, will only ever know himself, as wrong, not good enough, or bad. This child will feel lost and unable to connect, and will soon learn to shut others out and to try and cope by himself. The child will mirror the same pain he saw in his mother’s eyes, and will internalise this for himself. This child will not be able to look into another’s eyes with love, warmth, and kindness, he will only see another as bad or not good enough, and therefore greet another with anger, hostility, and pain. Or this child may shut off from the world for fear of being rejected, and become withdrawn, depressed or isolated, and unable to communicate his emotions, for fear of being weak.
Imagine now a baby who has known anger, violence, pain, or a loss of a mother to post natal depression. He will learn that there is nobody to emotionally connect with him, and keep him safe. There is nobody there to regulate him. This baby learns that the world is unsafe, and he is unable to trust anyone. He learns to internalise all his fears and worries and he cannot understand his emotions, because nobody has been able to help him in this. If we as parents are unable to understand our children and regulate their emotions without getting angry, or upset, then maybe there was nobody to regulate us. Maybe our mother was suffering from post natal depression, or was not physically available, due to drink, drugs, or alcohol, or simply she was too preoccupied with her own emotions. Maybe we were not understood, listened to, or simply accepted, and regulated so we could understand our emotions and learn to trust the world as a safe place, knowing there will be somebody there to help us.
A child who is angry is trying to communicate that he is hurting, and needs to be loved and understood, so he can learn to understand himself. A child that cannot look you in the eye has never known a loving connection. He will only know fear and rejection which he has come to learn to be his world. A child who hates everything or finds nothing right in the world is simply communicating that he does not feel right and hates himself, because he has never been truly loved, or felt accepted.
To truly understand your child’s anger, will help you learn to come to understand that he is simply communicating his need to be loved and understood.
When a child says he hates you, or he hates his sister…. he really means he wants you to love him, and that he hates himself, and he wants you to hear him. This child is living in a state of disregulation.
When we come to truly realise our children’s behaviour is their form of communication, we can truly learn to connect with them. It is only when we meet them with our own unresolved pain that we disconnect from them, and cannot see their behaviour as a communication, and instead we see them as naughty or bad or misbehaving.
When a child says, “I hate you mum”. If we respond in an empathetic way, we will help our children understand their emotions.
“I can hear that you hate me. Help me understand why you hate me so much.”
If we meet our children with our own anger, “How dare you hate me, go to your room,” we have missed an opportunity to truly connect and understand our children.
Parent and child support helps you develop a better understanding and relationship with your child.