As our children keep growing and start making sense of their surroundings, observations, awareness, safety and to some extent in making everyday choices, there is a background process that runs in their brain, that is of building beliefs.
It is these beliefs that help them in shaping up their journey of life and making future choices as well. Hence, as parents, it is quite frequent for us to come across conversations where children keep saying that, if … … happens, it means that, … … !
In the incomplete statement above, we can fit multiple scenarios, antecedents, activating events in the first blank and plenty of corresponding consequences, behaviours and outcomes in the second blank. Moreover, it is a sign that they have started building schemas in their brain, and that with repetition, will be able to settle down to their core beliefs.
Most of the times, such conversations are around their safety and protection. However, there is a fine line that needs to be taken care of to prevent them from becoming a potential precipitant of phobia, as per the cognitive model.
Today, we are discussing an event, where our son used to exclaim on the occurrence of lightning – “If lightning gets struck with thunder, it means that humans will be harmed!” It was followed by an Autonomic Nervous System behaviour response – heightened awareness and subsequent fear. Initially we used to take this on a light note and eventually rubbish it saying, “it is ok, nothing to worry”.
However, Singapore being the ‘lightning capital’, these occurrences are frequent, and on subsequent events, we noticed that he looks up to us to seek comfort and consultation to understand as to why for us it is not an alarming event, as it is for him. We realised that it is our prerogative to make him understand this with reasoning and logic.
The next time when lightning struck with thunder, we were together outside at Tampines MRT station. It was followed by the same behavioural sequence, as mentioned above. As a first step, we hugged him and made him feel safe and comfortable. We further whispered gently into his ear that, “whenever you see lightning and hear the thunder, check if you are inside a building or covered structures, if not, then take shelter.” We told that we are safe because science has helped us by devising and installing ‘lightning conductors’.
This process is significant to shift the focus from amygdala reaction to neo-cortex response behaviour. Besides, it creates a new belief system – ‘When lightning strikes, seek for a shelter to be safe’ as opposed to the earlier dysfunctional belief. Thus, instead of getting stuck in the loop, it eventually calms down the brain and prepares it for next decision making.
This method worked fine for subsequent instances; however, this Saturday, during morning thunderstorms, he showed mixed signs of worry and inquisitiveness. Thus we resorted to explaining him the scientific reason, detailing the journey of lightning charges as they travel down the lightning conductor, all the way damping into the earth. And that how the weather reports, agencies, information on websites & applications help us even more, to stay safe.
To check his understanding, we simulated a scenario, where he is explaining to a friend who got scared of lightning. It involved enumerating the process and reasons for being safe inside a building, during a thunderstorm. He supported his explanations by illustrations using markers on easel, as depicted in the picture above.
We further blended our conversation, mentioning that he was demonstrating Character Strengths by being Curious and with the right guidance and knowledge, he will be able to build his Strengths of Bravery & Judgement. And that with this knowledge, he will be able to help anyone else, who might be in a similar situation.
After today’s interventions, we realised that in the process of growing up of our child, we, as belief consultants:
1. Need to read well through our child’s non-verbal needs
2. Modify and create new functional beliefs
3. Address their concerns by viewing them through the lens of Strengths and reinforcing it to become a healthy habit of identifying themselves with them
We realised that Parenting is a Work In Progress, and we evolve together in this journey, by taking multi-pronged positive approaches.
#PositiveParenting, #StrengthBasedParenting, #Evolution, #Flourish, #GrowthMindset, #PositiveEducation, #Science, #wellbeingofachild, #PositiveParentingEducation, #Beliefs #BeliefConsultant, #CognitiveModel, #Singapore, #Lightning, #LightningConductor, #Brain, #Schema, #Amygdala, #PrefrontalCortex, #NeoCortex, #Simulation, #Character, #Strengths, #VIA, #SBP, #Curiosity, #Bravery, #Judgement, #Kindness, #PositivePsychology, #WellBeing