There’s no manual when it comes to parenting and sometimes, the road can be rocky – in particular if you have unresolved issues with your own parents or come from a home that was less than stable. Even without realising it, these experiences can cause trauma and will affect how you react to your own children.
Rany Moran, the owner of children’s indoor playground Amazonia, understands these things. Now a trained counsellor, life coach and parenting expert, she has begun a new business doing one-on-one and group life coaching and family counselling sessions.
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“I want to build a safe, judgement-free space for personal and professional growth,” she says of her goal.
“Inheriting trauma can mean the cycles of trauma, where a victim of abuse of any form (physical, emotional, psychological) then reenacts and inflicts a similar concept of “pain” onto another person. This can be passed down and inherited from anyone—parents, grandparents, siblings, regardless of gender,” she explains.
“Children’s response to trauma largely mimics that of the parent, the more disorganised the parent, the more disorganised the child,” she continues.
“Children who have experienced violence have problems managing in social settings and tend to be withdrawn or bully other children. During adolescence, they tend to engage in destructive acting out against themselves and others without early intervention the children cannot outgrow these problems.”
As a parent, it can be difficult and even surprising to find yourself navigating your own trauma and how that can affect your children. Without realising it, this can manifest in things like favouritism, or comparing siblings to each other, or constantly fighting with your spouse. “Such toxic emotional stressors can disrupt brain architecture and other organs systems, increasing risk of stress-related disease and cognitive impairment,” says Moran.
And beyond that, there’s also traumatic content (the Covid pandemic, news of violent events) that can affect our children.
Says Moran, “It is our role as parents to explain what’s going on in the world to our children – don’t be afraid to discuss the news and current affairs with them, let them know your point of views on correcting discrimination and how violence, racism or corruption shouldn’t be tolerated.
Discuss instead of shelter them from the realities of life, so that they approach any potential traumatic experiences in the future with educated opinions of their own.”
Here Moran shares her five main tips for how to parent children without trauma.
Empathise with your child’s distress instead of dismissing it as a weakness
When working on a difficult subject, recognise signs of distress and allow your child to stop and take a break. A good parent is a good listener.
Listen to your child’s challenges and validate his or her issues-then explore the root of their problem and what led to it, rather than zooming on the inability of overcoming an obstacle, mistake or wrongdoing.
Recognise teachable moments in daily challenges
This will help young learners be open to lessons of character. Turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones by taking personal responsibility to clear up mistakes by being open to learning from challenges and by replacing shaming with naming values.
Brainstorm ideas to solve problems together. Always remember that humility is the goal not humiliation. When considering teachable moments there needs to be the opportunity for reflection.