Conscious Behaviour Begins at Home

Conscious awareness of our own behaviour will appear naturally, and in bursts, throughout our childhood and early adulthood, but only if the early work is done by our parents or by the social environment in which we live. For Mr Butterfly, who is now two, the beginning of consciousness around his behaviour comes in momentary flashes. The shot of cortisol (stress hormone) he experiences at the times we say, ‘No’ to his requests, is similar to us putting pressure on the brake in the car: he is able to stop, correct the direction in which he is headed and then accelerate away in a direction is socially ‘safe’. He is learning how to keep his car on the road when bends and cliffs appear.

If we stay with this analogy, reasoning with children is like explaining that the road is going to change direction or that there is a cliff up ahead – but allowing the child to drive over the cliff if the child doesn’t accept our advice. Often parents can pick up the pieces when the children are young, but the older the children get the bigger the cliffs and the tighter the bends and the less likely the parents can reason them out of trouble.

If parents don’t want to use the word, No, or won’t make a stand, it is as if they are committing to changing the direction of the road every time the road doesn’t suit the child’s wishes. Once driving alone the child can do nothing except crash when natural bends and cliffs appear in the road.

Extreme social circumstances can also help us to develop consciousness around our behaviour. My father-in-law spent the first six years of his life in war torn Holland and arrived in New Zealand with no money and speaking no English, and my father was raised as the youngest child in a large, poverty stricken family. Both men are hyper-aware of the need to drive their own cars – they had no choice. Craig and I both spent years away from home, paying our own way around the world and getting ourselves in and out of trouble without assistance. Both of us learned to drive our own cars – we were far away from home in a pre-internet era, and had no choice. The boys are growing up with more privilege than most: they live in a safe environment and have been allowed to be children – well nurtured, loads of play and hours spent outside each day. Their lives could be too easy. Or we could choose to put brakes on their behaviour some times…so they can learn to be conscious of their behaviour…so they too can safely drive alone one day.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :) )


About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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6 Responses to Conscious Behaviour Begins at Home

  1. Eleanor Patrick says:

    I really like this analogy of driving and roads. I shall remember it and use it with my clients when appropriate. Thanks! Eleanor

    • Thanks, Eleanor. It’s always good to receive feedback from readers.
      It also occurs to me that the parents who won’t let their small children take risks aren’t allowing their kids to learn to ‘drive’ the easy roads for themselves – so those children don’t have as much experience or as many skills to bring to those windy hill roads when they’re teens and adults.

  2. Mama B says:

    Great post. The analogy is perfect. I never got parent who don’t want to use the word no with children. Over use of it is futile but proper use of it is essential. Thank you for another great pos t!

  3. Yulia says:

    Nowadays, some parents would just give whatever their children want. I heard that one of my friend’s husband never allows his wife to get angry to their son and yes, I can see what happen to his son. I know that he loves his son so much.
    Everybody wants to make their children happy, but every one has their own way in educating their children.
    As for me and my husband, we discipline our kids, and we will use the word NO and will make a stand when it is necessary. They cannot get everything they want easily, it will prepare them for their future, they need to use their effort to get something that they want.
    I like this post, Karyn 🙂
    Looking forward for the next one


    • Thanks Yulia. I agree that some people think that they are showing love to their children by never saying, No, or being cross with them – sadly the real long term effects on those children isn’t good. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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