This article is about a real-life case study of a child and their family and how attunement and acceptance impact the individual in the long-term. In this article you’ll discover how to align yourself and be attuned to your child, how to stay on validate behaviours and emotions, and 1 tip to change your attitude to benefit your kids.
I wrote an article based on Communication and Neglect. In it I discussed the issue of poor communication and neglect and we solved how to better improve this. However, neglect is only half the story, attunement and acceptance are the the values that we want to focus on to create big, positive change in your family’s world.
To be a good communicator, we have to be attuned to the thoughts, feelings, emotions of the opposing individual and immerse yourself to get a true understanding of the situation.
But there’s a flip side to the negative: incredible positivity can arise from being in tune with your child and accepting of them even in tough conditions.
Case Study 2
Jimmy is 17. He still finds school difficult but not necessarily stressful, more just a challenge. He lives with his mum, who is single and works a considerable amount of time and a younger brother who he looks after. Although his mum is busy, she is very invested and loving towards Jimmy. Jimmy can express himself clearly and whenever we meet up for a session, he is very good at recounting stories, expressing emotions, asking questions and having a flowing conversation. Jimmy has many close friends and is well respected by those he spends time with.
So what’s the difference between the previous case study I mentioned? Why does Jimmy thrive when David, isn’t do too well. The answer may surprise you. Jimmy is from a low socioeconomic area and doesn’t have many luxuries. What they do have in money is directly invested into health (Personal Training with yours truly). The relationship between himself and his family is somewhat time constrained, but very tight-knit. They hold their values tightly.
However, even though she’s busy, Jimmy’s mother is very attuned to the needs of the child. As a result of this, he has learnt how to regulate his emotions and knows how to express these emotions and needs in a helpful and effective way. For example, when he’s sad, he can express sadness through verbal communication rather than acting out and causing distress. If a child acts out, they aren’t just causing havoc for their parents, they could be internalising and thus causing ruptures in their relationship.
In Jimmy’s case, he has a sense of belonging and acceptance in the relationship because he knows he is understood.
Validation And Attunement
The big difference between Jimmy and David come from the lessons that have learnt through their experiences. Jimmy’s needs are met, his mother regularly proves to him that his needs are important because of the open communication and he can find ways to express them.
His emotions are then validated.
On the other hand, if a child’s emotions aren’t being validated and understood, their emotional experience becomes confusing. The child doesn’t understand what they are feeling because their needs aren’t being met. This causes their behaviour to be confused, and their behaviour suffers as a result.
Have You Ever Felt Like You Weren’t Being Validated?
Let’s look back at our own memories to find an example of how the lack of validation in our own lives might create the kind of response that David had with his parents…
Have you ever had road rage when someone cut you off in a dangerous manner? If so, you were most likely scared or intimidated by the experience. You may then have responded angrily as a way of protecting yourself and those in the car with you. You might even have chased ‘the aggressor’ down the road or sworn at them.
It’s understandable. The emotion was valid because of the human ‘fight or flight’ survival response. But was the action you took helpful or effective? Does it sit with your values? Do you want to be that person that acts out sporadically and overactive? Does it actually get your needs met? No, no, and no.
It’s Okay To Have Feelings. It’s Not Okay To Act Out.
You as a parent, it’s okay to validate your child’s feelings. In fact, as we saw from Jimmy’s mum’s example, it’s great. But validating bad behaviour is not okay. This will encourage the child to act out sporadically in a behaviour that is not suitable for the situation.
When your kids have acted out over something. It may have been insignificant to you at the time, but to them it may have meant substantially more. For example, if someone was really important for your kid to have the first turn on the slide and they were last. They may have acted out with aggression and frustration. Is the emotion valid? Most likely, it was really important to be first on the slide. But does their acting out, and – if you ignore them – their response to the behaviour, meet their emotional needs? Probably not.
How To Improve Communication Through Attunement
You probably get where I’m going with this. Something that means so relatively little to you can be a big deal to someone else. Bear in mind that a child has never had to worry about their mortgage or struggle with marriage troubles which can be incredibly stressful.
They don’t understand your frustrations, and you may not always understand theirs. The best thing we can hope for is to improve communication. And we have a greater chance of resolving these issues permanently, if we’re attuned to their emotions.
Reflecting On Values
As I always ask, what are your values?
Do you want to be an emotionally supportive parent? Do you act in a way that supports your feelings? Do you want to be a role-model for your child? Are you in tune with their needs?
Actions speak louder than words. If you want to display positive behaviour to your kids or those around you how you, it’s best to model that yourself.
To find out more on how to do be more attuned to your child’s needs and what action steps to take, send an email via the contact form.
Until next time,