Respectful parenting, my journey

Today’s guest author is Shannon Murphy. Shannon works in public service with people from all walks of life & has a background in psychology. Her passion is to be an advocate for children & teens, special needs children including those with sensory disorders/Autism/ADHD & more to help our society truly understand and accept. Her 6 children have been the most crucial teachers during her lifetime & always practicing respectful parenting has become her number one goal in the home.

As a mother to six children, I have witnessed my share of the ups and downs in child-rearing. However, shortly after my 4th son was born I knew there was something missing and it wasn’t in him – it was in me. I was unsure of how to handle his sensitivities and dysregulated emotions. He had gone through some trauma my others hadn’t so felt it could be due to that but I still had no idea how to respond to him. I was raised with a behavioristic approach so this was all I knew. I tried so hard to understand him and connect with him but nothing ever seemed to work.

We tried therapy throughout his childhood but it still didn’t seem to help much. He was kicked out of kindergarten and the teachers could not handle him.

While gaining my B.A. degree in Psychology I remember one of my Psychology of Parenting professors bringing her toddlers to class one day. She showed us how to use time out as she held him firmly to a chair with her arms wrapped tightly around him.

All I could think was “Is this really the best we have? We can send people to the moon but we can’t figure out issues within the human condition without using force?”

By the time my struggling child was 16, I nearly lost him. I was beside myself with nowhere to turn and had recently brought a new baby girl into the world 14 years after I gave birth to my 5 boys. I remember thinking “I can’t do this again. I can’t go through all the stress of parenting for 18 more years. My boys are almost grown. How will I make it?” What made parenting such a daunting task when I loved all my kids more than anything else on earth? Now I know exactly what it was. It was a lack of a very deep human connection with my children. After having my daughter I started seeking out better ways to raise a child and teach them to accept all their feelings, both positive and negative. I desperately needed something better. I came across a Facebook Group titled Visible Child by Robin Einzig, a professional in parent/child relations. She introduced me to Dr. Ross Greene’s model (Collaborative and Proactive Solutions), Alfie Kohn’s “Unconditional Parenting” and “The Whole-Brain Child” by Daniel Siegel. I read all of these books and also studied Robin’s Visible Child work deeply and was determined to learn how to be the parent my children needed. 

One year after learning these new methods my struggling son had done a 360° turn. Our relationship had become deeper than I ever thought possible and there was no more friction between us or any of the other children for that matter.

I switched completely from behaviorism to collaboration and it saved my son and our entire family. The one struggle he had left was at school, but his school was still based on behaviorism. He wanted to quit school and it was a battle to keep up with the way school was set up, especially for high school students. 

I learned behaviorism has been one of the worst ideas in our social history for children. Children learn absolutely nothing except to do whatever it takes to make the adults happy.

It is never learning about who they truly are as a person. Children, especially with sensitivities and other struggles, whether it be a learning disability, past trauma, cultural differences, autism, ADHD, etc. will continue to struggle and be suppressed with no true help if we do not make a huge change in our school systems and remove the behaviorism approach. Something must be done. Too many of our children are suffering and it makes no sense to keep this old style of response to children.

Categories Parenting, People
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