Return to flip book view

Dare to Love

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

ALSO BY HEATHER FORBES Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 1 Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 1 Spanish Edition Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 2 Help for Billy A Beyond Consequences Approach to Helping Children in the Classroom Help for Billy A Study Guide Check out the Beyond Consequences Institute website today Sign up on our network and receive announcements of future free events such as webinars and lectures Receive Heather s free eNewsletter for more Q A support Download free articles that will further your understanding of the Beyond Consequences Model Learn how you can have Heather T Forbes LCSW in your area to hold a seminar or workshop Purchase additional copies of this book for teachers friends and family members View videos of how this model works when parents make the commitment to move from fear to love www beyondconsequences com

Page 5

Heather T Forbes LCSW Beyond Consequences Institute

Page 6

Dedication This book is dedicated to my amazing children Joanna and Ben I love you with all my heart May you always know with complete 100 certainty that love does exist in this world

Page 7

Table of Contents A Note to the Reader Part One Creating a New Understanding Asking the Right Question The Emotional Core The Power of Love and Relationship 1 3 7 Part Two Questions and Answers Introduction to the Beyond Consequences Parenting Paradigm 13 Dsyregulation 30 Trauma 36 Traumatic Birth 39 Rebuilding Trust Relationships 40 Rage Aggression Destruction Hate 43 Manipulation 52 Bribery 56 Hyperactivity 58 Social Outings 60 Hitting Kicking Biting Talking 63 Breathing 70 Attitude 71 Resistance 72 Incessant Chatter 78 Disrespect 80 Sleep 82 Feces 86 Issues with Eating 87 Regressive Behaviors 91 The Need for Certainty 93 Hygiene 95 Runaways 96 Victimhood and Blame 98 Animal Killing 102 Sibling Rivalry 105 Cell Phones 105 Chores 108 School Issues 109 Classroom Methods for Teachers 115 Parent s Regulation 117 When the Child Becomes a Parent 125 Biblical Perspective 126 Foster Children 127 Recommended Readings Order Form About the Author 135 145 147

Page 8

Page 9

A Note to the Reader Love Never Fails It is easy to say these three words love never fails without truly thinking about it Well of course love never fails you think automatically Yet when you are raising a child with difficult or severe behaviors you live each day at a level of fear that your child is NOT going to be okay What if you could believe without a doubt that love really never fails How would this change your everyday interactions with not just your child but with everybody you met Can you imagine the peace and calm you would experience everyday if you lived out of a paradigm of confidence and reassurance that love really is enough Stop for a minute Take a breath and say that phrase again very slowly Love Never Fails Soak it in completely It isn t just a header on my website or a slogan on a T shirt From the depth of fear that I used to live out of and from the fear I had for my own children s well being when they were younger I can now unequivocally without hesitation and from the depth of my soul say that love never fails Through my experience as a professional in the mental health field but more importantly through my experience as a mother I have come not only to know but to witness the power of love Love has the power to heal and it has the power to change chaos into calm Love can move someone from a screaming rage to gut wrenching tears Love can touch someone for a moment yet last for an entire lifetime As humans we have allowed our life experiences to shift us from living out of a state of love and into a state of fear This state of fear has now become what we consider normal It has become easier for us to live in a state of fear instead of a state of love Think about that It is easier to live in a state of fear than in a state of love Yet concurrently we stay on this perpetual quest to find peace and happiness in our lives How can this be Why is it easier to live in a place of fear than in a place of love Is it that fear has become so familiar it brings a level of certainty while love is so unfamiliar that it is hard to trust and believe in it We enter into the world in a state of love but as life happens and we are neither supported nor loved unconditionally we shift our love programs to fear programs As children it is hard for us to maintain a framework of love when everyone around us our parents relatives teachers our entire culture is living in a place of fear

Page 10

Every moment a child is born we need to celebrate because with the birth of every child comes a new chance for us to break this fear cycle Children come into this world to return us back to our original state of love They bring to us the essence of who we are designed to be Unfortunately the majority of parenting models available to us speak to quite the opposite In truth our These models tell us that the parent is the one with children are our the knowledge and wisdom that the parent is the teacher and the child is the student The reality is teachers and we completely opposite In truth our children are our are the students teachers and we are the students It is easy to see this when we interact with a baby The baby looks at us with his big bright eyes smiles at us and simply radiates love However it is hard to see this love when our teenager is cussing at us telling us that he hates us and that we never do anything for him Where is the love in that We cannot see the love because we are focused solely on the behavior As parents we stay fixated on how our child is acting rather than on how our child is feeling We take their behavior personally and instead of connecting with their emotional state we react to them from our fear justifying this by saying that the child needs to learn good manners needs to be respectful to his parents and that we are teaching the child to be responsible In reality what we are teaching our child is how to stay in a state of fear not how to shift to a In reality what we state of love It is time to stop the cycle It is time to stop the generational train of living in a place are teaching our of fear and not trusting that love never fails At a child is how to stay physical emotional and spiritual level fear is not a natural state Perpetual states of fear and stress in a state of fear are the main causes of disease and mental illness not how to shift to a When raising children especially children with difficult behaviors we need to dig deeper state of love within ourselves to find the love it takes to over come the fear It will take us believing that our children are communicating something profound and important through their behaviors They are giving us the answers through their behaviors It is up to us to start listening to their behaviors It will take trusting in the power of love and trusting that your child actually wants to please you more than anyone on this planet It will take trusting that it can be as simple as staying present with your child listening to him and simply connecting with him in order for him to calm down and

Page 11

shift his behaviors and attitudes This takes courage because it will take shifting to an entirely new paradigm an entirely new belief system Some people won t even change their hairstyles much less their paradigm for living So I encourage you to make your move and dare to love Dare to love your child unconditionally through his behaviors not just before or after his behaviors but during Your child needs to know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved when he is in his rawest and most dysregulated state This is the healing moment and the moment of opportunity for the deepest parent child connection to develop This book is divided up into two parts First the science behind what we now know about affect regulation and how the brain operates is explained The second part of the book describes through a series of questions and answers the art of merging both science and love into unconditional parenting I would not present this material to you if I did not believe 100 from my heart and soul that this parenting paradigm will move your family from a state of frustration chaos and turmoil to a state of enjoyment love and fulfillment I have seen it work both professionally and in my own family Be sure to refer to the dual series of Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volumes 1 and 2 for the foundational principles to this parenting paradigm Dare to Love is designed to give you more applications to the principles described in those two previous books The time is now Stop the negative cycling and return back to love It is possible Find the courage to do something different and dare to love your children from a place of unconditional acceptance free of fear free of judgment and full of relationship Press on Heather T Forbes LCSW

Page 12

Page 13

PART ONE Creating a New Understanding

Page 14

Page 15

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION 1 CHAPTER ONE Asking the Right Question After reading parenting book after parenting book I have come to one very important conclusion We have been asking the wrong question We have been asking How do I get my child to change his behavior The focus has been on moving a child from negative behavior to positive behavior You know the routine sticker charts taking away privileges responding only to nice talk rewarding good behavior with a prize or that treasured new toy and the like Are these working Do they create lasting change or do you find yourself constantly digging into your bag of tricks to find something new and innovative because the old techniques are not working anymore Or worse do you find that all those tricks and techniques you try actually make the situation between you and your child worse Ask the wrong question and you will get the wrong answer This is why those sticker charts are not working In order to get the solution we need to start asking the right question Children are emotional beings They are deeply emotional and spiritual creatures that we have somehow come to view as little rational and logical thinking adults But this is not who they are The right question needs to stem from the understanding that children operate from an emotional platform not a behavioral framework Thus the question we need to start asking ourselves is What is driving my child s behavior When we begin to ask this question we switch our focus to that which is at the core of our children s negative behavior At this core is a state of fear pain and or overwhelm that comes from a child being outside of his window of stress tolerance Children do not act out from a conscious place It goes much deeper than this As adults we have shifted into a place of intellect rationalization and logical thinking because it is a safer place from which to operate Logic is much more predictable than emotions thus more comfortable As human beings we have a need for certainty This certainty is found through intellectual thinking and rational thought For many of us our childhood experiences moved us into this realm of thinking because feelings of anger fear and sadness became unsafe and people got either emotionally and or physically hurt This is exactly why children are in our lives They are our examples

Page 16

2 CREATING A NEW UNDERSTANDING to return us back to our natural state of emotional living This is where life exists at a deeper and more meaningful level We find our purpose and our passion for who we are and the reason we are on this planet when we operate out of a state of emotional expression and capture the essence of what distinguishes us from all other mammals on this planet Our children are in our lives to challenge us to Dare to Love again In order to connect with who they are we must shift ourselves back to living from love not fear living from emotional expression not logical thought and learning the difference between unconditional love and conditional love Effective and rewarding parenting takes going beyond the behaviors beyond dishing out consequences beyond thinking logically and beyond trying to control our children It takes putting love into action in a whole new way and connecting with your child at a deep intrinsic level a whole new dimension of parenting Switching your thinking from a behavioral framework to a love based framework that is focused on emotional connection will not be easy Daring to love your children beyond consequences logic and control will take courage faith commitment and follow through When you learn how to put unconditional love into action you have the power to change any family situation Parenting through power and authority over our children comes from fear and ultimately undermines a child s ability to trust and relate to both themselves and others Conversely parenting through unconditional love and relationship equips our children to develop their own internal sense of control and empowers them to enter the world with a strong sense of self well developed love for self and an ability to relate to others through tolerance patience and understanding It simply starts by asking the right question What is driving my child s behavior

Page 17

THE EMOTIONAL CORE 3 CHAPTER TWO The Emotional Core Cognitive and behavioral parenting approaches simply are not working with our children especially children with difficult and severe behaviors Currently there are over five million children on drugs for psychiatric and behavioral issues This is a 400 percent increase in psychotropic drug prescriptions to children in a 10 year period When we read statistics such as these it is time to question these traditional approaches Researchers are showing that In adults as well as children emotions are the central medium through which vital information especially information about interpersonal relations is transmitted and received Dorpat Psychoanalystic Inquiry 2001 In an article in Motivation and Emotion 2007 Ryan points out that After three decades of the dominance of cognitive approaches motivational and emotional processes have roared back into the limelight We are living in a time period where we need to recognize that emotions do matter in areas such as healthcare education sports religion and especially parenting Parenting is where it all begins Originally Freud partitioned the mind into two parts the conscious and the unconscious In The right the last two decades brain science has expanded on this concept to show that the brain is divided hemisphere is the into the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere emotional brain Verbal conscious and serial informational processthat drives ing happens in the left hemisphere while nonverbal unconscious and emotional processing happens in human behavior the right hemisphere The right hemisphere is the emotional brain that drives human behavior This is the essential characteristic of what makes us uniquely human Left Hemisphere Conscious processor Language Analytical thought Logic Right Hemisphere Unconscious processor Intuition Emotional self Imagination

Page 18

4 CREATING A NEW UNDERSTANDING With this perspective it is clear that children as well as adults transmit and receive information through their emotions Life experiences and behavioral decisions stem from the right hemisphere the emotional self Dr Allan Schore s work shows that the right hemisphere filters and appraises our life s experiences and that our response is influenced by how our right hemisphere interprets the event The right hemisphere dominates the left hemisphere s logical Children as well and analytical thought processes Additionally the previous scientific practice of as adults transmit viewing the unconscious mind as a static memory and receive bank that influenced our actions has been replaced information Current clinical models now refer to the unconscious as relational unconscious meaning that we through their respond not from our own individual thoughts but emotions from the interaction between us and another person These relational interactions happen through rightbrain to right brain emotional communications They happen through the parent child relationship at the emotional level This is a call to rethink our parenting Traditionally parenting has been left brain to left brain interactions We have been instructing our children If you do this behavior then I will implement this as a consequence Such typical interactions stem solely from rational and logical thinking void of emotional expressions completely ignoring the dominate influence of the right hemisphere If we align our parenting with science it will mean shifting our communication to the emotional level Fear and Trauma Fear is an important emotion to understand in human behavior especially in terms of parenting Fear is not conscious experience Fearful responses happen when we are not even conscious of being afraid In response to an event we experience our right hemisphere responds faster than our left hemisphere The left hemisphere after the initial response from the right hemisphere will then perform a more correct and organized analysis of the event Because the right hemisphere s first on the spot response happens prior to the left hemisphere s interpretation the signals are more physiological The right hemisphere is directly connected to the body and thus our reactions of fear happen at the body level For a child whose negative behaviors are more intense more frequent and less responsive to traditional parenting techniques we must consider the child s earlier history of experiencing fear Most likely this child experienced a higher level of fear and is acting from an even deeper unconscious

Page 19

THE EMOTIONAL CORE 5 level of fear than other children It is fear at the body level created from traumatic experiences We underestimate how life experiences influence a child s response system and have been reluctant as a society to recognize how prevalent trauma is in children s lives Trauma is simply any threatening event that puts us in a state of being overwhelmed by fear helplessness and terror In the past the idea of trauma was limited to events that were news noteworthy such as 9 11 earthquakes fires and other significant events Peter Levine an expert in the understanding of trauma states trauma is the most avoided ignored denied misunderstood and untreated cause of human suffering Levine Healing Trauma 2005 For a child trauma can happen in what most adults consider normal life events Falling off a bicycle can be traumatic for a child if at that moment the child feels overwhelmed and in danger Even more overlooked is trauma that happens at the emotional level for children This is when a child experiences the lack of consistent love affection attunement caring understanding and protection from a parent or parent figure When a child feels like he was the cause of his parent s divorce feels like he is not special in his parent s eyes or feels like he is an interruption to the parent s day is when real trauma happens to children It is not the event itself that defines the trauma but rather the emotional experience of fear during It is not the event the event This emotional experience happens in the itself that defines right hemisphere This part of the brain contains a well defined network for rapidly responding to the trauma but danger and other problems that are perceived as urgent It initiates self protective responses such as rather the emotional avoidance escape and retaliation Schutz 2005 experience of fear describes this emotionality as the right brain s red during the event phone to handle urgent matters without delay that defines the Children engaged fully in this response system have erroneously been interpreted as children with trauma bad behavior While all along according to this new evidence they are acting perfectly normal It is their normal not society s normal in terms of acceptable behavior The response from mental health professionals has been to label these children with diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD reactive attachment disorder RAD bipolar disorder oppositional defiant disorder ODD conduct disorder CD and other childhood mental health disorders These children are simply operating out of their right hemispheres

Page 20

6 CREATING A NEW UNDERSTANDING yet we have been parenting them from the left hemisphere We have been giving them logic and expecting to modify their behaviors and we have been asking them to think through their choices both of which are lefthemisphere activities We have neglected to address their deeper emotional states of fear This is not the way the brain is designed We cannot simply consciously think away our unconscious fears These mental health labels are indicative of They need to be children who are in a heightened state of fear stress and overwhelm These children have experiences of loved in order to not having their needs met having been emotionally heal not have love and or physically hurt having suffered significant relationship breaks and or intense medical experi removed from them ences Simply these are children who have ex through fear based perienced trauma They need to be loved in order parenting to heal not to have love removed from them through fear based parenting techniques techniques Reaching our children and parenting our children in a way that fosters strong relationships and teaches unconditional love will take operating from a new paradigm an emotional paradigm that allows us to humanize our children again It will require having the courage to set aside the behavior digging deeper within ourselves to understand what it means to put love into action and swimming upstream against what is culturally considered good parenting

Page 21

PART TWO Questions and Answers

Page 22


Page 23

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 13 Introduction to the Beyond Consequences Parenting Paradigm Q I need a quick way to explain to my parents what is meant by Parenting Beyond Consequences They don t seem to understand the way I m parenting and are quite critical of me They aren t interested in the neuroscience or the brain research They are simply coming from the old school of the basics so any help you have would be appreciated A Beyond Consequences can be a difficult concept to understand and to wrap your brain around when you have been living in a more traditional mindset for years even generations Love is about meeting people where they are and respecting their perspectives Understanding that your parents are looking through the lens of the old school is the first place to start From such a point of reference this model is sometimes interpreted as if you are coddling or babying your child The following explanation is written in more general terms in order to help a grandparent relative or anyone begin to make a shift Remember to be patient you are shift Remember to be ing an entire paradigm for living patient you are Children need unconditional love and unconshifting an entire ditional acceptance from their parents we all know paradigm for this and believe this However do we ever stop to consider how so many of the traditional parenting living techniques accepted in our culture work contrary to this primal goal Traditional parenting techniques that involve consequences controlling directives and punishment are fearbased and fear driven They have the ability to undermine the parent child relationship and because they are tied to behavior children easily interpret these actions to mean If I m not good I am not lovable Thus children often build a subconscious foundation that says that love and approval is based on performance Parenting from a love based paradigm means going beyond our children s behavior and beyond consequences to first see that negative behavior is a form of communication and that negative behavior is a response to stress If we see the kicking and screaming child as one who is having difficulty regulating due to an overflow of feelings we can learn to stay present with the child in order to help him modulate these feelings and thus help him build his emotional regulatory system A child kicking and screaming or in a rage is a child who has been emotionally hijacked Emotions are not logical or rational this hitting and kicking is the body s natural fear reaction in hyperdrive

Page 24

14 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Allowing a child emotional space to safely dissipate this energy will then allow him to calm down As we provide reassurance unconditional love and emotional presence for our children the need to kick and scream will disappear Many times our children kick and scream simply because they do not feel that they are being listened to nor do they feel as if they have been heard Staying present and reassuring a child that you really are listening to him can be enough to help him begin to regulate The life lesson that kicking and screaming is inappropriate does indeed need to be reinforced But this life lesson can only happen once the child is fully regulated when the child is calm and his cognitive thinking is intact This is also the time to present alternatives to kicking and screaming This is a way of teaching our children instead of punishing them The definition of discipline is to teach The more we can stay focused on the relationship with our child and strengthening this relationship instead of controlling it through consequences the more we will be helping our child learn to work through his stress appropriately Below are four pointers to help you stay in a loving and emotionally open place for your children 1 Just Be Happy But I m not Did anyone ever tell you Just think happy thoughts and it will be okay Did it really work Probably not Emotions do not simply disappear If feelings are not released and acknowledged they are stored and become part of our physical make up Research has convincingly shown that being able to express feelings like anger and grief can improve survival rates in cancer patients With our children feelings that become stored and stuffed become activators for negative behaviors 2 ALL Feelings are Good Feelings As parents it is important for us to understand the necessity of emotional expression both in teaching it to our children and in modeling it to our children Blocked feelings can inhibit growth learning and the building of a trusting relationship between the parent and child The first step to take is to recognize that ALL emotions are healthy In our culture feelings such as joy peace and courage are seen as good feelings yet feelings such as sad mad and scared are seen as bad feelings Let s rethink this to understand that it is not the feeling itself that creates negativity it is the lack of expression of the feeling that creates negativity And in children this negativity is often expressed through poor behaviors 3 Getting to the Core of the Behavior When children are acting out and being defiant we need to begin to understand that their behaviors are simply a communication of an emotional state that is driving these behaviors If we simply address the behavior we miss the opportunity to help children express and understand themselves from a deeper level Start by modeling basic feeling words for your child Keep it simple and teach the

Page 25

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 15 five basic feeling words sad mad bad scared and happy Even the youngest of children can learn to say I m mad When the toddler is throwing his toys or the teenager is throwing his backpack across the room encourage him at that moment to get to the core of the behavior through emotional expression Remember it really isn t about the toys or the backpack and they really do know better than to act out with the negative behaviors 4 Responding vs Reacting So the next time your child becomes defiant talks back or is simply ugly to you work to be in a place that lets you not react to the behavior but respond to your child Respond to your child in an open way open to meeting him in his heart and helping him understand the overload of feelings that are driving the behaviors He does not need a consequence or another parental directive at that moment he just needs you to be present with him As your children learn to respond to you through the parent child relationship they will not have the need to communicate through negative behaviors anymore You will both have more energy for each other building a relationship that will last a lifetime Q I understand that my daughter has a difficult time regulating but if I m not giving consequences then does she think that her behavior is okay I am struggling because it is not acceptable to be disrespectful to me Her behavior is so appalling I understand how reacting can be disempowering but what can I do that is empowering in that moment that sends the right message to her A If we go back to the understanding that negative behavior comes from an unconscious place see Chapter 1 Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 1 we can begin to see that disrespect is about something much deeper This level of disrespect typically begins with early life experiences when a child s needs are not met Your daughter is simply acting out of the model that was imprinted within her system These are the patterns that bind us If you try to change the behavior in her moment of distress you will find yourself frustrated at the lack of change This is because we cannot learn when we are stressed out Stress inhibits our cognitive thinking So the life lesson of being respectful even when angry needs to come when your daughter is calm and regulated Work to calm her nervous system and her emotional state Really listen to her Many times children and we as adults become disrespectful rude and or loud because we do not feel like we are being heard Connect with her disrespect instead of trying to shut it down When you truly listen to what is behind the disrespect you will find the depth of overwhelm and fear your daughter is experiencing and trying to express

Page 26

16 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Saying something like Sweetheart when you speak disrespectfully that only tells me that you re hurting inside It also tells me that you might be feeling disrespected Join her instead of correcting her Your daughter needs you to help her connect with her overwhelm she cannot do it on her own She is reacting to you because it is too big and overwhelming for her system The message you will be sending back to her at that very moment is one of respect compassion and love You will be giving her the message that strengthening your relationship with her is your primary goal that she is more important to you than anything else on this planet Certainly the long term goal is to teach our children to be respectful to their parents and that The real we should all live a life of obedience Yet when this consequence is lesson is given in the heat of the moment defensive disrespectful and defiant feedback loops are created that the The most important point is when we stay focused solely on the behavior the real consequence is that relationship s focus relationships are broken and the relationship s focus becomes control becomes control and power not love and connecand power not tion So an hour later that evening or sometime love and when you both are better connected talk to her connection about the disrespect and discuss options and ways to handle it differently the next time Express your reactions to her behavior and how it makes you feel Perhaps relate a story of your own experience from your past that would connect with her All of this will help her learn how to connect with herself when she begins to get stressed out and dysregulated This will empower her to come to you for help in a loving and respectful way and it will empower her to develop her own regulatory ability to handle stressful situations as an adult Parenting out of this love based approach is hard work In most cases it would be much easier to give out a consequence and be done with it Yet when we truly understand that negative behavior does not come from a cognitive rational place we realize that giving consequences is actually quite irrational and illogical This book is not designed to help you simply learn a new parenting technique Rather this book is about learning an entirely new paradigm It is a paradigm that you live out of and a paradigm in which your perspective of the world is forever changed It is a perspective whose foundation is based in love and in the understanding that power does not come from control but through loving respectful and caring influence

Page 27

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 17 Q Using the Beyond Consequences approach feels like the child is getting lots of positive attention for negative behaviors and I am having a hard time with this idea What about the idea that where we focus our attention is what we get more of I love my children unconditionally but I still want them to learn how to behave because the world is not going to love them unconditionally A The Beyond Consequences approach is often challenging for parents and professionals who have been ingrained in the behavioral approach and in the area of behavioral modification If you have been focused solely on the behavior and the outcome of a child s actions it can be difficult if not impossible at first to look beyond this However it is like comparing apples to oranges Beyond Consequences addresses the child s stress state not the child s behavior Making this shift in our focus is imperative to understanding how to respond to our children Instead of seeing that children act out because they want attention it takes seeing that children act out because they need attention The words want and need have two distinct meanings The word want means to wish for or to desire while the word need means to require Love is a requirement for children and adults Our children need our attention as part of their growing process If we have been unable to attend to their needs or to connect with them in relationship to the fullest extent possible due to life stressors the only way for them to get the love they need is to act out through negative behaviors Often times parents have reacted to this behavior by giving them consequences or taking away privileges In doing so parents are giving them attention Unfortunately this type of attention is negative So the child is asking for love and the parent responds by giving the child negative attention This negativity then influences how a child defines love It is important to realize that for children any form of concentrated attention whether positive or negative is interpreted as love Ironically not wanting to give our children attention for negative behaviors has essentially been teaching them negative definitions of love The result is that love becomes rejection Love becomes abandonment Love becomes pain And if we ignore the child s behaviors love becomes indifference Love becomes you don t matter to me Have you ever wondered why your best friend or colleague continues to cycle through relationships where she chooses the same type of person She continues to date men who reject her or who diminish her You find yourself saying He s just like the last guy she dated Our childhood relationships define our understanding and perception of love If at a sub

Page 28

18 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS conscious level our mind believes that love is rejection we then seek out relationships that fit this definition While we may hold a different belief about love at a conscious level our subconscious is what drives our behaviors 85 of the time It is our responsibility as parents to give our children the true definition of love Love is patience Love is kindness Love is unconditional acceptance Love is validation Love is understanding Love is time together Love is tolerance Love is security Love is listening Love is commitment Love is approval Love is nurturing Love is being instead of doing Love is flexibility You are right that the world is not going to love your child unconditionally however by creating a secure base of support and unconditional love from you your child will be equipped to go out into the world knowing that he is still loved and accepted From this place he will have the ability and the resources to behave in socially appropriate ways Remember Beyond Consequences does not totally ignore behavior but recognizes that parents need to teach the child when the child is regulated and can learn what is acceptable In moments of dysregulation the child can not learn Stress causes confused and distorted thinking What we need to teach is how to regulate in the midst of stress Joining our child in his dysregulation is how we help equip our child to develop his own regulatory system This will empower and equip your child to grow up and be a regulated and loving adult in a world that is often times dysregulated and fearful Parenting is about putting love into action In order to put this love into action it takes loving our children beyond their behaviors It takes going beyond consequences logic and control to meet our children s needs Q What I can t do this If I don t use consequences then my house will be chaos A A house without boundaries would be a house in chaos however consequences are different from boundaries Children absolutely need boundaries in order to establish limits and predictability Boundaries create safety and security for children The Beyond Consequences model understands that when children step outside of these boundaries it is because they are in a state of dysregulation and are driven from an unconscious place of fear and overwhelm It is fear that has moved them outside of the boundaries Traditional parenting methods use fear to move the child back into boundaries Yet how logical is it to use fear and control to teach a child who is already scared and overwhelmed This does nothing to help a child learn how to stay in a place of love and it teaches a child to grow up to be

Page 29

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 19 controlling and authoritative More importantly it drives a wedge in the relationship between the parent and the child Children learn to be obedient out of fear not love We want our children to wake up everyday and subconsciously say I want to please my parents and be obedient because I respect them I want to do what they ask simply because I love them Traditional models put children in a place to be obedient out of fear not out of loving respect and reverence Consequences are reactive They are a negative form of concentrated attention tied to a negative behavior In mathematics multiplying a negative number times a negative equals a positive number However in parenting addressing a negative with a negative only creates more negativity and weakens the parent child relationship Thus when a child moves outside of the boundaries the Beyond Consequences model works to continue loving this child in order to reconnect the child in relationship with the parent This is the definition of unconditional love love with no conditions love not based on how we act what we do or how we behave It is the parent s responsibility to join the child in his distress and help him shift back into the boundaries through love understanding and acceptance In doing so the parent is helping to regulate the child which will build the child s own ability to regulate The graphic examples below help illustrate this concept In Figure A the dashed line represents the boundary established by the parents for the child The child is within the boundaries the thick dashed line and is in an emotional state of love When children are in a state of love they act loving and respectful Additionally this loving behavior is comfortable for parents and thus his parents are loving and accepting towards him It is easy to love an obedient child In Figure B the child has shifted from a state of love to a state of fear The child has been unable to regulate the level of stress in his life Something in this child s life has overwhelmed him to the point he can not stay within the boundaries not won t but can t Figure A Figure B

Page 30

20 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS In Figure C the parent is frustrated and having a difficult time getting the child back into a place of obedience The child is becoming more dysregulated and fearful of the parent Sometimes the child is able to make the shift back into a place of obedience as seen in Figure D It was fear that moved the child back not love The child continues to be upset and resentful of the parent Both parent and child are upset with one another and the relationship is clearly strained AR FE Figure C Figure D Now let us look at the Beyond Consequences love based approach to boundaries The parent focuses on maintaining and strengthening the parent child relationship not correcting the behaviors at the moment VE LO Figure E Figure F

Page 31

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 21 The parent recognizes that the child is in an emotional state of fear You can also use the words overwhelm and pain if you are having a hard time seeing the fear in your child In this state of fear the child has difficulty accessing his cognitive brain and is not thinking logically or rationally Addressing the child from a behavioral standpoint giving the child logical directives and expecting the child to change his behavior is irrational The Beyond Consequences parent recognizes that the child needs assistance getting regulated in order to be able to process his act of defiance The parent works to regulate herself joins the child and then helps to move the child back into the boundaries back into a state of love The relationship is intact and the child s stress state has been calmed Through the parent s unconditional love acceptance and understanding the child develops a deeper relationship with his parent Later when both are calm the parent is able to talk to the child and discuss ways to stay regulated next time instead of being disobedient and stepping outside the boundaries The parent has created the opportunity to express her own frustration and sadness that developed from the child s negative behavior The child is in a calmer state which opens him up to this emotional exchange and prepares him to stay more regulated in the future As these love based interactions are repeated over and over the child develops a larger capacity for stress his regulatory system expands and develops in order to appropriately handle stressful situations in the future while staying inside the boundaries The child is being empowered to make his own decisions and choices based on his internal sense of right and wrong not making choices based off of What is going to happen to me if I get caught Q A I just don t see the fear I mean what s so scary about cleaning your room or making your bed Isn t my child just being lazy As suggested in the previous answer it can be helpful to use the word overwhelm instead of fear As parents we need to work to see how these tasks can be overwhelming to our children First let us look at an example in our own lives Sometimes when you walk into your office or your laundry room do you get overwhelmed with the idea of handling all the work you see in front of you It just looks like too much As adults we have developed ways to reduce this stress It may be looking at the pile of laundry and saying Okay I m going to just do the jeans and leave everything else in the pile We have learned how to take an overwhelming task and break it down into manageable parts For a child who is asked to clean his room it can be as overwhelming as walking through New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and wondering

Page 32

22 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Where do we begin The definition of discipline is to teach The child who is appearing lazy or defiant by not cleaning his room is a child who needs his parent s help in breaking down the chore at hand Instead of fighting the situation and jumping into a control battle it would be more productive to the development of the relationship to simply join the child and offer your help The parent might say Son it looks like cleaning your room is a bit overwhelming What if we do it together The parent then shows and teaches the child how to break down a daunting task into parts that become manageable Many times the parent s fear response to this example is If I do if for him now how is he ever going to learn to do it himself or If I do it for him this time he will want me to do it every time To answer this we must realize that many children are functioning at a level far below their chronological age Due to interruptions in their development caused by traumatic experiences they may be years behind in their functioning An eight yearold may actually be more like a three year old We would not expect a three year old to be able to make his bed by himself or clean up his room by himself At this three year old age the parent would assist the child in this task in order to teach him Meeting a child at his emotional age will allow the child to experience life at a level that is manageable and challenging enough while not completely overpowering his regulatory system This is also an opportunity to join your child in relationship We become so focused on outcomes that we totally miss the process and the joy of parenting Yes joy of parenting Parenting is supposed to be filled with joy and is supposed to be pleasurable Seek to create a space of love within you so your child can find the security and safety he needs in order to return to the happy and joyful child he is designed to be Children are created in a spirit of love They are designed to be happy and joyful not lazy and disobedient We must trust that children are not inherently lazy Believing that a child is inherently lazy is a false belief that we have developed in our society It is when we slip into overwhelm that we remove ourselves from our reality in order to attempt to regain a sense of balance It is when we are in this state of dysregulation that we exhibit laziness It is a natural coping mechanism we use in order to settle our nervous system and reduce our internal state of discomfort Back to the example of your overflowing laundry room or office how would you feel if your spouse or friend came in and started giving you orders to clean it up or else Or how would you feel if this person instead came in and noticed how overwhelmed you were and said to you This looks like a big task how about I help you with it Which one would help you calm down and more importantly which one would make you feel special loved and important

Page 33

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q A 23 If a child is not taught through consequences how will he ever learn to live in a world filled with consequences When you are teaching your children to drive a car do you teach them how to get into an accident so they are prepared for one in the future Of course not Instead we teach our children how to be defensive drivers in order to prevent and be free of accidents This analogy demonstrates the idea of teaching our children consequences because we live in a world filled with consequences Think about this important concept Instead of teaching our children how to suffer consequences we need to teach them how to stay regulated in order to avoid consequences The first is reactive parenting The second is proactive parenting Reactive parenting is characterized by consequences and control that is focused solely on behavior in order to have compliant children who do as they are told Proactive parenting is teaching our children how to stay regulated during stressful times in order to develop their own internal control mechanisms Which paradigm do you want to embrace Reactive parenting leaves children living in a fear based world where they make decisions and choices based on the consequences of their actions rather than making decisions based on how their choices can help or benefit those around them Decisions are made based on What will happen to me if I do this How limiting this is for our children Proactive parenting allows children to live within a much more open internal framework of love and acceptance giving them the space and freedom to make decisions based on their own internal moral compass Parenting beyond consequences logic and control helps give our children the practice during childhood to develop their own internal controls This prepares them to be able to function at a higher level of consciousness when they are adults It gives them the ability to live beyond the fear of consequences Living in fear limits us and creates unnecessary barriers The dominant belief in our culture is that we need external measures in order to keep us living an ethical and moral life The deeper truth is that we have the ability to develop all of this within ourselves through adopting core values and through our ability to connect with others in loving and respectful relationships Core values that are given the space to have a voice determine our behavior Loving relationships create desire and internal motivation to live by these values When we are connected with others in safe relationships we have empathy and are in touch with our feelings We are able to live far

Page 34

24 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS beyond our primal needs whereby we can tap into the deeper levels within us that distinguish us from all other creatures on this planet Consequences from parents teach fear and rejection This fear and rejection then transcends to teaching the child self rejection If my parents don t love me then I must not be worthy I must not deserve love Selfacceptance self validation and self worth are absent or limited within the child s framework Yet these are qualities that we want to instill in our children based on who they are not on what they do or how they act Our children need to know they are intrinsically valuable worthy and deserving of unconditional love When these qualities make up the blueprint of their personality and their inner selves they do not need external consequences to keep them within the parameters of society They develop much stronger boundaries and a powerful sense of right and wrong from within themselves We figure out very early in life that the external consequences used to enforce boundaries only apply to you if you get caught It is a tragedy to think about how much time and energy is spent making sure we do not get caught in order to avoid consequences We are all guilty of speeding down the street and then hitting the brakes when we see a police car What would it take to shift your thinking to that of I m going to go the speed limit in order to be safe for myself and Love allows us to for those around me instead of I m going to go the speed limit because I can t afford a ticket or for swim in the deep my insurance rates increase end free to live a It is self love that breeds respect for ourselves fulfilling life and and for others Self love and self respect keep us in a place of integrity and keep us moving forward in free to think beyond our lives Self motivation self discipline and selfconsequences in awareness are all by products of this love for self These internal controls not consequences created order to dream big by parents or society are the original design to keep and live in peace us on the straight and narrow path We need to stop living our lives in a pool of abundance and fear It keeps us treading water in the shallow end happiness constricted and limited Love allows us to swim in the deep end free to live a fulfilling life and free to think beyond consequences in order to dream big and live in peace abundance and happiness Love allows us to develop the ability to self regulate in times of stress in order to stay calm enough to make the right decisions and choices Through our parenting we have the ability to give our children the gift

Page 35

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 25 of self regulation so they may live productive happy and abundant lives in a world filled with consequences Q When does the child learn that not everyone is going to love them through a fit of rage if they are not taught consequences of actions I believe children kicking and screaming without interventions will still be kicking and screaming as teenagers A To better understand why we need to go beyond this behavior and beyond giving consequences we need to first truly understand that negative behavior is a form of communication and that negative behavior is a response to stress Additionally if we view the kicking and screaming as a child who is having difficulty regulating we can learn to stay present with the child in order to help build his regulatory system and yes safety is always first A child kicking and screaming or in a rage is a child who has been emotionally hijacked Emotions are not logical or rational For a child in a deep state of dysregulation this hitting and kicking is the body s natural fear reaction This fear response of fighting for their lives has been built up at the body level within many of our children Peter Levine in his Healing Trauma audio series says it best It is as though our survival energies are all dressed up with no place to go Allowing a child the emotional space to safely dissipate this energy will then allow him the emotional space to calm down As we provide reassurance unconditional love and emotional presence for our children the need to kick and scream will disappear Additionally many times our children kick and scream simply because they do not feel as if they are being listened to nor do they feel as if they have been heard Staying present and reassuring a child that you really are listening to him can be enough to help him begin to regulate The life lesson does indeed need to be continually reinforced that kicking and screaming is inappropriate But this life lesson can only happen once the brain is fully regulated and the thinking part of the brain is engaged See Beyond Consequences Logic and Control Volume 2 for a discussion of the brain Thus when the child is calm and his cognitive thinking is intact the life lesson can be given along with alternatives to kicking and screaming This is a way of teaching our children instead of punishing them the definition of discipline is to teach As children are helped into a regulated state they build their window of stress tolerance they build their ability to stay regulated during times of stress As this window of stress tolerance is increased they become

Page 36

26 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS equipped as teenagers and young adults to stay regulated instead of becoming dysregulated and reactive When relationships in the family are based in love rather than fear they are strong enough to handle the trials of being a teenager Family members are open to listening and staying connected during life s most difficult moments thus eliminating the need for raging teenagers Q I have to say that in the two weeks we have been using the tech niques in the book my son has gone from occasional and minor non compliance to a constant source of rude talking anger misbehavior and general disruption As of yesterday we are trying to forget everything we learned in an effort to recover from this catastrophic experiment I guess it doesn t work for everyone A It can be frustrating and disheartening to see negativity in a home intensify when trying to make positive changes Implementing a new technique in the home can create disruption because you have now become different from what your child is accustomed to expecting The Beyond Consequences paradigm is an absolute 180 degree shift from traditional methods Yet an increase in negative behavior can actually be seen as a step in the right direction for families beginning their journey down the Beyond Consequences healing road We traditionally use behaviors as a gauge to determine whether our child is good or bad We are a behaviorally based society where the behavior determines either success or failure Unfortunately with this approach we deny the process and only focus on the end result With sensitive children i e children acting out with defiant and severe behaviors losing our focus on the process creates fear within us as parents If we only see rude talking anger and misbehavior then all we see is failure In this fear we revert back to doing the same parenting we have always done over and over again Yet in this fear driven distortion we actually expect a different outcome I want to encourage you to see that the change in behavior albeit an increase in negative behavior is actually a sign of an improved process This child is expressing more of himself and sharing his pain and fear with you Children have to be taught how to express themselves in positive ways but in the meantime we have to accept this as all they know Attitudes and sassiness are simply a communication of a deeper fear based issue Now be honest with yourself when answering this question When you ve been stressed out felt like you are not being heard or felt completely overwhelmed did you ever react to those closest to you in a disrespectful

Page 37

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 27 angry or inappropriate way I am thinking your answer is yes We act like this when we have no other means of getting someone to connect with us and connect with our needs I believe that by implementing the Beyond Consequences paradigm in your home you have actually created more safety and more emotional space for your child to move out of a hypo aroused state inwardly shutdown state into a hyper aroused state outwardly angry state By increasing the level of safety removing the threat of punishment and responding instead of reacting you have created space for this child to express himself What a victory But it is only a victory if you stay focused on the process It is vital to accept that the process may be ugly and uncomfortable and yes disrespectful as seen from the traditional model Yet if we truly understand that all negative behavior arises from an unconscious state it should not be difficult to accept this Meeting our children exactly where they are is the only way to move them forward to exactly where we think they should be I remember when my own daughter made this shift from hypo aroused to hyper aroused I Love works found myself actually celebrating that she was having tantrums Finally she was venturing out of her for everyone shell and getting in touch with her fear This was my opportunity to reach her and to connect with her in order to show her what a safe relationship with a mother could be like Creating emotional safety and space for emotional expression is scary and it takes courage Love works for everyone It is simply a matter of focusing on the relationship and focusing on the process In doing so the ONLY possible outcome to follow will be good behavior Q A lot of your information talks about working through past trauma What if I have very little information about my child s past experiences My step daughter lived with my husband s ex wife prior to coming to live with us at five years old and experienced significant neglect in her home A While you may not have the specifics of your daughter s early life experiences the main ingredient missing in her past is a safe and strong relationship with a primary attachment figure This primary early relationship directly influences how the brain develops Dr Bruce Perry an expert in the field of trauma was asked in an interview How do relationships affect the way the brain develops His response

Page 38

28 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Human beings are at our core relational creatures We are designed to live work play and grow in groups The very nature of humanity arises from relationships You learn language you learn social language you learn appropriate emotional regulation and essentially everything that s important about life as a human being you learn in the context of relationships And the very substance of a successful individual is bathed in a whole host of relationships with people in that person s life When there are positive relationships there literally are physiological changes in the person s brain and in their body that make them more physically emotionally and socially at risk Santa Barbara Graduate Institute Producer 2004 Trauma Brain and Relationship Documentary So what this means for your daughter is that she needs you to provide her with the chance to recover what was missing in the past The details of her trauma could be helpful in some situations but they are not critical Every interaction you have with her is a chance to repattern her neurological system Your child has a high degree of plasticity Plasticity is the lifelong ability of the brain to reorganize neural pathways based on new experiences Just as traumatic experiences have the ability to change the brain nurturing experiences also have the ability to change the brain Environment plays a key role in influencing plasticity Stay attuned to your own regulation and your mood during the course of each day and what type of environment you are creating for your child It is not so much what you say as it is how you say it Ask yourself these questions when interacting with your child 1 2 3 4 Is this a nurturing and authentic response Is the tone of my voice safe What is the position of my body is it creating more threat Is the timing of my response allowing my child enough emotional space to process her internal signals 5 Am I taking my child s behavior personally or am I working to understand her behavior from her perspective As you practice and stay in a place of awareness parenting in the Beyond Consequences model will become more automatic It is hard work at first but your ability to change your child s brain for life is the greatest calling ever to be bestowed upon anyone

Page 39

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 29 Q A Do these theories and concepts apply to children who have not suf fered a trauma Is fear always the basis of negative behaviors Yes the Beyond Consequences approach works for all children When a child is acting out he has shifted from a state of regulation love to a state of dysregulation fear He is outside of his window of stress tolerance and needs connection to help him shift back into balance When children misbehave there is a break in the attachment relationship The child needs the parent to help him reconnect Unfortunately the traditional response has been to issue consequences at times of misbehavior This type of reactive response only serves to drive a wedge into this parent child relationship Our role as parents and caretakers is to meet our children s needs Children are not born with the ability to verbally express their needs so they use the only tools they have their behaviors You would not expect a newborn baby to say Mom I m hungry Crazy right But we expect children even young toddlers to inherently be able to express their needs appropriately We then react to behaviors instead of respond to them from a place of love and understanding The more you can stay focused on the relationship and understand that a child s acting out behaviors are a communication of an unmet need no matter their history the more you will be able to strengthen your relationship with him The stronger your relationship with your child the more effective you will be as a parent Effective parenting does not come through consequences logic and control It comes through loving influence and connected relationships Q I am having a debate some people think that the Beyond Conse quences Model only works well with adopted children and may not work with others I think you should be able to use it all the time A You are absolutely on target The Beyond Consequences model works with all children Should we not raise our children with love instead of fear Traditional parenting works simply because typical children have a sufficient regulatory system And thus just about any parenting will work I have taught this model of parenting to parents who did not have adopted children just parents dealing with some minor disruptive behaviors It has helped families grow closer and develop more trusting relationships between the parents and the children So you are right on love works for all children