Parenting Support with Aware Parenting
Aware Parenting was developed by a Swiss American developmental psychologist Aletha Solter. It is based on the idea that stress, trauma and unmet needs are primary causes of behavioural and emotional problems. There is an emphasis on the prevention of stress and trauma and a recognition of the healing effects of play, laughter and crying in the context of a loving parent/child relationship. Children’s emotions are accepted and welcomed, and respectful, empathic listening is seen as very beneficial. Aware parenting values the expression of feelings for healing and release, and connection is a cornerstone with the idea that this is one of the primary needs of a child.
Aletha combined attachment theory with infant and child research, and her own experiences to create Aware Parenting. Through her experience she also developed the understanding that repressed feelings and control patterns affect sleeping, feeding and playing. She defined control patterns as habitual movements or actions that suppress feelings.
My main interest in working with parents is not in anyway to attempt to be the ‘perfect parent’, but to bring some awareness to some of the more outdated almost assumed modes of parenting, and also to assist parents to ‘do their own work’. In this way bringing consciousness to perhaps some of the ways in which we act and be with our children that we would prefer not to. Often as parents, we will unconsciously parent in the way that we were ourselves parented, and it can be challenging to change this and our own internalized parenting. Especially when faced with our own children behaving in ways that we were perhaps not allowed to. This can often be around expressing feelings, particularly the more difficult ones. To ‘do our own work’ as parents, assists us to be able to parent in a more conscious way, and with perhaps more spontaneity and in a way that is respectful to our children. I am a big advocate for us as parents being real and somewhat transparent, so that our children see us the way we are. Our kids learn by seeing who we are, what we do and also through what we say. One of the main ways our children learn empathy is through us empathising with them, and also through us expressing our own feelings.
A big part of Aware Parenting as mentioned above, is accepting feelings, both within ourselves and learning ways to listen to our children, ourselves and each other. Aware Parenting has the understanding that our children are by nature cooperative, loving and want to be connected with us, and when they are not acting in this way, it is due to a need not being met or an overwhelm of feelings. One of my favourite sayings in Aware Parenting is that our children are not giving us a hard time, they are having a hard time. When they are acting in the least favourable of ways is when they need us the most. This again requires us to look after ourselves, as we can’t respond lovingly to our kids, especially in the more challenging moments, when our own needs aren’t being met.
My main passion is working with people and parents in a wholistic way, taking a view of them within their current system and environment. An individual does not act in isolation, there are multiple factors that are in play, that affect our overall well-being. Through doing our own healing as parents, we are able to be more loving, compassionate and understanding towards ourselves and also our kids. Ultimately shifting some of the older paradigms of martyrdom and good/perfect behaviour, into honest, loving, real ways of being and relating, that are grounded in validating each individuals experience, their feelings, and how each is in relation to the whole, the family system.
To see more about Aware Parenting visit http://www.awareparenting.com/
I would also highly recommend all of Aletha Solter’s books.