Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

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Sacrificing Authenticity for Attachment: The Adaptive Survival Responses of Children and Their Influence on Future Relationships

“If our environment cannot support our gut feelings and our emotions, then the child, in order to ‘belong’ and ‘fit in’ will automatically, unwittingly and unconsciously, suppress their emotions and their connections to themselves, for the sake of staying connected to the nurturing environment, without which the child cannot survive. A lot of children are in this dilemma – ‘can I feel and express what I feel or do I have to suppress that in order to be acceptable, to be a good kid, to be a nice kid?’” ~ Dr. Gabor Mate As children, we learn to sacrifice authenticity for connection. Done mostly unconsciously, our body’s intelligence recognizes that if we are our full, vibrant self, we’ll lose the attachment with our parents. We […]

How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

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How Better Attunement to Children Co-arises with Empathy and Care for Mother Earth

As we better attune to the needs of children, we cannot help but feel the needs of Mother Earth more deeply. And vice versa. This ripening sensitivity reveals what indigenous people have known for millennia: that children, we, are not separate from our environment. For generations, however, this awareness, empathy and care has been marginal, at best, in western culture. We’ve lived and treated our environment, including its inhabitants, as distinct from our body. And historic attachment disruptions with children have co-existed as expressions of this fundamental disconnect from the land and its manifold creatures. Colonizing hearts, minds and lands While indigenous cultures have long placed the child at the centre of the circle around which the family and community extends, western culture has built […]

Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

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Resting in Connection ~ Slowing Down Enough to Heal and Form Secure Attachments

Healthy relationships require us to rest in connection. In resting we come home to ourselves and into the arms of another. We soften enough to open our hearts and trust and receive the love we long for. This resting state is experienced to the extent that our nervous system allows for it. Our parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for calming) must be engaged and our sympathetic system (responsible for arousal and mobility) must be disengaged enough to allow for what Peter Levine calls “homeostasis” or “relaxed alertness”. In other words, resting in connection depends on there being a “smooth back-and-forth shifting between moderate levels … of (nervous system) activity”, or a “flexible seesawing” between parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, which enables us to be balanced, centered and […]

Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

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Connection Precedes Learning and Self-regulation ~ Why Relationships are Foundational in Education and Life

Note to the reader: If you have already read my previous articles on connection and the right brain, you may wish to skip further down to the section on co-regulation. Connection precedes learning How often and in how many ways do we make learning far more important than connection? The school system has been designed to make learning paramount and so often at the cost of the core biological need to bond. This breaks the hearts of so many teachers I present to, leaving them in tears, angry, frustrated. They dearly want to connect with their students, but find it extremely difficult given the expectations of the institution and classroom size. They dearly want to listen to and connect to their own hearts, and do […]

Nurturing Goodness in Children and Ourselves ~ The Indigenous Nature of Soul

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Nurturing Goodness in Children and Ourselves ~ The Indigenous Nature of Soul

Years ago, while in the final moments with a life coaching client, I said something I’d never said to anyone: “You are goodness.” I was surprised at the spontaneous words that poured from my mouth. It was as though something in the far reaches of my soul knew exactly the unique acknowledgement my client needed to hear. For, at that moment, this erudite man of determined reserve leaned forward and began to sob. How dearly he needed to be seen. How dearly had he longed to touch his forgotten goodness. There is goodness in each one of us. Goodness is our true nature. Yet, for many, if not most, we have forgotten it. Inculcated with false ideas of what it means to be a good, […]

The Disease of Being Right

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The Disease of Being Right

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ~ Rumi It’s well known that when children are abused, emotionally or physically, often, if not usually, they believe it’s their fault. They did something wrong. This was true for me. I took to heart the various abuses inflicted on me when young. It was if a sword was pushed deep into my heart. The deepest wound is to the human heart, a wound that perhaps can never fully heal. It was not just that I believed I did something wrong, but more so, I believed that I was inherently wrong. There is a distinction here, an important one. We are not human doings, after all, but human beings, deeply […]

Kids Hunger For More Meaningful Conversations and Less Direction

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Kids Hunger For More Meaningful Conversations and Less Direction

“Teachers expect kids to act like adults, but they treat them like children.” These are the frustrated words from a mature grade seven student. When asked for an example, she said, “I remember in kindergarten sharing ideas and dreams with my teacher, and she would respond by saying, ‘That’s nice, dear. Why don’t you go and draw a picture about it.’” I then asked how her teacher could have responded differently. She said, with a degree of irritation, “All she had to say was, ‘Tell me more about it.’” *** Scroll to the bottom to read 15 Questions Kids Hunger to Hear *** In the same way that recess is learning, engagement is teaching. “Conversation is gold. It’s the most efficient early-learning system we have. And it’s […]

The Co-Revolution: Teaching Kids to Self-Regulate is Not Enough ~ It’s Time to Heal Our Own Trauma and Co-Regulate

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The Co-Revolution: Teaching Kids to Self-Regulate is Not Enough ~ It’s Time to Heal Our Own Trauma and Co-Regulate

“I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” ~ Haim G. Ginott The new buzzwords in child development and education are self-regulation, trauma and attachment. Thank goodness! I’m so glad we are recognizing the burden of pain, depression and anxiety kids are carrying, and the support […]

Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

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Why Kids Need to Question, Not Conform ~ Unleashing Creativity and the Rascal Within

“Creativity is an act of defiance.” ~ Twyla Tharp My mother will tell you that when I was a child I asked “Why?” a lot. My inquisitive nature was more than just a simple childlike curiosity, though. I was provocative, bent on challenging the facts of life, eager to question conventional thought and practice. Like many kids, there was a little rascal in me who wanted to be different, have a voice, and say No. Little did I, or my mother, realize that this rascal had a larger purpose—to forge a path that brings new thought and possibilities into the world. Questioning is a natural and necessary part of any change process. Asking “Why?”, wondering, imagining, dreaming new dreams, engaging in healthy open discussions, and […]

Learning Everywhere

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Learning Everywhere

 “The moment you judge something, you stop learning.” ~ Lynda Austin. There is no such thing as failure; only unexpected outcomes. What we call failure is an outcome that disagrees with our agenda. The more attached we are to our views, the harder it is to be adaptable in the face of the unexpected, and the more incapable we are of finding learning in every moment. And we are more inclined to react, than respond.           As you go about your week, be conscious of where you are attached to a point a view, and how this attachment may impact your response, or block learning and creativity. Instead of resisting, be curious, and in the Spirit of Yes And. Be open […]