Aug 25, 2022

How can I improve my relationship with my child?

By Heidi McGinty 

How can I improve my relationship with my child?

Yesterday, I was in the bank when a distressed mother and her 4-year-old daughter entered.

My attention was drawn to the whimpering sobs. The little girl dragged her feet behind her mother. Her mother, laden down with bags, looked annoyed, impatient and cross. She seemed slightly cautious and wary that people may be looking at her and her daughter.

The mother guided her daughter to a seat by the door, where I was standing. The tension became too much and the mother could no longer hold-in her emotions and out leaked her pain and annoyance. Using a harsh and scolding tone the mother announced;

‘Jesus Christ. You only had to walk done the street. It’s not that difficult!’

A packet of milk chocolate buttons was thrust into the child’s hand. The child shuddered and sniffed as she comforted herself with the buttons.

Every ounce of my body wanted to whisk the child up and hug her lovingly and nurture her with tenderness and care. Restraining myself, I tried to see the world through her mother’s eyes.

What could possibly make a mother project her own pain onto her own child?

Maybe she had recently lost a loved one, or maybe she was going through a separation or under some kind of financial strain. All of these being a significant challenge in anyone’s life.

As I could see the mother struggle to emotionally stabilise herself, I wanted to help her understand the significance of her transaction with her daughter. How potentially these types of repetitive encounters can have long-lasting damage or hurt to the child’s self-esteem during her developmental transitions through her childhood.

I find it fascinating that we learn how to explore relationships through experimentation. Unless you choose to study a subject like psychology, it is highly unlikely that you are going to come across an approach that describes the intricacies of the human behaviours and how we interact with one another.

I wonder how many parents reading this article can relate to the mother in the bank. Every mother feels life’s pressures from time to time. To meet your own needs can be a challenge, let alone meet your child’s needs.

But what if the mother had greater awareness of Transactional Analysis? Would this knowledge about her interactions with her daughter, empower her to reassess and adjust accordingly?

Transactional Analysis is a therapeutic approach that was founded by Eric Berne. He decided to create a guide for non-therapists, so everyday people could apply the knowledge to themselves and support them in their relationships. Society pays thousands of pounds to therapists to support their well-being and mental health, but Eric Berne wanted everyone to have this knowledge, so no-one could be hindered by their personal finances.

The understanding of Transactional Analysis will enrich your dealings with people and your understanding of yourself whether you are in business, a social worker, a parent, a carer or interested in personal development.

Transactional Analysis is when two people encounter each other, one person will speak to the other. This is called the ‘Transaction Stimulus’ (AGENT) The reaction from the other person is called the ‘Transaction Response’. (RESPONDENT). I do something to you & you do something to me back.

According to Berne, everyone is made up of 3 ego states: Parent, Adult and Child. We are always coming from one of these ego states. Berne chose simple vocabulary to describe these ego states because he wanted everyone to understand, not just people who have received years of training.

In this topic, ‘Parent’ doesn’t mean you have children. The word ‘Parent’ helps to establish the ego state you are coming from.

The ‘Parent’ is the engrained voice of authority, absorbed conditioning, learning and attitudes from our parents and people around us like aunties, uncles, friends, teachers. These are external events and influencers that have happened during our childhood. We can change these, but it isn’t always easy.

The ‘Child’ is our internal reaction and feelings to external events which forms the ‘Child’. This is the see, hearing, feeling and emotional body of data within each of us. When anger or despair dominates reason, the child is in control. Like our parent we can change it.

The ‘Adult’ is our ability to think and determine action for ourselves based on received data. If we are to change our ‘Parent’ or ‘Child’, we must do through our ‘Adult’.

We can say:

‘Parent’ is our taught concept of life.

‘Adult’ is our thought concept of life.

‘Child’ is our felt concept of life.

When we communicate, we are doing so from one of our ego states; Parent, Adult or Child

Our feelings determine which one we use.

In the ‘Parent’ state we will display angry, impatient and judgmental types of behaviour. This is the ego state that the mother in the bank was displaying. She was no longer in her ‘Adult’ state which would be an attentive, interested and non-judgmental state. The ‘Child’ state does not mean you are a child, it means you are emotionally dysregulated and you may display a temper, tantrum, sadness, teasing or even squirming with sometimes an exaggerated use of speech. The daughter in the bank was coming from her ‘Child’ state.

When we find ourselves in these challenging situations, it is this awareness that can help us reflect and alter our responses to gain a different outcome that everyone gains from.

Relationships underpin all our work at GradeBusters. For those of you who are not aware, GradeBusters is an Education Centre from 7 years old to adults. We specialise in Maths and English.

GradeBusters is about to release a new online course called ‘Parent Quest’. This is where a parent can experience the journey and see how powerful our Maths learning system is, before their child gets involved.

The relationship between the parent and child is key in all educational development and this is where we start from on Parent Quest. Not only will you learn how you can improve your transactions with your child but see Maths in a completely different way from what you may have witnessed yourself, when they were at school.

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