Scarcity and Self-Regulation
We have a knack of promoting scarcity, where none is to be found. It seems as though our Grandparents planted a belief in our minds, that we shouldn’t take things for granted and that it is even somehow wrong and immoral to live in abundance. So we create worlds that maintain an artificial kind of scarcity. Mainstream methods of child-raising create scarcity, driven by unfounded fears, in order to motivate children to behave.
Making things scarce keeps them special, makes us desire to acquire them, and gives us motivation to be the first. It keeps us in competition, too. There’s only one Number One in competitive games (and try to find games that aren’t competitive or people who aren’t competitively-minded).
When children haven’t the opportunity to self-regulate in honest, true surroundings, but have become accustomed to this false sense of scarcity, they have trouble finding a healthy balance when it comes to certain foods, media or staying up late for example.
These things, among others are implemented in behavior modification to make children act a certain way: be good and you may have some chocolate; were you good? Then you may watch TV; behave and we can go to the park etc.
The crazy thing is that it works. You can make your child obedient by doing this, but the outcome is detrimental, click here for more.
But it’s not always behavior modification that makes us regulate our children. Fear is the culprit most of the time. We fear the consequences of too much sugar, too much TV, too late a night, when our child must get up early the next day or a lack of sleep that could lead to a foul mood in a toddler.
We have an abundance of knowledge and experience that we wish our children would appreciate…but regulating and limiting them will not lead them to trust our advice.
I have witnessed regulated children do some funny things. Children, whose parents were fearful of gluten grabbed handfuls of dry noodles and attempted to eat them, while the mother said “ok, but only two!!!” Other children scoffed veggie sausage after veggie sausage, as those were regulated, and yet others only ever wanted white bread rolls, because they weren’t allowed them so often. Yes, and not to forget all those kids who would eat sweets until they threw up, because they never know when the next opportunity will arise.
What does this show us? I believe this artificial scarcity promotes binge-eating or the overstepping of personal boundaries and comfort zones.
When children have the opportunity to trust their sense and intuition, they wouldn’t dream of eating dry noodles, eating sweets until their belly aches or staying up until their body aches and they can’t think straight.
People have the right to get to know themselves; their bodies, their boundaries and their capabilities.
Our role as parents is to offer our abundance of life-experience, to support and guide our children in a nurturing, positive way, instead of promoting artificial scarcity and dependency: because whoever isn’t allowed to carry responsibility for oneself (when they are ready and willing) automatically has another to carry it for them. This makes us self-victimize ourselves by default, but this is opening a whole other can of worms.
When changing to a peaceful paradigm people tend to either neglect to guide their children appropriately, or watch their children do something they feel is harmful and bite their tongue so they don’t interfere with the will of their child (which the child notices, leading to inner-conflict and the feeling of being bad, wrong or self-harming).
A peaceful paradigm, in which we denounce obedience, the misuse of authority and the manipulation and controlling of children certainly doesn’t mean they must decide everything for themselves without a word from us. They may be autonomous, but mustn’t be so alone. And when living in partnership with our children, they trust in our being there and revel in our support.
Living in such a way, I have learned to overcome many fears I had only a few years ago. For example: Those chocolates eaten before dinner didn’t inhibit my sons’ appetite to such an extent that they ate nothing; they simply ate pretty normally and perhaps finished their dinner later. And most of the time they can wait until after eating dinner, when we enjoy dessert together. Staying on the tablet that extra time used to drive me insane with worry; now I spend the time doing something I need to do and my sons come when they are ready. Or if I have an appointment or just really really want to go out, we’ll compromise. It takes time to get into new habits, but the outcome is a peaceful relationship, founded on mutual respect and trust, rather than a traditional one that rests upon fear and external-regulation.
How do we help our children find a healthy balance while supporting their will?
…be ever respectful of the human beings standing before us.
…connect with our children, instead of limiting and using misusing our natural authority in opposition.
…seek the underlying need; perhaps the sweets or TV are a strategy to fulfill a need and we could offer another thing in its place.
…ask ourselves what the worst thing is that could happen; is it really so bad?
…give our advice, which children (who have the choice) value.
…listen to what our children have to say.
…name reasons underlying our advice (and be sure facts and not fear-mongering are the fuel).
…compromise and find a common denominator together with our children.
…not overwhelm our toddlers with words and discussions, but become active and offer activities/alternatives/support in mirroring emotions.
I invite you to take your liberty and join the revolution!