Throughout history, we have tried many times, for as many reasons as there are people in the world, to find out and explain the way people act. Not only to get closer to the people who seemed to live in a similar way as us, but most of the time this has been our modus vivendi. Beyond looking at it as a science purpose, or to expand the individual knowledge repertoire, relating to others has been essential in the making of our society and a way of being in the world.
Consequently, the way we relate has taken part – from the beginning to the end – of almost everything that has happened over time, if not everything. Furthermore, this has been fundamental in becoming aware of ourselves and awake as people.
Shouldn’t we ask ourselves about relationships itself as a tool for change?
The answer is yes. The way we relate with each other can make the ideal environment in which a person or a child unfolds their own and unique way of being in the world – with their strengths and challenges.
It is important to notice that a relationship isn’t something that someone acquires because they have been told to or because they convince themselves about it with logic. Instead, it is something which is experienced with our own senses and corporal sensations.
In every relationship we assume an attitude. And what’s more important is that this attitude becomes an impulse of a natural tendency that every person or child has: to grow, learn, and finally for self-realization.
How is a transformative relationship experienced?
A human relationship, and therefore, the relationship with our children can be an element of change when it is experienced with three fundamental attitudes:
We should get as close as possible to the way children experience the world and, specially, themselves within this world. Once empathy has been put into practice, the child will feel a kindest scenario for him to transform his behaviors and attitudes. Children are the main character of their own life and we can help them as we get close to their world and their own steps to understand and accompany them.
Experience an empathetic comprehension of the internal world of the child, as if you were him.
Parental acceptance can lead children, sometimes in a surprising way, to recognize that the feelings, emotions and sensations they are experiencing do belong to them, and not to their parents or others. The child gets to experience the feeling of being sheltered and that there is someone who respects him just the way he is and wants him to follow whatever direction he chooses. And in this way, he is not afraid of threats or conditionings.
The deep intention of knowing how to wait, without wanting to control, without waiting for the child to act as one wishes.”
Conceived as the coherent attitude, between what you feel, think and how you behave; more clearly, it would be about parents showing themselves as they are in that precise moment. The idea is that you allow yourself to feel any emotion in a transparent way and communicate it.
Being authentic involves an important task: becoming familiar with your inner world, which is characterized, especially, for being complex and in constant change.
Once we experience these attitudes, our children will begin to generate these ways of relating to their environment.
When the child relates with empathy, unconditional acceptance and authenticity, we will also realize that:
- He recognizes and accepts his own actions more easily.
- He becomes aware that it is himself who perceives and evaluates the world.
- He begins to make decisions with more autonomy.
- He is more open to everything around him.
- He approaches his environment with more realistic expectations.
- He begins to show more flexibility in new situations.
- He trusts more his own judgments and feelings .
- He recognizes his potentials more.
Working on transforming relationships at home
To encourage and practice transforming relationships we can do the following:
- Suspend our own intentions. – The warm desire of a parent to temporarily put aside his own personality to approach the child’s experience makes this relationship absolutely unique and different from any previous experience.
- Transmit security. – This is deeper than the approval of an important figure in the child’s life; it is complete acceptance. There won’t be an evaluation, interpretation, exam, or personal reactions from parents, which gradually will allow the child to experience the relationship as a situation in which all defenses can be abandoned; a relationship in which the child feels like “I can be myself”.
“If I am willing (for these attitudes) to manifest in the relationship, then I can be almost absolutely certain that our meeting will be important and that we will both learn and develop.” (Rogers & Stevens, 1980)
By Kevin Cosio – 2nd to 4th grade Psychologist
Buber, M. (1998). Yo y Tú. Madrid: Caparrós Editores.
Roger, R. C.; Stevens, B. (1980). Persona a persona. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu.
Rogers, R. C.; Rosenberg, L. R. (1981). La persona como centro. Barcelona, Editorial Herder S.A.