When was the last time you experienced unconditional acceptance, especially in the middle of a very difficult moment? For most of us, this is unheard of. We feel afraid to offer a child such a thing, because surely it is like saying to them: you can be as revolting as you like and we will allow it and condone it. Nope, that’s not something to worry about.
Acceptance actually gives the message that ‘all your feelings are welcome in this family’. Yes, the frustration that your brother is always touching your stuff. Yes, the jealousy of seeing how well your sister gets on with the family. Yes, the loathing you feel about yourself and all the mean things you feel about your family members. What if your child was to hear you say that all those feelings could exist and were safe to share?
What if you were to feel that your behaviour didn’t turn everyone off you? That somehow, you were still safe and loved despite your big feelings and big behaviour? What if your unconditional acceptance was first out of the starting block?
Parents are usually keener to get to the ‘What punishment and consequence should I use for this behaviour?’ stage. They’re keen to find answers to questions like ‘How can I make my child see this is not right or acceptable behaviour?’ and ‘What words do they need to hear to learn this behaviour is unacceptable?’ Parents often hold a fear that this six-year-old behaviour will turn into a fourteen-year-old monster.