Full Moon Blues

full moon 2055469 640Are kids really crazier than usual on the Full Moon, the Blue Moon, or the Super Moon; after the grandparents' visit; after a weekend, or a Wednesday; or...when? 

No matter what the circumstance that seems to create that "crazier than usual" question in you, the answer is probably, "Yes. They are 'crazier' than usual."

That is, if crazy means buttons more easily pushed and more intense reactions to those buttons, or maybe just expanded intensity for all the ways kids have to be random, by adult standards. 

I wish I could tell you that the circumstance, like a Full Moon, creates the "crazier" result, all by itself. But the truth is that YOU are a dance partner in this Tango to Hell. Your anticipation of expanded "child crazy" in response to a set of circumstances often drives the crazy much more than the circumstances themselves.

Most of us adults actually unintentionally teach kids to behave in specific ways in response to specific circumstances, because we talk about them, create labels and stories about them, and give a lot of attention to those behaviors and circumstances. Here's how I know: recently, a young girl of 7 proudly announced to me, "I'm hyper all the time!" --told me three times in the span of 15 minutes, insistent that I join in this illusion about her. And children tell me stuff like that about themselves all the time. "I'm shy." "I'm the worrier in the family." "I'm a tough guy." "I'm the 'wierd' one."

Where do children learn to label themselves with words like hyper, shy, wild, stubborn, or phrases like "out of control?" You know. You know where they learn it--from us. We tell them. We see their behavior and use it to create labels for them as people. We project our own fears about our behavior or our memories of our childhoods onto them and tell them who they are. We don't say that the behavior is wild or shy. We say that the child is that. We tell the child she is that, or we tell other people he is that, in front of him, within earshot.

And that's it. Forever. We write it in the permanent record of their souls when we sell them on our labels as valid personality choices. After all, aligning their behavior with our labels gets them a ton of our attention, which is all they want from us, for years and years. Sadly, these labels also put children in little boxes that, often, they never get out of, and so much potential is lost.

In fact, take a look now at your own labels. What were you told you were? What little box did you climb into at age 2 or 3, and are you still in there, Shy Girl, Tough Boy, Wild One? If you weren't so convinced you belonged in that little box, what else could you be?

This kind of labeling of children by adults is all too common, and is relatively easy to release, as struggles go. For you, as the adult, we just need to strengthen your Childhood Treasure of Independence, which begins with putting a stronger filter between your mind and your mouth. We all have to watch what we say to or in front of children about who they are or what they're like. Notice when you label a child as being a "way," such as "pushy." Notice when you assume some attribute based on gender or size or physical appearance.

Before these labels come out of our mouths, let's all take a step back and repeat this statement: This child is his/her own person. S/he is not the same as me. S/he has many traits, many strengths, and many learning curves, which all express at different times. This child is not one thing but many things. Maybe you'd like to say an "I" version of this to yourself in the mirror every day, too. I am my own person. I am not the same as anyone else. I have many traits....

Step 2 is to begin practicing neutral descriptions of children's behavior. Adding language about the choices we all have about how to behave is a bonus. But all of that is another blog post for another day. Today, just start to hear what you tell the children in your life about who and what they are--and maybe catch yourself before you close the lid on another little box. In your mind's preview mode, what comes after, "You are...."? Is he? Is she? Are you sure?

And maybe start to hear what you tell others about yourself, noticing the boxes you're in. What comes after "I am...."?

Are you? Are you sure?

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Dr. L. Carol Scott.

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