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What happens in your child’s head?

Many of us have seen the cartoon “Puzzle”. It shows the baby brain control room. The publicities of the child work so that he feels safe and happy. The plot of the cartoon becomes interesting when Fear, Anger, Joy, Disgust and Sadness begin to fight for control.

For example, when Fear takes over, the child cringes. When Anger is the main thing, the child begins to swear. So we understand that all these characters reflect the emotional experience of the child.

But such a model actually works. The cartoon pretty accurately shows how our emotions work. There are also whole areas of psychotherapy that use similar models. For example, one of the ideas of systemic family psychotherapy is that within each of us there are several parts, or subpersonalities, that interact with each other and determine our behavior.

Back to the cartoon “Puzzle”. He largely explains children’s behavior. Imagine a typical situation: a three-year-old child asks you for a blue cup that he likes. When you give him a cup, he becomes hysterical. If you ask him: “Why?”, He will answer: “Because you gave me a blue cup.”

Many of us have similar stories. Someone will remember their sweet and polite son, who turns into a real monster when you tell him to turn off the computer. Someone will remember the daughter, a senior student, who is studying “excellently”, but stays late every day with friends. This would not be characteristic of her at all … if her psyche consisted of only one part.

Understanding our inner subpersonalities helps us in raising children.

Not only our children can behave uncharacteristically for themselves. Parents know what it means to lose their temper and then regret it. Apologizing for such situations, we say: “I was not myself,” and we try to better control ourselves in the future so that such situations do not happen again. The idea that there are different parts within us that fight among themselves helps to understand our behavior in many ways.

The famous American psychologist Richard Schwartz, who worked in the context of systemic family psychotherapy, claims: trying to control ourselves in difficult situations, we only nourish our subpersonalities.

Here is how Richard Schwartz explains the theory of subpersonalities using parent-child relationships as an example:

“Remember the case when you lost your temper while talking with a child. Perhaps you ignored the child in an unusual manner to you, you may have become angry and shamed him. Remembering this incident, you regret that you did just that. Pay attention first to what the child has done, and then to what reaction this caused in your body. Finally, pay attention to how much of your psyche has become activated. Now you can understand what parts your psyche consists of. ”

What subpersonalities does the psyche consist of?

According to the theory of systemic family psychotherapy, there are 3 types of subpersonalities:

1. Managers – make sure that we act in such a way as to experience as little painful feelings as possible.

2. Exiles – keep our shame, pain and injuries that we experienced in childhood. Exiles want to be heard and healed, so they use painful emotions to come to the fore. As a result, managers make an effort to silence them. If managers fail, subpersonalities of the third type come to the rescue – firemen.

3. Firefighters – use more extreme methods to avoid painful emotions. For example, you can yell at a loved one or “seize” your emotions.

It may seem to you that such a model is not applicable to you. But let’s go back to the example when you lose your temper by talking to a child.

Richard Schwartz explains: “When you are angry with a child, one subpersonality can make you shout at him, and the other can silence and ignore him in order to prevent negative consequences. There may be many options. We all have three subpersonalities, and the behavior of the child can actualize each of them. We can work with them to avoid inappropriate reactions in different situations. ”

Schwartz argues that if we do not work with our subpersonalities, we will project our emotional injuries onto our children. However, all parents do their best to avoid this. The only way to get out of this model is to gain access to the central part of his personality, which Schwartz calls the self.

Each of us has a self

Schwartz claims that each of us has a self from birth. This is the core of our personality, and in this part there is everything that we need to become good parents. When a person interacts with the outside world from his self, his natural qualities are manifested. Schwartz gives such a list of these qualities: calm, clarity of consciousness, compassion, curiosity, confidence, courage, creativity, emotional connection, patience, vision.

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