• Parenting from the far North

    The problem with young children is they yell, hit, bite and have tantrums!

    Do you think they came out of the womb that way? Or did they learn that from someone? Likely you see where this is going?

    I wish I had read this article when my child was very young, however I am still going to use it now. Here is a link to the whole article. It is not that long and there are some reference materials you can see there.

    In 1960 a young anthropologist, Jean Briggs, went up north, way up. To live with an Inuit family to see how they did it, live that is. But she noticed something that she searched for the answer for many years. The people she was with, they did not get upset. Like never.

    Even just showing a smidgen of frustration or irritation was considered weak and childlike, Briggs observed.

    Her first hint as to why no one showed anger was a strange sight on the beach. A mother was encouraging her young child to throw rocks at her and when he did, she playfully exclaimed “ouch”.

    It seemed so strange to her at first, but later she realized everyone is born with all emotions. We want to try them out, and when we do, we observe the response. When these children express anger and “violent” behaviors the parents respond with pain in a upbeat way. Then depending on the age they playfully ask the child do they want to hurt mommy or daddy?

    Traditionally, the Inuit saw yelling at a small child as demeaning. It’s as if the adult is having a tantrum; it’s basically stooping to the level of the child, Briggs documented.

    From a more modern Neuroscience point of view. If a child sees the most important person in it’s life yelling, it will deem yelling as a very important thing to do and the parts of the brain that controls yelling will get more resources and develop more.

    “Shouting, ‘Think about what you just did. Go to your room!’ ” Jaw says. “I disagree with that. That’s not how we teach our children. Instead you are just teaching children to run away.”

    14 years ago I was at an educational retreat on meditation and the instructor asked us to never send kids to a time out. As it wires in their mind, sitting quietly by yourself is a punishment, making meditation very difficult later on.

    So how in the HECK DO I DISCIPLINE THEM!!! (stop yelling) Mostly they use story’s, they have stories for all kinds of things. Until the printing press made books available, the oral traditions of story telling where everywhere. In my culture we have Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and what else… Not the best stories to instill good behavior.

    One from this article is about how if you do not wear your hat outside when it is cold the northern lights will come and take your head off and use it for a soccer ball. Think about this, you may say NO little kid will believe that, did I mention Santa Claus?

    My take is our modern culture leaves story telling to YouTube and Netflix now. But most of those stories are way to violent and crazy for young viewers. As modern Neuroscience is showing what “gets fired, gets wired”. Meaning, regardless whether it’s a TV show or real life, our minds have a hard time to differentiate real for imaginary, especially for the younger people.

    Therefore they experience the show, and their mind fires up like it’s real. Making that mental state more and more “normal” eventually leading to “odd” behavior. Combine that with a modern diet and eating practices, that being in front of the computer and we have some problems.

    Mostly we need to slow down, sleep more, have more fun and those are all hard things to do with a new baby in a family. I remember it being hard.

    Be kind to yourself and see what concepts of this you can put in your life now.

    Be Well,
    Ward Willison
    Kelowna Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

    Never in Anger, Portrait of an Eskimo Family Jean L. Briggs     one of her books

    Kapluna daughter: Living with eskimos       1970 magazine article on her