The Pandemic Tribe – Ready for Rules & Boundaries?

Our previous discussion reminded me of a scene from a children’s book by Ronald Dahl #Matilda – the scene when a student asks the question why….

Miss. Trunchbull “ Because I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” “I cannot for the life of me understand why small children take so long to grow up! I think they do it deliberately, just to annoy me!” ― Roald Dahl, #Matilda

On many occasions, I feel we are invariably like Miss. Trunchbull, only a much subtle version of her. This is because most times we are either too busy to reason the rules or just don’t want to have to explain in the dearth of authority. 

Rules and boundaries can be set only when modeling is in place or at least you are ready to build it as you set the pace. 

The isolation during this pandemic surged a huge conflict of the way life is to be lived vs has to be lived situationally. The energy flow in a child is an intrinsic process that is actioned outwardly for its cognitive convergence and growth. The human mind is preconditioned to many emotions when found in different situations. But for a growing child, these are like skill challenges that their mind fights with to learn and channelise the flow of energy. I read in my research for the theory of childhood that,“The value of what a child produces cannot be expected to be good in itself, but only good for helping the child to develop into a good adult.”

Flow in characteristic form is stated as an experience with movement or exchange. So watching TV or mobile phones is not any form of flow as the prerequisite required for flow is – movement. How many of us remember the staring eyes our parents gave us when the TV kept running for long? Haha! Fond memories right?! Well on a more observational note it was very clear through our past itself that stagnancy will curb the energy flow. Why I speak of the past is because we must know what good has to be chosen from our past contour of learning for I’m sure you agree that there is no future without a past and no rectification without the consciousness of the present. Thus, the aspects that can deliver flow are apathy, empathy, anxiety, worry, excitement, arousal, relaxation, boredom, happiness, sadness, fear, etc. 

The head-scratching discussion here is, how do we understand or categorise this even before we jump to setting up rules & boundaries? Few ways of doing this are what I found in my research and these few are what I found to be relevant for our tribe – 

  • An idea of what to do
  • An idea of how to do it
  • An idea of how well you are doing
  • An idea of the path to be taken
  • Perceived challenges
  • Required skills
  • Delete distractions

When we can model this flow within ourselves as adults, the rule book can be laid easily along with the right set of commands. In order to achieve flow, we must trace out conditions like striking a balance between capacity and opportunity. Clear goals are set so that the focus of flow paves direction. Also, an ongoing time to time feedback so that there is no deviation.  

Before we assess or apply any of the discussed points, we have to acknowledge the fact that each individual child, and ourselves, have a common energy level. This energy can and will fluctuate due to the activities at hand and energies of those surrounding us, but most commonly, each person has a fairly set energy level where they can be categorised as few being naturally endowed with high energy, while some as naturally endowed with low energy.

The understanding of energy flow helps set boundaries in a more fruitful manner. We, the Pandemic Tribe, faced conflicts as a major by-product of the lockdown. To understand this, you must first understand the flow/energy category of your child/children (naturally high or low). Also, analyse how the original boundaries were set at home? A correct strategy of boundary setting reduces conflicts. The isolation and inversion of energy have surfaced in loud discussions & arguments along with backtalk in not just teens but also pre-teens and younger children. 

The idea is to make sure that the set boundaries are discussed as a family. Throw the ball in their court and ask if you happen to make a mistake in a particular situation what do you think the consequence of it should be? What should be the duration for the effect of this consequence? Etc. You place your statements and they can place theirs. The limits of these rules and boundaries are set with a harmonious collective decision, making sound energy flow. 

Yet we can’t forget modeling in this structure. If the boundaries are being defined for them then you have to be true to yourself and to them to define the same or similar ones applicable to yourself as well. This is a flow that works two ways. It is important because we are human. The human mind is designed to play tricks in the dearth of energy flow that has no vent and circulates internally and depletes or converts to conflicts on the cellular level. So the subconscious child’s mind feels insecure when clear limits are not defined. This has to be provided by parents with utmost clarity because if not, the balance of power through the conflicted energy flow shifts towards the child giving them the upper hand making it harmful for both children & parents. 

Keep in mind the fact that as parents we are building healthy, respectful, and positive habits for the children towards themselves and towards the people around them. Often children don’t have an intention to behave in an undesirable way or bring bad outcomes through their behaviour. These boundaries, which are set with the discussion in place, help children learn and integrate some fundamental lessons for their future. Dissolving boundaries erode the sense of self within the children which they, unfortunately, do not recognise until it’s too late. As adults, it is important for us to model and define a clear difference between narcissism and self-esteem for children. The reason for this is, that the pandemic and the isolation brought to light all the aspects as humans, or let me rephrase that, we, as privileged humans, learned to value all aspects of help, beauty, and luxury to meet our daily needs. Defining the difference between narcissism and good self-esteem encourages children to think about people and things around them that have an existence only to meet their daily needs along with all of the unnecessary and necessary demands. 

I shall not deny the fact that even after setting boundaries and reduction of conflict your children will not want to find their way around it or try not to convince you to give into them as to what they want. They will! They are children after all, don’t we try to find ways to do things that can happen easily for our benefit? But it finally is about modeling yourself as an individual and being patient with the number of attempts that they try to convince you. The attempts gradually will reduce and the boundaries will set their pace. 

My research showed in many places that – Flow experiences imply a growth principle where, one emerges from the experience of directed flow with a bit of personal growth and great “feelings of competence and efficacy”. By increasing the time spent in flow, self-directed learning and intrinsic motivation also increase.

More to discuss in the next section for our Tribe.

Stay tuned.

Ruhi Thakkar

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