The Importance of Emotional Rest

As we enter into the cozy months of late-Autumn and early-Winter, it seems natural for thoughts to turn to rest. Sitting by the fire, drinking tea and reading stories are, I like to think, the human version of a bear’s hibernation.

My mentor, Dr. Gordon Neufeld, says that “All growth emanates from rest.” You know when your child wakes up in the morning and it is obvious that they have grown while they slept? Well maturity and emotional development come from “rest” too, just not the kind that takes place at night under flannel sheets. Maturation happens when a child or teen is in a place of “relational and emotional rest.”

What does it mean to be at rest, relationally and emotionally? It means that our children are not working to ‘make things work’ in their relationships with their parents and teachers. It means that they are able to let go of work (to get their needs met, to manage their emotions, to behave in the “right” way, to please us, to make sure we don’t get upset with them etc…) and are able to rest in knowing that we are extending to them (again, Dr. Neufeld’s words) “an unconditional invitation to exist in our presence.”

A child who is at work can look lots of different ways: they can look bossy or controlling, they can look anxious or rigid, they can look insatiable or constantly frustrated. We can get clues as to whether our child or teen is at rest in our care by whether they confide in us, come to us with their problems or cry in our arms. We can glean that they are not at rest in our care if they characteristically lie to us, if they rarely share their feelings with us or if (this can be a telltale sign) it feels impossibly difficult to be their parent!

Even more significant than how difficult it can feel to parent Alpha children is the fact that development stalls out when children are not at restIn order for our kids to grow and mature as nature intended, they need to be in right relationship–in restful relationship–with their parents and teachers.

Now, lest you think that when the Alpha-Dependent dynamic is restored to its intended place that you’ll be relaxing in front of that aforementioned fire a child who is in the dependent position is certainly not “calm” or “sleepy!” Rather, they are filled with feelings (from frustration to sadness to joy), energized by their emergent energy and rife with inner conflict – all good signs of healthy development! 

In children and teens who are in ‘right relationship’ with their parents, the energy that the heart and brain would be expending to work at relationship are able to be used in the service of the good and messy work of growing the child up! 

In just two weeks The Alpha Child online course will begin. This transformative class will provide you with the insight and understanding you need in order to get back into ‘right relationship’ with your child.

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