Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal
On November 8, 1895, German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was working with his cathode ray generator when he accidentally discovered that it cast an unusual image. A week later, he decided to take an X-ray of his wife’s hand, through which her bones and wedding ring were clearly revealed! The general public and the scientific community were captivated. Röntgen named his discovery “X-radiation”, with the X meaning “unknown”. Today we know these highly useful images as “X-rays.”
In times past, physicians were hard-pressed to come up with theories about what caused symptoms in their patients. X-rays opened up a whole new way of seeing into the body, where broken bones and masses could be visualized, ushering in a world of previously unknown treatments.
Fast forward to 2011, and the idea of seeing into the emotional/behavioral world of children with X-ray vision, while still in its infancy, is starting to catch on. No longer do we simply look at the “outside” of opposition, the the child’s behavior, for answers on how to make it better. We now use emotional X-ray vision to see what’s occurring within the oppositional child. Similar to exploring the physical body, by taking a look inside, we can find the answers to healing.
In the absence of a machine, we are called upon to develop our emotional X-ray skills through our own internal insight into opposition. Since we adults have a wide range of talent when it comes to insight, this is a much messier process than taking X-radiation pictures. But once coached, we find that it’s not as hard as it seems to see where negative child behavior originates. Here’s a primer on seeing into the emotional source of oppositional behaviors:
1. “I hate you”, when X-rayed, is revealed as a statement of frustration. When we treat the frustration with patience, rather than focus on the words, the “hate” dissipates.
2. “You are so stupid”, when X-rayed, is revealed as a call for understanding. When we treat this symptom with deep listening, the bratty behavior evaporates.
3. “I hate myself”, when X-rayed, is revealed as a profound sense of failure. When we treat it with believing in the child’s fundamental goodness, it can be resolved.
4. “Get out of my life”, when X-rayed, is revealed as opposition due to a sense of isolation. When we connect using written notes, a bridge to the child forms, allowing us a path toward a healing connection.
5. “You can’t make me”, when X-rayed, is revealed as insecurity. When we treat it with trust in the child’s abilities (grown-up tasks), we encourage confidence.
X-raying children’s emotions seems like drudgery in this electronic world of fast information from our I-phones. We often don’t have the patience to understand where the behavior comes from; we just want it improved, and immediately. But the naked truth is, oppositional children need patient guidance, which takes time and focused attention. And oppositional behavior is not that hard to overcome, once we stop looking at the outside and hone our X-rays in on the right spot. Parent coaching can help you install your internal emotional X-ray machine. You’ll find the benefits of seeing into opposition enormous, and the results as effective as high-tech surgery.